Bunratty to Doolin to Bunratty

Trip Start Jun 13, 2011
Trip End Jun 22, 2011

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Flag of Ireland  , County Clare,
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Up early and our usual varied breakfasts which Kathleen seemed delighted to cook to order. What we thought were little waffle triangles (which we hadn't ordered) turned out to be potato waffles and a nice surprise.

At Kathleen's suggestion we headed out early to beat the traffic which we did although we had our first encounter with heavy rain when leaving Bunratty. We soon drove out of it and had smooth sailing until we got close to Doolin. Some of the major roads were closed and we did some serious detouring and meandering and then finally found Doolin Cave.

Arriving at the gates just before they opened, we were the first on the scene and of course had to wait for the first tour. Fortunately they have a nice gift shop where Gran found some classic Winnie-the-Pooh learning books for the youngest granddaughter back home (she gets to come to Ireland in 2017 if all goes as planned. It usually doesn't.). Jim our guide gathered us up and off we went down what seemed an interminable flight of stairs (250 feet? 250 yards? Gran's knees thought it was 250 miles or at least 250 kilometres). At the foot of the stairs we donned hard hats and at Jim's suggestion Gran left the purchases on the hardhat shelf. Then the real "caving" began and we found the reason for the hardhats. Through an excavated tunnel and then out into the room with the Biggest Stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere! Most amazing and it is still growing, with water dripping off to form the stalagmite on the ground. You may remember this as Ants in the Pants....the Mites go up and the Tites go down! M is a bit claustrophobic and Gran was tired so we guarded the stalactite while the rest of the party went further down to get a view from below and then they visited another room with a swirly ceiling.

Jim had told us that they were fund-raising to put in a lift so I said I would just wait until they had it installed but apparently that wasn't an option so we began the long climb upward. At the very top, D remembered the books on the shelf so bless A for literally running back down to get them and then back up. Being a basketball star can have surprising consequences. Later on Gran bought her some extra souvenirs as a thank-you. Doolin Cave is not Carlsbad Caverns but it is in my opinion more interesting than Ailwee Cave.

We did the detour thing again but got to Doolin Pier in plenty of time for the Cliffs of Moher boat tour. Somehow we still ended up sitting inside as all the outside seats were taken and the crew wouldn't let us forward since the Atlantic was very choppy. Two of our party were quite uncomfortable and there was another young lady making use of the sick bags. Once we reached the Cliffs the captain throttled back the engines and they let us go forward to the railing so we literally had the best "seats" in the "house." We were able to stay there for the rest of the trip so the queasy ones felt much better and we had a good view of the Cliffs from what I think is a better vantage point than landward. Plus as we approached Doolin Pier we were entertained by several dolphins swimming alongside the boat.

We headed back to Bunratty and had a late, light lunch at the Lily Mai shop in Blarney Woolen Mills. Spent quite some time and not a few euros in the shop and then finished up our shopping at the Bunratty Castle gift shop.

Rest and repacking back at Headley Court and then we spent our final evening at the Traditional Irish Night in the Corn Barn at Bunratty Folk Park. While it is touristy (we were, after all, tourists) and sometimes quite corny everyone enjoyed it and thought it a fitting end to our time in Ireland. We shared a table with a pleasant family and took turns taking pictures for each other.

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