Surfing has become very popular along the Atlantic coast and particularly so in West Clare. Excellent surfing beaches dot the coast and provide consistent waves off the Atlantic that will appeal to beginner surfers or those looking for big wave excitement. One of the world’s largest naturally occurring waves is located off the coast of the Cliffs of Moher and surf movies have been filmed out there where the bravest of souls are dragged onto the immense wave by a skidoo. For the rest of us more inclined to some fun and reasonably sized waves, there are a lot of options close to Claunreasc. Doughmore beach is located between Doonbeg Golf Course and the Atlantic with a surfer’s access across the 16th fairway. Spanish Point is just up the road and offers surf camps and lessons. The most popular surfing beach is located at Lahinch. There is a surf school, rentals, lessons, and a camp available for surfers of all abilities. Check out www.lahinchsurfschool.com for details. For surf reports or more on Irish surf culture, check out www.surfingireland.com.
West Clare is blessed with a combination of beautiful sandy beaches stretching along the Atlantic with rugged and scenic cliffs. Seaside resort towns such as nearby Kilkee and Lahinch offer wide beaches of white sand and salt water. There are also quiet local options where you are as likely to have the beach to yourself as you are to run into a local. Doughmore beach can be accessed via the surfers’ walk across the 16th fairway or at the side of the lodge. The White Strand is located outside of Doonbeg and is another hidden gem well worth the detour to visit and explore.
West Clare is alive all year round with local festivals of world renown. Traditional music spills into the village streets, Irish dance is celebrated, and new and notable theatrical productions are mounted in the footsteps with such Irish playwrights as Beckett, Wilde, and Behan. Below is a list of the local festivals along with locations and descriptions. There is so much to enjoy in West Clare, the only decision to make is when to come!
This is the longest running festival in County Clare. There are activities for all ages to enjoy. The Rose of Clare festival is one of the biggest tourist attractions in West Clare.
This summer musical festival has been taking place for many years, attracting thousands of musicians and music lovers from all over the world. During the festival the streets and pubs are alive with the sound of traditional Irish music. There are classes for up to 1,000 students of all ages in the mornings, afternoon lectures, and evening workshops. Lectures, recitals, and lessons include piping, celi, whistle, flute, concertina, accordion, and fiddle. There are also lectures and workshops on a wide variety of topics. At night, the pubs overflow with musicians and revelers creating a lively and memorable atmosphere. As a visitor, just head into the village to any pub on any day or night during the festival to enjoy traditional music at its best.
A weekend celebrating traditional Irish music and dance just up the road in Doonbeg
This festival is affiliated with the Amateur Drama Council of Ireland.
This traditional music festival is held on the last weekend of February each year. Doolin is a hotbed of traditional music. The majority of events during this festival will be held in the Russell Cultural Centre. Music sessions will be held for all to enjoy at the local pubs: McDermotts, McGann's and O'Connor's.
Mrs. Elizabeth Crotty was born in West Clare in 1885. She is a renowned concertina player from the turn of the century and this music festival celebrates her mark on the traditional Irish music scene. By the 1950's she became a pioneer of the Fleadh Cheoil movement, a host to the traveling piper, and an encyclopedia of Irish music. Her concertina continues to inspire music enthusiasts throughout the world. This festival includes traditional music including open air ceilis, concerts, lectures, classes, workshops, and lively pub seminars.
Lisdoonvarna World Matchmaker Festival: This world-renowned festival starts with a barbeque. The traditional matchmaker works quietly to music and there is dancing all day and night.
This festival attracts thousands of people from across Ireland. It includes musicians, singers, and dancers in a rich cultural tradition. Clare music is integral to this event. Brian Boru celebrations are included in this event.
This month includes a variety of events including exhibitions, music, theatre, film, workshops, and lectures covering all of the visual arts.
This is a festival for those who love to hear traditional musicians of the highest quality and, of course, for musicians themselves. Over 20 locations host selected components of traditional music on all the instruments associated with it, mixed and matched for the best possible music sessions, all taking place over a long weekend in November. This festival is a celebration of music in the capital of Clare, the premier music county.
