2013 was a big year for tourism in Ireland, with visitors flocking from all over the world to take part in The Gathering , which was an initiative to promote local gatherings and events, with 5, 000 taking place throughout the year. This involved events taking place in Ireland every day of the year, from family gatherings, to sports and music events and much much more. For many this was a chance to return ‘Home’ and celebrate everything about being Irish. This proved to be a hugely popular initiative and following on from this success, the big reason to visit Ireland in 2014 is The Wild Atlantic Way.
(Mizen Head, Cork)
What is the Wild Atlantic Way?
The Wild Atlantic Way is the best way to experience Ireland’s West Coast, and is a journey along the Atlantic coastline all the way from Donegal in the northwest of Ireland to Cork in the southwest of Ireland. The route allows you to enjoy Ireland in all its grandeur, as you take in the breathtaking views of the sea and the land that have been enjoyed by generations. With 157 discovery points along the 2, 400km journey, The Wild Atlantic Way is the longest defined coastal drive in the world and will give you memories of Ireland that will stay with you for a lifetime. If Ireland is on your list of places to visit in 2014, we’ve picked out 5 places to visit along the route of The Wild Atlantic Way.
5 destinations to visit on your journey of The Wild Atlantic Way.
1) Malin Head, Donegal:
There’s no better place to start your Wild Atlantic journey than Malin Head in Donegal. Malin Head is the most northern part of Ireland and also the sunniest part of the country (and windiest as well, but hey, that’s Ireland for you). Start your trip by calling into Farrens Bar, Irelands most northerly bar, and enjoy the ‘craic’ from the locals. From Malin Head, there are a number of other destinations to stop at as you progress down the west coast, none more so than Fanad Head which overlooks Portsalon and Ballymastocker Bay. This area was previously voted the 2nd most beautiful beach in the world. Give yourself some time to take in this view as it is truly spectacular and will stay with you for a long time to come.
2) Mullaghmore Head, Sligo:
It may come as a bit of a surprise to many but Ireland (and particularly the west coast) is one of the most popular surfing destinations in the world, and top of the list is Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo. Winter and spring are the peak seasons for surfing in Mullaghmore but the nearby town of Bundoran hosts Ireland’s International Surfing Festival every June, so if you’re a fan of adventure sports or keen to try your hand at surfing, consider an overnight stay in Bundoran on your journey from Donegal to Sligo.
(Surfers in Sligo)
3) Connemara, Galway:
Situated on the very edge of Galway, Connemara is an area of outstanding natural beauty and one of the most stunning areas in Ireland. From the Twelve Bens mountains to Roundstone Bog and from the beaches at Clifden to Connemara National Park, the natural beauty and brilliance of this area will provide you with plenty to see and do on your Wild Atlantic journey.
4) Blasket Islands and the Dingle Peninsula, Kerry:
Next up on our list of places to see on the journey of the Wild Atlantic Way is the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry and the deserted villages of Blasket Islands. This is the most western point of Ireland and indeed Europe, and is an area as famous for its storytellers as it is for its stunning scenery. Listen to stories about the area and share in the history and culture of the beautiful Dingle Peninsula as well as the poignant stories of the struggles of the islanders in years gone by. Access to the islands is by boat and dependent on the weather, but is a great way to relax for a while on your long journey.
5) Mizen Head, Cork:
Having started in Malin Head in Donegal and taken in the Dingle Peninsula, the last place to be sure you visit on the Wild Atlantic Way is Mizen Head in Cork, the most southern point of Ireland. Cork is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in Ireland and is a great place to finish your journey. From whale watching in Baltimore to the historic area of Kinsale and from the English Market’s (famed for its great food) to Blarney Castle where you can hang backwards to kiss the Blarney Stone, there’s lots to do in Cork to complete the perfect trip to Ireland in 2014.
The Wild Atlantic Way allows you to join in and share the history of Ireland, share the heritage and culture of the cities, towns and villages that have inspired generations. The Gathering was a welcome boast to Irelands tourist industry in 2013 and with the Giro D’Italia and The Wild Atlantic Way on the agenda for 2014, Ireland is firmly putting itself on the map for keen travellers throughout the globe, something which is great to see.