Day 11: Walking to Poulnabrone Dolmen and Back
Sunday 26 Jun 2011 - Sunday 26 Jun 2011
The morning dawned brit and sunny, a beautiful day to go a-walking. I wanted to visit some of the archeological sights here and this was going to be my only opportunity.
I set out after breakfast along the road, starting with the same route I went on Saturday. Instead of turning toward Aillwee Cave though, I continued straight and found the Ballyaban Ringfort. This was built by digging a circular trench and piling the dirt into walls on the inside of the trench. Likely, there were wooden defenses, ramparts and buildings that did not survive the ages.
Farther along the road I discovered a small path leading up a hill. It was unmarked, but there was a short stone fence with a narrow open gateway in it that indicated to me that I should enter. I followed the path to the top and found Cahermore, a stone fort that was built in Medieval times.not much remains of it, just the entryway and two small rooms. Apparently it consisted of a large stone wall built in a circle, and off the wall were small rooms like those near the entrance. Within the wall were other buildings, the keep, and so forth. Nothing remains of these.
I soon hit the road again, consulting my tourist pamphlet which read "a little further along on the left is Poulnabrone..." I took it at it's word and continued walking.
After a while, I began to wonder if this guide had been written for walkers, after all. I walked on thinking it must be just a little further on. I passed a number of nice cottages and farmhouses but no Dolmen. I walked on. I came to a pullout, a vista point along the road where you can stop and snap photos of the view from the top of the hills surrounding the Burren. I did so and swore that if I did not see some sign soon, I would turn around. I walked on. I finally saw a sign saying that Poulnabrone Dolmen was 1km ahead, and that Ballyvaughan was 8km behind me.
Well, since I was so close to my destination, I decided to push ahead. I rounded a curve, then maybe one or two more and there it was. Not quite what I was expecting, but interesting nonetheless. Like Stonehenge in England, Poulnabrone is a tourist attraction, and unlike the stone and ring forts I had passed earlier, it had been developed as such. No teahouse or gift shop, but a large parking area for busses and ropes around the Dolmen itself, with the corresponding "no entry" signs. I arrived at the peak of a tourist feeding frenzy, so I held back until they had swarmed over the site and were summoned back to their busses by their queens.
In the late 90s, the dolmen had been excavated because of damage to one of it's post stones. They found that over thirty people had been buried there. The remains were from Neolithic times, but the indications were that they had been removed from another gravesite and reburied here. They also found the remains of a child buried here during the Bronze Age.
I sat and contemplated this for some time but came to no conclusions or revelations. I took photos and wandered the site for a bit, the headed back. The trip back was mostly downhill, but it still seemed as long as the one out. At Ailwee Cave, I stopped and purchased some water, something I should have done on the way out. I then joined the Loop Walk and headed into town. Although the day had been sunny with scudding clouds up until this point, the sky suddenly seemed to fill with gray. Soon a heavy mist was falling.
I walked the road in silence, listening to the susurration of the wind in the trees, the birds calling and the cattle grunting and lowing. It was all quite pleasant.
I finished the loop in town and rehydrated myself. I said hello to the grocery cat and sat outside with her for a spell.
For supper I went to Logue's Lodge and had their Roast Lamb with Potatoes and Veg (as opposed to Chips and Salad). The lamb, although on the well done side off medium, was very tasty and they provided me with four genorous slices. The potatoes and veg were a meal in themselves, and I had to leave them unfinished. There were three small potatoes, boiled, a large helping of mashed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower with white sauce, boiled carrots, and mashed carrots. The mashed carrots were remarkably tasty, and I was surprised that I enjoyed them as much as I did. Perhaps there was more in them than carrots, but I certainly couldn't tell. I washed this all down with a pint of Guinness.
Although it was still early in the evening, I returned to my lodgings and abruptly crashed for the night. So much walking, approximately 12miles according to Google maps. Then good food and good drink, no wonder I crashed.