Aillwee Cave, County Clare
Fee-Paying Tourist Attraction in Ireland #19
Aillwee Cave is the most famous of the thousands of Caves underneath the limestone rocks that make up the Burren in County Clare. A guided tour of the Caves reveals an underground river, waterfalls, and amazing stalactites and stalagmites. Bear bones have also been found in the cave leading to the claim that Aillwee Cave is the last known bear den in Ireland! The tour allows visitors to explore over 300 metres of the Cave, looping around to arrive back at the visitor centre.
The discovery of the Caves is both amazing and unsurprising, given the Irish manner. In 1944 a farmer named Jack McGann followed his dog into the cave, the dog in pursuit of a rabbit. He quickly gazed at the amazing site and then went about his business for another 29 years, not telling anyone of his discovery until 1973, when he told some cavers of his find. Since then the Cave has been developed and opened to public exploration.
Aillwee is located near Ballyvaughan about 40 minutes drive from Galway to the north and Ennis to the South. The Surfers of Lahinch and the Matchhmakers of Lisdoonvarna are all in this neck of the woods while the Cliffs of Moher are only a short drive away. There is plenty to see an do in this part of the country!
The guided tour of the Cave takes about 35 minutes while the Educational Centre is also home to a 'birds of prey' exhibit and offers a 'hawk walk' - an hour long walk with an experienced Falconer to explore the Hawks in action. A Craft Village demonstrates the ancient skills of Wood carving, Bow making, Forging and Willow Craft. The visitor experience has thus been greatly expanded to include more than just the Caves, as marvellous as they are. You could easily spend an entire day here but do allow at least half a day, perhaps a morning at the Caves and then an afternoon at the Cliffs of Moher. What a day-trip that would be!
This is a fascinating place to visit and is sure to entertain adults and kids alike, but is not a great location to bring very young kids except.... if you happen to be in Ireland in late November through December when you can visit Santa at the Caves and that is an experience unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry!
The Tea Rooms and Gift shop make this modern facility a pleasure to visit.
Find out more here: http://www.aillweecave.ie
Video about Aillwee Cave, County Clare
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