The ruined abbey at Claregalway is the third of the significant features (along with the nin-arch bridge and the castle) of the place.
There is not exactly a shortage of ruined abbeys around here (abbeyknockmoy being a good example) but it is well worth a wander about. 13th century and franciscan it still retains most of the main features you would expect. It must have been built to last.
It will hopefully recieve more attention as the Castle restoration project becomes more well known and starts building up visitor numbers.
Claregalway castle is passed by thousands of motorists every day. Mostly very slowly doing the Claregalway crawl !
The 5th century project is an archetypal Irish castle. A square keep and little house. Current visiting hours (that sound too much like a hospital - ed) are in the mornings during late july, august, sept and some of october.
The rich history obviously involves the De burgo family. Nothing of any consequence in history around here happens without their involvement. The battle of Knockdoe was a bloody affair thar happened just up the road - grandstand seats from the ramparts. Cromwell hard boys also took over the place during their murderous rampage across the west.
I hope the restoration comes to fruition - if it is done well it will be a very valuable addition to the tourist attractions of county Galway.
The 'nine arch' bridge in Claregalway has been restored. Standing by the side of the main road it has been wonderfully resored and can now be walked over.
I understand that it has had rather an odd history. Built in the 18th century it was no sooner built than it became redundant when the local landowner tried to alter the course of the river Clare to improve drainage. At this point it moved all of 30 meters to the north.
The bridge contined to be in use (but not as a bridge) until the 1950's when the new road was built through the village. The bridge was the 'lost' in that it became something of a ruin and covered in muck. i think most people forgot about it. The restoration has however been sensitively done and could form part of a very attractive area with the claregalway castle (currently being restored) and the ruined Franciscan abbey also nearby.
Claregalway's commercial sector has expanded rapidly in the past few years. The Abbey restaurant is very 'old school' having been around since the last ice age. It has a good reputation and can't be missed from the road as it is thatched (don't tell anyone but its only stuck onto a perfectly normal roof). It's due to be knocked down and redeveloped - but don't count on it.
Ti Cusacks based in the Claregalway hotel is a good choice. I've had several good meals there but it is a little 'Hotelly' if you know what I mean.
The best choice is the 'treat cafe' hidden behind the supermarket. Modern design, good coffee, very choccy choccycake. They do meals as well and I believe they have installed a proper woodfired oven for true Italian pizza. Looking forward to trying them out soon.
Claregalway gets a mention on EVERY local traffic report and is often mentioned on the RTE national reports. I suspect that they don't even bother checking - there are queues through Claregalway every day. Of course the bus lane used by 3 coaches a day and reducing outbound capacity by 50% has helped enormously.
Expect to be delayed around 20 minutes on average around rush hours to cover the couple of miles in the vicinity on the N17 and up to an hour on a very bad day.
There has been talk of a by=pass for years, but as the economy has gone down the toilet it won't get built for ages yet.