For more than half a millennium, millions of people have journeyed from every corner of the world to Ireland, for reasons as varied as there have been visitors.In medieval times many came for spiritual enlightenment, but in more recent times, to enjoy one of the world’s really superb, modern-day holiday destinations. The Shannon Region, a vibrant community on the west coast, exudes the true heart-beat of Ireland, and extends the warmest of Irish welcomes to all its visitors. This brief introduction to all the things to do, see and enjoy, gives a flavour of what to expect, and there is so much more!
‘National Tidy Towns’ award winner 2005, this unspoilt, provincial market town, dating from the 13th century, combines the charm of a centre, whose narrow streets give a medieval atmosphere, with a vibrant community of young people and an easy going air. Intimate old shops with neatly maintained shop fronts grace the narrow streets, which include bookshops, restaurants and cafes of all kinds, and dozens of pubs in ancient surroundings - many of them offering traditional Irish music sessions. Recent years have seen the development of a most delightful riverside walk, with contemporary stone sculptures at strategic points and with a great water meadow where geese and ducks dabble. www.visitennis.ie
A bustling market town amidst the rich agricultural countryside of north Tipperary, which epitomises the beauty and heritage of rural-Ireland. It’s an interesting and atmospheric place with a vibrant shopping area and some fine historic buildings forming a formidable cluster of great architecture. Its hinterland, stretching eastwards to Roscrea, was one of the great bastions of Ireland’s monastic period, which is evident today in many fine monuments to that era. Here too is expression of Irish people’s passion for games; the town of Thurles being the birthplace of the 1884 revival of the ancient Gaelic games of hurling and football. www.DiscoverIreland.ie/ShannonRegion
Turning back the clock to the elegance of the Georgian age, Birr has stayed true to 18th and 19th century character with its fine tree-lined malls and avenues around formal and well-planned blocks of easy on the eye street vistas. Birr developed around Birr Castle estate and the Parsons family, the Earls of Ross who for fourteen generations have lent their invention, innovation and collections to the advantage of the town. The town is central to the rolling pasturelands and peatlands of Ireland’s midlands and its surrounding area is the waterways crossroads of the country, with all kinds of watersports and angling among the top outdoor pursuits. www.DiscoverIreland.ie/ShannonRegion
Limerick - Riverside City
A modern university city, on the doorstep of Shannon Airport, is built on the foundations of a Viking settlement and straddling the River Shannon. It has a passion for sport and choral singing, a lively culture, arts and social scene, the city which provided the backdrop for Frank McCourt’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Angela’s Ashes” and its movie sequel, is home to Richard Harris and the Cranberries rock band. A revitalised waterfront adds new zest to the centre which has fine restaurants, lively pubs (including many sports bars), a fashionable shopping precinct, beautiful parks and great entertainments. Its colourful history is evident everywhere, and its prime landmark, King John’s Castle, in the heart of the medieval quarter, dates from the 13th century and makes a formidable medieval statement. www.DiscoverIreland.ie/ShannonRegion
Where to stay?
The range of places to stay in most impressive and includes luxury castles, historic houses, modern hotels, guesthouses, traditional Irish self-catering cottages, caravan and camping parks, farmhouses and hostels. B&Bs are everywhere. You will have no trouble finding a charming place to hang your hat, whatever your budget.
How to get there?
Shannon Airport is the international gateway to the West of Ireland. You can be in the heart of rural Ireland within minutes of leaving the airport. It is approximately 25km equal distance from Limerick City and the town of Ennis and all of Ireland is easily accessible by an excellent road network and good public transport connections. Flights operate from worldwide destinations. www.shannonairport.com
Jackie Kennedy’s granddaughter has uncannily similar looks