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Ennis

(4.4/5 based on 1,100+ reviews for top 20 attractions)
Things to do: sightseeing, religious sites, museums
Ennis is the county town of Clare, Ireland. The Irish name is short for '''' ("island of the long rowing meadow"). The town is on the River Fergus, north of where it enters the Shannon Estuary, and is 19 km (12 mi) from Shannon Airport. In 2011, Ennis had a population of 25,360, making it the largest town in Clare and the 11th largest in Ireland.HistoryThe name Ennis comes from the Irish word "Inis", meaning "island". This name relates to an island formed between two courses of the River Fergus on which the Franciscan Abbey was built. The past of Ennis is greatly associated with the O'Brien family, who were descendants of Brian Boru. In the 12th century, the O'Briens, who were Kings of Thomond, left their seat of power in Limerick and built a royal residence at Clonroad on the then island. In 1240, King Donnchadh O'Brien ordered the construction of an extensive church which he later donated to 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 Monasteries.Because it never had town walls, Ennis became a location for 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. It became a thriving market town in the late 18th century and this expansion continued unabated throughout the 19th century, except the period after the Famine c. 1850.
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