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Ennis is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Munster
County County Clare
Dáil Éireann Clare
Elevation 3 m (10 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Rank 11th
 • Urban 25,360
Irish Grid Reference R333780
Website .com.visitenniswww

Ennis (; Irish: Inis, meaning "island") is a town located in Mid-West Region of Ireland and is the county town of County Clare. Situated on the River Fergus just north of where it enters the Shannon Estuary, it lies north west of Limerick and south of Galway. The town is also 19 km (12 mi) from Shannon Airport. The Irish name for the town is short for Inis Cluain Ramh Fhada ("island of the long rowing meadow"). In 2011, Ennis had a population of 25,360, making it the 11th largest urban centre in Ireland.


  • History 1
  • Heritage and economy 2
  • Transport 3
  • Education 4
  • Culture 5
  • Sports and leisure 6
  • Lees Road Park 7
  • International relations 8
    • Twin towns – Sister cities 8.1
  • Information Age Town 9
  • Tidy Town 10
  • Gallery 11
  • People 12
  • Cultural references 13
  • Townlands and parishes 14
  • See also 15
  • Notes 16
  • References 17
  • External links 18


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 Abbey was built. The past of Ennis is greatly associated with the O'Brien family, who were descendants of Brian Boru. During 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 the then island. During 1240 King Donnchadh O'Brien ordered the construction of an extensive church grounds which he later donated to recently formatted followers of St. Francis. The centuries which followed bore great activity. The Friars keep 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. Because it never had town walls it became a location for many Catholic 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 in C. 1850).

During 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 Old Military Barracks on the Kilrush road. Many locals served for the British Army during 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 on-wards, however 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. Many of the Town's past councils are made up of members of this party. 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.[1]

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.[2] 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,[3] although in November 2009 other parts of the town experienced severe flooding.[4] A new pedestrian bridge named "Harmony Row Bridge" was built over the river Fergus in June 2009.[5]

Heritage and economy

Clare became a county under rule of Elizabeth I and Ennis was chosen as its capital because of its central location and because of its great influence by the Earls of Thomond. Ennis got 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.[6]

Ennis continued to expand in the following centuries in a slow but steady fashion, mainly as a market town and later as a manufacturing and distributing centre. Many commodities were then conveyed by river to Clarecastle for shipment abroad.[7]

Ennis is an historically important

  • Official Ennis website
  • Fleadh Nua
  • County Clare Library – History of Ennis
  • The Tidy Towns of Ireland "Celebrating 50 years"

External links

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  12. ^ Figure is total for Ennis UD and Ennis environs. and for post 1821 figures, For a discussion on the accuracy of pre-famine census returns see JJ Lee "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses", Irish Population, Economy and Society edited by JM Goldstrom and LA Clarkson (1981) p54, in and also New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850 by Joel Mokyr and Cormac O Grada in The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Nov. 1984), pp. 473–488.
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  20. ^ Claims of Ali's Ennis connection 'a total con job'
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See also

  • Doora: Ballaghboy, Bunnow, Gaurus, and Knockanean
  • Drumcliff: Cahircalla Beg, Cahircalla More, Claureen, Cloghleagh, Clonroad Beg, Clonroad More, Drumbiggil, Drumcliff, Lifford, Loughvella, and Shanvogh
  • Kilraghtis: Rosslevan
  • Templemaley: Ballycorey, Cappahard, Dulick, Knockaderry, and Knockanoura

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

Townlands and parishes

  • Ennis is referred to in James Joyce's Ulysses[21]
  • Ennis is mentioned in the songs "Isobel" by British performer Dido, and "At The Ceili" by Celtic Woman

Cultural references



In 2012 and 2013, Ennis won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in the Large Urban Centre category.[16]

Tidy 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.

Information Age Town

It is also twinned with the town of Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet; in Southern France.[15] Ennis is also twinned with the town of Clare, South Australia and the city of Clare, Michigan, United States

A sister city of Ennis is Phoenix, Arizona.[13][14] 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.

Twin towns – Sister cities

International relations

The Lees Road Sports and Amenity Park, just 1 km from the town centre, is set in 134 acres (54 ha) of wood and park land. There is ample car parking and the main building includes modern changing rooms, showers and toilets. Among the facilities available are – 4 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. There are marked Walks and Trails throughout the Woodland area.

Lees Road Park

Cusack Park is the main county Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) playing grounds is situated in the town centre on Francis Street and is the home of Clare GAA Ennis has numerous Football Clubs (Soccer, GAA & Rugby) that play in various Leagues from Schoolboys to Senior. Ennis has many Sports facitities including the Lees Road Sports and Amenity Park (See Main Article), The Fair Green which has a Children's Playground and numerous football pitches. The 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.

Sports and leisure

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 and is located in the town centre.


St. Flannan's College, one of the oldest extant 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.[11] There are several secondary level schools located 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 3rd level facilities.


Ennis railway station connects with Limerick where onward trains run to Cork via Limerick Junction (for connections to Tipperary, Cahir, Clonmel, Carrick-on-Suir and Waterford) and Mallow (for connections to Killarney and Tralee).

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 was finally closed in 1961, despite investment in new diesel trains in the early/mid-1950s.

In 1976 passenger trains were withdrawn on the railway line from Limerick to Claremorris via Ennis. County Clare thus became the only Irish county outside Ulster without a passenger train service. The closure of Ennis station proved to be only temporary; 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 30 March 2010 with 5 return services daily. The next phases, to Tuam and Claremorris, originally scheduled to reopen by 2014, is subject to budget review.[10]

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.

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 located about one kilometre distance from the town centre. The Ennis railway station is situated on the Clon Road toward the east of the town, which links to the main N18 in either direction.


Ennis has been a centre for Irish Traditional Music, and since 1974 has hosted the Fleadh Nua[9] 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.

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

The Town Centre consists of medieval narrow streets and laneways, which are overshadowed by simple elegant structures built over the last 1000 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 situated on the fringe of the old town centre.

River Fergus going through Ennis.


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