Over the past 20 years family summer holidays at Maleficent Travel have largely been based in Ireland. One of our favourite places to stay is the seaside resort of Lahinch (or Lehinch) in County Clare on the west coast of Southern Ireland.
We recently have both taken friends to explore the area again and relive some of our favourite childhood destinations. We’ve put together our top 9 things to do in Clare:
- Visit Lahinch beach
Lahinch Beach is an expansive sandy beach which stretches across the bay. Take your shoes off, roll up your trousers and go for a paddle in the cool Atlantic Ocean. If you don’t fancy getting in, or it’s high tide, the promenade stretches the length of the beach making it perfect for a gentle stroll. The beach has had recent renovations (thanks to the 2013/2014 winter storms) and is now completely accessible.
- Go surfing
Whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie, Lahinch beach is a perfect place to ride the surf. Littered across Lahinch town, is a number of surf schools which can provide both board and wetsuit rentals as well as lessons for all abilities. Holly’s friends used Lahinch Surf School during their visit in May. This school is one of Lahinch’s longest running and we can remember when it was first established by Former Irish Champion and Pro Surfer, John McCarthy. Lessons last around an hour and a half and cost 35 Euros for an adult, they are taught by enthusiastic surfing professionals and are a great introduction to the sport.
If you are not inclined to head out on to the ocean yourself, Lahinch is home to the West Coast Surf Club’s Longboard Competition and Festival. Held in September each year, you can see some of the world’s best surfers out on the water doing their thing.
- Drive the Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is a coastal road which stretches across the entire West Coast of Ireland, starting at Londonderry (Co. Derry) and finishing in Kinsale (Co. Cork).
Lahinch is one stop on this route but if you travel in either direction you’ll come across some beautiful villages and hidden coves.
Holly and her friends headed North, up to Ballvaughan, through Fanore and back around to Lahinch.
Ballyvaughan is a beautiful harbour town, and we can highly recommend the Ballyvaughan Tearooms. The stone restaurant, that looks like a cosy living room, dates to the 1790s and was renovated in 1981 into a tearoom. The quaint cafe, complete with conservatory, is light and open and a perfect place to stop in for a brew. If the idyllic settings haven’t piqued your interest, the food should draw you in. Everything is homemade fresh, and even the strongest of wills would have a hard time walking away from that cake table.Lucy and her friends headed South, visiting the picturesque Town of Ennis. This was the perfect town for a spot of breakfast (try Café Aroma – 6 Euros for a cooked breakfast and a hot drink), and a look at local wares. We then headed south to the coast, calling at the beautiful port town of Kilrush.Then onto Kilkee, where we had a delicious lunch at Stella Maris – featuring fish caught fish daily and very knowledgeable staff, highly recommended.Our final stop was Spanish point, named because part of the Spanish Armada was ship wrecked here in 1588. This is a lovely beach that was packed full of families enjoying the water, it is also a great place to surf if you fancy a change from Lahinch.
- Head to the Cliffs of Moher
Probably Clare’s most recognised landmark, the Cliffs of Moher are a natural beauty to behold. The adjoining visitors centre tells the story of the region and how it has developed over time and offers information on its history as well as local flora and fauna. There are a number of boat trips available from Doolin or Liscannor to get an amazing view from the other side of the cliffs.Did you know: The Cliffs of Moher features as the backdrop for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince; when Harry and Dumbledore go in search of the locket Horcrux in the cave, it was filmed right here.
- Drink Guinness
Lucy: I have been visiting Ireland all my life, and yet it was only on this last trip that I discovered the beauty that is Guinness. It really is true what they say, they don’t taste the same anywhere else in the world.
Whilst in Lahinch, it is easy to enjoy a Guinness in a whole host of great places all up the main street but our favourite is and always has been: O’Looneys. Sitting on the water’s edge, O’Looneys has a great restaurant that offers panoramic sea views whilst you dine on delicious local fare.
Other great places to grab a pint in Lahinch include Kenny’s and The Corner stone, both of which are very homely and welcoming.
- Take in the Irish Atmosphere
Most weekdays in the Summer, and definitely every weekend, you will be able to find a pub with a local band playing. Whether it’s a cover, modern or trap band, Ireland is notorious for live music which are always great to watch. Ideally, head for dinner around 7pm and then once you have finished your meal you have an excellent set up for the evening’s entertainment.
- Walk on the Burren
Just a short drive North of Lahinch is The Burren National Park, home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. The region hosts great walking trails, but you can’t visit the area without exploring some of the limestone formations the county is famous for.
- Eat local
Nothing beats a traditional Irish stew, or a plate of cabbage and bacon, so do not hesitate to order these customary dishes. Lahinch boasts a wealth of eateries, obviously O’Looneys gets a special mention but Joe’s Café is also a great place to eat and offers a wide range of vegetarian options. We also ate in McGann’s in Doolin, whilst rather daunting to walk into an establishment stuffed to the rafters with locals, we were made to feel very welcome and the food at atmosphere were fantastic.
- Fish and chips by the coast
If you’re from the UK then we won’t need to press this point too heavily, but there is nothing better than eating fresh fish and chips after a hard day’s surf. So our final shout out goes to The Chipper in Lahinch, for fuelling 15 years of surfing in our family.
Ireland is a beautiful county, home to some of the friendliest of people in the world. The Emerald Isle’s notorious green countryside comes from its high levels of rainfall, so our final advice to you is get out and enjoy the good weather whilst you can (also pack a raincoat)!