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Day Trip 1.
For those who are based in West Clare, West Limerick or North Kerry and want to do a whirlwind one day drive around County Clare before returning to base in the evening.
Starting at Tarbert Ferry Port and once across the Shannon going clockwise along the Clare coast and returning via Ennis and Limerick City.
You will visit Carrigaholt Castle, Loop Head Lighthouse, The West Clare Railway, Cliffs of Moher, Poulnabrone Dolmen, Caherconnell Stone Fort, Liscannor Rock Shop, Burren Smokehouse, Ailwee or Doolin Cave, and The Burren as well as the best part of the north Clare coastal drive.
Passing through so many places it would take up the page naming them all.
You will eat lunch in Lahinch or Liscannor and dinner in Lisdoonvarna's award winning Wild Honey Inn before heading for Ennis and onwards back to your base.
Checklist Useful Items
From the Tourist Office or your hotel/guest house try to get hold of these free brochures before you take the tour as they will be a great help to you on the way.
Map of the Burren
Your Daily Adventure Magazine
Free map of Clare
There is an office in the square in Kilrush if you didn't manage to acquire these items before hand so don't worry. (Useful Tip. If for some reason the tourist office is out of a particular map or brochure then try the lobby and reception of any hotel as there will be a flyer stand with lots of free stuff and you don't have to be a guest to take them.)
Remember to bring water and a snack with something to nibble at because you won't always find yourself close to shops along the way and there is nothing worse than having no munchies in hand to tide you over, or you just might find yourself in a good area for a picnic.
Links on the page will open in a new window to services and places you will need to know about for the journey, they will include details such as opening times and prices etc. so do check them out.
For your conveniece we have hand picked 5 helpful apps packed with info, countrywide travel directions and money saving discounts to some of the top attractions in the country check them out here. You never know but this knowledge could be a blessing to you.
Day Trip 1 | Stage 1 | The Ferry
Steps: Take the Shannon Ferry from Tarbert to Killimer and buy a single fare ticket (printed on back is usually a discount for Ailwee Caves). Or book online, there is a 10% discount in May and June and while there check sailing times which in high season are every 30mins from both ports leaving on the hour and half hour.
Day Trip 1 | Stage 2 | Killimer to Loop Head via Carrigaholt
Yes, all the way to the Loop! You only stop in Kilrush if you need to visit the tourist office as you will be coming back there later (see map).
Steps: Killimer - Kilrush - Kilkee - Carrigaholt (optional stop) - Cross - Kilbaha - Loop Head (Stop).
This part of the drive is well worth the effort, the Burren and the Cliffs are all ahead but this will whet your appetite and you will see the real west on this part of the trip. Click the link below to take you to their website for more details of what you can expect when you get there.
Directions: Once off the ferry take a left for Kilrush at the top of the road then follow the directions for each place marked above, your next stop is Loop Head Lighthouse (small adm fee).
While the Castle is in good enough shape its doors are blocked off but you can still walk around it and the views from the pier are good too. At the top of the hill above the castle is the Kilcredaun Lighthouse which stands guard over a notorious black spot where several high profile shipwrecks have occurred.
While there look out at the Estuary and think about the three ships from the Spanish Armada that found shelter there in 1588, just one of several spots along the coast that is associated with the Armada.
In the village is Keane's a bar and grocery shop, one of the few left that serves as a shop and pub combined and a coffee there out of sheer curiosity might be an experience for you especially if Packie himself is behind the counter.
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Day Trip 1 | Stage 3 | Loop Head to Moyasta, Kilkee and Kilrush
Steps: Loop Head - Cross - Moyasta (Optional Stop) - Kilkee (Optional Stop) - Kilrush (Optional Stop)
On the way back you will swing left just after Cross village and bypass Carrigaholt and head towards Moyasta where the last and only working section of the West Clare Railway is and this is worth a look around from an historical point of view.
After Moyasta the Atlantic seaside resort of Kilkee awaits and a coffee stop might be in order if you didn't call to Packie earlier. Pick any place that appeals to you in confidence, they are all good. Our favourites are The Strand, Myles Creek or the Stella Maris.
Not feel like stopping in Kilkee then Kilrush, a Heritage Town is the next stop and a coffee down at the Marina might be nice or a visit to Crotty's famous music pub on the square is equally good for a quick caffeine boost as is Kelly's and The Haven.
A point to note here is that the coast road signposted to Doonbeg and Quilty is off to the left just before you hit the town of Kilrush proper so remember if you decide to stop here to double back out on the road to the Loop and take the right hand turn and not to take the Ennis road.
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Day Trip 1 | Stage 4 | Kilrush to Lahinch and Liscannor
Steps: Kilrush - Doonbeg - Quilty (Optional Stop) - Spanish Point (Optional Stop) Miltown Malbay (Optional Stop) Lahinch (Stop) - Liscannor (Stop)
This is the final leg before lunch and while it is the coastal drive you cannot see the sea for a lot of it but rest assured it's out there to your left and if you are inquisitive enough to take any of the little roads off in that direction then do so as you have plenty of time to explore. White Strand is along here near Doonbeg and the Pier at Quilty offers nice views too before you come to Spanish Point.
This is just explore time doing what takes your fancy, around here the unusual Bell Bridge and the Spanish style church at Spanish Point are things to note along the way, while Milltown Malbay is a big enough town with the usual attractions, it is a mile from the sea and Lahinch is only up the road but a walk around the town might be interesting if the weather is good before heading for lunch.
