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The Mid Clare Way

NOTE: Some minor changes have been made to the Way and are clearly marked on the ground.

1. Newmarket on Fergus to Quin
2. Quin to Ballinruan
3. Ballinruan to Ruan
4. Ruan to Connolly
5. Connolly to Lisycasey - Newmarket on Fergus

The Mid Clare Way is a waymarked long distance walking route making a circuit of the region surrounding the county town of Ennis. It is 139kms in length.

The Way

Newmarket on Fergus to Quin - 9kms

From Newmarket on Fergus the N18 turns south for Limerick, the walker should take the smaller road eastwards and follow the Way signposts until reaching a sign which leads into Mooghaun Woods. These woods which flank the walk are predominantly young beech and scots pine with strands of Norway spruce. As you pass the car park you will see a sign for Mooghaun Fort, and it is well worth a short detour to see this, the biggest archaelogical site in Ireland.
From the woods follow the signs through gentle pastureland to the village of Quin. The quaint village of Quin is famous for its Abbey which dates back to the 12th century
Quin to Ballinruan - 25+ kms

On leaving Quin, take the first turn left down a low grade road which will pass Ballyhickey lead and silver mine. Metal was discovered here in 1834 and by 1838, 2500 tons of ore had been shipped via Clarecastle to Wales for smelting. From Ballyhickey the Way continues to Clooney school. Follow the posts and stiles, veering right, until a steep bank with wooden steps is reached which leads to a low-grade road. Here the walker turns left to visit the historic village of Spancilhill, famous for its annual Horse Fair.
The walker has fine views over O'Brien's lake on the way to Spancilhill. Shortly after passing O'Briens Castle turn left down a laneway.
Going straight up the laneway turn left at the cross-roads and follow the route uphill for about three kilometers through the townlands of Derryvet and Derrymore. Derrymore wood which is close to the walk, is a rare remnant of ancient primary oak forest. Commercial forestry can be seen along this track as well as upland bog and farmland.
Turning right off this road through a forestry road, the walk leads uphill to the path which joins with the East Clare Way at Gortnamearacaun. At the highest point there are views across the Shannon Estuary to Co. Kerry to the south, and to Galway and the Twelve Pins to the north. At the end of the track turn right over a wooden stile and follow the line of trees to a disused quarry. Walk left down into a forestry road, turning right and then left. Continue following the posts down through Scalpnagown village and pass into the townland of Calluragh where there is a spring falling into a channel at the edge of the road, this is a local landmark known as 'The Spout'. Continuing from here a downhill path crosses farmland and looks over Doon Lough.
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Ballinruan to Ruan - 28+kms

Meeting the road again, the walker turns right and walks through Doon village. This is a very old settlement, the original fort can be seen here, and the remains of a castle. The Way then follows the road to the Galway road, turning right onto a long straight track through commonage, crossing the Ennis-Galway railway line. At the end of this track the walker comes to Lughid Bridge, scene of one of many battles in the area. Turn left and follow the posts until a right turn takes the Way onto a farm road, follow this for a few hundred metres and turn right, crossing several fields, the markers lead to a farmhouse and a low-grade road. The route leaves the road at a gateway and joins a track which passes the ruins of Lahardan House. Once the track ends, turn left over a footbridge onto a path through the forestry and onto a farm path. Continue on a low-grade road to turn right, crossing the River Fergus at Addroon Bridge, and take the road southwards into Dromore Wood.
Dromore Wood is a nature reserve which is famous for its wildlife, both forest and wetland. The road travels for about 1km through the forest, then at the picnic area and information centre follow the signs past the castle in a beautiful setting over-looking the lake. The wood and loughs are being cared for by Dúchas, the Heritage Service, and are being managed in order to restore the wood to native species. It is well worth a detour to follow the woodland trail. Follow the signs through the wood until reaching the tarred road, then turn right after a few hundred metres onto a path through fields into Ruan village. The field behind Morty Kelly's pub is traditionally believed to be the campsite of Richard de Clare's army on the night before the battle of Dysert O'Dea.
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Ruan to Connolly - 26kms

