Great trips in Co.Clare

By Deirdre Barr

If you are visiting Ireland, why don't you have a peek and find out how the weather's behaving here in the West. Book a hotel in Clare and also go to the nearby sights such as the Burren. The Burren lies south of Galway in County Clare, Ireland. The name Burren is from the Irish - bhoireann meaning a stony spot. Its formation has lain unspoiled ever since the ice-age and it's made up of karstic limestone, the biggest area of such in Western Europe.

It's a place of surprise and delight to botanists, archaeologists and ecologists as well and occupies a place of around 300 sq. kilometres. The region itself is very bleak in appearance with glacial soil loss at a maximum. However it has sufficient soil to grow a wide variety of the most unusual and most rarified of plants, many of them strange bed fellows.

An excellent assortment of alpines and Mediterranean species grow together in this limestone area with, strangely, a number of them being lime-hating plants. The Burren is bordered towards the west by the Atlantic ocean and Galway Bay and is tucked in the north-west corner of Clare.

This region has some of the best historical megalithic tombs in Ireland, or even in Western Europe. You will find relics of human habitation dating back almost 6000 years and one of the most famous may be the vortal tomb, or portal dolman, at Poulnabrone. In this region alone there are far more than 60 wedge tombs as well as densest concentration in Ireland.

Nestling unobtrusively inside the Burren, and just 4 miles from Ballyvaughan, are the Aillwee Caves. These were discovered in the 1940's by way of a local farmer although out scrambling sheep. His dog had vanished and ended up being found inside the cave entrance which must have been covered for thousands of years. Remains of brown bears and indentations of the bear pits were discovered a little way from the entrance. Bears have been extinct in Ireland for centuries which means this find caused some exhilaration.

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