Kilkee, Loop Head’s main town, is built around a horseshoe bay with a kilometre of golden, blue-flag beach. Because of the Duggerna Reef (locally known as the Pollock Holes) stretching across its mouth, the bay is naturally sheltered from the Atlantic, and Kilkee beach is the safest in Clare.
Kilkee has been a famous resort for almost 200 years. When a passenger steamer service began plying the river between Limerick and Kilrush in 1816, visitors started arriving in droves to take the waters in Kilkee. Soon it became a favourite bathing place of the Victorian aristocracy, and its popularity was enhanced by the opening of the West Clare Railway in the late 1800s.
Charlotte Bronte, Alfred Tennyson and William Makepeace Thackeray were among the most illustrious visitors to Kilkee, while entertainers such as Percy French regularly packed its concert halls. In more recent times, visitors have included Che Guevara, Richard Harris and Russell Crowe.
Kilkee retains much of its Victorian character, and the 19th century part of the town has been designated an Architectural Conservation Area.