Irelands Wild Atlantic Way
The Wild Atlantic Way is one of Europe’s great undiscovered secrets, even though it runs for 1,500 spectacular miles from Donegal to Cork. Along the way, there is just about every coastal feature you could imagine – lofty cliffs alive with seabirds, great sweeps of golden sand, lushly green peninsulas, rocky islands sprinkled across a shining sea and deep bays protected by silent mountains.
Spread among the natural spectacles are traditional villages with welcoming accommodation, pubs and restaurants serving super-fresh food. No road trip is complete without plenty of stops to embrace the surroundings and Ireland offers outstanding hiking, horse-riding, foraging for shellfish, boat trips and even surfing.
Below our five highlights of many for you to stop and enjoy along the way.
Malin Head lies on the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal, at the most northerly tip of the island of Ireland marking the beginning or perhaps the end of The Wild Atlantic Way. The Inishowen Peninsula is home to the epic remains of a stunning stone ring fort called Grianan of Aileach (Fortress of the Sun) at Burt. It’s built upon the site of the original 1700BC ringfort, and stands 735 feet above sea level.
Seen by many as the half way point in your journey Westport is a designated Heritage Town where the words picturesque and Westport go hand in hand. A safe haven, Westport kisses the South East shores of the Atlantic inlet of Clew Bay and lies against the backdrop of the protective Croagh Patrick best known for its association with Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, who is said to have fasted for 40 days at the summit in 441AD, Croagh Patrick has been a pilgrimage destination since pre-Christian times.
Galway, a harbour city on Ireland’s west coast, sits where the River Corrib meets the Atlantic. The city’s hub is 18th-century Eyre Square, a popular meeting spot surrounded by shops, and traditional pubs that often offer live Irish folk music. Known as the city of tribes, Galway was once ruled by 14 tribe families who made the city an industrial and financial success. Their legacy has continued as Galway remains a thriving town with a university, cathedral and plenty of historical attractions. Nearby, stone-clad cafes, boutiques and art galleries line the winding lanes of the Latin Quarter, which retains portions of the medieval city walls.
Using the city of tribes as your base, you can wind around Galway Bay and visit some pretty seaside towns before taking a ferry to the ancient Aran Islands. The three Aran Islands sit in Galway Bay and represent all that is true of the West of Ireland. The Islands themselves featured in the latest Star Wars Film, let me know if you spotted them? Always check the day’s forecast and with the ferry company as sailings can be affected by the weather.
Ring of Kerry
One of Ireland’s most popular destinations is the Iveragh Peninsula — known to shamrock-lovers everywhere as “The Ring of Kerry.” The Ring, lassoed by a winding coastal road through a mountainous, lake-splattered region, is undeniably scenic. While in Kenmare, druids seek out the town’s ancient stone circle (with 15 stones in a circle 50 feet wide), one of 100 little Stonehenges that dot southwest Ireland. Explore these sights near Kenmare: a mansion, open-air museum, and sheep farm. Explore nearby Muckross House, perhaps Ireland’s best Victorian mansion. Adjacent to Muckross House is a fascinating open-air folk museum that covers Irish farm life from the 1920s to the 1950s.
Check out sites such as Expedia for hotels in Ireland along The Wild Atlantic Way. If you have ever visited The Wild Atlantic Way let me know in the comments below.
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