The Breathing Burren by Maureen Grady

IRELAND paop licensed

The Breathing Burren
by Maureen Grady

There is a world apart,
of elemental beauty carved by glacier,
where tiny wildflowers
pierce through limestone.

No trees grace this rare realm,
a silver stone land with
not enough water to drown,
nor earth to bury,
but fauna and flora
half-hidden, abundant.

Only here
on the vast crust of Earth
do flowers from the Arctic,
the Mediterranean,
and the high Alps
grow side by side
and flourish.

And briefly, in spring,
out of the grey limestone,
the early purple orchid breaks through,
the crowning glory,
the one that draws forth love.

PHOTO: Flowers bloom between rocks on cliffs in Doolin Bay, The Burren, County Clare, Ireland. Photo by Paop, used by permission.


NOTE: The Burren is a region of environmental interest, primarily located in northwestern County ClareIreland, dominated by glaciated karst landscape. The area is formed from sedimentary rocks, largely limestone but also sandstone, mudstone, and siltstone. Renowned for its remarkable assemblage of plants and animals, over 70% of Ireland’s species of flowers are found there.

PHOTO: The Burren, County Clare, Ireland. Photo by Mary Bettini Blank, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maureen Grady is author of two books of poetry: Unpack My Heart With Words (2015), and Land of Dream and Dreamer, Poems of Ireland (2019).  Maureen is a writer, teacher, actor, producer, and private writing coach. She has taught British and Irish Literature, Shakespeare, and Creative Writing for many years. Her private creative writing conservatory has nurtured many young women writers. Maureen was fortunate to have John L’Heureux as a mentor at Stanford, and studied with Seamus Heaney  and Eavan Boland.  She has won two teaching prizes: the student-nominated “One of LA’s Most Inspiring Teachers,” and a national recognition for teaching Creative Writing from Scholastic Books given at Carnegie Hall by Tony Kushner. Maureen is a graduate of Stanford University with a BA in Literature, minor in History/Art History. She also has a Masters in Theatre. Maureen is an citizen of Ireland and the United States, and divides her time between the two countries.

4 thoughts on “The Breathing Burren by Maureen Grady

  1. Maureen, beyond word beauty and imagery, your poem is also an inspired lesson in geography and botany, with history as a “starter.” Add that this place, Clare, is the origin of my father’s family and its intrigue brings me home.


  2. I remember the Burren. I had thought I would have had to journey there again to feel the ancient stones. But you took me there…bravo!


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