Ennis, the capital of County Clare, is a charming market town founded by Franciscans in the 13th century.
It’s renowned as ‘Ireland’s Friendliest Town’ and ‘Ireland’s Tidiest Town,’ echoing the ‘Siege of Ennis’ polka through its cobbled streets.
This guide offers insights on the ideal time to visit, transportation options, neighborhoods, attractions, dining spots, accommodations, and shopping experiences in Ennis, Ireland.
Is Ennis worth visiting?
Ennis, Ireland is definitely worth visiting primarily because of its award-winning friendly, and welcoming people who make visitors feel at home and are always up for a friendly chat.
Ennis is a lively town with narrow streets and covered walkways that give it a unique charm. It’s an open and independent town that grew from a medieval friary and has a history of political courage.
Ennis is also the perfect base to explore the amazing natural beauty of Clare, with attractions like the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and the Aran Islands nearby. It’s a town that has something for everyone, be it culture, history, nature, or fun.
Best Time to Go
The ideal time to visit Ennis is during the months of April to October when the weather is pleasant and warm, with June, July, and August being the warmest.
January to March are the coldest months, while January, May, June, July, August, November, and December tend to be the rainiest.
How to Get to Ennis?
Ennis is conveniently accessible from major cities via the M18 motorway. Take exits 11, 12, 13, or 14 and follow the signs.
Ireland’s national bus provider, Bus Éireann, offers daily scheduled routes connecting Shannon, Galway, Limerick, Cork, and Dublin to Ennis, providing friendly, affordable, and safe transportation.
TFI Local Link Limerick Clare is a public transport service that connects rural areas to national bus and rail networks throughout Ireland. TFI Local Link bus services are cost-effective and accessible for local travel needs.
The Ennis train station, situated on Quin Road, is conveniently close to the town center, less than a 10-minute walk away, and is easily marked. It provides daily connections to Limerick, Cork, Dublin, and Galway, serving these routes:
- Dublin Heuston / Limerick / Ennis
- Ennis / Limerick / Cork / Tralee
- Limerick / Galway
Shannon Airport is the closest airport to Ennis, just a 20-minute drive away. Here’s a direction from Shannon Airport to Ennis:
- Exit Shannon Airport via the N19.
- At Drumgeely Roundabout, take the 2nd exit, continuing on N19.
- At Shannon Town Roundabout, again take the 2nd exit on N19.
- Follow signs for the M18 ramp to N18/Galway/Ennis.
- Once on the M18, take the N85 exit toward Ennis.
The Shannon Ferry Group offers a memorable 20-minute journey, connecting Clare and Kerry via an estuary route from Tarbert to Killimer. This shortens the trip to Ennis by 85 miles (137 km).
Things to Do in Ennis
Explore the Well-Preserved Ennis Friary
Address: Abbey Street, Ennis, County Clare
Phone: +353 65 6829100
Email: [email protected]
Operating Hours: Open daily – 10 AM to 6 PM
Ennis Friary was built a long time ago in the 13th century and was famous in Europe for being a place of learning.
The building has old sculptures from the 15th and 16th centuries, made from local stone. One sculpture shows St. Francis with wounds on his hands, and there’s an arch with a picture of Jesus with tied-up hands.
The sacristy, an impressive structure with a ribbed, barrel-vaulted ceiling, should not be forgotten during your visit. The beautiful east window, with its five lancets, also deserves especial attention, as it illuminates the chancel.
If you’re in Ennis, you should definitely check out this old building—it’s the oldest in town!
Dive into Ennis’ History and Culture at Clare Museum
- June to September: Monday to Saturday – 9:30 AM to 5 PM
- October to May: Tuesday to Saturday – 9:30 AM to 1 PM & 2 PM to 5 PM
The Clare Museum shares the story of the county for 6,000 years. It does this using real old things, colorful signs with words, and videos.
The museum has two special rooms called galleries. These rooms show off the wonderful things about Clare – its people, places, and treasures.
In the museum, you can see things on loan from the National Museum of Ireland, items from the de Valera Museum Collection, and things people from Clare collected.
