Clare (An Clar)
Perched, sometimes precariously, on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, Clare is the sort of place you fall in love with.
The Cliffs of Moher command dramatic views as the sea pounds relentlessly below. It is one of those places it is best to visit when the weather is poor and the scenery becomes more dramatic as the ocean is whipped into a frenzy.
The village of Doolin has become a favoured haunt for fiddlers and fluters, bouzouki and bodhran players, pipers and sean nos singers… many a sessiun can be found here, but the musicians are as likely to be from the Bronx or Berlin as from Belfast or Ballyshannon.
Not far away is Lisdoonvarna, home to Europe’s largest matchmaking festival, but even if your not looking for a partner the craic here in September can be mighty.
Bunratty Castle is a popular venue for visitors and its medieval banquet nights attract visitors and natives alike.
Make sure you also nip into Durty Nelly’s, one the most famous pubs in Ireland.
Clare also boasts one of Ireland’s most remarkable landscapes. The Burren is a vast limestone plateau with an abundance of flora and fauna, and some very rare animals, including the Irish hare and the hooded crow.
Bang in the centre is the Poulnabrone dolmen, one the most unusual prehistoric monuments in the country. There are also dozens of caves dotted across the Burren, some of which were once home to the now extinct Irish brown bear.
Ennis is a town with a 1000 year history and a bristling traditional music scene, in recent years it has become a leading player in Irish technological revolution, with a government backed plan to ensure every resident has internet access.