Clare offers a cluster of the most striking vistas in Ireland. It is one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland and is situated in the mid-west in the state of Munster. It is the 7th largest county, geographically, in Ireland and borders Limerick, Tipperary and Galway. To the south-east of Clare lies the magnificent Shannon River and bordering the northeast is Lough Derg, the 3rd largest lake in Ireland.
The Irish name for County Clare is “Contae an Chláir” but is better know as “the Banner County”. Legend has it that it got its nick name during the battle of Clontarf in 1014 when the Dal gCais, a Gaelic tribe, carried banners across County Clare. The tradition of carrying banners continued in Ennis where trade guilds, such as bakers, butchers and masons had their own banners and they all competed to create the most striking banner. Tourists are truly spoilt for choice in Clare as it offers a smorgasbord of awe-inspiring Irish landscapes and attractions; one as tremendous as the other.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
To begin with, Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, situated near Shannon Airport, is on par with remarkable bygone preservation. Bunratty Castle is one of the grandest illustrations of 15th century feudal castle life. Built in 1425, it functioned as a Viking trading camp before being restored to its prior grandeur in 1954.
The castle is adorned in 15th & 16th century fittings, textiles & paintings which superbly exemplify those times. The castle extends a traditional castle banquet three times a day that includes traditional 15th century foods that are eaten by hand. The Folk Park is an enchanting & fascinating 26 acre, 30 building village that will carry you on a 19th century, mesmerising expedition amidst farmhouses, a school & the illustrious McNamara’s pub. The village recreates dwellings in an astounding way as they would have appeared at the time.
You will also have the opportunity to shop at the Woollen Mills which produces authentic Irish textiles such as linens, lace & crystal.
Continuing the traditional feel, Durty Nelly’s Pub and Restaurant next door to the castle, keeps you in a time warp with it traditional 162- style interior which encompasses rich, dark, timber beams on the low ceilings, a traditional log fire and offers a medley of restaurants and menus from which to choose.
During the evenings, you will be in for a treat as the bar offers a resident pianist who plays and sings traditional Irish songs.
Cliffs of Moher
Climbing from the sea to a height of 214 meters & crossing 5 miles of glorious walks along the Atlantic coast, the Cliffs of Moher is sure to leave your holiday album stuffed with glorious images. On a clear day, the Cliffs of Moher offer a stage on which to see a panoramic view of the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, the Twelve Pins, Maum Turk mountains in Connemara, Loup Head, the Dingle Peninsula and the Blasket Islands in Kerry.
Knockardakin on the north platform of the cliffs, is the highest point of the cliffs and stands at 700 feet above sea level. It is also the location of the Tower viewpoint, O’Brien’s Tower which were built by Cornelius O’Brien. The view captures ‘An Branán Mór’: Sea Stack, home of the guillemots and razorbills.
The south platform is an ideal viewpoint from which to see the Puffin colony who make their homes on the grassy Goat Island. It is also a vantage point to spot many other seabirds. The Visitors Centre has a fantastic café on the first floor which has spectacular views of the cliffs. There are also plenty of souvenir & craft shops in which to do some shopping too.
Lahinch Golf Club
The Lahinch Golf Course is situated in a small picturesque seaside village in the Atlantic coast in Co. Clare and is a popular surfing destination. It is one of our favorite courses to being our guests on a Golf Tour of Ireland. It is also located in close proximity to the Cliffs of Moher, The Burnren and The Aran Island. It has two 18 hole courses; the Old Course and The Casle Course. It is consistently ranked among Europe’s Top 20 and the worlds Top 50 golf courses.
Doug Castle on 7th hole, was founded in 1506, and its Irish name “Dumhach Ui Chonchuir” translates to O’Connor’s Sand bank but was deposed by the O’Brien’s during Queen Elizabeths Rein. It’s slightly bizarre long-term residents, the goats, are instrumental in telling the weather; if seen around the Club House, it means bad weather and if seen on the sand hills, it means good weather.
Within close proximity to the golf course is Lahinch Beach which has become one of the principal surfing locations in Ireland. It also offers users the opportunity to kite-surf and windsurf.
The Burren region, a limestone mesa of huge geological and archaeological significance & is the residence of numerous Irish ancient monuments. Of particular interest is the Birds of Prey at Aillwee Caves, where for 50 minutes, you will see Falcons, Eagles, Owls & Hawks.
Nearby, the Dolmen Graves which are Neolithic graves or portal tombs, characteristic of County Clare, extend to 3600 B.C.
Accommodation in Clare
Dromoland Castle was the home of the Kings of Thomand, the Dromoland O’Brien’s. The moment you arrive, your breath will be taken away by the impressive hallways, resplendent rooms occupied with lavish furnishings, chandeliers & luxurious fireplaces with blazing log fires.
Dromoland Castle offer deluxe 5-star accommodation in its sumptuous rooms and suites. It also offers visitors an amazing golf course is extensively known as one of the most exceptional 18-hole parkland golf courses in Ireland and presents a challenging game to any handicap with its meandering curves and boundless diversity.
