What’s great about it!
The Burren, in North County Clare and parts of South County Galway covering an area of 160 square km, is unique – it is like no other place in Ireland. There are no bogs and very few pastures. Instead there are huge pavements of limestone called ‘clints’ with vertical fissures in the called ‘grikes’.
The area is remarkably similar to a moonscape but features amazing foiliage and wildlife. The word ‘Burren’ is derived from gaelic meaning ‘stoney place’, it is about 200-300 metres above sea level at the north and about 100 metres in the south with the highest area being the shale capped ‘Sleive Elva’at 345 metres above sea level.
The Burren was under a tropical ocean over 360 million years ago, the result being the area covered with limestone, it was tectonic movement that raised an area of this ancient seabed into a magnificent plateau that we now know as ‘The Burren’. The Ice Age ploughed through the area widening the river valleys and leaving behind boulder clay. It was after the Ice Age that the landscape went through periods of tundra and may have even been wooded, evidence suggests that early settlers cut down the forest, and allowed the soil to be eroded away, this has happened in many of the worlds karst regions. Centuries of weathering has produced a terrain of fissured limestone pavements, disappearing lakes, terraced mountains, and underground cave systems, the most famous of which is Aillwee cave.
The Burren is also famous for its plantlife. Limestone-loving plants such as foxgloves and rock roses grow here and rock’s microclimates also nurture plants found in the Artic, Alpine and Mediterranean regions. Botanists have attempted to find out why, but no one has come up with a complete answer. Here too in The Burren, 26 of Ireland’s 33 species of butterfly have been recorded, including its very own, the Burren Green.
Things to do & discover!
Discover the Burren above and underground with the Burren Outdoor Education Centre. Explore underground passages and streams, climb on limestone crags or kayak in local bays to view the Burren from the sea. The qualified and experienced tutors and guides will bring you to the special places in the Burren, off the beaten track. All equipment provided.
Experience The Burren with Adventure Burren. All activities are tailored to suit you and you don’t need to be super-fit! Adventure Burren are Ecotourism Ireland certified and offer quality adventure activities with people who care about what they do. The rock-climbing experiences will bring you to the mountains and coastal crags of the Burren while the hill-walking guides will take you off the beaten track to see ancient monuments, wallscapes and an amazing variety and density of wild flowers. Max. 8 persons per activity.
Breathtaking scenery with a mix of coastal and inlands route. Definitely a great fitness challenge but really worthy! More details here.
Explore the magnificent mountains of the Burren, as well as the unique seascape of this region with North Clare Sea Kayaking. This tour offers a great chance to spot the huge variety of seabirds, along with grey seals and quite often, large jellyfish! A great sheltered bay for any type of paddler, this tour is one of our most popular! North Clare Sea Kayaking will cater for groups up to 8 but can handle more if enough notice is given. Minimum of two.
Burren Nature Sanctuary is the Interpretive centre for the natural history of the Burren: Flora, fauna and karst geology. On the Burren walk you can learn about the rare and unusual botony and limestone karst formations, you can visit the disappearing lake that drains twice a day and meet the farm animals.
Children can play in the indoor nature themed play area or the state of the art playground and hunt for the fairy houses in the fairy woods. Adults can enjoy the indoor exhibition, the locally produced home food in the artisan café or sit with a cup of Tom Tom coffee by the waterfall in the Rock Garden.