The Burren
Overview
 
The Burren is a karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

-landscape region or alvar
Alvar
An alvar is a biological environment based on a limestone plain with thin or no soil and, as a result, sparse vegetation. It is also known as a pavement barren although this term is also used for similar landforms based on sandstone. In the United Kingdom the exposed landform is called a limestone...

 in northwest County Clare
County Clare
-History:There was a Neolithic civilisation in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen; single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones...

, in Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan or Ballyvaghan is a small harbour village in County Clare, Ireland. It is located on the south shores of Galway Bay, in the northwest corner of The Burren, an area of great rocky expanse, considered by many to be a unique landscape....

, Kinvara
Kinvara
Kinvara is a sea port village located in the south of County Galway in the province of Connacht on the west coast of Ireland. Kinvara is also the name of the parish in which the village is situated. Kinvara is occasionally spelled Kinvarra in English; this may be seen on some maps and road signs,...

, Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora
Kilfenora
Kilfenora is a small village in County Clare in Ireland, just south of The Burren. The village is noted for being the home to the Kilfenora Ceili Band and the location for much of the filming of the sitcom Father Ted.-Places of interest:...

 and Lisdoonvarna. It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway Bay
Galway Bay
Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city is located on the northeast side of the bay. It is about long and from to in breadth...

 on the west and north, respectively.

A small portion of the Burren has been designated as Burren National Park.
Encyclopedia
The Burren is a karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

-landscape region or alvar
Alvar
An alvar is a biological environment based on a limestone plain with thin or no soil and, as a result, sparse vegetation. It is also known as a pavement barren although this term is also used for similar landforms based on sandstone. In the United Kingdom the exposed landform is called a limestone...

 in northwest County Clare
County Clare
-History:There was a Neolithic civilisation in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen; single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones...

, in Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan or Ballyvaghan is a small harbour village in County Clare, Ireland. It is located on the south shores of Galway Bay, in the northwest corner of The Burren, an area of great rocky expanse, considered by many to be a unique landscape....

, Kinvara
Kinvara
Kinvara is a sea port village located in the south of County Galway in the province of Connacht on the west coast of Ireland. Kinvara is also the name of the parish in which the village is situated. Kinvara is occasionally spelled Kinvarra in English; this may be seen on some maps and road signs,...

, Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora
Kilfenora
Kilfenora is a small village in County Clare in Ireland, just south of The Burren. The village is noted for being the home to the Kilfenora Ceili Band and the location for much of the filming of the sitcom Father Ted.-Places of interest:...

 and Lisdoonvarna. It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway Bay
Galway Bay
Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city is located on the northeast side of the bay. It is about long and from to in breadth...

 on the west and north, respectively.

A small portion of the Burren has been designated as Burren National Park. It is one of only six National Park
National Parks in the Republic of Ireland
National Parks in the Republic of Ireland is a link page for any national park in the Republic of Ireland.Table below shows the name of the national park and in which county of Ireland it is located. The first park which was established in Ireland was the Killarney located in County Kerry in 1932...

s in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 and the smallest in size (15 km²).

The use of the definite article (making it "the Burren") used to be sometimes disputed

History

The Burren area formed part of the territory of Corco Modhruadh
Corcomroe
Corcomroe is the anglicised form of the tuath of Corco Modhruadh in the north of County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. It is also the name of the obsolete barony which covers the south-western half of this tuath...

, meaning "seed or people of Modhruadh" which was coextensive with the diocese of Kilfenora. At some point around the 12th Century, the territory was divided in two: Corco Modhruadh Iartharach ("Western Corcomroe") and Corco Modhruadh Oirthearach ("Eastern Corcomroe") also known as Boireann which in the late 16th century became the English administrative baronies of Corcomroe and Burren respectively. The O'Loughlin (Ó Lochlainn) clan ruled Boireann down to the mid 17th century from their chief residence at Gragans Castle (towerhouse not the house of the same name). The chief of the family was known in later times as the 'Prince of Burren' and clan members were buried in the family tomb near the altar of Corcomroe Abbey
Corcomroe Abbey
Corcomroe Abbey is an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery located in the north of the Burren region of County Clare, Ireland, a few miles east of the village of Ballyvaughan. It was once known as "St...

. Their kinsmen the O'Connor (Ó Conchubhair) clan ruled Corco Modhruadh Oirthearach from Dough Castle near Liscannor
Liscannor
Liscannor is a coastal village in County Clare, Ireland. Lying on the west coast of Ireland, on Liscannor Bay, the village is located on the R478 road between Lahinch, to the east, and Doolin, to the north. The Cliffs of Moher are about west of the village...

