Farming in the Burren

One of the best examples of farming in harmony with nature can be found in the region known as the Burren in counties Clare and Galway. This natural limestone environment has been described as “a lunar landscape”.

The Burrenbeo landscape charity ( is a wonderful resource that offers a detailed insight into this stunning landscape.

It describes the Burren as “a giant limestone tablet that emerged from the sea that has been shaped by techtonic forces, glacial activity, erosion and man’s activities”.

Its unique farming has played a central role in the development of the wonderful range of flora and fauna in the Burren. From an agricultural perspective, the Burren uplands are primarily associated with the practice of 'winterage'.

As explains:

“This system involves exploiting the unusual attributes afforded by the region's limestone geology. Up until quite recently, hardy native breeds of beef cattle were used to graze upland grasslands between the months of October and April, requiring scarcely any dietary supplement prior to their removal to finishing grass elsewhere.

“The ecological significance of this tradition is immense: wintering animals removed all the litter and grasses that would otherwise inhibit herb growth and limit plant species diversity, without damaging these plants during their flowering season. The cultural legacy of this ancient practice is apparent in the numerous tombs, ring forts and tower houses found in the upland pastures.”

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