Nestled between Galway and Limerick, you’ll find the idyllic town of Ennis, Ireland. It was a lazy morning in Ennis when I visited after an early morning hike at The Burren. The town’s slogan is “Old Town, New Stories”, and Ennis also calls itself, “The Friendliest Town in Ireland”. If you’re looking for a charming little town to visit between your adventures in Galway and Limerick, there are lots of fascinating things to do in Ennis Ireland.
Posts may be sponsored. Post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated if you make a purchase using my link.
Things to Do in Ennis Ireland
The town’s name “Ennis” comes from the Irish word “Inis”, meaning “island”. It refers to the island formed in the middle of the River Fergus where the Ennis Friary was built. While Ennis has a rich history that you can easily see through its preserved sites, it’s also a very modern town that embraces the present and the future, too.
While I only spent a couple of hours in Ennis, I really loved wandering down the cobblestone streets between rows of colorful houses. I highly recommend roaming about the streets, popping your head into the local shops and cafes along the way. If you happen to be visiting on a Friday between 8:00am and 2:00pm, I recommend going to the Ennis Farmers Market for local baked goods, fresh produce, preserves, and so much more. There are lots of vegan and vegetarian items at the market, too.
In one of the shop windows, I came across this sign: “We do not have Wi-Fi. We talk to each other!” Perhaps the people of Ennis are funny, with a little bit of sass? (I absolutely love it). While I didn’t have the opportunity to chat to many of the local residents (aside from restaurant and shop staff), I think that one of the best things to do in Ennis Ireland is to meet the friendly and funny locals, if you get the chance.
The Ennis Sculpture Trail
When I reached Ennis, the first thing that I noticed was a quirky and interesting sculpture in the middle of a roundabout. It depicts a market day scene, where two men haggle over the price of a cow. Ennis is historically an important market town and hosts a weekly farmers market to this day. Not only is Ennis a market town, but they also embrace local art. Ennis has an entire sculpture trail, which I’ll need to return to see!
The Ennis Sculpture Initiative has numerous works of art along the river, as well as street furniture in the downtown area. There are sculptures depicting abstract designs and both to memorialize important cultural and historic events. If you love public art, one of the top things to do in Ennis Ireland is visiting the sculpture trail.
There’s also a monument in the middle of town, devoted to Daniel O’Connell. You can’t miss it. The statue is positioned way up high on a pedestal, overlooking the city. Apparently, this seagull enjoyed sitting up there, basking in the sunlight.
Go Shopping in Ennis
Ennis is known as “The Boutique Capital of Clare”, so one of the best things to do in Ennis is to shop ’til you drop. There are lots of unique shops, restaurants and cafes in town. If you’re staying until the evening, you might be able to catch some live traditional music at a local pub.
I suggest popping by Meanwell, a natural and whole foods market in Ennis. Originally, I dined across the street at their cafe, Peckish Vegan Cafe, but unfortunately it has since closed. However, their whole foods market is open for business, so you can stock up on lots of delicious groceries and natural products. They’ve got a wide selection of vegan and whole food products that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
Visit the Clare County Museum
Within the former Sisters of Mercy school and chapel, the Clare County Museum aims to collect, preserve, interpret and display artifacts from Clare County. It serves as an educational resource for the people of Clare County and tourists from around the world looking to learn more about the culture and history of the region.
This collection of objects dates back over 6000 years with some items on loan from the National Museum of Ireland. Admission to the museum is free, so why not check it out? It’s one of the most interesting things to do in Ennis Ireland.
If you love history, you need to make a trip to the ruins of Ennis Friary. It’s a 13th century Franciscan friary with numerous 15th & 16th century limestone sculptures. You’ll be able to marvel at its Gothic tower, intricate wall carvings & vaulted sacristy. The Ennis Friary is right within the town center, so you can easily walk there when you’re wandering around town. Visiting the Ennis Friary is one of the best things to do in Ennis Ireland.
Ennis is a Tidy Town
I noticed that Ennis was declared the Tidiest Town in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, and 2019 in the Large Urban Centre category. Ennis also won the award for Ireland’s Cleanest Town for 2017, as declared by Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL). To win a Tidy Town award, the town must demonstrate not only that it’s a clean place to live, but that there are enriching cultural and art projects in the town to increase its livability. For instance, one of the top things to do in Ennis Ireland is checking out the sculpture trail, which was a Tidy Town initiative. Go Ennis!
