The Breathing Burren
by Maureen Grady
Listen to nature’s voice
The Burren National Park, covering 1,800 hectares in the southeastern corner of the Burren in County Clare, draws its name from the Irish boíreann, or rocky place. But the Burren has been referred to as fertile rock, internationally famous for its landscape and unique flora.
Lime-loving and acid-loving plants grow beside one another, and woodland plants grow out in the open, without a tree nearby for shade – all surviving in a land that appears to be composed entirely of limestone pavement.
Explore the park’s fascinating flora and geology, discover our walking trails, or learn about how we manage the land to protect nature in the National Park. Our Information Point in Corofin, a village 8 km from the park, is open year round and provides a free shuttle bus, which runs from May to September.
The Burren National Park is situated on the southeastern side of the Burren, in north Co. Clare. To access the park, from Corofin, take the R476 to Kilnaboy. In Kilnaboy, take the right turn (L1112) before the ruined church. Approximately 5 kilometres along this road you will reach a crossroads.
While there is a small lay-by just before this crossroads on the right that can accommodate some cars, we advise visitors to avail of the free Park and Ride service from Corofin during the summer months. Then on foot, turn right, along Crag Road, and the Burren National Park lands are on your left. This is a public road so be careful of traffic.
The limestone pavement of the Burren is part of Europe’s largest karst landscape. Limestone pavement has become synonymous with the Burren and covers most of the National Park, although usually in a mosaic with other habitats. Find out more about this unique habitat by clicking the link below.
Flora and Fauna
Orchid species flourish in the Burren. In fact, 23 of Ireland’s 27 orchid species can be found in the park. The first to flower each spring are the early purple orchid and the dense-flowered orchid. Other species here include fly orchid, bee orchid, butterfly orchid and four species of helleborine, including the rare sword-leaved helleborine.
Learning & Education
The Burren National Park Information Point is open six months of the year from April until the end of September. Our Visitor Guides also offer an outreach programme to local schools providing information about the Burren National Park and the plants and animals that live there.
The landscape of the Burren has been home to people for millennia, with successive generations leaving the marks of their culture and traditions on the landscape. Prehistoric monuments, as well as structures from our more recent past, may be found throughout the park, while beautiful and rare wildflower meadows created through centuries of traditional farming practices adorn the landscape in summer. Our National Park staff can provide guided tours that will help bring the natural and cultural heritage of the Burren to life.
Explore learning opportunities at Burren National Park through nature and ecology themed resources for families, and discover more about the National Parks outreach programme by clicking the link below.
Download this season’s newsletter by clicking the link.
Corofin Information Point
October to April – Open daily 10am to 5pm, closed for lunch 1pm to 2pm
May to September – Open daily 9.30am to 5pm
For more information please go to our Information Point page