Clare Regional Overview
Nestled on the west coast of Ireland County Clare is one of the most scenic spots in western Europe. You can tour the moonscapes of The Burren in the north and travel south along the Atlantic coastline taking in spectacular views and cruise eastwards along the Shannon Estuary until you reach Lough Derg.
County Clare sits to the north of the River Shannon and is serviced by Shannon Airport, the M18 that links with Limerick and the N19 that will take you to Galway. With an abundance of natural beauty and unspoilt countryside it is a must visit on any trip tp Ireland.
History and Landscape
County Clare has been inhabited since circa 9500BC. It is largely encompassed by water with the River Shannon and Lough Derg to the east, the Shannon Estaury to the south and the Atlantic Ocean, with the famous Cliffs of Moher, to the west. The north of the county is known as The Burren and the rockscapes are unique to County Clare.
The Burren covers an area of 250 square kilometers and a portion of it is designated as a National Park and is one of only six such parks in the Irsih Republic.
Traditions and Music
County Clare is said to be The Home of Traditional Irish Music and this is certainly evident in the many festivals and "sessions" that take place right across the county. It is not unusual for a session to strike up in a flash and the best of them can contain anything up to twenty musicians. A "session" is an unplanned musical performance although some are well planned in advance, but all are worth seeing. The most famous of the Traditional Music Festivals is the Willie Clancy Week in Miltown Malbay. Williie Clancy was a famous Uillean Pipe palyer and the week is dedicated to teaching and palying music as well as song and dance.
Gaelic games play a large part in the fabric of life in Clare and Gaelic Football and Hurling are very popular throughout the county with football being more prevelant in the north and west and hurling in the east. The founder of The Gaelic Athletic Association, Michael Cusack, was from Carran in the north of the county.
Clare has played a very important role in the history and politics of Ireland and some of Ireland's most famous politicians have hailed from or been elected in Clare. Some of the more well known are Daniel O'Connell leader of the Catholic Emancipation Movement, Eamon De Valera, former Taoiseach and President, Patrick Hilary, former President and current President Michael D Higgins was borught up in Newmarket on Fergus.
The county has many historical monuments, castles and manors and each has it's own unique history with many of them woven into the overall history of Ireland. Bunratty Castle and Dromoland Castle are two of the most famous and both are major attractions with Dromoland being one of the most popular 5 star loacations in the county. prehistoric ruins and tombs are dotted across the county with Póll Na Brón in the Burren being one of the most visited.
Towns and Countryside
The Medieval town of Ennis is the Capital of the county and is noted for its narrow streets and ancient ruins. The town was founded by Franciscan monks circa 1250AD and the ruins of the Abbey is restored as a visitor centre in the heart of the town. The Franciscans still live in the new Abbey in Francis St.
The county has many famous villages and towns all providing excellent facilities and accommodation. Kilrush, Kilkee, Lahinch and Doolin aare famous beautiful seaside resorts and many ruarl villages such as Quin, Killaloe, Feakle and Ennistymon are weill worth a visit and if you have time a stop over.
The countryside is made up of farming land and hillsides and there are many farms that can be visited and farm houses to stay in and experience a different side of life.