The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
Bummin' Around the Burren

The Route After a gloriously sunny day yesterday and a clear sky last night, it was hard to believe that today would bring the forecasted rain, but there it was when we woke up. If it just rained steadily, we could have known how to plan but the showers were scattered, varied in intensity and were interrupted by surprising sun breaks that kept us a bit off balance. So we stayed loose, improvised as we went and did the best we could under the circumstances. Somehow that always works out.

One of the sights we -- well, at least I -- wanted to see was the Cliffs of Moher. Rising 600' out of the Atlantic, they are a spectacular piece of the Irish coast. But when we got there, 1) it was pouring rain, 2) it was at least a half mile walk from the car park to the visitors center where we'd have to pay about 20 bucks to get to the cliff itself, and 3) the lot was full of tour busses. So we motored on and snagged a couple of shots off the Internet to show you what we would have seen had it not been for 1, 2, and 3. What would you have done?

We worked our way up the coast a way to the little town of Doolin, know, surprisingly, as a mecca for traditional Irish music in the pubs. That distinction may now be shared with Dingle but time was that this was the Nashville of the genre. One of the legendary pubs in Doolin is McGann's and it beckoned us to stop and refresh. So we found a cozy spot by the fire, ordered an early lunch and some adult refreshment and let the world turn without us for an hour or so. Killer fish and chips! This place was the real deal, with memorabilia everywhere and a wonderfully warm feeling of authenticity that just wrapped itself around you. Then the bus tour group arrived for lunch and it was time to beat a hasty retreat!

Given the weather, most of our sightseeing was of the drive-by variety. Margene is getting quite good at capturing still images from a moving car. Among the sights along the way; a house on the coast with a half-thatched roof. The center section is thatch, the side roofs are metal. Never seen that before. A lonely tower, obviously old but with no explanation either at the site or in any guide books. A bit of Irish wisdom from above the fireplace in McGann's. The ruin with all the windows is Leamaneh Castle. The tower on the right side is the original structure (circa 1400), the rest was added in the mid-19th century. The mossy limestone that typifies much of the burren, most likely part of a long abandoned wall, added dimension to the fields and trees. Finally, we stopped by Dysert Castle, built by Diarmuid O'Dea in 1480 and restored in 1986. It will be open again in May (tomorrow?) but now houses a tea room, museum and AV presentation of the history and archaeology of the area.

Of course, when we finally decided to stop taking chances with the on-again/off-again weather and headed back to the room, the day cleared up. But we had already put in our daily allotment of out and about time, so we took a break for a couple of hours and rallied around 6pm for dinner.

Our last supper in Ennis was a big step up from our Italian fiasco of last night. We went to the Poet's Corner Pub in the Old Ground Hotel. The online reviews of the place were all raves and rightfully so. I totally loved the classic feel of this place and was impressed with the number of different nooks and crannies where you could gather to chat. If I worked in Ennis, this would be the destination of choice for an after-work drink with friends. The staff was alert and smiling, their service was refreshingly attentive and the kitchen did a great job with both Margene's quiche and my lamb cutlets. Two thumbs up from the Marvins!

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