Burren Nature Attractions
The importance of the Burren’s natural heritage – from karst features to rare orchids to beautiful butterflies – is recognised internationally.
Below you will find a listing of some of the best locations in the Burren to appreciate some of the Burren’s rich natural heritage. These are all open to the public for free however some have specific opening hours.
The people of the Burren welcome visitors to Ireland’s most extraordinary landscape. However much of the limestone pavement is in private ownership and is being actively farmed, much of it in the traditional way that helps to maintain the natural eco-system of this amazing limestone landscape. So be careful if you are crossing private land and try to seek permission where possible before you enter obvious farmland.
Please do not disturb wildlife, pick flowers, damage pavements when visiting here – tread lightly on this fragile landscape.
For more information on loop walks and trails in the Burren go to www.irishtrails.ie
Bishops Quarter Beach
A very popular spot for summer sun worshippers or year round beachcombers, this lovely place lies on the southern shores of Galway bay a short distance east of Ballyvaughan Village. Good parking facilities are available here, while in summer lifeguards also patrol the shallow waters of the bay. An impressive, but badly damaged dune system, lies behind the pleasant beach. It’s a good place to look for plants such as the autumn gentian and pyramidal orchid. Fine views of the Burren may be had all around, and this is also a nice spot to watch the sun go down. Address: Nr Ballyvaughan, Co.Clare
Burren National Park
The Burren National Park located in the south-east Burren, and extending up to 1,150 hectares, contains a spectacular diversity of high quality Burren habitats. These include terraced limestone hills (some with unique folding patterns), turloughs, woodlands and spectacular limestone pavements. The Park features a full range of Burren flora, including many rare species such as the shrubby cinquefoil and turlough violet. An array of archaeological features, from field walls to wedge tombs, are also visible, so be sure to allow at least one half-day to explore this utterly fascinating environment. No admission fee, but please take great care not to damage this precious place when visiting. During the summer months there is a visitor centre open in Corofin with a bus to the national park. Website: www.burrennationalpark.ie Address: Nr Corofin, Co. Clare
Coole Park & Garryland Nature Reserve
Coole-Garryland Park is the former home of Lady Augusta Gregory and a regular destination for literary greats such as Yeats, Synge and Russell, this Nature Reserve is a wonderful site for a relaxing afternoon stroll or picnic. The main habitats present are turloughs (home to the famous swans of Coole) and woodlands, the latter accessible by an extensive labyrinth of pathways. The trees present are a mixture of conifers and broadleaves, with some spectacular specimen trees among them. A visitor centre, tea room and toilets, as well as ample car parking, are available free of charge. Nearby is a walled garden containing the famous ‘autograph tree’ – a massive copper beech with the carved initials of the many illustrious visitors to the area. The gates of the carpark close in the evening. Website: www.coolepark.ie Address: Nr Gort, Co.Galway
Corkscrew Hill Viewpoint
This aptly named feature refers to a section of undulating roadway which snakes up a hillside between Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna. Wonderful views of Ballyvaughan valley and Galway bay open up as one ascends the hillside. A viewing area is located on the north side of the road close to the summit, the perfect spot to sit back and take in the panoramic views. It represents a welcome break for the many dazed motorists following their dizzying ascent upward. No wonder it’s such a popular spot for car rallies! Address: Nr Ballyvaughan, Co.Clare
Dromore Woods Nature Reserve
Dromore Woods is a wonderful nature reserve with 1,000 acres of woodland. The remains of the 15th century Ruan Church is right next to Dromore Lake. Tours and booklets are available and admission is few. Dromore Woods is about 13km north of Ennis. The nearby village of Corofin, surrounded by lakes, is a good area for trout fishing. There is a small visitor centre there and a loop walk through the woodland. Address: Nr Ruan, Co.Clare
Beautiful golden sands, undulating dunes, panoramic Burren views and the crashing waters of the Atlantic are among the features that make Fanore beach so unique and popular. A favourite for surfers and sun worshippers alike, it’s also a great place to explore the natural history of the Burren, particularly marine heritage, while rare plants like the parasitic ‘dodder’ are also found here. During the summer season lifeguards are on duty here and toilet facilities are also available. There are good parking facilities at the site. Currently protection work is taking place on the dunes, so care should be taken to ensure no further damage occurs to these valuable ecosystems. Address: Fanore, Co.Clare
One of the extensive network of internationally important oligotrophic (low nutrient levels) lakes of the eastern Burren, Lough Bunny has many features to recommend it. It is easily accessible, just off the main Tubber to New Quay road, less than a half hour from Ennis. This shallow lake, with its floor of limestone mud on pavement, is also well known for some of the rare plants that occur on its shores, including dropwort and shrubby cinquefoil, as well as an array of other Burren specialities. Basic parking facilities are available on the roadside, while an interpretative panel is also found, thanks to the laudable efforts of the local community. Address: Nr Boston, Co.Clare
Slieve Carron Nature Reserve
A few miles south of Kinvara, Slieve Carran (or Keelhilla) is a favourite place for many local families when visiting the Burren. Extending over several hundred hectares, it contains an impressive range of Burren flora and fauna, as well as cultural features such as an old oratory and a fulacht fiadh. Parking space for a few cars is available on the roadside but no other facilities are available at present. Also known as Eagles Rock, a distinctive feature of the site is the large cliff face, where it is said eagles once nested. Some of the oldest and best woodland in the Burren is found at the base of these cliffs, while the other main habitats present throughout the site are limestone pavement and orchid-rich grassland. Address: Nr Kinvara, Co.Galway
Another local favourite, the singular beauty of the Flaggy shore attracts a steady stream of walkers throughout the year. A paved secondary road runs along most of the shore, ideal for walkers of all age and ability. The shore itself is composed of limestone flags and rounded boulders, extending out into the waters of Galway bay. Look out for Burren specialities like the spring gentian and pyramidal orchid in grassy outcrops along the shoreline. The rounded outline of Burrin hill rises from the inland side of the roadway, which loops around the beautiful Lough Muree further west. For parking try the beach at the start of the shore (perfect for bathing). The Martello tower at Finnevarra point marks a good end point, returning the same way or else by the slightly longer inland loops (c. 3 miles). Address: Nr Newquay, Co.Clare.