Diving the Wild Atlantic Way along the coast of County Clare in Ireland is one of the bucket list trips that we have been anticipating for a long time. This famous stretch of the Atlantic coastline is iconic. Rolling green hills that end dramatically at the water’s edge in a sheer, breathtaking drop are the picture postcard Ireland that many visitors come to see.
We started our County Clare adventure in the city of Limerick on the border. We have visited Limerick already in the past, so this time around we made just a quick coffee stop. After crossing the county border we made our way toward Ennis and then down to Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary to start on the Wild Atlantic Way heading in a northerly direction.
We began at Kilrush for a very special reason. Many visitors to Ireland make their way to The Cliffs of Moher on a tour bus, most of which take the shortest route to the coast. However, we had read in our Lonely Planet Guide that the magic of the cliffs begins all the way down at Loop Head at the bottom of the peninsular. And we we’re so glad that we did.
On the tip of Loop Head there is a lighthouse that you may wish to visit during the open season from April through to October. There has been a lighthouse at Loop Head since 1670, originally it was a fire on the roof of the lightkeeper’s cottage (which can still be seen on the grounds). The present tower, which stands 23 metres high, was built in 1854. It was closed on the day that we visited but we were not disappointed to have made the trip out to Loop Head. The views out over the Atlantic Ocean and across to County Kerry were nothing short of spectacular. Visitors can walk right out to the cliffs edge, (if they dare!) to begin a love affair with Ireland’s famous cliffs.
From the Loop Head we made our way north through Kilkee and Quilty. Be prepared to take your time and travel slow along the Wild Atlantic Way. There are plenty of opportunities to pull over and snap some amazing shots of the scenery. Not only is the coastline fantastic, but the farmland in County Clare is as pretty as a picture as well with it’s stone walls and country cottages, many with thatched roofs.
We reached The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre in the afternoon. Entrance to the centre is €6 per adult and children under 15 are free. The Visitor Centre is mildly interesting to say the least, but if you are looking for a souvenir or a bite to eat in the café, then you might consider paying the entrance fee. We did not realise that it was possible to do the Cliff walk from the €2 carpark at Hags Head all the way to the famous Cliffs of Moher, but if the weather is fine you may wish to consider this option as it looked like an easy path to amble over depending on your own fitness levels or the age of your children.
We spent the night in the gorgeous seaside village of Doolin just north of The Cliffs of Moher in the Doolin Hostel. The Hostel offered great value for money. Our family room was well sized, clean and comfortable with an ensuite bathroom. Breakfast was included in the cost and there is a café on the premises that serves excellent coffee and light meals as well.
We continued our trip along the Wild Atlantic Way the following day, still heading north toward Galway. Just like the day before, we were extremely pleased to have made the decision to take the long route because we thoroughly enjoyed passing through the area known as The Burren. The moonlike rocky landscape here is as dramatic as it is surprising, and it turned out to be an unexpected highlight of the journey.