The Lord of the Rings is the 3rd best-selling book (or series of books) of all time and its success as a movie franchise hardly needs to be mentioned. (It made over a billion dollars at the box office…enough said!) However, its success as an otherworldly fantasy may be owed, in part to the Burren!
JRR Tolkien was a writer and a professor at the University of Oxford. However, his connection to the Burren begins when he is made external examiner at NUI Galway, not far from the Burren in County Clare. Here, he stayed at the home of Dr Florence Martyn (now Gregans Castle) at the foot of the infamous Corkscrew Hill. Cyclists will know it!! It is during this time in Ireland, from 1949 to 1959, that he was writing and completing his masteriece – The Lord of the Rings. It is suggested, with good reason, that the starkness of the Burren might have had a considerable influence in his creation of Middle Earth and his description of the landscape within.
Experts have compared the language used to describe Middle Earth and have made some very interesting discoveries. The Misty Mountains in The Lord of the Rings fantasy are said to bear a striking resemblance to the area around Gortaclare Mountain in the Burren National Park on Clare’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Better yet, one of the central characters in the tale, Gollum, is almost certainly inspired by the magic of this incredible place. Through dense, craggy woods in the Burren, there is a cave (more like a frightening deep hole in the ground) called Pól na Gollum (or ‘The Hole of Gollum”) This enchanting cave became home to a wicked, cunning and desperate creature with a sinister mind. Is it any wonder then that on approaching this cave a deep, guttural gurgling sound can be heard reaching up from the deep? Tolkien was more than a little inspired surely…
It is said that “One does not simply walk to Middle Earth” and that may be true. But you can certainly walk and cycle through the Burren with West Coast Cycle Tours – ‘The One Tour To Rule Them All!”
– Enda (2016) The West Awaits