Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - AGENDA -

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.”

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