For all fans of irish folk-music I may highly recommend to visit Doolin, a small village west of Lisdoonvarna : Gus O'Connor's Pub - dating back to the year 1832 - with live-performances of traditional music every night in the summer-season. the sessions start at 09.30p.m. and last untill late at night.
Gus O'Connor's Pub is also well known for great food : the kitchen is open between noon and 09.00p.m.
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Doolin is also a great place to shop for music-casettes in that building that you may see on my picture - it is the first house after the bridge !!
John Hunt bought the land at Craggaunowen, restored the castle and began the reconstruction of a modern museum display, including the reconstructed crannog and ringfort.
The castle is an example of a fortified Tower House which was the residence of the ordinary gentry at the time. It was really neat to be in the castle on a dreary day and feel warmed by a small fire fueled by peat. The cold stone walls were covered by tapestries or rugs.
Take time to see the Togher: An Iron Age Road, and The Fullacht Fiadh - Hunter's Cooking Site. Stones heated on the camp-fire were used to boil water in the wooden trough. A joint of venison was put into the boiling water to cook for their meals. Sure sounds like a lot of work to me!
O'Brien's Tower is located just north of the Cliffs of Moher.
It was built by an eccentric landlord back in the 1800's to impress lady visitors!
It is basically a mini castle/tower that you can climb to the top of, for awesome view of the cliffs and the Aran Islands out in the Atlantic Ocean.
Here is a handy place to visit for a couple of hours on your first or last day in Ireland,if you are flying into or out of Shannon Airport.
Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 and was wonderfully restored in the 1950's. It is beautifully furnished and interesting to visit. In the evenings, you can attend a medieval banquet, if you wish.To read the history of this castle, you can visit this website.
The Folkpark has many 19th century buildings such as farmhouses, a church,a blacksmith,a mill and a pub. There are also many farm animals.
This is a big tourist attraction, but on the chilly,clear December morning we visited, we practically had the place to ourselves. It was a good place to kill a few hours before leaving on our flight home.
Across the street from the castle are some shops open seven days a week, which are handy to buy some last minute souvenirs.
In the village of New Quay in the north Burren is a very scenic and easy loop walk along the shore that begins right from the door of Linnane's Lobster Bar. The entire walk is about 3 miles and though it is along the road, there is little passing traffic. On a fine day the scenery is striking and there will be moments where you look around and say "this is Ireland".
It's also a nice way to either work off or earn a pint and some seafood at Linnane's :)
Ask details about the walk from one of the staff in Linnanes, or at the local tourism office.
If you are exploring the Burren and like to shop for things that are indigenous to an area, then it's worth stepping a little out your way to visit the Burren Perfumery. The perfumery is a bit hidden in the heart of that rocky expanse. Here they create unique fragrances that are inspired by the sights and smells of Ireland. The subtle fragrances evoke feelings for nature and the seasons. They make men's fragrances as well as women's which can make a nice gift for that special someone ;)
There is a short film you can watch about the Burren and the perfumery.
Ennis is a beautiful, bustling old town and is often overlooked when people are touring Ireland. Ennis is rich in history and culture and is abundant in shopping and restaurants. The old center is fun to walk around as the streets are narrow and wandering. You can really discover things here, like a unique shop hidden down an alley or traditional music in a cozy pub. Ennis has a harmonius balance of history, charm and energy.
Ennis is a great place for music and hosts the Fleadh Nua every year. Most of the year you can find traditional music just about every night. You can always stop in at Custy's Music shop and ask if and where there might be a session on.
Some of the many nice pubs and restaurants to check out are Brogan's Pub, Cruises Pub (great music), "Sicilian Restaurant", and the Town Hall Cafe. Check my other tips for more detail on this stuff.
Ennis is a must if you are traveling in Clare. You will really enjoy exploring this lively town.
Miltown Malbay is legendary when it comes to traditional Irish music. Located just south of the Cliffs of Moher, the village is host every year to the Willie Clancy festival, when thousands of great musicians and students come to town to teach and learn and just have fun. Because of it's ongoing reputation for music, many fine musicians live in the area. If you are after music, Miltown Malbay should be on your list of places to visit.
The town is lovely and there are some nice beaches in the area.
Be warned that the village gets pretty crowded and lodging is expensive and hard to come by during the Willie Clancy Festival in June, so check the dates :)
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a touristy spot and most people already have it on their list of things to do, but I thought I would include a tip about it, because it really is a worthwhile stop on somebody's first visit to Ireland.
The castle is remarkably well preserved and access to it is very good. It's a lot of fun to look out from the battlements, down onto the Shannon estuary and Durty Nelly's. The folk park helps bring to life the way people lived hundreds of years ago. It's a good half day visit. Drop in to Mac's bar for a pint, and to go across the street to the Blarney Woolen Mills for some good shopping.
There are many events that take place at the castle, such as a medieval feast (I've never done this, so can't speak for it). Check the website for details.
Tucked away in the village of Quin are the subtle ruins of Quin Abbey. The abbey was founded in 1480 emerging from the remains of a Norman castle. The ruin is surrounded by idyllic pasture and has a very peaceful sense to it. I've never known it to be flooded with tourists, so it's one of those spots where you can take your time and contemplate your surroundings. There is limited access to the inside of the friary. At the time I write this, there is no fee to get into the grounds.
