On the way in the bizarre Burren
We didn’t have much time to see the Burren (only partly) during our road trip in 2016, so we explored it in more detail for the first time now…
This unreal, treeless, unique (in Ireland) and approximately 250 square kilometers wide karst landscape, through which many hilly, winding ways and narrow streets are leading, extends across the northwest of Clare. In English it can be translated as a “rocky place”. Despite the barren limestone surfaces you’ll find a unique, diverse flora – both from the Arctic and from the Mediterranean region – that pushes itself through the rock crevices. The limestone was formed by surface water from a shallow, warm ocean that existed here about 350 to 290 million years ago.
Burren’s bizarre lunar landscape is said to have inspired J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973), teaching at the University of Galway for several years, to his world-famous trilogy The Lord of the Rings.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) characterized the Burren after a military campaign in the area:
„Neither water enough to drown a man, no tree to hang him, no soil enough to bury him.“
Anyone who thinks that the Burren only consists of rocky landscape is mistaken, however. Every now and then, probably on the edge of the karst landscape, there are also wild green oases full of ivy-covered trees. Also, many cows and sheep with all their young can be observed in peace in this deserted area. We were even lucky enough to see a very special rainbow surrounded by a dark sea of clouds. It’s difficult to capture such a special natural phenomenon in a photo unfortunately, but see for yourself…
The popular village of Doolin
Soon after, we also went to one of our neighbor villages. Doolin is considered to be one of Ireland’s top 10 places on the web. On a hill near the village you have a wonderful view over the sea and at good sight over the three Aran Islands, which can be reached from Doolin by ferry in 30 to 60 minutes. Of course, a photo of the typical Doolin motif of the colorful old cottages mustn’t be missing. But the village consists of more than just these few colorful houses. Right next door in a café you can enjoy a coffee wonderfully if there’s nice weather – which we definitely had that day. And with a big of luck and without spending a lot of money on an expensive boat trip, you can see a few dolphins from Doolin Pier surfing in the waves and leaping into the air. Marvelous!
Hustle and bustle in the colorful market town of Ennistymon
Only a few kilometers away from the Atlantic coast, you’ll find a place that’s known for its colorful shop fronts. In the market town of Ennistymon, or Ennistimon, the river Inagh pours into thunderous falls, which can be observed from the restaurant “Byrnes” and the Falls Hotel and its spa. Every Saturday morning there’s a small farmers market here and from time to time you can also see cattle markets, where horses are tested directly on the street without any regard to the traffic and goats are sold to the highest bidder. Many rustic pubs, already being well attended at daytime, and small shops are lined up close together. On the highest mountain of the small town old church ruins and a picturesque old cemetery are perched. Two (usually working) ATMs – apparently a rarity for Irish towns – and a big Aldi are located here. And even a German baker from the Allgäu region got lost here more than 20 years ago – and decided to stay.
There is even a poem about this place and its spectacular cascades:
“In a town in a valley,
I was brought up with care,
Ennistymon on the Inagh,
on the West Coast of Clare.
The waters of Inagh,
come tumbling down.
Neath the bridge o’er the falls,
quite close to the town,
Stand and look if you’re passing,
any bet I will dare,
To equal my cradle,
on the West Coast of Clare.”