The Burren

The Burren

The Burren (Irish place name|Boireann|Great rock, "Boirinn" is the modern form used by the Ordnance Survey) is a unique karst-landscape region in northwest County Clare, in Ireland and one of the largest Karst landscapes 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. Strictly speaking the territory of the Burren or barony of Burren only contains the villages of Lisdoonvarna, Ballyvaughan, Fanore, Craggagh, New Quay/Burrin, Bealaclugga (Bellharbour) and Carron.

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.Fact|date=April 2007


Burren is rich with historical and archeological 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.

The territory of Burren was also called Corco Modhruadh Oirthearach ("eastern Corcomroe"), which is the north eastern portion of the shared territory, or "túath", of Corco Modhruadh, and means "the people of Modhruadh" as well as "the territory of Modruadh". The diocese of Kilfenora, in which Burren is situated, is coextensive with the territory of Corco Modhruadh. In the annals, Burren was often called "Burren in Corco Modhruadh". Burren was ruled by the Ó Lochlainn clan, who styled themselves Kings of Burren, up until the upheavals of the mid 1600s. The present day descendant of the last chief of the Ó Lochlainn clan resides in Ballyvaughan / "Baile Uí Bheacháin".

Geography and scenery

During counter guerilla operations in Burren in 1651-52, Ludlow stated "It 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" ref|BBC ref|clarelibrary

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, 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 definitive guides to the caves of the Burren have been published by the University of Bristol Spelæological Society.

The area is also known for its long history of Traditional Irish Music. The "West Clare Style" of concertina playing performed by masters such as Chris Droney (Bealaclugga) and the music festival in Doolin are a draw for musicians from all over the world.


ee also

* Aillwee Cave
* Burren Action Group
* Cliffs of Moher
* Turlough (lake)


* McCarthy, P.M. and Mitchell, M.E. 1988. "Lichens of the Burren Hills and the Aran Islands." Galway. Officina Typographica.
# [ BBC: The Flowers of the Burren, County Clare, Ireland]
# 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]

Further references

*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.

External links

* [ Information on the history and archaeology of the Burren]
* [ Burren Photographs]
* [ Burren Info]
* [ Burren Poem by Brendan O'Neill]

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