County Clare, Ireland
area at t ractions
p rov i d e d
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Whether you’re looking for a day away from the links or something to keep the family busy, the
area around Doonbeg has lots to offer, so it’s easy to get out there and enjoy County Clare.
The summer months bring all sorts of events and festivals such as the Willie Keane Festival
(traditional music and Irish set dancing), the Doonbeg Jazz Festival, and the Doonbeg Family
Festival as well as active pursuits such as horse riding, surfing, sailing, kayaking, cycling, canoeing,
windsurfing, orienteering, and archery.
To get a real feel for the country, explore a bit. The story goes that you can’t find Ireland but have
to let it find you. However … there’s no harm in having a good look for it around the quirky yet
quaint villages that dot the countryside. They are so perfect that you could be forgiven for thinking
that you had stumbled onto film sets. Convince yourself you haven’t by strolling the streets or
entering into one of the very many pubs that are liberally sprinkled about and immersing yourself
in conversation with a local.
If you fancy going further afield, there are reportedly over 300 castles, 250 ancient churches,
seven cathedrals, thousands of earthen and stone forts, more than 100 megalithic tombs, a
dozen monasteries plus plenty of stone crosses, round towers, and an assortment of fascinating
monuments. And that’s just in western Ireland! (source, www.tourclare.com) And when you’ve
seen all of them, you shouldn’t forget the beauties of County Clare, such as the Burren, the Aran
Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, and indeed the entire southern coastline of Clare.
Please contact the concierge for details and/or assistance in planning an excursion.
Telephone: +353 65 9055600
(in the Lodge, simply press the “Concierge” button on your Suite’s telephone)
Email: [email protected]
natural beauty
Natural beauty abounds in West Clare, with many sights just a short trip from Doonbeg. Some of
the more popular ones include:
The Cliffs of Moher
The majestic Cliffs of Moher, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, are one of Ireland’s most spectacular
sights. Located just north of Lahinch, the Cliffs rise from the Atlantic to heights of 214 m and
stretch for 8 km along the coast.
The Cliffs claim one of the most astonishing views in Ireland, and on a clear day the Aran
Islands are visible in Galway Bay as well as are the valleys and hills of Connemara. While many
visitors walk along the cliffs to take in these spectacular views, the scale and beauty of the cliffs
can best be appreciated when viewed from sea level. Cruises along the cliffs, allowing viewing
from this vantage point, run from Doolin. The sailing schedule is from April to October with sailing
times depending on tides.
Contact Information:
Website: www.cliffs-of-moher-cruises.com
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club to The Cliffs of Moher, approximately 45 minutes.
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club to Doolin for Cliffs of Moher cruise, approximately 1 hour.
Aran Islands
The Aran Islands, three small islands (Inisheer, Inishmaan, and Inishmore) located off the coast of
the Burren, are ideal destinations for a day trip from Doonbeg. Inisheer boasts an abundance of
nesting birds, Inishmaan is a botanist’s dream, home to over 300 flowering plants, and Inishmore
is highly regarded for its ancient stone forts and churches.
Ferry service is available from Doolin Pier. The crossing takes less than 30 minutes to the
nearest island, Inisheer, and there are several sailings daily from April to September. The crossing
to Inishmore takes approximately one hour.
Contact Information:
Aran Islands Tourist Office
Telephone: +353 99 61263
Website: www.visitaranislands.com
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club to Doolin Pier, approximately 1 hour.
©Fáilte Ireland
©Fáilte Ireland
The Burren
A vast limestone plateau occupying an area of over one hundred square miles in North Clare, the
Burren is home to various flora, both native species and those found only in other parts of the
world, as well as many species of animals and birds. Whilst in the Burren area, you may also want
to visit:
Burren Smokehouse
See salmon being freshly smoked, and visit the gourmet store for cheeses, wines, and, of course,
smoked salmon!
Contact Information:
Telephone: Fax: Email: Website: +353 65 7074432
+353 65 7074303
[email protected]
www. burrensmokehouse.ie
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club to The Burren Smokehouse is approximately 40 minutes.
Burren Perfumery and Floral Centre
See essential oils being distilled and blended, tour the unique herb garden which contains a large
selection of native and exotic plants, and enjoy delicious, organic cuisine in the rose covered Tea
Rooms in the grounds of the Perfumery.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Email: Website: +353 65 7089102
burrenperfum[email protected]
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 1 hour.
Aillwee Cave
Situated in the Burren, �����������������������������������������������������������������������������
Aillwee is one of the most ancient caves in the area and perhaps in Ireland.
Unique to the geology of the Burren, Aillwee enables you to explore a little of what lies under this
exciting landscape.�����������������������������������������������������������������������������
Informative guides take visitors along a lit, paved route through 1.3 km of
passageways, stopping to view animal remains, waterfalls, and numerous cave formations.
