A series of fun and educational events exploring how the history, culture, flora and fauna of the Burren have been shaped by the region’s geology will take place as part of ‘The Burren Rocks 2016’ in County Clare on May 28th and 29th.
The annual programme of events is organised by Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark, with the support of Doolin Cave, eWhizz, Adventure Burren, Aillwee Cave and the Burren Outdoor Education Centre, and forms part of European Geoparks Network Week 2016.
This year's festival features an archaeology cycle tour of the Burren, rock climbing, nature walks, birds of prey flying display and caving. One of the highlights of this year’s programme is a weekend long series of events celebrating 40 years of Aillwee Cave with walks, talks and an exhibition of ancient bear remains taking place on Aillwee mountain.
Carol Gleeson of Burren & Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark explained that the festival "explores the underlying geology of the Burren and how it holds many fascinating clues to conditions on Earth during the past 300 million years, including the end of the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago which gave the Burren its current shape."
Ms. Gleeson added, "The Burren Rocks Festival combines outdoor activity and adventure with geology and the landscape. The public is invited to discover fascinating landmarks and important geological sites all over the Burren, above ground and below, whether that is by walking, cycling, hiking, climbing or kayaking the area."
The festival gets underway on Saturday 28 May at 9.30am with 'Rock Climbing in the Burren', hosted by the Burren Outdoor Education Centre (bookings 065 7078066)
At 11am, e-Whizz will host a guided bike ride (bookings 087-6277000) through the archaeological landscape of the Burren starting at Aillwee Cave and taking in the sites of Cahermore, Cahermacnaghten and Poulnabrone.
The Burren Outdoor Education Centre is inviting the public to explore the underground stream ways of the Burren in a caving outing (bookings 065 7078066) at 2.00pm.
At 4.00pm there will be a Birds of Prey Flying Display at the Burren Bird of Prey Centre (bookings 065 7077036).
On Saturday and Sunday (28-29 May), ancient bear remains from the National History Museum will be placed on public display at Aillwee Cave where there also will be 30-minute tours of the cave each day. Nigel Monaghan, keeper of the Natural History Division of the National Museum of Ireland, will give a talk on Brown Bears in the Irish Ice Age on Saturday at 3.00pm.
On Sunday at 10.00am, Adventure Burren will take walkers off the beaten track to explore ancient monuments and wallscapes (bookings 087-2244569).
Aillwee Cave at 1.00pm will see Edward, Aillwee’s resident bear, celebrating his landmark birthday with a teddy bears picnic for all the family to enjoy.
Doolin Cave will host its "From daylight to stalactite" tour at 2pm. The tour (bookings 065-7078066) takes in the various rock formations and diverse flora that are unique to the Burren.
The Burren Rocks 2016 concludes at 4.00pm with a Birds of Prey Flying Display at the Burren Bird of Prey Centre.
"The Burren Rocks programmes proves that learning about our history and landscape can be fun and exciting, especially here in the Burren. Where else can you learn climb a mountain or two, or take a stroll through some of Ireland’s most stunning nature? All the while learning how the Burren was formed millions of year ago and how it use to lie at the bottom of an ocean," said Ms Gleeson.