The Burren (Irish Boirean meaning great rock or stony place) is in County Clare on the West coast of Ireland. It is part of the Wild Atlantic way. It covers approximately 250 square KM and is encircled by the small towns of Lisdoonvarna, Kilfenora, Corofin, Tubber, Kinvara and Ballyvaughan. I drove through them all on my trip to explore the Burren.
The Burren has very dramatic stoney landscape, very much as I imagine a lunar landscape to be, there are areas of layered rock, which look as if layers and layers have formed over the years and continue to form on top of each other, there are other parts of the Burren with huge boulders or piles of stones just lying where they have always lain, there are preservation notices everywhere not to touch the stones or remove any of them. It is very beautiful in a strange kind of way. I imagine the landscape would be ideal for a sci fi movie, it is very dramatic and where it runs near the coast, the sea adds to its nature at nature’s best ambience.
There is not much grassland in the Burren as it mainly consists of rock formations but it is still home to many plants, it has been suggested that 75% of Irelands species of flowers can be found at the Burren, with many rare specimens only found there and at other karst (an area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams and caverns) areas in Ireland.
Apparently it is a wildlife haven although you couldn’t tell from driving through the region, it seems so still and tranquil and not a sheep in sight, I didn’t see one at all in the whole area, which seemed strange, having seen them everywhere else, but I suppose there is nothing to graze on.
You may come across a rocky cliff in a random part of the Burren just as you drive through, where rock climbers practice their skill. It is a popular area for all sorts of sports including wind surfing on the sea shore, horse riding on the beach, rock climbing on the cliffs, caving in the many caves and many others, hiking being a particular favourite.
The Burren contains limestone pavement, calcareous grassland, hazel scrub, ash/hazel woodland, turloughs (disappearing lakes which sometimes flood, or the water then runs away through underground streams and can appear at a spring further along the Burren), lakes, petrifying springs, cliffs and fen. Most of the area I drove though was rocky and limestone, it was beautiful. The limestone pavements are called clints and the crevices where the alpine plants and flowers grow are called grikes.
Along with the Cliffs of Moher it has been designated a UNESCO Global Geopark site, it dates back hundreds of years and settlers are believed to have lived on its barren land for many years, there are more than 90 megalithic tombs there and buildings of varying states of decay can also be found dotted around the landscape. Religious type buildings can also be seen, the most popular being Corcomro Abbey.
While I was driving through the area I came across this little building which housed a spring water well in the ground, with a warning to keep clean as this is drinking water, so I drank some of the water as it looked so pure, I swear my dodgy stomach settled after I drank it.
I loved the look of the Burren, it looks very barren initially but there is something haunting about its beauty, the way the mists hang in the air at the higher points and the almost artistic look of the stone make it a place to sit and think and just enjoy nature. There are many points along the road for you to stop and enjoy. There is much of it I didn’t see so I will have to come back one day, especially to see the caves which have the biggest stalactite in Europe.