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O'Connell Street, 2005
Ennis coat of arms.svg
Coat of arms
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Location in Ireland
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Ennis (Europe)
Coordinates: 52°50′47″N8°58′51″W / 52.8463°N 8.9807°W / 52.8463; -8.9807 Coordinates: 52°50′47″N8°58′51″W / 52.8463°N 8.9807°W / 52.8463; -8.9807
Province Munster
County County Clare
Dáil Éireann Clare
3 m (10 ft)
 (2016) [1]
  Rank 12th
Time zone UTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code +353(0)65
Irish Grid Reference R333780
Website www.visitennis.com

Ennis (Irish : Inis, meaning "island") is the county town of County Clare, Ireland. The Irish name is short for Inis Cluana Rámhfhada ("island of the long rowing meadow"). The town is on the River Fergus, north of where it enters the Shannon Estuary, 19 km (12 mi) from Shannon Airport. In 2016, Ennis had a population of 25,276, [1] making it the largest town in Clare and the 12th largest in Ireland.



Abbey Street (circa 1910) Abbey Street, Ennis, County Clare (28011405100).jpg
Abbey Street (circa 1910)
Map of Ennis Map of Ennis.png
Map of Ennis

The name Ennis comes from the Irish word "Inis", meaning "island". This name relates to an island formed between two courses of the River Fergus on which the Franciscan Friary was built. The past of Ennis is closely associated with the O'Brien dynasty, who were descendants of Brian Boru. In the 12th century, the O'Briens, who were Kings of Thomond, left their seat of power in Limerick and built a royal residence at Clonroad on what was then an island. In 1240, King Donnchadh O'Brien ordered the construction of an extensive church which he later donated to the Franciscans. In the centuries that followed there was great activity. The Friary was expanded and students came in great flocks to study at the theological college. The Friars, who were free to move about, met the spiritual needs of the local population. It was a religious centre until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Ennis never had town walls and became a location for merchants from Limerick when Catholics were forbidden to reside in the walled towns by the Penal Laws, and much of its past prosperity is attributable to this influx. It became a thriving market town in the late 18th century and this expansion continued unabated throughout the 19th century, except the period after the Famine c. 1850.

In the colonial period, a number of landmark structures were constructed, including the Mill and Courthouse. The town contains a number of old military barracks, most notably the Old Military Barracks on the Kilrush road. Many locals served in the British Army in the First World War. The Clare Road and Clonroad areas contain terraced cottages built in the early 20th century to house soldiers. On Station Road, then called Jail Road, a gaol once stood.

Ennis was governed by a town council from around the 17th century onwards, before the Local Government Reform Act 2014 effectively dissolved this with the creation of the Ennis Municipal District under the authority of Clare County Council. Politically, Ennis has always been considered a Fianna Fáil stronghold. However, in the 2009 local elections, the party was reduced to just one member out of nine on Ennis Town Council. A monument to Éamon de Valera, founder of the party and former President of Ireland, stands outside Ennis Courthouse. [2]

The River Fergus runs through the middle of Ennis, and is a well-known trout and salmon fishery. At one time, small sailing boats made their way up river from the Shannon and berthed in the centre of the town at Woodquay. [3] This area of the town along with Parnell Street and Mill Road was routinely susceptible to flooding, but the flood defence system put an end to the event in Parnell Street and the Mill Road areas, [4] although in November 2009 other parts of the town experienced severe flooding. [5] A new pedestrian bridge, Harmony Row Bridge, was built over the river Fergus in June 2009. [6]

Heritage and economy

River Fergus in Ennis Ennis.jpg
River Fergus in Ennis

Clare became a county under the rule of Elizabeth I and Ennis was chosen as its capital by the Earls of Thomond because of its central location and great influence. Ennis received a grant to hold fairs and markets in 1610 and some years later a Charter for a Corporation with a Provost, Free Burgesses, Commonalty and a Town Clerk. [7]

Ennis continued to expand in the following centuries, mainly as a market town and later as a manufacturing and distributing centre. Many commodities were conveyed by river to Clarecastle for shipment abroad. [8]

Ennis is a historically important market town. The market square is still home to market stalls on each Saturday through the year, although with the rise in the town's commercial retail sector it has shifted from agricultural produce to mainly textiles and home hardware. The market also has an organic farming element. [9]

The town centre consists of medieval narrow streets and laneways, overshadowed by structures built over the last thousand years. Of the main thoroughfares, Parnell Street has been pedestrianised, while the others, O'Connell Street, Bindon Street and Abbey Street, are one way. The Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is on the fringe of the old town centre.

