And Now For Something Completely Different

On this Bank Holiday Monday, some photographs of one of Ireland’s great natural wonders: the Burren, County Clare. For those unfamiliar with the place, it covers some 200 square miles in the north-west of the county and is notable for being covered by sedimentary rock, primarily limestone, giving the Burren the appearance at times of a lunar landscape. 

Much of the Burren is uninhabited, and uninhabitable, given the scarcity of vegetation or large areas of soil on which crops might be grown. At the same time, this part of the country has clearly supported human activity for millennia, as is testified by the many miles of stone walls that can be seen wending their way across the successive vistas. On the other hand, the Burren has long provided grazing for livestock, notably cattle and goats. What sets the region apart, especially at this time of year, is its extraordinary variety of flora, with more than 70 per cent of Ireland’s flower species found there, and many other plants found nowhere else in the country. These can often be discovered growing in the grikes, or fissures, of the limestone where moisture is also found. 

Scattered around the Burren are the remains of a number of mediaeval monastic settlements and tower houses, indicating that despite the relative poverty of the region it still sustained settlements across the centuries. Today, tourism is probably the most important source of income for anyone living in the area, but much of that activity tends to be confined to a handful of towns and sites such as the Cliffs of Moher and it is easy to leave these behind and explore the greater part of the Burren without seeing anyone else. It is at such times that the strange, sculptural beauty of the place can best be appreciated. 

2 comments on “And Now For Something Completely Different

  1. boxwoodbooks says:

    I was told that in mid June The Burren was the only place in Europe where Mediterranean and Alpine flowers bloomed simultaneously. There they were. And two boxing hare who took no notice as I walked past them on a north to south trek.

  2. The trouble is of course that tourism brings losses as well as gains! County Councils want to widen roads so that larger tour buses can access the area. Car parks at the Cliifs are today spreading across the road. While the wild beauty of Mullaghmore was going to see the OPW lead construction of its own ‘Visitor Interpretive Centre’ at Mullaghmore in the 1990’s, which led to the formation of a Burren Action Group (BAG) which was opposed to such a plan. They would advocate that such a facility would be better placed in one of the gateway villages, such as Corofin or Kilfenora. But definately not up inside the core area of the National Park at Mullaghmore. I know that many people were opposed to such plans that they also put up a fight in the courts to prevent this happening. Many of the people involved and who led marches and fundraised have since passed on, while today there seems to be almost no opposition to what is today laughingly callled ‘development’. There is a huge back history to this project but I am not sure if enough people would come out today to oppose such damaging projects?

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