The tremor was ten times more powerful than the tremor which occurred in Co Donegal earlier this year, according to Thomas Blake of the School of Cosmic Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
Mr Blake, a seismologist, confirmed that the tremor measured 2.6 on the Richter scale. It was felt over a wide area of north Clare with residents from the Burren villages of Kilfenora, Doolin and Lisdoonvarna, and of the coastal resort of Lahinch, reporting the tremor at 11.30pm on Thursday night.
“We would regard this event as very important as it is the first time that a tremor has occurred in the west of Ireland since records began,” Mr Blake said.
He pointed out that recording of tremors commenced in 1978 and “there is no record in any historical archive of a tremor or earthquake before that in the west of Ireland”.
Meteorological stations in Dublin and Valentia in Co Kerry picked up the vibrations.
“This event forces us to re-evaluate the west of Ireland’s geology as tremors in the past have only been felt in Co Donegal and the south-east coast,” he said.
According to Mr Blake, north Clare residents “reported a noise sounding like a clap of thunder; a booming sound and a strong vibration in the ground”.
Liscannor woman Rosemarie Buckley said that “the house shook and we heard a loud bang”.
Her husband, Tom, said: “We thought it might have been a meteorite or something.”
Another Liscannor resident, Martin Doyle said: “I felt the whole roof shake. I thought the wall was collapsing. My neighbour called and he thought that the sound he heard was me falling down the stairs.”
Lahinch resident and Manager of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, Katherine Webster said yesterday that she “felt a loud bang in the house last night. I didn’t know what it was. I thought it might have been a neighbour moving furniture”.
A spokesman at Ennistymon Garda Station said gardaí had received no reports of damage. “We received a number of phone calls at the time from people reporting a loud bang,” he said.
Mr Blake said that Thursday night’s event would have occurred from depths of 20km to 25km under the Earth’s surface.