Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way Out West Diverse, Exhilarating (VIDEO)
This is part III of III chronicling a trip to Ireland for 12 distant radio shows and a media trip surrounding St. Patrick’s Day by the Karel Cast, Karel, Niall Forester and Dennis Cope. It started at the end of the trip with St. Patrick’s Day and that article can be found at the HuffingtonPost Travel section here. Half II of the story from Dublin out to Westport can be discovered within the list here.
All Photos Karel, Dennis Cope and Niall Forrester
There’s a lot to see along the Wild Atlantic Way in Eire — the longest steady route in the Atlantic — that it merely cannot be performed in a single journey, not to mention just a few days. So, highlights needed to be picked out.
Since we have been to drive from Westport to the Mount Falcon Estate in Ballina, County Mayo we took a southern turn so we could take in the Famine Memorial in Murrisk. We packed up the rental car, the MiFi hotspot (invaluable) the BMW 1200 Journey GS’s and headed off in to a laid again day of journey within the West of Eire.
On the strategy to Murrisk we rounded a corner outside Westport and I was immediately reminded of the subtle grandeur around almost every corner in Ireland. Suddenly, earlier than us, was a marvelous harbor shrouded in fog, with Croagh Patrick, their sacred mountain, to the left, once more, shrouded in mist. Properties dotted the harbor with chimneys filled with white smoke and the smell of burning bog was everywhere. It would be the first of many such stops, stops simply to take a second and soak all of it in.
We made it to Murrisk the place there is a automotive park if you wish to hike up Croagh Patrick from this angle. Hiking wasn’t on our list of things to do this trip, but the Famine Memorial and old Monastery certainly were. We turned right off the principle street on a small street that led right down to the waterfront. There have been no large national park gates, just a sign asking you to be respectful. We would find out that it is a working cemetery.
The monastery was built in the 1400s. A matter of land and landlords is what eventually chased the monks out and there are no known surviving members of the order. Your entire area is also dedicated to the Famine Memorial and the many who were lost both on land and in the coffin ships headed towards America from these very ports on which so many died.
And it was here, with nobody else round, that we saw a man strolling in the direction of a grave and just had to stop and talk. Form, informative, candid, he embodies the Irish heart and soul.
Next it was on to Irish Coffee, Tea and Scone with clotted Cream and probably the most scrumptious vegetable soup and brown bread yet on the Derrylahan in Louisburgh, Mayo. It is an ideal pit stop, a dreamy town with quaint shops and even a Wild Atlantic Approach art studio and gallery.
Then the country of ever-changing scenery took another turn, literally, as we made a left simply cross the bridge out of town and began our journey in to the Doolough Move. This is where tons of fled, this pass, when there was no place else for them to be. The Famine was in full swing. There were no jobs, no money, no food, no area on the coffin ships, no one to help them at all. They traveled in to the pass, by no means to come out, a storm and the lack of meals sealing their destiny.
The monument within the valley is easy and shifting, a stone cross with inscription. The fantastic thing about the realm marred only by the feeling that something unsuitable occurred here. We stroll over and drink from the freshest stream ever, gasping on the water’s freshness. We stand by the water’s edge and marvel what it may have been like, a place so beautiful now, so filled with sorrow then. We drive some more, silently.
As bike rides go, that is the very best in the world for me, and it has been named one in every of the top three by Top Gear riders; it’s acquired it all , corners, straightaways, vistas, places to stop and look, smells of it all, I can’t think about a greater motorcycling experience.
We drove for some time just taking it all in, hardly seeing another car. In fact, there were more sheep than the rest, dotting the hillsides, drinking from the various streams that feed down from the clouds themselves.
We came upon a sign that mentioned Delphi Adventure Heart, “Stop in and say hi!” So, we did. Stone Island Jumpers Jackets No appointment. No clue if the place was even open, literally, in the midst of no where. Would we be thrown out Proven the door Told to turn the cameras off On the contrary, we had been greeted, given a full tour and then conversation and drink at the pub. The hotel and adventure center was gearing up for opening day, St. Patrick’s Weekend. With just hours from going live, people might be seen setting up, preparing for the full house that was planned.
