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Experience Poetry in Motion



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With history-drenched Donegal Town at its northern end and the wild, romantic boglands of coastal Erris to the south, the Surf Coast of the Wild Atlantic Way is a masterclass in adventure.

Here, where sweeping bays surge in against the coast to meet wild dunes and colourful coastal towns, time runs a little differently. Out in the waves of Sligo and Mayo, hearts beat in time with the tides; inland, tumbling waterfalls echo their timeless melodies through acres of lush woodland; in the halls of its great houses, Surf Coast stories of intrigue are set to the soft drumming of history. 

The result? An enchanting place where the pace of life has a rhythm all its own, and where your own lyrical flow is just waiting to be expressed. 

In Bundoran, you can explore the undulating dunes from the saddle of your very own steed, soak your cares away in a seaweed bath or share a seat with poets, mystics and wish makers of all sorts at beautiful Tullan Strand. The Creevykeel Court Tomb in Cliffoney offers a wondrous way to explore the region’s rich and mysterious past, while in Ballinfull, the opulent Lissadell House invites you to take in the beauty and history of this important manor home on the shore. 

Channel literary inspiration at Glencar Waterfall, one of WB Yeats’ most beloved spots, or head to Strandhill, where you can harness the power of the surf or even follow in the footsteps of St Patrick himself. 

Feeling the Wild Atlantic Way of life beginning to take hold? Why not indulge your inner rebel at the Jackie Clarke Collection, or have an incredible adventure tailored to your exact tastes by Rachel’s Irish Adventures – both in lively Ballina? There’s coasteering to try, cliff walking to enjoy, and even a county-wide food trail to follow in Sligo. 

Here are some of the very best experiences you can enjoy on the Surf Coast today: 

 
  • Downpatrick Head
    County Mayo
 
Donegal Equestrian Centre

Ride On
Donegal Equestrian Centre, Finner Road, Bundoran, Co Donegal

There’s perhaps nothing quite as majestic as watching horses glide over a golden strand, the spray of the tide at their feet. But at the Donegal Equestrian Centre, you won’t just be watching, you’ll be part of the picture yourself. 

Take a ride along the dunes or down onto Tullan Strand, framed by a scenic backdrop provided by the Sligo-Leitrim Mountains. Donegal and its neighbouring counties will offer an insight into some of the most beautiful and untouched landscapes along the Wild Atlantic Way. Whether it’s at a trot, a canter or gallop, your experience will be unforgettable.

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Bundoran Seaweed Baths and Aqua Marine Treatment

Marine Miracle
Bundoran Seaweed Baths and Aqua Marine Treatment,
Atlantic Way, Bundoran, Co Donegal

To some people, seaweed is a slimy clump that washes up on beaches. To others, it’s a culinary delicacy and at Bundoran Seaweed Baths, it is part of an enriching and soothing experience for your skin and your soul. 

Immerse yourself in an all-natural, truly organic saltwater experience that uses freshly harvested seaweed from the Wild Atlantic Way. The handpicked marine vegetable contains vital nutrients which release from the tough flesh of the plant during bathing. They revitalise, nourish and soothe tired and damaged skin. Seaweed also has anti-aging and anti-cellulite qualities, making a soak in this miracle plant an absolute must!

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Tullan Strand, Bundoran, Co Donegal

Marvel and Magic
Tullan Strand, Bundoran, Co Donegal

Make a wish on a magical wishing chair while looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, taking in the fine views of Bundoran and out across the expanse of Donegal Bay. Join many of the town’s famous visitors over the years who have sat here, from poet William Allingham to golfer Christy O’Connor, Jr to Viscount Enniskillen and ten-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater. Don’t forget to tap the seat twice as you rise to demonstrate that your wish is a genuine one. From this magical chair on the edge of the Atlantic, you can see the imposing sea cliffs of Sliabh Liag, located across the bay. At a height of 600 metres, these cliffs are reputed to be the highest in Europe. Walk along the cliff path, spying rocky arches which have been carved out by the Atlantic. Upon reaching the far end of the walk, the panorama – including magnificent Tullan Strand – will stretch out below, inspiring the imagination and stirring the soul. Tullan Strand combines natural wonders with Irish folklore. The so-called ‘fairy bridges’ are actually blow holes created by the area’s rock formations. If the tidal conditions are just right, you’ll see water splash up through the openings, which were once said to be haunted by fairies. 

