If the striations in the rocks of the Burren look familiar, it's because they are the texture of one great geologic eruption that left a granite trail from County Clare across the ocean to the Aran Islands. Most people are immediately struck by the sheer beauty of the Burren—"moonlike" is a common refrain. But look closer and you'll find much more: tiny crevices with rivulets of water feeding orchids found no place else on Earth and megalithic tombs such as Poulnabrone, which offers mysteries the equal of Stonehenge. On foot or mountain bike, you can explore this wildly unique region (there are many excellent tours offered) and then come nightfall, you can stay in atmospheric local villages such as Ballyvaughan or Kilfenora.
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Fairy Tree in the Burren
Not usually one to opt for the touristy bus thing, I decided to go for it when I found myself with some extra time on a trip to Galway. The coach took us on a tour through the Burren and to the Cliffs of Moher. During a walking tour on a farm in the Burren, we came across a fairy tree. When you're in the vicinity of such a thing, you're meant to make a wish. I did, but it didn't come true. That's OK. I was in Ireland...plenty lucky enough just to be there.