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6 Dec

Wild at Heart – Top 10 places along the Wild Atlantic Way in Mayo (Part 2)

Wild Atlantic Way

 

Keem Bay, Achill

Keem Bay, at the western end of Achill Island, is one of the most picturesque bays in Ireland. It is accessible by road over a twisting clifftop route on the side of Croaghaun mountain. Keem Bay is virtually uninhabited (the only building is a former coastguard station) and provides a peaceful and magnificent retreat from the 21st century.

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At the heart of Keem Bay is the beautiful fine sandy beach. This strand is bordered on two sides by cliffs; to the east by the slopes of Croaghaun mountain, and to the west by a spar called Moyteoge. At the top of this spar, at an elevation of about 200m, is a former coastguard watch-house. For hillwalkers, this spot marks the start of a a breathtaking 1.5km walk along the top of the cliffs of Benmore towards Achill Head, the most westerly point of Achill Island.

 

Atlantic Drive, Achill

Achill Island and the Currane Peninsula, on the west coast of Co Mayo, are among the most remote and scenic areas in Ireland. Some of the local roads that follow the coastline of Achill, and which boast some of the most spectacular views of the area, have been designated ‘The Atlantic Drive’. These pages describe the routes of Achill’s Atlantic Drive.

Loop 1: Currane

This 20km loop contains few hills and is therefore perfect for cyclists. Begin your journey at Achill Sound and take the R319 across the Michael Davitt Bridge. To the left of the road you will see the Railway Hostel which was once the end-of-line station for the Achill rail line. This line connected Achill to Westport from 1895 to the 1930s. As you continue your journey through the villages of Polranny, Tonragee, Owenduff an on to Mulranny, the dismantled railway line is located to your left. Also visible on the left are tidal waters fed from Blacksod Bay and Achill Sound, and which culminate in Bellacragher Bay, a large tidal inlet that is home to a fish farm.

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To your right on this part of the journey from Achill Sound to Mulranny are several peaks, including Polranny Hill (452m) and Curraun Hill (524m). In between these imposing peaks is an extensive area of forestry that is accessible on foot via a network of paths and trails. Many of these tracks are marked on the Ordnance Survey Map No. 30.

The R319 ends at the junction with the N59 just outside the village of Mulranny. Take a right turn at this junction, then about 200m further on take a sharp right turn, following the signs for the ‘Atlantic Drive’ and Curraun.

Currane Peninsula

This coast road runs close to the cliff edge and provides spectacular views of Clew Bay with its reputed 365 islands. Visible immediately to the left is the golden strand and village of Mulranny. Looking across Clew Bay, Croagh Patrick (764m) can be seen to the south-east, Mwreelrea, the Sheefry Hills and the Maamturks in Connemara are due south, and to the south-west lies Clare Island and Achill Beg island. There are several lay-bys and parking spots along this stretch of narrow and twisting road, perfect for picnics or simply to stop and explore the coastline on foot. One of these lay-bys is at the site of the Spanish Armada memorial. This plaque was erected to commemorate the ship San Nicolas Prodaneli which was wrecked on the shore at Toorglass, Currane Peninsula, in 1588.

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Follow the road through the villages of Dooghbeg and Bolinglanna, and on into the village of Currane, where a copper mine was once worked and where the founder of the British police force, Sir Robert Peel, once resided. Curraun House, locally known as ‘the George’, was once the site of a famous tropical garden, and for many years was the house of the landlord Dickens.

Taking the road through the village, you will drive for some miles following the shoreline of Achill Sound. To your right is Curraun Hill while across the waters of the Sound (to your left) you should be able to see Kildavnet Tower, a 16th century Irish tower house that was formerly used by Granuaile, the legendary pirate queen. This road ends at a junction with the R319, at which you should take a left turn towards Achill Sound, your starting point on this loop of Achill’s Atlantic Drive.

National Museum of Country Life, Turlough Park

The award winning Museum is all about discovering the story of Irish country life between 1850 and 1950; a history which older visitors will remember clearly and enjoy reminiscing on. Suitable for all ages, the Museum is a must-see attraction for everyone’s list.

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It’s a national collection, comprehensive and unique, presented in an engaging and interactive manner – not a dusty boring display in sight. Exhibits over the four floors include original artefacts and displays, captivating archival video footage and interactive screens.

Discover the lives of our very recent ancestors through agriculture, fishing and hunting, clothing and textiles, furniture and fittings, trades and crafts, transport, calendar customs, leisure and religion.museum-country

 

Eye-catching displays include handcrafted harvest knots and wickerwork, spinning wheels and boats, traditional clothing, the hand operated machinery our grandparents used and even a life size blacksmith’s forge attracting scores of goggle-eyed children.

Ashford Castle

Ireland’s grandest castle hotel, with a history going back to the early 13th century, Ashford Castle is set in 350 acres of parkland, and anyone who loves beautiful surroundings will be thrilled to stay here – or even simply call in for a meal, or visit the extensive gardens and grounds.

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Grandeur, formality and tranquility are the essential characteristics, first seen in the approach through well-manicured lawns, in the entrance and formal gardens and, once inside, in a succession of impressive public rooms that illustrate a long and proud history – paneled walls, oil paintings, balustrades, suits of armour and magnificent fireplaces.

 

Drummindoo Stud

The Foys are passionate about our horses (it’s in their blood) and The Foy Family have been serving the Irish Horse Industry for a many years. This family business was founded by Padraic’s parents, Paddy Joe and Patsy Foy in 1963. It has developed over time from a small stud to a modern equestrian facility whose facilities include an indoor arena, outdoor menage and a gallop track (all with a sand and rubber surface). There is also a full set of show jumps. So whatever the weather people can ride in comfort.

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Over the years they have won many awards including The Bord na gCapall ”Best Kept Stud Farm” and numerous showing accolades including The RDS Croker Cup for the Best Thoroughbred Stallion in 1984 and 2004. Drummindoo Stud has played host to various prestigious equestrian events and since 1990 the annual Westport Horse and Pony Show.

If horse riding is a passion, or something you’d like to try, this is the place to go.

 

Sources:

http://www.drummindoo.com

http://www.visitachill.com/

http://www.ashfordcastle.com

http://www.ireland-guide.com

http://www.museumsofmayo.com

http://www.museum.ie

http://achilltourism.com/

 

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