By the time we finished secondary school Leo McGough aka The Hurling Hobo, @thehurlinghobo, had enrolled us all in the cult of Clare hurling! So I have a soft spot for this beautiful county and I was delighted to take a break last weekend from my Darragh and Eimear’s wedding celebrations for a short walk in the Burren. It is the most unique landscape in Ireland, with its rolling limestone hills, underground rivers and caves, unique flora and fauna. An area steeped in history and heritage sites. It’s tricky walking territory and you need to focus on each step as the limestone is full of crevices and cracks, loose rocks and stone walls. That makes it hard to take in the natural beauty surrounding you, so it’s wise to stop and gaze as often as possible! Not everyone in the past was so taken with the wonders of the Burren:
“It 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.”Cromwellian general, Edmund Ludlow (1617-1692).
An Bhoireann….” a stony place..”. Never was a place so well named for this area of north Clare is world renowned for its unique landscape. Between those rocks and crevices is a unique eco system where alpine and mediterranean plant species are found side by side. It is a botanists paradise!
The Burren landscape was formed millions of years ago and there are clues to its ancient past in the rock surfaces, with fossils such as the coral below in abundance:
The Burren extends from approximately Corofin northwards into Galway, covering an area of about 530 square kilometres. A small part of that is designated a national park and thats where we completed this short walk around beautiful Mullaghmore mountain. The walk extends over a series of rocky terraces with beautiful lakes, some are turloughs (temporary lakes found in limestone areas), the colours of the water were stunning.
We often hear about the farmers in the Alps bringing their cattle to high pastures in the summer. This practice is called transhumance. For thousands of years, Burren farmers have marked the end of summer by herding their cattle onto ‘winterage’ pastures in the limestone uplands where they spend the winter grazing. This ancient reverse ‘transhumance’ tradition is synonymous with the Burren and is key to the survival of the region’s famous flora and fauna.