The Burren extends 25 miles (40km) from east to west and 15 miles (24km) from north to south and lies in the North West corner of County Clare. The name comes from an ancient Barony that presided over the area, in the past. Burren, in Gaelic “An Bholeann”, means “the stony district”. It is bounded by Galway Bay to the North, the Atlantic to the West and the towns and villages of Doolin, Kilfenora, Gort and Kinvarra run along its southeast border.
The ground is made up of limestone, which allows rainwater to penetrate down into the lower strata, down into a subterranean maze of passages and caverns; a true pot-holers dream, I am told. Limestone being what it is, it is very soft and clefts have formed between the rocks, causing the remaining rock to look very outlandish. These fissures catch and hold seeds from many different plants that grow and bloom during the spring and summer. The other thing is that in heavy rainfall, water will fill up the cracks and caverns below and rise up through the clefts in the rock, to form lakes. These lakes, called turloughs (from the Irish turlach) can’t run away as there are no rivers running though the Burren but gradually drain back down from whence the came.
The Burren has one other strange quirk, due to its climate. Because of the mild weather and the summer sun warmth stored in the limestone, the uplands of the Burren are actually warmer than the valleys during the winter. With this stored warmth and winter rainfall, grass grows well in the fissures and farmers move their cattle up there to graze the land. In the summer, the cattle are moved back down, closer to the farmsteads, due to the lack of natural pools and streams in the Burren.
A guided hiking tour can be arranged at the Hyland Burren hotel desk. A very 'colorful' local guide takes you up the moutain just outside of town. A must for plant lovers. Because of the unusual climate, the plants include both tropical and arctic varieties.
Head towards the coast from Ballyvaughan, go to the cliffs of mother(entry 3 euro per car).
Also visit Doolin and Lahinch. Explore the Burren. Go to Bunratty castle. Have a pint of guiness!
Corkscrew Hill, The Burren, Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland
Good for: Solo
We stayed at the Hylands Burren Hotel for 2 nights during our Ireland bike tour. One of the days was...more
Newtown, The Burren, NA, Ireland
Good for: Business