The Burren

Tuesday, 9th November 2010 by

The Burren is a distinctive limestone landscape and national park in County Clare on Ireland's Atlantic coast.

The recent release of Street View images from Ireland allow us to get a close-up look at the beauty of this barren scenery1.

Technically one of Europe's largest karst landscapes - rock features formed by the action of water - the region is dominated by elevated limestone pavements and domes and stark rocky plateaus.

Even the lower fields are more rock than soil and grass, unless the rocks have been painstakingly cleared and used in dry stone walls.

There are numerous historic locations in the Burren, most notably Poulnabrone Dolmen - a 2m high neolithic portal tomb which dates to somewhere between 3000 and 4000 BC. It is some distance from the road but we do get a distant look on Street View.

When I was there some years ago the tomb was surrounded by a herd of cows and getting close involved ignoring dire warning signs that you were trespassing. Thankfully it now appears to be officially open to the public, with a car park and a path with interpretive signs.

There are also the ruins of several ring forts, including the cliff-top Cahercommaun and Caherconnell.

There are many lovely villages2 scattered in and around the Burren, including Kilfenora, which has a Burren visitor's centre and a 12th century Cathedral featuring a number of high crosses in a newly-roofed area.

  1. ... and the narrowness of the roads, which are slightly terrifying for foreign tourists driving rental cars. ↩︎

  2. Villages with many very fine pubs, I can attest! ↩︎