For the energetic, a walk up Aillwee Mountain is well worth the effort, revealing a spectacular
view of Galway Bay, over to the Maam Mountains, and beyond.
At the end of your visit, call in to the Farm Shop and sample Aillwees’ award winning cheeses,
local honey, and homemade fudge.
Contact Information:
Website: www.aillweecave.ie
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Gold Club, approximately 1 hour. Tour Duration: 30 minutes.
Doolin Cave
Doolin Cave is home to a wondrous geological phenomenon, The Great Stalactite. Measuring
almost 7 m in length, it is one of the largest free hanging stalactites in the world and the longest
stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. Even more impressive is that it is held on by a section of
calcite less than 0.3 m square.
Contact Information:
Website: +���������������
353 65 7075761
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 1 hour. Tour Duration: 45 minutes.
Whilst in the Doolin area, you may also want to visit the �����������������������������������������
Doolin Crafts Gallery��������������������
, ������������������
a unique shopping
experience featuring anything from women’s designer scarves to contemporary pottery and even
a restaurant with wonderful home cooked meals.
Western Ireland has so many historical sites that visiting them all would be quite
a task for even the most dedicated history buff. We recommend a few to get you
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Bunratty, Co Clare
Tour the 15th-century castle and its grounds then see the Folk Park which recreates rural life in
19th-century Victorian Ireland complete with vernacular buildings, examples of traditional crafts,
and costumed characters. Stay on into the evening for the four-course Medieval Banquet. Start
the night with a goblet or two of mead and after the banquet sit back and enjoy the harp and fiddle
The Medieval Banquet can also be enjoyed at Knappogue Castle, Quin, a magnificent example
of a medieval tower house. The castle is open from April to October. Take time before the banquet
to stroll in the beautifully restored 19th-century walled garden.
Contact Information:
Shannon Heritage Centre
Telephone: +353 61 360788
Fax: +353 61 361020
Website: www.shannonheritage.com
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 1 hour.
©Fáilte Ireland
©Fáilte Ireland
Dunguaire Castle��, ������������������
Kinvara, Co Clare
Dunguaire Castle is a small 17th-century castle built on a rocky promontory, an inspirational
site commanding the shores of the majestic Galway Bay, and situated 300 yards outside Kinvara
Village. The castle, famed in song and story, has been restored and now gives an insight into the
lifestyle of the people who lived from 1520 to modern times.
Open daily from mid April ��– ���������
Contact Information:
Shannon Heritage Centre
Telephone: +353 61 360788
Fax: +353 61 361020
Website: www.shannonheritage.com
Journey Information:
Located 300 yards outside Kinvara Village on the coast road towards Galway.
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 1 hour 40 minutes (53 miles).
Coole Park and Gardens, Loughrea, Co Galway
Coole Park was once the home of Lady Augusta Gregory, dramatist, folklorist, and co-founder of
the Abbey Theatre with Edward Martyn of Tullira Castle and Nobel prize-winning poet William
Butler Yeats. As the centre of the Irish Literary Revival in the early 20th century, Yeats, George
Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge, and Sean O’Casey all came to experience its magic.
Although the house no longer stands, two trails guide visitors through the surroundings that
originally drew so many here. “The Family Trail” is an easy 1.75 km walk, taking you past the deer
pen, to the site of the house, and into the walled garden to see the Autograph Tree, an old beech
where the poets carved their initials. The 4.5 km “Seven Woods Trail” connects the different woods
made famous in poetry by Yeats. Depending on the season, you might see bluebells and violets,
jays and tree creepers, red squirrels and stoats, butterflies and dragonflies, or swans and other
wetland birds.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Fax: Email: Website: +353 91 631804
+353 91 631653
[email protected]
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
Vandeleur Walled Gardens, Kilrush, Co Clare
Beautifully constructed old stone walls contain this sheltered walled garden, once the garden of
Kilrush House, home to the Vandeleur landlords. Set among 420 acres of native woodland, this
“forgotten garden” hadn’t been cultivated for many years until restoration work began in 1997.
The gardens include beautiful water features, a tree collection, a horizontal maze, and the
Vandeleur Glasshouse which provides for the propagation of unusual and tender plant species.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Fax: Email: Website: +353 65 9051760 +353 65 9052821 [email protected]
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 20 minutes.
Quin Abbey, Quin, Co Clare
Just 5 miles from Ennis, the Abbey, which dates to the 15th century, is one of the best of its kind
in Ireland. The structure of the well-preserved Abbey can be toured inside as well as outside in
the grounds.
Journey Information:
Journey time from Ennis to Quin Abbey, approximately 20 minutes.