This is the place for family fun. There’s over 21 activities, from zip lining in the forest to kayaking, camping, archery, fishing, you title it. And your entire philosophy of “go away no trace,” meaning, leave nature nearly as good or better than you find it, plays well for the serene surroundings. A private tour, a quick pint, and fabulous conversation all unexpected and delightful. That’s Ireland and its people all in one. An open door and heart. Far too soon it was back on the highway to Ballina back by means of Westport and off to Mount Falcon.
After Delphi and the kindness, the breathtaking views of Doolough Cross and the drive along the Fjord, yes, a fjord, back to Westport we all realized it would take weeks to explore all the stores, shops, towns, villages… all the little Irelands along the way. There are so many international locations within one, each unique yet brilliant, vibrant and alive.
After tea it was off to Mount Falcon Estate in Ballina, Mayo. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at Mount Juliet in Thomastown near Killkenny so I was excited to stay here. We had been driving a couple of hours, by villages each with something we wanted to see. There were seaweed baths in Sligo, yes, baths, in sea weed, and sea weed products of all kinds. There were salmon fishing centers along the Moy River, the best salmon fishing in Ireland. And all along the best way “car boot sales” (garage sales) as well as flea markets with brightly colored jackets of all stone island button up jumper kinds, fluorescent. It was soon we realized these were being sold in such demand because people walk from town to town, village to village and must be seen on the roads. What none of us have seen the complete trip (nor would we) were large numbers of citizens obese in wheelchairs or hover-rounds.
Pulling up to Mount Falcon, or any of the other estate properties you can find all over Eire for a evening or a month, is overwhelming. A hundred and ten acres surround a large guest manor that looks out of the pages of Downton Abbey.
Luckily for us inside was a state of the art spa with steam and sauna, pool, massage, facials… the works. It’s so nice folks within the close by city purchase memberships and workout with lodge friends. A fast journey to the spa and then a pint in the on-site pub wore off the road; the dinner prepared by a French Chef with Irish Soul would take us through the evening our taste buds dancing all the while.
Mount Falcon is privately owned and has been for years. Originally constructed to home a noble’s wife, it was the delight and joy of a single woman until her retirement and death. The property prides itself on rising a lot of what’s eaten there, even catching it (the menu says look out for buckshot in the quail and pheasant). This is common on many properties around Ireland, as well as entire villages and cities. Irish food for Irish People. Now there’s a concept.
The grounds provides enough activities from archery and boating to clay taking pictures and salmon fishing that one might spend weeks here. Our time was short, but we were all happy to have experienced it even briefly. It’s the Eire of fairy tales, of Kings and estates and thrones and video games and such. And once more, remarkably reasonably priced particularly in the off season.
Two days and so many experiences on just a piece of the Wild Atlantic Approach it’s easy to see why so many are booking multiple trips over to explore it. We had to head again to Dublin for the parade and festivities, which is the article this sequence all began with (see hyperlink at prime of page). We’ve been in the “Venice of the West” of Ireland, held Grammy awards, met locals, eaten incredibly locally sourced food, had an unexpected tour in an unexpected place, been moved to tears more than once and every single time we all thought our beauty meter had risen to its max, one thing else came along. We’ve met marvelous locals in cemeteries and had five star treatment in manor houses.
Dublin would be a world apart, an experience so cosmopolitan you could possibly be in New York. But here, within the West, in the center, alongside the way in which there’s a lot to expertise one might spend a lifetime on the small island seeing it all.
However one fixed stays: cease and look, listen to the radio, the Television (which everybody must have a license to have a Tv, the fees go towards their public broadcasts); talk to the people, all kinds. Listen, learn the papers. You will find that we’re so very much the same, the Irish and People. The identical dreams and hopes for our families, ourselves, our country. The same problems and fears.