Ireland’s most scenic bus service? Ennis to Galway via the Cliffs of Moher

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The winding, medieval streets and gorgeous architecture of Ennis, County Clare’s main marketplace town, are the southerly starting constituent of way 350, a autobus work that navigates sleepy villages, historical landmarks, epic landscapes and immoderate of the finest coastal scenery successful Ireland.

County Clare autobus map

Ennis is conscionable 30 minutes by autobus from Shannon airdrome and midway by obstruction from Galway to Limerick City – yet, successful spite of each that connectivity, determination are nary aboriginal starts here, and that includes the 350. The municipality stretches and yawns awake sometime aft 9am with the clanking of bare kegs to the rear of the pubs that enactment Abbey Street arsenic acold down arsenic Ennis Friary. It had a literate motion arsenic a determination successful James Joyce’s Ulysses, which brings a flurry of visitors for its publication festival successful aboriginal spring, but isolated from that, Ennis ambles on astatine its ain gait until precocious May. That’s erstwhile Fleadh Nua starts – a accepted Irish euphony event, hallmarked by the dependable of uilleann pipes oregon a bodhrán filtering done each barroom doorway and window.

The 350 autobus  labours uphill astatine  the Cliffs of Moher.
The 350 autobus labours uphill astatine the Cliffs of Moher. Photograph: Andrew Downes

The municipality has a scattering of meal cafes – specified arsenic the Market Bar and Restaurant connected Merchant’s Square, which serves a afloat Irish for nether €10. It’s the champion mode to idle distant an hr waiting for the bus, which volition seashore on Clare’s seashore arsenic acold arsenic Galway City. Christy, the operator today, is simply a affable smiling benignant – helium steers the autobus from the presumption with the assurance of immense experience, which is simply a relief, due to the fact that this isn’t a mean agrarian work – it moves astatine a astute gait on cliff-hugging constrictive lanes and done knife-edge twists and turns.

We thrust for 30 minutes skinny roads passing heavy greenish pastures earlier the autobus stops successful Ennistymon, extracurricular the simple, brightly painted Unglert’s Bakery, wherever proprietor Stephan has sold caller breadstuff and pome strudel for 40 years. Then Christy is backmost connected the roadworthy to instrumentality a afloat 90-degree country successful the centre of Ennistymon that’s a situation adjacent for a compact car – helium brings the village’s postulation to standstill for a moment, earlier crossing implicit a sliver of a bridge. To the right, cascades of h2o tumble past Falls Hotel, a erstwhile location of Caitlin Macnamara, writer and woman of Dylan Thomas.

Shops connected  Abbey Street, Ennis.
Shops connected Abbey Street, Ennis. Photograph: Ian G Dagnall/Alamy

Just arsenic Ennistymon recedes, the Atlantic Ocean appears connected the skyline implicit the surf municipality of Lahinch. The autobus swerves connected to a layby – by the aged play people which is ranked 4th champion successful Ireland. Lahinch is the astir fashionable formation municipality successful County Clare, truthful the autobus offers the accidental to skip the parking fees and roam on the promenade oregon settee down for an hr connected the aureate sand, waiting for the adjacent 350 to travel along. Vaughan’s connected The Prom (formerly O’Looney’s) is the spot to ticker the surfing from a harmless region – determination betwixt the formation and the Cliffs of Moher is Aileen’s Wave, a superior surf spot with gargantuan breaks. I similar the comparative information of the roadworthy – and astatine this constituent it’s worthy mentioning that northbound passengers connected the 350 should beryllium connected the left-hand broadside of the autobus for the champion views.

The River Inagh, with its tiny  rapids known arsenic  the Cascades, moving  done  the Ennistymon oregon  Ennistimon
The River Inagh by the Falls Hotel astatine Ennistymon. Photograph: George Munday/Alamy

The way passes done Liscannor – the location colony of John P Holland, an inventor who designed the US navy’s archetypal submarine – earlier climbing to 200 metres supra the ocean, a motion that the Cliffs of Moher are nearby. This is wherever astir passengers disembark. The interpretive centre, with its grassy domed roof, has an uncanny resemblance to Teletubbyland, but the cognition works connected an exemplary sustainable model, arsenic good arsenic offering views on miles and miles of County Clare seashore and implicit to the Aran Islands. They are breathtaking connected a wide day. If you enactment connected board, the autobus volition soon swoop astir a country conscionable beyond the visitant centre and those aforesaid views travel into panoramic absorption arsenic acold arsenic the tiny, touristy colony of Doolin. There’s a regular ferry work to the Aran Islands (and lively pubs) present – oregon a accidental to instrumentality a cruise beneath the Cliffs of Moher from the aforesaid vantage constituent arsenic Harry Potter successful the Half Blood Prince.

Black Head.
Black Head. Photograph: Vic O’Sullivan

After a speedy detour to Lisdoonvarna, which hosts what is said to beryllium Europe’s largest matchmaking festival each September, the autobus hugs the seashore connected 1 of Ireland’s astir spectacular drives, on Black Head. The Burren Park’s metallic terrain is connected either broadside – mountainous to the right, creaseless and creviced to the near – earlier it plunges into the bluest h2o imaginable. The mounting softens astatine Fanore beach, earlier moving connected to Ballyvaughan, which tempts a mates of passengers to disembark. The colony has a bully scope of rooms and restaurants overlooking Galway Bay – and O’Loclainn’s Bar has an unsurpassed enactment of whiskey brands stacked successful its cramped interior.

Dunguaire Castle, adjacent   Kinvarra.
Dunguaire Castle, adjacent Kinvarra. Photograph: Stefano Valeri/Alamy

Before leaving County Clare and the Burren Park, Christy takes an unexpected crook inland, passing landmarks specified arsenic the ruin of 13th-century Corcomroe Abbey and Oughtmama – a vale of crumbling medieval churches – past connected to New Quay. The Flaggy Shore, adjacent New Quay, is simply a secluded limestone and hoary sandy formation wherever the writer Seamus Heaney spent clip and which helium described successful his poem Postscript. To relish the sublime water views, halt by Linnane’s Lobster Bar for caller drawback and wine, oregon draught brew connected tap.

Over the border, successful County Galway, the autobus creates a insignificant calamity with postulation arsenic it blocks the main thoroughfare of Kinvarra to springiness passengers a accidental to disembark. White sails billow successful the harbour up – and perched connected a bluff connected the outskirts is Dunguaire Castle. It’s a tiny operation location wherever immoderate of Ireland’s literate greats – Yeats, Synge and Shaw – conjured up a roadworthy representation to revive and nurture the arts. It’s besides the past halt earlier the autobus trundles connected to a much municipality mounting arsenic it makes for Eyre Square successful Galway City – with its Michelin-star restaurants, top-notch bars and bohemian lifestyle. But that’s an escapade for different day.

Kinvarra. Photograph: Alamy

The bus

With a Leap Card, Bus Éireann tickets are 30% cheaper than azygous fares. The archetypal of five regular 350 services starts from Ennis astatine 10.30am.


Doubles astatine The Old Ground, Ennis, from €107 (room-only) oregon €125 B&B; doubles astatine Monks, Ballyvaughan Village from €150 B&B; doubles astatine The Galmont, Galway, €160 room-only.

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