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club to Quin Abbey, approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
Scattery Island, from Kilrush, Co Clare
The monastery on Scattery Island was founded by St. Senan in the early 6th century and consists
of a round tower and several churches. There is a small visitor centre on the island and guided
tours are available free of charge. Although the last of the Scattery islanders, who were river
pilots and expert currach handlers, left for the mainland in 1978, the ruins of the island village
and several churches remain.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Cell phone: Fax: Email: Website: +353 65 9052072
+353 87 2318730
+353 65 9051692
[email protected]
Journey Information:
Scattery Island is a 20 minute sailing from the Kilrush Creek Marina (April to October).
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club to Kilrush, 20 minutes.
The area around Doonbeg provides endless opportunities for the whole family.
Our Lodge concierge is happy to arrange excursions.
See the landscape and coastline of Co. Clare at an easy pace by hiring a bicycle and touring
some of the Loop Head or Dolphin Cycleway. Both routes travel along hedge-lined minor country
roads providing panoramic cliff and sea views and pass through rural villages along the way.
For the more cautious biker or those who lack knowledge of the Irish road systems, Loop Head
Adventures also offers the option of hiring a guide for the day.
Contact Information:
Loop Head Adventures
Telephone +353 87 6640605
[email protected]
Website: www.westclare.com
Whether you prefer deep sea fishing or fly fishing, our Lodge concierge can arrange a
knowledgeable guide for an unforgettable day.
Offshore Fishing
Local guide Luke Aston offers chartered fishing trips for up to 12 people. Aston leaves from the
Carrigaholt Harbor and heads into the estuary which proves to be ideal fishing ground. On his
trips, one can hope to catch Mackerel and Whiting, and even the elusive Big Cod, Pollock, or Ling
along with many others.
Contact Information:
Telephone: +353 65 9058209
Direct to Skipper:+353 87 6367544
Website: www.fishandstay.com
Offshore and Inshore Fishing
Michael Bourke offers many options, whether you’re interested in hitting the high seas and landing
one of 20+ species or trying your hand with a fly rod on an area river for salmon and trout. Michael
leads chartered trips, shore angling trips, and even whale and bird watching trips. Bourke and his
crew also are able to accommodate children on their trips.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Cell phone: Website: +353 65 9056363
+353 86 1955991
An excellent way to experience and explore the unique landscape of the Burren is through a guided
walks. Several operators specialise in organizing walks in the area.
Heart of Burren Walks
Based in the east of the Burren, Heart of Burren Walks offers half day, day long, and weekend
walking breaks through some of the more remote and beautiful parts of the Burren. Tailor made
walks of a particular duration or on a specific theme are also available on request. Contact Information:
Telephone: Mobile:
Website: +353 656827707
+353 87 2925487
Burren Wild
Starting out from a traditional farm house, these daily walking tours are suitable for the whole
family, are tailored to suit every level of ability, and allow visitors to become connected to
Ireland’s unique landscape, people, and culture through walking. Each tour covers a broad range
of interests such as Irish history, the archaeology of the Burren and its unique botany, story
telling, and folk traditions.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Email: Website: +353 87 8779565
[email protected]
Burren Hill Walks
These walks, an ideal introduction to the geology, natural history, botany, archaeology, history,
agriculture, and conservation of the region are led by Shane Connolly, an experienced walking
leader in the Burren whose interests include place names, stone wall construction, and folklore.
Most Burren flora and many archaeological sites are encountered on routes which take the visitor
to the heart of the Burren. The walks explore different areas of the Burren and last from 1 to 6
hours. Most can be completed by all age groups, with some requiring good footwear.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Mobile: Email: Website: ©Fáilte Ireland
+353 65 7077168
+353 85 2654810
[email protected]
©Fáilte Ireland
Horse Riding
Perhaps you’d rather let someone else do the walking and take in the countryside on horseback.
The Willie Daly Riding School (Ennistymon)
The school caters both to the beginner and the more experienced rider by offering one, two, and
three hour rides. A lead instructor will take you along the haunted house ride (one hour), on a
trek through a very scenic mountain bog (two hours), or around a beautiful lake (three hours). As
an aside, Willie is a renowned third generation matchmaker – you may wish to avail of this service
as well!
Contact Information:
Telephone: +353 65 7071385
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 45 minutes.
Danganelly Equestrian Centre (Cooraclare)
Ann Danganelly and her son, David, offer great hospitality a little closer to Doonbeg. On a horse
matched to your build and experience, novice riders can trek along quiet country while the more
experienced head for Drumellihy Hill.
Contact Information:
Telephone: +353 65 9059213
Journey Information:
Journey time from Doonbeg Golf Club, approximately 20 minutes.
Kilrush Creek Marina
The full-service marina offers yacht chartering and sail training on yachts, keelboats, and dinghies.
For the experienced sailor, the marina also offers weekend races.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Mobile: Fax: Email: Website: +353 65 9052072
+353 87 2318730
+353 65 9051692
[email protected]
©Fáilte Ireland
The two-mile beach in Lahinch is a mecca for surfers, and caters to all levels of ability with its
variety of breaks. Go it alone or take a lesson with an experienced instructor.
