From the mouth of the Foyle in Donegal to the Suir estuary in Co Waterford, The Wild Atlantic Way , 3000 km in length, forms one of Europe’s longest coastal drives and arguably the most varied and spectacular routes in western Europe.
On the edge of Europe, Ireland known to the Vikings as the Westlands- The only Celtic nation state in the world, stands alone.
The Irish, a mixture of Pre Celtic, Celtic, Viking and Norman are a romantic people who it is said live somewhere between the past and the present.
It is said of the Irish , that where as other people never remember, The Irish never forget!
It is also said “The Irish are a fair people, They never speak well of one another!
By wiping out our Royalty, the English ensured we are truly an equal people. We are all from peasant stock. Any ancient royal genes are scattered throughout Europe, remnants of the “wild geese”, The Irish Princes who fought for France, Spain and the Austrian Empire.
The Wild Atlantic Way
This is arguably one of the most spectacular tours we at All Ireland Chauffeur tours offer, beginning in Donegal, from Malin Head to Fanad head, Inishowen to Slieve League. The Atlantic over millions of years has carved dramatic crevices into the rugged headland, ensuring the scenery is spectacular to behold.
Donegal to Mayo
Sligo, the birth place of Queen Maeve of Connaught, in modern times George Clooney’s fore bearers came from Sligo. On this the second stage of the tour, you will marvel at the sight of Mullaghmore head, visit Downpatrick head and Keem strand. Downpatrick head, is a spectacular headland rising 38 metres from the sea. The Ceide fields on Mayo’s north west coast are pre historic farms, discovered under peat bog. There is no doubt that everyone is charmed by the beauty of the landscape and scenery.
Mayo to Clare
Mayo’s coast is home to the famous Pirate Queen , Grace O’Malley. As you travel along the Wild Atlantic route, you can tour the picturesque fjord of Killary harbour, Ireland’s only fjord , which nestles in the heart of Connemara, Kylemore abbey, the Sky road and Clifden.
The cliffs of Moher need no introduction and before you leave Clare, the loop head peninsula , a region renowned for its breathtaking beauty and Loop head lighthouse which offers panoramic views of Kerry and the cliffs of Moher are a must.
Clare to Kerry
As you travel onwards to Kerry , where the Blasket Islands, just a boat ride from the Dingle peninsula await. The three ‘Rings’ or Peninsulas of Dingle, Ring of Kerry and the Bearla, like three fingers pointing into the Wild Atlantic. The UNESCO world heritage site of Skellig Michael is an attraction steeped in mystique.
With stunning views of mussel rafts and seal colonies, Kenmare offers the perfect place to stop for lunch.
Kerry to Cork
Dursey island to Mizen head, Ireland’s most southern point, to the old head of Kinsale.
Kinsale, where Ireland lost the last of its Royals vanquished by Lord Mountjoy in 1601 , which resulted in the move to France and Europe of Irish forces under Prince O’Neill and Prince O’Donnell with their armies. They and their followers carved their names in European military history from ,Austerlitz to Waterloo- from then till 1922 Ireland was under British rule.
Eastwards to the mouth of the river Lee, leading to the capital of the south, “The Rebel City of Cork”. Cobh formerly Queenstown is next, the last port of call of the Titanic and offshore lies the torpedoed Lusitania, which resulted in America’s entry into world war 1.
Onwards by Ballycotton we come to the fishing port of Ballymacoda supplier from the pristine unpolluted offshore waters of seafood for the world famous organic estate of Ballymaloe, where Darina Allen has carved her indelible mark in organic cooking.
Youghal town 9 miles eastward boosts one of its former Mayors, Sir Walter Raleigh and in more recent times the movie “Moby Dick” in 1953, starring Gregory Peck. Across the Blackwater river we find Ardmore, Ireland’s first Christian settlement, founded by Saint Declan who predated Saint Patrick. Site of a 12th century mini Cathedral and possibly Ireland’s best preserved round tower, built in the 11th century to counter act Viking incursions.
West Waterford to Hook Head
Saint Declan’s way pilgrimage from Ardmore to Cashel predates the Spanish Santiago De Campastila Pilgrimage by 500 years. The coastal town of Dungarvan, market town of Mayor Daly of Chicago’s family , is west Waterford’s largest town and boasts another gastronomic jewel in the Tannery restaurant run by Paul Flynn.
The Copper coast stretches eastwards to Tramore, with spectacular bronze age cliffs where copper was mined since Roman times. From Tramore’s 3 mile beach, the cliffs of Dunmore East forms the entrance to Waterford harbour where all of Ireland’s invaders entered from pre celtic, Celtic, Roman, Viking, Roman, Viking, Norman, Elizabethan, Cromwellian and Victorian.
The opposite head land of the hook in Co Wexford forms the natural opposite promontory from Crooke in Waterford which gave the expression “By Hook or by Crook”, purportedly uttered by Cromwell in his reply to one of his officers questions as to how he would take Waterford.
Ptolemy, the Greek geographer visited Ireland in the 3rd Century A.D and recorded a brazier/beacon on hook head which makes it the oldest lighthouse site in western Europe.
Hook is where the Atlantic Ocean collides with the Irish sea causing the most turbulent seas off Ireland’s South coast and making it the Definitive beginning and end of “The Wild Atlantic Way”.