MONDAY: DAY 3
Distance Options: A 27 Miles B 37 Miles C 54 Miles
Accommodation: Royal Spa Hotel, Lisdoonvarna
First thing this morning we will visit Dunguaire Castle. Its situated just on the edge of Kinvarra village. In fact you will be able to take some excellent photos of Kinvarra from the battlements. The castle was built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay. This restored 16th century tower house sits on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Galway Bay just outside the village of Kinvara.
You will have seen many similar Castles (Tower Houses, to give them their correct title) over the past two days so it would be a shame not to get to explore such an excellent example. After the visit to Dunguaire its back on the bikes and out into the Burren landscape again. We take some of the quietest roads you will find along the West coast of Ireland. No commercial traffic. As always the support busses will be on hand to give you a lift to the top of any hilly sections you choose not to cycle. We get you into some spectacular scenic areas of the Burren again today.
Making your way trough farmland and forestry you will arrive in the village of Lisdoonvarna. This little village is renowned in song and verse as home to the best craic in the West of Ireland. We will be staying with Ann in the Royal Spa hotel for two nights. Staying in Lisdoonvarna for two nights situates us within striking distance of the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs can sometimes disappear in the sea mist that rolls in from the Atlantic. being based a short drive from the Cliffs for two days means you double your chances of visiting these spectacular cliffs in the optimum weather conditions. Remember you will not be cycling up to the Cliffs as there is way too much uphill. We will take you to the viewing area in our buses. The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s top Visitor attractions. They are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. O’Brien’s Tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic Cliffs. From the Cliffs one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South. Sea mist can sometimes spoil the spectacular views from the cliffs. If its a nice evening we will take you up to see the Cliffs in the support busses before dinner.
After visiting the Cliffs we head back to Lisdoonvarna for dinner. Good food and great traditional Irish music session make for the perfect end to the day. No packing suitcases tomorrow morning so you can stay to enjoy the entertainment a little longer tonight.
You will also visit the village of Kilfenora (good spot for some lunch) featuring the ruin of Kilfenora Cathedral which is dedicated to St. Fachtna, who founded his monastery here during the sixth century. The original church was probably wooden and was later replaced by a stone building. Murrough O’Brien burned the abbey church in 1055 and killed many of the inhabitants. Repairs were carried out between 1056 and 1058 but the building was plundered in 1079 and accidentally burned in 1100. The present structure dates from between 1189 to 1200. Kilfenora cathedral was built in the transitional style with a nave and chancel. Samuel Lewis described it in 1837 as “a very ancient and venerable structure with a massive square tower, commanding a very extensive and interesting view; the aisle is at present undergoing repair, and is being fitted up as the parish church”.
The Cliffs of Moher are home to one of the major colonies of cliff nesting seabirds in Ireland. The area was designated as a Refuge for Fauna in 1988 and as a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive in 1989. Included within the designated site are the cliffs, the cliff-top maritime grassland and heath, and a 200 meter zone of open water, directly in front of the cliffs to protect part of the birds’ feeding area. The designation covers 200 hectares and highlights the area’s importance for wildlife.