County Clare in Ireland

'Bunratty Castle and Folk Village' - Ireland
'Bunratty Castle and Folk Village' - Attribution: Bill Barber

County Clare lies on the central western coast of Ireland and water borders almost the entire perimeter. The River Shannon lies along the southeast, the Lough Derg borders the northeast and Galway Bay lies on the northern rim. Humans inhabited the region from prehistoric times, leaving behind ancient dolmens. These single chambered tombs date back to 3,800 B.C. and have three or more large upright stones. The region is rich in culture and remains proud of their traditional music. Various music festivals take place throughout the year including the eigse mrs crotty traditional music festival in Kilrush.

The waterways along the south and west borders offer prime locations for bird watching. Visitors arrive from many destinations around the world for the pleasure of viewing the many species living or passing through the county. The Shannon estuary also serves as a playground for groups of bottlenose dolphins. Watch these playful creatures from the coast or embark on a boat tour from Carrigaholt harbour or from the Kilrush Marina.

Naturally, the varied bodies of water attract water sport enthusiasts. Surfers come from miles around to catch an Atlantic Ocean wave at Doughmore Strand, Lahinch Beach or Spanish Point. Sailing the scenic coast is another option. With water clarity up to 12 metres, many prefer visiting the underwater world of the region by embarking on scuba diving adventures. Canoeing remains another popular sport and the River Shannon provides the perfect location for novice to skilled alike.

Step back in time and experience life during the Middle Ages when touring Bunratty Castle. Constructed around 1425, the complete medieval fortress represents the rustic luxury of the times. Stroll from room to room and gaze upon the modest décor and furnishings that include authentic 15th and 16th century furniture, paintings and tapestries. See the primitive armour and weaponry used to defend the village. Each evening, the castle hosts a medieval banquet accompanied by beloved Irish folk music. Around the castle grounds lies the Bunratty Folk Park, a living museum that contains over 30 buildings depicting village life during the 19th century.

Living history continues in the eastern Clare community of Tuamgraney. The quaint village boasts having the oldest church in the country. Once graced by the presence of legendary king Brian Boru, the facility continues holding worship services monthly. Constructed in 964 A. D., the stone building now serves as the heritage centre and folk museum. Every Monday evening, locals and guests enjoy live performances featuring traditional Celtic folk music.

Hotels and apartments at Clare