Visiting Ireland is an experience not to be missed. With spectacular landscapes and hospitable people, it’s guaranteed to be a memorable trip.
A road trip is one of the best ways to see Ireland, and there are many routes you can take to experience the very best Ireland has to offer. The R477 through the Burren is a popular choice, and you’ll see many wonderful sights along the way, and there are some great places to visit. So, what do you need to know to enjoy a trip through county Clare?
Where will it take you
The R477 is a scenic route with lots to see. Start at the charming village of Ballyvaughan and follow the coast road down steep slopes and mountainous areas, and you’ll arrive in Doolin. From where you can follow the R478 and check out the beautiful beach town of Lahinch. If you want to continue, then head over to Kilkee for some more cultural engagement.
When you think about Ireland’s rugged landscape, mountains and far-reaching views pop to mind, and it’s not far wrong. The landscape through the R477 is remarkable, and you will want to stop regularly to take in the views and take some awesome photos to look back on.
The Burren is made up of limestone that was formed many millions of years ago under tropical seas. You’ll find cattle freely grazing through the hills to keep the grasses down. Clints and grykes and parts of limestone that refer to their shape and are formed deep within the rock. You’ll need sturdy shoes and good balance to go hiking over limestone cliffs to avoid potential accidents or getting stuck.
Multiple arctic-alpine plant life grows in The Burren, and it’s not unusual to see flowers pushing their way through the rocks.
Ireland is steeped in history, which is fascinating to learn about. The people of The Burren have suffered over the years and as a result have formed a fairly insular community. The Great Irish Famine of the 19th century caused the death of 50,000 Irish residents over a period of 4 years. Many people worked in workhouses, which also caused the death of many.
Michael Cusack led the Gaelic revolution and formed The Gaelic Athletic Association and saved the national sport from extinction and up until today is a big part of Irish tradition.
Another famous man from The Burren was John Phillip Holland, who started the submarine project and invented this sea vessel.
Ireland is also famous for being the home of JRR Tolkien, the Author of Lord of the Rings. He spent much time in The Burren and was undoubtedly the inspiration for much of his work.
What To Do En Route
There is so much to see when travelling around the Burren, so it’s a good idea to research beforehand and make a plan, so you don’t miss any of the wonderful experiences.
The small village of Ballyvaughan is located north-west of The Burren and has a population of only 258.
Aillwee Cave is one of the oldest in Ireland. Take a tour around the caves and discover an underground world of beauty. You’ll find an awe-inspiring waterfall and intriguing natural formations.
Aillwee is also a Bird of Prey center and a great place to visit to get up close and personal with the world’s most spectacular birds. Hawks, Owls and Eagles are a few of the birds that live at the center.
The next town on your trip will be Doolin. A great location for exploring the surrounding cliffs and Aran Islands. Take a ferry and observe the amazing landscape from a luxury sea vessel. The Aran Islands are the epitome of Irish culture and you’ll find fishing boats, stone walls. Gaelic-speaking residents keep the islands alive, maintaining the traditional Irish way of life. The way of life is slow and provides a relaxing break from the humdrum of everyday life. Check out the local pubs for a truly cultural visit full of music and hilarity.
The coastal town of Lahinch is popular for its beaches and fantastic for surfing enthusiasts. The beach has super soft sand and wonderfully blue water. The town offers specialist surfing lessons if you’re a newbie, along with other water sport options.
If you get a chance, visit the cliffs of Moher during the dark hours. It’s a spectacular view when the moon lights up the sea producing a magical atmosphere.
Doolin cave is home to Europe’s largest stalactite; you should definitely plan a tour around the caves whilst you’re in the area. You’ll learn about the rich history and information about the local towns.
You mustn’t go to County Clare without checking out some of the area’s many castles. Doonagore castle is a fantastic spectacle and almost looks surreal against the rugged Irish terrain. Set high on a hill, it’s challenging to get there on the narrow roads. There’s no parking, so you may need to walk a fair distance to get there. You can’t see inside as the castle is private, but it’s a 16th century construction, so a photograph is almost mandatory.
After Doolin your road trip will take you to Kilkee, another beach resort that’s shaped like a horse shoe. You can start the day with a hearty breakfast at the popular Diamond Rocks Café, where you can enjoy a traditional Irish breakfast with locally sourced food.
The Kilkee cliff walk is a favorite activity for visitors, but not for the faint-hearted. This 11-mile walk will blow off the cobwebs and take 4-5 hours to complete. It can be chilly in the Atlantic wind, so it’s important to dress up warm. If visiting in the warmer months, you can take a dip in the water that’s sheltered from the cold winds and a popular spot for scuba diving.
A road trip through County Clare should be a listing on the bucket list of places to visit. You sure won’t be disappointed.