It’s a great place to visit for people of all ages, where both kids and grown-ups will find something interesting. So, if you’re in Clare, going to the museum is a fun and educational trip to take.
Admire the Architectural Beauty of Ennis Cathedral
Address: O’Connell Street, Clonroad Beg, Ennis, Co. Clare
Phone: +353 65 682 4043
With a majestic height of over 200 feet, the towering spire of Ennis Cathedral gracefully pierces the sky, making it one of the town’s most instantly recognizable features.
Building this cathedral was quite challenging, and it started in 1828 but took until 1874 to complete, partly due to the Great Famine in the mid-19th century.
A rainy morning can be brightened up with a visit to Ennis Cathedral, making it one of the best spots to wait out bad weather.
Immerse Yourself in the Arts at Glór
- Monday to Friday – 10 AM to 2:30 PM
- Saturday – 10 AM to 3 PM
Glór is a lively place for art and fun in Ennis. They have lots of exciting things to do, like plays, music, dancing, art, movies, and learning activities.
Glór works with many different people and groups to show off talent from all over the world and our local area. They also have special events like tours, lessons, shows, and family music sessions.
Savor Local Flavors at Ennis Farmers Market
Ennis Farmers’ Market is a lively weekly market where you can find tasty local food, handcrafted items, and plants grown nearby without chemicals.
Sellers exclusively offer products sourced from within the county or within a 30-mile radius of the market, unless the Farmers’ Market Committee deems it appropriate to make an exception for a product that isn’t available locally.
Embark on Horseback Adventures at Clare Equestrian Centre
- Monday to Friday – 9 AM to 6:30 PM
- Saturday – 10 AM to 5 PM
- Sunday – 10 AM to 6 PM
The Clare Equestrian Centre is a great place to do things like learn how to ride horses, go on horseback rides in the countryside, do jumps with horses, buy and sell horses, or take lessons with a famous rider named Marie Burke.
This place is approved by the AIRE, which is like a fancy stamp of approval for horse riding places.
They welcome people of all skill levels who want to do different kinds of horse activities. They’re especially good at jumps, but they can also help you with things like fancy horse dancing and riding in the wild.
Partake in Thrilling Activities at Clare Water Sports
- Monday to Friday – 11 AM to 6 PM
- Saturday – 11 AM to 5 PM
Clare Water Sports focuses on offering kayaking and paddleboarding trips throughout the county all year long.
They welcome both individuals and large groups for events like school trips, parties, team building, youth groups, birthdays, sports teams, clubs, family get-togethers, and more.
During July and August, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards at Ballyalla Lake, right near the town.
Where to Eat
Henry’s Bistro and Wine Bar
- Tuesday to Thursday – 12 PM to 3 PM & 5 PM to 9 PM
- Friday to Saturday – 12:30 PM to 9 PM
- Sunday – 12:30 PM to 8 PM
Henry’s Bistro and Wine Bar in Ennis is known for its focus on straightforward, locally sourced Irish dishes paired with carefully selected wines, providing a high-quality dining experience.
Popular starters include the mushroom risotto and black pudding bon bons, offering a genuine taste of Ennis.
Main course options like the Hereford Rib Eye steak and lamb shank cater to meat enthusiasts, making Henry’s a must-visit destination for refined dining in Ennis.
Brogan’s Bar and Restaurant
Brogan’s, a storied family-run pub in Ennis, steeped in tradition, has been a fixture on O’Connell Street for generations.
Renowned for its great food, traditional music, and an extensive drink menu featuring craft beers, whiskeys, and gins, it has recently undergone a thorough renovation under new ownership.
Far from an ordinary pub, Brogan’s appeals to food and drink enthusiasts, with its superb Guinness and vibrant atmosphere.
The establishment truly shines in its culinary offerings, including homemade soups, salads, mussel starters, and hearty mains like locally reared steak and stacked beef burgers, making it a top choice for a satisfying meal in Ennis.
The Market Bar and Restaurant
- Monday – 9 AM to 5 PM
- Wednesday to Sunday – 9 AM to 9 PM
The Market Bar and Restaurant offers a delightful dining experience from breakfast to dinner, making it the ideal choice for any time of day. This establishment is also well-equipped to handle special occasions and group reservations.
