Clare offers the best in music, culture and scenery. It is a county of great natural beauty and wonderful landscapes. It has a rich heritage tradition with some of the finest monuments, buildings and waterways. Clare is also the traditional music capital of Ireland, with year round music festivals and trad sessions throughout the county.
Ennis is the capital of Co. Clare - a picturesque and historic market town. Ennis takes its name from "Inis" which is the Irish name for island. The town dates back to the 11th Century and was formed between two streams on the river Fergus when the O'Briens, Kings of Thomond, invited the Franciscans to establish a settlement within their domain in 1240.
Although a ruin now, Ennis Friary was once home to over 300 Franciscan Friars and 600 students. It was established in 1240 when the Franciscans were invited to the area and given land by Donncha O’Brien, King of Thomond. Both the powerful O'Brien family and later the MacMahons and the MacNamaras continued to provide support to the Franciscan community for centuries afterwards.
This 13th century Franciscan friary has numerous 15/16th century sculptures carved in the local hard limestone. The visitor can see the figure of St. Francis displaying the stigmata, an ornamented screen, a representation of the Virgin and Child and the Ecce Home. The Chancel is lit by the magnificent east window.
The Friary is open from May to September, with guided tours available.
The tour takes about 30 minutes.
Ennis Friary Visitor Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Ennis
Tel: 065 682 9100
Ennis Walking Tours
A history of Ennis can be experienced with a journey through time -Guided Walking Tours takes you through the winding streets of medieval Ennis.
Hear tales of famine and poverty, murders and hangings, rebellions and riots. Learn about the mythology and legends of the town – from banshees to Biddy Early (the magical lady of Clare who was tried for witchcraft in Ennis).
Tel: +353 (0)87 6483714
Clare Equestrian CentreClare Equestrian is one of the finest Equestrian Centres in Ireland offering a wide range of Equine based services.
Located just 3 miles from Ennis, the primary town in County Clare, Clare Equestrian is an ideal location for your equestrian experience.
Contact:Clare Equestrian Centre, Deerpark, Doora, Ennis, Co. Clare
Phone: +353 65 6840136
Fax: +353 65 6843607
The Burren, situated in north-west Clare, covers over 300 square kilometres and is of extreme importance to geologists, botanists and archaeologists from Ireland and beyond. As the largest karstic limestone area in Western Europe, the Burren is an anomaly in the Irish landscape and continues to fascinate geologists who come to study its limestone patterns, underground rivers and grykes (cracks).
To the botanist, the Burren is home to rare alpine plants, delicate wonders that grow in the thin soil and crevices - gentians, mountain avens and maidenhair ferns amongst others. The survival of both alpine and Mediterranean plants in this unusual habitat continues to arouse debate and to delight the careful walker. Those interested in the ancient history of Ireland will find a wealth of material in the Burren - megalithic tombs, Celtic crosses, a ruined Cistercian Abbey and more than sixty wedge tombs.
Burrenbeo Teoranta, Moy, Kinvara, Co.Galway
Tel: +00353 (0)91 638096
In the heart of the Burren, lies one of the oldest caves in Ireland.
This cave was formed by the glacial melt waters of an early ice age.
The erosive power of the waters carved out an subterrainian river deep underneath Aillwee mountain.
This river has subsided since the last ice age, leaving behind one of Ireland's most stunning cave.
Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland
Tel: 00 353 65 7077036
Fax: 00 353 65 7077107
Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 by the MacNamaras and then passed to the O'Briens who were Earls of Thomond. The Castle is furnished with mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings. Medieval Banquets are held in the Castle year round (reservations necessary).
Bunratty Folk Park, located in the grounds of Bunratty Castle is Ireland's premier attraction. Bunratty Folk Park recreates rural and urban life in 19th century Ireland. It is a living reconstruction of the homes and environment of Ireland of over a century ago.
It features over 30 buildings including watermill, church, village street with pub and post office, magical walled garden, playground and various farm animals including pigs, sheep, deer native Irish wolfhound and much more.
