Exploring Clare and Limerick from Bunratty Castle Gardens
Bunratty Castle Gardens is perfectly situated and ideal for exploring counties Clare and Limerick. In this post we highlight a few amazing things to do from Bunratty Village.
Fun day trips from Bunratty Castle Gardens include: The Burren, Ballyvaughan, Fanore Beach, Doolin, The Cliffs of Moher, Lahinch Beach, Loop Head Lighthouse and Limerick City.
Bunratty Castle Gardens are just a short walk away from the famous Bunratty Castle and Folk park. This attraction is an authentic look at what life was like in 19th Century Ireland. The folk park has all the old buildings you would find in an old village as well as a petting zoo that is fun for getting up close with farm animals. The castle itself is extraordinary and decorated in authentic artifacts including 16th century tapestries and furniture. An exciting show at Bunratty is the nightly banquet that includes food, music and dancing. To enter the hall is also an experience as you walk up the narrow way and bridge like the knights and ladies did in old times! To pre-book tickets to the evening banquet follow this link: https://www.bunrattycastle.ie/medieval-banquet/
It is open year-round but check ahead from November to March as there are less performance times during the winter. In the summer months it is advised to book ahead.
Just a 30-minute drive north of Bunratty Castle Gardens explore the Burren region of County Clare. It is a stunning area running from Corofin to Ballyvaughan and is officially an UNESCO Geo Park. The Burren area is made up of 200 km square of unique rock formations and flora and fauna unique to this part of Ireland. A great way to start a day in the Burren is to head for Corofin on the R476 road and drop into the Burren National Park Information Point – here you can paper maps on all the trials or click here: https://www.burrennationalpark.ie/ Or stop off in The Burren Centre in Kilfenora just a 10-minute drive from Corofin on the R476: http://www.theburrencentre.ie/
The best way to experience the Burren is a mix of on foot and by car. It is easy to book a tour guide with Burren Hill Walks or Corofin Walks. We have the details on hand in you want to contact us. If you want to walk a trail without a guide it is advisable to take a map as trails can be confusing.
Worth a visit in the Burrren!
The Burren Perfumery is located on eastern side of the Burren just past the area of Carran. The Burren Perfumery has an amazing production where they produce all their own products naturally sourced from wild flowers in this region.
Driving north on R476 and close to The Burren Perfumery is where you can find the Famous Father Ted house that was made famous by the Channel 4 sitcom: https://www.fathertedshouse.com/. The easiest way to find it is by taking a right after Killinaboy Church on the R476 and following the road up to the Burren National Park Trails.
In the Burren we also recommend stopping to visit the Pullnabrone going north on the R480 – you will see a parking lot near the road. It’s also a nice spot to see some new Burren flowers and have a read of history panels that surround the monument.
Further north is Caherconnell Fort and information centre – it also has a great café to sit, enjoy some local baked delicacies and a cup of tea . Further north and worth a visit is the Burren College of Art. The round tower is open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5pm. Further on overlooking the water are the villages Ballyvaughan and Bell Harbour. These are two gorgeous places to stop and enjoy the view and restaurants for lunch or dinner. Heading West from Ballyvaughan on the N67 take the drive past Black Head and you will come across Fanore Beach and further south Doolin Cave, Doolin Smokehouse, and Lisdoonvarna.
Doolin is lively village on the coast and perfect for enjoying the sea view with a meal or listening to live Irish music. Doolin Pier is also where you can get tickets for a visit to the Aran Islands on Doolin2Aran Ferries: https://www.doolin2aranferries.com/.
The Aran Island are made up of three islands and worth a visit. Be sure to include the tour that visits the Cliffs of Moher on the return journey for close look at a puffin colony, the stunning cliffs and a spectacular day out!
