Boutique shops, music nights and breathtaking sights are all close at hand in and around Ennis, County Clare. Kat Keogh reports.
“The climate is remarkably wholesome, the air clear and temperate, and the prospect pure and delightful.”
So said writer John Lloyd in his book a Short Tour Of Clare, which was published all the way back in 1780.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and Mr Lloyd would be happy to discover that little has changed.
As someone with Irish roots, I’m no stranger to lure of the Emerald Isle, with long summers spent roaming the countryside with an army of cousins.
But though my love of trampling through fields came to an abrupt end in a freak accident involving a pair of too-large trainers and a cow pat, that fondness for Ireland has never left me.
But with most of the Keogh clan handily located within a 90-minute drive of Dublin, I’d never had the chance to explore what the West coast has to offer.
So it was with a renewed sense of adventure that I boarded an Aer Lingus flight from Birmingham to Shannon Airport in County Clare. A short 90-minute flight and half an hour’s taxi from the airport later finds you in Ennis, a bustling county town packed with charm, shops and a healthy smattering of public houses.
Our base for the weekend was the Old Ground Hotel, a four-star former manor house dating back to the 18th century which is situated in the heart of town.
But don’t let the hotel’s lofty pedigree fool you – the welcome is as warm as the cosy armchairs dotted around the reception, and the friendly service is second to none.
Must-see sights within easy reach of Ennis include the Burren, a barren expanse of limestone taking its name from the Gaelic term meaning “great rock”, which is one of Ireland’s most-visited attractions.