Thursday, 24 May 2012

Exploring the Burren in North Clare

I spent a few days holidays hiking around the Burren just prior to the Engineers Ireland AGM on May 24th. I had never been there before and found it a terrific natural heritage resource with huge tourism potential.

PJ Rudden outside Aillwee Cave entrance

This resource is also managed sensitively by the public bodies and all of the stakeholders involved. This is because they understand its heritage value and the degree to which a sustainable tourism product can co-exist to suit local people and the unique heritage in their midst.

PJ Rudden at Poulnabrone Dolmen
on Burren Landscape

The Aillwee Caves are the result of water erosion of weak limestone rock and is now one of the main tourist resorts as is also the Poulnabrone Dolmen both of which were attracting busloads of foreign tourists even in the month of May. In fact Aillwee Caves was only discovered in the 1940s by a local farmer who lost his dog into a hole in the ground chasing a rabbit. The farmer went looking for his dog through the opening in the ground and some hours later managed to find not only the dog but the natural heritage feature which is now known as the Aillwee Caves. This story was told by Lorraine Shannon one of the local guides who is an archaeologist.

Lorraine Shannon local archaeologist and guide
and PJ Rudden in Aillwee Caves

Both the cave and the dolmen are beautifully illustrated on signs together with many hundreds of other interesting features. There is little doubt that the Burren in North Clare will probably become Ireland’s 3rd World Heritage Site after Skellig Michael and Brú na Bóinne.

Flora at the Burren

The limestone landscape is interspersed with a wide range of flora which are in abundance at this time of year. All in all a lovely way to spend my last few days as President.


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