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marianne Kinvara - A travel report by Marianne
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Kinvara,  Ireland - flag Ireland -  Galway
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marianne's travel reports

Kinvara and the Burren (west Ireland)

  14 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4
Burren or Boireann is Irish for rocky country, that's exactly what the Burren is. It consists of bare limestone rocks crisscrossed by vertical cracks, with a profusion of wild flowers growing in these narrow fissures.

Kinvara Harbour
Kinvara Harbour
Kinvara is a one-street village with a small stone harbour lined with pastel-coloured houses, some shops and various pubs. I was here on a sunny afternoon and the scene and atmosphere reminded me very much of a mediterranean fishing village.

Just north of Kinvara, but within walking distance is Dunguaire Castle which was built in 16th century. It is open to the public from May to September from 9.30am - 5pm.

In the 1920s the castle was restored and became the venue for literary meetings of W.B. Yeats, his patron Lady Gregory, George Bernard Shaw, Edward Martin and J.M. Synge.

Nowadays the castle is a museum and hosts Medieval Banquets in the evening. The exhibits in the castle give an insight into the lifestyle of people who lived from 16th century to today. Each floor is dedicated to a particular period in history. The gift shop has the usual assortment of souvenirs ranging from Arran knitwear to Connemara marble rings and bracelets.

We did not do it, but in summer there are Medieval Banquets accompanied by song, storytelling and poetry reading. These must be booked in advance. Reservation can be made through or call 1-800-269811

Favourite spots:
The Burren, polished limestone stretching in every direction
The Burren, polished limestone stretching in every direction
Kinvara is in the Burren, the region in the northern part of counties Clare and Galway. The Burren is characterised by kilometres of polished limestone stretching in every direction.

This area was once covered in woodlands but farmers began to clear it, so that the land could be used for grazing. Over the time the soil eroded and masses of limestone began to appear. This was a long process because deforestation began 6000 years ago. Still it is a poignant reminder of what will happen to the soil and environment once trees have been removed.

The burren is famous for its megalithic wedge-shaped tombs, ring forts, high crosses and tower houses. The ring forts were built during the Iron Age period and still inhabited in the 16th century. The tower houses protected people from cattle raids and militay threats.

What's really great:
High Cross
High Cross
The tiny village of Kilfenora is 8 km south-east of Lisdoonvarna and was an important ecclesiastical site, hence a 12th century mini-cathedral and six stone crosses in the churchyard.

High Crosses were status symbols for monasteries. It is a standing, richly ornamented cross, with a circle where the two arms of the cross meet. The ring initially served to strengthen the head and the arms but it soon became a decorative feature. This round circle is made of stone and often richly ornamented. High Crosses have existed from the 7 century and can still be found in modern cemetries.

Lots of small winding roads in this part of Ireland make finding the way pretty difficult. I used Ordnance Survey Map; West Ireland. ISBN 1-903974-81-X, which I bought in Galway City.

Dunguaire Castle
Dunguaire Castle
Ringforts were early medieval farmstead and enclosed by round drystone walls. The role of the wall was to give shelter to the family, its livestock and their possessions. Ringforts were home to extended families consisting of 40 people or more. At least that is what archeologists think.

Cahercommaun ringfort is 3 km south of Carron on a minor road.

Leamaneh Castle was a multi-storied Irish tower house. Today all that is left is the tower house and the four adjoining walls. It is situated at the junction of Ballyvaughan, Corofin and Kilfenora roads.

Poulnabrone Dolmen, a large portal tomb, is in a field east of the Ballyvaughan - Corrofin Road (R480)

Doorus House
Doorus House
Doorus House is An Óige hostel (youth hostel) and 6 km to the north-west of the village of Kinvara, just off the N67 main road to Balyvaughan and slightly difficult to find.

These days the not-so-very-young (age range 30 -40) come to stay. Backpacking youngsters find it too far away from 'city-life'. The nearest pub is in Kinvara village.

The dorms are spacious and have stunning views of the countryside. The downstairs sitting room has comfortable arm chairs and an open fire. A plaque on the wall tells that W.B. Yeats and lady Augusta Gregory made plans for the Abbey Theatre in Dublin when they stayed in this house.

Kinvara travelogue picture
There is no nightlife in Doorus House. The nearest pub is in Kinvara, 6 km away. In June the sun sets at 10 pm and it stays light another half hour. The picture shows the scenery around Doorus House. It is still the same as it was when I stayed here for the first time, now 40 years ago.

Kinvara Main Street
Kinvara Main Street

Kinvara is on the tourist trail and bus loads of tourists stop in summer. We were here in June and the village was very quiet.

The Winding Stairs
The Winding Stairs
It is only 20 km from Kinvara to Gort, a village without anything special to see and that's why we did not stay long. We took the Loughrea road (N66) for about some 3 km and followed the sign to Thoor Ballylee.

This tower was the summer home of W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), poet, dramatist and critic. It is the place where he wrote his poem The Second Coming.

Originally, the tower was a Norman fortified house and dates back to the 13th century. Yeats bought it in 1916 for £35, a ridiculously low price, but at the time no one was interested in it.

To leave here is to leave beauty behind is what Yeats says in his poem The Tower. That is exactly the feeling I had when standing on top of the tower and taking in the view of the surrounding hills and fields.

Other recommendations:
Yeats' summer home
Yeats' summer home
The tour of the castle begins with an audio-visual presentation about Yeats the poet and Yeats the man. Inside the tower it is cool and slightly dark. Thick walls prevent heat from penetrating. It must have been pretty cold in winter.

Each floor contains one room, all with an open peat fire. There is the dining room, one floor up the sitting room, above this the bedroom and on the top floor Yeats' study which was never finished. Worn out stone stairs lead up. They inspired him to write The Winding Stairs.

In each room there is a push-button audio show telling about the Tower's history. Male and female voices recite several of Yeats' poems.

Published on Wednesday June 20th, 2007

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Thu, Aug 09 2007 - 05:03 AM rating by jorgesanchez

very didactic report. thanks

Fri, Aug 03 2007 - 10:50 PM rating by downundergal

Top notch as usual, great pictures. the Yeats cottage one is really pretty.

Fri, Jun 29 2007 - 01:33 PM rating by magsalex

Great report - packed with Info!

Thu, Jun 21 2007 - 11:19 PM rating by worldcitizen

Ireland!A place I definately want to visit. And after reading your report, I surely will! This is a descriptive, detailed and beautifully written report!As always, one of the best!

Thu, Jun 21 2007 - 11:05 PM rating by horourke

What wonderful angles you have chosen for the photos of these sights in The Burren and at Dunguaire. The wonderful soft lighting of the Yeats cottage is so chacteristic of our climate. You have shown me my homeland in a new light.

Wed, Jun 20 2007 - 04:25 PM rating by eirekay

Marianne, the pictures are truly stunning and so effective in this report. your style is a model for all of us! Just wonderful!


Wed, Jun 20 2007 - 09:44 AM rating by rangutan

Another perfect example of how travel reports should be written! Long report but flowing "to-the-point" interesting info and tips.
(I'd enjoy a Medieval Banquet :-) [4.85]

Wed, Jun 20 2007 - 08:40 AM rating by frenchfrog

Really great report, many details included, enought to show that you can have such a great time!

Wed, Jun 20 2007 - 07:56 AM rating by christianj.

Hi Marianne,

your report arouses the readers interest for that region, at least mine. Together with your beautiful pictures it's an informative, amazing report.

Regards, Christian

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