This Mountainous island has soaring Atlantic cliffs, a whole range of extreme adventure sports and 6,000 years of visible history, from an ancient bog-bound forest to a 5,500-year-old megalithic court tomb, a bronze-age promontory fort and numerous 3,000 year old cooking pits (or fulacht fiadh in Irish).
There’s also a 600-year-old cartoon featuring a horseman, a hound, a fox, a snake, a crucifix, leaves, a dragon and archers on the walls of the 14th century Cistercian Abbey. There is also another of the 'pirate queen' Grace O'Malley's castles, this one including her burial place.
The islanders have come together to reimagine their rocky home as an adventure capital, with rock-climbing, canyoneering (rock-scrambling cliff-jumping and cave-swimming), abseiling and kayaking sessions for singles, bachelor parties, corporate teams and school groups. There are no hotels on Clare Island and no other hostels
The islanders also run a sailing festival, traditional music events, a regatta and a walking festival with the impassioned historian Michael Gibbons.
There’s a touch of the Galapagos to Clare Island, as Ireland’s greatest naturalist, R.L. Praeger chose the island for the most comprehensive inventory of nature and habitation ever conducted in Britain and Ireland in a single geographical location: The Clare Island Survey 1909-1911.
Now, a century later the Royal Irish Academy has repeated his Praeger’s survey, tracking the changes that have transpired since. It’s throwing up exciting insights in every field: botany, geology, zoology, archaeology and anthropology.
A Praeger Education Centre is currently being developed on the island to allow scholars, students and curious visitors to immerse themselves in this new data.
What else to do on Clare Island?
- Clare Island Yoga Retreat is one of the most inspirational spots in Ireland - a crucible for yoga, vegetarian cooking, meditation and natural horsemanship on 10-acres of native woodland, with extensive organic gardens and 240 acres of mountain for their sheep and horses.
- Much of the food is home produced, including yogurt, kefir and cheese from its sheep and butter from an island farmer. Most inspirational of all is the 6,000 trees that have been planted on what most consider a barren, windswept island.
- Woofing on Clare Island – 3 farms welcome Woofers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), where visitors can experience island farm life in return for helping out.
- Island Luxury - Clare Island Lighthouse is an elite sanctuary of luxury within the evocative walls of a 200 year-old maritime lighthouse – sophisticated design and food. A genuine escape from reality.
- Various accommodation options are available throughout the island; check here for further details.