Contact Information:
Lahinch Surf School
Telephone: +353 65 7082061
Mobile: +353 87 9609667
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.lahinchsurfschool.com
Ocean Scene Surf Shop
Telephone: Email: Website: +353 65 7081108
[email protected]
Stuarts Surf School (The Green Room)
Telephone Mobile: Email: Website: +353 65 6836986
+353 87 9833018 or +353 87 9833019
[email protected]
The coast of Clare has several safe, sandy beaches. The main resorts are Lahinch, Kilkee, White
Strand at Doonbeg, and Fanore (near Ballyvaughan). All are Blue Flag beaches, achieving EU high
standards of safety and cleanliness. The beach at Doughmore Strand in Doonbeg, while beautiful,
is not a safe swimming beach although it is popular with some local surfers who may know the
strong currents and pitfalls. Indoor swimming is available nearby.
Lahinch Sea World and Leisure Centre
Contact Information:
+353 65 7081900
Kilkee Waterworld (with other fun features besides the pool)
Contact Information:
+353 65 9056855
Dolphin Watching
Climb aboard at Kilrush or Carrigaholt for a two hour trip to watch dolphins at the mouth of
the Shannon River. Learn all about the dolphins, seabirds, marine life, and coastal landmarks. If
conditions allow, listen to the underwater dolphin sounds on the hydrophone!
From Kilrush Marina; daily from April to October.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Fax: E-mail:
Website: +353 65 9051327 +353 65 9051327 [email protected]
From Carrigaholt; daily from April to September.
Contact Information:
Telephone: E-mail:
Website: +353 65 9058156
[email protected]
Gaelic Games
When it comes to Gaelic Games, the County of Clare is split in two over its sporting preferences, with
hurling belonging to the people of the East and Gaelic football belonging to the people of the West.
During the summer months in Doonbeg and many other small towns and villages along the
West Clare coast, players young and old can be seen practising their Gaelic football and hurling
skills – either for fun or in local club competition matches. Sundays tend to be competition days,
both locally and at a national level.
Ennis, Co. Clare hosts club and inter-county hurling and football games in its stadium at
Cusack Park (the website to visit for local and county match fixtures is www.claregaa.ie). If you’re
looking to go further afield, neighbouring Co. Limerick plays host to inter-county hurling and
football matches at Páirc na nGael. Of course, for the All Ireland semi finals and finals in both
sports, the venue is the newly revamped 80,000 seat stadium at Croke Park in Dublin.
©Fáilte Ireland
Hurling is a fast paced outdoor sport in which players use a “hurley” or their hands to hit a sliothar
(small leather ball) while attempting to score downfield. The “Banner County” of Clare excels in
the sport, winning at All Ireland level in 1995 and 1997. However, they have failed to “find form”
since and their last All Ireland appearance was in 2002 when they lost to “The Kilkenny Cats.”
Gaelic Football
Gaelic football, not to be confused with rugby, dates back to the year 1537 with the modern version
being in play since 1887. Inter-county matches are generally played throughout the spring and
summer months, culminating in the All Ireland Final which is held on the third or fourth Sunday
of September each year.
Although the popularity for rugby is not that of hurling or Gaelic football, the recent successes
of the Irish National Rugby Team and the Munster and Leinster club rugby teams have given rise
to renewed interest in the sport. It is played all over Ireland during the winter months through to
the end of March.
The best place to catch a rugby match is Thomond Park in Limerick City, a stadium renowned
for its unique history and atmosphere. The home of Munster rugby, teams visiting Thomond Park
can expect to be treated to the “deafening silence” of the crowd which is by turns respectful and
totally unnerving – resulting in many “would be” point scorers sending the ball totally in the wrong
direction! For more information and schedules, please visit www.claregaa.ie.
(Source: www.wikipedia.com, www.claregaa.ie)
Cooking Classes
Local restaurant and guest house Berry Lodge at Spanish Point offers cooking classes to those
interested parties on a monthly basis (or by demand if a party of 6 or more is interested).
Check online or with the concierge for cooking classes available during your stay at Doonbeg.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Email:
+353 65 708 7022
[email protected]
Picnic Areas
Breathtaking scenery awaits you, and what better way to enjoy it than with a picnic! The concierge will be happy to arrange a basket complete with a bottle of wine and get you on your way.
The Leen, White Strand, Miltown Malbay
Leave Doonbeg and continue on N67 entering Miltown Malbay. Continue on the N67 approximately
2 miles and you will see signs for White Strand. Situated in a semi-circular bay which is guarded
on either side by low cliffs, this is a small beach with a rocky shoreline. Walk along the cliff and
head to the area locally known as the Leen for the most amazing scenery. You may even be lucky
enough to see the dolphin that calls these waters home.
