Distinctive in its methodological approach, a participatory action research (PAR) design steers this project, delivering outputs that respond to the broader needs of academic knowledge, civil society and community forums alike. Focusing on the Burren region case study, the research examines the role civil society organisations (CSOs) play (in this instance Burrenbeo Trust) in encouraging engagement across communities and with this unique landscape. Centrally this engagement critically responds to the under-researched, complex and multifaceted nexus transecting the landscape, communities and CSOs. Combining visual ethnographic methods (video walkabouts) with reflective journals and biographical narrative interpretive method (BNIM) interviews, this research unpacks questions of community agency within the landscape, recognising opportunities for enhanced wellbeing, while remaining cognisant of the community’s role in consolidating a conservation agenda for the region. Analysis contextualises the Burren as a community of communities, connected through engagement with an inimitable landscape that provides a platform to explore societal values through a researcher-activist perspective. Subsequently, this research delivers original and innovative insights in unpacking community-university relationships.