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When touring western Ireland it is easy to overlook a visit to the Burren. After all, in 1651, when Cromwell's troops were herding the Irish west one officer said, “”of this barony it is said that it is a country where there is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury them.”  Certainly not a description to bring the tourists flocking.  But the Burren holds a mystery that shouldn't be overlooked by the visitor.

Burren is derived from the Irish word boirreann, meaning a rocky place and, well, the description is spot on. I actually joked with Doug that this is the place they grow the rocks for all the stone fences in Ireland.

Stone Walls and Stone Fences in the Burren, Ireland
Stone Walls and Stone Fences

The Burren has hundreds of megalithic wedge tombs, dolmons and ring forts, so a visit to Burren National Park is worth your while.  Begin in the village of Kilfenora at the Burren Center to discover the secrets of the Burren.  Plan the better part of a day to meander through the rocky landscape. You’ll want to stop at Polnabrone Dolmon and marvel at the strength it must have taken to maneuver the rocks into position. The sheer size of this tomb is difficult to imagine until you stand beside it. This is the most accessible dolmon in the Burren so you may see a lot of tour buses. They don’t stay long and tend to be on similar schedules so wait them out for a less crowded self tour.

Poulnabrone Dolmon, the Burren, Ireland
Poulnabrone Dolmon

A great stop while in the Burren is Lisdoonvarna, famous for it’s matchmaking festival every September and the Spa Wells Heath Center with it’s Victorian pump room.

If you haven’t viewed any round towers the Kilmacduagh Monastery near Gort should definately be on your list. Even if you have the history of the settlement and the legends that surround it are worth your time. A note from the linked website: Visitor’s are encouraged to begin their exploration by walking over to Tower View Villa B&B across the street to get the master key for the locks on the buildings. There is a €5 deposit and a short history of the site is available from the innkeeper, Lily, for €2.50. Grab a copy of this guide before getting started. It will be invaluable as you wander through the buildings.  The round tower at Kilmacduagh, which dates back to the 10th century, is the tallest of its kind (about 3.25 inches taller than the round tower at Glendalough).

A day spent in the Burren is sure to incite the imagination of your entire family.

 

Portions of the post were taken from the original at my Family Rambling website.

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