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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ennis, Ireland

Dromoland Castle, near EnnisDromoland Castle, near Ennis View slideshow
Ennis (Inis, "island"), county town of Clare Co. and an important road and railroad junction (N18, N68), lies on the River Fergus in the west of Ireland. The River Fergus flows in broad curves through the town, which has preserved something of a medieval aspect with its narrow winding streets.
Shannon International Airport is only 15mi/25km from Ennis, which, with its extensive hinterland and its light industries, is a considerable market and commercial center.

Ennis Friary

At the end of Abbey Street in Ennis stands Ennis Friary (National Monument), a Franciscan house founded in 1241 which in the mid-14th C. was a flourishing community with 375 friars and 600 students. The church dates from the original foundation but has been much altered. It has some very fine sculpture, including a figure of St Francis with the stigmata (on the southwest side of the tower), the MacMahon tomb of about 1475 (on the south wall), a royal tomb with scenes from the Passion and a small representation of the Scourging, with the "cock-in-the-pot".
Address: Abbey Street, Ireland

Clare Museum and Library

Near the Ennis abbey, in Harmony Row, is the De Valera Museum and Library, with material on Ennis and the surrounding area and the history of Ireland. Among the exhibits is the fountain pen with which Eamon de Valera and Neville Chamberlain signed the 1938 treaty on the handing over of the Irish naval bases occupied by Britain.
Address: Harmony Row, Ireland

Fleadh Nua Festival

This annual festival takes place in late May, bringing together traditional Irish music and dance. Performers are invited from throughout Ireland to showcase local traditions and customs.
Address: Arthur's Row, O'Connell Street, Ireland

Surroundings

Knappogue Castle, near EnnisKnappogue Castle, near Ennis

Quin Abbey

6mi/10km east of Ennis on the R469 is Quin, with Quin Abbey (1402: National Monument), the well-preserved ruins of a Franciscan friary built on the foundations of an earlier castle, the bastions of which can still be seen. The church has tombstones of the 15th to 19th C.; well-preserved cloister. On the other side of the little river stands St Finghin's Church (13th C.: National Monument); the tower is a later addition.

Knappogue Castle

Southeast of Quin Abbey on the R469 we come to Knappogue Castle, a 16th C. tower house furnished in period style. In summer "medieval banquets" are held in the 19th C. annex.

Craggaunowen Project

To the south of Knappogue Castle, east of Ennis, is a restored castle, the 16th C. Craggaunowen Castle, which is part of a larger enterprise, the Craggaunowen Project. The castle itself contains a small collection of medieval religious art from the Hunt Collection, mostly from the Continent. In the grounds can be seen reconstructions of structures from the earliest periods of human settlement in Ireland, including a crannog (lake dwelling) in a small lough and a stone ring fort, both with huts and implements of the period. In a glass shed is displayed the leather boat in which Tim Severin and his crew re-enacted the medieval voyages of St Brendan in 1976 and 1977. The gatekeeper's lodge, to the left, next to the castle entrance, has been turned into a chapel. Notable is the bronze cross (15th C).
Address: Kilmurry, Sixmilebridge, Ireland

Sixmilebridge, Ireland

The R462 leads south from Craggaunowen Project to Sixmilebridge, a pretty little village with what has been called a "Georgian doll's house," Mount Ievers (1736). From here a minor road runs southwest to the village of Bunratty where, on the banks of a stands Bunratty Castle.

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle with its four stone towers.
From Sixmilebridge a minor road runs southwest to the village of Bunratty where, on the banks of a stream, stands Bunratty Castle (15th C: National Monument), which, after an eventful history of destruction and rebuilding, was acquired in 1954 by Lord Gort and magnificently restored; it is now managed by Shannon Free Airport Development Ltd. The great hall and banqueting hall, chapel and residential apartments are furnished with a splendid collection of period furniture, and "medieval banquets" for visitors are held in the banqueting hall.
In the grounds of Bunratty Castle is the Bunratty Folk Park, an open air museum in which typical farm workers', fishermen's and craft workers' cottages, domestic equipment and furnishings, have been re-erected.
Among tourist attractions which have become popular in Ireland are the "medieval banquets" held in old castles such as Bunratty, Knappogue (near Quin, Co. Clare) and Dunguaire (Kinvara, Co. Galway). At these events substantial medieval-style meals are served by young men and women in contemporary costume to the accompaniment of old ballads and music.
Address: Limerick-Ennis Road, Co Clare, Ireland

Cratloe Woods House

At Cratloe, a short distance east of Bunratty Castle south of Ennis, stands Cratloe Woods House, a 19th C. mansion.

Shannon International Airport

Bunratty attracts large numbers of tourists, being only 7mi/11km from Shannon International Airport. The airport, the most westerly in Europe, was opened in 1945, with the world's first duty-free shop. Since it lost its importance as a port of call for transatlantic flights, a development company, Shannon Free Airport Development Ltd. has established a variety of industries here (precision tools, electronic apparatus, industrial diamonds, etc.). The town of Shannon has a population of 7,000.

Urlanmore Castle

From Shannon Airport the N18 runs north to Ennis. On the left of the road can be seen the fine ruin of Urlanmore Castle. On the wall of an upper room in the keep are medieval outline drawings of animals.

Dromoland Castle, Newmarket on Fergus, Ireland

Beyond Urlanmore Castle we come to Newmarket on Fergus where Dromoland Castle, a mansion of 1830, now a hotel, has lovely gardens, an old tower and a large stone fort within the grounds.

Clarecastle

Between Ennis and Newmarket lies Clarecastle with the ruined castle of the same name in the River Fergus. The county of Clare was possibly named after this castle.

Clare Abbey

2mi/3km south of Ennis on the N18 are the ruins of Clare Abbey (National Monument), founded in the 12th C. and extended at various times down to the 15th C.

Killone Abbey

3mi/5km southwest of Ennis on the N68, in a beautiful setting on a lough, are the remains of Killone Abbey (12th C.; National Monument), one of Ireland's few nunneries.

Dysert O'Dea

Northwest of Ennis (the N85 to Fountain Cross, then 4mi/6km to the left on the R476) lies the site of Dysert O'Dea (National Monument), with a church, a round tower, and a high cross. The present church dates from the late 17th C., when it was reconstructed more or less in its original form (12th-13th C.). It has a fine Romanesque doorway carved with beautiful geometric designs, foliage and rather Mongoloid masks. At the northwest corner of the church stands the stump of a round tower, still 40ft/12m high, and in a field to the east is a high cross, with an unusual figure of the Crucified Christ, fully clothed, on the east side; the other sides are divided into panels with a variety of geometric patterns, human figures and interlace designs with animals.

Dromore Wood

A pond in the Dromore Nature Reserve.
The Dromore Wood reserve is a semi-natural woodland with a variety of inhabitants, particularly the pine marten. Near the lake edge stands the 17th C. O'Brien castle and Kilakee church. The information center is open during the summer months.
Address: Ruan, Ireland

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