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Lisdoonvarna

LISDOONVARNA takes its name from "LIOS DUIN BHEARNA" the lios or enclosure of the fort in the gap. It is thought to refer to the green earthen fort of LISSATEEAUN (fort of the fairy hill), which lies 1½ miles to the North-East, near the old castle site.

The present town is a comparatively new one by Irish standards, dating mainly from the start of the nineteenth century. It is the only active spa town in Ireland. The beneficial effects of its water were first noted by writers as early as 1740. Lisdoonvarna was established as a tourist centre almost entirely because of its spa. It was the centre around which the town developed. There was no earlier village, just a few scattered cottages. However, the numerous ancient sites and historic remains in the vicinity are evidence of human habitation and activity in the area many centuries before the establishment of the town itself. Ring forts in the vicinity can date from the Iron Age into the Christian era and up to late medieval times. In 1896 James O' Donoghue found the Lisdoonvarna Bronze Pot at Aughiska Beg about five hundred yards from the sulphur well. The Twin Wells are located in a picturesque setting on the banks of the River Aille. They are a source of sulphur and iron water which, very unusually, springs from the one rock.
Holiday Haunts on the West Coast of Clare by H.B.H

There are also considerable remains of the old castle of Lisdoonvarna, with its terraces, garden walls, and fortifications ; it was formerly the property of the Davorens, an ancient and powerful family in Burren, but now belongs to the Stackpoole family. On the demesne of Rathbane are several very powerful mineral springs, hitherto erroneously called the LISDOONVARNA spas, one of which is celebrated as being one of the strongest chalybeates in the kingdom : it contains so large a portion of iron, that in a few seconds it stains with a ferruginous colour any substance with which it may come in contact ; and has been found peculiarly efficacious in hepatitis, consumption, scorbutic and bilious affections, and rheumatism. Near this is another spring, which on analysis was found to contain, in addition to the iron, considerable portions of sulphur and magnesia ; the water is used with great benefit as an aperient. On the opposite side of a deep ravine, is a spring powerfully impregnated with naphtha, the exhalations of which taint the surrounding air ; silver thrown into the water is instantly changed to a deep gold colour ; and the water has been used with success as a cure for cutaneous diseases and for rheumatism. About a furlong further up the ravine, is a fourth spring, called the Copperas well ; it has not been analysed, but has been used externally from time immemorial with effect as a cure for ulcers. The Rathbane mineral springs, under the appellation of the Lisdoonvarna spas, have been known and appreciated for centuries; they are situated in deep ravines at the base of lofty hills of black slate, between the strata of which are found large quantities of bright metallic ore resembling silver ; but from the bad state of the roads, and the want of proper accommodation, they have been comparatively neglected by invalids. Several cottages have, however, been recently built in the vicinity of these waters for the reception of visiters; and if the proprietor continues his improvements, and a facility of access be afforded, this place will probably become one of the most frequented spas in Ireland.  Samuel Lewis, 1837

Bibliography

  • The Clare Guild.  Official Guide of County Clare, by D. Roche
  • County Clare, A History and Topography.  Reprinted by Clasp Press, 1995, from A History and Topography of County Clare    which was originally published in 1837 as part of A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland.

Description and Travel

  • Situated in the heart of the Burren region about twenty miles north west of Ennis is the popular tourist town of Lisdoonvarna. Coming from the Irish “Lios Dhuin Bharna” meaning the lios or enclosure of the fort in the gap, there is plenty of archaeological interest surrounding Lisdoonvarna with many ring forts dating back to the Iron Age and Christian era to be found in the area.
  • Lisdoonvarna developed into a tourist centre as early as the mid 18th century when a top Limerick surgeon discovered the beneficial effects of its mineral waters. People travelled from near and far to bathe in and drink the mineral waters which are rich in iron, sulphur, magnesium and calcium and were said to provide relief for certain diseases.
  • It was because of the popularity of these mineral springs and the huge amount of people coming here that led to the Lisdoonvarna “matchmaking tradition”. The tradition is still celebrated with a festival held in its honor throughout the month of September.
  •  The Lisdoonvarna Horse Racing Festival is an amateur race meeting. It is a three day event with six races taking place each day. Some of Ireland's top jockeys began their careers at this popular festival. Recently, International Harness racing has become part of the program.
  •  The Marching Bands Festival Weekend is another three day event in Lisdoonvarna. All bands are welcome to participate and will play for 30 minutes each day.
  •  The annual Irish Barbecue Championships take place in Lisdoonvarna in early September. There are eight categories, but you need only compete in four to be eligible for the grand prize. For those who enjoy barbecuing the festival is great fun.
You can see pictures of Lisdoonvarna which are provided by:
You can see maps centred on Lat/Lon: 53.031863,-9.289101 (OSI grid reference R135987), Lisdoonvarna which are provided by:

Schools

  • Lisdoonvarna National School (St. Enda's)
  • Mary Immaculate Secondary School.  This school is a mercy school under the trustees of the Sisters of Mercy
    of the western province. The school is situated in the beautiful Burren of North Clare.