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Burren landscape

The Burren ( , Boirinn is the modern form used by the Ordnance Survey) is a karst-landscape region in northwest County Claremarker, in Irelandmarker. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughanmarker, Kinvaramarker, Tubbermarker, Corofin, Kilfenoramarker and Lisdoonvarnamarker. It is bounded by the Atlanticmarker and Galway Baymarker on the west and north, respectively.

A small portion of the Burren has been designated as Burren National Park. It is one of only six national parks in the Republic of Irelandmarker and the smallest in size (15 km²).

The definite article (making it "the Burren") has only been added to the name in the last few decades, possibly by academics, as it had always been called Boireann in Irish and Burren in English.


Burren is rich with historical and archaeological sites. There are more than 90 megalithic tombs in the area, portal dolmens (including Poulnabrone Dolmen), a celtic high cross in the village of Kilfenora, and a number of ring forts - among them the triple ring fort Cahercommaun on the edge of an inland cliff, and the exceptionally well-preserved Caherconnell Stone Fort. Corcomroe Abbey is one of the area's main scenic attractions.

Geography and scenery

During counter-guerilla operations in Burren in 1651-52, Edmund Ludlow stated, "(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him...... and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing."

The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". The region supports arctic, Mediterraneanmarker and alpine plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment. The blue flower of the Spring Gentian, an alpine plant, is used as a symbol for the area by the tourist board. Burren's many limestone cliffs, particularly the sea-cliffs at Ailladiemarker, are popular with rock-climbers. For cavers, there are a number of charted caves in the area. Doolinmarker is a popular "base camp" for cavers, and is home to one of the two main cave-rescue stores of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation.


Burren has a long history of traditional Irish music. It is particularly known for the "West Clare Style" of concertina playing and the music festival in Doolinmarker.


Image:Flowers in the burren.jpg|Native Flowers and Rock FormationsImage:Megalithic Passage Tomb.jpg|Poulnabrone portal tombImage:The Burren.jpg|The Burren landscapeImage:Poulnabrone_Portal_Tomb_640x480.jpg|Poulnabrone Portal Tomb

See also


  • McCarthy, P.M. and Mitchell, M.E. 1988. Lichens of the Burren Hills and the Aran Islands. Galway. Officina Typographica.
  1. BBC: The Flowers of the Burren, County Clare, Ireland
  2. A similar quote "The Burren affordeth not a piece of timber sufficient to hang a man, water in any one place to drown a man, or earth enough in any one part to bury him." can be found in "The Journal of Thomas Dineley", 1681, in the National Library of Ireland. Extracts from his journal, including his account of the Clare section of his journey, were published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, 6 (1867). These appear in an online in "The History and Topography of the County of Clare" by James Frost Part II. History of Thomond Chapter 28 Barony of Burren
  • Anon. The Burren: A Guide. Shannonside Mid Western Regional Tourism Organization Ltd., 62, O'Connell St., Limerick.
  • E. C. Nelson. Checklist of Plants of The Burren Region.
  • D.A. Webb & M.J.P. Scannell. Flora of Connemara and The Burren.
  • T. J. Westropp. Archaeology of The Burren.
  • D’Arcy & Hayward. The Natural History of The Burren.
  • E.C. Nelson & W. Walsh. The Burren Wildflowers, Conservancy of The Burren, An Bothan, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare.

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