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Introducing Southwestern & Western Clare

One look at the map and you can see that Loop Head on Clare's southwestern tip is giving the finger to the Atlantic. OK, it's a stubby finger, but still it's emblematic of the never-ceasing titanic struggle between land and sea along this stretch of Irish coast.

The soaring cliffs south of the beach resort of Kilkee to Loop Head are striking. Long left in the shadow by the hyped charms of the Cliffs of Moher to the north, the Loop Head area is now justifiably popular and was named by the Irish Times as 'best place to holiday in Ireland' in 2013.

Marching in geologic lockstep, the formations are stunning, although in summer you will now be marching in lockstep with hordes of other visitors. Fortunately you can always find a quiet pocket to savour the views.

South of the cliffs to Kilkee are the low-key beach towns of Lahinch, Miltown Malbay and Doonbeg. No part of this coast is remotely tropical, but there's a stark windblown beauty that stretches to the horizon. Many a hapless survivor of the Spanish Armada washed ashore here 400 years ago. Tales of their progeny still spice local gossip.

Your best days here may be spent on the smallest roads you can find. Make your own discoveries, whether it's a stretch of lonely beach or something more settled, like the charming heritage town of Ennistymon.