Summer greetings from Ireland where the farmers in our parts are bringing in their second cutting of hay and silage, tourists are mastering roundabouts, and everyone is enjoying the long hours of daylight.
Two weeks ago, I hopped across the Irish Sea and spent a few days in London where I was invited to speak to a large group of bloggers. Fortunately, I was able to talk about three topics I know well… e-newsletters, the Shannon Region, and Shannon Airport.
While talking to the bloggers, it became clear that they knew Dublin and Belfast Airports, but they were not familiar with Shannon. As a result, there were a lot of questions about things to do and see in the area.
After the event, I compiled a list of my favorite attractions and activities in the Shannon Region and sent it off to the blogging group. They were extremely appreciative, and it made me think, “I bet a lot Irish Firesiders might find this information useful if they are starting or ending their trip in Shannon.” So, below you’ll find that list of picks that are a short distance from Shannon Airport… and these are only the start of the things you’ll find in the area.
The Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland’s remarkable western seaboard takes in some of the most enchanting scenery in the world, and the signposted Wild Atlantic Way driving route offers 1,500 miles of memorable scenery and experiences. From Shannon Airport, visitors will find themselves motoring along this breathtaking course within minutes of landing.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park
This is your chance to experience a window into Ireland’s past and explore the acclaimed 15th century Bunratty Castle and the 19th century Bunratty Folk Park. Visitors are also invited to spend a family-friendly evening at a Medieval Banquet or a traditional Irish Night.
- Bunratty Castle & Folk Park Website
- An Evening at the Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet
- The “Lucky” Headless Child of Prague and Secrets of Bunratty
- Explore the Best Irish Castles for Kids
Cliffs of Moher
The stunning Cliffs of Moher along the west coast are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with a magical vista that captures the hearts of up to one million visitors every year. You might recognize them from their appearance in the films “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” and “The Princes Bride” (aka the Cliffs of Insanity).
- Cliffs of Moher Esperience Website
- Ireland’s World Heritage Sites w/Gary Arndt
- The Cliffs of Moher by Sea
The Burren GeoPark
The Burren presents a unique, moon-like, limestone landscape that nurtures tropical and alpine plants at the same time. The dramatic scene covers 1,500 hectares that march from the sea inland and has been designated a National Park. Visitors enjoy stops at the Poulnabrone Dolmen, Burren Perfumery, Corkscrew Road, and Burren Smokehouse.
Loop Head Peninsula
Just south of the famed Cliffs of Moher, Loop Head usually gets lost in the Atlantic by visitors. The peninsula hasn’t gone completely unnoticed, in 2013 it was named Best Place to Holiday in Ireland by the Irish Times. Even with that designation, Loop Head still feels “undiscovered” with its craggy coastline, sparse population, and gorgeous scenery
A Father Ted Pilgrimage
The beloved television comedy about the misadventures of three Irish priests ministering to a quirky community on Craggy Island has its roots firmly in Ireland with many Shannon Region sites appearing on the program… including Father Ted’s House in County Clare. Annually, TedFest welcomes fans from around the world to the ‘real’ Craggy Island (Inis Mor).
Lough Derg Drive
For twenty-four miles, the mighty Shannon River becomes Lough Derg, Ireland’s second-largest lake. A trip around the waterway promises quaint villages, artisan food, historic structures, traditional music, and spectacular scenery! However, Lough Derg’s biggest fans spend their time ON the lake by sailing, fishing, angling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, and exploring the antiquities on Holy Island.
Lisdoonvarna Match-Making Festival
The tradition of match-making may sound old-fashioned, but singles have been flocking to the village of Lisdoonvarna in the month of September for as long as any of the locals can remember. In the age of online dating, soulmates find each other in Lisdoonvara amid barn dances, pub crawls, horse racing, and speed dating sessions.
John Hanly Woolen Mills
The Irish have a history of fine woolen, and Hanly has been producing traditional weaves in the Shannon Region since 1893. Although tours of the mill are not available, their showroom highlights a variety of products at some of the best prices in Ireland. They even include a section of seconds and are happy to point you to the minor flaw that rejected it from the regular merchandise.
Evenings at Knappogue and Dunguaire Castles
At the close of day, the walls of these two distinct castles fill with the sound of music and aroma of food for an evening of entertainment. As an added bonus, Knappogue offers special overnight packages that include your own breakfast “fairies” who will treat your family like royalty.
Clonmacnoise Monastic Ruins
Although most visitors arrive at this impressive site by road, they can still follow the path of the ancient pilgrims who would have arrived by boat along the Shannon River. The expansive ruins include a cathedral, seven churches, two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe
Foynes Flying Boat Museum
Air travel wasn’t always about security checks and carryon luggage. When the first commercial flights crossed the Atlantic, they didn’t use a runway; they used the Shannon River. Kicking off the golden age of air travel, Hollywood stars and the world’s elite landed in the tiny Irish village of Foynes. Older generations will cherish the museum’s nostalgic atmosphere and the young ones will enjoy climbing around the roomy “flying boat” reproduction.
Craggaunowen Living Past Experience
Go back over 1,000 years and meet Ireland’s early people, and learn how these early Celts lived. The site features an early dwelling known as a Crannog which was built in the middle of a lake and required a secret, underwater path for access (today, there’s a convenient bridge).