Dromoland Castle has an extensive selection of dining options in its 5-star restaurants; Earl of Thomond and Fig Tree. There are three menu alternatives available; a la carte, gastronomic and d’hote as well as a six-course dinner or snacks served in the Country Club.
The Spa at Dromoland is the ultimate in luxury and tranquility & the perfect way to relax after a round of golf and a must on a luxury golf tour in Ireland. The Spa has six treatment rooms & a hydro pool. It uses a unique Irish, 100% certified organic therapy product in all its treatments including facials, organic oil massage & Seaweed Leaf & Hot Stone Massage.
The Bunratty Manor is situated very near to Bunratty Castle which makes it an ideal spot to stay for sightseeing tours of Clare. The Manor has 20 stunning bedrooms blending old charm with modern interiors, decorated with superb furniture creating a comfortable and stylish place in which to relax.
The Manor’s resident restaurant, Noels, offers guests a stylish and relaxing environment in which to eat. The staff at the restaurant are extremely friendly and ever so knowledgeable about all the dishes they serve. Speaking of dishes, I would highly recommend their award winning Seafood Chowder; very more-ish.
Dining in Clare
There are a whole host of excellent restaurants in Clare that will leave you yearning to return for more. Over the years we have tried and tested thousands of restaurants and here are our favourites.
The Creamery Bar & Restaurant
The Creamery Bar & restaurant is within walking distance of the famous Bunratty Castle and the restaurants premises has its own fascinating history dating back to the early 19th century. There is evidence that the building was used for the Bianconi coaches and interestingly the bottom floor was used for stabling the horses. Later the building was used as a creamery until 1999 when it was converted into pub and restaurant.
The interior of the restaurant upstairs reflects the old-world feel of the building with the eating area directly under the original eaves of the building. It creates a cozy atmosphere in which to enjoy the full a la caret menu which showcases Irish steak and seafood cooked on an open chargrill.
The Creamery Bar is adorned with the creamery’s original steam generator and pipes which create a focal point to the bar. An open turf fire welcomes visitors to the bar stools which have been crafted from the original milk churns. The walls are strewn with vintage photos which document the history of the Creamery, Bunratty and the culture of the people of the town.
There is a full bar menu available and signature dishes include Creamy Seafood Chowder, Baked Salmon, Melt-in-the-mouth 8oz Sirloin Steak and of course Traditional Irish Stew. At the weekends, the bar provides live music in the form of local performers who belt out all form of tunes in the form of traditional Irish Music.
Gallagher’s & PJ Clarkes is a traditional country restaurant and pub offering an outstanding selection of seafood from their award winning menu. The distinctly Irish thatched roof creates an old-world and rustic charm to enjoy the splendid food on the al a carte menu by the flicker of candlelight in a relaxing atmosphere.
The extensive starter menu offers lip-smacking dishes which as the Seafood Tapas Plate which comprises a medley of Thai style crab cakes, Smoked Salmon and Crispy peppered squid (exceptionally cooked to perfection). Also of interest on the starter menu is the mouth-watering Steamed New Quay Mussels bathing in a bath of white wine sauce. The menu also offers dishes including hot buttered garlic prawns, Irish Rock Oysters and Doonbeg bay Lobster, just to name a few.
The Mains dishes are just are tempting and vast with highlights including: Monkfish Saltimbocca comprising monkfish wrapped in pancetta and sage fettuccine and mini, ratatouille; 10oz Sirloin Streak or the Doonbeg Atlantic Lobster. Other menu items include Gallagher’s Seafood tagine containing fish, crab claws, mussels and scallops; Grilled Fillet of Salmon and Gallagher’s Pan Seared Fish Platter. There is no easy selection from the menu as they food really is as good as it is described in the menu.
Finally, JP Clarkes Pub attached to Gallagher’s is an extraordinary pub to visit. It is a rustic country pub with traditional Irish features such as flag-stone floors, beans on the ceiling and open log fire. It too offers an extensive bar menu for those who want to enjoy a more relaxing meal.
Once again, the awe-inspiring starter menu begins with scrumptious dishes such as Oak smoked salmon, Steamed Wild Mussels, and Clarkes Fish Bake. The dishes are cooked to perfection and leave a taste of ‘more’ in your mouth.
As always, the mains menu is awash with tantalising dishes such as West Coast Crab Meat, Shrimp Cocktail and Chargrilled 10oz Sirloin steak. Dishes are incredible value for money given the pure quality of ingredients and the presentation delivered with every meal.
That brings us to the end of another tour in Clare and we hope that it has inspired you to visit out beautiful country which is awash with sightseeing gems, delectable dishes in prime restaurants and must-try hotels and manors.
If you are interested in visiting Clare or indeed any other country on a Private tour of Ireland, then contact Mike Ryan directly from the US and Canada on our Toll Free Number 1888 793 0416.
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