(Inis - an islet or river meadow)
Ennis, on the banks of the River Fergus, is the county town of Clare, with quaint narrow
streets and broad visitor appeal. It is also the cathedral town of the Catholic diocese
The town developed round a 13th century castle built by a chief of the powerful O'Brien
family, which established its headquarters at nearby Clonroad. It became a borough in 1612.
Visitors particularly enjoy the range of shopping - including craft shopping and
superb dining options - to suit all tastes.
Ennis is a the Traditional music Capital of Ireland and music resounds from many centres,
particularly from within its famous character pubs and the newly opened Glór, International Folk Music Centre.
Founded by the O'Brien family in 1250 for the Franciscan Order, was restored about 1300 by
Turlough Mor O'Brien (who added the strikingly tall east window with its five slender lights
and pointed top.) There is a good deal of interesting sculpture and its monuments are famous,
especially the McMahon tomb (15th century) with its carvings of the Passion.
Erected in 1831, (two years after Catholic Emancipation,), dedicated to SS. Peter and
Paul and has paintings of their ascensions. Neo-Gothic style.
The De Valera Library and Museum
Housed in a converted Presbyterian Church, contains in addition to archaeological and
historical museum pieces, valuable archival material. It was awarded a European Architecture
Heritage Award in 1975.
West Clare Railway Engine
The railway, which opened for business in 1887, ran at first from Ennis to Miltown Malbay
through Ennistymon. It was later extended to Kilkee and Kilrush, serving Lahinch and other
coastal towns on the way.
One of its engines, the Slieve Callan, has been preserved and may be seen at the railway
station and bus depot.
The railway was discontinued in 1961.
De Valera Monument
Eamon de Valera was a T.D. (member of Irish parliament) for Clare from 1917 to 1959 and
taoiseach (prime minister) for much of that period. The memorial is a larger than life
sized statue of the tall, austere figure.
Steele's Rock nearby commemorates "Honest Tom" Steele, a friend and
supporter of Daniel O'Connell.
On a corner of O'Connell Square the massive pediment and tall limestone column supporting
a statue of Daniel O'Connell, toga-clad, who was M.P. for Clare from 1828 to 1831.
The monument was erected in 1867.
Maid of Erin
This is the name popularly given to a memorial column erected in 1885 to
three men: Allen, Larkin and O'Brien executed in Manchester in 1867 for attempting
to rescue a group of Fenians. The limestone column is topped by the figure of a young
woman with wolfhound and harp - romantic Irish symbolism.
The county courthouse, on a riverside site at New Bridge Road, is an impressive
building fronted with a good Ionic portico. The vestibule has an 1850 statue of Sir
Michael 0 Loghlen of Drumconora House, Ennis, who was the first Catholic to be made
Master of the Rolls since Penal times.
The remains of a round tower and a 12th/13th century church can be found some 3 km
off the road to Corofin. An earlier monastery was founded by St. Conall on the same site.
The city was founded in 922 by the Norsemen. Brian Boru drove them out of Limerick a
century later and the city became for a long period the centre from which the O'Briens
ruled Thomond. King John annexed the city to the English crown and built the
imposing King John's Castle commanding the Shannon crossing in 1210.
The nearby St Mary's Cathedral was built about the same time.
remained an English trading centre and continued to grow, the old city comprising two
parts, Englishtown and Irishtown. In the 18th century the city extended towards the
south and west to form New Town Pery, a development characterised by handsome Georgian
streets, crescent and squares, which is now the business and professional centre of
the city. O'Connell Street, planned by Viscount Pery as the central feature of the new
town, is now the city's main traffic artery.
The city boasts two museums, one in the beautifully restored Georgian John's Square
and the Hunt Museum at the National Institute of Higher Education complex at Plassy.