The Wild Atlantic Way Tour
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is on the outer edge of Europe and stretches all along the west coast of Ireland. It begins way up on the stunningly beautiful Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal and goes through the counties Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry before finally finishing up in the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork. The route which is over 1600 miles (2600 km) long of beautiful scenery, places to visit, good food and friendly places to stay.
To do the Wild Atlantic Way justice you really need to spend about 2 weeks touring the route the alternative is to break it up into smaller sections, 4-to-7-day tours are ideal giving yourself time to enjoy a game of golf or an afternoon shopping while leaving you with a great reason to return just in case you do need an excuse for a return visit. There is no piece of the Wild Atlantic Way that is better or more beautiful than any other part all you need to decide is those places that you must visit. The Cliffs of Moher, the ring of Kerry, the sky road, the scenic villages of west cork each has its own unique charm and beauty
This tour is designed to start from Dublin city so giving you a day or 2 to enjoy the city and its attractions before starting your tour.
Probably the most popular tour of the Wild Atlantic Way series does not even start on the Wild Atlantic way but is the journey from Dublin City to the west of Ireland
This tour is designed that you can customise days to suit your personal interests with days that can be added or taken out its your tour so you get to choose, we just do the driving and tell you about the interesting places along the way
The touring day usually starts at 9.00 am as we wish to allow you as much time as possible to enjoy the places we visit during the day
Collection from your hotel
New Grange and Nowth passage tombs
Newgrange is a Neilithic monument on the north side of the River Boyne in County Meath, Ireland, located 8 kilometres west of Drogheda. It is an exceptionally grand passage tomb built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids
On leaving new grange we have a choice of places for our next stop.
Visit the Tullamore whiskey distillery and their new Visitors centre. For whiskey explorers eager to learn about the history and craft of the world-renowned Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey, a visit to the home of the brand is a must.
St Ciarán founded his monastery on the banks of the River Shannon in the 6 th Century. The monastery flourished and became a great seat of learning, a University of its time with students from all over Europe.
The ruins include a Cathedral, two round Towers, three high crosses, nine Churches and over 700 Early Christian grave slabs.
The original high crosses, including the magnificent 10 th century Cross of the Scriptures area on display in a purpose-built visitor centre adjacent the monastic enclosure.
Then a drive through the village of Cong Location for the Film The Quiet Man Then on to the historic coastal town of Cliften and my recommendation for a place to stay for your first night on the wild Atlantic way
If you are taking out day 2 then we overnight in Galway
the Abbeyglen castle hotel. On wooded grounds with landscaped gardens, this refined hotel in a 19th-century castle sits 1 km from Clifden town centre and 15 km from Connemara National Park. Sophisticated rooms come with free Wi-Fi, TVs and DVD players, as well as tea and coffeemaking equipment. Upgraded rooms and suites add 4-poster beds, open fires and/or Jacuzzis. Some overlook the gardens. There's an elegant gourmet restaurant with an adjacent piano bar offering live music. Afternoon tea is served in a traditional lounge. Other amenities include a 9-hole golf course, a tennis court, and a spa with beauty and health treatments.
There are plenty of other options of places to stay in and around Cliften if you are not doing day 2 kylemore Abbey then we will be overnighting in Galway
Day 2 (Optional)
The Sky Road
The Sky Road must have some of the best scenery in the west and takes us onto Kylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey and Victorian Walled Garden Originally built as a Castle in 1867 as a romantic gift, Kylemore Abbey and the surrounding mountains and lakes are steeped in history. Learn of tales of tragedy, romance, engineering initiatives and royal visits. It became home to a community of Benedictine Nuns in 1920 and has been renowned as a place of spirituality and education. The story of Kylemore – both Castle and Abbey – is a truly remarkable one. The twists of fate which have marked its history at crucial moments from its beginning to the present day combine to create a colourful and moving history.
