Ennis is a really lovely, compact town in the middle of County Clare. For me it was an ideal stopover on the way from Cork to Galway.
What to do:
Clare Museum has exhibits on many aspects of life in Ennis over the years. I found some of the sports history presentations quite interesting. Pictured are GAA jerseys from the 1990s, medals from the 1910s and ‘goggles’ worn by John Joe ‘Goggles’ Doyle during hurling matches in the 1930s.
I really liked the Hands Sculpture at Ss. Peter and Paul Church. Designed by Shane Gilmore, it symbolises hands of welcome, of co-operation, of faith and of peace.
Ennis Abbey was closed for renovations when I visited but I still got a glimpse from the outside.
McParland’s House is the oldest inhabited building in Ennis. James Barrett lived there from 1722 – 1808. It also has a Jacobean chimneystack from the 1600s.
Other interesting buildings are Queen’s Hotel – written about in James Joyce’s Ulysses – and the Old Ground Hotel, which was previously a gaol (prison).
There are a large variety of high street, boutique and souvenir shops in the town.
Where to stay: The Rowan Tree Hostel is a nice hostel with a cool vibe. There is a large kitchen, dining room and living room with leather sofas and an open fire.
Where to eat: Rowan Tree Café, Ennis Gourmet Store and Suas Coffee House all came recommended.
Coffee: It has to be Suas Coffee House – it was so good! This small café is found upstairs in Carraig Donn with a view out onto O’Connell Square. It was voted one of the 10 best coffee shops in Ireland by the Irish Times. The espresso I had was Bolivian, a 3FE blend called 18 de Mayo Cori Gill and it was divine.
I drove around the coast of County Clare from Kilrush to Miltown Malbay. There are some lovely towns, traditional Irish pubs and fantastic sea views. I went through Kilrush, Kilkee, Quilty, Spanish Point and Miltown Malbay. It is possible to go further e.g. out to Loop Head, up to Lahinch and to the Cliffs of Moher.
I got some good photos at Kilrush Marina and found this lovely sculpture called ‘The First Breath.’ It shows two mid-wife dolphins pushing a newborn to the surface for its first gulp of air, in celebration of the breeding dolphins in the nearby Shannon Estuary.
Kilkee has a long crescent shaped beach in a sheltered bay while Miltown Malbay is a lively summer resort town.