County on the west coast of the Republic of Ireland, in the province of Munster, situated between Galway Bay in the north and the Shannon estuary in the south; county town Ennis; area 3,190 sq km/1,231 sq mi; population (2011) 117,000. Other towns include Kilrush, Kilkee, and Shannon, an important ‘new’ town noted for its light industry, and electronics and aerospace industries. Dairying and cattle rearing are the principal farming activities; there are also important salmon fisheries and extensive oyster beds. Slate and black marble are quarried and worked; lead is also found. The Shannon is a source of hydroelectricity: there is a power station at Ardnacrusha, 5 km/3 mi north of Limerick.
County Clare has a reputation as the centre of Irish traditional music. It is said to be named after Thomas de Clare, an Anglo-Norman settler, to whom this area was granted in 1276.
Physical The coastline is rocky and dangerous; in the north are the Cliffs of Moher (213 m/700 ft). Inland Clare is an undulating plain, with mountains in the east, west, and northwest: the chief ranges are the Slieve Bernagh mountains in the east, rising to over 518 m/1,700 ft; and the Slieve Boughta mountains, which lie partly in county Galway. The principal rivers are the Shannon, which forms the southern border, and its tributary the Fergus. Much of the spring water contains iron salts, and there are over 100 lakes in the county, including Lough Derg on the eastern border, which is 67 mi/108 km long and 21 mi/34 km wide (on average); at its widest point it is 43 mi/69 km across. In the northwest is the Burren, a barren limestone area, with caves and underground waterways, which shelters a wide variety of rare animals and plants; the area is now a national park.