Meet and chat with the Bean an Ti and various street characters. Enjoy the tastes, sights sounds and scents as you stroll from house to house or around the charming village. Further details from www.shannonheritage.com
Central Reservations, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Bunratty, Co. Clare
Tel: +353 61 360788 Fax: +353 61 361020
Web Site: www.shannonheritage.com
The east of the county is heavily influenced by the River Shannon and beautiful Lough Derg, picturesque villages of Mountshannon and Killaloe.
Lough Derg on the River Shannon is one of Ireland's finest lakes and is renowned for its superb game and course fishing.
Nearby amenities include golfing, horse riding, boating, watersports, the famous East Clare Way (www.clarewalks.com ) and a range of ancient monastic sites
Mountshannon is located on the western shores of Lough Derg.
Mountshannon scenic village is a perfect location for the angler who wants to explore the idyllic waters of Lough Derg – Ireland’s largest pleasure lake.
Holy Island on Lough Derg and the river Shannon is one of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland. Its many attractions include a well-preserved Round Tower, the ruins of six churches, a Holy Well, a unique graveyard with slabs dating from the eight century, Bullaun Stones, a cell like structure, which is one of the most extraordinary buildings in Ireland and a ‘bargaining’ stone where many a marriage was brokered. Their secluded position has enabled them to survive in a wonderful state of preservation.
Tel: 061 921615 or 086 8749710
Web Site: www.eastclareheritage.com
The West of the County is dominated by the Atlantic, with the Cliffs of Moher one of Ireland's top visitor attractions and the seaside resorts of Kilkee, Lahinch, and Spanish Point. West Clare is particularly renowned as a centre for Irish culture - particularly music and dance - and hosts several music festivals each year.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare.
O'Brien's Tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic Cliffs. From the Cliffs one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South.
ATLANTIC EDGE is the exciting interpretive centre at the Cliffs of Moher New Visitor Experience - a huge domed cave contains images, exhibits, displays that provide information and a multi media experience for visitors to the cliffs.
Phone: +353 (0)65 7086141
Lahinch - Blue Flag Beach
This Blue Flag beach is located in West Clare. Its waters are safe to swim in and it's always patrolled by lifeguards.
Formerly known as Leath Inse, or peninsula, from its water-bound location, its present Irish name derives from a prominent member of the O'Connor clan who is buried here.
Lahinch, some 3km west of Ennistymon is a very popular holiday resort, noted for its bathing beach and even more famous for its championship links and 18-hole golf course. There is a promenade facing the Atlantic. The beach offers excellent surfing.
Some distance north of Lahinch, at O'Brien's Bridge, are the remains of Dough Castle, built by Donnchadh O'Connor in 1422, and later appropriated by the O'Briens.
Kilkee - Blue Flag Beach
Kilkee’s Blue flag beach is different - this crescent shaped beach of golden sand shelves gently seawards making it truly unique. Wonderful cliff walks surround the beach.
Spanish Point, 3 km west of Miltown Malbay, is a small resort with golf and a long sandy beach.
Spanish Point is so named because of the Spaniards who were buried here after the wreck of their Armada ships along this coast.
One of the ships was wrecked on the reefs of Mutton Island and can be visited by a currach (traditional boat) hired in the nearby fishing village of Quilty.
Vandeleur Walled Garden
Beautifully constructed walls enclose this sheltered Walled Garden which is set among 420 acres of native woodland. Once the walled garden for Kilrush House, but forgotten for many years it has been re-designed for the 21st century around the old path-system with a horizontal maze, unusual water-features and a free-standing Victorian-style working glasshouse which is assessable to visitors.
Unusual and tender plants that thrive in the area’s uniquely western latitude microclimate invite to stroll around. While restoration work is completed there is an ongoing commitment to development.
Vandeleur Walled Garden & Centre
Kilrush, Co. Clare
Phone: ++353 (0)65 9051760
NORTH CLARE - Continued
Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery
Phone: 065 7071630