. The villages and towns found within the medieval territory of Boireann include Lisdoonvarna, Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan
Ballyvaughan or Ballyvaghan is a small harbour village in County Clare, Ireland. It is located on the south shores of Galway Bay, in the northwest corner of The Burren, an area of great rocky expanse, considered by many to be a unique landscape....

, New Quay
New Quay
New Quay is a seaside town in Ceredigion, West Wales with a resident population of around 1,200 people. Located on Cardigan Bay with a harbour and large sandy beaches, it remains a popular seaside resort and traditional fishing town.-History:...

 / Burrin, Noughaval, Bealaclugga, Carron
Carron
Carron may refer to :Rivers:* River Carron , a river in Central Scotland* River Carron, Wester Ross* River Carron, Sutherland* Carron Water, Aberdeenshire, a river that flows into the North Sea in Stonehaven...

 and Fanore
Fanore
Fanore is a small village in County Clare, on the west coast of Ireland.Lying on the road between Ballyvaughan and Doolin, Fanore is renowned for its extensive sandy beach. The village is very popular with walkers, surfers, tourists and is particularly interesting to botanists, owing to its...

 / Craggagh.

Burren is rich with historical and archaeological sites. There are more than 90 megalithic tombs in the area, portal dolmens (including Poulnabrone dolmen
Poulnabrone dolmen
Poulnabrone Dolmen is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland, dating back to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC to 2900 BC. It is situated 8km south of Ballyvaughan in the parish of Carran, 9.6km north-west of Kilnaboy...

), a celtic high cross in the village of Kilfenora, and a number of ring forts - among them the triple ring fort Cahercommaun
Cahercommaun
Cahercommaun is a triple ringfort on the south-east edge of the The Burren area, in Kilnaboy which is near the rural village Carran, in County Clare, Ireland. It was built about 800 AD.-Features:...

 on the edge of an inland cliff, and the exceptionally well-preserved Caherconnell Stone Fort
Caherconnell Stone Fort
Caherconnell Stone Fort is an ancient and exceptionally well preserved Celtic Ring Fort in Ireland, situated in the Burren, about 1 km south of the Poulnabrone dolmen...

. Corcomroe Abbey is one of the area's main scenic attractions.

Geology

The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 pavements with crisscrossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". The region supports arctic
Arctic
The Arctic is a region located at the northern-most part of the Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean and parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. The Arctic region consists of a vast, ice-covered ocean, surrounded by treeless permafrost...

, Mediterranean and alpine
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment.
The limestones date from the Visean
Viséan
The Visean, Viséan or Visian is an age in the ICS geologic timescale or a stage in the stratigraphic column. It is the second stage of the Mississippian, the lower subsystem of the Carboniferous. The Visean lasted from 345.3 ± 2.1 to 328.3 ± 1.6 Ma...

 period (Lower Carboniferous), formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 350 million years ago, and compressed into horizontal strata with fossil corals, crinoids, sea urchins and ammonites.
Glaciation following the Namurian
Namurian
The Namurian is a stage in the regional stratigraphy of northwest Europe with an age between roughly 326 and 313 Ma . It is a subdivision of the Carboniferous system or period and the regional Silesian series. The Namurian is named for the Belgian city and province of Namur where strata of this age...

 phase facilitated greater denudation. The result is that the Burren is one of the finest examples of a Glacio-Karst
KARST
Kilometer-square Area Radio Synthesis Telescope is a Chinese telescope project to which FAST is a forerunner. KARST is a set of large spherical reflectors on karst landforms, which are bowlshaped limestone sinkholes named after the Kras region in Slovenia and Northern Italy. It will consist of...

 landscape in the world. The effects of the last glacial period (the Midlandian) are most in evidence, with the Burren overrun by ice during this glaciation. The impact of earlier Karstification (solutional erosion) has been eliminated by the last glacial period. So any Karstification now seen dates from approximately 10,000 years ago and the Burren Karst is thus recent.
Solutional processes have widened and deepened the grikes of the limestone pavement
Limestone pavement
A limestone pavement is a natural karst landform consisting of a flat, incised surface of exposed limestone that resembles an artificial pavement. The term is mainly used in the UK where many of these landforms have developed distinctive surface patterning resembling block of paving...

. Pre-existing lines of weakness in the rock (vertical joints) contribute to the formation of extensive fissures separated by clints (flat pavement like slabs). The rock karstification facilitates the formation of subterranean drainage.