The Cliffs of Moher are fabulous for a walk and photo taking opportunities, there are some walks nearby and the parking lot is free after 7pm in the summer months and 6pm in the winter. There is a cheaper car park near the visitor centre about 300 meters from the Cliffs of Moher – to find ‘Guerin’s Path’ take the little road on your right to the end! It is an amazing to see a sunset up there! https://www.cliffsofmoher.ie/
Another great activity to do in the Burren is to take the park and ride shuttle bus from Doolin up to the Cliffs of Moher and walk back to Doolin with the sound of the ocean in your ears! A favorite thing for locals and visitors alike is to get Doolin Café to pack a picnic for you to enjoy on the cliffs!
Doolin is also a great village to explore Ireland’s musical heritage and hear live music. Daily and nightly there are music sessions in Gus O’Connors, McGanns, McDermotts and Fitz’s Pub & Eatery in Hotel Doolin. There is a great local music shop where you can buy traditional musical instruments, CD’s and sheet music.
If beaches and surfing are what you are looking for Lahinch and Fanore Beaches offer beautiful waters and changing waves depending on the weather! There are companies on both beaches to rent surf boards and wetsuits. Fanore does not have cafes on it but drive south and there are plenty of places to stop roadside on the way to lovely Doolin.
Fanore Surfing: https://www.surfschool.ie/
There are also historic and golf courses with scenic views in Doonbeg, Lahinch, Ennis and Limerick City & County.
Limerick City: https://www.limerickgolfclub.ie/
Limerick County: Please note that the regular club is http://www.adaremanorgolfclub.com/ When the hotel was developed the name is similar to the first golf club but if you want to golf on the 5-star resort the link is here: https://www.adaremanor.com/
Limerick City & County
Limerick City is just a 15-minute drive from Bunratty Castle Gardens, here explore Norman and Medieval Englishtown, Irishtown and Georgian Architecture at its finest. The oldest monuments in Limerick and worth visiting are Saint Mary’s Cathedral and King John’s Castle. This old city has many attributes and is ideal for walking in a day. We recommend the 3 Bridges walk: Thomond, Shannon and Sarsfield Bridge, and afterwards enjoying lunch in The Hunt Museum café or the Curragower Bar & Restaurant overlooking the Shannon River. In the evening live Irish music is on nightly in The Locke Bar and Dolan’s Bar & Warehouse. Both venues serve excellent food in a super atmosphere.
There are some amazing spaces to view art and these include The Limerick City of Art in Pery Square, while here explore the small ten acre People’s Park and be delighted in this truly Victorian Park. The Hunt Museum is in a historic 18th Century building and ideal to peruse their variety of artifacts and paintings.
King John’s Castle 1210, and Saint Mary’s Cathedral 1158, are amazing places to visit – the castle is one of the finest examples of a Norman Structure outside of France. Book tickets a few days ahead if you can in the summer months.
Limerick City is ideal for doing the river walk but if walking in the countryside is more your style, we recommend the short drive to Murroe on the M7 and N24. Here you can explore woods of Glenstal Abbey, home of the Benedictine Monks since 1927: https://www.glenstal.com/abbey
Close to Glenstal and gorgeous to walk are the Clare Glens and Slieve Felim way.
Other great activities to do while staying in Bunratty are doing adventure sports on the River Shannon with Nevsail or GetWest. Both companies offer outdoor sports and evening time kayaking on the River Shannon overlooking the city and King John’s castle. For rainy days Nevsail offer indoor rock climbing in the city centre. Links to both can be found here:
If you want to experience horse riding there is an equine community ready to get involved in. Close to Bunratty are Cratloe Stud (just 6km from Bunratty), Ballyshannon House & Horse Riding, Quin and Drumcliff Equestrian Centre in Ennis.
Often overlooked and worth mentioning are the other peaceful activities for a slow holiday – there are so many gorgeous spots to write, paint and contemplate the world. Our top places in Limerick City to slow down are: The People’s Park and the boardwalk in front of Barrington’s Hospital on George’s Quay.