The Burren (meaning “great rock” in Irish), is a karst-landscape region beside Galway in northwest County Clare, in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres. It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway Bay on the west and north, respectively.
The Burren is composed of layers of limestone, deposited during the Lower Carboniferous period.There are two distinct regions; the ‘high Burren’ where terraced hills reach a maximum altitude of approximately 330 m and the ‘low Burren’, a flat limestone plain with an average altitude of 20-30 m.
The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone pavements with criss-crossing cracks known as “grikes”, leaving isolated rocks called “clints”. The region supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment. The limestones, which date from the Visean stage of the Lower Carboniferous, formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 350 million years ago. The strata contain fossil corals, crinoids, sea urchins and ammonites.
The Burren is renowned for its remarkable assemblage of plants and animals. The region supports many rare Irish species, some of which are only found in this area.
The climate of the Burren is mild with mean daily temperatures greater than 14°C in July and August (the warmest months) and less than 5°C in January and February (the coolest months).
The average annual rainfall is high, c.1525 mm, with October to January being the wettest period when rainfall is approximately 160 mm per month (Irish Meteorological Service 2008).
Day tours to this fascinating attraction are available from the Hostels Reception, and depart from right outside the front door of Kinlay Hostel.