County Clare, Galway, and the Aran Islands: Places to Explore

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Doolin

Once an enchanting, multihue-housed backwater, this tiny village—set at the point where the Cliffs of Moher flatten out and disappear into the sea as limestone plateaus—now seems to consist almost entirely of B&Bs, hostels, hotels, holiday homes, pubs, and restaurants, built on a flat plain about a mile from the pier and the sea. The reason for all this development (much of it newly built during Ireland's Celtic Tiger economic boom) is that Doolin is reputed to have three of the best pubs for traditional music in Ireland: McGann's, McDermott's, and O'Connor's. With the worldwide surge of interest in Irish music since the mid-1990s, the village has become more of a magnet for European and American musicians than it is for young, or even established, Irish artists. Amazingly, there is no tourist board office in Doolin but a sponsored website does offer plenty of listings for the town (www.doolin-tourism.com).

Popularity, of course, brings its own price: when every other person is witnessing the session through a camera screen, it can interrupt the connection and magic between the musicians and the audience. If you're disappointed with the music (or more likely, the crowd) in one pub, there are two more to try.

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