THE 5,000-year-old Poulnabrone dolmen is an impressive sight, one of the most recognisable megalithic tombs in the country and a highlight of any trip to the world-famous Burren.
It is understandable that visitors might want to create their own version of the ancient portal tomb.
But those tourists were yesterday accused of unwittingly engaging in vandalism by erecting hundreds of mini-dolmens across the protected landscape. The trend began a decade ago but has recently re-emerged.
Two miles from the Poulnabrone dolmen, the project manager with the Burren Connect Project, Carol Gleeson, observed hundreds of mini-dolmens inside a roadside wall.
She said: "The tourists erecting the dolmens are engaging in a form of vandalism. This is a wonderful ecosystem and the erection of these dolmens is like scribbling on a masterpiece."
Ms Gleeson added: "Unique and vulnerable habitats are being destroyed by visitors when they illegally remove protected limestone pavement to build the dolmens.
"It is only recently that the erection of these dolmens has become a fad. There is no malicious intent on the part of the tourists. It comes from a lack of knowledge."