Kilrush ( ) is a coastal
town in County
It is located near the mouth of the
in the south-west of the
county. Kilrush is a town of great historical significance, being
one of the listed Heritage Towns of Ireland.
Kilrush has existed since the 16th century but it was not until the
18th century that it underwent major development. This development
coincided with the succession of John Ormsby Vandeleur as the
wealthiest landlord in the district. Of Dutch origin, the Vandeleur
Family was the most prominent landlord family in West Clare. They
designed the layout of the town and many of the present day street
names derive from Vandeleur family names.
John Ormsby Vandeleur built the large family home, Kilrush House in
1808 and by that stage he practically owned Kilrush. With wealth
achieved from a financially beneficial marriage and some political
skulduggery, he decided to develop the town. A Scots businessman
James Patterson, who had been a gunboat lieutenant until 1802,
assisted him in this project. Patterson entered the oats trade in
West Clare and in 1802 he got a site on the square from Vandeleur
and erected a six-storey building.
The Napoleonic Wars
to an improvement in agricultural prices. As Kilrush and the
neighbouring countryside began to prosper, Hely Dutton reported in
1808 that the town was ‘rising fast into some consequence’. He also
acknowledged Patterson’s role as a ‘very active and intelligent
inhabitant, who has been of the utmost benefit to Kilrush, and the
adjoining counties’. In 1812 Patterson went into the shipping
business and by 1817 he had a steamboat operating regularly between
Kilrush. The increasing popularity of Kilkee as a bathing
resort brought many transit travellers to Kilrush.
In 1837 Samuel Lewis described Kilrush as a seaport, market and
post town. The main industries, chiefly for home consumption, were
flannels, stockings and bundle cloth. The main trade was corn,
butter, pigs, agricultural products and hides. There were works for
refining rock salt for domestic use, a tan-yard, a soap factory and
a nail factory. Branches of the national and agricultural banks had
been opened in the town and a constabulary police force was also
stationed there. A small bridewell was built in 1825 and a court
house in 1831.
However the famine years (1845-1849) brought much hardship to
Kilrush. Famine, evictions, fever and cholera reduced the
population of south-west Clare to such an extent that it never
attained its pre famine numbers. In the post famine era, the
Vandeleur name became synonymous with the worst of landlord
evictions, with over 20,000 evicted in the Kilrush Union. The
Kilrush workhouse witnessed terrible deprivation and deaths. By
that stage Hector Vandeleur had succeeded John Ormsby
Kilrush however survived these setbacks and with the arrival of the
West Clare railway towards the end of the 19th century, developed
into a bustling market town, the spirit of which lasts today. The
designation of Kilrush as a Heritage Town recognises its legacy as
a landlord estate town with a rich maritime and market tradition.
There is a long maritime tradition in the town and the presence of
a 1500 year old monastic settlement at Scattery Island (just
offshore) shows that clearly. The old port of Kilrush is now home
to a 120 berth marina with lock gate access to the Shannon Estuary
and the Atlantic Ocean. The town was developed primarily in the
early 19th century by the Vandeleur family, who were the primary
owners and landlords of the town. An impressive walled garden on
the grounds of the old Vandeleur estate can still be visited today,
though their home was gutted by fire in the late 19th
Acclaimed stained glass windows in
Saint Senan's Church Kilrush, the work of Harry Clarke
also hosts a traditional Irish music festival in August of each
year - Eigse Mrs. Crotty festival, so named after a famed
concertina player from the town.
From 1951 through to 1966,Kilrush supported an Operatic Society of
renown, with productions of "The Student Prince" 1951 to "Faust",
"Tosca", "Lucia" to name a few. The Principal Artistes hailed from
all over Europe while the Operas were produced by: Powell Lloyd
of Covent Garden.The society has
been re-born under the banner of the "Kilrush Choral Society" and
has four highly successful seasons under its belt. Their first show
"My Fair Lady" (2005) was followed by "The Sound of Music" (2006)
followed by "Oliver" (2007) and "Showboat" (2008) while their most
recent 2009 production was of "Sunrise Sunset", a variety of five
different musicals. The aim of the present society is to eventually
branch into Grand Opera.
is a small island in
the Shannon estuary about 15 minutes from Kilrush by boat. It was
once a monastic settlement founded by St.
. It features one of the oldest and tallest round towers
Offshore resides a large pod of Bottlenose dolphins who are
resident year round in the estuary. Ferries to the island and
dolphin tours are available year round, weather permitting. 10
kilometres (7 miles) from Kilrush is the seaside resort of Kilkee,
a sandy horseshoe bay on the Atlantic coast.
The town has an 18 hole golf course on the Ennis Road.
Also 10 km (7 mi) from Kilrush is the Greg Norman
designed golf links at Doonbeg 
quickly gaining a reputation as being one of the most demanding and
spectacular courses in Western Europe.
Sailing is also very popular. Classes and instructions on boating
are available at the town marina. The Western Yacht Club has in the
last decade been rejuvenated, being one of the oldest yacht clubs
in the world.
Tennis, football (soccer) and athletics are catered for at the
Cooraclare Road complex. The rugby club is based on the Doonbeg
Although Kilrush has enjoyed moderate success in some sports, the
town's passion is Gaelic Football. Kilrush Shamrocks GAA Club are
located on the Killimer Road. The ground, Captain Tubridy Memorial
Park is traditionally called "The Cricket Field", since it was used
for that sport during the 19th century. The club was founded in
1886 and has recorded 21 county titles, although recent history has
seen the coveted title eluding the club.
Kilrush has two primary schools and one secondary school. St.
Senans NS is an English speaking school, the other is an Irish
, which is called
Gaelscoil Ui Choimin.The secondary school is called "Kilrush
Community School" which is located within walking distance of the
Kilrush is on the N68
Kilrush road. The approach from the north and east is via
the N18 (west) from Limerick or
Shannon and N18 (south) from Galway.
Kilrush is about 1 hour from Limerick and 45 minutes from Shannon
Airport. From the south there is a Car Ferry from
Kerry) to Killimer, which is 5
minutes drive from Kilrush.
Crossing time is 20
was once one of the twin termini of
the West Clare Railway from
Ennis, the neighbouring town of Kilkee being the
other (see Irish
The railway closed in 1961.
Creek Marina is the first stopping point at the Atlantic Ocean end of the Shannon Estuary, with its lock gates providing protection from the
Bus service: The town is serviced by buses run by Bus
Flights: Kilrush is 45 minutes from Shannon Airport.
Ferries: From abroad Kilrush can be reached by taking international
ferries from France and the UK. The major connecting ports are Cork, Rosslare, Dun Laoghaire and Dublin.
Twin towns — Sister cities
is twinned with the town of Plouzané in France since
Plouzane is in the Brittany region and is situated
close to the maritime port of Brest.