So you know Ireland is famous for Guinness, but have you heard about the magic? And no, before you ask, we’re not talking about leprechauns...
It’s no secret that Ireland is home to some of the most stunning coastlines in the world, so let us reveal a little of their myth and mystery…
The Cliffs of Moher
Where? The west coast of Ireland, near Liscannor village in Co. Clare
How to get there: Fly in to Shannon International Airport, then travel by car (50mins drive).
Don’t you just love those travel moments that leave you feeling tiny and insignificant? At 214m high, and stretching on for over eight kilometres (that’s about five miles for non-natives), the Cliffs of Moher are guaranteed to give you that ‘how did I get here?’ feeling.
On a clear day you can see Maum Turk Mountains and the Aran Islands from the summit – and when the sun’s not out, cloud and fog make the cliffs look ominous and moody, creating an equally stunning view. This is also hotspot for bird watching so be sure to bring your binoculars.
A visitors’ centre is open throughout the year (excluding Christmas) but it’s best to call and check on the day of your visit as weather conditions can make the walk unsafe.
And if you think they sound impressive…
The Slieve Leagues, the Appalachian Trail
Where? Northwest coast, Co. Donegal
How to get there: Fly in to Donegal Airport. To get close to the cliffs, you’ll have to drive (approx. 1 hour from the airport).
The Appalachian Trail starts in Georgia, USA, and stretches across the Atlantic to Ireland. Strange, we know – it’s all to do with tectonic plates – but the bottom line is the trail includes the Slieve Leagues cliffs.
Standing at almost three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, the Slieve Leagues are the tallest cliffs in Europe. You won’t want to miss the stunning scene at the top. Here you’ll be able to see breathtaking views of the Atlantic – the only place in Europe where a view like this is possible – and then follow a trail for keen hikers, called One Man’s Pass. Although it sounds like a scene from Pirates of The Caribbean, wobbly hikers don’t have to worry – it’s completely safe for those who are less experienced.
Where? Northeast coast of Northern Ireland in Co. Antrim
How to get there: There are regular trains that run from Belfast or Derry to Coleraine (about 11 miles from Giant’s Causeway) several times a day. You can then change to the Ulsterbus service, number 172, which will take you right up to the visitors’ centre. For more information about rail services from Belfast or Derry, click here.
Factually speaking, the Giant’s Causeway was created 50 million years ago by molten basalt cooling into fascinating hexagonal columns. However, popular mythology gives an alternate truth – that the name ‘Giant’s Causeway’ comes from a legend about mythical big man Fionn mac Cumhaill, who built the causeway as a meeting spot for a fight with Scottish counterpart Benandonner. Nobody can really agree about how the story ends, but the awe-inspiring view cannot be argued with.
If you want to know more, you can visit one of the local pubs and ask the locals. There are also some great beaches and surfing opportunities nearby.
Where? The southwest coast of Ireland in Co. Cork
The main attraction of the Beara peninsula is the Ring of Beara, a stunning route that connects Kenmare and Glengarrif. If you’re keen to explore the wild and untouched parts of Ireland, the Ring of Beara is where you want to be. If you’re pressed for time, you can also cut across the peninsula via the Healy Pass road – this runs straight across from Cork to Kerry – and is a great chance to see some awesome scenery.
There is plenty to explore in the nearby towns. Glengarriff is home to Garinish Island – hailed as ‘Ireland’s Garden of Eden’. If you’re very lucky, you may get a glimpse of the colony of basking seals that have made their home on the southern part of the island.
Love Ireland? Share your coastal travel tips in the comments below…
rick baldwin said