Burren National Park in Ireland, photo and description

Burren Stone Desert Irish National Park

The Burren Rocky Desert in Ireland – huge slabs of limestone scattered over a huge area, boulders and stone megaliths.

The desert delights and fascinates almost every visitor. This place is actively visited by biologists, archaeologists, historians and tourists. There are many reasons to consider the park a unique place on the planet.

The name Burren is related to the Irish word “burron” and translates as “rocky place”.

The location of the desert is the farthest point in Europe. It borders the Cliffs of Moher to the south and Galway Bay to the north.

The landscape of the area is mostly confined to rocks and cliffs. Much of its territory is covered with huge limestone slabs and large blocks extending to the horizon.

The length of the stone desert is 300 square kilometers.

Another attraction is the standing lakes. Among them, there are temporary and permanent lakes. Temporary ones dry up in the summer and are reborn with the coming of autumn and rains.

Permanent lakes have a high concentration of calcium carbonate, and therefore differ in a transparent, bluish water.

Thousands of years ago the first settlers came to this area. They were impressed not only by the beauty of the landscape, but also by the ideal conditions for the development of agriculture. Throughout the year it was possible to graze cattle on the pastures, thanks to the lime slabs. They acted as a huge heat accumulator that absorbed the sun’s heat in the summer and slowly released it in the winter.

The people who lived there, long before the Celts, left a legacy of unique cultural monuments, such as wedge-shaped tombs, the mysterious Turlo Hill structure.

A neck ornament found in 1934 is today recognized as the most exquisite Irish work of the Bronze Age.

Fortresses and ruined castles built during the Middle Ages also add interest to the park’s surroundings.

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A panoramic walk through the desert of about 1,300 km².

Water that has broken through the limestone porous slabs, has created a striking world underground, consisting of many caves. Today they are rightfully considered one of the park’s most striking sights.

In the cave Paul-en-Ainon is the largest in Europe, 9-meter stalactite.

Tourists most often visit the cave called Elui. There are traces of a burrowing bear that disappeared thousands of years ago. Elui is beautiful with many bizarre stalagmites, stalactites and other natural masterpieces.

The flora of the area is strikingly diverse and unparalleled in all of Europe. Burren shelter representatives of flora of mountains, meadows, forests, coastal strip.

Cracks and fissures in the limestone slabs make the landscape even more unusual. They can be up to two meters deep. Many plants have found a shelter in the cracks that have preserved the soil.

Botanist Kilian Rowden spoke enthusiastically about the richness of the desert flora. He noted that exotic, rare plants, like common forget-me-nots and thistles, are found in the area. More than 600 plant species amaze scientists not only by their abundance, but also by their striking combination. In a small corner of Ireland, Arctic, alpine, and Mediterranean species are juxtaposed.

The cold but beautiful Burren National Park

The Burren National Park in County Clare is Ireland’s most desolate national park, often referred to as the “moonscape. The Irish word boíreann “literally means” rocky place “(and there are several areas called” burren “throughout Ireland). How well this name corresponds to the Burren National Park is obvious – the lack of soil cover and exposed limestone make the area gloomy and bare This, however, does not extend to further inspection.

Nevertheless, from 1651 the word of Cromwell’s officer is quoted: “A country with not enough water to drown a man, enough wood to hang him, or land to bury them.” He had peculiar priorities .

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The size of the park

Burren National Park stretches over about 1,500 hectares of land, and Burren itself is larger (about 250 square kilometers or 1% of Ireland).

Where it’s located

Burren’s own national park is located in the southeast corner of the general Burren area. This part of the Burren was purchased by the Irish government for the sole purpose of conservation and continued public access.

The highest point of Burren National Park is Mt. Nocanes at 207 meters.

Getting there

As stated above, Burren National Park is located on the southeast side of the general area known as “Burren” in County Clare. The boundaries are defined but not visible.

From Corofin the R476 leads to Kilnaboy, where you turn right and another five kilometers along the road will lead to a junction with a small crossing. From here you will have to follow the “rocky road” into Burren National Park on foot. Be careful with the traffic! In the summer, Burren National Park can be very busy. Please avoid parking on the limestone sidewalk .

Burren National Park Visitor Center

No, but the Curren Center can be found in Kilfenora.

Major attractions in the park

The Burren region is world famous for its bleak landscape and, surprisingly, its flora. During the summer months, visitors experience a colorful variety of flowering plants in a fragile ecosystem (and often hidden from view). Arctic and alpine plants thrive alongside Mediterranean species, lime and acid-loving plants grow nearby, and you can even find forest plants even though there are no trees nearby. All this on land that seems to consist entirely of stone and nothing but stone.

The ecosystem of Burren National Park is extremely complex: the mosaic of habitats contrasts but complements each other and they are difficult to distinguish. Approximately 75% of all plant species found in Ireland are actually present in the Burrens, including at least 23 of the 27 native orchid species.

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The reason? Apparently, the seemingly smooth areas of limestone cover are made up of “clints” and “hernias.” Clints are plate-like flat areas. Grykes are cracks and fissures that run through gaps. And in the dirt, soil can accumulate, protected from the wind. These accumulations provide enough anchor and nutrients for plants. Most low-growing, like bonsai, is due to a combined lack of space, nutrients, water and soil working together with wind and grazing animals to keep things low.

Some grasslands can be found on terraces with a thin layer of soil, between elevated areas of limestone pavement, and on glacial deposits. These grasslands provide a mix of species. From arctic and alpine plants right through to those most often loved along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Also, the elevations in Burren seem to be mixed up – spring gentians usually grow high in the Alps, in Burren they can be found at sea level.

But keep in mind: don’t pick the plants or flowers you see in Burren and Burren National Park!

Much of the mammal life in the park takes place at night. The fauna in Burren National Park consists of badgers, foxes, ermines, otters, pine marten, squirrels, burrows, rats, mice, bats and shrews; you will also see the occasional hare or rabbit. Bears, however, are long since extinct; good news for the wild goats that roam the area.

Bird watchers will try to spot all 98 species of birds actually recorded in the park, from peregrines, kestrels and merlins to finches and tits. Wild birds use the Burren as a winter quarter, and whooper swans make the most dramatic entrance.


There aren’t really any, but you’ll find plenty of cafes and stores in the villages around Burren.

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