Ireland – Fanore

Fanore is a small village which is located on the west coast of Ireland on the Wild Atlantic Way, a few miles south of Ballyvaughan and a few miles north of Doolin, which were two other places that we stayed on the trip.

Above is Annaly House, a B&B located in the centre of Fanore. Three of us stayed here for three nights and the lovely landlady was always helpful and friendly. Fortunately, as mentioned elsewhere, Sarah had obtained herself a lovely self-catering unit at the end of the property which Steve and I decided we’d take over. Especially since there was no kettle in our rooms….

The pub of O’Donohues which was closed during the day when we were in Fanore and apparently it only opens all day and serves food in the summer months. I’m sure it’s lovely, but we were disappointed that we were so near to a pub that wasn’t open….

There was also a cafe opposite, Vasco Cafe and Restaurant, and the food there looked really nice, with a bistro feel to it. That was though also shut and was also for sale, so it’s not entirely clear if it’ll re-open again in its current form.

There’s a shop in the village, and this pretty much completes the selection of eateries and they sold a predominantly canned and frozen selection of meals. The owner does though make sandwiches and the service was friendly and helpful on the times when we went in.

The infamous red gate. Actually, it probably isn’t infamous at all, it’s just that it’s mentioned on the information board in the village. The information provided on the board is that:

“This gate has been known as the ‘Red gate’ for several generations. The gate was kept locked by the landlord to ensure tenants paid one load of the seaweed they collected.”

I’m not entirely sure how the gate ensured that, but I can’t find anything else on-line which gives further information about the whole process.

This is the former Fanore National School, which now appears to be a private residence and the new and larger school is located opposite. There was some excitement caused here in 1914 when the principal teacher, Michael O’Shea, asked permission from the church to get married to the woman he loved, Katie McDonagh.

It might be thought that Fr. Patrick Keran, who was responsible for the operation of the school, would have been delighted at this. Instead he decided that O’Shea wouldn’t marry Katie but that he would instead marry a female teacher in the school. This seemed a marvellous idea to the church, as that meant that there was a couple running the school and they only had to provide one residence. Unfortunately O’Shea didn’t want to marry the other teacher, he wanted to marry Katie. So the church dismissed the teacher from his job.

Some recent reports say that it created a national scandal, although I’m slightly doubtful of that as I can’t find any mention of it in the national Irish press of the time or in the years that followed. Most of the information about the case seems to have come later on and there’s a 2004 book about the incident.

Fanore Beach, a relatively large expanse of sand and the dunes here are protected because of their environmental importance.

The village also has the ruins of Killonaghan Church which dates back to the eleventh century, although I didn’t get chance to go and see these. There are also some stone forts, or cahers, built from the Iron Age, although these are on private land and can’t be easily visited.

Fanore was a charming village, very welcoming and it did feel quite remote even though it was on a major tourist road. It’s clear that it’s much more active in the summer months when the pub and cafe will no doubt be open and the beach is full of visitors seeking some sun and relaxation. Personally, I’m rather glad that I visited in March, it just felt like a more authentic experience.