We said goodbye to Scotland and caught a flight to Shannon, Ireland (Glasgow to Shannon on FlyBE…. highly recommended!). Shannon Airport was immaculate and friendly. One of our youngest left his iPod on the plane, and when we called the main line to check on it, they already had it and were holding it for us. An airport worker walked it out to us in the terminal and gave our son a smile and a happy “you be more careful now, lad!”
Our first glimpse of Ireland was an amazing rainbow when leaving the airport. Perfect Irish welcome! The twins wanted to search for the gold at the end of the rainbow, but dad was exhausted and wanted to find our home for the week. We had rented a house at the last-minute so the owner, Seamus, gave us an amazing deal. We were thrilled to drive up and find such a wonderful house. It has a large yard so the boys are in grass heaven and there is a pub with great food down the street. It was so nice that we decided to extend our time here. Our first couple of days were very stormy so we settled in and relaxed. When the weather cleared up we set out to see County Clare.
The first day we went to the town of Galway. Then we went to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs are 700 feet tall and are truly amazing to see in person. It’s really beautiful. The park also has an interactive visitor experience, which the boys loved. They have some great computer exhibits that let you explore the coast and a wonderful 3D movie. The whole experience became even more fun by the crazy wind that keep blowing us off the path! The wind was so strong that it almost blew my camera out of my hand.
One thing that I love about the UK and Ireland is the vast array of kid friendly pubs. Every pub we’ve been to has had a kids’ menu. On our way to the Cliffs, we found yet another restaurant with a playground. It’s so nice to sit and relax while the boys run around. Stonecutter’s Lodge was a particular favorite that we went back to because the boys loved it so much.
We are staying in an area of County Clare know for its moon-like landscape called the Burren. The Burren is formed of limestone pavements that were deposited as sediments in a tropical sea about 350 million years ago. It’s said to contain fossilized sea urchins, coral and ammonites. It’s referred to as one of the finest examples of a glacio-karst landscape in the world.
While there, we visited an archeological site in the Burren called Poulnabrone Dolmen. It’s a megalithic tomb. The Poulnabrone Dolmen was built by people living in this area back in the Neolithic period, between 3800 and 3600 BCE. A dolmen is an arrangement of large stones used as graves for multiple people. Archaeologists found 22 people from the Neolithic period. Sixteen adults, six children, and one newborn (from the Bronze Age) were found buried there. The boys enjoyed visiting the dolmen, but mostly because it was in the middle of the Burren and they could jump around the rocks!
We also went to one of Ireland’s many caves. Aillwee Cave includes over 1 kilometer of passages leading into the heart of the mountain. Many areas can only be reached using scuba gear. A large river used to carve its way through most of the cave but little remains of it but the cave still includes several underground waterfalls.
The boys loved the waterfalls, stalagmites and bear den (including 1000 year old bear bones). But we were not too thrilled when the guide turned out all the lights for 60 seconds so we could “appreciate” what the cave was like when they found it or when he turned them out again as a joke. We were very happy to get back up to the light of day.
Next we went in search of a market to shop for dinner. Rich missed the turn in the town of Ballyvaughan and we ended up in a small harbor. There was a small pasture next to the water with 5 donkeys grazing. We stopped to watch them and they came over to say hello. A local woman told us that the 2 smallest were babies. Daisy was 7 weeks and Lucy was 4 months old. They were very sweet, and it was an unexpected highlight of our day.
Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, Ireland
Stone Cutters Kitchen
This is a great family Restaurant on the highway from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher. They have an extensive kids menu, a gluten-free menu and a fantastic choice of sweets. They also have two playgrounds (one is for 4 and under only. You cane dine in the 100-year-old stone cottage or on picnic tables with views of the playground. The Guinness Beef Stew was really memorable.