I spent a day in West Clare on the October Bank Holiday Weekend. I was worried how the weather would be like on the last weekend of October but I ended up being so lucky with a clear blue sky – a perfect day for a drive! I had arrived on Friday and stayed overnight at the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon. It’s a nice hotel with great leisure facilities, I would highly recommend the sauna with a view and the outdoor jacuzzi. They also have donkeys just outside the hotel and I couldn’t help petting them for a good 15 minutes or so before hitting the road! The coastal areas of County Clare are part of the Wild Atlantic Way, but the real reason why I wanted to visit Clare was that the Loop Head area was chosen as the “Best Place to Holiday in Ireland in 2013” and I wanted to find out what the fuss was about!
My first stop was in the small town of Lahinch (sometimes spelled Lehinch) which is only a stone’s throw away from Ennistymon. It is famous for its stunning Blue Flag beach which is great for all kinds of water sports. Even the cold water temperature hadn’t managed to scare the surfers away and it was nice to admire them riding the waves. The beach is very popular among locals and tourists alike and it was filled with people enjoying walks with their children and four-legged friends.
After leaving Lahinch behind I continued on to Spanish Point – a small village approximately a 15-minute drive further south. It got its name from the Spanish Armada that got destroyed by a storm on Irish waters in 1588. Two of the ships sank where Spanish Point lies today. The beach in the village is so beautiful. You could notice straight away the difference compared to Lahinch, there were no other cars parked up and only a handful of people walking on the beach. I made a mental note to stay at the 4-star Armada Hotel sometime in the future. It is located right on the edge of the Atlantic and the views from the rooms are spectacular!
My next stop was at Kilkee. On my way there I passed Doonbeg, known for its beautiful dunes, golf and as the home of the 5- star Trump International Hotel, it has caused quite of a stir up here in Ireland. The resort is a very important source of employment for the locals and it will be interesting to see what future holds for the place (I’m writing this a couple of hours after the election results came out). I have been told before that the cliffs in Kilkee are better than the Cliffs of Moher. In my opinion they’re not nearly as impressive but I do understand why many people are drawn into them. They are so much more quiet than the Cliffs of Moher – at the end of October it was so nice and peaceful and the few people around were locals enjoying the sun on their day off. So if you wish to avoid the crowds and tour buses, this is the place to go to. You can choose between 5 and 8 km walks, but since I had so much more to see I settled to enjoy the views from the Wild Atlantic Way viewpoint.
After Kilkee the road gets fairly narrow and I was stuck behind a tractor on more than one occasion! However, the narrow road does come to an end and you finally reach the Loop Head Lighthouse. It is one of those model examples of Irish lighthouses, a big beautiful white building on top of a sea cliff. I walked around a bit and to my surprise stumbled upon an unusual rock formation. It took me a few seconds to realise that it was a massive sign that spelled EIRE. This word was written on many locations along the Irish coast to notify World War ll pilots that they were entering a neutral airspace. There is one really interesting fact about the lighthouse as well – you can stay there overnight! Well not in the actual lighthouse, but in the lightkeeper’s house which is located right next to it. If you’re interested in a really unique and remote overnight location, just let us know and we’ll be delighted to assist!
After exploring around the lighthouse I continued on with my journey and drove through the villages of Kilbaha and Carrigaholt. The latter one is home to the Carrigaholt Castle – a tower house built in the 15th- century. You can’t actually go inside the castle, but it is beautiful from the outside and makes a great photo stop. You can also catch a boat to visit the Shannon estuary and see the largest group of bottlenose dolphins in Europe! I started to feel a bit peckish and drove back to Kilkee for a lovely lunch at the Marine Hotel and thus completed my West Clare/Loop Head drive. It’s no wonder why the place was chosen as the best place to holiday in Ireland. The people of Clare are so friendly and the views a breathtakingly beautiful. I really enjoyed my day and would highly recommend visiting the area when travelling in Ireland.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kati Lepisto is very passionate about the West of Ireland and especially the Wild Atlantic Way. She used to live in Galway City and knows it inside and out. She would be happy to help you with any inquiries regarding the West! You can email her directly at [email protected]