Eagle’s Rock, Carran
Carran has always been known as the heart of the Burren, as it is located 8 to 9 miles from every
village around the edge of it (Kilfenora, Corofin, Ballyvaughan, New Quay, Tubber, and Kinvara).
The Carran area, with its wild and romantic scenery, is known locally as “The Eagle’s Nest”
and is situated about 7 miles south east of New Quay and close to the Burren Perfumery and
Cassidy’s Pub. A particularly enchanting and spiritual spot is “Eagle’s Rock,” a lovely place for
a picnic.
From Doonbeg Golf Club turn left onto the main road and continue along N67 through Quilty,
Milltown Malbay, and Ennistymon. About 6 km from Ennistymon turn right onto the R481 to
Kilfenora. In Kilfenora, turn right onto the R476 and continue along on that route for approximately
4 km. Turn left onto the R480 (signposted for Carran). Pass Cassidy’s Pub and continue until you
reach a sign for the Nature Reserve. Park here on the side of the road, go through the gate, and
walk beside the wall down the path until you are directly across from the small, clean crag (about
15 minutes). Leave the pavement beside a large boulder, head through the hazel wood to reach
the crag. There is a prayer tree here at the focal point of Eagle’s Rock.
Another small bay on the N67 from Doonbeg to Lahinch and close by Spanish Point is Cladagh.
Again, if you take a walk along the headland here the scenery is fantastic. Add to that the clear
waters and peaceful atmosphere, and you have the perfect picnic setting.
The Burren College of Art is an internationally recognized not-for-profit charitable trust committed
to the initial education of artists, and to their continuing professional development. The College,
located in the grounds of a 16th-century castle in the stunning Burren landscape, offers graduate,
undergraduate, and artist residency programmes to students and artists from around the world.
Contact Information:
Telephone: Fax: Email: Website:
©Fáilte Ireland
+353 65 7077200
+353 65 7077201
[email protected]
Jump in the car and explore. Even though the roads twist and turn and the
signs at times can be bewildering, it is actually pretty hard to get lost around
Doonbeg. And if you should manage it, call it an adventure. This is a great way
to see the country. Drives courtesy of www.shannonregiontourism.ie.
Loophead Peninsula − Tour the Coast
The Loophead Peninsula incorporates natural beauty, tranquillity, and
breathtaking coastal scenery. Yet few people seem to know about
or find it. There are no shops or interpretive centres, indeed
precious few buildings, and you may well be alone as you
drive along or get out to walk the cliffs.
Beginning your journey from Doonbeg Golf Club,
from the main entrance take a right turn and
follow that round into the village of
Doonbeg itself. At Morrissey’s
pub take a left turn and head
out the road to Kilrush.
The town of Kilrush
Drive begins and ends in Doonbeg
developed as a subLoophead
Suggested Route
stantial seaport early in
the 19th century and
the central part of the town is a broad mall, leading down a gentle hill slope from the Town Hall at
the top to the harbour at the bottom. Some of the dignified, three-storey houses which line it have
fine gardens behind them, and there is an air of restrained opulence about it all. The newly painted
Town Hall has an exhibition devoted mainly to the harder times of the middle and late 19th century
when some singularly unpleasing landlords held sway.
A little way offshore is Scattery Island from whence a sea serpent was banished by St. Senan
who celebrated his achievement by building a monastery there in the 6th century. A round
tower and ruins of many of the buildings remain. The present day sea beasts are gentler than the
legendary serpent; a community of dolphins lives in the Shannon estuary. Scattery Island Ferries
are based at the Marina and operate daily trips (20 minutes) to the island during the summer. In
the off season, you can make local arrangements for the trip. Down near the quayside the Scattery
Island Interpretive Centre is open June to mid-September.
The coast road takes you to Carrigaholt, a small fishing village on two streets with many pubs
and restaurants. The first sight of the village is quite dramatic, as the 15th-century castle, built
by the McMahon clan in 1480, stands beside a stone pier framed by the lower Shannon estuary as
it meets the Atlantic Ocean. Carrigaholt, meaning “Rock of the Fleet,” still provides the first safe
anchorage for ships as they enter the Shannon. Due to its location on this remote peninsula, there
is an island feel to the area, unspoiled and refreshingly underdeveloped. Visit the information
centre in the village square, then go to the Castle Pier where you can catch one of the daily
dolphin watching trips or stop in at the only fresh fish shop in West Clare for wild Atlantic salmon
and shellfish.
The coastline westward from Carrigaholt assumes a more dramatic character with high cliffs
sculpted by Atlantic storms where cliff pastures, rock ledges, and caves are homes to seabirds,
seals, and a flock of wild goats. A premier European bird watching area, look for birds uncommon
elsewhere like choughs, Europe’s rarest member of the crow family, and peregrine falcons.
