The Burren

The Burren is a sparse but wildly impressive region of rising, rocky ground in the north of the county. This is a country, wrote one of Oliver Cromwell’s generals, Ludlow in 1651 CE:

… where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.

A view of the Burren. Image: commons.

A landscape which could make such a deep impression must clearly be distinctive and unique.

Ludlow’s description does not provide a complete picture; the Burren contains secluded, virtually hidden, resources in water, wood and earth, not to mention an incomparable selection of archaeological, botanical and geological features, all of which contribute to its distinctive character.

Gleninagh Castle. Image Brian T McElherron

Gleninagh Castle. Image Brian T McElherron


A short paper on a castle occupied by the clan, The History of Gleninagh castle may be downloaded here: Gleninagh_Castle

A piece on light houses, Two witnesses to Irish emigration, may be seen here>


The region is noted not only for the wide variety of ancient monuments, but also for their individual excellence.


Since first arriving in this area, humankind have left their mark on this landscape, firstly with megalithic tombs such as the spectacular portal-dolmen at Poll na mBrón, and later with dwellings at Caherconnell, castles such as Lemenagh and churches such as Teampall Chrónain at Cronan and Kilfenora.

The roads, bridges, thatched-houses, even the local stone walls which are such a part of this region, are all indicative of ancient human activities with the Burren.


Spring-Gentian-The flora of the region is remarkable for the presence of plants representative of two distinctive floristic communities:

(A) The artic-alpine, as seen by Dryas Octopetala (mountain avens) and the renowned Gentiana Verna (gentian).

(B) The Mediterranean, as evidenced by Neotinnea Intacta (dense-flowered orchid) and Adiantum Capillis-Veneris (maidenhair fern). The location of these contrasting species, adjacent to each other within the Burren continues to be the subject of research among the international botanical community.


The Pine Marten, which resides within the Burren Landscape, County Clare. Photo: Gordon Darcy

The Pine Marten, which resides within the Burren Landscape, County Clare. Photo: Gordon Darcy

The porous qualities of the carboniferous-limestone and the Pleistocene ice-sheets have both combined to produce the characteristic bare pavements as well as other splendid examples of glacio-karstic formations. The region is composed of relatively pure and massively bedded Upper Carboniferous Limestone which dips gently southwards until it disappears beneath the shales and flagstones of the Namurian geological period, which coat much of south-west county Clare.

For a dramatic image of The Burren geology, see the new web-site of the Burren Law School, centred on Newtown Castle which has historical significance for our Clan.

A particular feature of this Burren region – the various depressions, many of which are periodically water-filled, and known as turloughs or dry-lakes, which also display their own particular flora.

Painting by Phillipa Casement

Painting by local artist Reg Bates

After such a wild ride, you may be in need of a drink. Many a Clan member has stopped by at the ÓLochlainn Whiskey Bar in Ballyvaughan with this in mind. This delightful painting was presented to Paul Loughnane by Phillipa Casement

Further Information:

Burren map

Map of the Uplands of North-west Clare by Tim Robinson
(The Burren Perfumery shop adjacent to Carron village displays an informative 15 minute video of both the Burren Landscape and Seascape).

1 Response to The Burren

  1. Brendan of Canberra has managed to install an image of Robinson’s / Burren Map towards the end of those Burren notes, which adds visually to our section on Burren.

    Reverend Patrick Comerford’s blog on his July 2018 visit to North Clare provides further glimpses, through his unique grasp of historical events on local landscapes; as well as his keen eye for architectural influences on our landscapes, through his various images; see Ennistymon or Ennistimon…
    Our appreciation to both Tim Robinson for his 1977 work on the Burren landscape and Patrick Comerford’s skillset, with both pen and camera – edward


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