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What To Do – June & July

Summer on the Wild Atlantic Way is brimming with great outdoor activities, unique experiences and festival favourites. Wherever you go, you’ll find moments of magic to treasure. We ask three locals three questions to get their insider recommendations.


John McCarthy

 
[Image via David Olsthoorn]

John McCarthy of Lahinch Surf School has travelled the world for waves, but now adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way, which is home to some of the world’s premier surf spots. He discovered, named and first surfed the famous Aileen’s wave that has attracted top international big–wave surfers ever since.


1. What outdoor activities would you recommend in June and July? 

Up in The Burren, there’s a town called Fanore and over the beach, there’s an old famine road. It’s a beautiful trek that takes about two hours. You can see the sea and the Aran Islands. It really is stunning in June when the weather’s a bit more settled. 

 
[Image by Raymond Fogarty]

One place I’d like to go this summer with my family is The Great Western Greenway  cycle from Westport to Achill. For surfing, Lahinch is the spot, although I’m obviously biased. June and July are ideal times for beginners to learn as the waves aren’t too big. Billabong came to Clare and published a video last month, it really sums it up. Beautiful waves, sunshine and wonderful music. 


2. Are there any activities that suit the longer summer days of the Wild Atlantic Way?

Just in the past few years, the walks and treks along the Cliffs of Moher have really opened up. There are organised walks from Doolin along the Cliffs of Moher. There’s a guy called Pat in Doolin who does guided walks, it’s the perfect way to see the cliffs. From Hag’s Head, the sunset is the best showcase for the cliffs themselves. These are things we can really do with long summer days.
 
[Photo via Doolin Walks]


3. Favourite place to eat?

Randaddy’s is right beside the surf school and I eat there a lot. It has a few awards and is a beach-diner restaurant. After a surf, I grab a sandwich in there and that’s perfect. The food is just incredible, a really great standard. That’s my personal favourite.


Aoibheann McNamara


[Image via Ben Geoghegan

Aoibheann McNamara is one half of The Tweed Project and owner of Ard Bia restaurant in Galway. She spends a lot of time between Galway (where she lives) and Donegal (where she’s from). 


1. What are the best bits about the Wild Atlantic Way during June and July?

I go to Inisheer regularly around this time because it’s just magical. It’s my most favourite holiday. I eat at Teach an Tae, I take a horse and cart, I try to swim with dolphins, I cycle around the island, learn how to knit an Aran jumper…. Y’know, the usual craic! 

 

I don’t leave Galway at all for July – not even for a second. There’s the Galway Film Fleadh at the beginning, then Galway International Arts Festival. If I ever meet someone abroad, I always tell them to visit us at that time. Even if you don’t get to see all that much, there’s always such great people around and a really great vibe. 

 

2. Food-wise, what are your tips?

Inis Meáin on the Aran Islands is brilliant, a private retreat that celebrates the food traditions of the island. If you’re looking for somewhere romantic, it’s utterly extraordinary and in an architecturally spectacular setting. There’s a lot of people doing wonderful things like Shells Café in Sligo too. They’re serving great food in a great context. I go to Donegal quite a bit and that’s where I stop on the way. 

3. What do you do in Donegal? 

There are just so many amazing beaches to visit and they can be totally empty at any given time. I’m from Ardara, so it’s spectacular. Its positioning is just extraordinary, and it’s a lovely town. Nancy’s Bar is a great place for lunch or dinner and moving around all the beautiful beaches is gorgeous – walking up the dunes and visiting islands. It can rain, but I have the approach of just put on your wet gear and go!
 

[Image via Donegal Democrat]


Angela Carney


[Image via Julia Dunin]

Angela Carney of Harvest Moon lives in Westport, County Mayo and has a “real food philosophy” that means she produces and enjoys food that is as close to its natural state as possible. 


1. What are your best outdoor tips? 

The Great Western Greenway  is fantastic. It’s a cycle and walkway that takes you from Westport to Achill in Mayo. I’ve walked it over two days. It’s fabulous, especially as you’re coming along the coast. There’s also plenty of foraging to be done at this time of year. In places like Brackloon Woods, there’s lots of wild garlic that I use to make pesto. Owenwee Bog Walk near Westport is my hidden gem. 
 

2. What places do seasonal food particularly well on the Wild Atlantic Way?

There’s a new restaurant that’s opened in Westport called The Idle Wall, which is getting a lot of attention. The chef there is using mainly seasonal and local ingredients, like chard, bread with dillisk and local fish. It’s very traditional Irish food with a twist. Outside of Mayo, Galway has some great places, like Kai Café and Restaurant. Again, they’re using a lot of seasonal ingredients and foraging. 

Originally it was a gourmet food store, but McCambridge’s on Shop Street have opened a restaurant upstairs and it is fantastic. Aniar is great for nouvelle cuisine.  In County Clare, The Wild Honey Inn is beautiful.  In Sligo town, there’s a great café called Kate’s Kitchen that stocks lots of local produce. 
 

[Image via Aniar]


3. What are your festival favourites?

Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival have some really big names in the bluegrass scene and they play all over the pubs and hotels in the town. There’s a great atmosphere at it.  At Sligo Jazz, there a good mix of international and local bands and lots on in the Hawk’s Well Theatre
 

[Image via Westport Folk & Bluegrass Festival]

Find the towns, places and experiences featured in this article:



See what festivals are on during June and July along the Wild Atlantic Way here or visit our Trip Planner to put together your own itinerary.



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