This morning we hopped on a bus and headed south to The Burren, a prominent ridge of limestone and shale that runs diagonally, like a slash ( / ), northeast to southwest. It’s a barren and exposed place, subject to wind and rain, but we had perfectly (and atypically) clear skies. More typically, the weather is worse: one year, Mike was lecturing in a squall, and a blast of wind blew so much rain into his mouth that he choked. At that point, he let everyone get back on the bus.
On the way there, we stopped at a rath — an earthen “ring fort” — dating back some 5,000 years to the Neolithic Age. Since these features are considered to be somewhat mystical by the locals (homes to the faeries by lore), nobody messes with them, so they are surrounded by mature trees, something one doesn’t see a lot of on this island.
We then moved up onto The Burren itself, to see a Dolmen, which is Irish for “table stone,” for obvious reasons. These are Druid ritual sites, also called “passage tombs,” used for burial and/or sacrifice (animal and sometimes, yes, human), which mostly date from the Bronze Age–this one dates to the same general period as the ring fort.
Our classrooms on travel days are poorly furnished, but make up for that in other ways.
Then we headed down to Doolin (insert dumb “Doolin Banjo” joke here; I did…) for lunch at Gus O’Connor’s Pub, a wonderful, eclectic place that has, among other artifacts, a photo of a rooster drinking a pint of Guinness (the caption says it was his second) and an original, signed copy of Richard Nixon’s letter of resignation, addressed to Henry Kissinger.
I’ll bet you thought I was kidding.
Lastly, we headed to the Cliffs of Moher, which famously rise over 600 feet from the ocean. Students were thrilled to see them, and even more thrilled to hear that they would not be held responsible for remembering any facts or figures relating to them.