On a chilly, slightly wet day when the sun rises at nine and sets at four you know it’s a going to be a wonderful day to spend outdoors! Well, one place in Ireland that bears the rain really well is the Burren in County Clare. Between the Cliffs of Moher and the far side of Galway Bay is a protected area of massive national importance.
The Burren, Boireann, meaning (rather uncreatively) ‘rock’, is the smallest of Ireland’s national parks. It is a remnant of the type of landscape that once covered a lot of County Galway as well as County Clare. My geology background (all two years of it at university) tells me this is a karst landscape. Northwest Clare is simply covered by these plains of exposed limestone. It is rather trecherous as the porous rock has holes and cavities – probably why you will find the Doolin and Aillwee caves and other little hidey holes for long dead animals. In fact, this is where the evidence for Black Bears in Ireland was found.
This area also has significance for Ireland’s terrible famine. Throughout the hills of the Burren one can see the pointless walls built by famine sufferers who chose to, or had to, stay in Ireland during the 1800s. On a lighter note, the grysts (or cracks) between the limestone are perfect for wild orchids to grown, although I have never seen one.
Stopping at the ‘mini cliffs’ is the perfect spot for a wander before heading up to the Cliffs of Moher.