We made our way along the N67 past the Burren and through the town of Ballyvaghan. As much as I loved the look of the multi directional signs, they were 100% useless to (nearsighted) driving tourists (like ourselves). I took this photo as we turned a corner in the car – my husband frantically yelling to me;
‘READ THE SIGNS, READ THE SIGNS!!’
Ya right! Entirely impossible at driving speeds – I didn’t even know where to start! My eyes darted around the multitude of signs not focussing on a single word – or letter even!
We concluded that we were willing to stop and pull over to park at the first spot (could be far with the walled narrow roadways), so we could walk back to read the signs. Ridiculous, right?
We actually did this more than once while driving through Ireland.
Sea side town Ballyvaghan (also known as Ballyvaughan – noticing an Irish multiple-spelling theme?), is a tiny place of just over 200 residents. Located in the middle of some incredible natural sights, it is not surprising that tourism is a major contributor to the towns economy.
There once was a castle in Ballyvaghan (now just a ruined foundation), around which a newer cottage subdivision sits (referred to as an ‘Irish Cottage Scheme’).
There is a story of a stolen cow being found there, somewhere on the castle grounds, and the subsequent fines that were placed on its owners were enormous – they didn’t just lose their own livestock – they lost the title to the town.
We continued our way along the highway to Lisdoonvarna. On a previous tour I had spent some time here and heard the cutest story, for which Lisdoonvarna is now famous.
I told my husband the anecdote as we approached the town and thankfully, ‘proof’ of my tale was all around!
I was told this story by a life long Lisdoonvarnan (I was unable to confirm its historic validity, so this might be pure legend – but it is still worth a re-tell!);
Long ago the people of the region of Lisdoonvarna realized they were hitting a crisis point with the number of male residents highly outweighing the number of female.
The problem had been creeping up on the area for generations and in the end some brothers had even resorted to sharing wives.
Slowly the women had dissipated (passed away, moved on) and all that were left were the men (many men – but only 3 known reproductive age women – goes the legendary version relayed to me).
Desperate to save the town he loved from imminent extinction, single himself – and without his own children, a local farmer came up with the idea to have a love festival – a matchmaking event of sorts.
He would advertise for months in advance, and offer great things hoping to draw women out from the rest of Ireland and abroad, to marry and live lives of reproduction – and leisure.
Whatever the story, this gathering has morphed into Europe’s largest singles event. The month long happening every September draws more than 20 thousand people from all corners of the world. Apparently it is quite a party!
Fortunately for us, it was July and ‘Lisdoon’ (as the locals call it), was clean, quaint, friendly and utterly quiet.
Now we were only about 15 minutes away from the Cliffs of Moher (Moyher, Mhothair etc.), and I was tingling with excitement! I was hoping this was the place my dream (memory?) happened. The image of the location was burned into my mind. I felt I would be able to recognize it if were there.
Time to find out!
Additional photos in the slideshow.
- Lisdoonvarna (wikipedia)
- Ballyvaughan (wikipedia)
- Through Clare to Kinvara (IRL ’10 Prt 3) (habitualrunaway.wordpress.com)