The name of the 'Burren' region is derived from the word 'Boireann', which means 'rocky land' in the Gaelic language, which is appropriate for this vast limestone plateau in northwest of County Clare.
In 1640's, a surveyor commissioned by Oliver Cromwell described the area as 'a savage land, yielding neither water enough to drown a man, nor tree to hang him, nor soil enough to bury'.
Although few trees grow in this rocky place, many other plants thrive. The Burren is a unique botanical environment in which Mediterranean and alpine plants rare to Ireland grow side by side. From May to August, an amazing array of flowers creates bright splashes of colour in this otherwise austere landscape.
Glaciation and wind and rain erosion have formed limestone pavements with deep crevices known as 'grykes'. The porous rock is easily penetrated by rain water, which has gouged out an extensive cave system beneath the rocky plateau.
The Burren National Park and Geopark is a truly magnificent karst limestone area which has a combination of many unusual features which make it unique in Europe. Its geology, flora, fauna, caves, archaelology, and history set it apart as a place of great mystery and beauty. The Burren, together with the Cliffs of Moher was awarded UNESCO recognised Global Geopark status in 2011.
In an area of only 100 square miles you can find crystal clean rivers, ancient castles, peaceful lakes, sheer cliffs, magical caves, lush green valleys, bare rock mountains, green walking trails along with the many relics of ancient civilisation including round towers, portal dolmens, hidden churches and sacred wells. From geology to botany and from archaeology to outdoor adventure there is something for visitors of all ages. Pristine beaches with the backdrop of sculpted limestone mountains provide a wonderful setting for lovers of the outdoors. The Burren region is a mecca for those looking for some of the best hiking, cycling, surfing, kayaking or caving in the country.
There are many great towns and villages to visit while touring the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. The area is home to a highly productive community of cottage industry food producers specialising in everything from smoked salmon, honey, jams and cheeses to name but a few. Why not take time to indulge in the best local foods, or stop in one of the many towns and villages to enjoy a great traditional music session.
Getting to The Burren
By bus, or car. Bus Eireann Route 423 provides a service from Galway to The Burren. Alternatively follow the N6 from Galway to Kilcolgan, and then the N67 to The Burren.
Where to stay
The Burren has a wide choice of cosy and friendly places to stay including small hotels, hostels, self-catering holiday homes, guesthouses and B&B's.
The Burren is surrounded by beautiful coastal towns. Don't miss Ballyvaughan and Kinvara if you are travelling north, and The Aran Islands, and Doolin, if you are travelling south.
Things to do in The Burren.
Explore the great chaos of rocks that is the Burren. Identify the grikes and clints, and marvel at the magnitude of this near-lunar landscape.
The Doolin area is popular with cavers. A little over 1km north of Roadford you’ll find Doolin Cave, which boasts an enormous stalactite that looks like a giant squid.
Savour an evening in Vaughan’s Pub. Seafood, traditional foods and local produce feature on Vaughan’s appealing menu. The pub has a big reputation in Irish music circles. There’s music in the bar every night during the summer and on many nights the rest of the year also. The adjacent barn is the scene of terrific set-dancing sessions on Thursday and Sunday nights. Have a pint under the big tree out front.
The Burren Map
See below a list of some the main towns in region.
Discover Connemara, a beautifully scenic region just north of Galway City with Lally Tours. This tour includes stops at Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Gardens, Leenane Village, Killary Fjord and the village of An Spidéal overlooking Galway Bay.
Cliffs of Moher & The Burren Day Tour
The unmissable Cliffs of Moher & Burren Tour with Lally Tours includes up to 2 hours at the cliffs and includes stops at the lunar-like Burren region, Dunguaire Castle, Aillwee Caves & Birds of Prey Centre and the charming village of Doolin overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Cliffs of Moher Express Bus
A Non-Stop Express Shuttle Service to the Cliffs of Moher with Lally Tours. Experience Ireland’s natural, mysterious, 214m (702 ft) high cliffs and interactive visitor centre. You’ll have 2 full hours to explore on your own before heading back to Galway.
Galway City Hop-on Hop-off Tour
Explore Galway with one of Lally Tours' friendly guides to learn about this colourful city and see it from the best vantage point: an open top bus! You’ll see everything from medieval walls in the city centre to the sandy beaches of Salthill. Hop on and off as much as you’d like and your ticket is valid for 24 hours.