Ennis serves as a major regional hub for County Clare. Among its emergency services, it contains the Ennis Hospital, the HQ of the Clare Divisional Garda, the Clare Fire Brigade and Civil Defence. Ennis also includes many relief organisations, such as The Samaritans, Clare Care and St. Vincent De Paul. Among its civil services, it contains Clare County Council, as well as Social and Family affairs.

Ennis has been a centre for Irish Traditional Music, and since 1974 has hosted the Fleadh Nua [10] in late May each year, the second-largest traditional music festival in Ireland. There are other traditional festivals held in the town as well such as the Ennis Trad Festival held annually in November.


Situated 14 km from Shannon Airport, Ennis is served by both bus and rail links to all major cities and towns in Ireland. The main bus depot is adjacent to the town's train station and both are about one kilometre from the town centre. Ennis railway station is on the Clon Road toward the east of the town, which links to the main N18 in either direction.

Bus services are provided to Shannon Airport, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Dublin and all routes in between and run nearly every hour. Shannon Airport is 15 minutes from Ennis, providing daily flights to European and US destinations.

Twenty rail services per day are now provided to and from Limerick, from where connecting rail services are available to both Dublin Heuston and Cork. The Western Railway Corridor north of Ennis (to Athenry and Galway) reopened on 30 March 2010 with five return services daily. The next phase, to Tuam and Claremorris, originally scheduled to reopen by 2014, is subject to budget review. [11]

Ennis was formerly the starting point of the West Clare Railway, a narrow-gauge railway which ran from Ennis to Ennistymon, Milltown Malbay and onwards to the towns and villages along the West Clare coastline. Trains ran from the same railway station as still used by mainline Irish railway services. The line was CIÉ's last narrow-gauge railway and finally closed in 1961, despite investment in new diesel trains in the early/mid-1950s.

Ennis railway station connects with Galway and with Limerick where onward trains run to Dublin, Cork via Limerick Junction (for connections to Tipperary, Cahir, Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir and Waterford) and Mallow (for connections to Killarney and Tralee). Ennis is also served by local charity Clare bus who provide a fully wheelchair accessible bus service around the Clare area.


St Flannan's College, one of the oldest school buildings in Ireland Saint Flannans Ennis.JPG
St Flannan's College, one of the oldest school buildings in Ireland

Primary Schools in Ennis include Ennis National School, established in 1897 (formerly Boys National School), Cloughleigh National School, Gaelscoil Mhichíl Cíosóg, Holy Family School, CBS and the multi-denominational Ennis Educate Together National School which opened in 1998. [12] There are several secondary level schools in Ennis, including Rice College, Ennis Community College, Coláiste Muire, St. Flannan's College, and Gaelcholaiste an Chláir. Mid-West Management Training is a FETAC approved provider of further education and training up to Level 6 of the National Framework of Qualifications. The Ennis Business college is one of Ennis's third level facilities. Limerick IT opened its Ennis campus in 2019. [13] The IT will merge with Athlone IT to become Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest, in 2021/22. [14] [15]


Ennis is a stronghold of traditional music with many musicians in residence and regularly playing locally. The Ennis Book Club Festival, in association with Clare County Library, runs annually on the first weekend in March. It attracts readers and authors from all over Ireland and beyond. Glór Theatre is a concert and events venue in the town centre.

In 2016 and 2017 Ennis hosted the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann music competition. It is the first time that the town has hosted the event since 1977.

Sports and leisure

Cusack Park on Francis Street in the town centre is the main county Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) playing grounds and the home of Clare GAA. Ennis has numerous football clubs (soccer, GAA and rugby) that play in various leagues from schoolboys to senior.

The Lees Road Sports and Amenity Park, 1 km from the town centre, is set in 134 acres (54 ha) of wood and parkland. There is ample car parking and the main building includes modern changing rooms, showers and toilets. Among the facilities available are four conventional playing pitches, full size all-weather floodlit playing pitch, floodlit 400 m (1,300 ft) synthetic running track and a purpose-built cross country running track. There is a children's playground and skateboard park and marked walks and trails throughout the woodland area. Ennis Leisure Centre has a fully equipped gym with a 25m pool, saunas etc. There are a number of hotels around Ennis that have their own leisure facilities including gyms and 15m to 20m pools.

