County Clare’s Loop Head peninsula juts into the Atlantic Ocean like a gnarled finger pointing westward. The Atlantic crashes onto its northern and western boundaries, whilst the Shannon Estuary lies to the south. With barely one mile of land keeping it connected to the mainland, the peninsula has one of the highest ratios of coastline to land surface area in the country. Over this landscape, the eponymous lighthouse stands as a sentinel, watching over the ocean and land.
A place of vibrant natural diversity, the peninsula plays host to the entire range of classified coastal ecosystems found on the Atlantic coast of Europe.
The population of the peninsula is sparse, with the small town of Kilkee being the one population centre of note. Beyond Kilkee, Loop Head’s people are gathered around a few attractive villages: Cross, Carrigaholt and Kilbaha. Relatively small and untouched by development, they have remained unchanged for much of the last century and, in appearance terms, provide an insight into a type of rural Irish life that has declined elsewhere. They subsist predominantly through agriculture, with the peninsula playing host to intensive cattle farming of both the beef and dairy varieties.