Although Ireland is glorious in its endless lush greenery and charming coastal villages, when visitors make it to The Burren they are treated with some of the most spectacular scenery Ireland has to offer. A carpet of soft green hills dotted with fluffy sheep gives way to a sea of grey, cold limestone dating further back than the Stone Age, clawed by some ancient giant whose hard grooves and cracks spring new life in colorful wildflowers and curious small botanical creations. As the sun begins to set on the cold grey stones, it highlights the living tomb that The Burren actually is. Home to over 90 tombs, stone circles, dolmens, wedge tombs, and stone forts (cahers), they dot the landscape like an ancient ghost town. To take the point home, add monastery and castle ruins. As the limestone carries you west, the breeze strengthens in ferocity and the smell of salt in the air grows stronger still, eventually leading you to the famous Cliffs of Moher. Below are charming villages like Doolin and Ballyvaughn who’ve been operating with the same Irish love of music and work ethic of seasoned fishermen for hundreds of years.
In Irish it’s called Boireann which means “great rock.” And indeed it is. Acres of limestone are called “clints” and vertical fissures are called “grikes.” It is within these grikes that the striking wildflowers and flora sprout. The unusual ecosystem that developed here resulted in a drainage system occurring underground in caves. Miles and miles of cavernous rock may be irresistible to explore, but even the most practiced of adventurers wouldn’t want to get caught there, as a they get flooded with rain quickly and mercilessly. Still, for the braver hearts who crave adventure (and who come prepared with good shoes), the caves of Aillwee (one of Ireland’s oldest caves) are true enough, providing not a brush with death but rather rewarding the strong-hearted with incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean. Pol an Ionain is another cave near Ballynalackan who’s stony crawl (often in water) leads to to a large chamber boasting the largest stalactite in the world.
Corkscrew Hill, Black Head, Ballinalacken Hill and an earshot distance to the incredibly beautiful Aran Islands (home of the Aran sweaters) also offer incredible views of the coast, bay, and inland. Ancient ruins dating back to the Druid Celts include Poulnabrone dolmen, perhaps the most photographed and recognized ancient tomb of the Celts. Kilfenora is a village that contains several beautiful and well preserved high crosses. And ring forts like the one in Cahercommaun on the edge of an inland cliff or Caherconnell and Corcomroe Abbey are some spectacular ruins to serve as backdrop for your wedding or pictures.
The Burren is more than just an area in Ireland; it is a deep connection with a time long past but still, curiously, very much alive. It is a strange place where water meets land, where hard stone coexists with the most delicate of flowers, where Death and Life are very much still apart of the Great Circle. It is a spiritual place; in its quiet magnitude allows the escape from the real world the soul so desperately craves on occasion. It is also grounded, deeply to the Earth and all the senses, to the ancients and what is still yet to come. It is a place of honor and rebirth, blessed and sacred, and an absolutely appropriate and stunning environment to host your dream wedding in Ireland.
From sweeping Cliffs atop the sea to a sea of ancient rock alive with history, a vastness of land blessed with its sacred past to the warm hearths of the village pubs alive with singing and dance, The Burren is truly one of Ireland’s most romantic destinations. Consider hosting your ceremony around one of the ancient ruins, towers, or near the cliffs. Then relax for a beautiful reception to begin the celebrations at the gorgeous and supremely elegant Gregans Castle. Continue the celebrating in town well into the morning in one of the village pubs. Truly, a wedding celebration in The Burren will be sung and lauded by you and your friends for many years to come.
For more information on The Burren and to see some of the weddings we’ve had the pleasure of producing, please visit our BLOG and PORTFOLIO sections.
Photos by Shane O’Neil of Aspect Photography and Navyblur.