The Wild Atlantic Way

At one point or other we’ve all wanted to escape from it all. But where would we go? We’d go west, of course

When author Rabih Alameddine wrote the words, “I believe one has to escape oneself to discover oneself”, most of us knew exactly what he meant.

Why?

Because it’s easy is to get lost in the muddle of a fast moving world. It’s easy to forget the whip of a salty sea wind or the noisy thunder of waves. It’s easy to forget that somewhere a warm orange sun is falling behind cliffs and castles, or that lighthouses are keeping a blinking watch over a silvery sea.

Yes, it’s easy to forget. But if you want to remember, go west.

Welcome to the Wild Atlantic Way. Welcome to Ireland’s newest road odyssey where days begin with smoked salmon in Kinsale, County Cork, and end cracking crab claws in Inishowen, County Donegal.

No place for the faint hearted, this is where even the waves command so much respect they’re given their own names. Ask any serious surfer and they’ll tell you all about Aileen’s. This is a place where souls are saved not just in chapels, but on islands and lakes, too. If you don’t believe us, Amazing Grace has the clues.

And while the Wild Atlantic Way might have a softer side (Garinish’s Gardens and Fungi’s flippers are stand-outs) this is a place where rugged rules.

For folks like Cillian Murphy, that’s just the way they like it.

Best place to live

When the Irish Times newspaper began the search for the Best Place to Holiday in Ireland, Cillian Murphy and the proud population of County Clare’s Loop Head Peninsula were energised.

They got busy. And they won.

As it turns out, Cillian & Co. had a distinct advantage: Loop Head may well be heaven on earth.

And since the peninsula sits approximately half way along the Wild Atlantic Way, there’s no better place to start explaining what makes Ireland’s west coast so wild and wonderful.

For Cillian, a Loop Head local all his life, the answer rests on the tip of his tongue:

“Two thousand four hundred miles of uninterrupted ocean swells and no windbreak and no reefs to take the power out of the waves. There’s just a wide, wild, open space that allows the Atlantic Ocean to grow and grow before it comes to a sudden stop on our shore.”

Importantly, Loop Head’s ruggedness isn’t some artificial campaign. The liberating rawness is the essence of the place. Cillian again:

“I grew up in a house that my father built about 30 meters from the top of a cliff edge. One of my abiding memories is of winter storms when the Atlantic swell would crash onto the cliffs below the house and the spray would shoot up over the roof. Salt water would sometimes come down the chimney and as kids we were always delighted when it would hiss and crackle in the fire.”

Beach, rain, cliffs

Citing “coasteering with Nevsail” as the wildest action to be had on the peninsula, it remains the simple pleasures of Cillian’s home that keep the smile on his face:

“Running on the cliff road in Kilkee in the winter after a day inside at work is heaven. There’s absolutely nothing like lacing up the trainers and heading out on a windy evening with the rain in your face, running up the cliffs. No music, no company – just yourself and nature at its most elemental.”

We can’t think of a better place to find yourself. Can you?