Within the town, there are six adult soccer clubs (Avenue United, Lifford FC, Ennis Town, Turnpike Rovers, Hermitage FC and Ennis Dons FC), two adult GAA clubs (Éire Óg and The Banner GAA), and one rugby club (Ennis RFC).

International relations

Ennis is twinned with Phoenix, Arizona. [17] [18] Each summer an average of four 4th/5th year students partake in the Phoenix Youth Ambassador Program, which is facilitated by the city of Phoenix twinning committee and the Ennis Chamber of Commerce.

It is also twinned with the town of Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet in southern France. [19] Ennis is also twinned with the town of Clare, South Australia and the city of Clare, Michigan, United States

Information Age Town

In September 1997, Ennis became Ireland's first and only Information Age Town. The town was greatly enhanced by the project's IR£15 million investment, which saw 4200 computers provided to residents, a computer lab for every school and every primary school classroom been provided with a computer. Elderly residents were given the chance to become computer users also as a result. The project also gave Ennis Ireland's first high-speed ISDN line infrastructure, which connected all the town's businesses together. Ennis was also used as a test site for VISA Cash, which allowed users to top up a Chip and PIN card with petty cash and purchase goods in local stores. Funding for the project ran out in 2000.

Tidy Town

In 2012 and 2013, Ennis won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in the Large Urban Centre category. [20]

Notable people

Townlands and parishes

The town of Ennis is situated in parts of the civil parishes of Doora, Drumcliff, Kilraghtis and Templemaley. Townlands are: [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Munster Traditional province in the southwest of Ireland

Munster is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south of Ireland. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a "king of over-kings". Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into counties for administrative and judicial purposes. In later centuries, local government legislation has seen further sub-division of the historic counties.

Limerick City in Munster, Ireland

Limerick is a city in County Limerick, Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. With a population of 94,192 at the 2016 census, Limerick is the third-most populous urban area in the state, and the fourth-most populous city on the island of Ireland at the 2011 census. The city lies on the River Shannon, with the historic core of the city located on King's Island, which is bounded by the Shannon and Abbey Rivers. Limerick is also located at the head of the Shannon Estuary, where the river widens before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Limerick City and County Council is the local authority for the city.

County Clare County in Ireland

County Clare is a county in Ireland, in the Mid-West Region and the province of Munster, bordered on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Clare County Council is the local authority. The county had a population of 118,817 at the 2016 census. The county town and largest settlement is Ennis.

County Limerick County in Ireland

County Limerick is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Munster, and is also part of the Mid-West Region. It is named after the city of Limerick. Limerick City and County Council is the local council for the county. The county's population at the 2016 census was 194,899 of whom 94,192 lived in Limerick City, the county capital.

Shannon, County Clare Town in Munster, Ireland

Shannon or Shannon Town, named after the river near which it stands, is a town in County Clare, Ireland. It was given town status on 1 January 1982. The town is located just off the N19 road, a spur of the N18/M18 road between Limerick and Ennis. It is the location of Shannon Airport, an international airport serving the Clare/Limerick region in the west of Ireland.

Limerick Institute of Technology Higher educational institution

The Limerick Institute of Technology is an institution of higher education located in Limerick, Ireland and one of 14 member institutions of the Technological Higher Education Association (THEA). The institute has campuses in Limerick, and in both Thurles and Clonmel in County Tipperary, and a regional learning centre in Ennis, County Clare. The main campus is located at Moylish Park adjacent to Thomond Park and houses the Faculty of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology and the School of Business and Humanities. The School of Art & Design is located at the Clare Street and Clonmel campuses.

Gort Town in Connacht, Ireland

Gort is a town in south County Galway, in the west of Ireland. It lies just north of the border with County Clare on the old Galway–Limerick road, now the R458. Gort is situated in the territory of Uí Fiachrach Aidhne also known as Maigh Aidhne, which is coextensive with the diocese of Kilmacduagh / Cill Mhic Dhuach.

Castleconnell Town in Munster, Ireland

Castleconnell is a village in County Limerick on the banks of the River Shannon. It is 11 km (6.8 mi) from Limerick city and near the boundaries of counties Clare and Tipperary.

