Visiting County Clare is a multi-sensory, hot and cold Irish experience. Firstly you have the wild, windswept beauty of the landscape and the desolate, dramatically pounding Atlantic coastline. Then you've the wonderful warm of traditional Irish music, which doesn't just live on in County Clare, it flourishes in hundreds of different venues. There is a wide range of accommodation on offer and the best places to stay vary from bijou B&Bs to country house hotels.
County Clare is home of the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, on the edge of the strange, rocky landscape of the Burren. Despite the fact that nothing but grasses grow on this vast limestone sheet, the Burren has been inhabited since the building of the Pyramids, and some of Ireland's oldest monuments and archaeological treasure can be found here. Including the Caherconnell stone ring fort and Poulnabrone Dolmen, a five and a half thousand year old burial chamber.
As well as being windswept and interesting, and musical and welcoming, Clare is also is a much appreciated backdrop for outdoor pursuits. In addition to all the walking and biking routes, there's golf courses, surfing, diving, kayaking, sailing, horse riding and both freshwater and saltwater fishing. There are probably other things you can do as well, these are just the ones the area's especially known for.
Ennis is the regional capital, and a good place to hear a lot of music - but then so is the smaller village of Doolin, unofficial world capital of Irish folk music. If you stay, or pass through Ennis, you might want to visit the famous friary.
Some of County Clare's other highlights are:
If you're from around these parts, but a long time back, Corofin is the place you'll want to be heading to, as this is where you'll find the Clare Heritage and Genealogical Research Centre.
Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, County Clare
Traditional country inn serving fabulous food in The Burren. Fourteen simple but stylish rooms with plenty of options for families. Charming garden for relaxation and loads of activities close by: walking, cycling, surfing...A great value base for exploring Ireland's rugged West Coast.
Welcoming 18th century country house. Traditional bedroom interiors feature writing desks, sofas and modern bathrooms. Library and lounge to relax in. Excellent menu with focus on Irish seafood. A great spot to explore the coast.
Ballyvaughan, County Clare
18th century manor house hotel with literary connections within a scenic national park in Western Ireland. Rooms have stylish contemporary decor, views are sublime and the food is award winning. Very family friendly, some rooms even have a small private garden area, and dogs are welcome too.