During Cromwell's campaigns in Ireland one of his generals said of the Burren "There isn't tree to hang a man, water to drown a man nor soil to bury a man". And so the residents were spared from Cromwell's Protestant crusade. It's a very apt description as nothing of any significant size can grow in the limestone sheet that forms the surface of this entire area, only short grasses and wildflowers. Some of the oldest historical monuments in Ireland can be found in this area, dating back 5 millennia, to when the Great Pyramids were still under construction.
In modern times, few people live in the Burren. Those that do are mostly Irish-speakers.
The Burren covers a large part of northern Clare, however by driving along the R480 you can get a good view as it bisects the Burren. Start off in Kilfenora and take then R476 towards Corofin. The R480 is half way and is to the left. You will also pass by the Poulnabrone Dolmen on the way.
- Corcomroe Abbey, near Bellharbour, was founded in the 12th century, and, despite centuries of neglect, is still largely intact, excepting the roof. Despite its age and exposure to the elements, many of the stone carvings are still intact.
- 1 Clare's Rock (along the R480, 5 km from the village of Carron). A 5600-year-old communal burial chamber. At that time, the prehistoric residents of the area left bodies out to have their soft tissue consumed by wild animals, and afterwards put whatever remained into a burial chamber. Little is known about the inhabitants of that time, but the age alone makes this monument fascinating. This ancient portal tomb dates to the Neolithic period, 3200 BC. It comprises a tabular capstone supported by two slender portal stones, bordered by a nearby cairn. While it is one of over 150 dolmens in Ireland, its magnificence means that it is one of Ireland's most photographed monuments. As a resting place of the first farmers of the Burren, it is a mystical place to wind down after a long day in the scenic surroundings of this unique landscape. free.
- 2 Cliffs of Moher (Take the R478 from Liscannor to Doolin). The Cliffs stand over 200 m tall, for a huge palisade facing onto Galway Bay. The Bus Eireann service from Galway to Doolin stops there for 30 minutes. Adults €6.
Caherconnell Stone Fort
One of Ireland's best preserved stone ring forts, Caherconnell Stone Fort 1 km south of Poulnabrone Dolmen, it is an ancient Celtic ring fort. This fort and other sites like it would have been inhabited from around 500 AD to 1,500 AD in Ireland.
At the fort is a four-part tour. The first part is a display area which gives you some background information on the Burren and the various sites in the area. The second part is a film telling about the Burren, and giving information on the other forts and tombs in the area. The 3rd part is a virtual tour that shows what a day was like for the people who lived in the fort; it's only about 7 or 8 minutes long but you understand the thing much better after seeing it. The last bit is the tour of the fort itself. It's interesting to compare with the other forts and having seen the virtual tour it's easy to visualise where everything would have been.
- Burrenbeo Trust, Main St (Kinvara, Co. Galway). Visit this information centre on the Burren with lots of free information on the Burren and the environment plus some yummy homemade cakes and coffees!
- Monk's Pub, Ballyvaughan. Has some very good seafood. Their chowder is fantastic to warm you up after a walk through the cold wind.
- Whitethorn Holiday Homes. Comprises of three cottages on the seafront 1.5 km from Ballyvaughan village and 1.5 km from the beach.
Near the Cliffs of Moher, there are many signs warning visitors to stay back from the edge. While many people choose to ignore this wise advice, beware that the signs are there for a reason, as people have fallen off. The strong gusts of wind here may have played a role, and the death toll is rumoured to be around a dozen.