Historic Clare Traditions That Live on for Us All to Enjoy Today
Our love for our beautiful County Clare is no secret but external recognition is pouring in, Clare being named this year on Frommer’s ‘Best Places to Go’ list. Clare is a surfers’ paradise featuring stunning scenery and the opportunity for the adventurous to set sail and see dolphins off its coast. But Clare also oozes the appeal of a vast array of traditions, many of which are still enjoyed today. To really get to know Clare, there are some excellent traditions, dating back centuries, that we thoroughly recommend getting involved in.
Hurling is one of the oldest field games in the world. The first literary reference to it dates back to 1272 BC, after which point its history is filled with ups and downs in popularity, swinging from being outlawed entirely to the Celtic legal system offering compensation for accidents, injuries and even death during hurling matches. In 1884, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was foundedand hurling is now one of the country’s most popular traditional sports. The GAA itself took in £13.4 million last year, up 33% on the previous year.
Clare has a pretty central role to play in this popular Irish sport. They reached the seniors’ semi-final this year, only to go out in the replay after initially drawing with Galway. Clearly, the team is one to watch. But Clare also has its own Senior Hurling Championship, made up of 16 teams. The hurling tradition in Clare is evidently alive and kicking.
The current Irish National Lottery – or, An Crannchur Náisiúnta– gaming operations date back to 1987, but the game has its history in the Irish Sweepstake, formed with the intention of raising funds for hospitals after Ireland achieved its independence. Today, funding from the lottery continues in that tradition, funding sport and recreation, national culture and heritage, the arts and much more. It was recently announced that the National Lottery would sponsor the Local Ireland Media Awards in 2018: news we praise as a local publication.
The lottery tradition is still strong in Clare and Lotto tickets are now available online if you fancy contributing to the worthy cause, and you can bet on the results of lotteries from across the world. Perhaps your luck is similar to that of the two Clare lottery winners in as many years (including winnings of €93,617 for one man this year and a €500,000 EuroMillions prize awarded in 2017), which followed another win in Sixmilebridge back in 2014.
This form of tradition is found all over the world, but Clare is particularly famous for its festival history, including one particularly interesting event: Lisdoonvarna focuses on matchmaking, “an Irish tradition that’s as old as time.” It brings people together over the last three weekends of September, but that’s not all. Lisdoonvarna features traditions within the tradition, with country music aplenty plus midweek dancing throughout the month of September.
If that’s not really your game, Lisdoonvarna is a spa town famous for its traditional Irish smoked salmon, which can be sampled alongside other traditional products at its Burren Slow Food Festival in May. This year, the event centred around seafood and whiskey, next year’s edition is bound to be just as central to Clare delicacies.
To live in or visit Clare is to experience its history in the present. This list of how Clare’s rich past is still being enjoyed today is by no means exhaustive and we would be thrilled to hear how you celebrate County Clare traditions in the comments below.