Activities & Attractions
Holy Island or Iniscealtra lies, 2kms from the village. St. Caimin founded a monastic settlement here in the 7th century. The monks suffered repeatedly at the hands of the Vikings during the 9th and 10th centuries but the settlement was restored by the mighty King Brian Boru. Holy Island is a treasure trove of historical monuments including the remains of six churches, a well preserved round tower, bullaun stones, a holy well, four crosses and a graveyard which is still used for local burials. Boats depart daily from Mountshannon harbour from mid May to October. Crossings usually take about 15 minutes each way with an hour on the Island. If you wish to explore a bit further or maybe relax and have a picnic a later collection time can easily be arranged. Boats are also available for hire locally.
The Aistear Iniscealtra
The Aistear Iniscealtra is a 4.5 acre Community Park, situated in the centre of Mountshannon village between the main street and the harbour. Pedestrian access has been developed from the harbour to the village via a walkway. Over five hundred trees and shrubs have been planted along this walk.
Inside and to the left of the main entrance gate is a play area for children. As one moves forward along the pathway one encounters the Maze, which is the main feature of the Aistear. The Maze is a pathway or pilgrimage through time, measured by the history of spirituality in Ireland. There are seven distinct periods or time spans during the journey depicting the spiritual evolutionary process. The project is based on the concept of spirituality in Ireland from prehistoric times, through to the modern era, an aspect of our culture that deserves to be celebrated and acknowledged. Seven periods are reflected within the maze, displaying contemporary relics and artefacts, which draw together these beliefs. The result is an engaging and informative exploration of Irish spirituality over 9,000 years.
The impressive castle at Portumna was the seat of the Clanricarde Burkes, for so long the most important landowners in County Galway. It was completed c. 1617 by Richard Burke, 4th Earl of Clanricarde, but was accidentally destroyed by fire in 1826. The Office of Public Works has been involved in its restoration in recent times.
Discovered by Jack McCann, a local farmer, in 1944, the 1000 feet long cave is one of the oldest of the Burren Caves having formed millions of years ago. Guided tours, lasting 30 minutes, allow you to observe beautiful caverns, bridged chasms, underground waterfalls, weird mineral formations and the hibernation chambers of brown bears which have been extinct in Ireland for centuries. Facilities include a restaurant, craft shop, information desk and outside, 'The Hazelwood' crafts village.
Aillwee Cave, Ballyvaughan, County Clare
Phone: 065 7077036
Birr Castle Demesne and Historical Science Centre
Birr Castle, Co. Offaly Includes one of the most amazing gardens in the country with Formal Garden and River Garden. It is a parkland with thousands of rare trees and plants collected all over the world, rivers, a lake and waterfall. In the grounds is the Great Telescope, built by the third Earl of Rosse in the 1840s. It was the largest in the world for 70 years. The Historic Science Centre is a superb visit. It contains astronomical instruments, cameras, photographs and photographic equiptment used by the third and fourth Earls and Mary, Countess of Rosse, in the middle and late 1800s.
The Rock of Cashel
One of the most spectacular archeological sites in Ireland. It sits on the outskirts of Cashel on a large mound of limestone bristling with ancient fortifications. Mighty stone walls encircle a complete round tower, a roofless abbey, a 12th century Romanesque chapel, and numerous other buildings and high crosses. The Rock of Cashel is composed four structures which are the Hall of the Vicars Choral, the cathedral, the round tower, and Cormac's Chapel. Hore Abbey is about one kilometer north at the base of the rock.
Other visitor attractions all within easy reach of Mountshannon.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
This site represents a microcosm of Irish History. At one end we find the castle built in 1425 by the McNamara Clan, the history of this beautiful building stretches over 500 years of turbulence. However, it was the Vikings who first set up a trading post in Bunratty in 950. The castle was acquired by the Anglo Irish Studdart family in 1720. They lived in the castle until the 19th century when the abandoned the castle, and built Bunratty House which stands on a hill at the opposite end of the Folk Park. It was not until 1954 that lord Gort purchased the castle and retored it to its present condition. He also installed the finest collection of medieval furniture in the country, thereby preserving a vital part of the Celtic past and the heritage of Co. Clare.
The Folk Park adjoins the castle and aims to show what everyday life was like in rural Ireland about 100 years ago. It contains reconstructed farmhouses, cottages and shops, and care has been taken to make them as authentic as possible, particularly with regard to furnishings. The Park is a living museum: animals are tended, bread is baked, milk is churned, walls are whitewashed and roofs are thatched. You may visit an Irish farmhouse, watch the blacksmith fit a horseshoe, attend a weaving demonstration, and bake and eat scones at the local teahouse. The village also reflects the fundamental changes that led to increased mobility.
