LIMERICK & CLARE
The limerick packs laughs anatomical
In space that is quite economical,
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical. ~Anon
Wait now, wait now a minute… that is not the ‘Limerick’ I wish to talk about! All this cold and snowy air is dizzying my mind. It is the County Limerick at the mouth of the River Shannon, and County Clare over on the other bank, that we are concentrating on this week. 😀
Limerick City is only a 15-minute drive from Shannon Airport. It is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city in the County. Tourist attractions in the city centre include King John’s Castle (1212) at Thomond Bridge, it houses a visitors’ centre with exhibits on the past and present. St Mary’s Cathedral was founded in 1168 and is the oldest building in Limerick which is in daily use.
The Hunt Museum, situated in the old custom house, an historic 18th century building in Rutland Street. The collection includes the Antrim Cross (a 9th century bronze and enamel cross), a small sketch by Picasso and a bronze horse from a design by Leonardo da Vinci for a large monument.
There are several walking tours available Angela’s Ashes walking tour of Limerick City, an historical walking tour and boat tours along the River Shannon, the University of Limerick, and the Treaty Stone.
The Sheelin antique lace museum is where you can see the two varieties of Limerick Lace. Tambour Lace which is worked with a hook and Needlerun Lace which is worked with a needle.
About 18kms west of the city you will see a signpost for Currahchase National Park. This was the estate of poet Aubrey de Vere. The grounds contain fine landscaped gardens and an arboretum as well as a tombstone that marks his pet cemetery.
The southern banks of the Shannon estuary between Askeaton and Aughinish are the most important areas of the water system for wildfowel and waders. Watch out for curlews, bar-tailed godwits, wigeon, teal and scaup, which are best in autumn and winter.
Foynes is a small town and major port in County Limerick. It is noteworthy for having been, in the early years of aviation, the last port of call on the eastern shore of the Atlantic for flying boats. Surveying flights for flying boat operations were made by Charles Lindbergh in 1933 and a terminal was begun in 1935. The first transatlantic proving flights were operated in July 1937. Services to New York, Southampton, Montreal, Poole and Lisbon followed, the first non-stop New York service operating on 1942 in 25 hours 40 minutes. The advent of Shannon Airport made Foynes redundant as a stopping point and the airport closed in 1946. A museum, The Flying Boat Museum, charting the brief but important history of aviation in Foynes is located in the port buildings.
Glin Castle stands proudly in the middle of its 500 acre wooded demesne the toy-fortress like quality is echoed by its three sets of battlemented Gothic folly lodges, one of which is a tea and craft shop. The present Glin Castle, which succeeds the medieval ruin in the village of Glin, was built in the late 18th century with entertaining in mind.
The poet Edmund Spencer and Sir Walter Raleigh first met in Rathkeale at Castle Matrix, built in 1440 and so called after an ancient Celtic sanctuary that once occupied the site.
Adare is a delightful village of thatched cottages situated on the River Maigue.
Within the grounds of the Adare Manor lie the ruins of many medieval sites including the castle, a Franciscan friary and two chapels. Adare Manor has been the family home of the Earls of Dunraven since the 17th century. Nowadays it is open as a fine hotel with a championship golf course on it’s grounds. In the village a fine 14 arch bridge spans the River Maigue. Close to the village of Adare the ruins of the 15th century Garraunboy Castle can be seen, once a stronghold of the Faltagh family.
Lough Gur is between the towns of Herbertstown and Bruff. The lake forms a horseshoe shape at the base of Knockadoon Hill and some rugged elevated countryside. Humans have lived near Lough Gur since about 3000 BC and there are numerous megalithic remains there.
The name of Ardagh is inextricably linked to the Ardagh Chalice
We begin with a unique feature of Sixmilebridge is the highly decorated but functional “duck inn” on the O’Garney River, occupied by a thriving population of ducks. The duck inn is a floating raft with glass windows and painted walls. It houses the ducks during winter and is also where their locally consumed eggs are hatched and collected. It forms part of the tourist trail of Sixmilebridge.
Each January, the village plays host to a colourful selection of singers, instrumentalists, dancers and yarn spinners for the Sixmilebridge Winter Music Weekend. This festival was established in 2000 by the Sixmilebridge Folk Club. The event lasts one weekend and has wide-ranging acts and events including French street groups, Irish, American and English singer-songwriters, oldtime bands, stand up comedians, singing and dancing workshops, blues singers and bluegrass bands.