The road leads you through the village of Cross, which affords a fine view of the mouth of the
Shannon and the Kerry Mountains. Away to the south you can see Mount Brandon, the mountain
sacred to St. Brendan the Navigator, and beyond it, the Blasket Islands.
After 1 km the road splits. Take the left fork along the south shore and carry on to the tiny
village of Kilbaha, the last parish before America. A further 2 km west will bring you to the end
of the peninsula and to the Loop Head Lighthouse. Here you can stretch your legs amongst the
spectacular wild flora and scenery of Loop Head. See Cuchulan’s Leap, a sea stack broken away
from the tip of the head and the nestling ground for thousands of kittiwakes and fulmars. This is
also a good location to look out for migrating whales such as minke and fin whales.
Unless your car has wings, you can go no further. Turn back towards the north and take the
first fork to the left and next turn to the right to go to the church that you can see nearly as soon as
you leave the Head. Here rests the Little Ark, one of the most touching relics of times of religious
intolerance. It seems the landlord who owned the country for many miles around would not allow
Mass to be celebrated on his property. However, as he did not own the beach between high and low
tides, at low tide the priest and the people would wheel the Ark, a wooden shelter originally supported on four wheels, down to the foreshore and worship not only in peace but with well deserved
satisfaction. There is a lovely stained glass window of the scene above the door in the church.
Turn back towards the north and park your car where a signpost indicates the Bridges of
Ross, a geological phenomenon where natural rock bridges connect towering cliffs to rocky
outcrops, passing high above the Atlantic. The car park gives a view of rugged cliffs, backed by
folded limestone strata, weathered in places so that the impression is of sculpture rather than
forces of nature. Follow the narrow footpath for half a mile to see the wonderful natural arch,
spanning a narrow cleft in the rock.
Then take the road along the ridge of the peninsula in the direction of Kilkee, a popular
resort established in the glorious days of the West Clare Railway and immortalised in song by
Percy French. (Near Moyasta, between Kilkee and Kilrush you can travel on-board the Old West
Clare Railway). Situated on the Atlantic facing a scenic semi-circular sweep of sand which slopes
into the bay, Kilkee enjoys the warmth of the Gulf Stream, and is protected from the might of the
Atlantic by a reef across the mouth of the bay.
Back to Doonbeg? Then head on the N67 out of Kilkee. Travel about 9.5 km and you will arrive
back in Doonbeg Village. From the village, continue straight for another 4 km. The entrance to
Doonbeg Golf Club will be on your left…look for the flags!
A Drive around the Wondrous Burren
The northwestern corner of County Clare, bordered by the Atlantic ocean and the quieter waters
of Galway Bay, is a rock garden of no ordinary proportions. The Burren extends over more than a
hundred square miles and most of it is bare, pale grey limestone. If there were nothing but rock,
a tour might become tedious, if spectacular for a while. But the rock is enlivened by big or small
patches of green pasture or little pieces of hazel woodland. On the pasture, and in the many
crevices in the pavement of rocks, there are countless wild flowers making the region a mass of
colour. Besides all this, it is mountainous, has a wonderful seashore, and is liberally scattered
with the monuments created by its human inhabitants in the course of six thousand years. At its
best on a sunny day in May when the greatest numbers of wild flowers are in bloom, the Burren is
unique and worth a visit any time of year.
From Doonbeg take a left onto the main road and continue on that road until you get to a
T junction. Take a left at the junction towards Quilty on the N67. Pass through Quilty, Milltown
Black Head
Malbay and Ennistymon (approx 37 km in total). After
Ennistymon take a right onto the R481 and continue onto
the town of Kilfenora.
Ailwee Caves
Our route makes a circuit of the Burren, beginning
at the ancient cathedral town of Kilfenora, which
is 45km from Doonbeg. There you may visit the
Burren Centre, located in a white-washed village
school house, which features an excellent
interpretative centre explaining the wonders
of the Burren Region. Kilfenora itself is a
very interesting place having enjoyed fame
as a great religious centre. Much of the old
cathedral remains, together with a fine
sculptured high cross.
The road westward leads through Lisdoonvarna, which doesn’t quite fit in with
the wilderness, but does have lots of good
shops and restaurants and various kinds
of entertainment. Its popularity stems
from the nearby mineral springs and spa
where you may indulge in all sorts
of health treatments. A popular watering
place since the 18th century, LisdoonQuilty
varna offers a distinctive form of
therapy for lonely hearts in the form
Drive begins and ends in Doonbeg
of a matchmaking festival every
Suggested Route
Signposts for Fanore and
Black Head show the way to the
coast, passing Ballynalacken
Castle, perched on a cliff top.
