It's time to get over the hackneyed image you have about Ireland: green landscapes, high cliffs and waves hitting the ledge. Open your horizon and think out of the box: the Burren is nothing you would expect from the island. In northwest Country Clare, a 250 square kilometers area of harsh karst limestone structure spreads between the Atlantic in the West and Galway Bay, in North, just in the NW corner of Coclare, within the outline made by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara,Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna.

The "Burren" means "a rocky place" or "the great rock" in old Irish, derived from the word 'boirreann'. The limestone pavement is eroded and underneath the limestone, the cracks flood when it rains. When it comes to vegetation, the Burren is one of the only places on earth where Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants survive. No matter the season there's always something blooming here: wildflowers, ferns, orchids, violets, rock roses and the blue gentian - that became the symbol of the area.

There's nothing obvious about The Burren and you could easily miss it while driving by it. You won't find some great touristic quarter, nor flashy touristic attractions. What you will find are about 90 megalithic tombs and Celtic crosses, a ruined Cistercian Abbey from the 12th century, Corcomroe and abandoned villages since famine times. But this is not for everyone's eyes. You'll have to follow the 42km (26-mile) footpath signed from Ballyvaughan to Liscannor. Near Fanoe there's a limestone cliff that became popular to rock-climbers.

The Burren is on one hand invaded by tourists, on the other slightly neglected by humans. Wild-growing plants and weed quickly invaded the tombs after the farms were abandoned during the famine. Every year thousands of people abuse nature's and history's wealth, making us wonder what will the rolling hills of Burren will have to offer to the next generations.

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Al Brady/ HAWKEYE, Michael Slattery, Eoin Gardiner, Tim Snell, Chad K, dusi_bbg, fhwrdh

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This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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