County Clare, the Banner County, is chockablock with beauty and inspiring attractions.
From the Cliffs of Moher to the Burren, ancient archaeological sites, stunning wildlife and breathtaking coast – this wild and wonderful county has a wealth of attractions.
Water is certainly what defines the boundaries of the county, with the River Shannon to the southeast, Lough Derg to the northeast, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and Galway Bay to the east. The history of the county dates back to prehistoric times with several ancient tombs scattered across the land. Most famously in the Burren, at the Poulnabrone dolmen, where the remains of the people inside the tomb have been excavated and dated to 3800BC.
From wildlife to history, seascapes to beautiful rolling hills you’ll be spoiled for choice in this southwest country.
Here’s our rundown of the top five tourist attractions in County Clare:
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with over one million visitors every year. The cliffs are also a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way route, along the west coast of Ireland’s coast.
They stretch for 5 miles, as the crow flies, along the coast reach 214 meters (702 feet) at their highest point at Knockardakin, just north of O’Brien’s Tower.
An environmentally friendly visitor center set into the hillside, The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, is located at almost the midway point along the cliffs.
Kilkee Cliff Walk
This walk circular walk from the west-end of the town of Kilkee, protected from the Atlantic Ocean by the Duggerna Reef, displays some outstanding Irish coastline.
Along the walk, visitors pass the Pollock Holes, the quartz-filled Diamond Rocks, and a natural stone amphitheater formed by the waves. Moving on visitors arrive at Intrinsic Bay, named after a ship, the Intrinsic, which sank along with all 14 hands on board in 1836. The trail continues up a steep climb for about 200 meters arriving at a coastal path turning inwards to Dunlicky Road.
There are also shorter walks mapped out for the less adventurous and be aware that some areas are not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.
For more information visit www.loophead.ie.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Dating back to 1424 Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is now a tourist attraction where the history of Ireland comes to life, literally. From the everyday working life in Ireland, from Viking times to great banquets, in the evenings, in the castle itself.
The castle and park are in the center of Bunratty village and is a major tourist attraction. Both the castle and Bunratty House are open to the public. The castle is famous for its medieval banquets, offered since 1963, at which the "Bunratty Castle Entertainers" perform today. "Bunratty Folk Park" is an open-air museum featuring around 30 buildings, including the Ardcroney Church of Ireland church, which was relocated to the park in 1998.
For more information visit www.shannonheritage.com.
Burren Birds of Prey Centre
As well as the amazing animals on display at the Birds of Prey Centre one of the biggest attractions is here must be the backdrop to the show, the Burren, a karst landscape 350 million years in the making. This is a truly amazing landscape spread over 250 kilometers, famed for its unique flora and fauna, geological beauty, and historical structures such as the Poulnabrone dolmen.
The Burren Birds of Prey Centre has been educating and entertaining visitors with dynamic flying displays since 2008. Their mission is to aid the conservation of birds of prey through visitor awareness and education, whilst actively fundraising for raptor conservation monitoring efforts within Ireland.
For more information visit www.aillweecave.ie.
Known as the Doolin Cave or Pol an Ionain, this is a limestone cave near the colorful and lively town of Doolin, on the western edge of The Burren. This great cave is home to the Great Stalactite, one of the world's longest known free-hanging stalactites, reported to be 7.3 m (24 ft) in length. This amazing structure was formed by a single drop of water over thousands of years.
Above land, there is also a charming Farmland Nature Trail that takes a looped walk around the cave setting. The nature trail is home to indigenous species of flora along with rare and miniature breeds of animals.
For more information visit www.doolincave.ie.
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* Originally published in Nov 2016.