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 From Diary 3 and the southern part, I now enters the western Ireland.
10/8 2021.
I cross over the country to get to the west. Part of the way on the big toll road, but also a line of minor roads. My first target it Kilmallock; the "best preserved medieval town". And it is actually quiet intact; only a few houses have been re-build within the last 500 years. I ask the parking-officer, if I can stay for two hours, where I'm parked. He say Yes; I will only return after lunch. That is what I call service!

Then I do both streets and the field outside town, containing a huge church-ruin. The far end the town have another, more intact church. I find some of the old city-wall and two ancient square gate-towers, within the town. Many of the shops are permanently closed, most in rather bad shape. One have green plants, growing in the windowsill inside - watered by rain. A short lane have some new houses with fantastic flower-gardens.

While I head towards the next site by the small back-roads, I pass a church ruin: The New Church. First mention as a replacement for another church on a map from 1590. Reminds me: The oldest pub in England is The New Pub.

Next to the graveyard is a lush, green meadow down to the lake. Some odd greyish Herford cattle is resting on the hill, while a strange little horse with long hairs on the legs, like huge working horses, have her little foal near by. I get the feeling; I'm in a golden age painting - and a real nice one.

That feeling only intensify, as I reach my next target; Lough Gur. Besides from the mirror-like lake, here are a line of more or less old stone buildings, some dating back 6000 years. Then green hill of Knockadoon make a great background, and the ancient walls and trees just add.

I follow several narrow trails, leading from one site to the next. The remains of the Pigions House and the artificial island dating back 1000s of years; Bolin Island Crannóg. The remains of the Bourchier's Castle and other, less visible sights. 

The larger area is scatted with sights too, and I drive around to see the Ring Forts; Carraig Áille 1 & 2. They are found way up on a grassy hill, and I get my shoos soaked once more, in the rain-wet grass. There are fare from much left of the forts, but they have been excavated, and many details have been found. And the view from the top is amassing! Lough Gur and Bourchier's Castle along with a lot of green fields and forest.

The Giants Grave is a megalithic grave from about 2,500 - 2,000 BC is real well preserved. It is made up by large, flat rocks and several constructions can be seen. Here are both inner- and outer chambers on the nine meter construction.

I pass The New Church again, and then find the giant Grange Stone Circle. It is composed of 113 standing stones, and is the largest and finest in Ireland. It was built around 2,200 BC. To the south is an entrance, indicating the structure have been significantly larger. I make a lot of photos, all failing to capture the magnificence of the structure. It is 45,7 metres in internal diameter, surrounded by a grass covered hill on the outside, reaching 64 metres in diameter.

My next site is road N69, and I head into Limerick, to catch it. It is part of The Atlantic Way, and I had expected more. Well, it follows the coast, and here are mainly nature along it, but nothing special. In Tarbert, it turns inland, but that don't help. I turn around, and stop at Askeaton, where several ruins are found. One is the ruin of a 1199 castle, and nearby Mainistir Franciscan Abbey.

I call it a day, and head back through Limerick to Ennis, where my next bed is reserved. It is a huge, old hostel, located in the middle of the town. I squeeze the car into the back-yard, and start cooking and working. Day 9.

11. I get an early start - actually too early: It is still drizzling, when I make it to Killaloe. It is a "picturesque town" and it does have a long stone-bridge from 1770. The little town itself is found on both sides of the large river, but I can do with one side, and pictures of the other, across the river. It might be the drizzle, but I am not that impressed by this town. Well, I have seen my part of pretty, Irish towns by now - in the sun.

My next site is King John's Castle, build in 1200-1212. I arrival just as they open at ten, but start with a walk around. They call it "massive", but compared to English castles, it is moderate, but well preserved. Inside, there are a exhibition, which should have been published as a book: I can't be bothered to read all that!

Some excavations are done underneath it. Around the courtyard, some work-shops with the blacksmith and stonemason are found, and a few people are fighting with swards in the yard. I climb the towers, and are only thrown out of one, as they intend to do some repelling here.

The sun start to break through the else so led-grey sky, and I make yet another set of photos. While I'm here, I might as well have a look at the central Limerick. It does have some fine, old buildings and a large area of shopping. Like everywhere else, I so much wished, I could avoid the modern cars, parked in front of the old buildings.

From a large city, to a cosy town; Adare: "Ireland's prettiest village". And I might actually be! Not only is the sun really on, it is a double line of so adorable huts and houses. I park in front of a long line of thatched roofs small houses. The large, and well groomed park come next, opposite the large church. Then the square and the colourful shops.

In the other end of town, some large thatched houses are found on large lawns. I return the the open church, and that is a treat: Arches of raw granite, magnificent windows and so quiet, compared with the town. It is divided in the middle by some arched, and have kind of two alters.

It is only just passed noon, and I head for one of tomorrow's sights. Way down on yet another peninsular, on the other side of Limerick, I find Vandelour Walled Garden, which I have been looking forward to. It is the size of a football field, well maintained, but not that pretty.

