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Your day out in North Clare.

 

With its intriguing history and gorgeous views, North Clare is the perfect place to spend the day. The Burren is a unique landscape known for a series of vast limestone pavements, deep fissures, ancient ruins and a network of underground caves. It is an area of mainly limestone karst terrain, covering about 250 square kilometers, across North Clare and South Galway. This beautiful countryside would draw anyone in. Located less than an hour away from Galway City, North Clare is the perfect place to spend a day trip. Read along to find out how you should spend your day.  

Before beginning your journey, stop off at Gran Grans Foods in Kilcolgan and grab a freshly brewed coffee and a pastry to fuel up for the adventure. Head towards Kinvarra and the first stop of the day, Dunguaire Castle. A 16th Century tower house located on the water’s edge, take some stunning pictures to document your trip. Read the informative signs to learn all about the history of this place, and walk around the castle grounds taking in all aspects of this site.  

Just a 15-minute drive from the castle, nestled amongst the Burren Hills, is a luxury local chocolatier. Hazel Mountain Chocolate are Irish craft chocolate makers, using simple sustainable practices and ethically sourced ingredients. Take a tour to learn all about how they turn the coca beans into award winning chocolate. Sampling is encouraged! 

For the hiking enthusiasts, make sure to walk the 8km Ballyvaughan Wood Loop. The unfolding layers of limestone form terraces on the slopes of the hills. The first section of the loop follows part of the long-distance Burren way, climbing up towards the Aillwee Cave. This hike takes you along the side of the Aillwee Mountain and back down to the village of Ballyvaughan. 

                  

                                                                                                               

 

Next up on the agenda, Aillwee Burren Experience. It is simply unmissable when visiting The Burren. Discover a world of history beneath your feet on a 45-minute guided Cave tour. Accompany the guides to the Burren underworld and unlock an intriguing story of the history and formation of this cave. Visit our Birds of Prey Centre. Be educated and entertained by our dynamic flying demonstrations, as you learn about their habits and nature while seeing them soar through the sky.  

Take a self-guided stroll through our Hazel Woodland walk and appreciate all the biodiversity The Burren has to offer. Understand this diverse wildlife from our informative and engaging signs that tell you all you need to know. The Farm Shop at Aillwee is a ‘hidden gem’. Stop to sample our flavorful fudge and Burren Gold cheese, both made on site. View the local artisan products and local artists, be sure to grab a souvenir. For the explorer, the food and the adventurer in you, Aillwee really does have it all.  

All this exploring can work up anyone’s appetite. Grab a Burren Gold Cheese sandwich or bring a picnic and sit by the Farm shop to take in the beauty The Burren holds. Head to the historical site of the Poulnabrone Dolmen. A megalithic tomb dating back almost 6000 years to the Neolithic period, the tomb consists of a large flat stone, supported by two standing stones. This tomb is believed to have been used for burial ceremonies.          

If one historical site isn’t enough for you, make your way to close by Caherconnell Fort. Here you will find a fort from the 16th Century and sheepdog trails. Discover the history found on this site, while the story is brought to life by the local tour guides. The fort experience also includes an insightful audio-visual presentation on The Burren and imagining a day in the life of the inhabitants of the family fort. After the tour, it’s time for the sheep dog demonstration. The shepherd will guide the dogs to retrieve the sheep from The Burren landscape and drive them back to their holding. Using his whistle and voice the shepherd displays his relationship with his dogs. The dogs take their role very seriously and display tenacity and utter focus until their job is done. Once the hard work is over, the sheep dogs get their rewards, pets and rubs from all the visitors.  

Finish up your evening with dinner in Monks, overlooking Ballyvaughan Bay and Pier, enjoy a lively atmosphere and gorgeous food. The seafood menu celebrates locally caught fresh fish from the Atlantic Ocean. Finally, listen to some live music by the open fire in Hylands Burren Hotel before heading home for the evening.