Quest Lough Derg is coming to East Clare on Saturday 14th September 2019. This is an adventure race around some of Ireland’s most iconic Waterways and across counties in this brand new Quest event. If successful, we hope that this will become an annual event for the East Clare area.
Tourism East Clare are working closely with the organisers of this race, Elite Event Management, Kerry, to ensure that this event is a most successful one for our area.
Before Christmas 2018, we met with Oliver Kirwan, the CEO and co-founder of Elite Event Management to discuss how this event could help put East Clare “on the map” as a destination for holidaymakers both at home and abroad.
The Quest team agreed to come to East Clare for two days to film what we have to offer if we put together a two-day itinerary of activities and products to showcase the area.
We took the challenge and created an absolutely jam-packed itinerary for them, which we feel gave a snapshot of the amazing activities and products that we have here on our doorstep.
On 12th and 14th March, committee members Christine O’Brien and Arlene White, headed off for a two day adventure in East Clare.
The first stop was Derg Isle Adventure Centre just outside Scariff, where the team got a great introduction to the business from a very enthusiastic Tony. The group took part in Zip Line Bicycle; the climbing wall, a race around the obstacle course – we’re still unsure who won and there was a bit of cheating going on; Archery and knife & axe throwing.
For the first time ever, Derg Isle are now open for bookings from the public which is a great opportunity for people to try a range of land and water activities – check it out here!
Having worked up quite an appetite, our next stop thankfully was East Clare Community Co-Op, where we had a fabulous meal in the Garden Cafe, a fully vegetarian cafe. Their very capable manager Ger English, showed us around the beautiful Community Garden, the Sustenance Food Training & Enterprise Centre and the second-hand shop. They also host a wide variety of activities and training courses so make sure to follow them on Facebook to keep up to date!
From here, we continued to Tuamgraney for a guided tour of McKernan’s Woollen Mills. Anke and her husband Eugene, have been running a weaving business for over 30 years and have more recently branched in to knitting.
One of the most fascinating things about this businesses is their use of weaving looms that we use were invented in the 1860’s by George Hattersley, in a town called Keighley in West Yorkshire and they also still use a vertical handwarping mill “because it gives us more possibilities in design”. From ancient machines, to modern techniques they also now work with computerised knitting machines – all they have to do is load the programme and off it goes! Anke and Eugene almost liken the success of these machines to the story of the Shoemaker and the Elves, when they get up in the morning and it has knitted 20 scarves while they were sleeping!!!!
A tour of McKernan’s is not compete without a browse through their fabulous shop, with shows the ranges they have shipped all over the globe.
Next stop was one that some were patiently waiting for – Wilde Irish Chocolates.
When owner Trish Farrell opened her door to us, we were met with the most mouth-watering smell of CHOCOLATE, which isn’t surprising considering they hand make over 80 different chocolate products here.
Trish explained the process of chocolate making to us in great detail and let us sample as much as we wanted, which was a real treat!
With an open plan production area, you can actually see the chocolate being made. Visitors are welcome at this fab little artisan chocolate factory, so give them a call – 061 922080.
If you aren’t able to get to the factory, don’t worry, they have a shop in Doolin and Limerick or you can buy from the online shop. You won’t be disappointed!!!!!
Pepper’s of Feakle was our final stop for the evening where we had a delicious home-cooked meal, washed down by the local brew – Loudon’s.
Pepper’s was established in 1810 and is famous for traditional music and song. “Pepper’s Bar” is considered the cultural centre of East Clare.
By 9:30pm the place was in full swing with the weekly Trad session – traditional music and dancing galore! If you like a friendly atmosphere, great food and plenty of music, put “Pepper’s of Feakle” on your bucket list.
After a jam-packed day, the team were happy to retire for the night at White’s House, kindly provided by Derg Isle Adventure Centre. Situated close to the shores of Lough Derg, White’s House is perfect for family get-togethers, sleeping up to 16 people comfortably.
Nice and refreshed next morning, we arrived at Nuala’s, Tuamgraney for one of their legendary breakfasts and we weren’t disappointed.
This pub has been part of life in Tuamgraney since 1850 and appeared on RTE’s At Your Service in 2016.
The current owners Nuala and Paul Kilkenny certainly have a flair for good food and Nuala’s provides the ultimate experience in dining.
From here we took off to Ogonnelloe to meet Cillian and Keith from My Next Adventure for some fun on the water. As this is a brand new business in East Clare, this was the maiden voyage of their kayaks and their wet gear – some of which was tested to it’s limit when some kayakers went overboard into the cold Shannon waters! The team at My Next Adventure will offer a range of tours to suit individuals, couples, small groups and families in Killaloe, Scariff/Tuamgraney and Mountshannon on the shores of Lough Derg. Although the weather wasn’t the best, it was a fabulous way to spend an hour in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Make sure to check them out and get on the lake.
Staying active, we then took a walk along part of the East Clare Way walking route.
The East Clare Way is a 172km circular route that crosses thills and mountains, forestry trails and rugged boglands with some amazing views over Lough Derg.
For the more casual walker, there are many well-signposted local looped walks of varying lengths centred on some of the towns and villages along the route. So get your walking shoes on!
This long distance walking route is maintained by Clare Walks Ltd.,
a not for profit organisation managed by a voluntary board of management. The organisation oversees the maintenance and general upkeep of the East and Mid Clare Walkways to ensure that they remain an accessible amenity to the general public and tourists alike.
Check out their website for detailed maps of the walks!
By this time we had worked up quite an appetite (again) so we headed to East Clare Golf Club and Holiday Village in Bodyke.
The Golf Club is set in 150 acres of unspoilt, rolling, quiet countryside with majestic views of East Clare; all of which can also be admired from the first floor Bar & Restaurant, which offers a full menu, or just a snack after a round of golf.
Our final destination for this two-day tour was the picturesque and historic village of Quin and a trip to Quin Abbey was a must.
In the 14th century, the Franciscan abbey at Quin was founded.
Although mostly roofless, the structure of the abbey is relatively well preserved. There is an intact cloister, and many other surviving architectural features make the friary of significant historical value.
Directly across the road is The Abbey Tavern Bar & Restaurant.
The Abbey Tavern offers one of county Clare’s liveliest pub atmospheres which is complemented by one of county Clare’s finest award winning, Bistro Restaurants; all over-looking the historic Quin Abbey.
Tired and full of East Clare’s delightful food, the Quest team headed back down to Kerry to get working on video footage of everything they has experienced over the two days. When ready, this video footage showing the highlights of East Clare will be shared among their 30,000 + followers. Tourism East Clare, along with all the businesses who were part of the itinerary will also receive a short video and photographs taken by the team over the two days.
We hope that this will not only help to advertise Quest Lough Derg in September to a large audience of adventure racers, but that is will also advertise our beautiful part of the country to a large amount of potentia;l visitors over the coming years.
Tourism East Clare would like to say a huge thanks to all our members who provided their products, activities, services, etc. FREE OF CHARGE for the Quest team.
If you would like to find out more about Tourism East Clare or how to become a member check out www.visiteastclare.ie