Kilkee, Co. Clare began as a small fishing village which gained popularity amongst the wealthy in Limerick who were unable to travel around Europe due to the Napoleonic Wars. Many of them visited Kilkee for its natural amenities and bathing areas.
In the 1820s a paddle steamer service commenced from Limerick to Kilrush, which provided easier access to the village for Limerick people. The village was featured on the front page of The Illustrated London News as the premier bathing spot in the United Kingdom, which Ireland was part of at the time.
In 1892 the West Clare Railway was extended to reach the town, which expanded its popularity further. At its peak, the railway carried almost 250,000 people annually to the town.
Famous visitors to Kilkee include the poet Sir Alfred Tennyson, Charlotte Bronte and Che Guevara.