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At first glance, the Burren in County Clare might seem like a forbidding place - a sweeping expanse of bare limestone with little greenery or signs of life to punctuate the grey rock. But appearances can be deceptive, and if you spend time exploring this fascinating coastal region, you will find a strangely intriguing place that will have you longing to return.
The main reason for visiting the Burren is spread out before you on all sides. In Irish, the Burren means “great rock,” an apt description for this karst-landscape region that extends across an area of about 250 square kilometres in northwest Clare, making it one of Europe’s biggest karst landscapes. The limestone pavements are sliced into slabs called “clints” by cracks known as "grikes", which shelter a wide variety of plant life, helped by the unusually temperate climate. Park your car and explore the landscape on foot to appreciate its strangely beguiling atmosphere.
Doolin is a village in the Burren world-famous as the spiritual home of traditional music in Ireland. One of Doolin's legendary musicians was Micho Russell, a celebrated whistle player whose contribution to Irish music is celebrated with a weekend of traditional music held on the last full weekend in February each year. Festivities for the Russell Memorial Weekend begin with an "Open House" concert at the Russell Cultural Centre.
Follow the course of the Caher River - the only river in the Burren to flow entirely above ground, and you will find a beautiful strand just where it enters the Atlantic. Close to the village of Ballyvaughan, Fanore is a fine, golden beach backed by extensive sand dunes and delicate fragile cliffs that makes the perfect place for a dip in summer or a bracing walk in winter. A Blue Flag beach, Fanore is patrolled by lifeguards in summer. It also makes the ideal location for a picnic if you’re spending the day exploring the Burren.
Hidden in the heart of the Burren, about a 40-minute drive from both Galway and Shannon, lies the Ailwee Cave, a magical network of beautiful caverns that may be the oldest cave in Ireland. The cave began to develop when streams sinking underground on Aillwee Mountain began driving channels through the lines of weakness in the limestone, and now a guided 30-minute tour brings you across over bridged gulfs, beneath bizarre formations, and alongside a gushing waterfall.
This megalithic portal tomb lies just off the R480 from Ballyvaughan, but you will have to walk along an unpaved path through the limestone landscape to reach it. Formed by two standing stones capped with a massive slab, dolmens marked the site of graves, with Poulnabrone among the most impressive still in existence. Dating back to at least 2900 BC, it was excavated in the 1980s, revealing the remains of up to 38 bodies.
Anyone with an interest in plants will be fascinated by the Burren, where rare Arctic, Mediterranean, and alpine plants grow in cracks between the limestone slabs called “grikes.” These plants are suited to the thin soil in the crevices, and the unusually temperate climate also favours them. Notable varieties include gentians, maidenhair ferns, and mountain avens. Botanists are still at odds over how precisely some of the plant varieties continue to thrive in the harsh environment.
The Burren is something of a playground for archaeologists and historians, who have a wealth of remains to explore here. Ancient monuments include more than 90 megalithic tombs, portal dolmens such as the Poulnabrone dolmen, a celtic high cross in the village of Kilfenora, and several ring forts. The triple ring fort Cahercommaun is spectacularly located on the edge of an inland cliff, and the immaculately preserved Caherconnell Stone Fort is also well worth visiting. Another impressive local historic attraction is Corcomroe Abbey, a few miles east of Ballyvaughan.
The village of Doolin is only 20 minutes from the Aran Islands by ferry. There are at least three ferry companies operating from Doolin, with regular sailings to Inis Mór, Inis Méain, and Inis Oírr in summer. Strung out across the centre of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands provide an insight into how island people lived in the past. There is a wild beauty and magnetism to the islands that inspire people to return here again and again.
The Burren Way is a 123km linear walking trail that encompasses the East Burren Loop and connects to Lisdoonvarna and Ballyvaughan in north Clare. The trail winds inland from Lahinch in the west to Doolin on the coast and takes in the towns of Lisdoonvarna and Ballyvaughan before crossing the Burren via the villages of Carran and Corofin. The route comprises Green Roads, pathways, old roads, and minor roads. South of Corofin, the Way joins the Mid Clare Way, creating an appealing loop around the east of the Burren.
The Burren Centre lies in the charming village of Kilfenora, itself a centre for wonderful traditional Irish music. The Burren Centre gives you a fascinating overview of the Burren region, presenting a fine exhibition and audio visual presentation on the unique aspects of the region. The story of the Burren is relayed with atmospheric lighting and sounds, outlining the history of human development and how man and beast co-existed in this seemingly hostile environment.
12.5km from The Burren
Welcome to a delightful holiday home in the countryside near the village of Kilfenora in County Clare. Situated on extensive farmland near the River Fergus and Lickeen Lake, the holiday home boasts spectacular views.
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14.6km from The Burren
Prepare to relax and unwind in picturesque surroundings when you stay in one of these traditional Irish holiday homes, located on the spectacular west coast of Ireland near a little village called Ballyvaughan, in north County Clare. Perfect for a family holiday or a romantic break, these holiday homes offer the very best in rental accommodation.
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12.7km from The Burren
This charming self catering cottage is situated in the unique surroundings of the world-renowned Burren in County Clare. Twice winner of the Shannon Region Gulliver Award, this cottage has a beautiful harbour-side setting and commands magnificent views of the Burren mountains.
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19.2km from The Burren
This superb development of holiday homes is located in Lisdoonvarna in West Clare, 64km from Shannon Airport and Galway City. The tastefully designed holiday homes sleep five comfortably in three beautifully decorated bedrooms, with one double bed and three single beds.
14.2km from The Burren
Surround yourself in luxury at this large, 4-star, 6-bedroom house, newly built with all new modern conveniences. All rooms are ensuite and the property is set in a 297-square-metre site on a large family farm. The downstairs ensuite bedroom has wheelchair facilities. All showers are power showers, and there is a jacuzzi for guests' enjoyment.
7.6km from The Burren
Situated on the shores of Lake Inchiquin, near Corofin Co. Clare, these cottages are perfect for a peaceful getaway with a spot of fishing thrown in. The cottages are beautifully located overlooking the River Fergus, which enters Lake Inchiquin just 50m from your doorstep.
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14.3km from The Burren
Savour four-star luxury at this property in the harbour village of Kinvara, Co. Galway. Distinguished by a spectacular facade of local stone, the recently-built house is only 30 minutes' drive from Galway city centre. This stunning accommodation offers 4 bright and spacious bedrooms, which can sleep up to 8 people.
15km from The Burren
These holiday cottages are located right in the centre of the charming and unspoilt village of Ballyvaughan, which lies on the southern shores of Galway Bay, surrounded by the magnificent limestone hills of the Burren. For those of you travelling with small children, a cot a high chair are available on request by prior arrangement with the owners.
14.4km from The Burren
Next time you visit the spectacular west of Ireland, stay at a superb holiday home in an area of outstanding natural beauty. The cottage lies in the picturesque village of Ballyvaughan and provides a comfortable and relaxing base from which to explore and appreciate the natural surroundings of the Burren.
14.7km from The Burren
This beautiful 3 star property is located in Ennis in County Clare.Traditional and tastefully decorated, it allows guests to take a step back in time. It is ideally located for touring around the West of Ireland and is under 5km from the main town of Ennis. Ennis is a bustling market town, full of medieval history and modern conveniences, with many restaurants offering an international range of cuisine.
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