Sometimes I think we are all slowly losing our minds to phone screens. Everyone knows you can’t swipe your way to happiness, yet the apps are designed to be confoundedly addictive.
So, it is great to be heading off on a sunny spring morning to a place where my phone isn’t needed. Climate change had recently done its worst with rain, and traversing the Burren in Co Clare I observe lakes where I have never seen them before in this normally bone-dry region. My objective is the village of Carran, which lies within the deepest recesses of the Burren and has as its main claim to fame the birthplace of GAA founder Michael Cusack.
It’s the off-season and so Cassidy’s village pub is closed. Urgently needing a caffeine hit, I head for the nearby Burren Perfumery, where I am provided with coffee and homemade porter cake in return for a donation to the local hospice.
Then back in Carran and a choice of three looped walks. Opting for the interesting-looking Templecronan Loop, I am careful to switch off my phone and the 21st century. I head out for the umpteenth time on what has been one of the great joys of my life: exploring a new walk in the Irish countryside,
Passing the local church and school, I arrive to a junction where the green and purple walking arrows proclaim a right turn to a rustic laneway. Beyond the lane, the arrows diverge: the Carran Loop (purple arrows) swings left – but I go right to gain the other-world serenity of Templecronan Church.
Consisting of a small oratory dating from the 12th century, the church is located on the site of an early Christian monastery. Reputed to have been founded by St Cronan in the seventh century, the site became a notable place of medieval pilgrimage.
A little further on, I come upon a picturesque holy well at the base of a little cliff. It is referred to locally as Tobar Chrónáín, with the votive offerings adorning the surrounding whitethorns showing clearly that it is an active devotional site.
Now the arrows take me a lane where the vernacular stone has been artfully used to create very functional stiles. After the lane, I amble over a green and pleasant sward while enjoying marvellous views of the surrounding Burren hills. Rejoining the arrows for the Carran Loop, I continue past great slabs of limestone before exiting to a public road.
Going right, I follow the tarmac for a short distance to reach an old laneway diving left, deliciously signed “The Old Bog Road”. It seems like the perfect end to my walk, but having turned on to the lane I find myself immediately thwarted by climate change. An unusually wet spring has ensured that a nearby turlough (seasonal lake) has expanded to flood the entire area – nothing short of a kayak would allow me complete the loop.
Sadly, I follow tarmac to the village, but am buoyed up with the thought that, if climate change is true to its word, I can return to complete the trail during one of the warmer, drier summers we are promised in the future.
Getting there: From Ennis, follow the N85 and turn on to the R476 for Corofin and continue 7km beyond. Turn on to the R480 at Lemenagh Castle. After 1km, go right for Carran – the trailhead is opposite Cassidy's pub.
Suitability: Easy outing following minor roads and green lanes.
Map: OSI Discovery Series, Sheet 51