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About the Area

About the Area
Take a look at our collect of photographs taken on our cruise. You'll be amazed!

Dolphin Discovery

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Dolphin Discovery

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The West Clare Peninsula is an area of unspoiled natural beauty, wedged between the roaring Atlantic to the north and the more tranquil Shannon estuary to the south. You’ll be charmed by it’s friendly people, stunning scenery, small towns and old world fishing villages. At its most westerly point Loop Head, the River Shannon ends its 212.5 mile journey from the shannon pot in Co. Cavan and enters the Atlantic Ocean. It is in the final 30 miles of the Shannon that a large group of bottlenose dolphins are to be found.

Kilrush, the gateway to the peninsula is situated at the edge of the estuary and mid-way between the areas the dolphins are most frequently observed. Our lively maritime and heritage town has many attractions to suit every visitor. Pleasant coastal and woodland walks await you, while evenings can be spent in the company of locals in the towns many pubs and restaurants, with traditional music available most nights.

Cappa Pier
Cappa Pier, Kilrush Co. Clare Cappa Pier was one of the most important factors in the development of Kilrush. The oldest section near the shore was built in 1764. It has changed little since Samuel Lewis in 1837 described it as a pier of very solid construction protected by a sea-wall of great strength. It afforded a great facility for landing passengers from the steam vessels which plied regularly between west Clare and Limerick. The custom-house building near the quay was erected in 1806.
One emigrant of note said to have departed from Cappa in the 1860's for America was Abe Grady who was born in Ennis in the 1840's and was Mohammed Ali's great grandfather. The harbour was frequented by vessels trading in grain and other commodities. Its particular advantage arises from its depth of water which enabled larger vessels to berth here. Today the pier is still used very occasionally by ships bringing timber to the local mill but you are more likely to find locals and visitors alike jumping off the pier enjoying the sea at the Shannon estuary’s only blue flag beach or playing at the playground at the back of the pier.
Kilrush Creek Marina
Kilrush Creek Marina, Kilrush Co. Clare Kilrush Creek Marina is a 120 berth state of the art Marina which opened in 1991, it has superb facilities for the visiting yachtsman including showers, laundry room, reception area and upstairs lounge area. The boatyard provides modern repair and alteration facilities as well as a range of back up services. Boat trips depart from the Marina to spend time in the company of the Shannon’s bottlenose dolphins and also to Scattery Island.
Scattery Island
Scattery Island, Kilrush Co. Clare Scattery Island is situated approximately 2 kms. from Cappa Pier and the Marina. It has seven churches and a round tower and is one of the most important sites of early Christian Ireland. It is also of ecological interest with one of the few remaining examples of semi-natural grasslands in the country. Boat trips depart to the island during the summer season and there is a small visitor centre based on the island.
Hog Island
Hog Island, Kilrush Co. Clare Hog Island is about one mile south from the shore. One hundred and fifty years ago it consisted of about twenty acres of land, and contained only one family.
Frances Street
Francis St. Kilrush Co. Clare Frances Street is one hundred feet wide, named after Vandeleur the local landlord's wife. It was started in 1821 and finished in 1864; the local tourist office, Katie O'Connors hostel (Tel 065 9051133), banks, post office, doctors and pharmacies are all located on the street as well as Considine's Bakery established in 1847 the oldest surving bakery in town. Due to its width there is ample car parking on both side of the street and just off the street is the Market square, the church on Toler Street and the marina at the bottom of the street.
Golf Course
Kilrush Golf CLub, Kilrush Co. Clare In 1994 the extension of Kilrush Golf Course was completed and is now an 18 hole Arthur Spring designed course. The Golf Club is sited on splendid surroundings overlooking the Shannon and Scattery Island. In his design of the course he has created a most enjoyable yet challenging course with many excellent holes, experience the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of the fabulous new clubhouse and you wil understand why the club has earned the title "Probably the Friendliest Golf Club in Ireland".
Kilrush Forest Park
Forest Park, Kilrush Co. Clare Formerly known as the Vandeleur Demesne, it is east of the town. The ruined Vandeleur House burned in 1897 was demolished in 1973. The site is now a car park and picnic area. The demesne was first planted in 1712. There are many woodland walks throughout the woods and when you feel like a nice cuppa after your walk visit the coffee shop.
Vandeleur Walled Garden
Vandeleur Walled Garden , Kilrush, Co. Clare Behind beautiful old stone walls lay the forgotten garden of the Vandeleur estate. Redesigned and restored to its former glory, it is now an oasis of tender and tropical plants that thrive in the areas uniquely western latitude climate. Facilities within the centre include a Coffee and Gift Shop, Conference Suite and Plant Sales area. A selection of the Heritage exhibition "Kilrush in the Landlord Times" is also on display in the Centre.
West Clare Railway
West Clare Railway,  Kilrush, Co. Clare Re-live the Percy French experience at Moyasta Junction station located between Kilrush & Kilkee. There you will find a restored station house, 1.5miles of original tracks and an audio visual display on the old railway system.
The Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre
Shannon Dolphin and wildlife Centre,  Kilrush, Co. Clare (Formerly the Scattery Island Centre) is adjacent to Kilrush Creek Marina and is visible by its striking Dolphin mural. A range of interesting information and activities, including whale and dolphin skulls and skeletons and rubbing boards, goggle boxes and jigsaws can be found at the centre. At the centre the visitor can; listen to amazing sounds from dolphins in the Shannon estuary, see real skeletons of whales and dolphins, learn about recent research and conservation of the Shannon dolphins.
The centre is great educational experience for kids with lots of dol-fun to enjoy
Open from June to September
Other times by arrangement
Shannon Dolphin Centre, Merchants Quay, Kilrush, Co Clare
Telephone: 065 9052326
The Kilrush Dolphin Trail
Dolphin Trail,  Kilrush, Co. Clare

