Strolling in Galway City

photo by: Max Media

Connemara is Ireland at its natural best

photo by: Max Media

Picturesque and beautiful, Kylemore Abbey

photo by: Max Media

The crystal waters of Keem Bay, Achill

photo by: Sinead McCarthy

Horse riding at the beach, Benbulbin, Co.Sligo

Photo by: Wendy Mitchell

waw map

The Wild Atlantic Way is a sprawling tourist trail on the west coast of Ireland. The 2500km route passes through nine counties and three provinces, from Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula to Kinsale in Cork. Along the route there are 157 discovery points, 1000 attractions and more than 2500 activities. The Atlantic Ocean is the backdrop to one of the world's most scenic drives.

Right in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way is the jewel in the crown of the west coast; Galway city. Ad the only city on the route, Galway is ideally located as a stop off on this magnificent tour. Internationally regarded as one of the world’s friendliest cities, Galway is renowned for its wonderful atmosphere and abundance of festivals. 


Failte Ireland Wild Athlantic Way Discovery points

CO MAYO


DOWNPATRICK HEAD, CO MAYO

Downpatrick HeadJutting out into the ocean and rising almost 40m (131 feet) above the waves, Downpatrick Head provides unparalleled views of the Atlantic and the unique collection of islands known as the Staggs of Broadhaven. This majestic heritage site is located at the Gateway to the Erris Peninsula, about 5km (3 miles) north of Ballycastle village and adjacent to the Dún Briste sea stack, with its myriad-coloured layers of rock and flocks of nesting sea birds. The pyramidal Céide Fields Visitor Centre is visible to the west along this magnificent coastline and tells the story of the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, consisting of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs almost 6,000 years old.
In addition to the natural scenery and wildlife, Downpatrick Head is home to the ruins of a church, holy well and stone cross, which together mark the site of an earlier church founded by St Patrick. Downpatrick Head was once a popular destination for pilgrims, who came here each year on the last Sunday of July, known as 'Garland Sunday'. Today that tradition lives on, and mass is still celebrated at Downpatrick Head on that same day.


KEEM BAY, CO MAYO


Keem Bay, Co MayoKeem Bay on Achill Island, Ireland's largest island, nestles at the head of a valley between Benmore cliffs and Croaghaun Mountain. To reach this idyllic spot just follow the Atlantic Drive to Keel and then westward via a cliff-top road with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The beach, which is lifeguarded during the summer months, is very popular with swimmers and is the site of a Blueway snorkel trail. If you're feeling so inspired there are several activity providers in the area that offer equipment hire and tuition or you could keep your feet dry and your eyes peeled for the porpoises that regularly visit this sheltered bay and stage amazing acrobatic displays.
In the past, this area was a key location for the Achill Basking Shark Fishery, which operated in the 1950s and 60s. During that period, spotters were stationed at Moyteoge Head, which borders the beach, to identify the sharks and direct hunting boats to them. The sharks were targeted for oil which was used as a lubricant in the aerospace industry.

 

CO GALWAY


KILLARY HARBOUR, CO GALWAY


Killary Harbour ('An Caoláire Rua' in Irish), in the heart of Connemara, is one of Ireland's three fjords and forms a spectacular natural divide between counties Galway and neighbouring Mayo. Here, you will find some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland, so dramatic the area was used as the primary location for the film adaption of John B Keane's play of "The Field". From the northern shore rises Mweelrea, the highest mountain in Connacht at 814m {2671 feet) and to the south you can see the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.
There are two small communities in the vicinity: Rosroe on the southern side and Leenane to the east. In Rosroe, you'll find a hostel that was once a residence where philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein stayed for some time after WWII, using it as a quiet place to write. Nearby you can also explore the so-called Green Road, a route that travels eastward along the side of the fjord toward Leenane for 9km (6 miles) and was built in the 19th century as a famine relief project. This area is known for aquaculture, with a salmon farm operating at Rosroe and mussel rafts commonly spotted to the east.

 

DERRIGIMLAGH, CO GALWAY


Derrigimlagh, Co. GalwayStretching from the Atlantic shore towards the mighty Twelve Bens, Derrigimlagh blanket bog is one of Europe's most magnificent wetland environments and a place of wonder, innovation and daring. The bog boasts a rich archaeology, dating back over 6,000 years but also has a remarkable modern history. In the early 20th century, Derrigimlagh was at the centre of two outstanding transatlantic technological achievements: the first in communications, the second in transport marking the beginning of an era of modernity.
In 1907, the great Irish-Italian innovator, Guglielmo Marconi, achieved the first successful commercial wireless transmission of Morse code across the Atlantic from Derrigimlagh. In 1919, daredevil airmen, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown, risked life and limb to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland. They landed at Derrigimlagh, making it the first European site to connect directly with North America by aeroplane.
Take the signposted looped walk (Skm/3 miles) through a landscape of outstanding beauty and learn the story of this remarkable place told across 7 stop points at locations of former landmarks such as Marconi's Condenser House and the cairn marking the landing of Alcock & Brown.

CO CLARE

CLIFFS OF MOHER, CO CLARE


The Cliffs Of MoherThe iconic Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland's most visited natural attractions. Stretching for 8km (5 miles) along the Atlantic coast of Clare, the cliffs reach 214m (702 feet) at their highest point at Knockardakin.
Midway along the cliffs you'll find the environmentally friendly visitor centre set into the hillside. Here, you can also discover O'Brien's Tower, a 19th century viewing tower, and access 800m (2624 feet) of protected cliff side pathways with viewing areas.
There are many vantage points from which to admire the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. From the main platform, you can see the south cliffs toward Hag's Head, a natural rocky promontory that resembles a seated woman. From the North Platform, you can spot An Branán Mór sea stack, home of guillemots and razorbills, as well as the Aran Islands and, if the conditions are right, the famous surfing wave known as 'Aileen's'. Continue on about 5km (3 miles) from here and you'll arrive in the village of Doolin. And if you'd like to see the puffins that reside on Goat Island instead, head for the south Platform.

 

LOOP HEAD, CO CLARE

Loop HeadAt the western tip of County Clare, where the calm waters of the Shannon Estuary turn into the powerful waves of the Atlantic, you'll find Loop Head Peninsula.
Travel along the Loop Head Drive to the western end of the peninsula to see its famous lighthouse, which sits on land dotted with colourful wild flowers. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse and take in splendid views that stretch from County Kerry to the Cliffs of Moher. At the very end of the peninsula there is also a relic from WW2: large white letters spelling É-I-R-E, which let pilots know they were entering neutral airspace.
This area is a wildlife haven too, with thousands of seabirds making their nests on the rock ledges and an estimated 160 bottlenose dolphins living in the mouth of the Shannon River. If you'd like to see these majestic animals up close, you can take a boat trip from Carrigaholt, or follow the road from Kilrush to Aylevarro Point to see them playing just offshore.