Traveling Nancy

Traveling around the world as far as I can go.

Ballyvaughan to Carran

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Jerry, our host in Ballyvaughan,  drove us to the beginning of today’s hike.  After walking for a short time away from Ballyvaughan, we could look back at the beautiful green fields behind us.

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The comparison between the green fields from the rock walls just overwhelms me.

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The fields of limestone have verticals cracks that are called “grykes” and they are sometimes hidden and sometimes not.

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We entered what is called an open karst landscape with exposed bedrock, stonewalls, and occasional bushes and trees.  Karst is a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks including limestone, dolomite and gypsum.
When we reached a plateau we were surrounded by a limestone landscape that was dotted with windswept trees. It was  mystical.

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This rock was so beautiful.

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I love looking through it.

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You can see the green fields  in front of us and the limestone in the distance.

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The trees are all being blown in the same direction. When we walked the wind always seem to be in our face.

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Soon we were on a wide track which is known as a ‘bog road’ and as we walked along we could see signs of turf cutting all around us. The peat is a commodity in the Burren and is dried and used is heating material.

The field of flowers in front of the bog was beautiful.   I gained an appreciation of all the bog we had walk-through on previous days.

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Here you can see some piled up on the side of the track.

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The blog area is shared by many people. Each person has their own section that they can cut and dry.  I think the bog is about 4 to 5 feet deep and it takes a lot of work to cut it out, turn it over, wait for it to dry,  and get it ready to be useful.

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I loved seeing another group of possum plants like we had seen several weeks ago. I had to do a couple close-up photos.

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Of course, there were more beautiful flowers. I wish I knew the names instead of just calling them purple …

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And tiny blue…

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And pink..

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We came  to the stone Fort or Caher of  Cahermacnaghten which was the location of the School of Brehon Law.   It was run by the  O’Davorin  Family until the 17th century. Prior to English rule Brehon Law  was Ireland’s on indigenous system of law and it dated from the Celtic times.

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We descended into a small valley of  Lissylisheen.  In this area people had to build structures to collect rainwater for the cattle because almost all of the rivers run underground.

Then we came to Kilcorney  where we could see some caves in the cliffs  across the field. The largest of them is known as “The Cave of the Wild Horses.” It is at least 1 km deep. Local story tells that in times of flood, a herd of wild horses with magical properties will race from the cave mouth. One possible explanation for this story is that after a lot of rain the groundwater table off and rises so much that the cave fills with water and streams out of the cave mouth onto the valley floor above.

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We walked an extra couple kilometers to see another ring fort.  This one is called Caherconnell Stone Fort.   This one is bigger than most forts and was built in the 10th century A.D. by high status, possibly royal family (those that ruled the area).  It was in use right through the start of the 17th century with each phase of occupation producing houses and associated features and plentiful artifacts.  The owners may have been ancestors of the O’Loughlin family that owned Caherconnell in later medieval times.

The  walls around the fort are of drystone construction which is similar to other fortes we have seen.   On the outside it’s slopes slightly inwards, making it more stable.

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It would’ve needed regular maintenance to  keep it in repair. This work may have been performed as a kind of labor service by Lester families who were bound to the residence of Caherconnell.

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Near the entrance on the inside they found the remains of some human burials. One held the remains of a toddler and a baby, while another held the remains of a woman who was at least 45 years old when she died. It is believed that these ancestors died in the sixth or seventh century and were deliberately included in the new, 10th century cashed settlement.

Excavations in the area found a fire pit dating from the seventh century A.D., well before the Cashel was built in the late 10th-century.

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The remains of two structures were uncovered and natural hollow or ‘doline’  and we’re probably used for food storage.

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On the west side of the fort part of the cashel wall collapsed a long time ago as evidenced by the fine old Elderberry Bush that grows from the tumbled wall material. Early modern folklore often attach supernatural tales to such cashels and  refers to them as ‘fairy forts’.

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Superstitions help the ring fortes because people were afraid to enter them.

This is a quer stone which was used for grinding.

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A ‘Kid Cro’ (The stone build shelter for kids, goats, or lambs, no more than 200 years old).  It is a reminder that additional outbuildings and domestic orders probably stood adjacent to many cashels.

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They are continuing to excavate and learn. There is so much more information about this fort even now, but that is all I can say.

We had one more place to visit on this hike.   So we walked a bit further until we arrived at Poulnabrone Portal Tomb.   Over 90 megalithic tombs unknown to survive in the Burren.  The earliest of these court tombs and portal tombs were built  and the fourth millennium BC.  The portal to build here at Poulnabrone is one of two constructed in the Burren  and the best preserved in the country.

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At the time this tomb was constructed, the local landscape would’ve looked much different than it does today.  Open Pine forests with some elm and  and hazel were widespread.   There would’ve been little grass.  Much of today’s barren land is the result of  extensive soil loss and later prehistoric times.

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The remains of 33 adults, children, and infants we found here.  It is likely that the bones which were very fragmented were buried someplace else and moved to this tomb in about 3000 BC.    The area has a very spiritual feel to it. .  The area is not fenced off so anybody can come in to see it. We learned from one of the groundsmen that people have come in here and broken rocks, build fires, spray-painted it, and totally disrespected the area in other ways. One of them actually asked him if it would be okay if he took a nude photographs of himself in front of the tomb.   This was the same man who taught us about how people stood up the rock slabs in the other areas we saw and how I probably shouldn’t be adding rocks to the cairns.

Julianne, our host for this night,  pick us up as we were walking towards Carran.  Our B&B is a couple of kilometers from the only local place to eat. So she drove us back there to have dinner.

At  about 10:30 PM Julianne took me with her to a place called Vaughan’s Pub or ‘The Barn’ for short.  It is a place where people do Irish dancing on Sunday night. I even got to do one of the dances, the only one with easy steps, with them. I had such a great time.

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The  music was wonderful.

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Most of the dances were very complicated, but I had so much fun watching people dance.

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What a fabulous way to end my day.

Author: Nancy Panitch

Traveling has been a passion of Nancy Panitch's life and she loves seeing how people in other cultures live. Her travels have taken her to many places within the United States, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. Being around people inspires her and she has much gratitude for the kindred Souls that are joining together with her in body, mind, and heart. She moved from Chicago to Portland, Oregon in 1982. It was one of the best decisions of her life. While in Portland she stays very, VERY busy. She volunteers (Inter-Religious Action Network, Human Rights Council, & ushering for various theaters); attends a Unitarian Universalist church; goes hiking with groups (Cascade Prime Timers & Trails Club of Oregon) and also with individual friends. Book groups, movie group, and bridge groups occupy her time as well. Her quiet activities include yoga, knitting, Sudoku, and reading. She enjoys all of these activities, but making time to see her wonderful 4 grandchildren takes priority over it all. She is happy to share this blog and hopes to encourage others to travel.

One thought on “Ballyvaughan to Carran

  1. What a wonderful trip, all while sitting in a comfortable chair! I’ve enjoyed the journey with you Nancy. Thanks for the photos and the history too. Grace

    Like

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