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. Nothing of any size can grow in the limestone sheet that forms the surface of this entire area, only short grasses and wildflowers. Even so, some of the oldest historical monuments in Ireland can be found in this area, dating back an incomprehensible 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 originally founded in the 12th century, and, despite centuries of neglect, is still largely intact today, excepting the roof. Despite it's 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, it's 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 200m tall, for a huge palisade facing onto Galway Bay. The Bus Eireann service from Galway to Doolin stops here for 30 minutes. Adults €6.
Caherconnell Stone Fort
One of Ireland's best preserved stone ring forts, Caherconnell Stone Fort just 1 km south of Poulnabrone Dolmen, it is an ancient Celtic Ring Fort. This Fort and other sites like it would have been inhabitied from around 500 A.D. to 1,500 A.D. in Ireland At the fort they have a 4 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 very nice film which tells you a bit about the Burren and gives you information on the other forts and tombs in the area. The 3rd bit is a virtual tour. It's a kind of 3D cartoon which shows you 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 whole thing so much better after seeing it.
The last bit is the tour of the fort itself - they give you a little map and you can actually walk around the site and see it as it is today. 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. If you are in Clare or the Burren go see it - and try the coffee - it makes all the difference to get fresh ground coffee on a cold spring day!
- 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.
- Burren Atedaun. Offers both self catering and bed & breakfast accommodation in three separate cottages located at "Burren Atedaun", a 32 acre working farm in Killeen, overlooking the village of Corofin.
- Whitethorn Holiday Homes. Comprises of three cottages, located right on the sea front, just 1.5km from Ballyvaughan village and 1.5km 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 currently be around a dozen.