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Welcome to the Burren Nature Sanctuary, the interpretive centre for the natural history of the Burren, the most biodiverse place in Ireland!

At the Burren Nature Sanctuary we have 5 Burren habitats showcasing the flora in its natural setting: shattered limestone pavement, calcareous orchid rich grassland, ash and hazel woodland and a unique tidal, fresh water turlough.

The Burren Nature Sanctuary is home to the National Collection of Burren Flora in season.  This collection was set up in 2013 and is being continually developed to conserve and showcase the vast array of native wildflowers and orchids in the Burren Region.

Flowers can be identified in the dome shaped Burren Botany Bubble exhibit and then sighted on the nature walks or on longer hikes in the Burren hills.

Focus on Botany

Daily Introductory Talks in the Botany Bubble

Before you set off around the Burren Walk learn about the fabulous biodiversity of the Burren and how to record plants that you may see.

(Talks are 15 minutes - free with entry - please register at reception on arrival)

Brief History of the Burren:

350 million years ago this land mass was a tropical sea around where Brazil is now

All the limestone you see in the Burren is made from the bones of ancient sea creatures

Deforestation, glacial erosion and farming practices stripped the Burren of most of the soil exposing the limestone we see today

Rainwater is slightly acidic and over time dissolves the stone creating underground drainage channels and small pockets of acid soil next to areas of alkaline calcareous grassland.

Plants from all over the planet flourish side by side on the warm limestone hills

The Burren is a special place for Botany, rare and unusual plants and wild orchids draw botanists from around the world, for example:

Mediterranean plants – The exotic Orchids - possibly air born from seed, enjoying the warmth of the heat absorbing limestone. Learn about the exotic Fly Orchid, Butterfly Orchid, Bee Orchid and Ladies Tresses 

Alpine plants - the surprisingly stunning Spring Gentian

Arctic plants - the hardy Mountain Avens - a relic of the Ice age and glacial movement

Sub tropical plants - the delicate Maidenhair fern - a throw back to the Burren's tropical heritage

Get Involved - Become a Citizen Scientist and help record Ireland's Natural Heritage:

How to identify and record a plant:

Take image of whole plant

Take image of habitat

Take close up of flower

Take image of scale, ideally with ruler but improvise with hand or a coin

Tweet: @burrensanctuary with the image and your full name or send by email to: botany@bns.ie

We will identify it and log the record with the National Biodiversity Database

If the plant is listed on the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland Atlas 2020 we will log it

Your sighting will be featured on the National Biodiversity Data Centre website

You can record sightings elsewhere with help from this handy key:


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Beautiful colours desplayed by the Carline Thistle
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