Day Trip 1 | Stage 5 | Lahinch or Liscannor for Lunch
At this point you have covered half of the trip and it's time for something to eat and maybe a stroll along the promenade.
There is a good selection of reasonably priced places to have a good lunch, in the Main Street is Kenny's, the Corner Stone and the Shamrock Hotel and on the promenade is O'Looney's the choice is yours. Bon appetite!
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Day Trip 1 | Stage 6 | The Cliffs Of Moher
Steps: Lahinch - Liscannor - Rock Shop (Optional Stop) - St Bridget's Well (Optional Stop) - Cliffs of Moher (Stop)
If you thought the first part of the journey was exciting then you are in for a treat in this the second phase of your day trip.
Leaving from where you had your lunch be it Lahinch or Liscannor, head out on the road to the Cliffs (Liscannor Road signposted) but before you reach them and I know you are dying to, there are just a couple of stops to make on the way.
Again they are optional but worth it. The first is the Rock Shop which is on the right as you leave Liscannor. Here you can learn of the story of the black limestone unique to the area that is used in building construction and also if you desire, to buy a little memento of the Burren.
Once out of the Rock Shop and heading up the hill away from Liscannor your next stop is not far away and it is marked by a tall column which is the monument erected to Cornelius O'Brien, but it's St Bridget's Well opposite that I want you to look at first and when you go into it you will see why.
Behind the well up a little path is a cemetery where the ancient Kings of Dal gCais are interred and these three items, the column, the well and the graveyard are all of historic importance and later you will see the tower at the Cliffs which was built by Cornelius O'Brien which bears his name. Oh yeah, he only built it to impress the women......
Once you have finished at the Holy Well next stop is the majestic Cliffs of Moher, so continue up the road until you see the crowds, park the car and head in. This will take a bit of time because you won't want to leave. The reason for being at the Cliffs at this time is because the sun has come around and it should (if there is sunlight) be shining on to them which will give you better photos, you can send me some as a thank you and don't you forget now!
O.K. that's the Cliffs ticked off the list, fantastic don't you agree!
Day Trip 1 | Stage 7 | Cliffs to Poulnabrone Dolmen
Steps: Cliffs - Doolin Cave (Optional) - Burren Smoke House (Stop) Lisdoonvarna (Pass Through, Back Later) - Kilfenora (Optional Stop) - Caherconnell Stone Fort (Optional Stop) - The Dolmen (Stop)
From the Cliffs you head to Doolin Cave by way of Doonagore Castle then on to Burren Smoke House (recommended) located on the way in to Lisdoonvarna Town which you then pass through because you will be returning later for dinner!
Passing through Lisdoonvarna you head for Kilfenora (take the right turn in Lisdoonvarna) where the famous high Celtic cross and the Burren Centre is located then its on to Caherconnell Stone Fort (Admission €6 per person, website not clear on this) and the Poulnabrone Dolmen (Admission free highly recommended) which are about a kilometre apart.
Directions: Leaving Kilfenora you take the Corofin Road taking a left a few minutes out signposted to Ballyvaughan at the Lemanagh Castle junction, then it's straight on to the fort (on left) and the dolmen (on right).
All of these except the dolmen are optional and there is still some fabulous stuff ahead on your day trip so pick those things you really want to see and accept that you cannot do everything in one day.
Day Trip 1 | Stage 8 | Poulnabrone Dolmen to Coastal Drive
Steps: The Dolmen - Ballyvaughan - Fanore - Lisdoonvarna (Stop)
After viewing the dolmen at the ancient 'Hole of Sorrows' (It's older than the Pyramids!) its plain sailing with a little relaxing drive down the coast as far as Fanore and from there to Lisdoonvarna and a well deserved gourmet meal.
On the way you will pass through Ballyvaughan (Optional Stop) with its pier on your right and continue along the north Clare coast. If conditions are good you should see the peaks of Connemara way out in the distance in County Galway.
Taking it easy all along here you will eventually come to Black Head Lighthouse and there are places where you can park and climb up on to the rocks (careful!) and sit and enjoy the views over Galway Bay.
Moving along you will see the Aran Islands out in the ocean and at one point the Cliffs of Moher come into view straight ahead and I bet you will stop awhile when this happens!
Continuing on through Fanore you are now heading back to Lisdoonvarna and the Wild Honey Inn for a fabulous dinner in County Clare's best gourmet (Michelin Rated) restaurant and boy do you deserve it!
After your meal you will head to Ennis and if you have time you can stop off for a quick look around before heading back through Limerick and making base, or, heading west along the Kilrush Road if that's where you are staying.
Well that's it we hope that you will enjoy your day trip in County Clare but do tell us if we can improve this page in any way. Please come back and next time take a few days in the west, we are here waiting to welcome you.
Day Trip 1
An anti-clockwise journey with a figure of 8 loop that starts at Killimer/Kilrush or Tarbert in Co Kerry and ends up in Limerick via Ennis.
Cliffs of Moher
Coast Road (Anywhere with View)
Wild Honey Inn
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Your Daily Adventure
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Cliffs Of Moher
Quick Links to
West Clare Railway
Rock Shop Liscannor
Vaughan's Anchor Inn
Cliffs of Moher
Burren Centre Kilfenora
Wild Honey Inn
Caherconnell Stone Fort
Places Along the Way