#1 The Burren
The Burren, in County Clare is a region of outstanding significance in terms of its geology, geomorphology, natural history and archaeology.
The Burren encompasses 360km2 of gently inclined plateau with a further 200km2 of lowland to the east of the plateau. The limestone also has a landscape in miniature etched into exposed slabs of rock. The bare surfaces are fretted with hollows and channels where acidic rainwater has selectively dissolved the rock. An extreme example of these micro landforms occurs on the coast.
Often described as a natural landscape, the Burren has been profoundly influenced by human activities. Early removal of the natural woodland induced soil erosion, enlarging the exposure of the underlying limestone. Ecological diversity is one of the great attractions of the Burren, a remarkable profusion that is now under intense pressure.
More than 700 different flowering plants and ferns have been recorded in the Burren. Thus, although the Burren represents only 1% of the land-mass of Ireland, 75% of the Irish native species are contained in the area.
Most of the area has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive.
The people of the Burren welcome visitors to Ireland’s most extraordinary landscape. The Burren may look rugged, but it is also a fragile place and is always under threat from increased human activity. The limestone pavement, flora and built heritage are the resources on which tourism in The Burren thrives. Respecting and conserving this resource is extremely important.
#2 The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher one of Ireland’s most visited natural attractions. They stretch for 8km (5miles), as the crow flies, along the Atlantic coast of County Clare in the west of Ireland and reach 214m (702 feet) at their highest point at Knockardakin just north of O’Brien’s Tower.
At the southern end of the Cliffs of Moher stands Hags Head a natural rocky promontory that resembles a seated woman when viewed from the north. The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience is located almost midway along these spectacular cliffs and the site is home to an environmentally friendly visitor centre set into the hillside, O’Brien’s Tower – a 19th century viewing tower, and 800 metres of protected cliff side pathways, viewing areas and steps. There are a number of viewing points at the Cliffs of Moher.
The Main Platform
From the main platform you are able to see the south cliffs and towards Hag’s Head.
The North Platform:
The North platform is located at the highest point of the Cliffs, Knockardakin at 214m or 700 feet above sea level. It is also the location of the Tower viewpoint, O’Brien’s Tower, built by Cornelius O’Brien. From here you can see An Branán Mór Sea Stack, home of the guillemots and razorbills. You can also see the surfing wave ‘Aileen’s’, Aill Na Searrach, to the right when it is up and running. On a clear day you can see across to the Aran Islands: Inis Oírr, Inis Méain and Inis Mór and to the left views of the beautiful Galway Bay. Also from this platform you have a fantastic view of the South Cliffs that stretch for 8km. You can walk to Doolin, approximately 5km, from this point along the Coastal Walk.
The South Platform:
The South Platform is a perfect viewpoint of the Puffin colony, the puffins make their home on Goat Island, a grassy island when you look down and to the right. You can also see many other seabirds and also have fabulous views of the sea stack below O’Briens Tower. From this point you can see the Cliffs as they continue on towards Hags Head. You may continue your walk to Hags Head it is approximately 4km each way with breathtaking views of the Cliffs. The first floor of the Visitors Centre houses the Cliffs View Cafe, providing fabulous views of the Cliffs from the windows looking out of the hillside.
#3 Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden is the ideal destination, at any time of year, for a day out in majestic Connemara. Located just over an hour’s drive from Galway City, a visit to the beautiful 1,000 acre Kylemore estate will rank as an unforgettable memory.
The dramatic landscape and iconic image of a baronial castle reflected in a Connemara lake has made Kylemore Abbey world famous and it is now the largest tourist attraction in the west of Ireland.
The Benedictine nuns of Kylemore invite visitors to experience the Victorian atmosphere of the Abbey’s restored rooms, the neo- Gothic Church, and Ireland’s largest Victorian Walled Garden. Learn about Kylemore’s history of tragedy, romance, spiritually, innovation and education. From the love story that began it all, to engineering initiatives, model farms, royal visits, a Duke and Duchess, Indian princesses and the Abbey’s former role as a girls boarding school there is plenty to engage and fascinate.
Explore the extensive woodland and lakeshore walks which lead you through the beautifully manicured estate. The stunning Walled Garden is maintained to strict Heritage standards and is a haven for Victorian flowers, shrubs and vegetables. The restored Head Gardener’s house and the Garden Bothy house give a fascinating glimpse into life in the Victorian era. Enjoy refreshing walks and scenic views whatever the season.
Mitchell’s Café and the Garden Tea offer home cooked food made from the recipes of the Benedictine nuns. Home baking is their real speciality and don’t miss out on the delicious scones, apple pies, pastries and desserts.
The Craft and Design shop has a wide selection of design-focused Irish giftware including artisan food products, knitwear, pottery and some fun pocket money souvenirs. The craft shop stocks a selection of products handmade at Kylemore Abbey including Kylemore Abbey Fuchsia pottery, beauty products and award-winning chocolates, handmade by the Benedictine nuns.
History talks from the experienced guides take place three times daily and the fascinating audio visual presentation is shown every fifteen minutes in the Abbey. Choirs travel from around the world to Kylemore Abbey to sing in the neo-Gothic Church with its superb acoustics. All are welcome to attend the choral performances and admittance is included in the Kylemore entry fee. Kylemore staff look forward to welcoming you to Kylemore and making you part of the continuing story of Kylemore abbey and Victorian Walled Garden.