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Ennis as base for Cliffs of Moher?

Hello! The wife and I are gradually homing in on what we want to do in Ireland this coming October, and we appreciate all the great feedback here in the RS forum. My questions at the moment are mostly around County Clare and visiting the Cliffs of Moher. I'm thinking this will cover the last one or two days out west before we turn in the rental car and take the train back to Dublin.
1) After we leave Dingle in our rental car, is it reasonable to plan to drive towards the Cliffs of Moher area (via the Tarbert/Killimer ferry), visit the cliffs, and then spend the night in Ennis?
2) Is Ennis a good choice to have dinner and spend the night after the cliffs, or is there some other town nearby that makes more sense? Interested in window shopping, strolling, cafes, wine bar, pubs, etc.
3) Also, is there any reason that we need to spend a 2nd night in that area? I'm aware of The Burren, but we don't think we need to spend much time around there. A cool castle to visit maybe?
4) I hope I'm not overcomplicating too much, but... is it a crazy idea to drive from Dingle to the cliffs, marvel at the cliffs, turn in the car at Ennis, and take a train to Limerick for one night, before proceeding back to Dublin by train the next day? My gut tells me that might be too ambitious.

Disclosure - I have not yet researched if I even can turn in the car at Ennis. Thanks for any comments

Posted by
29 posts

Hello Robert - I am sorry, I should have given more information. My current plan is to pick up a rental car at the Cork airport, AFTER 2 or 3 days in that area. We plan to fly Philadelphia to London and hang there for 4 nights. After that, here is our rough itinerary for 10 nights in Ireland:
** Arrive Dublin via sail/rail from London (not interested in flying, we are looking forward to that ferry ride), stay 2 nights in Dublin.
** Train from Hueston to stay in Cork for 2 nights. Day trip to Kinsale, spend remainder in Cork and/or Cobh.
** Pick up rental car at Cork airport. (Partly so that I don't immediately have to drive in a large town or city)
** Proceed via car to Dingle for 2 nights. See Dingle, Slea Head drive, etc.
** Leave Dingle for Cliffs of Moher area. Jettison rental car somewhere (Ennis? Limerick?), before train trip back to Dublin for 2 more nights. Fly out of Dublin for Philadelphia.

About us: We are physically able, but not interested in substantial hiking. Strolling or a brisk walk is fine. We need to eat and like restaurants but are not foodies by any stretch. Nothing beats a good pizza and a bottle of wine. We try to avoid major tourist crowds when we can. It's just my wife and I, so no kids involved. We do hope to tour at least one classic old castle somewhere.

Thanks again for any comments

Posted by
2225 posts

The drive north from Dingle to the Cliffs is a pretty one on a sunny day, especially if you head west from the ferry landing at Killimer and proceed along the N67 towards Kilkee. The little town would be a good choice for lunch - there's a nice stretch of sandy beach there and if you're ambitious you could meander along at least part of the cliff walk which has some great views and photo ops. It's a level path and not particularly taxing. There's a pretty good seafood restaurant right at the beginning of the walk too if you're interested.
Then head north hugging the coastline (still the N67) for one of Ireland's best scenic drives all the way to Lahinch and thence to the cliffs. It'll be slow going but worth it.
Recommend Doolin as your overnight stop - it's a much more pleasant place than Ennis and would complete your driving for the day. There are a few atmospheric pubs there for dinner and/or a pint, and if they're still running at the end of September there are excursion boats that run from Doolin along the base of the cliffs for a sunset view - very pretty indeed.
In your particular case it's probably easier (and maybe even cheaper) to drive back to Dublin the next day versus trying to find a place locally to return your rental and then taking the train back. A nice enroute stop would be the monastic settlement at Clonmacnoise.

Posted by
42 posts

Hi Miles - We just visited the area a few weeks ago and stayed in Ennis. I agree that if you are only there for 1 night - Doolin would probably best. You will finish up probably a bit late at the Cliffs and would still have a 40 minute drive back to Ennis, have to check-in, and might be too tired from the day to do much more. Doolin would make for a nice evening of strolling and pub hopping, some music.

However, if you find that you want 2 nights in the area - we liked Ennis for exploring the area. We drove from Dingle to Tarbert via Connor Pass, on to Kilkee for lunch before walking along the cliffs there, then headed to Ennis. Spent the late afternoon/evening window shopping and checking out a few pubs. Next day we visited a few sights in the Burren including The Burren Perfumery - which even my husband enjoyed, went on a Cliffs of Moher boat tour which was fantastic, had a snack and pint in Doolin at Gus O'Connors, then went to the visitor center to view the cliffs from the top. Back in Ennis after dinner, we found live music at Knox's Pub. We enjoyed dinners at Brogans and Poet's Corner.

You could also use another night to take a day trip out to Inisheer (Aran Island) or visit Dungaire Castle and Corcomroe Abbey which we unfortunately ran out of time for.

We rented with Budget and weren't able to return the car in Ennis so we decided to keep it to explore more on the way back to Dublin.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks Melissa and Robert for these great suggestions - good information and much appreciated. We are getting closer to a plan.