It would take much more time than the 3 weeks that we have to fully explore this magnificent 1553 mile stretch of road that runs from Main Head in the North all the way to Kinsale in the south hugging Ireland’s West Atlantic coast the whole way. You could easily spend weeks exploring The Wild Atlantic Way. We were lucky enough to spend a few days exploring the County Clare area of the Wild Atlantic Way, which features the stunning Cliffs of Moher. Our route started just south of Galway in the small town of Kinvarra which features the oceanside Dunguaire Castle. Every tour bus out of Galway also decided to stop here and see the castle so we quickly hopped back in the car and headed to the small town of New Quay where the roads can’t accommodate all the buses and the “lovely tourists” they contain.
A short drive to the end of the little peninsula that the little village is located on bought us to a remote little ice cream shop. Who the heck is stupid enough to open an ice cream shop all the way out here, I thought to myself. Not realizing that we had parked on the back side of the store, we walked in and waited out turn in line for a fresh homemade Irish ice cream, the place was packed. The back of the shop overlooked the fields where the cows who produce this delicious ice cream call home, as well as the beach and the Galway Bay. This was the last weekend in October. I can’t imagine how busy and beautiful this place must be in the summertime. We even got to picnic on the beach in the sun for lunch after we had finished our dessert
Our last stop for the day we would be the pretty little village of Ballyvaughan, again on the Galway Bay.It was full of traditional old Irish pubs, ice cream shops, souvenir shops, old thatched cottages and not much else to really hold my interest other than a free place to pee before the hair raising drive home. These roads are scary enough during the day that there is no way I need a 2 hour drive home in the dark. If only I could get Vanessa to drive on this side of the road and I could stop for a few pints of Guinness on the way home.
The next day we headed directly to the most popular destination in the region, the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. Instead of heading straight to the visitors center we pulled off at a sign for the “coastal walk”, and what a great decision that turned out to be. It was about a 2 hour walk along a narrow path that hugged the top of the 700ft tall cliffs, most of which we had to ourselves until we got a little closer to the visitor center. Not only did we save 6 euros each on the entrance fee by walking the last few miles, we also avoided the dreaded tour bus groups. Luckily for us this path is not made for high heels and these people don’t venture too far from the parking lot and souvenir shops
With plenty of photo stops it turned into a 3+ hour beautiful walk. It is possible to do a few more hours north of the visitor center, maybe we’ll just have to come back and do that another day.
From the cliffs we headed back to the beachside town of Lahinch for another November picnic lunch on the beach. The drive into town goes alongside the Lahinch Golf Club, often referred to as the St Andrews of Ireland. We took a late afternoon walk alongside the holes that run along the beach and drooled, what an amazing looking course. This is definitely a place I need to return to one day.
Little did I know, Ireland is also a surfers paradise, that is if you don’t mind wearing a wet suit in the freezing waters of the Atlantic. There were no waves the day we were there but still plenty of fools out in the water trying to impress the local girls on the beach. Afterwards they all head to the beachfront surf bar for a nice warm beer and fish & chips.
With so much to see, such narrow roads, and ever the ever decreasing hours of daylight, I’m sure another day or two in this area will be in our near future