You last left me visiting Bantry House at the start of West Cork and the 'Haven Coast'. I spent the night in the town and drove out to Sheep's Head and Mizen Head. The director and playwright, Neil Jordan has a house out in Castletownbere and one of my favorite Irish films 'Ondine' with Colin Farrell was filmed in the Beara Islands. Nice drives but actually I would recommend you not linger there over much. There are some great spots further on, throughout West Cork and on to the final destination of Kinsale Town. This is familiar territory to me as I have visited this part of Ireland often, so I will give you some of my favorites and some highlights from this trip too.
Firstly, I would suggest you stop and/or stay near Baltimore. A great little fishing village with a few places to eat across from the Port. (Photo is of the Baltimore Beacon.) There is a restored small fortress here too which houses an interesting little 'Private Museum' featuring a fascinating and sad story of a large group of Irish Villagers who were kidnapped and taken to be sold as slaves in Northern Africa long ago. There are also ferries here to go over to Sherkin and Cape Clear Islands. Definitely worth going over to one of those as its nice to get out on the water here.
The next stop I would make is The Quay area at Castletownsend. There is the 'Castle B&B at Castletownsend' which has a great little Cafe connected to it, a beachfront area with outdoor seating, etc. Really nice and worth the time spent driving down this way.
The next best spot to stop and stay or just have lunch is Glandore Village. A number of restaurants looking out at the water. Some cool B&B's and Inn's in the area. It's the kind of place only locals know about and you'll see why they like it so much.
From there I drove out to Old Head of Kinsale. It turned out it was May 7th, the anniversary (103rd) of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915, killing 1198 people, just off the coast at the Old Head of Kinsale. It seemed a somber end to the trip.
However, spirits lifted as I neared my final destination, the town of Kinsale! This is such a great town. I often rented places here in the summer to stay for a week or more. There are tons of great walks along the seafront, seafood restaurants, cafes and little shops. Its a good sized town with an active sailing and boating community too. There is the Kinsale Outdoor Activities Centre where you can go Kayaking and Coasteering among other things. Visit Charles Fort and take a boat trip around the harbor. There is always something to do in Kinsale.
So that is the conclusion of my big long drive along the Wild Atlantic Way and the West Coast of Ireland.
My biggest suggestions for traveling the Wild Atlantic Way?
- Do not drive it all in one go! Take each area and really see it. There is more to do in some areas than others of course. There is also so much scenic beauty it becomes commonplace if you spend too much time in the car blowing by it at a fast clip.
- Some of the neat things about Ireland are the Castles and fine old house hotels and B&B's to stay in. Spend a couple of nights treating yourself, spreading them out over your trip. They are such a treat and it is a nice way to learn about the history of the area.
- You can search Google, Trip Advisor, Bookings.com etc to find and book restaurants and B&B's. Which is great. Also, ask your hosts and hostesses for suggestions as they will be happy to help direct you to the best places locally.
- I think of the food in Ireland as real comfort food. Particularly the amazing bread, the ham & sausage, the fish, especially the salmon, and of course the desserts! The cream and the dairy is just to die for, and don't miss out on having some Pavlova for sure! It's all very wholesome and fresh food as the Irish take the quality of their farming very seriously, so enjoy!
- Breakfast in Ireland is a big deal and will likely be your biggest meal of the day. You are going to burn it off with a hike or two, so indulge. I highly recommend the sausage in Ireland at breakfast as it is particularly good..if you eat that kind of thing of course!
- The pubs are easy going and busy and/or sitting in the lobby or common areas of any Hotel or B&B, you will have great conversations with all sorts of people, locals and visitors alike. Be chatty, its the place to do it, believe me, the people are what really make a trip to Ireland something memorable.
Finally, I wish you all a safe and exciting journey of your own and am so glad you joined me on this trip along the Wild Atlantic Way!
-Karen Mackay, CEO & Founder of Wild Atlantique LLC