The Burren

SUPERFICIALLY - a bleak, barren landscape and all the more so if it's raining. But take one step nearer and there is a world of fascination whether you go with the flora, the fauna, the geology, the Megalithic remains, and the people themselves and their music.


Structurally the geography of the place provides a magical setting with low mountains like terraced puddings, and expanses of flat limestone geoometrically divided up giving the appearrance of enormous paving stones all laid down very neatly. This formation came about through the natural joining in the rock structure providing regular lines of weakness which have weathered comparatively faster and, by collectting the eroding solution, very deeppcrevicing has been achieved. It is in 'these crevices that _ you will find Maidenhair Fern (adiaritum capillussveneris) enjoying the shade.

The Burren occupies approximately 100 sq. miles of N.W. Clare, bounded on the West and North by the Atlantic and Galway Bay and on the East by the Gort Lowlands. The Southern boundary is riot so easily defined but a line from Doolin to Corofin would serve as a rough guide.

Pockets of peat caught in the rock crevices provide anchorage for the most exquisite alpines to scramble over the limestone rock and, in places, simply to carpet the surrounding area. Foremost among these is Mountain Avens (dryas octopetala), either in flower or displaying its fluffy seeddheads, pouring down the mountain sides and right up - to the edger of the road.  

Combining forces the Orchids, Spring Gentian (gentiana verna), antennaria dioica, Rock Rose (helianthemui:n canum), Thrift (armeria maritinaj.iCowwslips (primula veris), Primrose (prirnula vulgaris), Bird's Foot Trefoil (lotus corniculatus); Violets (viola sp.) followed - by . Bloody Cranesbill (geranium sanguineum), Burnet Rose (rosa pimpinellifolia), Milkwort (polygala vulgaris), Mossy Saxifrages (sasefraga rosaceae, s. hypnoides) make a sheer onslaught on your perceptive senses.

We can thank a combination of conditions for this coming together of Northern, Alpine and Mediterranean plant life. Lack of deep rich soil which would favour more rampant subjects, lack of frost, high humidity arid exxcellent drainage through porous limeestone. Peat pockets sustain lime-hating plants while lime-loving plants grow next door and revel in the limestone.

Because of the over-abundance of stone there was never a great necessity to dismantle old buildings to provide material for new ones as happened ill other places. As a result the whole area is dotted with buildings of historical interest, going back to Megalithic times.