The coast road is very welcoming
to visitors and more than one fisherman’s cottage has taken to providing delightful home-made
Stop anywhere along the way, get out of the car, and walk for as much as you like over the pavement-like stone amongst the wild flowers. The dryas, or mountain aven, is one of the most abundant,
a pretty white flower with a yellow centre. Usually found only on very high mountains or in the Arctic tundra, the existence of these flowers in the Burren is part of what makes the area so exciting and
unique. Other beautiful Alpines of the Burren are the blue gentian and a variety of saxifrages.
Take a walk down to the shore at Fanore. Here the rocks of the Burren meet the sea, which
carves them into wonderful shapes. The rock pools are encrusted with pink and purple algae and
are the home of the very remarkable purple sea urchin. These spiny creatures are able to burrow
into the rock and are ever so slowly eating away the Burren. The mushroom-shaped islets just off
shore are the result of their activities.
A bit north of Fanore you meet the only visible river in the Burren (all the others flow in
underground caverns). The road beside it takes you to the ruined church of Fermoyle. That is
where the Green Road begins, one of the most wonderful footpaths in Ireland, wandering for
miles over the hills, amongst the wild flowers, all the way back to Ballynalacken.
But if you don’t feel that energetic, keep to the coast road. This will take you around Black
Head, with its little lighthouse below the level of the road, and on to Ballyvaughan, a harbour
village with many good places for shopping, seafood, and other refreshments.
A signpost there shows the way to Aillwee Cave. One of many deep caverns in the limestone,
it differs from the rest by providing guided tours for visitors which leave from the information
centre (which is also an excellent spot for a meal). Even if you don’t want to be led by very
knowledgeable and enthusiastic young people into the silent and spectacular underworld of
the Burren, you should drive up the hill to admire first the view and then the centre, a brilliant
architectural achievement using stone walls to blend with the rugged surroundings.
From Aillwee take the road south. It passes close to many of the stone-age tombs and
ceremonial places which are liberally scattered throughout the Burren, memorials to a distant
time when the area supported a wealthy farming community. The Poulnabrone Dolmen is one of
the finest and it features on more postcards than almost any other Irish monument. Looking like
a huge table, it is made up of a great slab of limestone resting on two long flagstones. Excavations
in the 1980s showed that people had been buried beneath it more than five thousand years ago. A little south of Poulnabrone Dolmen is Caherconnell Stone Fort, one of the best preserved
stone forts in the Burren. Further south of Poulnabrone, the ruins of Lemaneh Castle stand by the
roadside. A combination of a 15th-century fortified tower and a Tudor mansion, it was the home of
the redoubtable Máire Ruadh O’Brien in the turbulent days of the 17th century. Her descendants
agree with serious historians that she never threw her third husband out of one of the beautiful
windows – but it is a good story, nonetheless. A right turn here brings you back to Kilfenora , three
miles to the west, completing the circuit. But the left turn sets you on the way to Ennis and some
more of the highlights of the region.
Two miles down the main road, a signpost for Cathair Chomain takes you into the depths
of the Burren, passing a ‘wedge,’ another kind of stone-age tomb. In contrast to the open-ended
dolmen, the wedge tomb is a sort of box, made of slabs of limestone. About a mile farther on,
another pointer to Cathair Chomain shows the way along a little track to a parking space beside
ancient farm cottages. There you take to your feet, following a stony path and passing a little
hazel grove where wild orchids and ferns enjoy the cool shade. Finally the Cathair presents itself,
concentric rings of great stone walls whose outer defense is the precipitous wall of a deep chasm.
While people lived there in the iron age for security, it is now a place for meditation, the ground
carpeted with mosses and the exquisite star-like flowers of rare saxifrages.
Coming to Kilnaboy, look for a sheela-na-gig, a provocatively sculpted female figure, above the
door of the ancient church beside the road. Then proceed towards Corofin, passing the beautiful
Lough Inchiquin on the right. A church building on the edge of Corofin now houses the Clare
Heritage Centre, a museum which also offers a genealogical research service.
On leaving Corofin, you turn right onto the R460 and then left onto the N85 until you get to
Inagh. Turn right onto the R460 and continue on that road for about 13 km. Following the signs
for Milltown Malbay, turn right onto the R474, pass Milltown Malbay, and turn left onto the N67
through Quilty. About 3 km from Quilty, take a right (signposted) back to Doonbeg.
Please note: The people of the Burren welcome visitors to Ireland’s most extraordinary landscape.
The Burren may look rugged, but it is also a fragile place and is always under threat from increased
human activity. The limestone pavement, flora, and built heritage are the resources on which tourism
in The Burren thrives. Respecting and conserving this resource is extremely important.
The Doonbeg area is buzzing with activity (especially during the summer). These
family-friendly celebrations are annual traditions.
