Not far from the Cliffs of Moher is the Burren, a 96 square mile patch of barren, rocky landscape. Other than grass growing between the wide fissures between the rocks, there isn't a lot of other vegetation to be found in the blasted, moon-like scenery.
The Burren was once covered by a forest that grew on top of a shallow layer of soil. But the forest was cleared more than 5000 years ago by farmers wanting to grow crops and raise livestock on that thin layer of rich soil. But combination of the loss of forest and the intensive farming activity led to soil erosion, and eventually to the rocky, desert-like landscape it is today.
These farmers also built a structure out on the Burren known today as the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, which in Irish means 'hole of sorrows'. It is a dolmen that stands six feet at its highest and is nine feet long, and like many similar structures around Ireland is thought to have signified the passage into the afterlife (though Poulnabrone is by far the oldest). Some 22 to 28 people (including six children) were buried at the opening of the tomb over a period of 600 years.
As you've probably figured out by now this tomb is so far up my alley that I couldn't pass it up, even after the long drive from Cork and a couple of excited hours at the cliffs.
oroboros on 1/19/2012 7:01:15 PM