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Kilrush Self Guided Historic Town Walk

A step onto Frances Street in Kilrush is a step back in time. This grand, 30-metre wide thoroughfare runs straight down to the harbour; but it is also, it seems, a direct line to Kilrush’s fascinating past as a port town and market hub. It effortlessly evokes the 19th Century.

Kilrush owes its historic appearance to the Vandelours, a family of prominent West Clare landlords who resided in the current-day Vandelour Demesne. Their name was disgraced in the famine, but Kilrush retains the shape they gave it as an estate town, not to mention its maritime and market flavour.

Kilrush has two heritage trails - a 1.5km red route (20 minutes) and a 6km yellow route (allow roughly an hour). The longer route reaches Cappa Pier, taking in views over Scattery Island before returning via Kilrush Woods to the Vandeleur Demesne, where a walled garden has been beautifully redesigned with mazes, water-feature and a Victorian-style working glasshouse.

Although the Vandelour residence itself was destroyed by fire in the late 1800s, the garden is a wonderful evocation of its heyday. A host of unusual and tender plants thrive in the area’s unique microclimate, and children can enjoy a living willow structure, sand area and butterfly trail.

The red route begins at Market House, where the town’s Maid of Éireann monument stands, and proceeds past the old Bank of Ireland to Saint Senan’s Church on Toler Street, recently the recipient of a €3.5m renovation. Step inside - its stained glass Rose window is like a flower in bloom.

From there, pass the Old Convent of Mercy on Henry Street, heading towards Glynn’s Mills and the monastery – originally built as a hotel, but which later came to house the Christian brothers. Kilrush is a great base for touring the Loop Head Peninsula, but a visit in its own right is just as rewarding.

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