Aerial photographer Fearghus Foyle recently spent six months capturing stunning drone footage of the Wild Atlantic Way’s most breathtaking signature points. Here, the Galway man describes the experience of travelling to these remote locations, shares some of the fun adventures he’s had in the area over the years, and explains what it is about the region that makes him feel so free.
Born and raised in Clifden, a coastal town in the unspoilt region of Connemara, Fearghus was already very familiar with the Wild Atlantic Way. Did the project bring him anywhere new? “Absolutely!” he laughs. “I actually hadn’t been to many of the signature points before; I’d never been to Sliabh Liag for example. I climbed up to the peak, One Man’s Pass, and flew the drone out. It was a beautiful day and the views were amazing; it’s hard to believe it exists! The places up there are spectacular; the Inishowen Peninsula is absolutely stunning.” One moment that stood out for him was simply a beautiful sunset at Fanad Head, a jutting peninsula that’s home to one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s iconic lighthouses.
Does he find his outlook changes when he arrives on the Wild Atlantic Way at all? “Oh it definitely does”, he says. “During this project, my mates in Dublin didn’t think I worked anymore! Every week I was somewhere different, and I’d send them pictures of me on a clifftop! It’s a more chilled-out lifestyle. The pace is a lot slower – work still gets done, it’s just the pressured environment isn’t the same as the likes of London.”
“It’s that feeling of wilderness when you’re out on those peninsulas”
Indeed, Fearghus has travelled extensively over the years, to places as far-flung as South America and Australia. How does he feel the Wild Atlantic Way compares? “It’s that feeling of wilderness when you’re out on those peninsulas”, he smiles. “Sometimes I’d be somewhere like Dursey Island, waiting for the cable car for a couple of hours and there’d be no-one around. It felt really remote, almost like Patagonia in South America. The landscapes are equally stunning. If you climb up over Keem Beach, there are huge cliffs that fall off the back of Achill Island. It’s really gorgeous. The Wild Atlantic Way feels so unexplored even though it’s well-trodden at this stage.”
Sunset at Fanad Head
Speaking of unexplored, Fearghus found some amazing hidden gems along the way – places he’d recommend going to get away from it all. “I recently visited Inishkea South”, he begins. “It’s one of the most amazing islands I’ve ever been to. There was a storm there one night in the 1930s, and 12 islanders tragically died. As a result, all the remaining families left. Their old deserted village faces the Irish coast, so you can see all of Belmullet and Blacksod; it’s gorgeous. The lighthouse at Blacksod overlooks the northern cliffs of Achill across the bay, and it was actually from there that the weather forecast for D-Day was sent. There’s just one local boat that brings visitors out to Inishkea, and then you have the whole island to yourself, which is really cool. Those little unpublicised adventures are the best ones!”
The Wild Atlantic Way is certainly an amazing backdrop for a unique and exhilarating adventure, and it’s no surprise that visitors want to completely embrace the rugged sea and coast when they arrive. Outdoor watersports are obviously a fantastic way for city-dwellers to break free from the 9-5 routine! Has Fearghus any recommendations for those planning a trip? “Definitely kayaking”, he says. “There are caves below the Slopers cliffs on the Sky Road in Clifden, you can kayak right through them. I’ve flown the drone into them too – they’re huge. You can kayak out to lots of the islands as well; Inishark off the Galway coast for example has the same beehive structures as the Skelligs, but is less well-known. When you have all this adventure stuff available, it makes for a great holiday.”
“Even on a cold, fresh day you get this amazing turquoise colour when the sun shines – it’s almost like the Caribbean.”
Unsurprisingly, the region was also Fearghus and his family’s holiday destination for many years. “I didn’t leave the country until I was 20!”, he laughs. “We always holidayed in Ireland, but usually just 20 minutes down the road! We’d go to beaches like Ballyconneely, because even on a cold, fresh day you get this amazing turquoise colour when the sun shines – it’s almost like the Caribbean.”
That ever-changing, seasonal light is certainly a distinctive feature of the Wild Atlantic Way, one that makes the place just as visually alluring during winter months as summer. Fearghus agrees; “The likes of Mullaghmore, Cliffs of Moher and Doolin are probably even better to see in the winter. If you’re from California where you’ve always got sunshine, you get to these places and experience a totally different kind of weather. I would say it’s nearly nicer to see some of the coastal areas in winter light.”
Explore the epic 360 views of the Signature Discovery Points Fearghus visited, as well as some other hidden gems along the Wild Atlantic Way. Our handy Trip Planner will help you put an itinerary together.