With its classic yet elegant ambiance, The Market Bar & Restaurant entices guests with a menu that sparks their appetites long before dinner is served.
Some of their best dishes include seafood soup, a tasty salad with bacon and black pudding, and filling main courses like steaks, burgers, and fish dishes.
Address: Cafe Aroma, 3 Bank Place Ennis, Co. Clare
Phone: +353 65 686 8936
- Monday to Saturday – 8:30 AM to 6 PM
- Sunday – 9:30 AM to 5 PM
Cafe Aroma is a culinary gem offering an enticing array of locally sourced teas, coffees, delectable desserts, and freshly baked pastries.
It’s a favorite among locals and visitors alike, renowned for its crowd-pleasing menu that includes a fabulous all-day breakfast. The welcoming staff and reasonable prices make it a must-visit spot for anyone in Ennis.
Highlights of their breakfast offerings include the classic Full Irish, the Savoury Omelette, Eggs Benedict, and the delightful Mini Breakfast option.
Peppermill is a friendly place where you can enjoy tasty lunches and delicious breakfasts featuring pancakes, bagels, waffles, and traditional Irish dishes.
The restaurant features a spacious and modern design to enhance your dining experience. Moreover, they are happy to accommodate any specific dietary or dining requirements you may have.
Peppermill serves freshly cooked meals using local ingredients, even growing some of their herbs and veggies, ensuring every dish is a culinary delight.
The Snack Shack
Address: Abbey Street Car Park, Clonroad Beg, Ennis, Co. Clare
Phone: +353 65 682 0750
- Monday to Friday – 8 AM to 6 PM
- Saturday – 9 AM to 6 PM
The Snack Shack is a cherished institution in town, drawing students and professionals alike. Known for their famous sandwiches, breakfast options, coffee, and ice cream, it’s a go-to spot.
What sets them apart is the warm, neighborly atmosphere they offer, where friendly smiles and conversations are commonplace. The strong customer relationships they’ve cultivated contribute significantly to their success.
Where to Stay
Old Ground Hotel Ennis
The Old Ground Hotel is a fancy, old house from a long time ago, all fixed up and made nice. People who stay there get a warm Irish welcome when they arrive, and they stay in large, comfy rooms that feel like home.
This hotel is not only nice but also in a good spot for going to see cool places like the Cliffs of Moher and the Wild Atlantic Way. The folks who work there are really friendly and will help you with anything you need.
The Old Ground serves delicious food made with local ingredients, and despite its fancy vibe, it feels cozy and full of character. It’s also conveniently close to the airport, just a short drive away.
Dromoland Castle Hotel
Dromoland Castle is one of the best luxury hotels in Ireland, and it’s a great place to start your adventures in County Clare and nearby places.
Inside, everything looks magnificent, and they serve really good food, plus you get to see some amazing views and sleep in comfy rooms.
The hotel is a five-star place and has cool things like a golf course, a spa, and lots of space to walk around in its big 450-acre area.
Temple Gate Hotel
Temple Gate Hotel is a charming family-owned and operated four-star establishment, offering a blend of warm hospitality and professional service.
Its central location makes it an excellent choice for both business and leisure travelers looking to explore the Wild Atlantic Way and the rugged West Coast of Ireland.
Luxury and comfort seamlessly combine at the Temple Gate, promising a memorable experience steeped in historic charm and exceptional service.
Elmdale Farm House
Elmdale Farmhouse B&B offers a variety of clean and comfortable rooms for guests to enjoy. The cozy old-world-style lounge area and the inviting dining room, where a delightful breakfast is served daily, contribute to a memorable experience.
Matilda and Ann, the welcoming hosts, will make you feel at home, and the comfortable, well-kept rooms will ensure a restful stay. The delicious breakfast, including the homemade scones and brown bread, is a highlight not to be missed.
Ardilaun Guesthouse is a modern four-star accommodation conveniently located near Ennis town center, just a half-hour walk from town and a twenty-minute drive from the nearest airport.
The elegant rooms offer river views, and guests can enjoy scenic walks and watersports in the area. Situated on the River Fergus, the guesthouse provides on-site fishing and a waterside deck.
