Cliffs of Moher
“Hags Head” is a name given to the most southerly point of the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland where cliffs form a remarkable rock formation resembling a woman’s head looking out to sea.
According to legend, an old woman, Mal, fell in love with the Irish hero, Cú Chulainn and chased her would-be suitor across Ireland. Cú Chulainn however, made his escape by hopping across sea stacks as if they were stepping stones. As Mal was not so nimble, she lost her footing and was dashed against the cliff.
A tower stands at the Hag’s Head known locally as Moher Tower.
Kilrush Cill Rois “Church of the Woods”
A listed Heritage Town of Ireland, Kilrush is a picturesque market town and port. Looking offshore you may catch a glimpse of a large pod of Bottlenose dolphins, resident year-round in the estuary Kilrush. Having first been settled as a town in the 16th century Kilrush saw major development in the 18th century under the influence of the Dutch Vandeleur family. Once the most prominent landlord family in West Clare, the De Vandeleurs constructed the towns’ layout and today many streets now bare their names. The Western Yacht club, located here is one of the oldest yacht clubs in the world.
A 1500 year old monastic settlement is located on Scattery Island in the Shannon estuary which you may visit – it is about 15 minutes from Kilrush by boat. The settlement was founded by St. Senan. Here you will find one of the oldest and tallest round towers in Ireland.
Cliffs of Moher Aillte an Mhothair
Stretching for 8 km and with a sheer drop into the sea of 214 metres, this natural wonder can literally take your breath away. Go on a windy day and you will see…
The cliffs are also the site of the aptly named Atlantic Edge interpretive centre. Built into the side of sloping grass land and showing displays which examine the various elements of the cliffs, your experience to another level. Those of a sensitive nature may wish to sit at the back if you decide to view ‘The Ledge’, a film shown on a wrap-around screen as the camera zooms around and down over the cliffs – it can induce vertigo!
The River Shannon Abha na Sionainne / an tSionainn / an tSionna
Shannon is Ireland’s longest river at 360.5 km (224 miles). In the geography of Ireland this body of water is a major physical barrier between east and west, with fewer than thirty crossing-points between Limerick city in the south and the village of Dowra in the north. So named after the goddess and granddaughter of Lir, Sionna (older spelling: Sínann or Sínand ) – Shannon has played a crucial role in Ireland’s history. This ancient waterway has been an important entry point to Ireland since antiquity, having first been mapped by the Graeco-Egyptian geographer Ptolemy.
According to the medieval Book of Lismore, the Shannon hosts a river monster named Cata, We are told that Senán, the patron saint of County Clare, defeated the monster at Inis Cathaigh. Cata is described as a large and gruesome monster with a horse’s mane, gleaming eyes, thick feet, nails of iron and a whale’s tail.
This busy Port on the Southern bank of the Shannon estuary has much to offer by way of history. A final landing site for planes bound for America in the 1930’s and 40’s, Foynes became one of Europes’ biggest civilian airports during WW2. Stop and visit the Flying Boat museum to learn more about this towns’ pivotal role in aviation history – Charles’ Lindberg’s famous “Flying Boats”. Foyne’s is also the place where the world-famous beverage known as “Irish Coffee” was first enjoyed – reputedly to alleviate the sufferings of cold and wet aviators of the late 1930’s.
Miltown Malbay (Kilfarboy) Cill Fear Buí “Stones of the Yellow Man”
To the east rises the summit of Slievecallan a place of ancient heritage.
From here, cliffs extend along the coastline as far as Spanish Point so called as part of the Spanish Armada was wrecked here on the coast.
On the south side of Slievecallan there is a large cromlech, or druidical altar which is well preserved. It is thought that this was dedicated to the sun, and it is called “Darby and Gráinne’s Bed” by the local people. There are two smaller cromlechs nearby, and the remains of a stone rath, or fort.
