Poulnabrone Dolmen, Caherconnell Stone Fort, The Burren, Ballyvaughan & more in Clare.

On the last Sunday in September I spent the day visiting some of my favourite places in Co. Clare. It was to be a day of leisure and my plans were to go through the Burren, on the R480, into Ballyvaughan and then to return by the coast into Doolin, on to the Cliffs of Moher and to end the day, before setting back for home, with a walk on the beach in Lahinch.
My first stop was at the great ruin of Lemenagh Castle (built as a castle in 1480 and then later as a fortified house in 1640) which was one of the principal strongholds of the O’Briens. From there I continued at a leisurely pace to Caherconnell Stone Fort, built over 1,000 years ago and occupied as late as the 17th century this is more than twice the size of the regular fort.
A very short distance from there is the Poulnabrone Dolmen – a portal tomb dating back to the Neolithic period, probably between 4,200 – 2,900 B.C. Though there were many people around that day, there seemed to be a great sense of stillness and calm around the area and as I stood close to this dolmen, in the midst of the Burren, I felt almost in awe of my surroundings. The age of these monuments,the lives that people lived in the castles and forts; the geology and botanical wonders of the Burren; the hundreds of stone walls enclosing small stoney fields – I seemed to be a thousand miles from the modern world.
I spent some time strolling around the fields before returning to the car to travel onwards. I passed by the Aillwee Caves and the Burren Birds of Prey Centre but time did not allow me to visit here. I then continued into Ballyvaughan and I was fortunate that the Craft Fair was on that Sunday and after that parked my car by the pier. My first coffee break was in the restaurant in Caherconnell Fort so now it was time to visit the Tea and Garden rooms in Ballyvaughan. I spent longer here that I had planned and then went for walk along the road by the sea. This was the weekend of the Burren Peaks Festival so there were many walkers returning back to Ballyvaughan having spent a great day, some on challenging walks and others on less challenging routes and all happy after their day.
My plans to travel south by the coastline by my beloved Black Head did not happen as I thought it wiser to get through Ennis, enroute back to Limerick and Knockainey, before the victorious Clare Hurling Team returned there to be met by thousands of jubilant fans.
I had a great day and though I am a regular visitor there I usually have not the time to stroll around some of these places that I have mentioned. I try to include a visit to the Burren and the Clare coastline in all my itineraries and after last Sunday I would wish for many visitors here that I could allow you time to truly experience this wondrous and spell binding place.

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