This weekend features competitions in music, singing, and set dancing, all instruments in solo, as well as bands (ceili) and group playing.
Ireland's Shannon Region is dotted with lakes and crisscrossed with rivers, with over 400 kms of Atlantic coastline, offering outstanding angling opportunities. Wild Atlantic salmon return to the rivers and streams of their birth to propagate new life for the species. Brown trout can challenge the most skillful fly fisher while hard fighting pike can tail-walk in defiance. Shoals of well-conditioned coarse fish lurk in the eerie depths of rivers and lakes.
The Atlantic Sea off the west coast is a vast fishery offering superb sport for many species and great stocks of sea fish. The lure of the deep sea and its rich fishing grounds continue to attract sea anglers wanting to challenge the waves to hunt shark, fish over wrecks or just marvel at the vast seascape and captivating horizon.
The Shannon Region has long been one of Ireland's great fishing destinations and catering for fishing holidaymakers is an integral part of the culture of its people. For more information contact:
Ireland's traditional preoccupation with horse riding is evident throughout the Shannon Region. The geography of the Region is ideally suited to horse riding throughout the entire year.
Riding centres offer a wide range of facilities, catering for every rider whether novice or experienced and regardless of age.
All centres provide basic instruction and some, as indicated, offer specialist tuition. All centres are approved by AIRE - the Association of Irish Riding Establishments, and all accommodation used is approved by the appropriate regulatory agencies.
The Danganelly Equestrian Centre is located minutes from Claunreasc. Stop by to book a lesson or join a group to ride local roads.
Located on the road to Kilrush from Cooraclare, the West Clare Equestrian Centre consists of a riding school and livery yard. The riding school caters for all levels from beginner – novice – intermediate through to advanced level for both children and adults providing one to one tuition or group lessons. There are beautiful scenic Trekks down through bog roads which can vary according to riding ability.
Clare Equestrian Centre is located only 10 minutes from Ennis town centre and is situated in 70 acres of natural countryside with a wide variety of activities available to suite all ages and levels of experience. Facilities include an indoor arena, 2 outdoor sand rings, trekking and cross-country courses, and a Tack and Clothing Shop with an impressive wide selection of items. The Centre is open all year.
Walking is truly the best way to experience the beauty of the Shannon Region. A network of quiet country roads and lanes, forest paths and mountain trails will take you to the heart of the beautiful, rural countryside. For serious walkers, there are many well organized routes which are clearly signposted at all junctions with standard way-markers. Eleven national, long-distance walking trails traverse the Region's most interesting scenery. The Kilkee Cliff Walk is not to be missed when staying at Claunreasc. Arguably more scenic and certainly more untouched than the famous Cliffs of Moher, the Kilkee Cliff Walk is a spectacular walk.
A multitude of roads a minimum of traffic, this is Shannon Region's offering to the visitor with a bike. There are country roads leading to seaside coves, stopping places by lake and rivers, and to mountain tops. The variety of scenery is almost endless: lowlands with rural villages and towns, castles, historic sites and parks to visit; highlands with fantastic scenery; and the Atlantic coastline of Clare and Kerry.
Food – While supplies and convenience items are available at Daly’s Petrol Station in Cooraclare, Kilrush offers three major grocery stores as well as a multitude of butcher shops and one of the best bakeries around. There is a Tesco, Aldi, and Supervalue grocery store in Kilrush for all grocery needs. The main road into the town square from Claunreasc House is butcher’s row where you’ll find many local butchers offering high quality meats at reasonable prices. Check out Considine’s Bakery on the main Quay St. for daily bread and baked goods.
Shopping – Ennis is the closest large town to Claunreasc House and has a wide variety of local shops and merchants to visit. Galway City is a mere hour and a half up the road and offers great local shops as well as major retailers such as Brown Thomas and Marks and Spencer.