The town comes to life each year for the famous Willie Clancy Summer School – an annual celebration traditional music. Streets close and pubs swell and strain to the sounds of a thousand reels. This region is especially rich in musical heritage and the locals provide much in the way of encouragement for budding musicians.
Kilkee Cill Chaoi “Church of Chaoineadh Ita – lamentation for Ita”
The horseshoe bay in which the town is found is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by the Duggerna Reef. As you face onto the horseshoe shaped bay, take the path that leads away on the left-hand side. The beach gives way to flat rocks and you may see quite a few of the hardier locals who can be found swimming in the pools left by the receding tide. Here a yearly skinny dip for Cancer is held where brave survivors, patients, family and friends bite the cold Atlantic and bare all.
The path then takes a sharp turn upwards as the steep cliff faces come into view, with several stacks left isolated by erosion. Look closer and you will see that one of the stacks even has the ruin of a dwelling perched on the top! Once you’ve been to the windswept cliffs, return to the warmth and sample the fine cakes at the popular Diamond Rocks Café.
Kilkee was a small fishing village until a paddle steamer service was launched connecting the town with the busy merchant city of Limerick.
On 30 January 1836 a ship from Liverpool bound for New Orleans the Intrinsic was blown into a bay near Bishops Island in Kilkee. The ship was dashed repeatedly against the cliffs and sank along with her crew of 14, of whom none survived. The shipwreck site is now called ‘Intrinsic Bay’.
Exactly 50 years to the day after the Intrinsic sank, the Fulmar sank just north of Kilkee in an area known as Farrihy Bay on 30 January 1886, . The Fulmar was a cargo vessel transporting coal from Troon in Scotland to Limerick, but never reached its destination. Only one body was ever recovered of a crew of 17.
For golfing enthusiasts you will find a number of courses to choose from here. The East End of the town is home to an 18-hole golf course. The first and second tees overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the third tee overlooks Chimney Bay. Other golf clubs in close vicinity to the town are Doonbeg Golf Club and Lahinch Golf Club, both world renowned links courses.
Lahinch or Lehinch An Leacht or Leacht Uí Chonchubhair “The Memorial cairn of O’Connor”.
Lahinch is a small town on Liscannor Bay, on the northwest coast of Clare. A popular and celebrated seaside resort Lahinch is also home to the world-famous Golf club that bares its name. Also famous as a surfing location, here you can attend surfing school here or try out other popular water-sports such as windsurfing or kitesurfing.
The town has ancient origins having been recorded by the Annals of the Four Masters as Leith Innse – a variant of the Irish word for a peninsula leithinis (“half island”) referring to the village’s location between the Inagh River and the sea.
Liscannor Lios Ceannúir “ringfort of Ceannúr
Cill MacCreiche (Kilmacreehy) Church, dating to the 6th century, is celebrated as one of the most ancient ecclesiastical ruins in County Clare. According to legend, Baoth Bronach (king of ancient Corcomroe) gave the site for the church. It is said the inhabitants of the place, at the time, pointed out a spot on the strand, below the church, which they called Saint MacCreehy’s ”bed”.
Locals have claimed that further out along the coast to be the submerged church and town of Kilstapheen. Indeed, it is on record that shortly after the time of MacCreehy there was a tidal wave/earthquake that was responsible for the loss of some two thousand people on the Miltown Coast . If you wish to visit this enchanted island, you shall have to find the golden key of Kilstapheen which is said to lay under the tomb of Conan (one of Finn mac Cumhail warriors)!
A holy well dedicated to St. Bridgit Dabhach Bhríde is found near here by the Cliffs of Moher in an area of great scenic beauty. Behind the well on a higher level, to which steps lead, is an ancient cemetery in which the Uí Bhrian (‘O Briens), the Kings of Dál gCais, are buried.
