Several earth forts in the area indicate that the area was inhabited in ancient times, the most prominent of which is on the northern side of the hill above the village along the road to Ennistymon. The fort is believed to have been built by the Danish Vikings and lies on a hill which later became known as “Doctor’s Hill” after a doctor was murdered there.
In the Middle Ages, the O’Brien clan dominated the coastline; Liscannor Castle and Dough Castle are now ruins. The tower of Dough Castle stands on the golf course, and O’Brien’s Bridge across the Inagh River is in the vicinity. As late as the 18th century, Lahinch was still a small hamlet with only a few fisherman’s huts. It grew in the 19th century to over 1000 people by 1835, but it was not until later in the century that the infrastructure of the town developed and it became a seaside resort following the opening of the West Clare Railway in 1887. In 1883, the town was struck by a severe storm which destroyed the sea wall and promenade and damaged many buildings. Local governor William Edward Ellis overlooked the repair work which followed and the construction of a new sea wall and promenade were inaugurated by the wife of the Viceroy, Lady Aberdeen, in July 1893.
A book “Holiday Haunts of the West Coast of Clare” (1891) stated that Lahinch’s “strand for length, width and evenness is not to be excelled in Ireland”, noting that the “accommodation is excellent, neat and respectable”. The following year, the establishment of Lahinch Golf Club further contributed to the growth of the town. In 1900, Gertrude Crowe of “Times Weekly” wrote: “Lahinch, a restful picturesque spot on the west coast of Clare, retains much of its primitive old world charm. In the good times, it is celebrated for the assemblage of rank and beauty and fashion who resorted thither for bathing. An 1822 Guide mentions that the neighbouring gentry was in the habit of having warmly contested races on the strand.” Historically the people of the town celebrated Garland Sunday on the last Sunday of July, attracting people from across the county. Stalls lined the main street with numerous other attractions for the visitors.