My four Irish novels are soon to be republished (with brand new covers!) so here is an introduction to the small town of Clifden, which provides the setting for them all.
It was founded by John D’Arcy who inherited the estate at the beginning of the 19th century (and built a castle overlooking Clifden Bay). At the time the area was inhabited mainly by fishermen and farmers, until D’Arcy decided to establish a town and also a road to Galway (now the N59).
|John D'Arcy's castle (now in ruins)|
overlooking Clifden Bay
|Looking up Market Street from the open area where the|
market used to take place
|Looking down Market Street toward the market place|
and Christ Church (Church of Ireland)
|Main Street and St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church|
By 1839 the town had grown to 185 dwellings, most of them three-floored, two churches, two hotels, three schools, a police barracks, courthouse, a gaol, a distillery and 23 pubs, and it had a population of about 1,000. It suffered during the Potato Famine in the 1840s and didn’t recover until the end of the 19th century when a railway was built to link it to Galway.
|The town from the harbour|
In the second half of the 20th century, Clifden became a popular centre for many different outdoor pursuits – hiking, cycling, sailing, fishing, horse-riding and golf. For the less energetic, there is a variety of shops from sweater shops and boutiques to antiques and art, and of course the tourist souvenir shops. Needless to say, there are also plenty of pubs, some genuinely ‘old’ Irish and others more trendy. In many of them, there is live music most evenings.
It's definitely one of my favourite Irish towns! Friendly people, interesting shops, excellent food, great craic - and even better when the rain stops and the sun comes out!
Next week I’ll tell you more about Clifden’s history and its surroundings.