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Guide to Ireland - Shannon

Gateway to the West

Shannon International is Ireland's longest established airport. Situated in County Clare, Shannon offers the perfect introduction to the delights of the west coast of Ireland.

Shannon town itself is small but the surrounding area, especially Bunratty and Ennis, offers a rich menu of shops and attractions.


Restaurants

Restaurants Dublin 1If you're after a delicious dinner with great atmosphere, Durty Nellies in Bunratty is the place to head for. Established in 1620 next door to Bunratty Castle, this rambling, thatched-roof cottage was originally a watering hole for the castle guards. Spontaneous Irish music sessions erupt here on most evenings, helped along by people who've just been to the nightly medieval banquets at the castle. Mounted elk heads, old lanterns, sawdust on the floors and open turf fireplaces mix perfectly with the warren of little nooks and crannies.

For a truly imposing culinary experience, you must try Glin Castle. It is the knight of Glin's imposing ancestral home and has been in the FitzGerald family for 700 years. Traditional cuisine is served in the red dining room, beneath portraits of FitzGerald ancestors. On the menu you'll find locally produced meat and poultry, freshly caught fish and produce from the walled garden.

If you'd like some traditional entertainment as part of your evening menu, Cois na hAbhna (pronounced Cush-na How-na) in Ennis is superb. You'll enjoy music sessions, song and dance, followed by a superb exhibition of ceili dancing. Even better, they encourage audience participation! It's best to call ahead for the most current schedule of events.


Nightlife

Nightlife Shannon 1If you'd like some traditional entertainment as part of your evening menu, Cois na hAbhna (pronounced Cush-na How-na) in Ennis is superb. You'll enjoy music sessions, song and dance, followed by a superb exhibition of ceili dancing. Even better, they encourage audience participation! It's best to call ahead for the most current schedule of events.

Another excellent venue in which to experience the magic of an Irish evening is The Corn Barn in Bunratty Folk Park. The finest singers, dancers and musicians from the local villages gather to put on a truly stunning performance. In the Corn Barn you mingle with the performers and can relax in the homeliness, friendship and warmth of a truly traditional Irish evening. You might even learn a step or two!

For more information on events and what's on where, go to ireland.com/events. Whatever you decide to do, you'll find that Shannon has nightlife to satisfy every need.


Activities

 

Cliffs of Moher

Activities Shannon 1On the coast of West Clare are the famous Cliffs of Moher. One of Ireland's natural wonders, these 228-metre high cliffs stretch for over 8km, standing defiant against the aggressive might of the Atlantic Ocean. O'Briens Tower, which was constructed in the early 19th century as a viewing point for Victorian tourists, is located on Moher's highest Cliff. From this spectacular vantage point you can see the Aran Islands on a clear day, and mountains as far apart as Kerry and Connemara.

 

The Burren

About an hour's drive from Shannon, the Burren's incredible 100 square mile limestone area has many outstanding features that make it absolutely unique in Europe. Its geology, flora and history set it apart as a place of great mystery and beauty. There are sparkling rivers, brooding castles, lush green valleys, barren rock mountains, round towers, ancient churches, high crosses, monasteries and holy wells; the list is endless.

 

Lahinch

Lahinch is an idyllic village nestling in amazing scenery on the Atlantic shore, about 55km north of Shannon. With its great variety, excellent sports facilities, friendly people and choice accommodation, it's no wonder that it's Ireland's most popular resort. The one-mile stretch of golden sandy beach offers all kinds of water entertainment including surfing, boat hire, fishing and swimming; small wonder then that the songwriter Percy French once wrote "At Lahinch the sea shines like a jewel".

 

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Activies Shannon 2Bunratty Castle is Ireland's most carefully restored castle, containing authentic furniture, beautiful stained glass, intricate tapestries and works of art. Built in 1425 and located next to the O'Garney River, the Castle is the focal point of a 20-acre folk park. The park contains a re-creation of a typical 19th-century Irish village that includes an entire village street, thatched cottages, farmhouses, school, post office, grocery store, print shop, hotel and, of course, a pub. What's more, all are open for browsing and shopping!

 

Lisdoonvarna

Ireland's premier Spa town is famous in song and story for its music, festival and fun. Two of the most famous and perhaps unusual festivals held here are the September Festival (one of Europe's largest matchmaking festivals!) and the World Barbecue Championship. Dipping into the Spa, the therapeutic mineral waters have been dispensed since the 18th century in an attractive parkland setting at the famous Victorian Spa Complex and Health Centre. In addition, the Spa Wells Centre features sulphur baths, massage, wax treatments and saunas.

 

The Aillwee Caves

Located in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, the Aillwee Caves feature amazing stalactites, stalagmites, relics of bears and a waterfall, all under the world-famous picture-postcard Burren landscape. There are frequent guided tours, and the attached coffee shop, gift shop and shop selling locally produced foods ensures it maintains its status as one of Shannon and Ireland's top attractions.

 

Avoca, Bunratty

This shop is a branch of the legendary County Wicklow-based Avoca Handweavers, the oldest company of its kind in Ireland dating from 1723. Pink and with a thatched roof, the cottage features the colourful tweeds and mohairs that have made the Avoca line famous, plus linen-cotton fashions, stylish sweaters, tweed totes and a wide array of hats.

 

Cratloe Woods House, Cratloe

This 17th-century house is steeped in history and is a fine example of an Irish longhouse. Long associated with the O'Brien clan, the house is still lived in and is filled with family portraits, works of art and curios. The primeval Garranon Oak Wood, which provided timbers for the Westminster Hall in London, is also part of the estate.

 

Ballycasey Craft and Design Centre, Ballycasey

The design centre is situated in the courtyard of the 18th-century Ballycaseymore House. Conveniently located for visitors to the southwest, a wide range of fascinating items are made here including jewellery, pottery, embroidery, ironwork and knitwear. The centre is home to some of the most talented designers and craftspeople in the area. Better still, you can see some of the crafts being made and watch the blacksmith or goldsmith at work.

 

Belleek Shop, Ennis

This newly expanded shop in the heart of Ennis is more than 90 years old. Overlooking the 16th-century Franciscan Abbey, it was the first Belleek china outlet in southern Ireland and is renowned for its extensive range of Waterford, Galway and Tipperary crystals, and fine china, tableware and figurines. You can also find many other Irish products such as handmade character dolls, turf crafts, pewter, jewellery and fashionable tweeds.

 

Golf Courses

The west of Ireland plays host to some of Ireland's best golf. Whether you want a gentle parklands round or challenging links golf with spectacular scenery, finding a course to accommodate you will be easy.

For more information on attractions in the Shannon Region, visit ireland.com/thingstodo


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