Travel Guide Ireland: Doolin, Co.Clare

So after my recent guides for some of Clare’s fine spots – the fantastic and special Ennistymon and also the cultural spot that is Ennis.

It didn’t feel right not to honour one of Clare’s (and my) most loved spots – Doolin.

How can you not love Doolin?

I have been coming to this little spot on the west coast for many years and every trip is just a whole experience and a time I won’t forget. It is funny how you can come to a spot like this on so many different occasions and it never feels quite like any visit is the same – I mean I know they won’t ever be the same but most of my trips have all been completely different.

Doolin is not that big – but it is full of spirit, experience, people, soul, passion, community, music, music, music – it really is an exceptionally unique part of Ireland and Clare.

Also with SO MANY awesome festivals on the 2019 calender in Doolin you really have to get down there at least once, there is something to suit all tastes and interests! You can see some of them in my Festival Guide.

Eating and Drinking

Hotel Doolin

This is definitely the hub of Doolin, whether for a tasty beer or cocktail in the bar or for some restaurant dining or pub grub eating. I’ve tried them all!

There are weekly music sessions here and sure you can even have your wedding here if you fancy? (That was one of the best weddings I’ve been too!)

If there is a festival, event or any type of shindig happening in Doolin – you can probably assume these guys have a part in its creation and a lot of mingling and happening will be found here!

Photo: Source

The food is really good and they always accommodate veggie diets – sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry for example. It doesn’t stop there – you can finish of your meal with some vegan chocolate cherry truffle and hazlenut meringue with avocado ice-cream……… yep, that’s right.

Many a great weekends have been spent here – from wedding celebrations, Hen gang parties, Craft beer festival, BBQ, general sunshine Sunday hanging out. Ahhh Doolin, I can almost smell summer just thinking about you.

Location Rivervale, Teergonean, Doolin     Contact  +353 65 707 4111

The Ivy Cottage

I swear every time I go to Doolin the sun is splitting the rocks so that calls for coming here to this cute little thatched cottage cafe and sitting outside, sun on our faces, people watching, and just enjoying the beautiful garden setting around us.

Friends and I enjoying Ivy Cottage sunshine life.

The staff are always really nice and helpful here – the inside is as lovely as the outside and there is some nice homemade food to nibble on or even just a coffee or a beer – whatever ya need depending on the type of weekend you are having 🙂

For the veggie eaters there’s a burger for you and I’ve always just asked for some salad and chips or something I can pull together from the menu and it’s always worked out 🙂 Just sitting here taking it all in is enough for me most of the time but the rest – food, coffee, drinks – is an added bonus.

McGanns Pub

Walking into McGanns pub – whether it be on a busy weekend evening or when camping nearby for a weekend with surf loving friends or popping in on a week night after a spontaneous trip down from Galway; is always a delight.

It’s that warm, cosy and proper Clare pub feel that we all love about this place. Get yourself a little corner seat and gather together with friends – near the fire if its a cold night – and just wait and see how the night unfolds. Whether it be chatting to some of the locals, some fellow Doolin loving passer-bys who come whenever they get the chance or sitting back from the music that may unfold. This is the place I go and while Doolin has many pubs and spots to settle yourself into for an evening, if I had to pick one- this would be it.

I have it on good authority that O’Connor’s Pub has a good Sunday afternoon session and good chowder.

Doolin Glamping

I’ve never been glamping before so was delighted when a friend said that was what we would be doing for some celebrations. This place is amazing! Absolutely gorgeous and just looking at the prices – it is so reasonable if you want something a bit different and special for your weekend.

The tents are so spacious, we had three sharing ours (its a two person tent but you can easily fit a third bed in – for an additional €20). They are plenty warm, there are great facilities – showers and changing space, kitchen and just some nice space to sit around outside and eat your picnic food or whatever you are up for.

Check this beauty out for sleeping in style. Photo: Source

It is just a few mins to walk to all the pubs and shops, cafes and the likes (as I said Doolin ain’t big).

This was one of the many great trips I’ve had to Doolin and it was one to remember, definitely check it out and make your trip a bit more fun. The decor and the whole set up is also fab!

Rainbow Hostel

There are a few hostels in Doolin, this is one of the two I’ve used over the years. Its a nice, simple one and located on a working farm.

Mattie, one of the owners has a keen interest in archaeology and nature around the area and is happy to share and chat with people in the evenings and even some guided walks! That’s cool and just another bonus and joy of smaller and locally run places in rural areas. It’s all about the heart and community and those little extra bits that make a stay special.

Doolin Hostel

This is another one of the hostels you can stay in the heart of Doolin. It was recently renovated the last time I stayed there and it was super nice! Probably one of the fanciest hostels I’ve stayed in (I’ve stayed in some interesting hostels in my time!).

The rooms are clean, bright, spacious – we had a double room en-suite and a lovely view. ( I mean it is Clare so that goes without saying I guess.)

