County Clare Holiday Guide
A region renowned the world over for its glorious musical traditions, the county’s coast, from Kilkee to Fanore, is littered with pretty beaches and amazing cliffs while, inland, the often rough but always beautifully desolate landscape is home to a proliferation of prehistoric sites.
An Ocean of Adventure
Land and sea collide in truly spectacular style in County Clare. Overshadowed by the well-publicised Cliffs of Moher to the north, the sight of the soaring rock faces south of the resort of Kilkee to Loop Head will live long in the memory.
Named as the best place to holiday in Ireland by the Irish Times in 2013, the Loop Head area is becoming increasingly popular but there are still plenty of secluded spots to be found if you look hard enough.
You will need a car to make the most of the coastal area. It will allow you to explore the roads that criss-cross the windswept landscape, leading to isolated beaches and charming towns and villages like Ennistymon, the surf centre of Lahinch and Miltown Malbay.
The coast around County Clare claimed many ships from the Spanish Armada in the late 1500s, with the tiny villages of Carrigaholt and Doonbeg among those to witness countless lives being lost to the ocean.
Stretching across the northern part of Clare, from the coast to Kinvara in County Galway, the unforgiving limestone landscape of The Burren was shaped by ancient seas before being forced upwards by massive geological changes. The area bursts into wildflower-inspired colour in the spring and there are plenty of villages to explore – check out music-mad Doolin, Kilfenora and Ballyvaughan for starters.
The further inland you travel the more the landscape turns into green, low-lying countryside, with the county’s eastern boundary formed by the river Shannon and Lough Derg, a waterway spanning 30 miles from Killaloe to Portumna in County Galway.
Picturesque Killaloe is set against the Slieve Bernagh Hills, with the Arra Mountains to the east, while neighbouring Ballina, at the end of a scenic drive from Neagh, is home to an impressive range of pubs and restaurants.
See and Do
No matter where you are staying, you will never be far from County Clare’s diverse collection of attractions.
An important friary founded between 1240 and 1249 is located in the town of Ennis while a well-preserved Iron Age walled fort can be found at Caherconnell. Bunratty Castle, set alongside the River Ratty, dates from the early 1400s and has been fully restored, its rooms jam-packed with antique furniture, paintings and wall hangings.
The ancient Irish art of oak-smoking salmon is revealed at the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna. There’s ample opportunity to try some of its tasty products, while Clare’s abundant native wildflowers provide the inspiration for the fabulous sweet-smelling scents produced at the Burren Perfumery and Floral Centre in Carron.