I passed through Kilrush, and it looked nice. I stop on the way back, and a walk around the old centre, reveals quite some good motives. And the perfect summer-sky do add. Only the cars spoils it.
I return home to Ennis, and give it  shoot.

It is yet another great looking town, with a river, ancient granite buildings, colourful shops and a real great granite sculpture on the square: Trading a cow. I do most of the central part, and make way too many photos. Day 10.

12. I start the day in the little town of Ennistimon. It have a rather large cascades within the town, and I park right next to the big opening in a building, leading to it. It is truly a wide river, leading through the little town, but the falls are not that high. I follow the river for quite a while, trying to get both the cascades, the arch-bridge and the colourful buildings within one frame. Further downstream are additional falls, but not as impressive. 

It is not eight yet, and only the two bakeries and a cafe are open. Here are not that many shops in the short street, but they sure look great. And where so many other towns have had their share of closed shops, this one seems to do quite well. I had hoped to get here before the parked cars, but apparently, people living here have cares as well.

The sun joins in, but kind of too low to really help in the narrow street. Realising I have at least ten photos of each building, and neither is real good, I head on. The sun is a rare guest, where the rain is more frequent, along with the rather harsh wind. Every time I stop to make a photo of the green hills or alike, the sun vanish before I get out of the car.

I am driving on R481 to get to R480, and they both are real nice countryside roads. I drive east, and make a loop back, just to have the light right. Here are endless stonewalls, mainly keeping the cattle in. The grass is so green, the clouds so dark. Here start to be fields with a lot scattered rocks on, and it look like ancient limestone. This is the beginning of the Burren.

I make a breath stop at a ancient church, only a ruin these days. Another larger castle or alike have made it slightly better through time, and it seems like these old stonewalls are scattered all over Ireland. Some imbedded in farms, some way out on fields without any trails.

The scenic road leads straight to Poulnabrone Dolmen, a 5000 year old burial site with a charismatic limestone plate construction. The entire area look like it have been sealed with limestone tiles, the vegetation is special, and quite some species are still in full flower. The small area around the megalithic grave is closed by a rope, but I'm the only one here. I don't cross the rope, but I would so much have like to remove it!

The structure is smaller than I had expected, but it is nice to finally see it. I guess it have been covered in soil, way back, just like the burial sites we have in Denmark, made by huge boulders.
I wished, I could share this experience with the sun, but only the wind is present. I do a bit of botanising in the area, but the wind spoils the photos for the most part.

A kilometre away, another ancient site is found: Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb. They look quite the same, but are within a farmers field, and he do not want visitors. I see them from the road, and let it be. They are overgrown with hassle anyway.

Caheconnell Stonefort, on the other hand, have embraced the guests. Well, after 10;30 that is. Well, the rain is pouring down, and I sit in the car and do correction on the previous diaries. Besides from the round fort, they do shows with sheep-dogs, but I use the rare sunbeams to see the ring-fort. It is not high anymore, but here are some remains of both structures within and outside the ring. It was actually in use as late as the medieval ages.

The rain returns, just as I head back to the comfort of the car. I have finished the planned sights of the day early, and as the weather is not that great, I just fool around in the Burren, slowly making my way to Galway and my hotel. Here are some brown sighs, showing off to sights, but I fail to find most interesting.

I stop several times, but the again; the sun is faster to retreat, than I am to get out of the car. Here are not much grass, except in-between the limestone. Some areas look so manmade, with long, straight ditches, but they are natural. I do a longer walk out on a gravel road, but then the rain caches up. I do manage to find a few orchids and a bunch of other flowers.

Despite the lack of grass, the fields are crossed by stonewalls, and here are a farm from time to time. I spot a castle out on the fields, and find a road to it. It is now an art school, but I get to climb the tower of Newton Castle. It is nicely restored, with a lot of oak-timber for the roof.

As I head on, the limestone start to be rather  barren on the top of the hills. I drive around some of the larger hills, and get to the fjord. Like so many other beaches, it is granite boulders, overgrown with bladder wrack, and not really that appealing on a windy day.

I spot the ruin of a huge church, but fail to find any access to it.  I turn over in An Bóthar, but not fast enough to get sun on the little harbour. Here are some fine wooden boats and ships, and a line of cafes and restaurants. Then the landscape changes into the lush green grass fields, and I head to the large city of Galway.

As I have a room in the dead centre of town, parking is tricky. I end up paying €5, which might allow me to stay till the morning. I make a cup of tea and add a mixed salad from the supermarket. I relax for a few minutes, before I hit town. Here are a large grit of more or less pedestrian streets. Musicians everywhere, and a lot of people in the streets.

Especially around the harbour, there are old buildings. I make a lot of photos of the buildings and people, knowing most will fail due to the light and general crowds. A warm and sunny day, with the right company, I guess this could be a nice town. Day 11.
                                  It is time to start on Diary 5 and the north-western Ireland

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