Climate and agriculture

The Burren has an unusually temperate climate. Average air temperatures range from 15°C in July to 6°C in January. The soil temperature does not usually drop below 6°C (end 2010 recorded a very unusual prolonged period of snow). Since grass will grow once the temperature rises above 6°C, this means that the Burren (like the neighbouring Aran Islands
Aran Islands
The Aran Islands or The Arans are a group of three islands located at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. They constitute the barony of Aran in County Galway, Ireland...

) has one of the longest growing seasons in Ireland or Britain, and supports diverse and rich plant growth.
Late May is the sunniest time, and also likely the best time to view flowers, with the gentians and avens peaking (but orchid species blooming later).

During counter-guerilla operations in Burren in 1651-52, Edmund Ludlow
Edmund Ludlow
Edmund Ludlow was an English parliamentarian, best known for his involvement in the execution of Charles I, and for his Memoirs, which were published posthumously in a rewritten form and which have become a major source for historians of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. After service in the English...

 stated, "(Burren) is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him...... and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing."

Flora and fauna

The Burren is renowned for its remarkable assemblage of plants and animals. The region supports many rare Irish species, some of which are only found in this area, such as the slow worm. Others occur in similar karst areas in western Ireland. Notable insects present in the Burren include the butterfly the Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Pearl-bordered Fritillary
The Pearl-bordered Fritillary is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family.It is orange with black spots on the upperside of its wing and has a wingspan of 38–46 mm. On the underside of the wings there is a row of silver pearly markings along the edge, which give the species its name...

 Boloria euphrosyne, Brown Hairstreak
Brown Hairstreak
The Brown Hairstreak is a butterfly in the family Lycaenidae. The range includes most of the Palaearctic.-Subspecies:...

 Thecla betulae, Marsh Fritillary
Marsh Fritillary
The Marsh Fritillary, Euphydryas aurinia, is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family.It is widespread in the Palaearctic region from Ireland in the West to Yakutia in the East, and to North-west China and Mongolia in the South.E. aurinia is represented by many subspecies.The most widely accepted...

 Euphydryas aurinia and Wood White Leptidea sinapis; the moths, the Burren Green
Calamia tridens
The Burren Green is a moth of the Noctuidae family. It is found in Europe.The wingspan is 37-42 mm. The length of the forewings is 17-18 mm. The moth flies in one generation from late June to September ....

 Calamia tridens, Irish Annulet Odontognophos dumetata and Transparent Burnet Zygaena purpuralis; the hoverfly Doros profuges and the water-beetle Ochthebius nilssoni. This last species is known from just 5 sites in the world, its type locality in northern Sweden and four marl
Marl
Marl or marlstone is a calcium carbonate or lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and aragonite. Marl was originally an old term loosely applied to a variety of materials, most of which occur as loose, earthy deposits consisting chiefly of an intimate mixture of clay...

 lakes in the Burren.

The grykes (crevices) provide moist shelter, thus supporting a wide range of plants including dwarf shrubs. Where the surface of the pavement is shattered into gravel, many of the hardier Arctic or Alpine plants can be found. But when the limestone pavement is covered by a thin layer of soil, patches of grass are seen, interspersed with plants like the gentian and orchids.

The blue flower of the Spring Gentian
Spring Gentian
The Spring Gentian is a species of the genus Gentiana and one of its smallest members, normally only growing to a height of a few centimetres.The short stem supports up to three opposing pairs of elliptical or lanceolate leaves...

, an alpine plant, is used as a symbol for the area by the tourist board.

Culture

Burren has a long history of traditional Irish music. It is particularly known for the "West Clare Style" of concertina
Concertina
A concertina is a free-reed musical instrument, like the various accordions and the harmonica. It has a bellows and buttons typically on both ends of it. When pressed, the buttons travel in the same direction as the bellows, unlike accordion buttons which travel perpendicularly to it...

 playing and the music festival in Doolin
Doolin
Doolin is a coastal village in County Clare, Ireland, on the Atlantic coast. It borders the spa town of Lisdoonvarna. It is a noted centre of traditional Irish music, which is played nightly in its pubs, making it a popular tourist destination. There are numerous nearby archaeological sites, many...

.

Sport

Burren's many limestone cliffs, particularly the sea-cliffs at Ailladie
Ailladie
thumb|right|300px|The middle sectors of Ailladie. On the left is the Aran Wall sector, with several climbs in the E2-E5 grade range. To the right is the inset Mirror Wall, with many climbs in the E4-E6 range...

