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...not quite so desolate.
The Burren is a beautiful and rugged plateau of exposed limestone that makes up much of north west County Clare. A drive a long the scenic coast will take you to such wonders as the Cliffs of Moher and Poulnabrone Dolmen. Inland you can find the natural marvel that is Mullaghmore. There are many nice villages clinging to the limestone landscape and the entire region is peppered with castles and other more ancient attractions that beg exploration. While admiring the awesome landscape, it is easy to over look details such as the many unique species of plants and flowers that have somehow managed to adapt to this harsh environment. Hiking and walking in the Burren are a great way to experience how desolate this place can be. There are plenty of great spots for picnics.
The Burren makes a great primary destination if you plan to explore Ireland's west coast.
- Hiking and Walking
- National/State Park
- Historical Travel
Gleninagh Castle: Stronghold by the sea
This 16th century tower house is in a gorgeous spot on the northern coast of the Burren, looking out at Galway Bay. The ocean side of the structure has lost it's wall and is overgrown with grass, but the castle is overall well preserved. Next to the castle is an old well which once provided the castle inhabitants with water.
Its just a bit off the road, down a narrow track. A very good stop if you are passing near by.
- Castles and Palaces
- National/State Park
Limestone landscape of the Burren
The Burren is a huge area of limestone rock. You may think that there’s only bare grey limestone, but you’ll also see there several plants, and even areas with lots of bushes. But it’s not so green like the rest of Ireland! It’s an amazing landscape and we found it very interesting to drive around there. I recommend you drive as well around the coast as inside the country. Especially the west coast of the Burren (R477 between Lisdoonvarna and Fanore) was great, with the sea on one side an the rocky limestone pavement on the other side. We also found the area around Carran very interesting, we just took some of the small streets. Get yourself the free “Burren at a glance” map so that you find your way out!
The Castle of Dysert O'Dea
After breakfast, we packed up and headed south through the Burren (limestone mountains). We were headed to see the Poulnabrone Dolman (another prehistoric passage tomb) but we got lost (again) and missed the turn. By the time I figured out we were lost, neither of us wanted to go back. So, we saw the castle of Dysert O'Dea instead. It was a dark dank castle, more than a ruin. Again our son looked for toilets.
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Have a look on the ground!
The combination of limestone (in the strangest shapes) and flowers in the Burren.....beautiful! The Burren got its name from the Irish word Boireann which means "rocky land". What a perfect name for this strange landscape!
A perfect base for trips around the Burren
From here you are everywhere quite quickly. If you go north you get to Galway, south you can go along the Co. Clare coast with stoney beaches and the Cliffs of Moher. You're only a few miles away from Aillwee Cave and hikes in the Burren.
Ballyvaughan itself doesn't have any attraction but some nice bars and many B&Bs. Oh and the Spar supermarket at the main street sells delicious sandwiches!
Touring the West of Ireland
If you want to set up bases for touring the West of Ireland with all the comforts of home (or better) take a look at 'Rent an Irish Cottage'
They have locations all alongthe western seaboard.
Killorglan would be a good base for Killarney, Gap of Dunloe, Dingle Penninsula (my favorite), Ring of Kerry, Bantry and West Cork. There is an awful lot to see and do in this area. Add Garnish Island in Glengarrif in Co Cork to your itinerary. The drive between Killarney and Glengarrif is beautiful.
Ballyvaughan and Corofin in Clare have spacious thatched cottages. Corofin looks out over the lake. We spent our honeymoon in the cottages in Corofin and loved it. Both of these are great spots for touring the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Ennis, Clonmacnoise and the Shannon, Galway and Doolin for the Aran Island ferry. You could also tour Connemara from here with a little stretch. Try to spend an evening in Doolin for a traditional Irish music 'Seisuin' in the local pubs. Bunratty Folk Village and Castle outside Limerick is a 'living museum' but is actually very well done and well worth a half day visit.
The cottages are so pretty and comfortable you may not want to just stay there and kick back, go to the local for a pint or sit outside on a chair and look out at the view.
B&B are great if you are doing a series of one or two night stays. They vary quite a bit in price and amenities but they are all to a high standard and generally you get what you pay for. Try
for a finder for all types of accomodation.
The Burren Region, County Clare
Drive through this spectacular region called The Burren. The limestone hills once an ancient seabed that was forced up by geological forces. Later, the hills were covered by soil and trees, but over time all that remains are the limestone outcrops. There are many good walks that can be done in this region, and there are many caves that are open to the pubic which can be explored.
A very interesting landscape and home to the famous 'famine walls', The Burren would be the other big attraction in county Clare.
You can't really miss it as it stretches all along the coast.
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