Ennis Friary & Other Places You Must Visit

A visit to Ennis is not complete without a visit to its 13th century Friary.  Walk in the footsteps of the Franciscans and experience a visit to a medieval building going back to the 13th century.  Find out how Ennis got its name and hear the story of why and how the Royal O’Briens, Kings of Thomond chose this site for the friars.

As you tour the friary you will see the layout and the function of each area including the chancel where the high altar once stood underneath the tall east window.  Stand under the tall tower, see the holes for the bell ropes and if you are observant you will notice masons marks or builders marks carved on the stones in many areas of the friary.

The friary has some superb medieval carvings, including St. Francis, the panels telling of Christ’s Passion and the Man of Sorrows showing the instruments of the passion. In the stone roofed sacristy the technique used to build this type of roof will be explained. Walk around the cloister arcade and hear how the dormitories and refectory were used and discover why they needed a prison.

 

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Nearby Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland.  Built in 1425 it was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendour and now contains mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings tapestries and works of art which capture the mood of those times.

The Bunratty Folk Park is a living reconstruction of the homes and environment of Ireland of over a century ago.  Rural farmhouses, village shops and streets are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time.  In the Folk Park there is an extensive array of vernacular buildings; indicative of all of the social strata, from the poorest one roomed dwelling to Bunratty House a fine example of a Georgian residence for the gentry (built 1804 home of the Studdarts, the last family to occupy Bunratty Castle).

The Village Street denotes village life in 19th century Ireland.  The village houses and shops have been chosen from many different areas, to form a collection of typical 19th century urban Irish buildings.  Visit the School, Doctor’s house, Pawnbrokers, Pub, Drapery, Printworks, Grocery, Hardware shop, Pottery and Post Office.  Traditional jobs and crafts are also represented, milling, the forge, pottery, printing, baking, farming etc.

 

Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher which are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction are just 30 minutes by car from Ennis.  The Cliffs of Moher are 214 meters high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometers over the Atlantic Ocean on the western seaboard of County Clare. From the Cliffs of Moher one can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South.  A unique experience is always encountered at the Cliffs including stunning views of the dramatic Atlantic coastline along 600 meters of pathways.

An eco-friendly Visitor Centre is set into the hillside and offers an all weather experience.  The centre is a unique cave like structure which minimises the visual impact on this fabulous scenic location and uses a range of energy saving and eco-friendly features including geo-thermal solar energy and water recycling.  The Atlantic Edge Exhibition is a must see in the visitor centre and is the ideal way to learn about the Cliffs of Moher.  The “Ledge Theatre” gives a virtual reality birds eye view of Cliff edge life above and below sea level.

O’Brien’s Tower was built in 1835 by local landlord Cornelius O’Brien as a viewing point for the tourists that even then were flocking to the Cliffs of Moher.  The tower stands near the highest point 214 meters above sea level.  The views from the top are spectacular, the tower is open daily for tours of the exhibition on the first floor and the viewing area at the top.  The Aill na Searrach wave view point is at O’Brien’s Tower.  Aill na Searrach is where a 40ft wave raises it’s head several times a year.  Surfers can be seen surfing the wave from this point.

 

The Burren

The Northwest corner of Clare houses the most unique region in Ireland.  The word Burren comes from the Irish word boireann meaning rocky land.  Huge pavements of limestone are present with clints and grikes.  Most of the drainage is underground in deep caves.  Man has been known to settle here since the stone age leaving a rich source of habitations and tombs.

This region is home to more than 700 plants and is considered one of Europes richest botanical areas.  Plants from the Arctic Alpine and Mediterranean are present here puzzling many a botanist.  Although the Burren consists of 1% of land mass of Ireland 75% of native Irish species call the Burren home.

Limestone is abundant here and it was formed from the shells of sea creatures from shallow seas over 300 million years.  15,000 years ago glaciers stripped the soil off and the forces of nature eroded the rock into limestone pavements that we see today.

32 species of butterfly are present in Ireland and 28 of these call the Burren home.  The wildlife is very rich and abundent here with many birds found in the meadows and hills.  Wild goats can be seen strolling around in the uplands.  Badgers and stoats have been known to grace their presence in the Burren.