On the second day of our Ireland trip, we booked a tour with Irish Day Tours and ventured out of Dublin to explore Ireland's Southwestern Coast. Our final destination was the Cliffs of Moher, but along the 3 hour drive to the cliffs, we made stops in several areas such as Kinvara, Galaway Bay, and The Burren. The Burren, meaning "great rock", is a large region in County Clare famous for terrain consisting of rolling hills of limestone rock and criss-crossed cracks known as "grikes". The whole Burren area is rich with history and numerous archeological sites, one of the most popular being Corcomroe Abbey. Corcomroe is a 13th-century Cistercian ("white robed monks") monastery constructed of local limestone and noted for its detailed carvings, uncommon of most structures built during this time period. Up until the 17th century, the abbey was inhabited. During the English Reformation, Catholic monasteries were dissolved in Ireland, thus leaving the abbey to fall to ruins. Today, the abbey sits a bit isolated, just slightly on a hill overlooking the rocks of The Burren. I imagine the monks intended it to be that way so as to preserve the quiet and serenity of the area, as well as to maintain their independence from outside society. The graveyard is the only part of the abbey still in use, with caretakers from the adjacent village still maintaining its tombs.
Our stop at the abbey was short and sweet (and a bit drizzly), but the landscape and history surrounding this stone landmark was absolutely Irish. Lush green pasture dotted with stone walls, Irish cross headstones, and cattle grazing in the distance…I felt like I had stepped into a story-book land. Just as we were walking to get back on the bus, two sweet pups ran up with their equally-cordial owner to give us an Irish welcome. Even the dogs are friendly in Ireland! Up next…a ride along the Irish Coast to Doolin!