Into the Burren

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The Burren

This past weekend I went hiking with NUIG’s mountaineering club which buses out about 40 students and staff every Sunday to hike around the countryside. None of Ireland’s mountains are particlarly high, but they are steep and because they’re small, you can bag multiple peaks in a day. This time (my first outing with the club) we went down to the Burren which is about an hour South of Galway along the coast. After a sleepy morning bus ride, what looked like 2,000 foot flat-topped shelves rose out of the slowly rising mist.

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First Peak…almost there!

I hiked with the middle-paced group summiting three peaks. The hiking was like nothing I’d done before as we ascended up steeply through farmer’s fields which we ran through quickly to avoid disgruntled owners. Then it was up and over a series of rolling limestone steps until we reached the summit. I have no idea where the actual high elevation point was located, but there was an increadibly smooth and gray limestone arena to play in. Pieces of softer rock had eroded so that deep cracks ran through the surfaces at regular intervals, cutting the mountain into a chess board. Our hike leader told me Ireland used to be at the bottom of a sea and that we were standing on what was the bottom of an ancient ocean. Go geology!

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On the bed of an ancient ocean

One of Ireland’s greatest villains, General Cromwell, sent out his lieutenant-general Edmund Lunlow to Ireland for the Seige of Limerick in 1650. Ludlow nearly completed the conquest of the entire island by 1652, wiping out the Irish guerilla’s crops and families. During counter-guerilla operations in the Burren, he’s known for saying “It is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.” To me he seems nothing short of blind, but that’s probably to be expected from a man who directed the killing of thousands of people.

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Inflated by the wind…it never stops!
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This field is deceptively innocent looking.

After rolling over the next two peaks which were very similar to the first and taking a singing/pb and j break, we began the descent over shrubby fields pocked with holes. The scrub was so thick with heather and grasses that it felt like walking through deep snow drifts. I would go bouncing down the soft footing only to suddenly feel my leg drop down a foot into the earth. Definitely kept me on my toes.

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After rolling over the next two peaks which were very similar to the first and taking a singing/pb and j break, we began the descent over shrubby fields pocked with holes. The scrub was so thick with heather and grasses that it felt like walking through deep snow drifts. I would go bouncing down the soft footing only to suddenly feel my leg drop down a foot into the earth. Definitely kept me on my toes.

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We came out on a road abundant with blackberries which are in season until October. YUM. Accordingly, we snacked all the way into town until we reached the pub.

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