Doolin Hostel. Photo: Source

There is a nice big kitchen/dining space, a bar/cafe/restaurant spot – some food options, drinks, tea, coffee and the likes. Again, this was another trip where the sun shone the whole weekend (it really never seems to rain when I am there) so we sat outside in their garden seating area, surrounded by the rollings hills and the slow moving pace of life go by. Such joy!

Would definitely stay here again.

Allie River Hostel

This hostel looks so nice. I have yet to stay there but I always look at it admiringly when I’m around and it seems like a great spot. There are always people sitting outside enjoying themselves and as the name suggests it’s next to the river, so that is definitely another major draw to this hostel.

You can check out their website and take a look at the really nice looking rooms. It is a renovated cottage on the banks of the Allie river, so you are sure for a nice rural Irish country feel – it even has ‘turf fires’ listed as a facility – these guys know their priorities. We all know how good it feels to have a turf fire when coming in from a long day exploring the Irish countryside.

All the usual hostel facilities here, good reviews and all in all I’d add this to the list of accommodation options if you are passing through Doolin.

Pass through! Pass through!

Festivals

Now – Doolin does music, Doolin does music very, very well. Clare is one of the heart spaces for Irish music and Doolin may just be right at the epicentre.

Even on a random week day evening that we spontaneously took a night away trip to Doolin we have found a session of some sort going on.

So obviously there will be a whole host of festivals to really bind these talented musicians, artists, poets, storytellers and all things for the musically minded – together.

Music Minds Festival

19th January 2019

This is coming up in just a few short days and what a way to start the year and the festival season!!

A one day festival supporting, showcasing and highlighting the Irish talent that we have here. Which we really do have. Describing itself as a place to “gather, network, learn and be entertained in the wild and inspirational setting of Doolin” – I mean what more could one want for their mid-January lull?

Expect some of the greats at this one – David Kitt, Ronan O’Snodaigh (Yes!), Anna Mullarkey, Donal Dineen (woop!) . There will be workshops – pedal boards, music creation, electronic percussion, documentary making. There will be panel discussions and film screening.

Happenings Ireland’s Video for this weekend’s activities in Doolin.

Feck ! This is going to be pretty damn epic. This will be the first year and in my experience the first few years of new and upcoming events like this are always the best times to go and be part of from the start.

If you find yourself wondering what to do this weekend then I would really predict this would be something worth considering. Sure you can head off early, stop for a walk along the Burren and then arrive for all of these activites and some of the greats that we have here in Ireland to entertain you with their beats and voices and wonderous Irish craic.

Doolin Surf Festival

22nd- 24th March 2019

Well you are all covered now, all you festival lovers. Whether it be music, writing or the great love of the ocean and the art of riding those famous Clare waves – Doolin has it all. When are we moving ?

Sooo this too will be the first installment of the Doolin Surf Festival and it is already getting quite a lot of talk among friends and surf lovers that I’ve been chatting to. There is no reason not to go to this – its win, win, win on all levels. Like anything that happens down here, I guess.

I was at Battle of the Lakes this year in Achill and it was such a nice combination for a festival – Kite surfing and competitions over the weekend, classes and also some fantastic music, food, a fire pit and camping right in front of the ocean. So this surf festival is bound to be something similar in my mind.

Clare has one of the great and largest surf scenes in Ireland and people who really love the ocean. This weekend will have it all- film screenings, exhibitions, workshops, surf competitions, live bands and DJs and some of that famous local and sustainable food.

What are you waiting for? Trying to figure out how you can attended every single one of these festivals? I can totally understand!

Hopefully the Moxie sounds on this Video shared by Hotel Doolin implies that they may also be attending? Another reason to get yourself there if they are!

Doolin Writers Weekend

25th – 27th January

Sigh. Doolin just creates a space for all. Knowing that this is a place to inspire the creative minds or to hold space for things to come into form, a weekend dedicated to writing is just another opportunity that you can take to spend time here and combine it with another possible passion you may have (or perhaps that you have yet to discover you have?)

This is the seventh writers weekend and you can enjoy workshops – ‘Finding your Voice’, ‘Landscape and Origins’ ‘Ideas Clinic’ for example. There will be talks, music and trad sessions over the weekend (to keep the creative juices flowing and supported!)

So if you are more into the art of writing and surrounding yourself with industry leaders and like-minded people, skill and idea sharing and a stunning setting to be in then this may be the weekend for you.

Hotel Doolin is your spot for this weekend again.

Doolin Folk Festival

14th – 16th June

As I stated in my Festival Guide – I think that this weekend may be the festival weekend of the year for Doolin’s festival scene? It certainly has some excellent contenders to that title however.

This weekend is a popular one, there is always a whole array of people making the trip down here from Galway alone and it attracts Doolin lovin’, folk lovin’, festival and fun lovin’ people from all over!