The Kilrush Shannon Dolphin Trail guides you around the attractions and facilities in the town that are related to the bottlenose dolphins. Dolphin Trail Marker Posts with directional arrows are located at strategic points along the route.  The town section of the trail is around a kilometre in length, with a further 3kms out to Aylevaroo Point.

Take a moment The Kilrush Shannon Dolphin Trail guides you around the attractions and facilities in the town that are related to the bottlenose dolphins. Dolphin Trail Marker Posts with directional arrows are located at strategic points along the route.  The town section of the trail is

Starting Point:

Around a kilometre in length, with a further 3kms out to Aylevaroo Point.

The Dolphin Trail begins at the Shannon Dolphin Information Board in the town’s Market Square.  The first marker post directs you down Frances Street, towards the sea, and the Millennium Park.

Millennium Park

to stop and admire the “first breath” sculpture and water-feature, depicting a mother and new-born dolphin calf by the renowned sculptor Danny Osbourne.
Now take a look into the water to see the first exhibit in the unique Floating Fin Exhibition.  Look out for other models of whales, dolphins and porpoises floating in the Marina, all of which can be seen off the Clare coast. (Identification can be found at the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre).

The Dolphin Trail now presents you with two options.  Following the marker over the bridge the Trail runs along the picturesque coastal road out to the Dolphin-watching site;

 Aylevaroo Point:

Head out past Cappa pier and continue along the coast road past the Rock another popular local swimming area, from here you will see Aylevaroo rising up ahead of you. At this high-point, a Dolphin-watching Information Board has been erected overlooking an area of the estuary regularly frequented by the dolphins. The experience can be enhanced by the use of binoculars.
The coastal walk from Kilrush out to Aylevaroo is possibly the best free local attraction we have in west Clare, on the route families can enjoy a blue flag beach, kids playground, numerous fishing spots, stone beaches and rock pools for the kids to hunt for crabs and small fish and views over Hog and Scattery Islands out to the mouth of the Shannon.
But if you don’t fancy a bit of a walk, stroll through the gates of the Kilrush Creek Marina.

Marina and Dolphin Centre

Dolphin-watching boat trips depart daily from the Marina from April to October (weather permitting). Information and booking for dolphin-watching trips is also available at the Marina Centre. In the waters of the marina you will find models of whales and dolphins found around our coast, when you think you’ve identified them all head across to the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre at Merchants Quay to see if you were right.

Kilrush is the nearest dolphin watching port to all major centres.
See our Distance Chart>>



Failte Ireland
National Parks and Wildlife Service Accredited Operator
Dolphin Gateway Committee Member
SDWF Committee Member

Clare Live The Life
Dolphin Gateway
Committee Member
Dolphin Discovery, Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland.
Tel: +353 65 9051327