Human civilisation came to the Burren shortly after the end of the Ice Age, 10,000 years ago. Stories of the ancient peoples are still passed on by word of mouth, through imaginative tales that take the form of the folklore for which Ireland is famous as well as through serious scholarship. There is evidence of past cultures and learning everywhere in the Burren.
500 ring forts and some 75 wedge tombs of Neolithic origin have been found in the region. The magnificent portal tomb at Poulnabrone is one of the most easily recognised monuments in Ireland. Tower houses, such as Newtown Castle, which is home to Burren College of Art, and early Christian church sites are also very common.
The Burren was home to some of the earliest education in Europe, with the monastic school at Kilmacduagh training missionaries in the 7th century; the law school at Cahermacnaughten; ad the bardic school at Finavarra thriving between the 6th and 16th centuries providing the precedents that inspired the founding of the Burren College of Art.
The Burren also attracts visitors in search of the sources of inspiration of the Celtic revival led by WB Yeats and Lady Gregory in the early twentieth century at Coole Park and Thor Ballylee, a few miles from the college. The Burren has provided inspiration for many modern and contemporary artists and poets, including Antonin Artaud, John Betjeman, James Coleman, Seamus Heaney, Richard Long, Michael Longley, Sean Scully and Wallace Stevents. The Burren is now home to countless artists and writers who are part of a continuing revival of the west of Ireland and who form a community of which Burren College of Art is part.