‘MANY OF US HAVE LOST TOUCH WITH THE SEASONS’
MARIE O’BRIEN-McGAURAN Burren walking guide, Co Clare
The remarkable landscape of the Burren has drawn visitors for generations, and those who visit regularly say there is nowhere else quite like it in Ireland.
Marie O’Brien-McGauran grew up on the Burren and feels a very strong bond with the place. “It’s somewhere that never ceases to surprise,” she says. “And when you walk along the landscape here, there’s always something new to discover.”
She had worked in an office in Ennis in the past but always felt a pull towards the Burren. It was only natural that one day she would put her love of the place to the use of others and she now operates walking tours in the area. “I love it when first-time visitors come,” she says. “They’re just so taken with the place and that’s especially the case in spring and summer.”
A stretch of hot weather with cloudless skies makes a visit to the area especially memorable. “There’s such an incredible abundance of wildflowers here,” she says. “Seventy five per cent of all the flowers to be found in Ireland are here and the Burren has most of the orchid species growing, too. And there’s a very vibrant wildlife population, too, including [the rare legless lizard] the slow worm.”
O’Brien-McGauran says good weather encourages people to go outside and get closer to nature than they normally would and she hopes that this heatwave will help foster an appreciation for the beauty of our landscape that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
“Many of us live in urban environments and have lost touch with the seasons,” she says, “but somewhere like the Burren gets you close to the natural world — and it’s magical.”