On leaving Kylemore Abbey we head towards the village of Leenane with an unusual option for the adventurous to take A seaweed Bath before we make our way through Joyce country then on towards our next overnight stop Galway known as the city of the Tribes. Galway is one of the liveliest cities in Ireland with plenty of music venues and well worth taking the time to explore the city.
Galway city has so many options for places hotels Bed & Breakfasts or Air B&Bs to stay that everyone can find a suitable place to stay
The Cliffs of Moher
On leaving Galway we head into one of Ireland’s most unique places The Burran this exposed limestone landscape while looking bleak and inhospitable is in reality home to an diverse variety of plants and fauna. Following the coast road from Kinvarra through the unique landscape of the Burran as it meets the Atlantic Ocean there is an option of stopping at the Flaggy shore oyster farm for those who want to try an oyster or 2. The drive brings us through picturesque seaside villages and beautiful beaches until we come to the stunning vistas of the Cliff’s of Moher. On leaving the Cliffs for those who enjoy a game of golf the option of stopping for Lunch at the famous lyhinch golf club with its challenging links course can be arranged. There are plenty of great options in the town for lunch so you won’t be disappointed. An hour down the road we arrive at Bunratty Castle Heritage park while its always busy it’s definitely worth taking the time to explore the castle and park.
On leaving Bunratty we travel 45 minutes down the road to the beautiful village of Adare for a short stop before travelling on to Tralee for our overnight
Ring of Kerry
Before leaving Tralee home of the international Rose of Tralee festival a visit to the Blennerville windmill and visitors centre is a good way to start our day.
On leaving Tralee we drive out the Dingle peninsula and over the scenic Conor pass to the famous town of Dingle before we head out onto the Slea head drive stopping at the Gallarus Oratory and an option to visit the Blasket Island heritage centre With stunning views of the wild Atlantic coast and islands at the halfway point of the Slea Head Drive, the Blasket Centre is a fascinating heritage and cultural centre/ museum, honouring the unique community who lived on the remote Blasket Islands until their evacuation in 1953. The Blasket Centre tells the story of island life, subsistence fishing and farming, traditional life including modes of work and transport, home life, housing and entertainment. The Centre details the community’s struggle for existence, their language and culture, and the extraordinary literary legacy they left behind- classics such as The Islandman, Twenty Years A-Growing, and Peig. Their story is told using a variety of means – exhibitions, interactive displays, artefacts, audio visual presentations and artworks. Visible from the Centre is Great Blasket Island.
The Ring of Kerry is a beautiful scenic drive that really only begins in killorglin home to the oldest fair in Europe Puck Fair fron here on you are treated to amazing panoramic views and a few interesting stops along the way. Waterville where Charlie Chaplin used to come on holiday with his family to fish and play golf then over the pass to Caherdaniel and the ancestral home of Daniel O’Connell (The Great Liberator). Following the coast to Kenmare where we make a short stop to visit one of the nicest stone circles in the country before we head for Molls gap and into Killarney National Park with its breath taking views of the lakes of Killarney and if time allows a visit to Muchross house
Overnight in Killarney
The Healy pass
On Leaving Muchross house we back track as far as Kenmare before turning towards the scenic Healy pass, Glengarriff and again weather permitting visiting the Romantic Garnish Island
The story of Garnish Island the who and the why the gardens were created on this rocky island in the middle of Bantry bay will tug at your heart strings. The gardens of Garinish (also known as Garnish, or Ilnacullin) owe their existence to the creative partnership, some eighty years ago, of Annan and Violet Bryce, then owners of the island, and Harold Peto, acclaimed architect and garden designer. The island is renowned for its richness of plant form and colour, which change continuously with the seasons. Pathways wind around the landscape, leading to a number of fascinating garden buildings, such as the Grecian temple, the clock tower, the casita, and an original Martello Tower. Bryce House, the family residence on the island for many years, is presented as it would have appeared during their lifetime. A selection from their vast collection of important paintings, prints, drawings, and books can be seen on display inside.
