Loop Head

On the Wild Atlantic Way

Loop Head, County Clare

From birdwatchers and legendary lovers to Star Wars film crews, no one can resist one of the Wild Atlantic Way's most dramatic headlands

A cinematic landscape

Bound on one side by the Shannon Estuary and on the other by the awesome power of the Atlantic Ocean, Loop Head has always been defined by its relationship with the water. As you drive south from Kilkee and embark on the famous Loop Head Drive, you’ll be wowed by the dramatic cliffs, turbulent seascapes and historic sites you’ll encounter.

With scenery this beautiful, who could blame those Star Wars location scouts for being enticed? Loop Head was one of a handful of places along the Wild Atlantic Way used to film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Filming was shrouded in mystery, with the iconic Loop Head Lighthouse closed to the public while the Jedi Masters of the film world worked their magic.

Room with a view

Drive to the very tip of the peninsula and you’ll come to the imposing Loop Head Lighthouse. There’s been a lighthouse on this site for well over 300 years but this one dates from 1854 and is open to the public. Take the guided tour and you’ll find yourself on the balcony, 23 metres (75 feet) above the ground, braced against the Atlantic winds as you marvel at the views. On a clear day, you can see the mountains of Connemara to the north and the Blasket Islands to the south. You can even stay in the lightkeepers’ accommodation, courtesy of the Irish Landmark Trust.

Nearby, you might notice the E-I-R-E marked on the grassy clifftop in large white letters. This is a relic from World War II, when the writing was used to alert pilots that they were entering neutral air space. You’ll find similar sights all along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Dive right in

The waters around Loop Head are ideal for everything from sea angling and kayaking to coasteering (an exhilarating combination of climbing, swimming, jumping and scrambling along rock pools, cliffs and caves). And if you’re a scuba diver, you’ll want to know that Jacques Cousteau himself declared this the best diving spot in Europe. Local experts such as Nevsail Watersports and the Dive Academy in Lahinch can help you take on these aquatic challenges.

Meet the locals

Of course you won’t want to leave the Loop Head Peninsula before meeting some of the locals. And if you take the Dolphinwatch boat trip from Carrigaholt to the mouth of the Shannon, you’ll have the chance to see some of the 160 or so bottlenose dolphins that live in this EU Special Area of Conservation.

So now that you’ve thoroughly explored the highlights, history and secrets of the Loop Head Peninsula, you’re ready to get back into your Wild Atlantic Way adventure.

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