Greetings from Kerry – We’ve arrived safe and sound back home to the Kingdom, but what a fantastic odyssey it’s been (and quite the achievement too if we might add!)
It was tricky to update the blog while we were basking in the vibrancy of the Atlantic Way so this is just an overview of what we experienced, but we promise there will be more in-depth pieces very soon!
You can read the first round-up of our first few days here.
Day Five: Doolin to Westport (161.5km)
After an awful night’s sleep in Doolin, due to inconsiderate guests who were drunkenly loud from 2am – 5am (I ended up going into the corridor and yelling at them), we packed ourselves into the car and headed for Mayo. Passing through the beautiful karst limestone landscape of The Burren and the golden sands of Fanore Beach, we arrived in Westport in good time. The town was voted best town to live in Ireland last year and we could see why. It had character, history, good food and we felt very welcome there.
In a bid to take a bit of a break before we headed north to Donegal, we decided to stay in Mayo for two nights. We took our rest at the Westport Coast Hotel, a four-star at the quays which had a spa and swimming pool and ate in their restaurant for the first night (more on that later).
Day Six: Westport (58.8km)
Spending another day in Westport but away from any updates on social media, we explored the town’s outskirts and visited Murrisk, a place we had visited 19 years previously. Back in 1997, our good family friend John Behan had his famine ship unveiled by then president, Mary Robinson. Found at the foot of Croagh Patrick, it’s a sombre reflection of what happened during Ireland’s Great Famine.
On recommendation from Twitter, we had booked dinner in Sage Restaurant on High Street, which specialised in a fusion of Irish food with European sparkle. You can read my review of Sage Restaurant here.
Day Seven: Westport to Kinlough (151km)
Waving “goodbye” to Westport, we set sail for the sleepy village of Kinlough in Co. Leitrim where we stayed with a family friend for the night.
Day Eight: Kinlough back to Sligo (74km)
Apart from this travel blog and among many of the pots I’ve on the go, I also run a food blog and Mom and I were invited to take part in the Sligo Food Trail’s Harvest Feast in collaboration with Fáilte Ireland.
With many thanks to marketeer Marie Brouder, our Sligo experience was completely free and we spend a day a half in Sligo sampling the many delights that it had to offer. From Lissadell House to Eala Bhán to Strandhill Lodges and Suites, we took in a lot in one day!
Day Nine: Sligo back to Kinlough (58km)
I’m going to do a far more in-depth piece about the Sligo Food Trail on my food blog, but it was a fabulous experience, filled with great characters and outstanding food. The next day we awoke in Strandhill and headed along for a Seatrail with Auriel Robinson while some of our fellow media friends went for a seaweed bath. With the clock headed towards 1pm and thoroughly satisfied with everything we experienced, it was back to Kinlough for us for another night. Stopping off at Mullaghmore along the way, we were still collecting Wild Atlantic Way signs with determination!
Day Ten: Kinlough to Rathmullan and Fanad Lighthouse (168.9km)
Moving away from Leitrim and finally entering Donegal, we headed towards Lough Swilly and Rathmullan where we were staying in Rathmullan House.
Our stay in Rathmullan House was completely complimentary, with dinner and breakfast included (many thanks to Ireland’s Blue Book and Maria McEnry for accommodating us!). We’ll have a longer piece on Rathmullan soon.
Before we settled in for the night, we drove to Fanad Lighthouse, which really felt like it was on the edge of the world. A white beacon on the cliffs, we made it just in time!
Day Eleven: From Rathmullan to Malin Head (90km+)
After a blissful night in Rathmullan, we hopped down to Lough Swilly for one last walk and saw another of John Behan’s work based on the Flight of the Earls.
Shoving everything back into the boot, we drove off in the direction of Letterkenny. My cousin, a Donegal resident, and complete surf-head, met us and very kindly offered to do the drive from to Malin Head to give my Mom a rest.
With a sigh of relief and high-fives and hugs all around, we were ecstatic to have made such an epic journey from Cork’s Mizen Head to Malin in Donegal.
In total, we covered 1549.3km up through Ireland (not counting the 434km back to Kerry!). It was a long slog but completely worth it. Astonishingly too, the weather held up for most of the journey (only in Westport had we rain and we were inside for most of it).
It’s been a long and brilliant adventure but it’s not over yet; I’ve so many blogposts queued up for the website over the next while from reviews to recommendations of where we visited and everything in between. The journey may be over for us, but it’s not for you!