West Clare

I took it into my head that it might be a good idea to visit West Clare which is, after all, right on our doorstep.  To be more precise, I wanted to visit the Burren, that wonderful place of desolation and vibrant life, so I headed off with the Hound of Satan, stopping only to collect an old friend.  These journeys are often best made in good company.

It was clear before long that the trip would be fraught with bizarre religious overtones when we stumbled across this place.

No Holy Stone of Clanrickard, it’s true, but still, this is an ominous start.  Where will we go?

How about climbing Mullaghmore?

What a good idea.  Where is it?

I thought it was over there.

No.  It’s that way.

The Hound of Satan is growling with delight in the back seat as we blunder our way around the back roads of the Burren searching without success for a gianormous mountain.  Jesus Christ!

This is the Burren.  You can’t miss the hills.  Look.

There they are, right in front of you, and yet we can’t find the biggest one. Why? Because we’re idiots, that’s why.

What’ll we do?

How about going to Saint Colman’s Well?

Ok.  I knew this was going to be a religious experience, but let’s go anyway.  What is it?

It’s a well.  The water has a cure.

A cure for what?

Stupidity.  St Colman’s Well cures stupidity.

Oh right.  You mean that all the pilgrims there realise what a load of horseshit this religion thing is and never come back again?

Something like that.

There’s a little church, and it’s very picturesque indeed.  Apparently this is the place where Saint Colman used to sit around all day saying prayers and flogging himself, when he wasn’t drinking water from the Holy Well that has the Cure for Stupidity.  They say that people become immune to things and plainly that was true for Colman, but the place is only gorgeous.

Down by the well somebody has made a little crib and there they are: a snow-white Holy Family crouched under a moss-covered stone on the west coast of Ireland.

The hound of Satan is getting restless.  He hasn’t tasted fresh blood in hours and he’s far from comfortable in this place from the Other Side, but he’s also thirsty, cooped up in the car for the last hour and a half.  So he dips his Satanic tongue in the holy spring and immediately it begins to boil and turns a deep red.

I thought I told you not to be turning Holy Water into blood?  I screamed at him and he skulked away as all Satanic hounds do when confronted.  Think of the environmental consequences.  Jesus!

We look at each other.

I’m hungry. Let’s go to Ballyvaughan for a bit of grub.

Ok. We’ll go to Monks, the well-known eatery.

Good idea.

What we didn’t realise was that Monks had the most expensive restaurant this side of Moscow, or so we thought until we abandoned the place in disgust and headed off down the coast to find someplace more affordable.  Is it any surprise we have no tourists when we present them with these prices?

We go to the picturesque village of Doolin, renowned for its surfing and its traditional music.


Surely we’ll find better value here, we nod to each other with narrowed eyes, but no.  It’s almost as if the pubs have read each other’s minds.  Or menus.  In O’Connor’s, we find an equally outrageous price list for food, and even though we can well afford it, we agree that this is just too much, but at the same time, we marvel at the coincidence that they seem to charge almost exactly the same price as Monks.

Obviously,they haven’t been talking to each other and this has nothing whatever to do with the fact that tourists are at the mercy of the catering establishments, or the fact that tour buses bring them straight to the door with a recommendation.  Clearly this is a coincidence.

Let’s head for Liscannnor, we said.  Maybe we’ll find better value.

And so we did.  We headed directly for Liscannor, a little way down the coast, but on the way, we stopped at St Brigid’s Well, another little bit of religion, if that’s the right word.

This is a little grotto filled with religious artefacts, which I won’t disparage too much since the people who left these things are all mourning families.  To me, it’s alien, but clearly to the bereaved who put these objects in the little man-made cave, it has considerable emotional  significance.  The objects have been placed there by people from all over the world and the whole thing struck me as something you might find in South America — a sort of atavistic paganism, overlaid with a veneer of Catholicism.

I’ve often said that there’s no difference between religion and magic, but places like this illustrate clearly how identical they are.





The Hound of Satan, undeterred by the experience at Saint Colman’s Well, slurped some more Holy Water from Saint Brigid’s Well, and immediately went into a spasm, screaming dog-aaarrrggghhhs, but that might simply have been due to eating too many bones yesterday.  One way or another, we had enough of this.

I’m starving.

So am I.

Liscannor is just down the hill, so we stopped at Vaughan’s, a fine establishment which has, amazingly, an identically-priced menu.

We are mentally defeated.  Give us two of whatever you think we should have.  And a pint of drink.  Two pints of drink!  Here’s €35.  We surrender.

I suppose it’s not too bad reallly.  A pint of Guinness and a fish ‘n’ chip for €17.50.  Fish of the day: Pollock.

No. Wait a minute.  This is robbery.  No wonder our tourist industry is dying, but In fairness to Vaughans, the fish ‘n’ chips were delicious, and at least we had a great day out in the Burren.

Hint to tourists visiting West Clare: bring your own food.

34 thoughts on “West Clare

  1. East Clare is another good drive on a fine day. Not sure if they charge €17.50 for fish and chips and guinness in Scariff

  2. Should have waited and gone to Donkey Fords….lovely pictures especially the one of the old house from Father Ted…The Burren has always been a favorite place of mine to visit…..My brother-in law Michael Cusak was from there….raised some great horses once upon a time there…

  3. Great pictures – I’m definitely getting homesick. West Clare is just amazing. I still remember discovering the Burren by mistake, over 20 years ago.
    Regarding the prices, yes, it is outrageous extortionist rip-off prices. Perhaps they have copied their menus and price lists from the London Olympics. Next time I’m heading to West Clare, I might focus on a DIY-catering note (in addition to magic artefacts and the usual pishogery).

