Co Clare Fact Sheet
Fact Sheet – Co Clare, Ireland.
The coastline of Co Clare, Ireland, makes up a good portion of the Wild Atlantic Way and has a number of beaches that are great for swimming, surfing and walking. You can drive the coastal route in a day with stops at a few beaches. If you can spend longer in Clare you’ll have time to veer off the Atlantic route and see some of the other treasures of the county within a short distance.
Clare has castles such as the world-famous Bunratty with its folk park, and the smaller Craggaunowen with the living past experience and Dysert O’Dea. You could also take in a traditional music session in a village-like Doolin, from where you can take a ferry to the Aran Islands (look at our Islands blog). At the southern tip of Co Clare, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean is Loop Head and its famous lighthouse while at the northern end you’ll get great views of Galway Bay and Connemara in the distance
1 Why Vist the Banner County Clare?
Other Places in Clare to Visit
Beaches of Clare
Cliffs of Moher
Explore the Clare Coast
Ennis on the River Fergus, is the county town of Clare, an attractive place with narrow streets in the centre. It has a number of good restaurants, some very lively pubs and is well known for its year-round traditional Irish music sessions. The hotels and guesthouses here make it a good base from which to explore the county.
- Clare Museum, previously a Sisters of Mercy convent, opened as a museum in 2000 and documents the six millennia of the county’s history.
- Ennis Friary, founded by the O’Brien clan in the mid-13th century.
- Clare Abbey, built-in 1189, is 4km outside the town.
- Glór Music Centre – a community-based arts centre with a café, gallery, studio space and 48-seater auditorium.
3. Other Places to visit in Clare
Killaloe on the banks of the River Shannon was the birthplace of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland. It’s a very picturesque town and is linked by a thirteen arch bridge to Ballina in Co Tipperary.
Bunratty Castle, dating from 1415, is one of Ireland’s biggest and best-known fortresses. Lovingly restored in the 1950s it has a wonderful folk park attached with authentic houses from the local area, many of them thatched. It’s a great place to explore what life was like for many of our ancestors.
Dysert O’Dea Castle, just south of Corofin, was a stronghold of the O’Dea clan, dates from the fifteenth century and has been authentically restored. Close by are the ruins of Dysert O’Dea Church with a high cross in the grounds. Corofin is another attractive town and is known as the gateway to the Burren.
Ennistymon is a colourful town with a lovely traditional style main street with cafes, a German bakery, old-style pubs, a bookshop and a large hotel beside the cascading River Cullenagh.
Lisdoonvarna is another attractive town on the edge of the Burren. It’s been famous for its spa waters since the eighteenth century and more recently has attracted thousands of people to the Match Making Festival which runs through September each year.
4. Beaches of Clare
Clare has a wide range of very attractive beaches ranging from quiet lazy day beaches to busy ones full of life and activity. Many are ideal for swimming, walking, playing with the kids or even sunbathing and some have a number of watersports available. Look at the detailed blog on the beaches of Clare. Lahinch is one of Ireland’s prime surfing centres and it has hosted the World Surfing Championships.
5. The Burren
‘’There is not water enough to drown a man, wood enough to hang one nor earth enough to bury him”
This quote from Cromwellian General Edmund Ludlow sums up the appearance of the Burren. This is a Karst limestone landscape, one of only a few in Europe, where the rock is exposed on the surface and is now part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark.
It’s an area with a unique geology and ecology and has Ireland’s best-known cave system, the Aillwee Caves.
Ancient structures include Poulnabrone dolmen and Caherconnell stone fort. Guided walks are available which will show you the best of the area.
The village of Kilfenora is home to the Burren Centre, a community-run facility where you can learn about the flora, fauna, geology and much more about the Burren. It also has a tiny cathedral with the ruins of a medieval one attached which houses a number of ancient high crosses.
Lemaneh Castle lies between Castleconnel Fort and Kilfenora and is worth a photo stop.
6. Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are part of a UNESCO Global Geopark – great views and walks at the best-known feature on the Clare coast and it is signposted from all routes. There is no beach here – obviously. The Cliffs are one of the most iconic and visited sites in Ireland so we suggest arriving early (before 10 am) or much later (after 4 pm) to avoid the busiest times. Going later affords the best photos as the Cliffs face due west. An excellent visitor centre and car park are provided for visitors. In summer the Cliffs are open from 9 am to 8 pm. There is no fee to visit the Cliffs but you do pay for the car park with all-day parking opposite the visitor centre for up to €10. Book tickets online as it’s cheaper. Option to park 1 km away at Guerin’s Path for €5 and walk to the cliffs. To see the Cliffs of Moher from the water take a boat trip from Doolin for a spectacular view. Climb some nearby cliffs with an expert local guide, kayak down a river or walk the length of the Cliffs of Moher.
7. Highlights Cycling or Driving the Clare Coast
Kinvara and Bell Harbour to Ballyvaughan
- Small coves and inlets such as Bell Harbour as far as Ballyvaughan. Great views of Galway Bay including a Martello Tower in the distance
- Vistas of the Burren hills to your left
- A five-minute diversion from the N67 coast road takes you to the well-preserved ruin of Corcomroe Abbey which dates from 1189
Ballyvaughan to Lahinch
- From Ballyvaughan to Doolin the R477 road runs close to the sea
- Gleninagh Castle is down a lane off the road before Black Head
- Stop to paddle in the sea or walk on Burren rocks which run down to the water
- Doolin has ferries to the Aran Islands and is famous for traditional music sessions
- Just beyond Doolin, you join the R478 road as far as Lahinch
- Liscannor Bay and Liscannor village where you might see some currach boats. Go Rock Climbing in the Burren from here or take a Kayak trip down a river.
Lahinch to Loop Head
- Lahinch is one of the top surfing centres in Ireland and has a championship golf course
- The N67 takes you south with lovely views (Miltown Malbay, Quilty and Doonbeg are on the way) or you can follow narrower roads close to the sea with good beaches for swimming (see our blog on Beaches of Clare)
- Spanish Point near where Armada ships sank in 1588
- Kilkee is a popular seaside resort with a beach and Pollock Holes for swimming
- The Loop Head Peninsula with its dramatic cliff scenery and lighthouse is a highlight – don’t miss the Bridges of Ross and Carrigaholt Castle
- Heading east the Shannon estuary is on your right. Kilrush is a very pleasant town with a large market square. The Vandeleur Walled Garden is on the N67 road as you head south to Killimer where you can take a ferry to Tarbert in Kerry.
Contact us with any comments on this post- we love recommendations. There are activities and guided tours for individuals or groups in Co Clare – contact ActivityDays.ie. Holiday and activity planning service.