Ennis, a beautiful medieval town on the banks of the River Fergus, in County Clare
Ennis dates back to the 12th Century, when the Franciscan Monastery was built on an island in the River Fergus. In fact, the name comes from the Irish word Inis, meaning island. Over succeeding centuries, it grew, first as a monastic town with students coming from all over Ireland to the theological college, and later as a market town when many merchants left Limerick when the penal laws outlawed trading by catholic merchants within walled towns.
After Clare became a county under Queen Elizabeth I, Ennis was chosen as the county town because of its size and central location. The town centre is made up of medieval laneways and narrow streets, and its intimate size makes it ideal for our street festival.
In the 19th century, Daniel O’Connell, known as The Liberator, became a hero when he became the first catholic elected as an MP for County Clare. His election is marked by the monument in the square and the street that takes his name, which was the location of the old courthouse where his election was declared.
The railway came to Clare with the opening of the Ennis Train Station in 1859, and nearby Shannon Airport opened in 1945.
The town has become a famous centre for Irish traditional music, with local musicians playing regularly in the town, joined by musicians from all over Ireland and other countries. Glór was opened in 2001 bringing a live concert venue into the centre of the town. It is also the sporting centre of the county with Cusack Park on Francis Street in the centre of the town as the focus of GAA activities.
There are a number of festivals in Ennis, starting each year in the first weekend of March with the Ennis Book Club Festival, run in association with the Clare County Library. The Fleadh Nua follows at the end of May. Our own Ennis Street Festival runs in early July, and finally there is the Ennis Trad Festival in November.
Ennis is now a bustling town of over 25,000 people, and we hope lots of them will pour out onto the streets for this years street festival on the 4th to the 10th of July.