Located on the banks of Lough Derg, the quiet and beautiful East Clare village of Mountshannon is the perfect place to spend a blissful 24 hours. Renowned as a base for exploring the historic Holy Island (Inis Cealtra), this village is an excellent place for a day (or more) for exploring.
This scenic village is a hive of activity during the summer months due to the increased number of visitors to the region via cruiser. However, there are always many things to be enjoyed in Mountshannon, no matter the time of year.
Here is how to make the most out of your 24 hours in Mountshannon.
Morning — make the most of the day
Wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the comfortable and welcoming Sunrise B&B. This family-run bed and breakfast are conveniently located within walking distance of Mountshannon village. Therefore, the perfect place to base yourself when exploring all that Mountshannon has to offer.
Vera and Joe at Sunrise B&B will then serve up a fantastic breakfast, ensuring you are set up for the busy day ahead. Enjoy a mouthwatering full Irish or perhaps indulge in something a little sweeter like pancakes of French toast. As well as the range of freshly cooked breakfasts, there are juices, fresh fruit, cereals, home-baked bread and more. Now that you are all fed, it is time to take on the day ahead!
We suggest heading straight into the village to go for a dip at the Mountshannon Blue Flag Beach. This beach has been awarded the Blue Flag standard, which means that the beach and waters here are of high environmental and quality standards. During the summer months, this beach is patrolled by lifeguards. If you aren't a regular wild water swimmer in the cooler months, we suggest just dipping your toes in!
If you aren't going for a dip, why not enjoy the mesmerising views of Lough Derg. This magnificent body of water is Ireland's third-largest lake and is home to an abundance of wildlife. Mountshannon is also home to a family of white-tailed sea eagles, so keep your eyes peeled for these magnificent creatures!
Other bits — make a beeline
As you explore Mountshannon on foot, keep an eye out for some of the incredible artwork dotted about the area. There is an impressive statue of a stag and also one of a dragonfly. Sometimes, the local yarn bombers make a surprise appearance, leaving cute and colourful creations about the town.
Make your way to Aistear Park, which spans 4.5 acres. Home to a unique maze made of timber, stone and foliage, the maze takes the adventurer on a journey through an informative exploration of Irish Spirituality over 9000 years. Also within the park is an enclosed playground that has swings, slides and an impressive climbing frame. There is also an exercise area with some exercise machines for adults.
Afternoon — activities galore
After a fun-filled morning, you are probably getting hungry. In Aistear Park, you can enjoy a picnic in the park on one of the picnic benches, or perhaps you might want to head down towards the marina, where there are countless lakeside picnic benches. Vera at Sunrise B&B is happy to put together a packed lunch on request, so don't miss out!
If you haven't got a packed lunch, fear not, for Crowes Grocery and Bakery have a great selection of hot dishes and cakes to get you through the afternoon. During the summer months, there is also the option of heading to Under the Oak Café for some delicious lunch.
Holy Island — step into the past
There is no better opportunity if you would like to see the magnificent and wonderful Holy Island, also known as Inis Cealtra! Ger Madden is a local historian who runs trips from Mountshannon out to Holy Island. He conducts guided tours of the island, and Ger Madden's knowledge of this important site is truly spectacular. To get in touch with Ger, you can ring him on 0868749710. Visit his website for more information.
The 50-acre Inis Cealtra was once home to a monastery, and today the ruins of six churches, an early monastic cell, a cemetery, and more than 80 recumbent graves with an inscription or cross can all be found on the island. There is also an impressive round tower that can be seen from the mainland. For more information about Holy Island, be sure to check out this piece.
Bohatch Dolmen — for incredible views
If you aren't quite ready to get your lake legs on, then let your legs take you to Bohatch Dolmen. This is undoubtedly one of East Clare's hidden gems. This magnificent heritage site is over 4,000 years old and is believed to be the burial site of a local chieftain who was of great importance. Bohatch Dolmen stands in an impressive location, offering monumental views of the surrounding area.
The walk to Bohatch Dolmen is a 14km return hike from the centre of Mountshannon but trust us when we say that views are jaw-dropping! So make sure to bring some water and snacks with you. You can check out the map to Bohatch Dolmen here.
Evening — for an evening worth remembering
At this point, you will probably be starving — so we suggest heading straight to the Snug Café and Wine Bar. Located in the heart of Mountshannon, this restaurant serves a range of pizzas, tapas and salads. Pair this with a bottle of wine and finish it up with some freshly made dessert.
If you hope your 24 hours in Mountshannon can continue, why not head to Cois na hAbhna. Serving some delicious pints and often having live music, a visit here is the perfect way to finish up your evening in Mountshannon.
After last orders, it's probably time to make your way back to the welcoming Sunrise B&B. Here their comfortable beds will feel like a warm hug, making for the perfect end to your 24 hours in Mountshannon.
Woodpark Forest Park
Woodpark Forest Park is a beautiful natural woodland area covering 72 acres, just 1.6km from Mountshannon Village. The entrance points have detailed information boards about the woodland trails and wildlife. Children and young at heart will enjoy the Woodpark Fairy Trail, a short loop that has been transformed into a fairy village with tiny fairy houses dotted about the place.
Derg Isle Adventure Centre
For those looking for some adrenaline-pumping activities, then why not head to Derg Isle Adventure Centre. It is located on the road to Scariff this activity centre knows how to do fun. With water and land-based activities, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, climbing towers and archery, the fun to be had here is endless.