Last weekend eight of us (members of my local art group) spent a really lovely weekend in Killaloe and I am just going to give you the highlights of a very successful and enjoyable trip. ferdia, our Destination Expert for Bunratty, provided me with the websites.
Thursday: Kincora Hall Hotel since the Lakeside Hotel, which had been booked for Friday and Saturday night, could not accommodate us for that particular night (I've posted separate reviews for both hotels). Highlight of the evening: meeting up with oma14, a regular poster on this forum who happened to be in Killaloe at the same time, and beanalainn, Destination Expert for Limerick + hubby, and ferdia + daughter. Wonderful people, great evening. My friends from the art group went into Killaloe and had dinner in Crotty's which they all agreed was very good. Friday: off to Garrykennedy (about 15 km from Killaloe, off the R494 [Nenagh road] – www.garrykennedycottage.com/villageviews.html). On the way there is a beautful viewing point on the R494, don't miss it!), Garrykennedy is a beautful little village right beside Lough Derg and lunch in the garden of Larkin's pub was very nice. The seafood chowder was deemed to very good.
Dromineer (www.shannonsailing.com/html/dromineer.htm) is another lovely, peaceful spot on Lough Derg. Back to Killaloe and dinner at Flanagan's (facing Mollys at the bridge from the Killaloe side it's just a few steps to the left). The food is a bit pricey and the service extremely relaxed (meaning slow) but on the whole it was quite an enjoyable meal.
Saturday: Mountshannon (about 25 km from Killaloe on the Clare side of Lough Derg [www.mountshannon.com/]). This was the other, very special highlight of the weekend. We took the boat from Mountshannon to Holy Island to view the ancient monastic ruins. This particular boat could only accommodate six of us so the skipper asked two of my friends to go back to the parking lot about 200 m from the landing stage on Holy Island where he picked them up and brought them back after our visit. The boat journey from Mountshannon only takes about 10 minutes (very safe and life jackets provided). Holy Island is a very special place and the eight of us had it all to ourselves for one hour (of course you can stay longer than that if you want, yer man will come and collect you whenever....!). It must be one of the most peaceful places in all of Ireland. www.mountshannon.com/holy.html will give you more information and there are leaflets with map and history available at the boat hire place in Mountshannon harbour. You will find explanatory plaques at every structure telling you about the architecture and history. The sun was beaming down on us... the hawthorn was in full bloom...history all around you... what a wonderful place! Thank you so very much, ferdia, for suggesting a trip to Holy Island! The round trip by boat cost 9 Euro per person and it was 9 Euro very well spent.
Afterwards a drive around East Clare. When you think about Clare you think "the Burren". Guys, get yourselves to East Clare. It is beautiful and well off the beaten track. Who'd associate Clare with mountains? We missed a turn in Scarriff and ended up on a back road which took us high up over the valley, one of those fortunate missed turns! The views were just wonderful! Finally got back onto the intended road and stopped beside Doon Lough (on the R462). Another unexpected peaceful, beautiful place. Just wish that those eejits who are able to bring all their stuff for a BBQ would also be able to take the rubbish back with them...!
Killaloe is a very small town and, in my opinion, would not occupy you for more than an afternoon. But it does have St. Flannan's Cathedral (we happened to drop in during Sunday service and the organ music was just wonderful!) and it boasts the only, unique stone with an Ogham/Runic inscription in Ireland and there is a very pleasant walk along the Shannon. You can also do a cruise up the Shannon (www.killaloe.ie/whelans/) which we didn't do (time restraints and the weather had turned).There was a small but really lovely farmer's market on the Sunday morning with lots of organic food and very happy looking plants. Killaloe makes for an absolutely ideal touring base for exploring Limerick, Clare and Tipperary. The consensus between all of us was "We'll come back here, there's so much to see and do". I will keep recommending Killaloe on TA.
Thanks again to ferdia for helping to plan this outing and it was such a joy to meet you, beanalainn and Oma in person (Oma and I had already met here in Leixlip).
I hope this report is going to be of use to any of you planning to be in the Killaloe area in the future.