The Burren and Beyond

Karst. The way that landscapes should be.

The Burren, in County Clare, is by far my favourite part of Ireland, which consists of one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. While it is missing the dramatic gorges found elsewhere, it makes up for it with its other karst features. Most of them far surpass anything else in the British Isles. Being my favourite, there will be a lot of pictures, and there will also be some comments about the limestone geology that creates this spectacular landscape. If you find it too barren (completely unrelated word) for your tastes, I suggest you try a different gallery.

Ireland has depressingly few national parks, covering pathetically small amounts of the spectacular countryside. The burren is no exception. While there is a small Burren National Park, it's in one of the least impressive and least interesting parts of the Burren. In fact, their own Web site keeps talking about the parts that are not in the national park, since they are the more interesting parts. I will do the same. The majority of it is, however, designated as a special area of conservation. Removal of rocks or building of copycat monuments is prohibited.

The burren largely consists of limestone formed by coral reef and shell sediments (that's an unimaginable number of shells), and is of a similar age to most of that in Wales and England.