Cratloe Village in Munster, Ireland

Cratloe is a village in County Clare, Ireland, situated between Limerick and Shannon in the mid-west of Ireland. It is possible that the name derives from Croit-shliabh meaning "hump-backed hill", referring to Woodcock Hill. The present-day parish of Cratloe consists of the former parish of Kilfintinan and a portion of the contemporary parish of Killeely. This was agreed upon by priests in the 18th century, who claimed there were not enough members of the clergy to operate fully in both parishes.

Kilrush Town in Munster, Ireland

Kilrush is a coastal town in County Clare, Ireland. It is also the name of a civil parish and an ecclesiastical parish in Roman Catholic Diocese of Killaloe. It is located near the mouth of the River Shannon in the south-west of the county. Kilrush is one of the listed Heritage Towns of Ireland. The area was officially classified as part of the West Clare Gaeltacht, an Irish-speaking community, until 1956.

Clarecastle Village in Munster, Ireland

Clarecastle is a village just south of Ennis in County Clare, Ireland. From 2008 to 2016 the village saw a significant population increase due to its proximity to Ennis, Shannon, and Limerick.

Ennistymon Town in Munster, Ireland

Ennistymon or Ennistimon is a country market town in County Clare, near the west coast of Ireland. The River Inagh, with its small rapids known as the Cascades, runs through the town, behind the main street. A bridge across the river leads to nearby Lahinch, on the N67 national secondary road. The town is connected to Ennis by the N85, continuing the settlement's main street.

Newmarket-on-Fergus Town in Munster, Ireland

Newmarket-on-Fergus, historically known as Corracatlin, is a town in County Clare, Ireland. It is 13 kilometres from Ennis, 8 kilometres from Shannon Airport, and 24 kilometres from Limerick.

Doora, County Clare Civil parish in Munster, Ireland

Doora is a civil parish and village in County Clare, Ireland, just to the east of the town of Ennis. It is part of the Catholic parish of Doora Barefield. Parts of Doora are contained in the town of Ennis.

River Fergus Tributary of the Shannon in western Ireland

The River Fergus is a river within the Shannon River Basin which flows in County Clare, Ireland. The river begins at Lough Fergus in north Clare and flows into the Shannon Estuary. The source is at Lough Fergus in the townland of Kilmore North. At Knockroe, the river is joined by a tributary stream called the Clooneen River. The Fergus flows underground for about a kilometre in Cahermacon, near Kilnaboy. The river then flows through Lough Inchiquin. Just after this lake, a tributary which has its source at Loughnagowan joins the Fergus. The river then flows along by the village of Corofin. After Corofin, the river flows through Lough Atedaun, Ballyteige Lough, Dromore Lake and Ballyallia Lake. The river then flows through the town of Ennis, where it is crossed by six road bridges, a pedestrian bridge and a railway bridge. There is also a small branch which splits off just north of Ennis and rejoins the main flow to the east of the town. Another tributary, a stream known as the Inch River or Claureen River, also joins at Ennis. The river then flows through the village of Clarecastle, where there was a port in former times. After Clarecastle, the river widens into an estuary which then joins the Shannon Estuary. There are several islands in the Fergus Estuary, including Deer Island, Coney Island, Trummer Island, Inishmacowney, Canon Island and Inishloe. Some of these islands were once inhabited, and there were schools on Coney Island and Inishloe.

Sixmilebridge Town in Munster, Ireland

Sixmilebridge, colloquially The Bridge, is a small town in County Clare, Ireland. Located midway between Ennis and Limerick city, the town is a short distance away from the main N18 road, being located on the old "back road" between the two. The village of Kilmurry is also part of the Sixmilebridge parish.

Tomás OMaoldomhnaigh

Tomás O'Maoldomhnaigh is an Irish realist painter in Ennis, County Clare.

Drumcliff, County Clare Civil parish in Munster, Ireland

Drumcliff, or Drumcliffe, Dromcliffe is a civil parish in County Clare, Ireland. It includes the village of Inch and part of the town of Ennis.

Ennis Friary

Ennis Friary was a Franciscan friary in the town of Ennis, County Clare, Ireland. It was established in the middle of the 13th century by the ruling O'Brien dynasty who supported it for most of its existence. Following the suppression of the monasteries in the 16th century, the friary continued to function for a while despite the loss of its lands. In the early 17th century, the buildings were handed over to the Church of Ireland as a place of worship. It was used as such until the late 19th century. After the construction of a new Church of Ireland building, the friary fell into ruin. Managed by the Office of Public Works since the late 19th century, it was formally returned to the Franciscan Order in 1969.


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