What to See and Do

Some of our favorite day trips from Delamain Lodge…

The Burren – The gray curving hills of the burren are visible on the skyline behind Delamain Lodge. This unique area was formed when glaciers stripped away the soil and vegetation, exposing layers of limestone. The burren is home to many Neolithic burial sites and structures, the most famous of which is the Poulnabrone Dolmen. Kilfenora, a town in the heart of the burren, has an interpretive center that provides information about the burren and its flora and fauna. Several carved, stone high crosses dating from the time of St. Patrick are in a churchyard next to the Kilfenora’s interpretive center. The burren is home to an unusual variety of plants that thrive within the limestone crevices. The Vincent Perfumery outside of Carron uses the native plants in its products, and welcomes visitors.

Cliffs of Moher – Recently “improved”, so not nearly as adventurous as it once was. Seen in many a postcard and magazine cover, these sheer cliffs drop 700 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. Paths are now bordered by tall sheets of slate – too safe by half. One well-traveled pathway leads to an observation tower. A visitor center (entry fee) will show you in slides what you can no longer see well in person, but has opportunities to purchase crafts and souvenirs. Located on the peninsula past Ballyvaughn and Lisdoonvarna.

Ailwee Cave – The Ailwee Cave is a series of chambers and caverns leading into the limestone of the burren. Guided tours take you hundreds of meters into the hillside, past stalactites, stalagmites and other unique formations. A tearoom and craft shop awaits you when you emerge. Located outside Ballyvaughn.

Raptor (Wild Bird) Center – Adjacent to the Ailwee Cave, offers daily demonstrations of a variety of different raptors. A big hit with kids, also very interesting for adults.

Doolin Cave (Doolin) – Recently opened and adventurous (you must wear a helmet!). Requires climbing a lot of steps to enter and exit the cave, but is very interesting to see.

Craggaunown Project and Quin Abbey – The Craggaunown Project is a large site where structures from different periods in Irish history, including the pre-historic through the sixteenth century, have been recreated. In addition, the boat used in the “Brendan Voyage” in 1976 is housed in a glass building there. Nearby, Quin Abbey is a well-preserved and imposing ruin of an abbey and cloister, built on the site of an earlier castle. Both of these sites are located near Quin, southeast of Ennis.

Thoor Ballylee and Coole Park – Thoor Ballylee is a sixteenth century tower house that was restored by William Butler Yeats. He lived and worked there for 12 years, and the tower has been preserved as a museum and interpretive center for his life and works. Coole Park is a nature reserve on what used to be the estate of Lady Gregory, patron of Irish art and theatre. The house was burned down, but other buildings on the estate have been restored and currently house an interpretive center, tearoom, and craft shop. The estate grounds have picnic sites, walking trails, and a famous “autograph tree” on which many of Lady Gregory’s famous guests carved their initials (including Yeats, Synge and Shaw). Both these sites are just outside Gort.

Kilmacduagh – Kilmacduagh was the monastic center of the area through the seventh century. Several of the church buildings have been restored. A stroll around the surrounding graveyard reveals much about old families of the area. Kilmacduagh has an impressive, intact round tower that is visible on the horizon when approaching Gort. Knock at the caretaker’s house across the road to borrow the key to the cathedral and get inside. This site is located about one mile outside of Gort.

Galway City – Galway is a modem city that has made an effort to preserve its medieval roots. Parts of the original city wall have been preserved, including a segment called the Spanish Arch by the river. The streets are still narrow and winding, and some have been closed to vehicle traffic to allow pedestrians to stroll more leisurely. Galway recently underwent a building boom, though many old stone buildings have been restored. We suggest you avail of the carparks at the two modern shopping centers or other locations near downtown, and thus avoid the joys of attempting to park on the street. The area around Shop Street, off Byre Square, has many restaurants, bakeries, banks, shops and pubs. Galway has a modem cathedral and a national university, University College Galway. A nationally acclaimed theatre company, called the Druid Lane Theatre, is based in Galway (we’ve never been disappointed by a Druid Lane production). The Galway Arts Festival in July or August always has an amazing selection of international music, plays, street theatre and fine art. Salthill, just outside of Galway, has a golf course, a modest amusement park, hotels, nightclubs, an aquarium, and a beach. Traditionally, people would come to Salthill to “take the air” and stroll along the beachfront promenade.

Aran Islands – The Aran Islands are three rugged limestone outcroppings fronting the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of Galway Bay. The best access is by the Doolin ferry. Ferries also run from Galway and return in the evening – but a complete tour would really require an overnight stay (there are bed & breakfast places for overnight stays). Ferry service is highly weather dependent. A stone fort called Dun Aengus is perched spectacularly on the edge of a 300-foot cliff on Inis Mor (half of the fort has fallen into the ocean). Walk, rent bicycles or hire a jaunting cart to tour the island. Irish is still spoken by many of the locals and yes, you can buy Aran handknit sweaters there. Be warned that the boat ride can be rough depending on the weather.

Connemara – Connemara is a beautiful, rural area north and west of Galway City. The many lakes and streams make this a popular destination for fisherman, though one doesn’t have to fish to appreciate the beauty. Connemara is known for the distinctive green marble quarried there and its small sturdy workhorses called Connemara ponies. This region is a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) and has many Irish language summer schools. A day trip to Clifton, a pretty town on the water, is a nice way to experience Connemara.