Exciting things are happening in Ireland’s West for 2014, and this photo post is a wee taster for you; a preview of two fantastic new additions to Ireland’s many temptations: Limerick City of Culture 2014 and the Wild Atlantic Way.
I say temptations because I find that every time I look at my twitter feed I see another Irish event, activity, place to eat, artist or craftsperson, museum, special place to stay or place of natural beauty that I want to visit and tell you about.
As well as the upcoming events of music, art, dance, history, fashion, food, sport, literature & more, another thing special about visiting Limerick during the City of Culture is that in just around an hour you can be in the Burren & on county Clare’s stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way. If you enjoy both culture & the outdoors, this combination really is the best of both worlds.
With this in mind, when I was in Limerick for the 2014 launch I stayed in ‘Ireland’s friendliest town,‘ Ennis Co. Clare– which is right in the middle of both the Burren & Limerick. As I live in Kilkenny, & Kilkenny City was voted by Conde Nast the 9th most friendly city in the world, I had high standards for Ennis! I wasn’t disappointed though, and as I wandered the town I was greeted in the shops and got friendly service/chat everywhere– from the petrol station to the interesting Clare museum.
Ennis has a lovely buzz about it, with cute shops & people saying hello to each other on the streets. There seems a good community spirit, and this weekend the Ennis Trad Fest is on. There’s also a free Ennis app you can get for your phone! I think you’ll enjoy Ennis. I stayed as a guest in one of the private rooms at Rowan Tree Hostel, and below is the photo I took from my balcony- nice isn’t it!
Just a scenic half hour’s drive away is the Burren and the Wild Atlantic Way running along its western edge. The day I went was misty, grey & windy, and after spending time being buffeted by that wind on surfers’ favorite Lahinch Strand I headed to the market town of Ennistymon. There the cozy Guru Teahouse is a nice spot for lunch & one of their 100s of special tea blends. I could feel a head cold starting on my trip, and I got helpful advice in Guru tearoom on choosing a tea to help combat it. The tea was was delicious- spicy and fruity; it didn’t taste healthy at all 😉 A stop here can warm your body & heart.
Guru Teahouse was perfect before my next adventure: a decent deep into the Burren’s still-close-to wild Doolin Cave! I’m saving the cave details & photos for another post, but let me say I loved it! They’ll be open again in Spring, so consider a visit when you are travelling the Burren & the Wild Atlantic Way.
You may know that even though visitors to Ireland are increasing again, for the more rural places there is a catch-22 situation with some attractions & accommodations in the low seasons. I experienced it myself during this trip; places like Ennis Friary, the Burren Perfumery, and even the Burren Centre weren’t open because visitor numbers are too low this time of year. (As well as due to cuts in government money for the Heritage centres, etc.)
But, when I went by the Burren centre there were 2 tourists wanting to get in. If tourists can’t get in, they’ll often tell others not tot bother to go to the area– the catch 22…. so please check beforehand that the places you’d like to visit will be open, and if they aren’t, maybe let them/tourism board/Irish government rep know you would have liked to have gone…. it can’t hurt.
This awkward situation is another reason why you may enjoy having the balance between Limerick City, the Clare towns, and the Wild Atlantic Way– there is plenty of buzz and things to see & do, but also there are wide open wild spaces where you’ll not see a soul. The best of both worlds, any time of year.
After a day out in the Burren’s Atlantic elements, it is extra enjoyable to relax with a glass of something gorgeous. Even better is to also have a wonderful meal served to you in a lovely Georgian dining room with a fire going–and yet be only a few steps away from your room! This is the case at Rowan Tree Hostel- the Rowan Tree Cafe is right next door. You may even want to take a photo & tweet it, like I did– free wi-fi means your trip back into modern civilization is complete 😉
Ahh, did I say the best of both worlds? Yes? Well,I’ll say it again- perfect!
For the Limerick City of Culture 2014 website, click. PS: even though there are lots already listed, not all events are listed yet!
In Limerick City, treat yourself to fantastic place to stay at One Pery Square– one of our favorites anywhere!
Click for more about the Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland.com
Disclosure: My opinions are always honest, even when I’m a guest or sponsored on/by something, as you will know from my Paddywagon post. I was a guest of Rowan Tree Hostel and of Doolin cave. I also had 1 dinner voucher for Rowan Tree Cafe, but I actually ate there twice as I enjoyed it so. I’ll be doing review posts on these places soon.