  4. It’s robbery, and what a shame that we should be forced into DIY catering. I personally won’t be supporting any of these establishments again.

  5. Off gallivanting again Bock. Tis well for some.
    Beautiful pics .. except for those chips. They look kind of mouldy.
    Donkey’s or Luigi’s look way nicer.
    I ate in Vaughan’s one time.. paid something like 25 euro for a seafood platter, at lunchtime in the pub. (no joke)
    It was woeful dried up shite to be honest.
    It was like something that was made up the previous day..
    Remember telling the waitress too and she was insistent I paid, as I had eaten a small bit of it. Bitter aul hag, with a bad attitude really.
    And a bus load of tourists did show up too when we were there.
    Daylight robbery.
    You know they have a ‘contact us’ link on their site.
    Wouldn’t you love to let the thieves know what you think ?

  6. who knows, with enough comments on here, this page might pop up when someone searches for monks…….

  7. you should have dropped into the roadside tavern in lisdoonvarnaon. they have their own micro brewery now. the beer is very good. choices of ale, lager and stout. on
    the subject of religion and magic, the church at kilnaboy has an unusual carving. none other than a sheela na gig is above the entrance door.worth looking at if you get the chance.

  8. How much is a pint in those places you mention?,it might well be that the fish and chips are better value than you think.When I’m in Ireland I’m alaways stunned by the price of Guiness and have never thought food to be that dear.The prices seem a little over the top to me,but then again you were in a touristy area so it’s to be expected.The best response to this is what you’ve done and tell everyone you know to steer well clear.

  9. Trofley — Somebody pointed that out to me. Better fix it, I suppose. Cronan the Barbarian.

    Sheskin — The pint of Guinness was €4.

  10. There’s a lovely little restaurant in Milltown Mallbay,
    Cant remember the name off hand but its on the main street on your left if you were heading towards lahinch.
    Foods delicious and a fair price. Right across the road these a cake/bread shop run by a Philipino woman (I think) and all the cakes breads and buns are home made and just excellent. You could bring a few on your Burren journey next time your in the area.

  11. I grew up about 2 miles from Mullaghmore, my back yard had a full view of it. Always reminded me of a giant stonage cowpat, or else a dollop of porridge dropped by some ancient giant. Amazing view from the top of it though. Next time you are in that neck of the woods try to pass through Corofin, some great pubs there with great grub. (although it’s been a while since I’ve been back so maybe it’s not as good as I remember)….don’t let the shithole-ish appearance put you off :)

  12. Great little museum in Corofin too…lots of local info, nice way to spend a rainy afternoon…..

  13. you should have gone to the “Bay fish + chips ” takeaway ,eat in ,in Liscannor rather thaan be robbed in Vaughans. Hate that place, food is excellent but yer man behind the bar is the most miserable bollix that ever took a breath.

  14. Nice Pic’s of a nice part of the world , had a feed of smoked mackerel , brown bread and salad in what I was told was the smallest pub in Ireland ( name eludes me but it was more like a small shop than a pub , in Liscannor ) Rated as follows : Food A+ , Guiness A , Service Z- , and the price…no idea ‘cos the lass never charged me due to getting too busy , ordinarily I would have volunteered payment ( maybe ! ) but rudeness on her part made me reluctant , went on to have a great night of beers etc (..a speciality of mine ! ) Ur posts lately are makin me a tad homesick Btw .

  15. “no idea ‘cos the lass never charged me ” ha. What a thief you are B.
    What’s the B stand for by the way? :)

  16. No thievin’ , just Karma ( hers…and all bad ! ) . B…firat letter of me name and FFI ?

  17. Fox Force 1..

    Do not laugh.

    I am part of an elite squadron of airline fighter pilots for the FCA.

  18. Elite and FCA ? ..Pulp Fiction ! ( was thinking FFI not FF1 so I’m afraid I did laugh though ! )

  19. I kid you not.
    We take a very dim view of people doing a legger from a restaurant. :)

  20. No legger , had a great nite . Good people , remember me tassie buddie and I having a yarn with an old fella Re : What we thought of the place , incld. Ireland : ‘ Luv it ‘ sez me mate , could live here except for the Visa’s etc etc ‘ . Ould fella thought about it for a sec or two then leaned closer and sorta half whispered ” Shur we’re not gonna tell anybody ! ” True tale . Miss that sorta banter .

  21. You have just made me realise that it’s been too long since I visited West Clare. Why didn’t you try McGanns or McDermotts? As I remember, McGann’s did some well decent seafood at a reasonable price. Of course, it has been a long time since I’ve been there.
    You complete me, FF1!!!

  22. FFI a pilot eh,
    My brothers a pilot as well! I used to cut the turf and he’d pilot. Ah golden days in the bogs of west clare and the way Mary might look at you as she sucked on her curley worley. Golden days indeed.

  23. Yep Long John, it’s a covert mission really. I shouldn’t be talking about it here.. but here’s us up at the Curragh there recently practicing some flight simulation.

    Keep that to yourself now.
    It was a tough day all in all. The Corporal is out of picture, but he was in the backround screaming ‘faster, faster and your boots lost their shine FF1’. The bollix.
    That’s their main responsibility, checking for shininess of boots.

    Curly worley huh.. is that a euphemism.. we’ll say no more. This is a respectable corner of the interwebs. :)

    Sorry Bock.. back to West Clare and the religious freaks and manky chips.

  24. Ennistymon is nearby the Burren. Prices OK as the locals are the main source of business there.
    Same for Fanore. The one pub there recently took to serving food. The café across the road is strictly for tourists.

  25. So no time for a gander at the Cliffs of Moher then? The price of parking there put yous off?))

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