Ireland – The “Burren”

Ireland-Dani copy

Ireland the Emerald Isle

Ireland is often referred to as the Emerald Isle – rolling hills and vales of green. Yet, one of the places we visit on our bike tour is not so green. It’s called the “Burren” (pronounced “burn”) and comes from the Irish word “Boíreann,” which means a stony or rocky place. The Burren consists of 125 square miles and stretches across northern Clare from the Atlantic coast to Kinvara in County Galway. It is an area with a unique striated limestone landscape that was formed 320 million years ago under ancient seas before it was forced high and dry by a geological disturbance and subsequently shaped by ice, hard weather and humans.

Bill Reuther King of the Hill Burren 2

The Burren

The Burren is internationally famous for its landscape and flora. It has a colorful diversity of flowering plants living together within one ecosystem – arctic and alpine plants living side by side with Mediterranean plants; lime-loving and acid-loving plants growing adjacent to one another; woodland plants growing out in the open with no trees to provide shade.


Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus) on the Burren

And all of these plants survive in a land that appears to be composed entirely of rock. We not only get to cycle through this area on our bike tour, we also enjoy a nature walk through the Burren with local guide Shane Connolly, so we’re able to get a wonderful up-close look at this very special place.

In addition to the beautiful landscape and flora, the Burren is also known for its many megalithic tombs. These tombs indicate that people have been living there for more than 5000 years. One of the most famous megalithic tombs is the Poulnabrone Dolmen. This dolmen dates back to around 2500 BC.

Poulnabrone Dolmen

Poulnabrone Dolmen

(Dolmen means table, which is what a dolmen looks like. There is a large capstone on two or three standing stones.)

There is so much to see and do in the Burren and its surrounding villages – Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Corofin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna. We also make sure to visit the Cliffs of Moher and also Doolin, renowned worldwide as the traditional music capital of Ireland.

Ireland 9

Cliffs of Moher

Maybe next year you can come with us on one of our bike tours and experience all that Ireland has to offer!

For more information, please feel free to give Discovery Bicycle Tours a call at 800-257-2226 or email




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