At Ireland’s beautiful west coast is the county by the name of Clare. It is very much at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way and is covered in varied terrain which ranges from the rolling countryside to Atlantic coastline. Clare is an excellent place where you can discover the culture in Ireland. Visually speaking it is a blessed county with some places not to be missed, including:
● The Cliffs of Moher
● Lough Derg
● Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
● The Burren
● The Loop Head Peninsula
● Poulnabrone Dolmen
The Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are among the most visited attractions in Ireland. The reason is simple. The cliffs are home to some of the most astonishing scenery in the entirety of Ireland. The cliffs stand a breathtaking 120 meters high above Atlantic Ocean, with its highest peak reaching over 200 meters. This peak is close to the Tower of O Brien. This is an historic observation tower which was built by Cornellius O’ Brien who was the local landlord.
Looking out onto the ocean from on top of the cliffs you will might be able to make out the Aran Islands, Connemara and also Galway Bay. Ofcurse this is very much weather depending. The Cliffs of Moher should generally be visited during the summer months when vision is clearer and winds are calmer.
Moving across the county at its eastern end is the beautiful lake of Lough Derg. There are two Lough Dergs to be found in Ireland with the second one being located in the Northern half of the country in County Donegal. Bare this in mind when you are entering it as a destination into Google Maps or Sat Nav. You don’t want to end up dozens upon dozens of miles away.
In the Republic the Lough Derg of County Clare is the second largest lake in the country. It shares is the shores with eastern Tipperary and northwest Galway. A beautiful village to visit on Lough Derg is that of Killaloe. It’s a pretty little place that has a range of amenities that you can enjoy on a day out there.
There are numerous restaurants and eateries located in the village. There are also many walkways you can avail of around the area including a number that make there way along or near the lake. A 64 kilometer walking route makes its way past the village. The start of the walk is in Limerick City however you can always cut in at Killaoe to avail of the stretch that goes around the lake, hosting spectacular views.
Mountshannon, and Scariff are two other quaint villages next to the lake. From the harbor of the former you are able to catch a boat trip out into the lake and onto Holy Island. Holy Island (or Inis Cealtra as it is also known) is a small island in Lough Derg that is full of history. Formerly it was a thriving monastic settlement, now only ruins remain. The island itself is quite beautiful with the ruins of churches and a round tower giving it a very haunting look.
Craggaunowen in County Clare is an attraction in County Clare that has a restored 16th century castle that people can come and visit. However this isn’t the only thing to keep tourists interested at Craggaunowen. There is also a reconstructed Crannog at the site.
A Crannog is a an island that was built on lakes and rivers in Ireland centuries ago. There is believed to be over a thousand of these man made islands built in Ireland in the past. They often contained houses and shelter and had many defensive qualities to them.
In Craggaunowen another once common settlement in Ireland has also been constructed. This is of course the Ring Fort. A Ring Fort is a settlement that was surrounded usually by circular mounds or stone walls. Over 40,000 have existed in Ireland making them far more common than Crannogs. From the 5th century A.D. to well into the next millennium they were commonly used by farmers to keep cattle and live in.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
This castle is noted for having one of the most impressive renovations of any castle frond in Ireland. It is filled with decor, art and furniture that dates back to the very start of the 17th century. If you truly want to have a glimpse at how royalty lived in Ireland centuries ago, then viewing this castle is very much a must.
Bunratty Folk Park focuses more on the 19th century way of life for many Irish people. Located next to the castle, the Folk park spreads over acres of land where there are reconstructed shops, a hardware shop and school from the era that people can view. While strolling along this reconstructed urban environment you will truly feel like you in Ireland two hundred years ago.
The Burren is referred to as the Clare south Galway regions that contain uniquely karst and rocky landscape. The area is known for its uncommon species of fauna and flora and draws in hikers, walkers and out door enthusiasts every year.
With that being said it is definitely worth the visit if you like to stroll around the great outdoors.
If you need a rest after your journey around the Burren then there are a number of serveral major towns that are found in the region such as Ballyvaughan, Tubber, Kinvara, Corfin, Lisdoonvarna and Kilfenora. Many of these contain some excellent restaurants, not to mention fun filled pubs and lovely hotels.
In Balllyvaughan village you can visit the Ailwee Cave. These caves are a popular feature of the Burren. The cave system consists of over one kilometer of passages that run underneath the rugged landscape. There are tours of the cave system which lasts for approximately 30 minutes. During the tour you will past by a flowing waterfall and stroll of chasms that are bridged.
Any visit to the Burren requires a visit to the Aliwee Cave as well.
The Loop Head Peninsula
At the tip of the southwest Clare is the Loop Head Peninsula. this landmass has a scenic coastal drive that takes in the coastal villages of Carrigaholt, Kilrush, Kilbaha, Kilkee, Kilrush and also the Loop Head headland. The entirety of the drive that you can take around this stunning peninsula is 81 km.
The most attractive natural features in the peninsula are the Bridges of Ross which is on the Ross Bay harbor. The Loop Head headland itself features its famous lighthouse. The lighthouse is still in use and operated by the Commissioners of Irish Light.
This dolmen or portal tomb is located 8 km to the south of Ballyvaughan in County Clare. It is impressively large and dates back to the Neolithic period. Excavations of the site revealed the remains of dozens of humans. This discovery shed light on the burial customs of the early farming communities of Clare.
The dolmen is extremely popular and is noted for its striking appearance. With the backdrop of the beautiful County Clare countryside around it, this tomb is should be visited by those who have an interest in Ireland’s history and aesthetic beauty.
If surfing is a hobbie of yours then County Clare is one of the best places you can visit on your trip over to Ireland. The village of Fanore, particularly, is well-known for water sports and surfing.
Fanore is the small village which has accommodation facilities along the beach where you can stay while you enjoy the ocean and waves.
Clare is a county that is jammed packed with history, fun and beauty. If you plan on visiting just one county in Ireland on a vacation over here, than make sure that Clare is at the top of your list.