Emerald Isle

The Burren

The Burren is one of the wonders of Ireland. A rolling rocky landscape of limestone hills and plains, it is marked with history stretching back thousands of years. Nestled in between the limestone slabs are herbs and plants you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere, hailing from places as far afield as the Arctic and the Mediterranean, kept warm in the cold wailing winter months by the rock around them. As desolate as it seems - one of Cromwell's men described it as "there is not a tree to hang a man from, water to drown one in nor dirt to bury one in" - it holds many secrets and mysteries.

There are passage graves beside ring forts alongside abandoned homes and 19th century churches. Ancient caves like Ailwee dot the area, dolmens and places rich with folklore. Visitors are well advised to take a look at Kilfenora stone cross and Cathedral, Newtown castle and Poulawick cairn. No journey to the Burren would be complete without a stop by Poulnabroune dolmen - built by the first farmers to come here, almost six thousand years ago - and Gleninsheen or Parknabinna wedge tombs, or the stone fort at Caherdoonerish. Earthen barrows are widespread as are remarkable castles protected by upright stone fortifications. Or even, for fans of the show, Father Ted's house!

Wild cats and goats roam the stands of hazel woodland throughout the Burren, along with red squirrels, foxes and voles, and on a rare summer evening you may chance to see a peregrine falcon soaring high in the warm blue skies above. And looking down, what does he see but hundreds of stone forts built in antiquity, many ancient monuments from the stone and bronze ages, and a wealth of Christian history.

When you visit the Burren, the question will be where to find the time to see everything!

The wonderful Burren is displayed on the map you see here. If you'd like to visit you can find a good list of hotels, B&Bs and other accommodation here. While you're enjoying this site you might also enjoy a little Celtic and Irish music to set the mood, or just the one or two songs if you're not interested in the whole albums. Don't forget you can get some very nice Irish jewelry for yourself or someone else as well, or for the craftier maybe make your own!

This fine book about the Burren here is a great read.


Legendary Places in Ireland

Oweynagat

In county Roscommon there's a place of great antiquity called Oweynagat, which some have mistakenly thought to mean the Cave of Cats, although it has nothing to do with cats - “cath” being the Irish word for “battle” and so it should rightfully be called the battle cave. Indeed it has a long association with the Morrigan ... [more]

The Burren

The Burren is one of the wonders of Ireland. A rolling rocky landscape of limestone hills and plains, it is marked with history stretching back thousands of years. Nestled in between the limestone slabs are herbs and plants you'd be hard pressed to find elsewhere, hailing from places as far afield as the Arctic and the Mediterranean, kept warm ... [more]

Newgrange

Older than Stonehenge and the great pyramids of Giza stands Newgrange, the heart of legends and mysteries stretching back five thousand years. Situated along the river Boyne near to numerous other such places like Knowth and Dowth, that very same river where Fionn Mac Cumhaill was said to have first found and tasted the salmon of knowledge, and the ... [more]

Hill of Tara

The seat of the High Kings of Ireland of old, Tara or Temair as it was known then, is said to have been the seat of a hundred and forty two kings, kingships won by battle, contest and merit, not passed down father to son as in more primitive cultures. One of the most important monuments in the sacred Boyne valley, its history stretches back four th ... [more]

Dun Aengus

Dun Aengus means "the Fort of Aenghus", and remains one of the most impressive ancient monuments in Ireland, Europe or the world. Perched on the edge of a high and jagged cliff with the grey-green waters of the Atlantic battering below, it gained its name from its original builders, who were called the Fir Bolg, some of the first to arriv ... [more]

Crannogs

Crannogs, the name meaning "young trees" for reasons which aren't too clear, were dwelling places for people in Ireland from the time of the Tuatha de Dannan right up to the seventeenth century. They were built on shallow lakes or pools on top of tree trunks stuck into the lake bottom, piles of rocks, mud and other debris or on natura ... [more]

Croagh Patrick

Croagh Patrick or Patrick's Stack is an important place of pilgrimage for Christians throughout Ireland and the world today, some even walking the ascent in their bare feet as penance for their sins. However it was considered a holy place long before St Patrick came to visit, even though it is said he banished the snakes from Ireland while stan ... [more]

Skellig Michael

Rising from the ocean a short distance off the coast of county Kerry in southern Ireland, Skellig Michael and its smaller brother rear up out of the Atlantic ocean like jagged grey teeth. Famous poet George Bernard Shaw who visited the place in 1910, called it an "incredible, impossible, mad place" and "part of our dream world". ... [more]