The Spanish Armada
At least 30 ships of Philip of Spain’s mighty armada, sent to invade England in the summer of 1588, perished along the coast of Ireland, mainly along the western seaboard. The oar-powered galleass Zuñiga anchored off-shore at Liscannor with a broken rudder, having found a gap in the Cliffs of Moher. The ship came under surveillance by the sheriff of Clare and by crown forces and had to withdraw to their ship. One captive was taken and sent for interrogation. The Zuñiga escaped the coast with favorable winds, moored at le Havre, and finally made it home to Naples in the following year.
A charming seaside town set against the rugged Atlantic, Doolin’s proximity to the bare limestone of the Burren makes it a place of breathtaking beauty. This town bears an international ambience and sure practice in giving a warm welcome to visitors. Here you are a mere 8km from the Cliffs of Moher. Another noted surfing location- a break which generates Irelands biggest wave, ‘Aill na Searrach’, can be seen here just off the Cliffs of Moher and featured in the film “waveriders”.
A centre for Irish traditional music, you will find sessions nightly in the pubs here. There are numerous nearby archaeological sites, many dating to the Iron Age. The castles of Doonagore and Ballinalacken are not far away.
The Great Stalactite, measuring 7.3 metres discovered in 1952 is to be seen in Doolin Cave, thought to be the longest stalactite in the Northern hemisphere.
Doonbeg An Dún beag “The little Fort”
A quiet and picturesque village, Doonbeg sports the world-renowned Trump International Golf Club and fine sandy beaches. From here you can embark on a number of loop walks of varying challenge through the wild and captivating scenery.
For ice-cream flavoured with sea buckthorn, wild hazelnuts, Burren stout or ‘Irish Coconut (yellow gorse flowers) why not visit Bríd and Roger Fahy’s Café Linnalla (linnallaicecrea.ie) on Clare’s Flaggy Shore.
Fanore Fánóir, Fán Óir “the golden slope”
With a fabulous sandy beach set against the dramatic burren landscape, Fanore is a memorable spot to relax and be refreshed in the wild Atlantic air. For those familiar with Irish television, the Father Ted series often featured scenes filmed in Fanore and its surrounding villages.
Ballyvaughan Baile Uí Bheacháin “Ó Beachán’s townland”
Ballyvaughan is a charming harbour village in the northwest corner of the Burren.
Here you can visit celtic ring forts such as Caherconnell Stone Fort, medieval churches and castles. Another point of interest is the famous Poulnabrone dolmen of megalithic origins, located 8km south of the town.
Why not take and air and join the many Botanists and Naturalists who are to be found roaming this lunar landscape. You may be rewarded with a glimpse of the rare Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants that grow in profusion over the limestone pavements of the Burren.
If you are adventurous you can visit Aillwee Cave, a show cave over 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) long. More serious enthusiasts will want to venture further to explore Poll na gColm (the Pigeon hole), Faunarooska, and the Cullaun series of caves.
Quin Cuinche “five ways”
Once upon a time there were five roads out of this village – and this gave rise to the name. Today, the ruined but still impressive, Quin Abbey, is classed as one of the finest and most complete remains of monastic antiquity in Ireland and is open to the public. The present ruined Abbey was founded in 1433 and housed many Franciscan monks until 1820 when the last monk, Father Hogan, died. The abbey was built on the foundations of an earlier Norman castle and the foundations of its corner towers are still to be seen.
Earlier remains of a monastic settlement date to 1250 but this was burned to the ground in 1278. Quin was a Prehistoric centre for skilled Irish metalworkers and gold in particular.
Spanish Point Rinn na Spáinneach
Named after the Spanish who died here in 1588. Ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked off the rugged coastline in high seas. Spanish point golf course here is over 110 years old.
Thomas Moroney built the Atlantic Hotel here in the early nineteenth century. For a time it was renowned as the largest hotel in the British Isles and a holiday resort of the aristocracy. Today, only a small portion of the hotel’s ruin remains, a memento from a bygone era.
Spanish Point continues to supply world class accommodation and fine dining. You will have plenty of opportunities to sample the fantastic local seafood fare.