The name Ruan means Alder Tree. 150 years ago a sheep fair was held here on the 26th September every year. It was one of the chief fairs of Clare. The church was erected by public subscription in 1834 and has a fine carved east window. Southwards of the churchyard there is a field with a huge depression in the centre, local folklore states that his was a trap for wild boar which were chased out of the forest.
Leaving Ruan, turn left opposite Morty Kelly's pub and climb Port Hill which has views over the old church and graveyard . Follow the signs through farmland and down through trees to a network of low-grade roads, following the signs to Macken Bridge. The Way follows the road past Synge's Rock, site of a shooting incident in 1831. Edward Synge, who lived nearby in Carhue House, was a Proatestant landlord who became converted to biblical fundamentalism.
From here the Way passes Dysert Cottage, once the home of the last Gaelic speakers in the district. It is well worth a detour just past this point to visit the castle itself and follow the history trail. A map with places of interest on it is available at the castle. The views from the castle roof are spectacular.
After the castle turning, the Way passes St. Tola's High Cross, church and round tower. The high cross is a beautiful example of its type. The church is famous for its magnificent Romanesque doorway. Once past the church enter a low-grade road and bear right for a few hundred meters, when a sharp left will lead onto an ancient roadway. At the top of the road cross Conway's Bridge and the walker will see two ringforts just off the walk. Follow the markers uphill on a low-grade road to Magowna Castle, which is just visible above the trees on the descent. Turn right on the hill opposite the castle and follow a grassy track.
At the first bend turn right up a series of steps in the bank and turn sharp right to follow the path uphill onto craggy upland farm lands which closely resemble the Burren with impressive views over Ennis and the landscape around Kilnamona. Descending, pass beneath the road by means of a stone tunnel used for livestock and follow the signs right and then left through farmland. Follow the signs onto the main Ennis-Ennistymon road and turn sharp left onto a grassy path uphill to Shallee Castle. At the end of the path turn right onto a low grade road, passing a colourful shrine and holy well, and follow the posts for 2km. Follow the Way through fields and tracks until it meets the main road. Turn right, then left into a field and cross a series of bridges into Connolly village.
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Connolly to Lisycasey - Newmarket on Fergus

From Connolly church turn left onto an old Mass Path, which follows a low grade road for a while and turns into a lane. Veer right, then right again onto a lane. Turning left near the end of the lane the walker can hear a waterfall, which has been a popular bathing place for generations, then turn onto a high bank which leads up the hill at Renagishagh. Follow the Way to the summit of Ben Rua. From here there are views over the Burren, Follow the Way a short distance through forestry, then turn left over a stile onto a track which leads back to the tarred road. Follow the markers into the Letteragh forest and walk gently uphill to climb Bean Dash, known locally as the 'Top of the Bean' where there is a view of five counties. Descending to the south on tracks and low-grade roads through an area of desolate bogland with magnificent views of the Shannon and Fergus estuaries, the walker reaches the Ennis-Kilrush road at Crowe's Cross. Following a low-grade road through farmland there is a tack leading down to Lanna waterfall which is worth a visit. Continue through the farmyard and up the hill. At the top of the hill there are excellent views of the Shannon estuary. Left and then right onto a low-grade road leading to Islandavanna where the River Shannon is restrained by a low bank.
This bank was erected in the 1850s by a syndicate set up to reclaim 1200 acres of low-lying land in the estuary for growing hay, corn and turnips for export to England.
The Way follows a series of low-grade roads through the flood plain. Coney island, Deer island and crow island can be seen in the estuary. From here the Way passes through pastureland to Clarecastle. Clarecastle is a busy town on the River Fergus.
Leaving Clarecastle, cross the bridge and turn left onto the old bog road passing Killow church. Then turn right at the next crossroads and left at the junction at Jasper's Bridge in the townland of Doora. Follow straight on to the end of the road and turn right onto the bridge which crosses the Ennis-Limerick railway line. Cross the Ardsollas bridge which was once a toll bridge. Follow the road onwards, passing the lodge on the right, turn right at the next turning and follow the original path through Mooghaun woods, returning to the start of the walk at Newmarket on Fergus.

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Clare Walks, Unit 1, Tulla Business Centre, Tulla, Co Clare, Ireland. Phone : +353 (065)6835912 Fax: +353 (065)6835912 E-mail: walks.ennis@eircom.net
 
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