Healing Minerals, Budding Romance
"Lios Dúin Bhearna"
Lisdoonvarna sits on the edge of the Burren. It has a population of 1000 or so of the most congenial souls I have met in my travels.
Lisdoonvarna is most widely known for both its Day Spas and its Matchmaking Festival that is held every year in September. It was once the home of a grand Music Festival hosted every year by Christy Moore, one of the founding members of Planxty.
Music is still widely found in Lisdoonvarna Pubs and in some unexpected places. I have had the pleasure of following the sound of a bodhran and penny whistle around a corner and on to a side park where a group of lder locals were having a grand time.
The Spas are what draw most people here. It began in the early nineteenth century when a visiting doctor decreed that the minerals found in its spa wells had curative powers. The waters contain magnesia, iodine and iron. Lisdoonvarna's famous Victorian Spa Complex and Health Centre is a major attraction. It is the only active spa centre in Ireland.
"To The Roadside Tavern ~ Slainte"
The Roadside Tavern sprung up with Lisdoonvarna in the mid 19th century. The pub was established by a local landlord, Pierce Creagh.
It was bought in 1893 by Christopher Curtin, a baker by trade. He married Nora and they expanded the business to include a bakery. The arrival of the West Clare Railway heralded a new era for Lisdoonvarna as a holiday destination and it also allowed the Curtins to develop a sideline as wholesale butter merchants.
Peter Curtin will tell you a story of one incident when the Local Defence Forces were stationed nearby on coastal duty during World War Two. The troops used to take advantage of the fact that Christopher Curtin started work at two in the morning.On one particularly bad night two soldiers came into the premises and hid their guns and ammunition in the unlit oven and started drinking. When Christopher lit the oven without checking what was inside, there was a big noise and the place was nearly destroyed.
Nora and Christopher ran the business together until 1944 when they handed it over to the youngest son, John. There were difficult times during the post war depressions years. Peter says that Roadside is now the only true pub in Lisdoonvarna. There are other Pubs in town but this is hands down my favorite for its ambience and welcoming spirit.
Lisdoonvarna, became a venue for traditional music in the 1970’s and some well known names entertained the patrons of the Roadside, including Christy Moore, Davy Spillane, Tommy Peoples, the Fureys and Sharon Shannon.