17.04.2013 - 17.04.2013 13 °C
The glorious weather of yesterday has transitioned into liquid sunshine overnight. It was not a great tragedy as we chose to sleep in and then spend the morning washing clothes. The laundry process involves stringing up a number of clotheslines in our suite-so imagine an old Chinese laundry.
It also happened to be the day of Margaret Thatcher's funeral which we watched live on the BBC. I am not sure what amount of media attention her death has received in North America, but it is a huge story here. The controversy her tenure as prime minister still elicits is significant. The Irish have a great deal to say about her as well and very little is positive. The Wizard of Oz song, "Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead," is frequently referenced. Fortunately, the funeral was a much more respectful affair and was made even more fascinating to watch by the fact that we had just visited Saint Paul's Cathedral a few weeks ago and also had seen some of uniformed regiments from the funeral on parade at Buckingham Palace.
With most of the laundry done, Muriel and I were itching to get out for a walk; rain or shine. The nice thing about Irish weather is if you wait a few minutes the weather you wanted will make an appearance, if only briefly. Kinvara is located on the edge of the The Burren (from the Irish: Boireann, meaning "great rock") which is geologically known as a karst landscape. Karst is where parts of bedrock are dissolved by water causing all sorts of cracking, fracturing and cratering. In parts of Ireland, this dissolving process has created huge underwater rivers and caves. In the case of The Burren, the landscape looks like an even scattering of flat boulders that covers dozens of square kilometers of rolling hills and very low mountains. Throughout The Burren, farmers have over the centuries moved tonnes of this rock to create grazing land for sheep and cows and then piled the rock into fencelines that can extend for kilometers and traverse an entire mountain. It makes for a surreal and ancient looking landscape. We set out to explore part of this rugged and crumbling terrain.
About five kilometers from our temporary home is one of many trailheads into this region. At the top of a low mountain we could see a cairn made from piled stone and made it our goal. It was a 40 minute climb to the top. The faraway view of the ocean, grazing land, and farms beyond the karst landscape was spectacular. Photographs could not take in the immensity of the view or convey the atmosphere created by the vast carpet of broken grey stone. It is a terrain that appears alien and barren but is juxtaposed with subtle signs of life at every turn. There are small patches or threads of grassland every couple hundred meters and ample evidence of its recent use by livestock. Over every few rolls in the landscape one spots an ancient fence that seemingly divides one empty wasteland from another.
Throughout our walk we fought a fierce wind. It was powerful enough to make you lose your footing and cause an earache if you hiked at right angles to it. There were some reprieves. Within a span of twenty minutes we experienced bright sunshine, thick cloud, driving rain followed by a gentle warming breeze and then a return to the more dominant condition of near clothes-shredding wind. This parade of weather formed a cycle that repeated itself several times during our journey.
After snapping a large quantity of photographs, we eventually made our way back to our car a little ruffled by the conditions but greatly enthused by this land called Ireland.