The Cliffs Of Moher
Just North of Lahinch, on the coast of West Clare, are the famous Cliffs of Moher, defiantly standing as giant natural ramparts against the aggressive might of the Atlantic Ocean. They rise in places over 215 meters (700 feet) and stretch for almost 8km. O’Brien’s Tower, which was constructed in the early 19th century as a viewing point for Victorian tourists, is located on Moher’s highest cliff. From its exceptional vantage position you can view the Clare coastline, the Aran Islands, and mountains as far apart as Kerry and Connemara.
Extending over more than a hundred square miles in the north-western corner of Co. Clare, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Galway Bay. Most of it is bare, pale grey limestone, but the rock is enlivened by big or small patches of green pasture of little pieces of hazel woodland. On the pasture, and in the many crevices in the pavement of rocks, there are countless wild flowers so the region is a mass of colour. It is mountainous, has wonderful seashore and is liberally scattered with the monuments created by its human inhabitants in the course of six thousand years. The Burren limestone area has many unusual features that make it unique in Europe. Its geology, flora, caves, archaeology and history set it apart as a place of great mystery and beauty. At its best on a sunny day in May when the greatest numbers of wild flowers are in bloom, the Burren is unique and worth a visit any time of year.
The Burren National Park: www.burrennationalpark.ie
The word "Burren" comes from an Irish word "Boíreann" meaning a rocky place. This is an extremely appropriate name when you consider the lack of soil cover and the extent of exposed Limestone Pavement. However it has been referred to in the past as "Fertile rock" due to the mixture of nutrient rich herb and floral species.
Craggounowen (the living past)
See how the ancient Celts lived, fought, farmed and hunted. Exhibits include a replica of a Crannog (lake dwelling), Ring Fort, Iron Age Roadway and an outdoor cooking site. Visitors can also view a 15th Century tower house, wild boar and the Brendan Voyage the boat in which Tim Severin re-enacted the voyage of St. Brendan, reputed to have discovered America centuries before Columbus. You can have refreshments in the Coffee shop. Open April to October inclusive.
Spirit of Killaloe River Cruises
Luxury 50 seater passenger boat. On board a choice of two decks. Upper deck is ideally suited for taking the sun and enjoying the spectacular scenery. Lower deck has spacious seating, full bar facilities, tea, coffee, and snack refreshments on board.
Contact: Killaloe River Cruises
Mobile: 00 353 (0) 86 8140559
East Clare Heritage Centre
East Clare is home to St Cronan's Church at Tuamgraney the oldest church in continuous use in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. It was built prior to 964 AD and the doorway through which the legendary King Of Ireland, Brian Boru, entered over 1000 years ago is still intact. The building houses a heritage centre and folk museum.
Address: Tuamgraney, Co. Clare
Monday – Friday Year Round
Phone: 00353 (0) 61 921351
Brian Boru Heritage Centre, Killaloe. Co. Clare
Open from May - September 10am - 5pm daily. Follow in the footsteps of the 11th century High King of Ireland Brian Boru (940-1014) who was born in Killaloe.
Killaloe Heritage Centre elaborates on the theme of Celtic Ireland. The exhibition also traces the history of the arrival of Christianity and the monastic tradition.
Irish Seed Savers, Capparoe, Scariff
Visit our 8 hectare site with beautiful Organic Seed Gardens, Orchards and Woodlands Open all week. Entrance to Organic Seed Gardens, Orchards and Woodlands is free to children & subscribers.
Lough Derg Drive
The trail covers the towns of Mountshannon, Killaloe/Ballina, Portumna, Terryglass, Nenagh and Portroe. This driving route makes a comfortable day trip allowing you cover 40 kms with comfort allowing you time to stop for lunch and take some lovely pictures on the way. Lough Derg is the largest and one of the most beautiful of the lakes on the River Shannon.
Clare Museum, Ennis
Address: Next to the tourist office
The Clare museum has various items on display from the County Clare region. They have a very interesting collection of Stone Age axes; you will also find an interesting exhibit about J P Holland the inventor of the submarine. Admission is free.
The Great Stalactite! Doolin Cave is one of Europe's most compelling cave attractions. It is a truly authentic experience. It is your only opportunity to see such a large free hanging stalactite anywhere in the world. Perfect for families! The cave tour takes approximately one hour.
St. John’s Castle
Experience 800 years of history on King's Island. King John’s Castle is a 13th century Castle on ‘King’s Island’ in the heart of medieval Limerick City. The Castle overlooks the majestic River Shannon offering wonderful views of Limerick City. Discover history at its best, magnificent views and life in Norman times. Explore 800 years of history brought to life in the imaginative historical exhibition, excavated pre-Norman houses, fortifications, siege mines, and the battlement walks.
Dolphin Watch, Carrigaholt, Co. Clare
Dolphin Watching, Kilrush, Co. Clare