7 Things that Doolin is Famous For
Photo by Kev L Smith
This seventh episode of ‘Meet the Locals‘ features Christy Barry, one of Doolin’s most celebrated Traditional Musicians who owns and operates Doolin Music House. Doolin is widely regarded as the home of traditional Irish music, and Christy explains why that is the case – referring to Doolin as “the New Orleans of Irish Music”, but also as a place that is famous for welcoming people. Tune in, and be sure to experience Doolin’s famous traditional music scene for yourself, on your next visit!
1. Traditional Irish Music & Culture
I always compare Doolin to New Orleans. It’s the New Orleans of Irish Music ~ Christy Barry
The musical traditions of Doolin are among the most joyous, passionate, and influential sounds to be found in Ireland, and indeed the world. Whether traditional Irish music, Sean-nós or folk music, the distinctive sounds of “the home of Irish music” have flowed continuously and freely from the soul of a community with a unique history and way of life. You see, here in Doolin, the musical culture stems from the place, the people & the passion of a local coastal community on the western seaboard of Ireland.
Christy Barry started Doolin Music House in 2015 with his partner Sheila. The concept was to create a space where people could come and get an insight into where they are and to keep the musical traditions and stories alive in an ever-changing modern Ireland.
The idea was in my head for years and years after travelling the world, that people need an insight into where they are, to keep the thing proper, otherwise it will slip away from you ~ Christy Barry
Although the pub sessions are extremely popular, Christy and Sheila soon realised that many of their visitors enjoyed the intimate setting of sitting around a homely fireplace, listening to traditional music. As a result of this, they decided to open up their atmospheric home to visitors, and Doolin Music House was born. Here visitors will enjoy Christy playing some great tunes, and his talks and discussions on the history of traditional Irish music.
Another local family who is keeping local traditions alive is the Garrihy family, who run Doolin2Aran Ferries. The Garrihys describe themselves as proud Doolin locals, reaching back several generations and who have made their home and their living in Doolin. The family were originally fishermen and now provide ferries to the Aran Islands and boat trips to the Cliffs of Moher. There are 4 brothers who started Doolin2Aran Ferries – PJ, Eugene, Joe and Donie. Joe’s son Jamie is an accomplished traditional Irish musician and the video clip below features Jamie playing at the Cliffs of Moher, and in the background, the newest member of the family, the Star of Doolin, is sailing on a Cliffs of Moher cruise.
It’s great to see the next generation of Garrihys and the next generation of ships going strong, keeping both traditions alive and well!
2. Welcoming People
There’s no place in the world, no matter how beautiful it is, it’s nothing without the people. And Doolin, still is a famous place for welcoming people. ~ Christy Barry
Doolin isn’t just famous for its music. It’s also famous for its warm welcomes, personal touch and homely charm. So much so, that in April 2019, Doolin was the first village in the country to be designated as a tourism ‘Destination of Excellence’ by Fáilte Ireland – the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland. To achieve the award, tourism businesses in Doolin undertook Fáilte Ireland’s Accredited Service Excellence Programme, with nearly 120 local tourism frontline staff across 41 local businesses completing a dedicated course of customer care training.
From many a’ music session and a story being told in local homesteads and establishments, to engaging with visitors and sharing local knowledge, Doolin is a hub of welcoming Irish Hospitality, consistently getting the little things right and always improving.
Doolin Inn, a modern country house located over the bridge from Fisher Street is one example of a local family-run business which took part in the programme and who continue to offer the ‘personal touch’ that Doolin hospitality is well known for. This Autumn, they’re offering guests Hot Whiskeys or Hot Chocolates on arrival and complimentary late checkout when they avail of their new Winter Warmer & Wild Waves package – pure bliss!
3. Community Spirit
Community spirit thrives here in Doolin. It is what keeps the social and economical cogs turning in this tiny part of the world. Social, environmental and other public initiatives are at the forefront of the Doolin community – to continuously improve both the visitor experience and that of the local residents so that Doolin can continue to grow and flourish. Many local businesses and residents volunteer their time for these kinds of initiatives, such as the Burren Ecotourism Network, Doolin Tidy Towns, Doolin Coast Guard, and many more, including Doolin Tourism itself.
Darra Hughes, proprietor of Sea View House & Lodges, is heavily involved in Doolin Tidy Towns and is responsible for all the flowers beds in Fisher Street in Doolin. Sea View House is also a member of the Burren Ecotourism Network since 2013. The Mission of the Network is to establish the Burren as a premier internationally recognized ecotourism region, ensuring the future economic and social growth and sustainable development of its communities, environment and heritage.
Doolin Coast Guard is a voluntary unit of the Irish Coast Guard. The team is made up of 24 local volunteers, and they do an amazing job of keeping our waterways safe in this busy area around Doolin, the Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands.
4. Natural Beauty & Historical Sites
Idyllic scenes, wide-open spaces and nature. Doolin is a natural and historical metropolis. Where land and sea collide, from towering cliffs over the wild Atlantic to arctic flora and built heritage throughout the region, there’s nothing you won’t appreciate in Doolin.
The lunar landscape of the Burren is captivating, while the wild Atlantic and cliffs are humbling and awe-inspiring. The pinnacle of Doolin in terms of built heritage can be seen at the site of the famous Doonagore Castle – a round 16th-century tower house with a small walled enclosure located about 1 km above the village.
5. Wild Atlantic Coastline
Located along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, nestled between the Burren, Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands. The Atlantic Ocean is at the heart of Doolin – integral to the community here, it is used for many day-to-day activities and uses including fishing and travel, as well as the pursuit of pastimes including swimming, surfing, sailing, kayaking and many more. Towards every direction, you will find Doolin’s rugged coastline and experience popular water activities.
Photo by Kev L Smith
6. Delicious Local Cuisine
FISH & CHIPS. And more. Fishing is very important to the local economy and food scene of Doolin, including supplying freshly caught seafood to the many restaurants, pubs and eateries in Doolin and the surrounding area of the Burren.
It’s not all about fish though. Doolin’s food culture is rich in tradition, with an emphasis on local, natural, fresh and seasonal. Geographically-speaking, Doolin is located right in the middle of ‘Ireland’s Food Destination 2015’ – with the Burren being awarded the accolade of ‘A European Destination of Excellence for Gastronomy’.
With so much fantastic produce and ingredients on its doorstep, and given its wild Atlantic and rural Burren location, you can be sure to enjoy the best of modern Irish cuisine in Doolin’s traditional pubs, restaurants and cafés. Each of the local eateries captures a unique taste of place – the tastes of Doolin.
7. Epic Outdoor Adventures
Adventure like a local in Doolin. Conveniently located within the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Doolin is a great base for experiencing new adventures on land and water! Journey to the Great Stalactite at Doolin Cave & Visitor Centre, climb aboard Doolin2Aran Ferries’ brand new Star of Doolin ship or experience The Doolin Ferry Company’s new ‘Bus & Boat Tour’, and explore the Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands. For high-adrenaline adventurers, there is a selection of activity operators in the surrounding area such as Climb It. Dig out your hiking boots or cycling gear and take a guided ( or self-guided tour of the area and discover its beautiful scenery and geological features. Check out Doolin Cliff Walks with Pat Sweeney. Private drive tours are also available for those who prefer a little bit of luxury.
Be sure to explore the rest of our website to find out more information, or to plan your next visit to beautiful Doolin in County Clare. Check out our new destination video: ‘Meet the Locals’, for more local knowledge and hidden gems!