Have a spare $200,000 lying around? Then space travel with Virgin Galactic might be for you. However, if you’re not in a position to take the tour to space, Ireland’s west coast is the perfect substitute
The Burren is a dramatic limestone landscape of greying rock. This County Clare curiosity could easily be re-imagined as another planet, with its lunar landscape type terrain.
It’s not just the rock that makes The Burren special. The area is home to a unique ecosystem of flora and fauna, with Arctic and Mediterranean plants co-existing together. From delicate red and purple fuchsia to the pink cranesbill, the diversity of plant life ensures the area is spectacularly colorful come late spring.
Mary Howard is an expert on The Burren and regularly gives walking tours to visitors.
“This striking bare limestone pavement is not so bare at all,” Mary explains. “It is a living landscape, not only in terms of the array of wild flowers, but it is also a farmed landscape. Visitors find it fascinating to see cattle expertly negotiate the clints [blocks of limestone] and grykes [deep, narrow crevices] of the Burren.”
Adventurous visitors to The Burren are free to explore the sprawling networks of deep caves or investigate the disappearing lakes (turloghs) sprinkled across the hard surface.
Right here on County Clare’s edge, is where you’ll find clues to some of Europe’s earliest civilizations. The Poulnabrone portal tomb alone clocks in at some 5,800 years old. This imposing rock structure is an ancient burial site predating the Egyptian pyramids and revealing some of the burial customs of pre-historic Ireland.
“Whether I am up on Blackhead surrounded by layers of limestone and looking out across Galway bay or standing on top of Mullaghmore mountain in the Burren National Park, being held in the folded terraces of that spiritual place - it's all just so special for me. And to think, I get to call this home.” Local Mary Howard sums up the rareness of The Burren.
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The south west of Ireland is more accessible than ever.
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