Moon Walking In Ireland

A Day Of Relaxation

John McKinney

Our first stop of the day was to see the Burren. The Burren is the smallest of Ireland’s six National Parks but is definitely the most unique. The entire region is covered in limestone which formed there as sediment over 350 million years ago. The Burren has been compared to walking on the Moon due to the landscape being covered by a large amount of rock. It’s one of the strangest landscapes I’ve ever seen. While sadly, I can’t confirm that it’s similar to walking on the Moon as I’ve yet to leave this planet on an adventure (I know, I’m sorry I’m such a homebody), I can confirm it was unique, to say the least. Our only hike in the Burren was to see the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a large portal tomb that was built sometime between 4200BC and 2900BC, so a really long time ago.

Exiting the Burren’s rolling grey hills, we continued exploring County Clare. Not having anywhere, in particular, we wanted to go other than Coole Park for a picnic lunch we wandered around for a few hours. We stumbled across Hazel Mountain Chocolate. Though pricey, the chocolate was delicious. This boutique chocolate shop also has a small cafe out front.

Right near there, we found the ruins of Corcomroe Abbey. A 13th-century Cistercian monastery, Corcomroe is beautiful. Most of the walls still stand strong though there is no roof there anymore. You can walk through the quiet ruins and explore its many pathways. Heading out from Corcomroe, we made our way towards Coole Park for a late lunch. We came over a hill and all of the sudden our path was blocked by cows! I expected the road to get blocked by sheep at some point but not cows.

Coole Park

Our lunch spot was at Coole Park, a nature reserve in south County Galway. Coole Park almost looked out of place compared to the rest of what we saw in Ireland. It reminded us of pictures of an Italian countryside more than Ireland. If you need a relaxing spot to take a walk, eat lunch, or just enjoy a rare sunny Irish day I can think of no place better than Coole Park. Upon arriving in Coole Park we headed into a walled courtyard area to eat lunch. With very little to do that day other than just enjoy whatever came our way, we dozed off for a nap in the soft grass under the Irish Sun.

After we woke up from our nap, we explored what Coole Park had to offer. The whole area was alive with all kinds of flowers and tall trees, quite the juxtaposition in comparison to the barren Burren. To me, the Burren was interesting while Coole Park was alluring. If you visit Coole Park and are in the mood to take a walk through the woods, there are two trails for you, the Family Path and the Seven Woods Path. The Family Path is only 1.5km and is a good length for a relaxing stroll in the woods to stretch your legs. The Seven Woods Path is 4.5km and is also extremely calming. If you have the time, I highly recommend you take the longer path, it’s definitely worth it.

We spent almost the entire afternoon in exploring Coole Park. As evening rolled in, we made our way back to County Clare, to grab an ice cream cone from Linnalla Irish Ice Cream and explore the Flaggy Shore. Linnalla uses cream from the cows grazing right outside, it was good but honestly, the ice cream we had at a few other random places was better. It may have just been an off day though as they have excellent ratings. Exploring the Flaggy Shore, we found a small round castle because, Ireland. We ended our evening with a sunset hike along the Cliffs of Moher, using the path I spoke about in my last post. It was an incredibly relaxing day in a trip full of them. This would be our last night in Doolin before heading all the way up the West coast to Westport.

A Bit Of Advice

Doolin, about the same size as Portmagee, was not as quaint as Portmagee. At times, Doolin felt touristy and too crowded which matches what I’ve read online since our trip. Apparently, it’s become more and more touristy over the years and now many don’t enjoy staying there.

Originally, we thought we would get to Doolin too late the first night to be able to explore the Cliffs of Moher properly. In addition, we wanted time to explore the surrounding area as well as fit in all the traditional Irish music we could stomach. We didn’t account for the fact that the Sun would be out until 10 pm. We definitely did not need a second night in Doolin. If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, you may be able to actually skip staying in Doolin altogether. We could have easily driven in from a relatively nearby town such as Ennis, Shannon, or Galway City.

If I was to do this trip over again, I would have still stayed in Doolin or possibly Ennis, but for only one night. We would have been able to still experience the full brevity of the Cliffs of Moher as well as the traditional Irish music that Doolin offers without that second night. We would have had an extra day which would have given us the time to visit County Donegal or even Northern Ireland later in our trip. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy our second day in Doolin, I didn’t mind the day of relaxation, it’s just a day we could have cut out.

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