The Burren, or Boireann in Irish, meaning “Great Rock” is a stone plateau in County Clare, Ireland, measuring about 259 km2 (100 mi2). Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Galway Bay to the north, a small portion of it (15 km2) has been designated The Burren National Park.
For its location, The Burren has an unusually temperate climate with average air and ground temperatures not falling below 6°C even in January. This gives the area a very long growing season and has encouraged diverse and rich plant growth.
Along with the climate, the limestone pavements of the Burren with its typical clints and grikes have enabled an unusual mixture of Mediterranean, Arctic and alpine plants to grow here. There are about 1,000 species of flowering plants of ferns, including several kinds of geranium and eyebright, the bloody cranesbill, broomrape, hoary rockrose and orchids.
Fauna include hares, and less commonly rabbits, as well as pygmy shrews and hedgehogs. Bats, badgers, foxes and even feral goats are present; and this is one of the main breeding areas in Ireland for the European Pine Marten. Dolphins, porpoises and seals can be seen off the coast.
The area is a very popular destination for climbers and cavers. Climbers seek out the limestone cliffs, particularly at Ailladie where an 800 m (~2,625 ft) long stretch contains over 110 routes varying from 8 to 30 m (~26 to 98 ft), some accessible only by boulder-hopping at low tides or abseiling. Pollnagollum is the longest cave system in Ireland with eight entrances and over 16 km (~9.9 mi) of winding interconnecting stream passages to explore.
For walkers, the Burren Way is a 123 km (~76 mi) linear walking trail exploring the coast, villages and scenery of The Burren plateau.