Ennis ( ) is the county town of Clare in Ireland. Situated on the River Fergus, it lies north of Limerick and south of
Its name is a shortening of the original
("long rowing meadow island").
is 19 km (12 mi) from Shannon and Shannon Airport.
Geographically located near the mouth of
the Fergus estuary, it is now a gateway to the West of Clare via
the N85 Western relief road for people travelling from the Limerick
and East Clare regions.
The 2006 census indicates that Ennis had a population of 24,253
making it the largest town in Munster
the sixth largest town in Ireland. It is the 11th
largest urban centre
in the country.
In 2005 Ennis won the Irish
Tidy Towns Competition
. The town has maintained this high
status over the years coming 2nd in 2008, an improvement on the
The name Ennis comes from the Irish word "Inis", which means an
island formed between two courses of the River Fergus and on which
the Franciscan Abbey was built. The past of Ennis is greatly
associated with the O'Brien family, who were descendants of
. During the 12th
century the O'Brien's who were Kings of
Thomond, left their seat of power in Limerick and built a
royal residence at Clonroad on the then island.
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
.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.
The Town contains several old British military barracks, which were
built over the centuries. The Clare Road and Clonroad areas contain
terraced cottages, built in the Early 20th
to house soldiers. On Station Road, once stood a prison. Many Ennis
men fought for the British Army during The First World War.
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. A monument to
Éamon de Valera
, founder of the
party and former President of Ireland, stands outside Ennis
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. 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. , although in November 2009 other
parts of the town experienced severe flooding. A new pedestrian bridge
named "Harmony Row
Bridge" was built over the river Fergus in June 2009.
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 it 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.
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.
Ennis is an historically important market
. The market square
still home to market stall
Saturday through the year and with the rise in the town's
commercial retail sector in recent years, the market has shifted
its traditional trading from agricultural produce to mainly
textiles and home hardware. The market has added an vibrant organic
farming element over the previous years.
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
, while the
others, O'Connell Street, Bindon Street and Abbey Street are
. The Cathedral of Saint
Peter and Saint Paul
is situated on the fringe of the old town
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, Ennis Town Council,
Clare Revenue Commissionairs, as well as Social and Family
Ennis has been a center for Irish Traditional Music
, and for
forty years has hosted the Fleadh
in late May each year, the second largest traditional
music festival in Ireland.
Transport (bus, rail & air services)
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 station is situated on the Clon Road
toward the east of the town, which links
to the main N18 in either direction.
services are provided to Shannon Airport, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Dublin and all
routes in between and run nearly every hour.
is 15 minutes from Ennis, providing daily flights to European and
A new town bus service was started on the 29th October 2009, the
bus runs every hour.
passenger trains were withdrawn on the railway line from Limerick
to Claremorris via Ennis.
County Clare thus became the only
Irish county outside Ulster
passenger train service. The closure of Ennis station proved to be
only temporary; eighteen rail services per day are now provided to
and from Limerick City, from where connecting rail services are
available to both Dublin and Cork. The Western Railway Corridor north of
Ennis (to Athenry and Galway)
is expected to reopen in late 2009.
formerly the starting point of the West Clare Railway, a narrow gauge
railway which ran from Ennis to Ennistymon, Miltown
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
's last narrow gauge railway and was
finally closed in 1961, despite investment in new diesel trains in
the early/mid 1950s.
Schools in Ennis include Ennis
National School, established in 1897 (Formerly Boys National
School), Cloughleigh National School, Gaelscoil Mhicíl Cíosóg, Holy
Family School, CBS and the multi-denominational Ennis Educate
Together National which opened in 1998.
School. There are
several secondary level schools located in Ennis, including
, Ennis Community College,
Colaiste Mhuire, St. Flannan's
, and Gaelcholaiste an Chláir. The Ennis Business
college is one of Ennis's 3rd level facilities.
Ennis is a stronghold of traditional music with many musicians in
residence and regularly playing locally. There is a thriving Rock
music scene in Ennis with bands playing at Glór and pubs around the
town. The town is host each May to the annual , a traditional music
festival. The Glór Irish
hosts music concerts, comedy acts and plays. The
World Irish Dancing Championships are also held every two years in
Sports and Leisure
Cusack Park, the main county GAA playing grounds is situated in the
Town centre on Francis Street.
Ennis has many athletics areas, such as Lees Road, which consists
of playing pitches and running woods and also in the centre of the
town lies the Fair Green.
There is one 25m pool in the town as well as other smaller ones in
hotel leisure clubs throughout.
Twin towns — Sister cities
sister city of Ennis is Phoenix,
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.
also twinned with the town of Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet; in Southern France.Ennis is also twinned
with the town of Clare, South Australia.
Information Age Town
In September 1997, Ennis became Ireland's first and only
Information Age Town, which was funded by Eircom
(formerly Telecom Éireann). 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.
Image:Ennis 02.jpg|A monument to Irish nationalist hero Daniel O'Connell
stands atop a tall column
in O'Connell Square, the site of the old courthouse where he won
Fergus flows through Ennis.
Friary.jpg|Ennis Friary, constructed in 1242.Image:St. Columba's
Church in Ennis.jpg|St
Columba's Church, Ennis
.The disestablishment of the
Church of Ireland from 1871 by an Act of Parliament led that Church
to sell many of its estates and bishops' palaces, in the process
laying off many Protestant workers who themselves then moved
away. However the wealthy protestant William Murphy
donated land outside the town centre for the building of this
- Daniel O'Connell, MP returned
for the Clare electoral area, was known as "The Liberator" for his
winning of Catholic Emancipation in 1829.
- Des Lynam, Irish presenter on British
- Dara O'Kearney, international
ultra runner and professional poker player
- Trotskyist theorist Sean
- Boxer Muhammad Ali's great
grandfather Abe Grady was from the Turnpike area of Ennis. On 1
September 2009, Ali was made the first Honorary Freeman of Ennis on
his first visit to the town.
- Singer Maura O'Connell comes
from the market area of Ennis
- The scriptwriter Mark
O'Halloran, who wrote the screenplays for the films Adam and Paul and Garage, is from Ennis.
- William Mulready (1786–1863) –
- James Bartholomew
Blackwell (b. 1763/1765 – d. ?) – Revolutionary soldier
Patterson (1840-1889) singer and composer was born in Feakle but raised
- Actress Harriet Smithson (b.
1800 – d. 1854), first wife of French composer Hector Berlioz, was born and lived for a time
- Footballer Claude Makalele(b.
1973 -present), a great French footballing talent in his day,
Claude's aunt, Mary Makelele lives in Willow Park, on the Watery
Road in Ennis.
- Ennis is mentioned in the songs "Isobel" by British performer
Dido, and "At The Ceili" by Celtic Woman.