THOMOND REGIONChairman: Mary Bermingham
Secretary: Billy Saunderson
Clare is a county on the mid-western coast of Ireland and immediately north of County Limerick and the Shannon Estuary. Its west coast faces the Atlantic Ocean and is part of the wonderful "Wild Atlantic Way", including Loop Head, voted best place to holiday in Ireland 2014 (visit www.loophead.ie). Its east coast is bordered by the great River Shannon and its largest lake, 30 miles long Lough Derg.
To its north lies county Galway. An Clár, the Gaelic name of the county, means 'The Plain'. Historically it was referred to as Desmond, or North Munster, the kingdom of the O'Briens and McNamaras. Shannon International Airport was built on reclaimed land at the junction of the estuaries of the Shannon and the Fergus and is a town in its own right having many important industries. County Clare hold endless attractions to visitors. Taking the N18 from Limerick to Bunratty are the endless attractions of the 15th century Castle and a whole traditional village transferred stone by stone from all over the country. Each cabin, farmhouse, pub, post office, school, shop and even a mill is lovingly reassembled and equipped as it would have been a century ago.
The castle had been allowed to fall into disrepair until Viscount Gort took over its restoration in 1954. It now houses painting and tapestries from the 15th and 16th centuries conducts world renowned banquets with music and dancing. Further inland is Knappogue Castle, seat of the Mc Namara kings, built in 1467, and like Bunratty was abandoned but rescued by Texan, Mark Edwin Andrews. It now vies with Bunratty for its banquets, pageants of Irish history with music, song and dance. Further east to Lough Derg and the Shannon is Killaloe the seat of the O'Brien kings, the most famous of whom was Brian Boru who set about banishing the Vikings from Ireland. Brian utterly defeated the Viking king Sitric at the Battle of Clontarf, near Dublin, in 1014, only to be fatally wounded by one of the fleeing invaders.
The Great Famine of 1845 combined with the Penal Laws, depopulated Clare from 286,000 in 1841 to half that number in 1871. Daniel O'Connell, a native of Kerry, trained as a lawyer in the Roman Catholic colleges of St Omar and Douai, France. Called to the Irish Bar, he agitated for the emancipation of Catholics from Penal Laws. He stood for a by-election in Clare in 1828 and won an overwhelming victory but was not allowed to take his seat. His powerful advocacy led to the Emancipation Act of 1829 for which he was popularly titled The Liberator of a downtrodden people.
Back to the west coast, thousands visit the awe-inspiring 650ft Cliff of Moher and the nearby barren-looking Burren with its astonishing variety of wild flowers not found anywhere else in Ireland. Clare has a well-merited reputation as the home of traditional Irish music and dance.
The founder of GAA, Michael Cusack, was born in the Burren of County Clare in 1847 and died in 1906. The inventor of the first commercially viable submarine was John Phillip Holland, born in Liscannor in 1841 and educated in Limerick. His invention, named the "Holland" was purchased and used by the US Navy.