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      29.04.2001 02:24
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      Last summer instead of going for our usual 'four s' holiday (sun, sea, sand and err, I forget the other!!) we decided to do a tour of Ireland. Before we booked our accommodation we wrote down everywhere we wanted to visit, then decided on the best places to stay to allow us to take it all in. County Clare had quite a few attractions that we wanted to see such as The Burren and The Cliffs of Moher. We also wanted to take a drive through Limerick city and perhaps go to Bunratty Castle, so Ennis being centrally located in Clare looked like the most suitable place to stay for a few days. Ennis is the county town of Clare and as so is a sort of hub for the residents of the county. There are loads of shops (and a weekly market) and, thankfully for someone like me who isn't really into shopping, even more pubs!! The town is centred around an old market square with narrow cobbled lanes leading off in all directions. The lanes really add character to the town and allow me to use such terms as 'picturesque' and 'quaint' to describe the overall look. Another main feature of the town is the river Fergus which runs through the northern end of the town adding yet more character, and an excellent place for an after dinner stroll. It really is a lovely town layout wise, and everything is within easy walking distance. The town is famed as being a centre for traditional music, and as such the whole place really comes alive at night. The town boasts sixty (yes, sixty!) pubs, and around half of them have regular live music, so there is always a really good choice for your evenings entertainment. But that is also where the whole place drops from five stars to only three - night-time in Ennis is ROUGH. Each of our three nights in Ennis was the same, we seen lots of drunkenness, fighting and general rowdiness. This is the story of what we seen on ONE of those nights. The first pub we went into (May Kearney's on Newbridge Ro ad) had three rather drunk blokes hanging off the bar - the 'are you looking at my pint' types. They were being very noisy and intimidating many of the other customers (they never said anything to us though - my hubby is a big strapping lad!). Anyway, the three were eventually kicked out just before we left. When we left May Kearney's we walked through the town and down one of the lanes which had looked so quaint in the daytime - it was littered with drunks. The drunks were the intimidating types, growling at passers by and begging. I actually suspect that many of them were zonked out on drugs rather than drink, but whatever they were on there were lots of them and most were lying around in the street. We headed down to another pub (the name of which escapes me) on Market Place. There was a really good singer on belting out some Christy Moore numbers and it looked like being a good night in there - until someone got glassed in the face at the bar. A major ruck broke out with bottles and glasses flying and blood all over the place. We decided that maybe it wouldn't be such a good night after all so we had one more beer and headed back to our digs. Leaving the pub we had to step over a rather inebriated young lady who was lying across the doorway telling everyone to 'fekk off' etc. We walked down towards our digs and on one of the main roads watched as a bloke was given a right good doing by another guy. Luckily a Garda car came just as my hubby was deciding whether or not he should butt in - it looked like this guy was going to be killed since he was being repeatedly kicked in the head. I had been hoping that we had been unlucky to see such behaviour, but subsequent nights confirmed that Ennis nightlife consists of excessive swally and a good old fight. Ennis nights are not recommended for the faint hearted I'm afraid. But... back to daytime mode, and I hope I haven't totally put you off visiting Ennis bec ause as I said, it really is a lovely town (during the day at least). There are a few attractions in Ennis such as a Museum which hosts the personal collection of Eamon DeValera, a ruined 13th century Friary (worth a visit to see some of the excellent sculptures, especially one of St Francis displaying the stigmata). Also worth looking out for (and actually very hard to miss) is the statue of Daniel O'Connell which is situated on, err, O'Connell Street. This is very reminiscent of Nelsons Column and makes an impressive feature. So, Ennis - would I recommend it? The answer to that has to be a resounding yes. It really is one of the most picturesque towns in Ireland, and even those of us who aren't into the shopping scene cannot fail to be impressed by the numerous unusual shops in the narrow lanes. There is a wealth of choice when it comes to eating and drinking, with restuarants and pubs to suit all tastes and budgets. It is just such a pity that in my experience the town showed a Jekkyl and Hyde characteristic - the Dr Jekkyl of daytime Ennis is well worth a visit, but do avoid the Mr Hyde that is night-time. _____________________________________________ Additional Info • Ennis is situated on the west coast of Ireland about 23 miles from Limerick, 83 miles from Cork and 147 miles from Dublin. • Shannon airport is about 13 miles from Ennis, and the national train network runs through the town making it easily accessible by air or train. • Dining out is a pleasure, particularly if you like fresh seafood. There are also many ethnic restaurants such as Chinese, Italian and Indian. • There are various festivals throughout the year including the Fleadh Nua (music, dance and culture) and the Ennis Arts Festival. • There is a wide range of accommodation available, from modern hotels to guest houses and farmhouses. • Population of Ennis Town at the 1996 census: 15,333 < br>• On the web: www.county-clare.com Ennis Tourist Centre: Clare Road Ennis County Clare tel +353 65 28366 fax +353 65 28350

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