We have a tour we do with or recommend to all our visitors, as it really passes through many of the best-known places in County Clare. When you’ve done this main route, you will either want to come back to spend more time in each place or see more of Clare.
From Casa Ceoil you drive towards Corofin through to Killnaboy, here you may can turn off to see Father Ted’s house , or climb up Mullaghmore for a light to medium trek. If not, you keep going until you get to Leamaneh Castle from the late 15th century. At the castle cross you turn off towards Carron and the heart of the Burren.
In Carron you can visitThe Burren Perfumery which sells handmade perfumes and soaps, has a lovely little coffee shop and shows a short documentary of the unique flora of the Burren landscape. By Carron you will also find the Caherconnell Ring Fort, which at times also has sheepdog demostrations. Artefacts have been found in the fort that date back to the early Bronze Age, about 2000-1500 BC.
Continuing on you have to stop at the most iconic archaeological monuments in the Burren, it is also the oldest megalithic monument in Ireland, the Poulnabrone Dolmen.
The name means “The hole of sorrows”, being a tomb the name is no surprise. It was built and in use about 3800 BC and in the tomb archaeologist have found the remains of 16 adults, six children and a newborn.
Keep going through the austere and impressive landscape of the Burren towards the sea. You will pass the Aillwee Cave, which is one of the oldest caves in Ireland. Here there is also a fascinating centre for Birds of Prey where they have flying displays, birds of prey from different parts of the world and the centre also works with raptor conservation. Don’t miss the cheese shop that not only sells unique cheese such as firm Gouda style cheese with garlic and nettle, but also has fabulous toffee. The caves are a great outing for all, but we would particularly recommend it for families.
From here you keep driving towards the coast and pass through Ballyvaughan. Turn left in the village and follow the Wild Atlantic Way coast towards Fanore. On the way, there are a few places suitable to stop. Get out of the car and do a small walk with the steep Burren hills on one side and flat stony landscape that abruptly clashes with the Atlantic on the other. Depending on where you are, you will either see Galway or the Aran Islands across the water. Fanore beach is wild, long, beautiful and literally in the middle of nowhere.
Keep going and turn off towards Doolin, here I always recommend you get yourself a nice warm chowder in one of the pubs. Have a look around the shops and then continue towards the Cliffs of Moher. Come back to Doolin another day if you want to visit the Aran islands, you take the ferry here. If you keep hugging the coast, and dare up the steep hill by Doolin you will pass Doonagore Castle, which is a must for anyone that wants a great view or picture of a castle by the Atlantic.
There’s no way you can miss the Cliffs, although I’ll be honest, on a bad day you just might not see much. Most of it is very safe to walk, although we that have been here long remember the wild days where you could hang your legs over the edge.
Once you’ve seen the cliffs the route will take you by the Moher Hill Open Farm. This is a good outing for families but don’t forget that you can get a close up experience with farms animals any day if you are staying in our holiday home, Casa Ceoil. Keep going and you will pass by St. Brigid’s shrine with its holy well, continue through Liscannor and the Rock Shop, and on to Lahich.
Here’s another great stop for a walk by the beach and a coffee in one of the cafes or pubs. Look at the surfers that brave the cold waters and weather at all times of the year, and see everyone and anyone on the promenade on a sunny day.
My favourite food spot in Lahinch is Kenny’s Bar. We have been going to Kenny’s since before our girls could walk and love the friendly atmosphere and the good food. It is always a must for us when we have family visiting.
By now you will be wrecked, even if you didn’t stop at half of the places mentioned on this tour. On the way back to Ennis and Casa Ceoil, you will pass by Ennistymon and note that it is another village you have to come back to.
I can almost feel the tiredness of a full day of impressions, wild landscapes and exploration. Even in the worst of weather the landscape is so impressive and with an almost savage beauty, the sea looks beautiful when wild and the pubs are never more welcoming than on a rainy and cold day.
There is so much more to see, as this tour is shows only a small corner of County Clare…but we’ll leave the other bits for another day.