The Burren

The Burren

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Name The Burren County Clare Nearest Town Access Road N5 About A barony in north-west Co.
Clare, most of which is a 100-square-mile plateau of lunar-like limestone.

Although it supports a sparse population in modern times, the Burren is home to a profusion of flowers and plants not found elsewhere in Europe.

Also to be found are hundreds of ruined forts, megalithic tombs, caves, and underground streams.

The Burren is a unique lunar type landscape region in northwest County Clare and is one of Irelands most visited attractions.

The landscape is actually called a Karst area and the Burren is one the largest in Europe.

The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle comprised by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna.

It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway bay on the west and north respectively.

The Burren is rich with historical and archeological sites.

There are more than 90 megalithic tombs in the area, portal dolmens (including the famous Poulnabrone Dolmen), a Celtic High Cross in the village of Kilfenora, and a number of ring-forts including the exceptionally well-preserved Caherconnel Stone Fort.

Corcomroe Abbey is one of the area's main scenic attractions.

The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints".

The region supports Artic, Mediterranean 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 Ailladie, near Fanore, are popular with rock climbers.

For potholers, there are a number of charted caves in the area.

Doolin 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.

The Aillwee Cave is one of the many thousands of ancient caves beneath the karst-landscape of the Burren.

The complex consists of over a kilometer of passages leading into the heart of the mountain.

Its features include an underground river and a waterfall as well as some large stalactites and stalagmites.

The remains of bears can also be seen inside the caves.

It was discovered in the early 20th century, when a farmer followed his dog who was chasing a rabbit.

The farmer didn't push very far into the caves, and did not tell anyone of the find for nearly 40 years.

He revealed his secret in the 1970s, and two years later, after the proper safety precautions were taken, it was officially opened to the public.

The caves are now open daily from 9:30am throughout the year.