The Burren - County Clare, Ireland - a Very Thin Place

The Burren, located in the West of Ireland (County Clare) is a stony moonscape full of jagged edges and mile upon mile of gray rock. It has long been viewed as a sacred landscape. Across the Burren are many high crosses, several monastic ruins, portal dolmens and over ninety megalithic tombs.

Photo by Christy Jackson Nicholas - Poulnabrone Dolmen

The photograph above placed 3rd in popular vote in the Ireland Photos by You! contest.  59 photographs were entered and over 300 people voted by LIKING their favorite photos on Thin Places Mystical Tour of Ireland Facebook page.

This view of the Poulnabrone Dolmen in the Burren - County Clare was submitted by Christy Jackson Nicholas, an artist from Morgantown, West Virginia with the caption  Poulnabrone Dolmen, Summer Solstice, 2006.

Christy added this commentary after winning second place.
This was a shot we took near Summer Solstice in 2006. We loved the Burren, and it's alien landscape, and since we all take a pagan path, it was especially magical. We did have to wait around a while until the busload of tourists filtered out, but we wandered and explored the crikes and passed the time. It was a much-needed girls' trip vacation! 
Christy is an accountant and an artist. Her work can be found on her website - Green Dragon Artist.

In places, the Burren has a barren, infertile appearance because of its lack of forests and endless vistas of rock. But because of its temperate climate, the Burren is also one of the most fertile regions in Ireland.  There are lush fields and hundreds of wildflowers and blooming shrubs set against the rocky landscape - some of them growing up through the rock crevices.

The Burren one of the most remarkable and mystical landscapes in Europe.   

It is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing.   ~Edmund Ludlow,

Corcomroe Abbey


Corcomroe Abbey ruin sits in the center of a lush valley where a monastic community was able to thrive in the twelfth century.  The abbey was most likely founded and financed by Donal Mór O'Brien,  and it went strong for over 400 years  - all the way up until the dissolution of the monasteries.

The Abbey sits just off one of the main roads that wind around the Burren.  It's easy to explore and has a strong sense of solitude. Each time I visit Corcomroe it's the same ... a kind of forgotten relic almost projecting its memory of what once was. It is not a subtle presence.

Imagine that someone destroyed a magnificent gallery and all that was left were some walls and remnants of art clinging to the ruins.  A thousand years after the destruction, you walk through and observe what's been left behind ... the raised arm of a bishop, the bold face of a saint, the curls on the head a warrior, detailed carvings on a column.  You know the place was special ... alive with the collective results of talented artists that toiled for years on these works of art.  But the place died and most of what was in it was lost.  Only scraps are left, leaving hints of the place's former grandeur.

That's what Corcomroe is like. It's a lonely place.

The fishbone pattern on the ribs that support the vaulted roof over the sanctuary, the effigy of a Chieftain king, carved faces and flowers resembling bluebells atop the large columns are amazing.  Corcomroe is a place to walk through slowly... to stop and notice the details.




The Poulnabrone

If the Burren had a brand, it would be the Poulnabrone portal dolmen (shown in the Christy's photo above).  It dominates the landscape.  It stands taller than a man, and dates back to somewhere between 3600 and 3800 BC.  Buried beneath the dolmen are the remains of 22 people, 16 adults and 6 children.  It was most likely a place for communal ritual.  A sacred place.

Kilfenora

The church at Kilfenora was built in the 12th century.  It is located on the edge of the village and is now enclosed with a roof and locked gate.   Inside the church is the High Cross of Kilfenora and some interesting carvings on the walls.  The Doorty high cross is also located there and the views from the church are lovely.

A beautiful post A Visit to Kilfenora Cathedral offers a unique perspective on this region and its history.





2 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:55 AM

    how can a place both so stark and so lush, mindie? yet that is the feeling i am left with after reading this. one day i will wander slowly here and take it all in-kelly

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    1. I hope you can take it in slowly with us, Kelly. The Burren is enchanting. Just sitting still at any given place there, is a feast for the spirit.

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