Clare Part 1

Happy Easter Everyone! So for today’s post, I said I’d focus on putting together a few destinations in County Clare; some free of charge, some for history, some different and unusual places. Somewhere to suit everyone weather you are from Clare, want to visit Clare for a getaway or holidaying in Ireland. I am concentrating on a route through central Clare for today but I will upload another post with a completely different route and locations soon. This route can be done as a weekend away, pick and choose what you would like to see or make your way on an action packed adventurous road trip to see as much as possible.

With the Easter holidays among us, you might be wondering what in the name of god you are going to do with your time off. Even if you don’t have Easter holidays but you want to go somewhere on your day off then here are some ideas that might get you out and about.

First off we are starting in Bunratty Castle, there is so much more than the castle to see here. There is a Folk park that brings you back in time with reconstructions of houses and shops that stood in Ireland in the 19th Century. This then leads you into a Fairy Garden that is full of miniature fairy houses, mushroom seats and quirky fairy furnishings. Have a stroll through the Woolen Mills shop exploding with Irish produce and home-ware sections or have lunch at Durty Nellys which is also onsite. You could spend hours here strolling around the grounds but if time is of the essence just take a tour of the Castle. Admission to the Castle is €15 per adult.

Secondly, just a short 25 minute drive will lead to Craggaunowen. I always get asked about where are the top spots to visit in Clare and how Ireland is full of culture but people are unsure as of where you can you go to experience it? Craggaunowens “Living Past” Experience is something very different to any other center. This is an award winning Pre-Historic park that showcases how life was lived in the Bronze Age. There are endless features to investigate; Ring Forts, Crannogs, Fulacht Fias the list goes on. If you are looking for something to pass a few hours that is interesting too then have a stopover here! Tickets are just under €10 for a day pass.

Thirdly, head North for about 45 minutes and get your walking shoes on as you enter the Burren National Park. This is in Kilnaboy and is definitely a must see in my opinion. I know the Burren covers a vast amount of ground around Clare and you will be driving through it for the remainder of this route, but to get exploring through it the Burren National Park is the place to go. There is a lot of different walking loops; some of which bring you up the spiral/terraced mountains, some other trials bring you through the forestry with hidden water wells and wishing trees.

If you fancy it, you can continue driving to visit the famous “Father Ted’s” house but if driving down the country roads isn’t your thing then you can get a free shuttle bus from Corofin. This bus runs from May to August, collecting you at the Burren National Park Center in Corofin, leaves every half and hour and drops you in the Park. Great location to pass a few hours exploring and its all free!!

Back in the car and in twenty minutes you will arrive at Caherconnel Fort. I actually haven’t been here myself but I am planning on going soon as I have heard good reviews. This is where you can see sheepdog demonstrations with sheep. Sounds a bit crazy but it is something different that I haven’t seen before and I am sure it would be interesting to see how they train the dogs and what calls they use. They also have a Tea room onsite and throughout the year archaeological digs take place. The Fort itself has virtual tours, there are audio guides and also self guided tours which will make it more interactive! Sheepdog demonstrations and Fort adult tickets are €10.

Less than a minute’s drive further will lead you to the world famous Poulnabrone Dolmen. This shouls be a stopover not because there is a huge amount to do but at least you can see what all the fuss is about. There are information plaques on the way down to the dolmen that gives you information on the story behind it. You can also have a walk around then surrounding area where you’ll see little pops of colour from the tiny flowers growing between the rocks. I cant image spending a lot of time here so maybe put 20 minutes aside for this stopover. Its free admission too.

Located just 10 minutes from Poulnabrone Dolmen, you will arrive at the Aillwee Caves & Bird of Prey Centre. This is a great destination. Onsite you will find the largest Bird of Prey Centre in the West of Ireland, house to over 30 Birds of Prey. If you happen to visit you will be presented with an audio guide that will guide you around the aviaries giving you in depth information on all the birds on site. You will also be able to watch the birds in flight during a dynamic flying display where you can get up close an personal with eagles, falcons, owls, vultures, hawks all depending on the time you visit. Displays are at 12, 2 and 4pm at this time of year and changes to 12 and 3pm for winter months. If you feel like you are left wanting more you can opt for a one on one private hawk walk where you engage on the art of Falconry and see this predator in all its glory from as close as sitting on your wrist.

Take a stroll into the Farm shop where you can see where Gouda style cheese is made. Milk is collected from cows near Aillwee and this is used to produce 6 different types of cheese; even a garlic & nettle cheese!! Call in and see Diarmuid in full swing making the cheese wheels while you sample it. If cheese is not to your taste they make their own fudge too, perfect for those with a sweet tooth.

Afterwards, head underground with a tour guide for 35 minutes and witness the features that are still evolving today. This cave is in the heart of the Burren where you can see calcite formations, different chambers each offering a new wonder and be introduced to the history of Brown Bears in Ireland. Woodland and Mountain walks are also onsite; something to please everyone. Adult tickets for both the Cave and the Birds are €22. (I work here, hence all the detail haha)

The Burren Perfumery is worth mentioning here too. This small business is a gem of a spot where you can find a huge range of products from perfumes, facial products and body productions. Products from the Burren Perfumery was listed as one of “Four beauty brands that capture the best of Ireland in a bottle” in this Irish Times article. Tea Room is also onsite.

Finally finish your hectic day in North Clare on the Flaggy Shore, time t unwind and relax in this secluded,0 peaceful location.

That is it from me today, I hope you enjoyed this post. As always, any questions be sure to ask and I would love to see if any of you guys visit any of these places!

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