The rooms blend modern and classic styles, some with stunning river views. Amenities include satellite TV, tea/coffee facilities, en suite bathrooms with toiletries, and free Wi-Fi, making it a cozy home away from home.
Where to Shop
The Woollen Market
The Woollen Market stands as a testament to the craftsmanship of Irish artisans, upholding a rich tradition in the creation of top-tier woollen goods.
This family-run enterprise has gained worldwide recognition as a distinguished luxury brand, renowned for its global distribution of items such as throws, scarves, capes, and wraps.
Ennis Book Shop
Ennis Book Shop is an independent bookshop in the centre of Ennis, Ireland. It was established in 1970 by Mary and the late Michael Evans, and is now run by their daughter Dervilla.
The shop offers an array of books for everyone, from bestsellers and biographies to history and sports. It also sells gifts, cards and crafts from local artists.
Ennis Book Shop is a place where you can find the latest titles, discover new authors, or browse through the classics.
Seoidín Jewellery is a jewellery shop that offers unique and handmade pieces inspired by Ireland. Founded by Maureen Harrison in 1996, Seoidín Jewellery has a range of collections that feature different styles, materials and colours.
Whether you’re looking for earrings, bracelets, necklaces or rings, you can find something that suits your taste and budget at Seoidín Jewellery.
You can also enjoy free Ireland and UK shipping on all orders from their online store, or visit their shop in Abbey Street, where you can also avail of their expert services such as jewellery repair, engraving and ring fitting.
County Boutique is a women’s fashion store in the town center that has been celebrating Irish style since 1966.
It offers a range of clothing from quality basics to elegant occasion wear, featuring both Irish and international designers.
It’s often named one of the best stores in Ireland for shopping.
Custy’s Music Shop
Custy’s Music Shop is a traditional Irish music shop offering a wide range of CDs, books, instruments and accessories for music lovers and enthusiasts. It was established in 1992 by John Custy, a well-known musician and teacher in the area.
Custy’s Music Shop is known for its friendly service, expert advice and support for local and independent artists. It also hosts regular sessions, concerts and workshops featuring some of the best musicians in the country.
Notable Places Nearby Ennis
A karst landscape of rocks, cracks and crevices, the Burren covers about 530 square kilometers in County Clare. It has a rich diversity of plants and animals, and many ancient monuments and caves.
Just a short 15-minute drive north of Ennis, this rugged terrain takes on a purple hue like the Martian landscape on some evening.
Quin Abbey is a 14th century Franciscan friary in the village of Quin, County Clare. It was built by the MacNamara clan on the site of a Norman castle.
The abbey has a well-preserved cloister and a medieval high altar. It is a national monument and open to visitors.
Quin Abbey is about 11 km or 15 minutes by car from Ennis.
Lahinch is an Irish seaside resort with a long sandy beach and a golf course. It is popular for surfing and other water activities in the Atlantic waves.
Lahinch is easily accessible from Ennis, which is only 25 minutes away by car. There are also frequent buses that depart from Ennis bus station and reach Lahinch.
Lisdoonvarna, a small town North Clare, hosts the famous Matchmaking Festival every September, where you can enjoy daily live music and dancing, meet top matchmakers, savor delicious food, and experience Irish hospitality.
You should also check out the Victorian Spa Complex and Health Centre, the only spa in Ireland. You can reach Lisdoonvarna from Ennis in just 35 minutes by car.
Cliffs of Moher
The Cliffs of Moher are a stunning sight that attracts millions of visitors every year. They span 14 km and reach up to 214 m in height.
The best time to visit them is in the late afternoon or early evening, when the sun casts a warm glow over the landscape.
You can easily reach the cliffs from Ennis or nearby towns in less than an hour by car.
A small village on the mouth of The Shannon, Carrigaholt is part of the Loop Head Peninsula, where Ireland’s only resident bottlenose dolphin lives.
The village offers natural beauty with its impressive cliffs, diverse wildlife, and geological wonders. Visitors can enjoy various water activities such as kayaking and dolphin watching in this charming spot of Clare.