County Clare Information
County Clare is located in Munster, and despite being the eight largest Irish county, it is only the nineteenth largest with regards to population. This is an indication of the wealth of natural beauty and wonders within its borders, and its relatively unspoiled scenery.
The county sits to the north of the River Shannon, and anyone arriving at Shannon Airport is welcomed into the arms of County Clare. The county is well serviced by two main roads: the N18 that links Limerick and Galway, and the N19 that continues through Ennis and Shannon. The mainland of Clare itself is best travelled by car or bus.
History & Landscape
There is evidence of civilisation from approximately 9500BC in Clare. Through the Middle Ages, the county was a faction of the Kingdom of Connacht, before it was seized by the Kingdom of Munster in the middle of the 10th century.
County Clare is largely encompassed by bodies of water, the River Shannon to the east or the Shannon Estuary to the south. Combined with its vast areas of untouched landscape, the region is filled with beautiful wonders. The famous Cliffs of Moher (see video below) are at the edge of the parish of Liscannor, and oversee the Atlantic Ocean at the point of Hag’s Head. O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest point of the cliffs, and from the summit both the Aran Islands and Galway are visible, and it offers stunning viewpoints particularly through the sunlit (if fairly mild) months of summer.
In addition, the county boasts the phenomenon The Burren, a rock landscape in northwest Clare.
It is one of the largest of its type in Europe, and spans approximately 250 square kilometres. A small fragment of this landscape is designated as the Burren National Park, and is one of only six National Parks located in the Irish Republic. The area is a place of immense interest to any tourist, and is a fascinating feature of undisturbed, natural evolution.
Traditions & Music
The structure and design of County Clare’s roads and towns, are traditional in their layout and retain an innocent sense of romantic charm. The capital, Ennis encapsulates this, with winding, tapered streetscapes and many classic building designs. Even the many hotels and guest houses that adorn the Clare landscape retain the quaint features of its relaxing countryside, and many incorporate excellent golf and leisure facilities.
Dromoland Castle Hotel best represents the Clare experience: a grand, traditional building designed with large room spaces, nostalgic open fires but also offering a contemporary spa and recently redesigned golf course. All this is situated in wide, sweeping grounds and has spectacular views of the Irish countryside.
Perhaps the clearest link between the modern County Clare and its history is its strong tradition in traditional Irish music. This persists to this very day, and Clare is the setting for many traditional music festivals including the Willie Clancy Summer School, which is open every July and pays homage to the county's famous uillean piper, Willie Clancy.
Such an emphasis on music and culture makes for an active bar and restaurant experience throughout the towns of Clare, with numerous live music performances featuring past and contemporary music performed on a regular basis. The county also has a range of restaurants and cafés to please its visitors, and while most offer traditional Irish food and entertainment, there are also some excellent Italian eateries that offer a sample of multiculturalism and Clare’s ever increasing diversity.
Clare has a strong hurling tradition, and has a number of fantastic golf courses. One of the biggest growth sports in Clare and Ireland in general is surfing. Lahinch is recognised as Ireland's surfing capital. It has breaks to suit the beginner to the expert surfer, a number of surf schools and and has a fun and lively nightlife.
Bunratty Folk Park
O'Connell St. A. O'Loughlin
Bunratty Folk Park
The Falls Ennistymon Co. Clare
The Sally Gap (Wicklow)
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step" - Lao Tzu