Stretching from West Cork to the very northernmost tip of County Donegal, the Wild Atlantic Way (Slí an Atlantaigh Fhiáin) is fast becoming one of the world’s favourite long-distance touring routes. In 2017, I had the great privilege of writing a guidebook to the historical and archaeological sites of the Wild Atlantic Way for Collins Press. So I spent much of 2017 visiting every nook, cranny and cove of Ireland’s rugged western coast. During the process it became easy for me to see why it has captured so many people’s imagination. The untamed beauty of the green Irish landscape that ends in soaring cliffs often provides a seemingly endless view over the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. This is a journey that seeps into your bones, enriches your blood and quickens your soul.
The Wild Atlantic Way is rightly renowned all around the world for its stunning scenery. Ireland’s Atlantic coast is a landscape that has inspired countless painters and artists, writers and musicians. To travel the Wild Atlantic Way and breathe in the fresh ocean air is nothing less than a balm for the spirit, but along with incredible views Ireland’s western coast has a deep and rich cultural heritage, full of stories of mythology, romance, violence, intrigue and tragedy.
As all of the sites are within a coastal landscape, certain site types and themes are relatively prevalent, and reflect the nature of their location and geography. You will encounter a number of megalithic tombs overlooking the sea. As well as being repositories for the dead perhaps these great tombs served as territorial boundaries millennia ago, a clear symbol of ownership and boundary on the landscape for anyone travelling by the ocean – the highway of the day. You will visit remote ancient monasteries that reflect the tradition of seeking out isolated places for devoted worship; you will see great stone forts and later medieval castles that show the desire to protect and command safe harbours on this unforgiving coast; and you will see numerous Martello towers, coastal batteries, signal towers and other defensive installations from the nineteenth century, when the British sought to fortify the coast to prevent Napoleon’s armies from gaining a foothold in Ireland.
However, despite similarity in some individual cases, each region of the Wild Atlantic Way route offers a different story, a different vista and a different feeling.
So join us and we will explore sacred Neolithic landscapes and Bronze Age stone circles. We will climb up to an ancient fort high on a Kerry Mountain, and take a voyage to early monasteries on remote islands. We will visit medieval castles still locked in a gruelling siege with the relentless Atlantic Ocean, and we will explore elegant stately homes and vibrant towns where the past is ever present. Simply use our interactive map below to start exploring. If you’d like to dig deeper consider becoming one of the Tuatha – our members get exclusive content, expertly-crafted itineraries, online courses and much more that can help you to discover the very best places to visit on the Wild Atlantic Way!