Tucked along the rugged West Clare coastline is the historic market town of Miltown Malbay, home to a famous music festival named after local Uilleann piper Willie Clancy.
If County Clare is the home of Irish traditional music, then Miltown Malbay is the kitchen where musical and dancing traditions come to life. Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy is Clare’s foremost annual traditional Irish music, song and dance event, drawing students, musicians and visitors from all over Ireland and further afield. The streets of Miltown Malbay are transformed into a celebration of music and dance for one week during July.
Concertina Cruinniú is another annual festival that plays a key role in the handing on to the next generation of a treasure trove of Irish traditional music. The community event features most of the leading concertina players in Ireland. Throughout the year, you can find music sessions in the town’s many pubs.
The story of traditional music, song and dance is told at the West Clare Music Makers’ Visitor Centre, which is open from May to September. You will hear about the stories behind the music and learn about the origin of the instruments used and the people who played them.
The sandy cove at White Strand is one of nine International Blue Flag beaches in Clare and is lifeguard patrolled during the summer months. There are kayak and SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) lessons and rentals at White Strand. A short trip down the coast will bring you to the golden sandy Blue Flag beach at Spanish Point, which is a popular bathing and surfing area.
Those wishing to explore the scenic surrounding landscape on two rather than four wheels can take the cycling loop through country roads and laneways to and from Miltown Malbay to Ennistymon. From the local church you can take the cycling and walking loop around Drumbaun and the hillside lake of Lough Keagh, taking in beautiful views of the West Clare countryside and the coast.
History enthusiasts will be interested in the local War of Independence memorial, which marks one of the most significant events during Ireland’s struggle for independence from Britain. The memorial at Rineen marks the site of an ambush by the IRA’s Mid-Clare Brigade on the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1920.
The local library is named after Patrick Hillery, former President of Ireland (1976-1990), who was from nearby Spanish Point.
Miltown Malbay is a great town to explore with its traditional shop fronts housing an array of artisan foods and crafts, and its restaurants featuring menus filled with fresh produce from the surf and turf.
Spoiled by accommodation options in the town and nearby Spanish Point, Miltown Malbay is a great stop-off point along the Wild Atlantic Way. The town is near many of West Clare’s most popular visitor attractions and sites of interest, including the Burren, Loop Head, the Cliffs of Moher, and the towns of Lahinch, Ennistymon, Kilrush and Kilkee.