The Wild Atlantic Way is set to be Ireland’s first long-distance touring route, stretching along the Atlantic coast from Donegal to West Cork. Annascaul Village & The Old Anchor B&B is located on the Dingle Peninsula the ideal place to stay for touring the Atlantic coast.
Tralee to Dunquin (The Blasket Islands)
With Tralee at your back, all roads lead west to a place that National Geographic once called “the most beautiful place on earth”: the Dingle Peninsula. Creep along the north of the peninsula, tracking west past through the villages of Camp andCastlegregory. The hulk of Mount Brandon (named after Saint Brendan) looms large after tiny Cloghane village; it’s the highest peak on the peninsula and marks the end of a Christian pilgrimage trail.
Next, along what is known as the Slea Head Drive, stop at one of the peninsula’s most mysterious sights: Gallarus Oratory. Completely made of stone, and in the shape of an upturned boat, Gallarus Oratory (and its adjoining 15th-century castle) is an early Christian church overlooking Smerwick Harbour. The coastal scenery revs up the drama after the tiny village of Ballyferriter (and the very beautiful Beál Bán beach), as you head towards the pretty Gaeltacht village of Dunquin, with views that stretch out to the deserted Blasket Islands.
Dunquin (The Blasket Islands) to Dingle
Should Dunquin’s super-pretty harbour or surrounds look familiar, don’t be surprised. The film Ryan’s Daughter was predominantly shot in the townland here. Don’t miss a walk along Coumeenole Beach, with its little rock pools, tiny caves and surging blue Atlantic Ocean. The views of the deserted Blasket Islands are great from here – the last residents were evacuated from the islands on 17 November 1953, and most settled in Dunquin.
You can take a boat from Dunquin out to the Great Blasket during the summer months, to explore quiet, pristine beaches and heather-flecked hills. Be on the lookout, too, for “An Fear Marbh” (The Dead or Sleeping Man), a Blasket island called Inishtooskert eerily mimicking a sleeping (or dead!) giant on his back.hardware store/half-pub; or get to know “real” Irish cookery at the Dingle Cookery School (from summer 2014).
Dingle, the most westerly town in Europe, was historically one of Ireland’s main trading ports, but is now home to a population of only 1,920. Dingle’s main activities include boat tours, absorbing the local Irish music scene and eating at singular shops like Murphy’s Ice Cream, routinely declared to be among the best ice cream in the world. Nearby on the harbour promenade is a bronze sculpture of Dingle’s most famous resident: Fungie the bottlenose dolphin. Fungie appeared in the area in 1984 and makes a habit of visiting tour boats.
The Blasket Islands Centre, at the most westerly point of the Dingle Peninsula, memorialises the now abandoned settlement on Great Blasket Island. Its tiny population – just 175 people at its peak – lived such dramatically unique lives only 2km from the mainland that they attracted the attention of anthropological and linguistic scholars. This tiny population produced several accomplished writers. Its dwindling population eventually forced an evacuation of the last 22 residents to the mainland in 1953. Boat tours to the island, weather permitting, allow for a thorough exploration of the crumbling cottages, hills and fields.
Wild Atlantic Way