, are popular with rock-climbers
Climbing
Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations.Climbing activities include:* Bouldering: Ascending boulders or small...

. For cavers
Caving
Caving—also occasionally known as spelunking in the United States and potholing in the United Kingdom—is the recreational pastime of exploring wild cave systems...

, there are a number of charted caves in the area, notably Pollnagollum
Pollnagollum
Pollnagollum–Poulelva is an active stream passage cave situated in County Clare, Ireland.- Description :...

. Doolin
Doolin
Doolin is a coastal village in County Clare, Ireland, on the Atlantic coast. It borders the spa town of Lisdoonvarna. It is a noted centre of traditional Irish music, which is played nightly in its pubs, making it a popular tourist destination. There are numerous nearby archaeological sites, many...

 is a popular "base camp" for cavers, and is home to one of the two main cave-rescue stores of the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation
Irish Cave Rescue Organisation
The Irish Cave Rescue Organisation is a volunteer organisation specialising in cave rescue within the island of Ireland. ICRO attends, manages and carries out rescues at the request of the in the Republic of Ireland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland, and is...

.

See also

  • Aillwee Cave
    Aillwee Cave
    Aillwee Cave is the most famous of the many thousands of ancient caves beneath the karst-landscape of the Burren in northwest County Clare, Ireland. The name Aillwee is derived from the Irish which means yellow cliff....

  • Burren Action Group
    Burren Action Group
    Burren Action Group evolved as a local response to oppose plans by the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service to develop a large scale interpretative centre at Mullaghmore in the Burren, Co. County Clare, Ireland...

  • Cliffs of Moher
    Cliffs of Moher
    The Cliffs of Moher are located in the parish of Liscannor at the south-western edge of the Burren area near Doolin, which is located in County Clare, Ireland....

  • Turlough (lake)
    Turlough (lake)
    A turlough, or turlach, is a unique type of disappearing lake found mostly in limestone areas of Ireland, west of the River Shannon. The name comes from the Irish "tuar", meaning dry, with the suffix "lach", meaning a place . The "lach" suffix is often mistakenly spelled and/or thought to refer to...


See also

  • McCarthy, P.M. and Mitchell, M.E. 1988. Lichens of the Burren Hills and the Aran Islands. Galway. Officina Typographica.
  • Bilton, D.T., 1988. A survey of aquatic Coleoptera in Central Ireland and the Burren. Bulletin of the Irish biogeographical Society 11: 77-94.
  • Foster, G.N., Nelson, B.H. & O Connor, A. 2009. Ireland Red List No. 1 - Water beetles. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin.
  • O'Callagan, E., Foster, G.N., Bilton, D.T. & Reynolds, J.D. 2009 Ochthebius nilssoni Hebauer new for Ireland (Coleoptera: Hydraenidae), including a key to Irish Ochthebius and Enicocerus. Irish Naturalists' Journal 30: 19-23
  • Sheehy Skeffington, M., Moran, J., O Connor, Á., Regan, E., Coxon, C. E., Scott, N. E. & Gormally, M. 2006. Turloughs – Ireland’s unique wetland habitat. Biological Conservation 133: 265-290.
  1. BBC: The Flowers of the Burren, County Clare, Ireland
  2. A similar quote "The Burren affordeth not a piece of timber sufficient to hang a man, water in any one place to drown a man, or earth enough in any one part to bury him." can be found in "The Journal of Thomas Dineley", 1681, in the National Library of Ireland. Extracts from his journal, including his account of the Clare section of his journey, were published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, 6 (1867). These appear in an online in "The History and Topography of the County of Clare" by James Frost Part II. History of Thomond Chapter 28 Barony of Burren
    • Anon. The Burren: A Guide. Shannonside Mid Western Regional Tourism Organization Ltd., 62, O'Connell St., Limerick.
    • E. C. Nelson. Checklist of Plants of The Burren Region.
    • D.A. Webb & M.J.P. Scannell. Flora of Connemara and The Burren.
    • T. J. Westropp. Archaeology of The Burren.
    • D’Arcy & Hayward. The Natural History of The Burren.
    • E.C. Nelson & W. Walsh. The Burren Wildflowers, Conservancy of The Burren, An Bothan, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare.
    • Hennessy, R., McNamara, M., & Hoctor, Z., 2010 Stone, Water & Ice: A Geology Trip Through the Burren. Burren Connect Project, pp.64

External links

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