Every now and then you find a place so special that you just have to keep going back. Well Gougane Barra is mine
Gougane Barra is a magical lake hidden away in the folds of the Shehy Mountains the River lee Rises. The name Gougane Barra comes from Saint Finbarr, who is said to have built a monastery on an island in the lake nearby during the 6th century.
Katy and her dedicated team take responsibility for the food. We really enjoy cooking and that’s reflected in the tastes and menus we offer. In this unspoilt, natural landscape, we’re lucky to be able to source most of our food from a huge number of small, local producers. Damien from Inchigeelagh grows organic salad leaves for us and delights us with beets, rainbow carrots and organic produce in season. Since 2014, we have had our own organic herb garden where we also grow rhubarb, salad leaves and fruit bushes to supply the hotel.
“The way the team run this magical hotel feels good, and that is why we all love it. They make their pear and almond scones - and their poached eggs on Lynch's toast (in business in Macroom for 150 years) and their Aga-roasted Chicken with Gubbeen Bacon and rosemary gravy, and their baked crumble with homemade custard - not just because their customers love them, but because it is a happy and creative act, and a rewarding and generous testament of true hospitality.”
John McKenna and Sally McKenna, The Mc Kennas’ Guide 2020
Overnight at the Gougane Barra Hotel or if you wanted something not so romantic we can stay in Bantry and enjoy a stroll around the bars and restaurants
Skibbereen Heritage centre
On Leaving Bantry we head for the Mizen head, this rugged Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic and is the most southerly point in Ireland, the scenery is nothing less than breath-taking on both sides of the peninsula with picturesque fishing villages and beautiful beaches on one side of the road and the exposed rocky hills on the other. A walk out to the lighthouse is a must even if only to cross the bridge between the mainland and the headland. On leaving the peninsula you have the option to stop at the Skibbereen heritage centre the story of the Irish Famine is told through the story of this town. While it may not be to everyone’s taste it’s a story that should be heard on leaving Skibbereen we travel about 30 minutes to the little seaside village of Glandore a quick 5 minutes up the road and we find Drumbeg stone circle before we pass along the beach front at Owenahincha and Red strand before turning towards the market town of Clonakilty and a stop at a very special pub De Barra’s. On leaving clonakilty we again travel the coastal route to kinsale by way of the historic town of Timoleague with the remains of its 6 th century monastry and on by the Old Head of Kinsale. There is a very special place between here and kinsale and if you ask your driver a small detour of 2 minutes brings you there. Ringfinnan garden of Remembrance established by Kathleen Murphy this garden is probably better known as the 9/11 garden. She was an emergency room nurse for 40 years at Lennox hill in New York and knew many of the Fire Fighters that tragically lost their lives on that day.
Over night in Kinsale
Pick up at 11.00 am
St. Annes Shandon
Rock of Cashel
The late start lets you enjoy a few hours exploring Kinsale and maybe do a little shopping before we start our final day together leaving Kinsale we head into cork city to visit the world-famous English Market And St. Annes church Shandon with a quick stop at Danny Linehan’s Sweet shop Danny and his son Tony’s family have been making their mouth-watering hard rock candy sweets here for the past hundred years.
Leaving cork we have an hours drive up the motorway to our last place to visit The Rock of Cashel
The Rock of Cashel is one of Ireland's most spectacular archaeological sites, a prominent green hill, banded with limestone outcrops, rising from a grassy plain and bristling with ancient fortifications. It's a five-minute stroll from the town centre up to the Rock, from where fantastic views range over the Tipperary countryside. Reputedly the site of the conversion of Aenghus the King of Munster by St. Patrick in the 5th century AD. Long before the Norman invasion The Rock of Cashel was the seat of the High Kings of Munster, although there is little structural evidence of their time here. Most of the buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries when the rock was gifted to the Church. The buildings represent both Hiberno-Romanseque and Germanic influences in their architecture. On leaving the Rock we take an hour to have a meal before heading 2 hours up the road to our final stop your hotel in Dublin