Also nearby is the ruin of St. Finghin's Church. It was built between 1278-1287.
Quin is a nice village, and there a couple of nice pubs there which serve food.
Included with admission to Bunratty Castle is Bunratty Folk Park, a collection of 19th century buildings where they recreate what life was like in the 19th century. All of the buildings are open to visitors to go inside and have a look, some with people dressed in costume answering questions or making scones or doing the work that would have been required at that particular building. There are examples of many different styles of houses from the poor landless laborer to someone of the gentry class along with a watermill, cornmill, church and a village street with shops, a doctor's office and a school. Our guide encouraged us to try and see as many different kinds of structures as we could since our time was short, I did make it all the way around the park and stopped inside quite a few for a quick look. An hour and 1/2 was not nearly enough time to see the castle and folk park, you should budget a minimum of 2 hours but more like 3 or 4 hours based on some other reviews I've seen.
The next stop after lunch in Doolin on the tour was the Cliffs of Moher, an 8 km wall of stratified rock that rises vertically out of the sea to a height of 710 feet. As we were piling off our bus, our guide told us that she wanted us to stay to the right, she had 54 people on the bus coming there and she wanted 54 going back with her and she certainly wasn't coming in after us should we get blown off the cliffs. So I started off going right and climbed up the right hand set of stairs to the top, the sun was shining but all of my photos taken towards the south turned out to be a bit hazy as I was shooting into the sun. You can climb to the top of O'Brien's tower for an even higher view, there's a 2€ admission fee to do that, drat I left my money on the bus. You can also take pictures to the north from here, those turned out a bit clearer but the view not as dramatic.
I walked back down the right hand stairs and started up the left hand stairs, it is a safe paved walking path up to a point. When I got to the signs that said "Please Do Not Go Past This Point", I stopped along with 3 or 4 other people who also knew how to read. If I must be completely honest though it wasn't the sign that stopped me, I do have this *minor* fear of heights things going on and that path is right at the cliffs edge and we only had an hour for the whole visit and my time was running short.
If you are just viewing the Cliffs of Moher and come by bicycle or on foot, it is free to visit, if you drive there, you will have to pay to park in their lot, currently it is 8€ per car. We only had about an hour at the Cliffs so I didn't have time to even look inside the visitors center to see what was there, there is also a charge for that which is what is listed on the website under Book Tickets.
If you've seen the movie "Princess Bride", the Cliffs of Moher were used as the Cliffs of Insanity, I may need to go back and see that movie again.
The Cliffs of Mohr are among the most popular tourist destinations in Ireland.
We were here on a nice clear day in early June and were able to observe both the cliffs, which are some 400-700 feet above the Atlantic, but also the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. We also saw some towers along the edges of the cliffs (photo 4 and 5).
After we visited the brand new Visitor's Center, my grandson went up towards O'Brien's Tower (which I don't think was open), but I asked one of the rangers where I could best see the Atlantic Puffins and he indicated that I should walk the other direction so that was what I did. The puffins live in large colonies at isolated parts of the cliffs and on the small Goat Island. Also present are hawks, gulls, guillemots, shags, ravens and choughs. If you look at the cliffs and see white edges (photo 3), that's probably the bird guano and if you use your binoculars there, you will see the birds nesting there.
You would think that these nesting sites would be safe from anything except another bird, but apparently people climb down the cliffs to collect eggs as there are warning signs that prohibit that.
Our 1st stop of the day on my tour with Rail Tours Ireland was Bunratty Castle, one of the most frequently visited tourist sites in Ireland. The visit started with a brief talk by a guide dressed as a serving wench in the Great Hall and then we were allowed to wander on our own to the upper floors as it would be impossible to squeeze that many people up the narrow staircases.
It was one of the least enjoyable castle visits I had on this trip, way too many people at one time. Groups that came in after us were also trying to squeeze up the small staircases which function as both up and down staircases, at one point there were so many people squished into one of the rooms that we had a make a whole group go back down again as no more would fit. My advice would be to go first thing when it opens, before the bus tours start arriving, or maybe later in the afternoon when they've all headed off.
The 1st castle was built on this site in 1277 but the current castle dates to the mid 15th century, constructed for the MacNamaras, a branch of the O'Brien clan. It was restored in the 1950s and at that time, they refurnished the castle with furniture and tapestries. You can see the collection here
There is also a Medieval banquet held at the castle, with two seatings every night or the Traditional Irish Night held at the Corn Barn in the Folk Park every night.
Cliffs of Moher run from Doolin village to Liscannor bay . Public excess to the cliffs is at the visitor Center. Here you can park your car. Have refreshment , shop for a postcard etc . See the cliffs in safety The land either side of the center is private. and in some area's the edge is unprotected This land should only be entered if you have permission of the land owner. These fields are part of a working farm.
This is the fantatsic restaurant at the Ballinalacken Hotel, also dueled as our wedding reception...more
North of Tully, Renvyle, Connemara, Ireland
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business
Bunratty Village, Bunratty, County Clare, Ireland
Good for: Business