The three islands of Inis Mor, Inis Meain, and Inis Oirr make up the famous Aran Islands. These islands are in the Atlantic Ocean and mark the point where Galway Bay gives way to the North Atlantic. A day trip to one of the islands is well worth a visit. Exploring the island on foot, by horse drawn cart, or by bike is like stepping back into time. The smell of peat wafts across the islands and the islanders are warm and welcoming as you would expect. There are many ancient stone forts, remnants of celtic civilizations, and Bronze and Stone Age examples on the islands. The islands are easily accessible by ferry from Doolin Pier when travelling from Claunreasc House and are also accessible from Galway City. A wonderful website to find out more or plan your trip to the Aran Islands can be found at www.aranislands.ie.
Galway is the fourth largest city in Ireland after Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, but it is widely considered the home of Irish culture and the arts. A visit to Galway is a great day trip from Claunreasc House for shopping to see a show, or to wander the old town and cobblestone streets. The Galway Arts Festival is a major tourist attraction and brings together artists of the highest calibre from around the world every year. Check out www.galwayartsfestival.com for details of each year’s event. The Galway Races is another internationally celebrated event in the city as horseracing enthusiasts mix with the punters and glamorous women in their hats for this annual event. For more information about the Galway Races, check out www.galwayraces.com. The city is also famous for Galway Bay oysters and celebrates this each year with the Galway Oyster Festival. Check out www.galwayoysterfest.com for more information.
A weekly farmers market off the cobblestoned side streets is a treat when visiting on a Saturday for local food and crafts. There is so much culture, art, and history in Galway, it is well worth a visit when visiting Claunreasc House.
These famous stunning cliffs can be seen on a clear day facing north-west from the top of Dromelihy Hill accessible from Claunreasc House. A short drive north toward Lahinch will bring you to the awe-inspiring site. These majestic cliffs rise from the Atlantic Ocean to a height of nearly 200m and extend for a distance of 8km from Hag's Head due west of Liscannor to a point beyond O'Brien's Tower. They take their name from a ruined promontory fort, Mothar, which was demolished during the Napoleonic wars to make room for a signal tower.
This is a typical Burren landscape, sculpted into limestone pavements which are eroded in a form known as farren, crisscrossed by vertical cracks called grykes. The Irish for Burren is Bhoireann, "a stony place". Rain falling on The Burren pavements pours right through and as it does, the acid rain dissolves the limestone and creates caves and potholes which flood in the winter. Potholers or speliologists flock to The Burren to explore these caves, which can be extremely dangerous for novices. The biggest cave open to the public is Aillwee Cave outside Ballyvaughan, and it is well worth a visit. The visitors centre is beautifully designed to blend with the mountain.
One of the more popular tourist destinations in West Clare is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, just outside of Ennis. Step back in time and enjoy a fine medieval feast within the walls of Bunratty. Bunratty (Bun Raite) Castle overlooks the River Shannon. The castle is in excellent condition and well worth the visit. Durty Nelly's pub is situated about 75 feet from the castle. The Vikings built a fortified settlement at this spot, a former island surrounded by a moat. Then the Normans came: Thomas de Clare built the first stone structure on the site in the 1270's. The present castle is the fourth or fifth structure to occupy the location beside the River Ratty. The castle was built in the early 1400's by the McNamara family, but fell shortly afterwards to the O'Briens, kings of Thomond, who controlled the castle until the 17th century. Admiral Penn, father of William Penn, resided here for a short time. Today, the castle's Great Hall holds a fine collection of 14th to 18th century furniture, paintings, and wall hangings. The Great Hall also hosts "medieval banquets" complete with maids playing the harp, court jesters, food a la the middle ages, and mead (a honey wine favored by the Irish in the middle ages). Next to the the castle you will find the Bunratty Folk Park an interesting visit for all ages, highlighting the Ireland of yore. Visit www.shannonheritage.com/Folk_Park.htm
Near Quinn, Knappogue is also an interesting castle to visit with lovely gardens. It also provides medieval meals. Book ahead.
A village that interprets Ireland’s prehistoric and early Christian eras.