Knappogue near Quin, was built in 1467 it is an example of a medieval tower house. It has a long and varied history ~ from a battle field to a dwelling place. In the 1920’s Knappogue passed into the hands of a local farmer and fell into disrepair. Luckily, it was purchased in 1966 by the Hon. Mark Edwin Andrews of Houston Texas. He and his wife (a prominent American architect), in collaboration with Shannon Development, carried out an extensive and sensitive restoration returning the Castle to its former 15th Century glory while encompassing and retaining later additions. The Andrews were the last occupants of the Castle. Shannon Development purchased the Castle in 1996 with the intention of preserving this important building for future generations.
Also near Quin at Craggaunowen, Ireland’s Celtic heritage is brought to life with the complete re-construction of a bronze age settlement or Crannog. A Crannog is a settlement built on an artificial lake island for defence and here at Craggaunowen, “actors” completely re-enlive Bronze Age life as it was. Also to be seen is the “Brendan” boat, a leather hulled boat called a currach in which the famous explorer Tim Sevrin sailed from Ireland to America, re-enacting the Voyage of St. Brendan the Navigator which took place hundreds of years before America was re-discovered by Christopher Columbus.
Ennis is a thriving market town and the principal town of Co. Clare. Its famous narrow streets are dotted with a host of unusual shops and lively bars and restaurants. Ennis is regarded as the heartland of Irish music; look out for superb nightly sessions, as well as some very lively annual festivals. Ennis is an ideal centre for touring around Co. Clare and is conveniently located close to Shannon Airport. Whether you’d like to banquet at 15th century Bunratty Castle or explore the wonderful Atlantic coastline and Cliffs of Moher, everything is a short drive from Ennis.
Alongside Bunratty Castle is an extensive folk park, particularly popular with families & tourist. The park reconstructions of historical cottages and buildings, recreating the general feel of the 19th century with a period style village main street. Old tools, furniture and artefacts are displayed, with the village kept alive by some inhabited shops, an old home bakery and peat fires in cottages. Today it is a major tourist attraction along with the castle as it sees thousands of people pass through its gates every year. Then it might be time to stop off at Durty Nellies to kill a thirst! 😉
The dramatic Cliffs of Moher are Europe’s bastion against the Atlantic Ocean. Over 185 metres of vertical cliffs face the might of the sea. Standing on the edge one becomes very aware of the power and vastness of nature. For those who enjoy bird watching, hundreds can be seen circling the cliffs.
If you continue inland again, you will enter the Burren, a large 260 sq. Km plateau of limestone “pavements” which is widely known for its potholes and caves but only experienced potholers can attempt to explore most of them. The area in Summer is full of rare, fragile and beautifully coloured flowers hidden in the cracks between the slabs of rock. Everywhere there are traces of ancient civilisations, with dolmens, round towers, ancient churches and holy wells to name just a few. The Burren display centre in Kilfenora, details the 350 millions years that has made the Burren one of the worlds more important natural attractions.
24Km from the Cliffs of Moher – just off the N67 are the Aillwee Caves. Here you can take a 30 minute stroll through beautiful caverns, cross over bridged chasms and pass alongside both a thunderous waterfall and a frozen waterfall. Hibernation chambers of the long extinct Irish brown bear can also be seen.
The Kilfenora Ceili Band has been on the go for ninety-six years. The band had their humble beginnings in rural community gatherings way back in the 1900s. Their present worldwide success keeps growing.
‘Matchmaking’ has long been synonymous with Lisdoonvarna.* It now hosts an annual Festival during the month of September and it draws singles from all over the world.
Hormones run high during Lisdoonvarna’s Festival, if you wish to attend, do make your plans early because accommodations in the village of Lisdoonvarna fill up quickly.
Some believe any decent match with a real Irish person is better made in the pubs of Ennis or strolling along the beach in Lahinch. In a way, with modern speed- dating and online dating, the Matchmaker Festival resembles a Brigadoon gone terribly terribly wrong. At one time there were 26 pubs, most of them with traditional Irish music. Lisdoonvarna also has the only natural spa water in Ireland, so visiting it at other times is a brilliant idea. Unfortunately, most of the pubs exact a king’s ransom for the Guinness, but the craic is good.” So, if you’re wanting to settle for a smile with no teeth or you’d like to meet lots of other lonely travellers, by all means, head on over in September and beat yourselves into a frenzy at the Festival. There is dancing and horse racing and dancing and dancing. It is a great opportunity for you to mingle with singles from all over the world.
* Did I hear you singing and tapping your toes with Christy Moore?
Now I am off to clear the snow from the road to Galway Bay!