Standing 214 metres high like a scene straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen tale, the cliffs are west Clare’s iconic image. Hollywood has taken note: blockbusters Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince and the Princess Bride made the cliffs celluloid stars.
On a clear day, views from the cliff tops include the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and the Twelve Bens mountain range. Nature enthusiasts take note: the cliffs are a Special Protected Area due to the myriad species of sea birds that call the cliff face home.
Further north, the Burren adds a splash of natural wonder into the mix as an array of rare and beautiful plant life thrives amongst its limestone fissures. Alpine Gentian, Bloody Cranesbill and Mountain Avens are just some of the Burren’s floral gems.
Beneath the surface of the lunar like stone, lies an underground world: the Aillwee Caves are a labyrinthine cave system with underground lakes, bridged chasms and underground waterfalls. They’re also one of the few cave systems on the island you can explore without special equipment.
History, with a twist
A good antidote to all that activity is a bit of history. West Clare is an archeological hotspot, and the Burren is home to 70 wedge tombs – some older than the pyramids – including the famous Poulnabrone.
Going a little gruesome, check out the 15th-century Leamanagh Castle, the one-time home of Red Mary, who had a fatalistic approach to getting rid of her husband.
Bunratty Castle brings medieval feasts to modern day. Think succulent legs of lamb with the sounds of violins and harps serenading you.
Often copied but never equalled, the traditional Irish music session rounds off most west Clare days. Never a night goes by without a lively session kicking off in the pubs, such as Monks Bar in Ballyvaughan, Vaughan’s in Kilfenora and Tubridy’s Bar in Cooraclare. They’re just the tip of the pub iceberg here, too!
So, take beautiful scenery, mix with Atlantic activities, add a dash of history and intrigue and serve with vibrant traditional Irish music. Holiday heaven achieved.