The Burren

Burren Hill Walks

This landscape which covers over 100 square miles is situated in North Clare on the western seaboard of Ireland. The region is visually similar to a moonscape yet shelters a mixture of flora and archaeological sites which have attracted visitors for centuries.

Like most of Ireland, the Burren was under a tropical ocean over 360 million years ago resulting in a layer of limestone. Later tectonic movement raised a section of this ancient seabed into a great plateau which we now know as the Burren. The Ice Age ploughed through the region, widening the river valleys and depositing boulder clay.

Ice Age Valley
Glacial Valley

After the Ice Age the landscape went through periods of tundra and different types of woodland. Man came here over 6000 years ago, cleared the forests and set in motion soil erosion. Centuries of weathering has produced a terrain of fissured limestone pavements, disappearing lakes, terraced mountains, and underground cave systems.

Burren Flower
Burren Flower

The fame of the Burren is in its rock garden and its shoreline, limestone fissures, grasslands and hazel woods also yield an abundant and unique set of flora. Botanists explore the Burren finding Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants growing together in Ireland’s mild climate. From May to September the colours of the landscape change as plants flower. For the more patient visitors glimpses of the wild butterflies, mammals and birdlife add to this untouched habitat. The Burren contains a wealth of attractions, it’s scenery, geology, botany, wildlife, archaeology and history most of which are hidden and can be enjoyed with only the noise of the wind to distract the visitor.

Widespread Soil Erosion
Ancient Field Systems

For millennia man has left his mark, megalithic tombs and cooking sites litter the pavements, while medieval towerhouses and churches guard the valleys. Today man is absent from most of the upland, leaving behind ancient field systems, routeways and placenames.