History of Clare

Clare Image 2

County Clare shares its borders with Co. Galway to the north and Co. Limerick to the south, with mainly the waters of Lough Derg on its eastern border and nothing but the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The county is in the province of Munster and the county capital is Ennis. Galway Bay at the northern border of the county is a popular draw for holidaymakers and songwriters, while the Cliffs of Moher keep the Atlantic at bay on the western edge of The Burren, and draw more than a million visitors every year.

The Burren itself is an amazing, alien-like landscape formed over millions of years by the uneven dissolution of soluble rocks. Part of the Slieve Bernagh mountain range can be found in the east of Co. Clare, which include the county's highest point, Mount Moylussa, at over 1700 feet up.

It is unknown by whom, but Co. Clare was definitely inhabited sometime between 4000 and 3000 BC because the open spaces of the county are filled with mysterious dolmen – megalithic tombs that use three or for upright stones to create a one-room burial chamber. Of the many tombs in the county, the Poulnabrone dolmen, found in The Burren area, is the most famous. The human remains buried there have been excavated and had their age confirmed. The Greek scholar Ptolemy visited Co. Clare while compiling his geography of Ireland around 100 AD and named the tribes he found there as the 'Gangani'.

Originally part of Connacht under the Uí Fiachrach dynasty in the early Middle Ages, the Dalcassian tribe conquered the region in the tenth century and added it to their growing Kingdom of Munster, naming it Thomond. The O'Brien Clan, founded by the noted High King of Ireland, Brian Boru, rose out of Thomond, making it a kingdom in its own right from 1118 until after the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, when Thomas de Clare took over the lordship. However, in 1318 at the Battle of Dysert O'Dea, Edward Bruce returned Thomond to the Gaelic people during his invasion of the Norman held lands.

During the Tudor conquest of Ireland by Henry VIII, Murrough O'Brien surrendered and was then regranted Thomond, and then made Earl in the English Kingdom of Ireland, in 1543. Just after the Desmond Rebellion, the Lord Deputy of Ireland transferred Thomond back from Munster to Connacht and changed the name to County Clare, most likely after the settlement of Clare, which was named for the Irish word 'clár', after its bridge crossing of the River Fergus. After the Restoration, at the end of the seventeenth century, Co. Clare was passed back to Munster.

In modern times, Co. Clare is recognised as a popular visitor destination with excellent transport links to other popular parts of Ireland, beautiful and unique scenery, and a rich culture especially with regard to traditional Irish Folk music. Plus don't forget the famous Irish hospitality and, with the warm and welcoming people that you will find spread throughout Co. Clare, that's never far away.



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