Things to do
There are so many things to do in Clare and probably you will find the best yourself but here are some suggestions:
Holy Island derives its name from 'Inis Cealtra', meaning the 'island of the burial ground; or island of monastic cells'. The island lies about 1km from the mainland and 2km from Mountshannon.
An historic island with its roots in Christianity and Pre-Christian times. Pilgrims travelled here for hundreds of years right up to the mid 19th century. Inis Cealtra is associated with several Irish saints of the sixth and seventh centuries most notably St Caimin who founded a monastery here in the 7th century. The Vikings burned the monastery in 836 and again in 922. In this period the remains of the Western Roman Empire were being over-run by mostly non-Christian tribes. But Ireland kept Christianity alive in the outlying parts of Western Europe. Celtic monks later reintroduced Christianity to Northern Britain and several other parts of Europe. It remained in active occupation until the 13th century despite numerous attacks from Norse raiders and others.
The island is also associated with the famous Irish chieftain Brian Boru. His brother was abbot here and Brian is said to have built one of the churches on the island.
The 50-acre island boasts the remains of no less than 5 churches, early monastic cells, a cemetery, (not one of the 80 or so marked graves is later than 12th century), In one of the graves lie the remains of 10 men, who were probably butchered together by the Norsemen. The dominant feature on the island is an 80-foot tall round tower.
You can walk among the ruins of Churches, Round Tower and Crosses dated before 1000AD. Romanesque Arches from the 12th century can also be seen. It continued as a place of pilgrimage up until fairly recently and is still very much revered as a holy place by people of the locality.
Among its other attractions are, bullaun stones, grave slabs, holy well and bargaining stones.
East Clare Heritage Centre
East Clare is home to St. Cronan's church at Tuamgraney the oldest church in continuous use in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. It was built prior to 964 AD. The doorway through which the legendary King of Ireland, Brian Boru, entered over 1000 years ago is still intact. The building houses a heritage centre and folk museum.
The Aistear Iniscealtra
The Aistear Iniscealtra is a 4.5 acre Community Park, situated in the centre of Mountshannon village between the main street and the harbour. Pedestrian access has been developed from the harbour to the village via a walkway. Over five hundred trees and shrubs have been planted along this walk.
Inside and to the left of the main entrance gate is a play area for children. As one moves forward along the pathway one encounters the Maze, which is the main feature of the Aistear. The Maze is a pathway or pilgrimage through time, measured by the history of spirituality in Ireland. There are seven distinct periods or time spans during the journey depicting the spiritual evolutionary process. The project is based on the concept of spirituality in Ireland from prehistoric times, through to the modern era, an aspect of our culture that deserves to be celebrated and acknowledged. Seven periods are reflected within the maze, displaying contemporary relics and artefacts, which draw together these beliefs. The result is an engaging and informative exploration of Irish spirituality over 9,000 years.
Playgrounds in East Clare are located in, Tulla, Scariff, Mountshannon, Killaloe, Feakle and O'Briensbridge.
Knappogue Castle & Gardens, Quin: Knappogue Castle is located in Quin, in a truly picturesque setting, surrounded by tranquil landscapes and the rolling hills of Clare. Beautiful Victorian and walled gardens surround the castle where one can relax or enjoy a peaceful stroll. Medieval Banquets are held in the castle twice nightly from April - October
Cragganowen, Quin: Situated on 50 acres of wooded grounds, Cragganowen interprets Ireland's pre-historic and early Christian eras with the restoration and re-construction of earlier forms of dwelling houses, farmsteads, hunting sites and other features of everyday life during the pre-historic and early christian eras.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park: Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland. The world renowned Bunratty Medieval Banquet is held twice nightly throughout the year. Bunratty Folk Park, recreates rural and urban life in 19th century victorian Ireland. There is an extensive array of vernacular buildings and traditional jobs and crafts are also represented. Costumed characters that recreate the traditions and lifestyle of a bygone age animate the Folk Park. Open to visitors all year around.
Killaloe Heritage & Brian Boru Centre, Killaloe. Killaloe Heritage Centre explores the theme of Celtic Ireland. In and around this town, the birth place of Brian Boru (940-1014) the greatest High King of Ireland who subdued the Vikings and progenitor of the O'Brien Clan, one can learn about the arrival of Christianity and the monastic tradition, as well as the development of the river Shannon as a transport system from earliest times.
East Clare Heritage Centre, Tuamgraney: Tuamgraney is one of the most notable, ecclesiastical and historic places in Ireland. It's pagan past is recorded in its townland names, in pillar stones and holy wells. Its monastic past is recorded in the annals and in the lives of the saints. Visitors can avail of a guided tour and see the many attractions including a well perserved round tower, the ruins of six churches, a holy well and the saints graveyard.
Cliffs of Moher: Standing 214 metres above the ground at their highest point and 8km long, the Cliffs of Moher boast one of the most amazing views in Ireland. On a clear day, the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as the valleys and hills of Connemara.
Aillwee Cave: Unlike the vast caverns you may have encountered, Aillwee Cave is unique to the geology of the Burren and it enables you to explore a little of what lies under the exciting landscape. Open to Visitors all year round.
Burren Centre: The Burren Centre gives you the visitor an introduction to the visual delights and ancient mysteries of the unique limestone region of the Burren.
King John's Castle Kings Island, Limerick City
King John's Castle is a 13th century Castle on 'King's Island' in the heart of medieval Limerick City. The Castle overlooks the majestic River Shannon offering wonderful views of Limerick City. Discover history at its best, magnificent views and life in Norman times. Explore 800 years of history brought to life in the imaginative historical exhibition, excavated pre-Norman houses, fortifications, siege mines, and the battlement walks.
The Hunt Museum
The Hunt Museum has on display antiquities ranging from pre-dynastic Egypt to Irish archaeological works to fine art of the 20th Century. On display is the Antrim cross of about 800 A.D., a drawing by Picasso and the rearing horse attributed to Leonardo d.
A Stunning Underworld Experience. Doolin Cave is one of Europe's most compelling cave attractions. It is a truly authentic experience. 'The Great Stalactite' It is your only opportunity to see such a large free hanging stalactite anywhere in the world.
Loophead Lighthouse Kilbaha, Co.Clare
Situated at the tip of the Loophead Peninsula where the Shannon River meets the Atlantic Ocean this iconic lighthouse tower is now open to the public. For a small fee the visitor can take a guided tour up the tower and can go out onto the balcony at the very top. From this balcony one can see as far south as the Blasket Islands in Kerry and as for north as the Twelve Bens in Galway – a remarkable and unforgettable vista.
Seaside resorts of Co. Clare: Kilkee, Kilrush, and Spanish Point.
Blue Flag Beaches: Ballycuggeran (freshwater bathing area on Lough Derg near Killaloe), Mountshannon (freshwater bathing area on Lough Derg)