I’ve been watching some of the Folk Festival documentary over the past few weeks on TG4 and even from this you can tell that its a weekend that is loved by both the artists and the festival attendees.

I mean – Check out this video. Doolin in all it’s folky, music loving, people magnetting, sunshiney joy and well that epic land and coast that surrounds it all and holds it together – bliss!

Pretty sure the tickets sell out fast but so keep an eye out or get yours today. You will get there if it’s meant for ya! Which it most definitely is 🙂

What Else?

Doolin; People, Place & Culture – Eddie Stack

Just today I was in one of my most loved places – Charlie Byrnes bookshop in Galway and I saw this.

Fantastic. If you are as enthralled and enamored by Doolin as I am, and most people who visit are, then this would be a wonderful addition to your library. It is a collection of essays and conversations with local tradition keepers and bearers of the much loved arts of this area, such as music, story telling, crafters and everything else that permeates the air here.

There is also a Podcast with Clare FM’s Pat Costello who speaks with the writer of this book, Eddie Stack.

Doolin Yoga

Tricia has been running her yoga studio in the magic surrounds of Doolin for a few years now and we met in Galway when she attended a workshop I hosted in Galway.

Tricia has regular yoga classes here- including a Saturday morning class (for the weekend visits to Doolin). There are also other conditioning classes and workshops and pop-up events and mini retreats to get to. Keep an eye on the Facebook page and add some yoga nourishment to really accentuate the Doolin experience.

I love the sound of the Self Care Hour – an hour in the morning to focus on and give yourself some much needed care and time through guided meditation, reiki and other healing techniques.

Doolin Yoga! Photo: Source

Walks

Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk

This is probably one of the most well known walks here in Doolin, with good reason I guess. You can walk along the stunning Cliff edge from Doolin to the cliffs of Moher visitor centre – I think you can actually walk the whole 18/20km to Liscannor also. Check the link here for a break down of the different walks and routes you can do.

Man, Clare is just gorgeous. This walk is exposed and for experienced walkers so do with caution. I did a section also near Liscannor and it’s pretty wild and raw- as I like it but not to take lightly.

Do make time for this or part of this, the area around Doolin is just stunning and it is worth every step.

Doolin Pier

I took a nice walk down to the pier and it’s a nice way to get some expansive, sea air life into your lungs and mind. There is a nice atmosphere there, you can find some space of stillness and solitude when you nestle into some of the larger rock areas. You can watch the people come and go on the ferry and chat with the ferry men and just get a sense of the warm Doolin welcome and community. You can grab yourself a coffee and some homemade cakes and watch the waves and the ocean do it’s thing.

It’s a nice way to get a walk in but still be in the village feel, maybe if you don’t have enough time to commit to the coastal walk or you just want a blast of sea air and move the body. Its accessible to all levels.

Doolin Hostel have a few recommended walks you can also do in the area on the website HERE

You are never far from some stunning walks when you are in Clare – with the Burren all around you that has an otherworldly sense to it (could we be walking on the moon?).

There is the Lough Avalla farm loop which is just over 30 minutes from Doolin, check the Irish Trails website for info – a 6km walk taking around 2.5hours and you can pop into the farm tea room for cake and coffee (or tea for the non coffee addicts.)

There are also some walks around the equally beautiful Ballyvaughan , also just over 30 minutes from Doolin. Irish Trails also have some listed walks and routes – the Wood Loop , an 8km loop with beautiful views and is suitable for most levels.

Dromore woods is another favourite of mine- a real sense of getting away from the world and civilisation for a while, slipping into the pace and vibration of nature with the bird life and the lake views and the woodland. You can also pop of in Ennis if you make it here and see what else I love to do in my Ennis Travel Guide.

You can also do a trek from Fanore beach (one of my most loved Clare beaches) to Ballyvaughan. Sounds fab. Check out the Irish Trails listing.

Also if you are in Doolin you just must, MUST visit Ennistymon. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen about my recently discovered love of Ennistymon. It has to be experienced to be understood. In terms of walks there is an historic town walk you can do here and then you can pop into some of my favourite places which I’ve collected in my Ennistymon Travel Guide. 

Check out some info about the Ennistymon Town Walk from Discover Ireland – and some pretty interesting stuff about Ennistymon. Makes me understand more why it is so full of life and energy.

I did say I’m on a bit of a Clare Love Fest right now. It has just got right into my heart and soul!

There is so much more to add to this, it’s endless really but for now this is some of the places and experiences that make my trips to the magic wild west so imprinting on my memory!

Sunset magic at Fanore beach, Photo by Maura Tilbury Photography

Check out my Ennistymon Travel Guide and a general Clare Travel Guide from last year. Many more discoveries and trips to do here – Hazel Mountain Chocolate is a must visit also – read about why in my Clare Guide!

Also check out the array of awesome and alternative festivals happening in Clare over the next 12 months in my Festival Guide.

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