Famers, food producers and artisans in the Burren are reaping the benefits of Agritourism initiatives this summer as visitors flock to try unique visitor experiences in the region.
As people holiday at home this year, experiences such as food trails, foraging walks, food visitor experiences and farm stays have all become popular, according to Jarlath O’Dwyer, CEO of the Burren Ecotourism Network, which represents over 70 diverse businesses in the region.
“For farmers, Agritourism offers an opportunity to diversify and create supplementary income. Many enjoy the social aspect of meeting people and share their special stories about the food, agriculture and biodiversity of the region. For visitors, it allows them to connect with the land, the people, the animals and learn more about where their food comes from while enjoying beautiful landscapes of the Burren”.
“There really is no better place for visitors to learn about the region than from those who have farmed the land for generations,” he said
The Burren Ecotourism Network has a wide variety of farming businesses in the group, all focused on sustainable tourism and complying to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher code of sustainable practice.
St Tola Goat Cheese – Goat farm, cheese producer and visitor centre
The Market House – Farmers and master butchers
Caherconnell Stone Fort – a Burren upland farming family with sheepdog demonstrations, ancient stone fort, café and visitor centre
Linnalla Ice Cream – dairy farmers who have diversified producing ice cream and opened a cafe
Burren Distillers – whiskey produced using locally harvested wheat
Burren Farm Experience – Beef farm offering food trails, camping and events
Burren Free Range Pork and Glamping – farm offering accommodation and pork for sale
Flaggy Shore Oysters – a marine biologist offering oyster shucking tours and selling shellfish
Moher Cottage – gift and coffee shop located on a working farm
Vaughans Pub Kilfenora – local family who held the local sheep mart for decades, converting the site it to accommodation
Marie McGauran – walking guide from a farming family who have diversified onto giving guided tours on the lands of their ancestors
Burren Fine Wine and Food – farming family offering summer lunches, afternoon tea, ecowalks and cycles in the Burren
Hotel Doolin – growing their own salads and sourcing 70% food from 30 mile radius
One of the success stories for the region has been the development of the Burren food story. This has seen groups of producers, farmers and chefs come together to organise trails and events to highlight the rich history of food production in the area, which dates back to the 12th century and the Cisterian Monks at Corcomroe Abbey.
“We are fortunate to have that rich food story here already, with such a huge variety of producers and top quality restaurants, which has inspired us to develop the Burren food trail and events such as the Burren Slow Food Fayre and Burren Slow Food Festival”. said Mr O’Dwyer.
He said that these events, organised in conjunction with Birgitta Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark have resulted in bringing more tourists to the area.
Recently the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Unesco Global Geopark has been designated a ‘Geofood’ destination by UNESCO Global Geoparks for it’s model of sustainable agriculture and conservation which supports farmers and communities in the area.
Carol Gleeson, Manager the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark said: “Geofood’s mission is to support the sustainable development of local communities, increasing the actions towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Geofood brand has its roots within the UNESCO Global Geoparks and it can be used only in such UNESCO designated areas.”
Agritourism initiatives in the Burren are funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine under the 2021 Rural Innovation Development Fund.