The Burren is a fascinating area of rocky land full of ancient Irish monuments.
It’s made up of quickly changing landscapes that enable plants from different countries and vastly different climates to grow successfully side by side. Located in the west of Ireland in County Clare, the surface is made of limestone and is full of cracks which are known as ‘grikes’. The area is fertile with numerous species of plants growing in the grikes and gravel.
The limestone formed 350 million years ago in a tropical sea before gradually drifting north to where it is now. As well as the natural beauty, you may also want to see some of the ancient manmade structures. There are monuments at the Burren that are thousands of years old.
You don’t have to be interested in science or history to enjoy a visit to the Burren. The striking scenery including the mountains, valleys, streams, coastline and limestone surface is enough to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.
The plant life at the Burren is extraordinary. It is one of the only places in the world that you are likely to see Alpine, Mediterranean and Arctic plants all living naturally together.
The fact that plants from such different climates can live in the same area continues to baffle botanists. There have been a number of plausible theories such as heat arriving from the Gulf Stream – or being stored in the limestone – being good for the Mediterranean plants, but there is no definitive answer. If you are visiting for the plant life, the best time to go is the end of May when the flowers are out in full force.
The Burren is also home to some unusual Irish animal species such as the slow worm which is a lizard that is often mistaken for a snake as it has no limbs. Several rare butterfly species including the Burren green are also found here.
Burren National Park