Micho Russell Festival • www.michorussellweekend.ie
This annual festival is held in Doolin, County Clare, in remembrance of Micho Russell, the worldfamous traditional musician. Organised by the Doolin community since 1995, it is a landmark on
the traditional festival calendar as one of the earliest festivals of the year. It also hosts some of
the best of traditional entertainment and attracts musicians from around the country.
Fleadh Nua • www.fleadhnua.com
Fleadh Nua moved to Ennis, County Clare in 1974. The festival’s programme of activities include
educational workshops in music, song and dance, exhibitions, lectures, film shows, and more,
with something for every one of the 50,000 patrons to enjoy.
©Fáilte Ireland
Doonbeg International Jazz Festival • www.doonbeginfo.com/festivals
Now in its 8th year, the International Jazz Festival attracts visitors from all over to enjoy a weekend of swing, Dixie, and jazz featuring bands from Ireland, Britain, and Europe. All the pubs and
restaurants in the Doonbeg village will have non-stop music throughout the weekend. In addition
to the scheduled performances (which are all free of charge), there will be jam sessions, open
air music, barbeque, and street entertainment.
Willie Clancy Summer School • www.setdancingnews.net/wcss
The Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is Ireland’s largest traditional music summer school, held
annually since 1973 in memory of the piper Willie Clancy. During the week, nearly a thousand
students from every part of the world attend daily classes taught by experts in Irish music and
dance. In addition, the school runs a full program of lectures, recitals, dances, and exhibitions.
All events are held in and near Miltown Malbay, County Clare.
Galway Arts Festival • www.galwayartsfestival.ie
Galway, long considered a centre of cultural excellence, is proud to host Ireland’s largest and
most prestigious annual arts festival. A stunning fortnight of cultural activity and celebration,
the festival features writers, artists, performers, and musicians from Canada, England, France,
Scotland, and the USA who join those from Ireland in creating theatre, spectacle, street art,
music, comedy, literature, and music.
Galway Races • www.galwayraces.com
The Galway Races is one of the greatest and most lavish Irish Racing Festivals − a fixture in the
Irish Racing World Calendar. It is not only a fabulous sporting event, but also a unique social
occasion, with great atmosphere and craic, attracting both the racegoer and non racegoer alike.
Family Festival • www.doonbeginfo.com/festivals
For more than 30 years the Family Festival has been a part of Doonbeg’s rich tradition. Activities
include a cultural parade, barbeque, talent contest, children’s fancy dress competition, and the
once seen, never forgotten, donkey derby.
Feakle International Festival • www.feaklefestival.ie
The Festival, based in the homely village of Feakle in East Clare, started in 1988 and is now
respected worldwide as one of the best traditional music festivals in the country. A wonderful
five days of music, song, dance, Céili’s, workshops, lectures, recitals, and sessions.
Eigse Mrs. Crotty • www.eigsemrscrotty.com
Eigse Mrs. Crotty, now in its 12th year and held in Kilrush, Co. Clare, is a five day celebration of
the life and music of one of the outstanding figures of traditional Irish music.
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival • www.matchmakerireland.com/
The Matchmaking Festival takes place every year during September and October in Lisdoonvarna,
County Clare. The matchmakers of old would attend street fairs, getting to know the farmers
with eligible sons and daughters around the country. The matchmakers would then invite the
farmers to attend the Festival the following September, collecting the generous dowries when
the matches were made. Today, though the festival is more about the craic than the matchmaking,
there are still two matchmakers in County Clare.
Clarinbridge Oyster Festival • www.clarenbridge.com
The first Oyster Festival in Clarinbridge (Co. Galway) took place in September 1954, and it
continues to be an integral part of life in this area. The week long programme includes a market
day, golf tournaments, yacht races, art and photographic exhibitions, a fine wine and gourmet
evening, talks, and lectures, all culminating in an action-packed weekend of top tier entertainment.
Tradition guarantees visitors the very best in oysters and seafood.
Galway International Oyster Festival • www.galwayoysterfest.com
For three days and three nights, Galway celebrates as guests from all over the world down
oysters, Guinness, and gourmet delights with the pubs hosting a variety of exciting and lively
music to cater for every taste.
Willie Keane Memorial Weekend • www.williekeanememorialweekend.com
This event, held each year in Doonbeg, remembers local dancer Willie Keane with weekend of
music and dance.
Most of these pubs have traditional entertainment regularly once a week outside
the season, with more events in July and August. But be aware, the musicians
typically will not show up before 10.00 pm! Guests with traditional instruments
are welcome on many sessions. Please telephone for details.
Tubridy’s Bar, Daly’s Pub
Percy French Bar
The Way Inn
Tir Na Nog
The Haven Arms
Cree Village
Walsh’s (Thursdays)
Igoe Inn
O’ Mara’s Bar
©Fáilte Ireland
Fanny O’Deas
Miltown Malbay
Freils (Lynch) Bar
(Wednesday and Saturday)
Clancy’s Bar
Clancy’s Bar

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