Things to Do Near Ennis
While there are lots of things to do in Ennis Ireland, there are an equal amount of places to visit just outside of the town center. I suggest planning a little road trip around Ennis and County Clare in between your travels to Galway or Limerick.
Burren National Park
Only 15 minutes north of Ennis, you’ll find the Burren National Park. The entire Burren encompasses a whopping 250 square kilometers, and 1500 hectares are protected as the Burren National Park. Burren comes from the Irish word, Boíreann, meaning “rocky place”. Massive and broken fragments of limestone cover the ground. It shatters the typical image of the Emerald Isle; shades of green are replaced by gray rocks and low lying scrub. It’s one of my favorite places to go hiking in Ireland, and I only walked a fraction of it. There are five hiking trails in total where you can hike for an hour up to an entire day.
Despite the lack of soil, the Burren has a vast and diverse ecosystem. You’ll find 70% of Ireland’s native plant species in the Burren. That’s over 600 different plants and flowers growing in a space that appears unable to support much life at all. The plants are a rare combination of Alpine, Arctic, and Mediterranean varieties. It’s quite fascinating to see a moon-like surface with flourishing blooms protruding from the rocks. Hiking the Burren is one of the most memorable things to do in County Clare near Ennis.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Bunratty Castle is one of the most complete and authentic castles in Ireland. Just a 20 minute drive from Ennis, you can stop by Bunratty Castle on the way to Limerick. It’s a National Monument of Ireland, and the fourth castle to occupy this site over the years. Built in the 15th century and restored to its former glory in the 1960s, you’ll step back in time as you tour this ancient Irish castle.
In addition to touring the castle itself, with the largest collection of medieval furniture in Ireland, you’ll also gain admission to the folk park. Walk down the village street to experience Irish life back in the 19th century. Admire the beautiful trees and flowers at the walled garden. There’s also a cafe, gift shop, and a playground for the kiddos. Get your ticket to Bunratty Castle in advance so you won’t have to wait in any line-ups.
|Essential Ireland Travel Guide|
|Getting There: The main hub for Ireland is the Dublin Airport and it’s where I started my Ireland road trip. You’ll most likely find cheap flights to Dublin when compared to other airports in Ireland. The national airline of Ireland is Aer Lingus. However, Ennis is really close to the Shannon airport, so I recommend taking a look at the prices of flights to Shannon, too.|
Getting Around: I highly recommend renting a car in Ireland, even if you aren’t used to driving on the left. You will have the freedom to explore at your own pace and go everywhere you want, whenever you want. You can read all about my experiences renting a car in Ireland with everything you need to know. I recommend comparing car rental prices for the best rate.
Fast Facts: Euro is the currency. Power voltage is 230 V 50 Hz using Power Sockets G.
SIM Cards & Mobile: First, you can rent a portable Wi-Fi device with unlimited data that works in 130+ countries worldwide. We’ve used our portable device all over the world and love how we’re always connected! The second low cost option is purchasing a SIM card and data from the cell phone provider, Three. You can actually purchase a Three SIM card and data online in advance and it will work immediately upon landing in Ireland.
Where to Stay: I recommend comparing the prices of Ennis hotels before booking your stay (and it’s possible to have free cancellation, in case your plans change!). You can also read reviews of Ennis hotels ahead of time to choose the best one. If you prefer staying in apartments and houses, take a look at Airbnb properties.
Travel Safety: Don’t forget to get travel insurance before your trip. Whether you have an accident, have a flight delay, experience a theft, or need to return home sooner than anticipated, it’s always best to cover your bases. Get a travel insurance quote now for the best rates.
|Browse all of our Ireland photos and read more of our Ireland travel blog posts.|
As you can see, there are so many amazing things to do in Ennis Ireland. I suggest including it on your Ireland road trip itinerary. Here’s what I did: after visiting Galway, drive down to Burren National Park for a short hike. Then, stop in Ennis for brunch and go for a stroll. Next, make your way down to Limerick, stopping at Bunratty Castle. From there, you can spend half a day in Limerick and half a day in the adorable village of Adare.