The unique karst landscape of the Burren Region is home to Aillwee Cave and the Burren Birds of Prey, located in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. This stunning creation of nature was formed by the melt waters of a prehistoric ice age. The cave, carved out of limestone, cuts one third of a mile into the heart of the mountains. The story of Aillwee Cave began millions of years ago when streams sinking underground on Aillwee Mountain started dissolving channels through the lines of weakness in the limestone. About one million years ago the ice age began and from then until fifteen thousand years ago Ireland's climate alternated between arctic coldness and warmer periods, freezing and melting, freezing and melting over the centuries. This melting water roared and crashed its way through the Aillwee Cave greatly enlarging the passage and bringing with it large quantities of sand and silts which are still present in the inner cave. The earliest history of the cave is preserved in its roof. Aillwee is one of the most ancient caves in the Burren and perhaps in Ireland.
Aillwee Cave invites you to explore the wonders of this dramatic underworld. Expert guides will accompany and inform you as you stroll gently through beautiful caverns, over bridged chasms, under weird formations and alongside the thunderous waterfall. Marvel at the frozen waterfall and explore the hibernation chambers of long extinct brown bears. On completion of the tour your guide will bring you back to the outside world where you can browse and shop in the distinctly different gift shop or relax in our friendly tea room which are housed in the award winning complex that guards the entrance to the Burren underground.
The Burren Birds of Prey Centre is home to one of the largest and most varied collection of eagles, hawks, owls and falcons in the country. Daily flying displays afford a unique opportunity to see these magnificent birds in dramatic free flight. Visitors will get an opportunity to handle the birds and participate in the shows. A purpose built centre, housing breeding pairs of hawks and owls focusing on education and conservation. Interactive information boards provide further insight into all aspects of Birds of Prey. One of its aims is to facilitate the education into the life of raptors in Ireland and to raise the awareness of indigenous species and the environmental issues involved in their protection and conservation. The centre is affiliated to bird release programmes on a national level, including the White Tailed Sea Eagle release programmes and the reintroduction of Red Kites.
Book a Hawk Walk – a guided walk with experienced handlers giving an opportunity to handle, fly and feed your very own hawk, a unique opportunity to interact with one of nature’s top predators.
At the Farm Shop, watch cheese being made. The Burren in North Clare is the birthplace of this award winning farmhouse cheese Burren Gold. This wonderful cheese has won numerous Gold and Silver Medals at various national and international cheese fairs.
Walk through the Hazel Wood - An example of a working wood, where the hazel trees are managed by a technique known as coppicing, by cutting the base in winter, trees will grow new shoots in spring. You may even catch a glimpse of a red squirrel dancing through the trees. Keep an eye out for some of the wonderful Burren Orchids.
Visit “The Wolf’s Den” – A Living Primitive Village for the most INCREDIBLE Woodland Craft Experience. Free 30 minute demonstrations in traditional woodland craft making twice daily. Two hour Master classes available for purchase.