Shannon is a relatively new town, established in the 1960s, and is the only planned town in Ireland. There are no major attractions in the town, but it serves as a good base for exploring the region.
Holycross Abbey is located about four miles from the town of Thurles and has a magnificent setting on the banks of the River Suir. It dates back to the early 12th century and was built by Donal Mór O’ Brien on the Order of Tiron. It was eventually passed on to the Cistercians and became a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the country. The church has many interesting features including a variety of fascinating windows, mural paintings and many fine carvings.
This museum has a number of interesting galleries covering the local people, places and treasures. The displays here feature a substantial loan of artifacts of Clare provenance from the National Museum of Ireland, the de Valera Museum collection and artifacts collected locally. Some of the galleries have audio, visual and computer interactive presentations, models, replicas and specially commissioned art pieces. The refurbished building has historical significance, as it was the former St Xavier’s School and Chapel of the convent. Clare Museum is located in the center of Ennis at Arthur’s Row, off O’Connell Square adjacent to the Temple Gate Hotel.
The Shannon Dolphins
If you fancy something a little more unusual, then Kilrush is an ideal location from where to take a dolphin-watching trip. The Shannon Estuary is Ireland’s first marine Special Area of Conservation and home to the country’s only known resident group of bottlenose dolphins. The specially adapted boat provides a unique opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
Bunratty Castle is a very popular tourist attraction and well worth a visit. The interior is furnished with tapestries and artifacts from different eras of the castle’s history. Make sure you see the Great Hall, dungeons and four towers with their spiral stairwells. Mediaeval-style banquets are held twice every evening in the Great Hall.