Getting Around Clare and Limerick
The most populated and central town in County Clare is Ennis, which is 235km (145 miles) from Dublin and 130km (80 miles) from Cork. County Galway is close at only 65km (40 miles) away. The city of Limerick is 200 km (120 miles) from Dublin, 100km (40 miles) to the north of Cork, and only 100km (60 miles) from Galway.
The Shannon Airport (061 71 2000, www.shannonairport.com) is located off of the Limerick-Ennis roadway (N18) and is 25km (15 miles) west of Limerick. European airlines serving the Shannon Airport include Ryanair (www.ryanair.com), Air-France (www.airfrance.com), British Airways (www.ba.com), and Thomson Fly (http://flights.thomson.co.uk). Flight companies originating in the United States that fly to Shannon Airport include American Airlines (www.aa.com), Continental (www.continental.com), Delta Airlines (www.delta.com), US Airways (www.usairways.com), United (www.united.com), and Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com).
If you happen to be in Ireland in November, head down to the Ennis Trad Festival (www.ennistradfestival.com). The jovial and laid-back atmosphere of this traditional-music event makes it a unique and fun getaway. Enjoy concerts, open music sessions, traditional dance, and band competitions. Any other time of year, consider the Glór Irish Music Centre (065 684 3103, www.glor.ie) with similar events Monday through Saturday.
Bus and Rental Car
Bus éireann (061 313 333 in Limerick, 061 474 311 in Clare, www.buseireann.ie) serves the Shannon Airport to Limerick Bus Station for 6 from 6:45 A.M. until midnight, Monday–Saturday (two to three departures per hour during peak times) and Sunday (one every two hours). They have routes to Limerick's Colbert Train Station, where you can get to other major cities. Bus éireann also has direct bus service from the airport to Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Tralee, and Killarney.
Citylink (091 564163, www.citylink.ie) runs four buses per day from the Shannon Airport to Galway City (1.5 hours). JJ Kavanagh & Sons (0818 333 222, www.jjkavanagh.ie) also serves the Shannon Airport, Limerick, and the Dublin Airport.
Book a rental car in advance from any major company, including Avis (061 715 600, www.avis.ie), Budget (061 471 1361, www.budget.ie), Hertz (061 471 739, www.hertz.ie), and the national Irish Car Rentals (061 206088, www.theicrgroup.com). Taxis from the Shannon Airport to Limerick's city center cost 35 if arranged from the help desk.
Irish Rail (1850 366 222, www.irishrail.ie) has departures to Cork, Tralee, Killarney, Ennis, Dublin Heuston Station, and Waterford from the Limerick Colbert Station (061 315 555) off of Parnell Street, or require a connection at the famed Limerick Junction in County Tipperary. The Ennis Rail Station (065 682 4177) in Clare, off of Station Road, provides transport to destinations throughout Clare and to Limerick.
The most bustling city in Clare is Ennis (Inis), with nearly 20,000 inhabitants. The place to splurge on food and accommodations, you will find no shortage of trendy pubs and bars. From Ennis, travelers can reach nearly any part of Clare on public transport.
The Ennis Franciscan Friary (065 682 9100) is open daily Easter through October and is worthwhile if you are spending some time in town. Founded by Donchad Cairbreach O'Brien, who was the King of Thomond, the structure still holds a beautiful stained-glass window, which at one time contained blue stained glass. Another highlight on site is the MacMahon tomb, constructed in 1475 and amended in 1843. Panels delineate the events of Christ's crucifixion.
Additionally, at the tourist office, you can visit the Clare Heritage Museum (065 682 3382) off of Arthur's Row, which is open daily Tuesday through Saturday. It depicts the story and history of Clare over thousands of years.