Photo courtesy of Chris Hill/Tourism Ireland
South of Galway in neighboring County Clare is one of Ireland’s, if not Western Europe’s, unique landscapes: the extraordinary, lunarlike limestone scenery of the Burren. (Its name derives from the Gaelic word boíreann, which means "rocky place.") The Burren has an eerie topography that supports a diverse array of flora and fauna, some more commonly found in alpine or Mediterranean climes. It is also home to Aillwee Cave, an otherworldly series of underground caverns, towers, and waterfalls.
Limestone fields in County Clare
Explore the unusual, rocky landscape of The Burren, with its fields and fields of limestone slabs, full of grykes (cracks or fissures) and clints (rock between the fissures). Despite the absence of soil cover, The Burren is known for its flora and fauna, with hundreds of rare plant species, particularly the Genetian, growing in the sheltered rock fissures. Highlights worth seeing in the area include the Neolithic portal dolmen Poulnabrone, Corcomroe Abbey and Caherconnell stone fort. There are also other portal dolmens, 90 megalithic tombs, ring forts, castles, beaches and a Celtic high cross at Kilfenora to see.
By Yvonne Gordon, AFAR Local Expert
Looks Are Deceptive in this Rocky Wonderland
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.
By Ryan Ver Berkmoes, AFAR Contributor
Tiny Church in The Burren - Ireland
Ireland tugs at the heart strings. It is everything you could imagine - and more. I have been there 4 times and love it. Of course, I might be partial since I have a good friend who lives there. She got married in 2009 in this tiny, gorgeous church in The Burren, County Clare. The next day, a bit hungover, I went for a walk by the church with my camera. It was a typical Irish day, a bit misty. Somehow that adds to the beauty of the place and makes the colors pop even more. I took a couple of pictures of the church from a distance so Aedín would have a nice photo of where she got married. I love the feel of this. When it comes to visiting the Burren, just go for a wander. You can drive, walk, or bike. There are little towns, just dots on the map like this one where this church is. Don't forget your camera...and your umbrella.
By Lynne Nieman
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.
By Mary Roeder
Exploring the Little People of the Burren
A charming national park nested in County Clare, The Burren is a superb place to explore. Experience the beauty of the landscape & be transported back to "Old Ireland". The landscape is vastly changing. Go on & experience the beauty of Corcomroe Abbey, Ballyalban Fairy Fort, Gleninsheen Wedge Tomb, Poulnabrone Dolmen to name some of the famous highlights of this rich land. Be transported into stillness with many shades of green, brown, blacks of the rich landscapes. Don't forget to soak in the beauty of this rich land with the farm animals. Have an enchanted time while exploring all the nooks 'n crannies!
2 Church St, Knockaunroe, Corofin, Co. Clare, V95 T9V6, Ireland
+353 65 682 7693