What stands out most from my last field trip to North Clare is the cycle from Carron to Ballyvaughan. Or rather, the cycle from Ballyvaughan to Carron. I would leave Ballyvaughan, head east along the coast to Bellharbour, and then head inland up to the village of Carron. After cycling around the Burren with heavy camera equipment, the climb from Bellharbour to the research facility in Carron was not the most enjoyable way to end the day. As can be seen from the map below, most of the route is relatively flat, with the only incline of note coming 5km before Carron. However, this short but steep section was enough to put a dampener on any day. The winter climate didn't help either, with hailstones and strong coastal winds being a common occurrence on many a cycle.
Thankfully North Clare's summer climate seems to have made all the difference, as today's cycle was surprisingly easy. The lack of wind made a huge difference, especially along the coastal route from Ballyvaughan to Bellharbour. A noticeable absence of hailstones was much appreciated as well. A combination of all this meant that I didn't expend anywhere near as much energy during the day, leaving me with plenty left in the tank for the final ascent to Carron.
While in Ballyvaughan I was able to drop into the local tourist office to ask some questions about my project. Although this is my 4th time visiting Ballyvaughan, this is the very first time I have been able to do this as the office closes for the winter months. The staff were very helpful, and were able to point me in the direction of a number of sources that would aid me in my research. These sources included the likes of NUIG (who had led research into the famine around the area), the name of a researcher who undertook a project on famine villages in and around Ballyvaughan, and Clare County Council Library. They were also kind enough to give me a map and highlighted the various green roads around North Clare that could possibly have been built during the famine, as well as villages that may have been deserted around that time.
Afterwards I cycled to Bellharbour to drop into Daly's Pub to catch up with Nina (the pub's owner), whom I had been corresponding with during my last field trip. Nina was able to give me names of a couple of people that I could talk to regarding the famine, both of whom are located in New Quay (a mere 15 minute cycle from Bellharbour).
On my way back to Carron, I was quite aware of the amount of vehicles that drove by me. During the winter I would be able to count the number of vehicles on one hand, whereas today I had at least 20 pass me by. This change can also be seen (or rather heard) on the road that passes by the research facility that I am currently staying in. During the winter I would see/hear the odd car, usually a local farmer or somebody staying in the facility. However over the past few days hundreds of cars drive by daily, with the majority heading to the Burren Perfumery down the road. It is strange to feel isolated in the middle of the Burren, yet at the same time be surrounded by a multitude of tourists.