Rock climbing at the Burren and Eoin Coughlan

Trip Start Jan 23, 2007
Trip End Jul 2007

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Monday, February 19, 2007

As you may recall from the last post, I was looking forward to seeing an M.A. student, Eoin Coughlan, playing acoustic guitar at Dolan's Pub, as well as rock climbing at the Burren. Well, I was not disappointed.

Saturday night, Philip, Deitike, Kelly, Dorien, and I took the bus into the city and walked to Dolan's. We are all in the traditional Irish music class and had been given free tickets (worth €11; score!) to see this MA student play acoustic guitar in anticipation of his first CD release. And the experience was wonderful. Dolan's was the first pub in which I saw a session, a random gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish tunes, as well as the pub which best fit the stereotypical image of an Irish pub. But Dolan's is also the best place to hear live bands and go dancing, according to a couple of the locals I've talked to. It's an all-around great place to spend the night out.

Anyway, back to Eoin Coughlan. He was a very funny, energetic guitar player with some engaging songs. His set consisted of original songs from his forthcoming album, none of which were in the traditional style, but they were still good. Here are some of the long exposure pictures of that night.

The Burren

We left Dolan's early so as to get a good night's sleep for our adventure on Sunday. The UL Outdoor Pursuits Club (OPC) had given a presentation at orientation and, thinking that rock climbing would be a fun experience, we (Philip, Dorien, and I) signed up to go. Departing at 9AM sharp (well, that's what the flier said, but we didn't actually leave campus until about 0940), we had a 2-hour bus ride until we reached the part of the Burren where we'd be climbing. The Burren is a large area of limestone and pasture land in the northwest of County Clare (northwest of Co Limerick). You can read about the features and history of the Burren in the article linked to above, but I'll just add that it's a fascinating and haunting landscape.

There were actually two groups heading to the Burren with OPC: those lucky few who got to go caving (spelunking), and the rest of us climbing the cliffs. We dropped the cavers off about 2km from where we got off, then we had a nice walking tour of the area by the OPC leaders. I've posted my pictures of the Burren and rock climbing for your viewing pleasure, and, as you can see, it was an awesome place to explore. I even got the courage (as most of you know, I'm very acrophobic) to scale a 35-ish foot cliff. That was it for me, as the 50- and 75-footers were a bit too high, but I got some good shots of those individuals crazy (uh, I mean brave) enough to face these beasts. The 75-foot cliff was actually only for abseiling (rappelling, as we would call it), but I couldn't even get five feet from the edge of that cliff before I was unnerved. After five hours of walking, abseiling, climbing, and hanging out, we headed back to Limerick. But, of course, we had to stop at a pub to have a few pints and some food before starting the long trip back to UL. We also got to listen to a great session, so it was a great conclusion to an amazing day. And then we sang drunken songs on the bus all the way back - they were mostly Irish songs, but I volunteered a couple American ones with which some of you are familiar (Tenacious D, anyone?). They really enjoyed that.
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