When we hear of a “national park”, images of thick jungle and invigorating greenery comes to our mind which are usually filled with wild animals. But this was not the case when we visited Burren National Park in Ireland. We had spent an exhilarating time hiking and taking in all the beauty at the Cliffs of Moher and from there our next destination was Gallway. We made a small stop at Burren National Park for about 15-20 mins.
Burren national park is one of the smallest national park in Ireland among the six other and is situated in the County Clare, western Ireland. And what so special about this is national park is its karst landscape which extends miles and miles (approximately 1500 hectares in size) and we were told that it is the finest Glacio-Karst landscape in the world. Although we dint know what to expect here, our guide had given us a brief introduction on its landscape and history before we arrived.
We also learnt from our guide that Burren, which is called as Boireann in Irish, means a rocky place. As we got off from our bus, we could only see bare grey rocks all around us with patches of green peeking out of the cracks of these rocks. The entire region made us feel that we had stepped into another planet as it looked barren and abandoned. Getting of the bus we started walking towards the shores of The Atlantic ocean where these rocky landscape seemed like it merged with the ocean. The entire region of Burren is composed of limestone pavements, calcareous grassland, hazel scrub, deciduous woodland, springs, cliffs and fen. Its quite interesting to know that this rugged landscape supports Arctic, Mediterranean and Alpine flowers which all grow together here, few are rare Irish species.
Burren has been famous not just for its karst landscape but also rich archaeological heritage. Artifacts has been discovered which are predicated to be from Neolithic 4000 BC, when the landscape looked entirely different from what we get to see now. Stone walls, tombs, trances of beaker pottery were found from the early bronze age and ruins of Christian churches from the Mediveal times.
It has been found out from the evidence gathered that Burren might have a once been a fertile land with forests and due to human activities of deforestation, farming and gracing by the early settlers in this region, resulted in an excessive soil erosion which eventually over the years formed the karst landscape.
With the intention of natural conservation of this vulnerable landscape, the entire land has been purchased by the Irish Government and it has been declared as Special Area of Conservation. Also, along with the Cliffs of Moher, they are part of the Global Geoparks Network since September 201
With a heavy heart and despair on seeing the results of human activities on our mother earth has caused we left Burrean and hoped we would come back here some day and hike along to see more of this national park.
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