Geology and Landscape

The Burren Lowlands is an area 15-20km wide of Carboniferous Limestone stretching from the foot of the Burren hills in the West to the Slieve Aughty mountains in the West, stretching from Craughwell in the North to Crusheen in the South.


Within the area, there are a number of different landscapes. East of Gort streams drain from the impermeable catchment of the Slieve Aughties and sink underground once they pass into the limestone. The area north and west of Crusheen lie many lakes such as Lough Bunny. These are water table lakes fed by springs and underground streams. North and West of Gort, many of these streams re-emerge as turloughs following heavy rain. These then drain into the perennial lake, Coole lake, which then drain into major coastal springs at Corranroo and Kinvarra, passing beneath bare limestone pavement. With the underground water systems, inland lakes such as Caherglassaun Lake respond to the tides, despite being several kilometres inland. To the South of the lowlands, near Corofin lies a series of lake basins that form part of a complex hydrological system involving both surface and underground drainage, feeding into Lough Inchiquin.

Drumlins are common in the East, while boulders of Galway granite are common across the glaciokarst limestone pavements to the south and west of Kinvarra.

The lowland karst landscape across the area and the major karst drainage system and caves beneath result from processes that were operating for several million years before the Pleistocene and were significantly affected by subsequent glaciations. Only deeper conduits such as Cannahowna Cave, the Punchbowl and between Caherglassaun Lake and the coast survived the glaciation.