dsc06816Nope, that’s not not a typo. The area we traveled through after the cliffs is the “Burren,” still in County Clare, and although the photos might belie this statement, it is anything but “barren.” dsc06826

The Burren is a 250 sq. mi. area which looks a lot like a lunar landscape at first. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks, most of them limestone. It is a strangely desolate place, yet is the home to many unique plant forms.

The name Burren, comes from the Irish “Boireann,” which means great rock, and it’s a karst landscape enclosed by six villages, one of them being Kinvara, where we were spending the night.

dsc06832FYI: A “karst” landscape is formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum, for you geologists reading along.  dsc06825

This strangely desolate place was reclaimed by farmers tho plucked the rocks from their fields and made stone walls out of them—25,000 miles of walls! In the Burren there are arctic flowers and alpine flowers, all growing between the rocks. And once there was enough foliage, the farmers began grazing their cattle in the fields they’d cleared. (Ireland supplies most of the orgainic beef to all Europe.)

dsc06810The roads are more like bike trails, all twisty and turny with blind switchbacks and no place to pull off. I’m beginning to wonder if they’ve ever learned HOW to build a straight road in the entire country!dsc06829