Thursday, July 7–Ennis, Co Clare

Kilfenora; the Burren Centre; Kilfenora Church of Ireland parish church; Dysert O'Dea; waiting at my B&B for my hosts; Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul; dinner at Brogan's; back to Brogan's for some live trad music and an Irish coffee

Glen Cove B&B

Black VW Passat sedan



I completely forgot to go to the Doolin Cave until I was already well on my way out of town in the other direction.

I found Kilfenora all right using the Garmin sat nav–it's large enough to be listed, since it's a designated village. It's rather a small town best known for three things, all of which are located right next to each other: the very well done Burren Centre also has a display room about the main reason most people have even heard of Kilfenora, the Kilfenora Ceili Band, which has the possible distinction of being the longest continuously performing music group in Ireland since their founding in 1909; and the lovely ruins of the cathedral with its famous collection of Celtic crosses right next door--part of the old building was converted to the local Church of Ireland parish church.

I had also intended to visit the Burren National Park which is somewhere near my next town, Corofin, but didn't see the sign on the way and went to the old castle/fortified tower of Dysert O'Dea which I had planned on doing anyway. The exhibits in the tower and the very nice lady working there was very friendly and informative. I actually made it all the way up to the roof level for the wonderful views of the rolling green hills of Clare which I'd been driving through all day. I hadn't had lunch yet, so before I left I had a lovely piece of barmbrack, which is sort of like a fruitcake but with mostly raisins and no nuts.

Dysert O'Dea is perhaps best known for currently being owned by a family from Wisconsin who bought it back not long ago. Dysert has apparently only been owned by two families, with the usual interruption by Cromwellian occupation, for most of its history. It's also on a trail of 25 nearby archaeological sites. I only went to two of them, the ones closest to the tower–an old Celtic cross in the middle of a field, and the ruins of an old church and round tower and cemetery next to it. As I was wandering around the cemetery I noticed two guys working–I then noticed their van, and they worked for a local funeral monument company.

Somewhere between Kilfenora and Corofin, I think, I stopped to visit the lovely ruins of an old church and graveyard right beside the road. It might have been between Corofin and Ennis. I was the only person there except for an older man who might have been a local with family buried there.

As usual, the Garmin sat nav didn't list my B&B but Google Maps did. Ennis is a fairly large city, and I got to the city limits well before I got to the center of town which I then drove through and out for five to ten minutes into the surrounding countryside.

No one was home when I got here except for a small dog who kept quietly to himself. It was lovely today, the nicest weather we've had since I've been in Ireland and I had actually taken my sweatshirt off earlier, so I just sat on the bench in the front yard of my B&B. I was here waiting for about 45 minutes and had left a voice mail and sent an email but I only had the house phone number. I was getting kind of desperate and was actually looking on Priceline for somewhere else to stay in Ennis when my hosts returned from a short shopping trip. While I was sitting out front waiting it was quite amusing listening to the sheep in the field right next door and cows slightly further away.

Glen Cove, my B&B is quite nice and my room is cozy and comfortable if a bit smaller than my guest/downstairs bedroom at home. It's in a lovely neighborhood. When I asked them, my hosts who are a friendly older couple, told me that the house is over ten years old but most of the ones across the street are much newer.

I had asked my hosts about them calling a cab for me a bit later but they themselves were going to be leaving for a funeral around 6 PM and offered to drop me off downtown on their way but I got a ride with some nice friends of theirs who had come the house before going to the same funeral. They dropped me off at a large, new hotel not far from the tourist center in the center of town and told me how to find that.

I had earlier asked my hosts where to go to listen to some good traditional music in town and also looked online, and while I was wandering around I went past at least two of the places that had been recommended. One of them, Brogans, had a sign out front saying their live music actually started at 7:30 instead of 9:30 or 10 (it just occurred to me that early start might be because the musicians end earlier there and then go on to other venues).

While I was wandering around town before dinner at Brogans I went into the very beautiful Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. I took several pictures and hope I didn't disturb the only other person who was there too much, since he was probably either praying or meditating.

I had a very nice dinner at Brogans and then wandered around for a bit exploring the town more and came back to Brogans shortly before 8 PM and by coincidence I saw two musicians going in a side door.

At first I had to sit on a stool but shortly later the couple sitting at the table nearest the musicians finished their dinner and left, and I snagged the table. I think the three guys who were playing–mandolin, fiddle, and flute–noticed I was the one there paying the most attention to their playing. While I was there listening to the music I had another dessert, a Bailey's cheesecake, and an Irish coffee.

I left a bit after 9 PM and found my way back to the hotel where I had been dropped off. The nice people working in the bar called a cab for me. I had been given something with the B&B's address on it, but it's not an address like I'm used to with a house number and street but seemed more like a designation of what neighborhood it's in. The cabby who picked me up wasn't familiar with this particular area and couldn't find the B&B until I brought it up in Google Maps on my Irish Android smart phone again. He was a nice guy and I enjoyed his company and he said he was going to discount the fare a bit so that was OK.

There's no desk in my room so I've been using the tables here in the very nice breakfast room instead. My hosts are quite friendly and wanted to chat for a bit so I didn't get started planning where I want to go on the way to Limerick tomorrow and then typing these notes up so it's already after midnight, but as usual I'm more tired than sleepy.

Tomorrow I want to visit the Clare Abbey on the way back downtown first, and then visit the Clare Museum and the friary which are both there. On the way out of town, I think I'll go to Craggaunowen, which has a recreation of what the Bronze Age settlements in this area might have looked like, and then go on to the Brian Boru heritage centre in Killaloe on the way to Limerick. I need to find my hotel early enough to check in and then head back to Bunratty.

Ten years ago on the CIE tour we had dinner and the show in the folk village. I wanted to do that again this trip and had made a reservation for it, but before I left home I got an email that the evening's event in the folk village had been cancelled because too few people had signed up for it but would I like to go to the medieval banquet in the castle instead? I've seen the banquet in one of Rick Steves' Irish videos before and so I of course said "Yes". It's then a 20 minute drive back to my hotel in Limerick for the night, and the next day I go to Dingle for two nights before going on to Killarney.

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