IT`S INCREDIBLE that Clare, which has some of Ireland`s most famous tourist amenities -- Shannon Airport, Bunratty Castle, Cliffs of Moher, Lough Derg -- is still largely undiscovered.
Vast tracts of east and west Clare are awaiting exploration by travellers willing to steer clear of the well-worn paths of the Bunratty-Shannon-Ennis Triangle in order to distill the essence of true Ireland for themselves. They will be rewarded with experiences that will enrich their lives forever.
For a start, bountiful nature has provided Clare with the basis for activities that are genuinely world-class, yet under-used. For example, Kilkee Bay is not only regarded as Europe`s finest scuba-diving site, but is also rated among the five best underwater locations anywhere; the dunelands around Lahinch are on a par with Ballyliffin, Carne, Enniscrone and the other great courses of The West as the world`s finest for links golf;
and for those who love unusual flora, the eerie limestone landscapes of The Burren with their rare alpine plants are utterly unique, as a visit to the new Burren Centre proves.
More extraordinary experiences are to be enjoyed all over this fascinating county :
Where else but in Clare can you see, to this day, the cosy hibernation pits of the long-extinct Irish Brown Bear?( Ailwee Caves);
Where can you be 98 percent guaranteed to see bottlenose dolphins of the friendly 100-strong group resident in the Shannon Estuary? (On board the Dolphinwatch boat from picturesque Carriagaholt harbour);
Where can children encounter native Irish sharks eyeball to eyeball and then dive into Sammy Shark`s safe ball-pool? (Lahinch SeaWorld and Leisure Centre);
Where can you stride out on a guided walking holiday with the best views of Galway Bay, the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher and return to a nightly five-course gourmet dinner? (Carrigann Hotel, Lisdoonvarna).
Mention of Lisdoonvarna raises another question: Where may someone seeking true Ireland also find true romance? (At the town`s annual Matchmaking Festival, the one and only international event of its kind!)
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