Stretching from the headlands of County Donegal in the north to the southern foodie town of Kinsale in County Cork, the Wild Atlantic Way offers an endless array of experiences.
The constant convergence of the wild Irish terrain, tempestuous weather and the full force of the Atlantic has formed towering cliffs, beautifully rugged bays, spellbinding beaches and a host of mystical islands.
In this awe-inspiring and ever-changing landscape, new places to go and new things to see and experience are constantly emerging and evolving too, presenting endless opportunities to encounter the real and authentic Ireland.
In County Donegal for instance, the perfect place to start a Wild Atlantic Way trip, 10 new viewing points have been added to a looped drive which circles the superbly scenic Mulroy Bay. Offering a journey into remarkable unspoilt beauty, the drive connects Fanad Head Lighthouse, stunning Ballymastocker Bay and the Rosguill Peninsula, a classic example of the rocky Donegal coastline.
Neighbouring County Sligo is home to the Yeats Society, an appreciation society that celebrates the life and work of legendary Irish poet W.B. Yeats and his talented family, along with hosting the world’s longest-running annual literary summer school.
The society has launched a free mobile app, the first to commemorate an Irish literary figure. ‘Yeats Unwrapped’ can be used to follow in the footsteps of W.B. Yeats through a series of experiential nature trails and it also links the many beautiful locations throughout Sligo which the poet famously described as “the land of the heart’s desire”.
There is also a new ‘Discover Drumcliffe’ mobile app which offers an audio tour of the much-visited Drumcliffe Churchyard in County Sligo, where Yeats is buried ‘Under Ben Bulben”, and which has an array of points of interest to discover.
An authentic new Wild Atlantic Way experience also awaits at beautiful Blacksod Lighthouse in County Mayo. Step inside the lighthouse and immerse yourself in the history of this stout, castellated building in the heart of Mayo’s active Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking region). Built in 1864, the lighthouse played an important role at the end of World War II, when its keepers’ weather observations in June 1944 resulted in the D-Day Landings in Normandy being postponed.
Another addition to the delights of Mayo is a truly sumptuous feast for the eyes. Ballinglen Museum of Art in Ballycastle is the first museum devoted to contemporary art in the west of Ireland. The state-of-the-art, two-storey gallery showcases artwork from the Ballinglen Permanent Collection, a record of 30 years of visits by Irish and international artists which reflect the beauty, heritage, community and soul of this part of north Mayo.
Meanwhile the owners of the highly regarded Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites on Inishmaan, one of the trio of Aran Islands off the coast of County Galway, are introducing new farm stays on the island.
Based around longer stays in nature and enhanced by a farm deli service to ensure a good stock of delicious food and wine, guests will be able to enjoy a more in-depth biodiversity experience than before. Details of the new Inis Meáin farm stays will become available during 2022.
If medieval games in the courtyard of an Irish castle sounds like your ideal Wild Atlantic Way day out, then head to Limerick city. Based on games that would have been enjoyed on fair days during medieval times in the city’s King John’s Castle, you can try medieval noughts and crosses, archery, horseshoe throwing, tug o’ war, hopscotch, quoits, a medieval seesaw, and there will also be medieval storytelling.
Or for those seeking an adrenaline rush, why not relish the opportunity to take in the stunning views of Limerick city in the most exciting way – by abseiling down the historic walls of King John’s Castle?
Over in County Kerry, this year sees the inaugural Wander Wild Festival taking place in Killarney. Running from 25–27 March, this great new outdoors festival will be a weekend packed with unique experiences in some of the most amazing natural settings anywhere in the world.
Adventurers of all abilities are welcome to a weekend that can include climbing Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohill, immersive kayak tours, walks in Killarney National Park, plus film, speakers’ events, exhibitions, food, culture and craic in the town centre.
Some of the Wild Atlantic Way’s finest walks are to be found in West Cork. The wide range of walks available in the area, suited to all levels of ability, have recently been brought together in one place within a convenient digital brochure.
Essential for planning a trip to Cork, or useful for choosing from the huge variety of things to see and do when already staying in the area, the full table of contents highlights Cork’s amazing food and drink offering, outdoor activities, and various itineraries and accommodation providers – from four star hotels to stunning camping and glamping locations.
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