The Burren is a karst landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites. The area of the National Park is the only part of the Burren that has been subjected to any major tectonic disturbance. Elsewhere in the Burren the limestone beds are flat except for a very slight tilting to the south west. In the National Park substantial folding of the rock can be seen at Mullaghmór.

The Burren

a karst landscape of bedrock

Glenlo Abbey Hotel and the

Pullman Restaurant, Galway

The hotel is set in the grounds of a stunning 138 acre estate on the edge of Southern Ireland’s largest lake, Lough Corrib, near Galway. Our special dinner was in their ‘Pullman Restaurant’; two former railway carriages that once served on the Orient Express. The train may not have left the station but, nevertheless, we embarked on a romantic, exquisite taste journey.   From our deluxe room we enjoyed a wonderful panoramic view over the railway carriages and estate to the lough. Breakfast in the beautiful River room was excellent.  It was a wonderful place to stay.

The 8km stretch of cliffs reach a height of 214m. Carved out by a gigantic river delta around 320 million years ago, the imposing cliffs offer incredible views, stretching over Galway Bay, the distant Twelve Pins mountain range and the northern Maum Turk Mountains. It is one of the country’s most visited natural attractions. There is a charge of 6 euros per person for parking and entry, if you arrive by car.

The Cliffs of Moher

a dramatic range of cliffs

The city’s hub is the 18th-century Eyre Square, surrounded by shops and traditional pubs that often offer live Irish folk music. Nearby, cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter, which retains portions of the medieval city walls. Christopher Columbus allegedly once prayed at the 14th-century St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, and 16th-century townhouse. Lynch’s Castle that is now a bank (with an exhibition room). The Spanish gate built in 1584 and part of 4 original arches was an extension of the city walls and provided a way onto the new quays and as a protection for ships. There are only two arches left now after a tidal wave created near Lisbon in 1755 partially destroyed the wall. Galway Cathedral, sitting on the banks of the River Corrib is the youngest of Europe’s great cathedrals as it was only dedicated in August 1965. Built out of Galway limestone, it mixes several architectural styles to stunning effect including the Gothic arches and Romanesque tower. Not to be missed is the knitwear made in the nearby Aran Islands and, of course, an evening in an Irish pub with live entertainment.


a vibrant harbour city on the west coast

The Poulnabrone Dolmen portal tomb is one of around 90 neolithic burial sites in the region and one of 174 portal tombs in Ireland. Portal tombs have two large portal stones standing on either side of an entrance capped with a massive sloping capstone. Radiocarbon dates place its use between 3,800 - 3,600 BC. The first excavation of Poulnabrone Dolmen was in 1986 and 1988 when the remains of up to 22 individuals from the Neolithic were found. Sixteen adults, six children, and one newborn (from the Bronze Age) were among the remains. Their bodies were not cremated. Only one adult was over the age of 40 while most died before they reached 30. Most of the children were between the ages of five and fifteen. Their remains show evidence of arthritis.

Poulnabrone Dolmen

a neolithic portal tomb

You’ll know you’re in Connemara when you enter a vast beautiful bogland, but as you drive along the landscape becomes a mixture of rivers, lakes, woodlands, rich meadowlands, rugged hills, dramatic mountains and as you near the coast you’ll find an unpolluted coastline of sandy beaches and blue waters. As we were there in winter much of the grass was brown but we were assured that it is very green in the summer. The main town in the Connemara region is the quintessential Clifden with lots of quirky shops, restaurants and traditional Irish pubs. Connemara is a Gaeltacht area, which means it is Irish- speaking. The natives cherish their Irish culture, heritage and traditions.

Connemara National Park 

an area of beautiful scenery

Killary Harbour is a sea inlet that has been described as Ireland´s only true fjord; carved by glaciers and deeper along parts of its length than it is at its mouth. The mountains of Mweelrea and Ben Gorm dominate the northern side of Killary Harbour, while the Devilsmother, Leenane Hill and the rugged little hill called Binn Mhór rise on the southern side of the inlet. Mussel farms are plentiful along the fjord. There is an old famine road on the southern side and you can follow it from Bunowen to Killary Harbour Youth Hostel then loop around the hill to return back on the same shore. Or you can return on the road passing Lough Muck and Lough Fee. It’s a beautiful walk.

Killary Fjord

Ireland’s only true fjord

Originally built by Mitchell Henry in 1867 as a romantic gift for his beloved wife this gothic castle is now home to the Benedictine Order of nuns, Kylemore Abbey is surrounded by stunning Connemara scenery. Sadly, visitors can only see five of the Abbey's restored rooms, although they can also see the miniature gothic church and Victorian walled garden. (It seems a high entrance fee for so little to see of the Abbey itself.) Originally the Victorian walled gardens held 21 heated glass houses producing all kinds of exotic fruit and vegetables laid out in lavish style. Over the years as the Abbey changed hands the gardens gradually fell into decline until eventually the walls surrounded only brambles and weeds. The gardens were restored and opened to the public in 2000. Two glass houses have been put back in place, along with the head gardeners house and the workers bothy.  

Kylemore Abbey

a romantic gift

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel is an idyllic, picturesque old castle, dating from 1756, that overlooks a salmon fishery on the Owenmore River. The beautiful, scenic 450-acre estate is set among rugged landscape and forest with the 12 Ben’s Mountain range as the backdrop. There are 5 km of peaceful woodland, lakeshore and riverside walks around the Estate. It was wonderful to sit and admire the view from our room overlooking the river and hill beyond. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Excellent customer service in resolving any issues.

Ballynahinch Castle Hotel

a picturesque old castle

Click to enlarge