East Clare is the perfect destination for those who wish to delve into the rich heritage and history of Ireland. Allow yourself to be immersed in the rich tapestry of East Clare's storied past.
Whether you're a history enthusiast or a curious traveller, join us as we highlight the must-visit historical sites that add a touch of allure to East Clare's captivating landscape. Unearth the stories etched into the very fabric of this picturesque region and make your visit an unforgettable voyage through time.
There are dozens of fantastic historical sites to explore in East Clare, but we have compiled five firm favourites that are not to be missed on any visit to East Clare.
Brian Ború's Fort, Killaloe
Here lie the remains of a large ring fort which has long been identified as the ancient seat of Brian Ború, the most famous High King of Ireland. Brian Ború's Fort or Beal Ború, as it is more commonly known, stands on a spur of land, which commands the point where the lake narrows into the River Shannon.
Brian Ború was the High King of Ireland from 1002AD until 1014AD. During this period, Killaloe became the capital of Ireland. Although Brian Ború and his army won the Battle of Clontarf in 1014AD, Ború was killed by the Norsemen while praying in his tent.
The High King's headquarters was located at the nearby Kincora or Ceann Coradh, which is located one mile from here in the picturesque village of Killaloe. Visitors are welcome at this historic site, and it is accessible by embarking on a short stroll down to the ring fort.
Address: Killaloe, Co. Clare
Located in the historic village of Quin lies the ruins of the Quin Monastic Friary, known locally as Quin Abbey. Construction of the friary began about 1350 on the ruins of an old Anglo-Norman castle. Quin Abbey was home to a friary of Franciscan monks who maintained a presence here until the early 16th century.
Quin Abbey is one of the best-preserved friaries of its kind in Ireland. Visitors to Quin Abbey can expect to see three of the four bastions from the original castle, as well as the beautiful cloister which still stands to this day. This impressive structure is truly remarkable and beautiful and is the inspiration for many local creatives.
Address: Quin, Co. Clare
Inis Cealtra, also known as Holy Island, is one of Ireland's most famous monastic sites. Located on an island in the beautiful Lough Derg, this historic site has been a place of significant importance for hundreds of years.
Spanning 50 acres, this site hosts the remnants of six churches, an early monastic cell, a cemetery, and over 80 graves adorned with inscriptions or crosses. The standout historical structure is the renowned round tower, towering at 80 feet and believed to have been constructed in the eleventh or twelfth century.
The only way to access Inis Cealtra is by boat. However, a local historian, Ger Madden, runs trips from Mountshannon out to Holy Island daily between April and the end of September. 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.
St Cronan's Church, Tuamgraney
Tucked away in the charming village of Tuamgraney, St. Cronan's Church stands as the oldest continuously used church in Ireland. Tuamgraney holds a significant place in both ecclesiastical and historical contexts, with mentions in the Annals occurring no fewer than thirty-two times between 735 AD and 1582 AD, making it one of the most notable sites in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
As you step into this historical site, prepare to be captivated by its picturesque doorway, an architectural gem from the early Christian Church. This very entrance was once traversed by Brian Ború centuries ago. Take in the awe-inspiring Romanesque carved sandstone head, believed to depict the sun goddess Grian.
St Cronan's Church can be visited daily between April and September. The church is unattended, however, there is plenty of information to be found on-site. There is also an audiovisual presentation that outlines the church's rich history. While there is no admission fee there is a donation box. Any money donated goes towards the upkeep and maintenance of this historic site.
Address: Ballyquin, Waterpark, Tuamgraney, Co. Clare
St Flannan's Cathedral, Killaloe
In the early twelfth century, Donal Mor O'Brien, the visionary behind St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick, erected a church in Killaloe. Subsequently, between 1195 and 1225, the current cathedral, dedicated to St. Flannan, an eighth-century ancestor of Donal Mor, replaced the initial structure.
Discover an exquisite twelfth-century Romanesque doorway adorned with over 130 intricate patterns of plants and animals. Look out for the ancient ogham stone, dating back to 1000 AD, and listen for the resonant chime of eight bells housed in the tower of St. Flannan's Cathedral. Installed in 1896, these bells continue to ring regularly, echoing through time.
Address: Royal Parade, Shantraud, Killaloe, Co. Clare