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Creevykeel Court Tomb, Cliffoney, Co Sligo

Take it to the Grave 
Creevykeel Court Tomb, Cliffoney, Co Sligo

Hear whispers from the past at this Neolithic tomb, one of the finest examples of a full court tomb in Ireland. First excavated in 1935 and shortly thereafter restored, Creevykeel Court Tomb, which dates from between 4000 – 2500 BC was once brimming with ancient treasures. The structure consists of a long, trapeze-shaped cairn enclosing an oval court where ceremonies were performed, and a burial chamber of two compartments. Inside, decorated and undecorated Neolithic pottery, flint arrowheads, polished stone axes and other artifacts, including a chalk ball, have been found, along with evidence of four cremation burials. Step back in time to the Ireland of long ago, where rites and rituals reigned.

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We certainly live in a busy world, but there are still places in the world where you can find calm and contemplation.

 
Glencar Waterfall, Glencar, Co Leitrim

Woodland Oasis
Glencar Waterfall, Glencar, Co Leitrim

We certainly live in a busy world, but there are still places in the world where you can find calm and contemplation. Glencar Waterfall is one of those spots. This 50-foot-high oasis of calm nestled in idyllic Glencar Lough, County Leitrim, is part of a scenic wooded walk.

The cascade of fresh mountain water is particularly impressive after a spell of rain. But wait for the sun to come out before sitting down to lunch in one of the perfect picnic spots. Here, you can drink in the mesmerising beauty that inspired poet WB Yeats in his poem, 'The Stolen Child'. Steal some time for yourself and enjoy a place where time slows down and worries dissolve in the tumbling waters of Glencar.

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Lissadell House, Ballinfull, Co Sligo

“The Light of Evening, Lissadell”
Lissadell House, Ballinfull, Co Sligo

The historic and literary associations of Lissadell and the wild dramatic natural beauty of its setting surrounded by mountains, sea and woodland makes Lissadell House a must-visit heritage attraction in the northwest. Follow in the footsteps of the poet WB Yeats as you wander through this beautifully restored estate on the shores of the Atlantic. Childhood home of Constance and Eva Gore-Booth, built by Sir Robert Gore-Booth in 1830 and designed by Francis Goodwin, the house is now fully restored and open daily for guided tours with expert guides. Lissadell secured its place in the turbulent revolutionary history of 20th century Ireland through Constance (later, Countess) Markievicz, who turned her back on a life of privilege to become a 1916 Rising leader. Become a rebel yourself at The March of a Nation exhibition, where you can follow in the footsteps of the 1916 rebels through a series of movie-style sets.

The refurbished stable block and riding centre feature the newly designed CaToCa Tearooms, serving a high standard of cuisine in period surroundings. Visit the Alpine Garden, perched over the roaring Atlantic, or enjoy woodland trails and walks under the watchful eye of Ben Bulben mountain.

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Food Trails Sligo

A trail to Tickle Your Taste Buds 
Various locations around Sligo

Sligo’s premier location means you can indulge in the freshest local foods, from today’s catch to tomorrow’s breakfast eggs. Whatever your tastes, the Sligo Food Trail will surpass your expectations. From steak to lamb, Irish stew to seafood chowder, sushi to traditional potato cakes, homemade ice cream to cookies, fresh juices to craft beers and more, you’ll be wowed by the variety, textures and flavours. Build up an appetite with an adventurous hike, cycle or historical tour before delving into the liveliness of the cafés, pubs and restaurants. 

The real magic behind Sligo Food Trail is the passion of the people, always quick to share a smile, a bit of craic and wonderful insights into their cuisine.

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John F Kennedy Parade, Abbeyquarter North, Sligo

Walk on Water 
John F Kennedy Parade, Abbeyquarter North, Co Sligo

Walking on water never seemed attainable, until now. 
 
A day stand up paddle boarding with Northwest Adventure Tours in County Sligo will have you feeling like you can do anything. 
 
Picture yourself gliding along the surface of the water, taking in the scenic beauty of Sligo. After learning the basics of how to stay on top of the board, you’ll leave Sligo town and paddle up through Doorly Park towards the old Hazelwood Estate onto the picturesque Lough Gill, with stunning views of the Ox Mountains and the Dartry Mountain Range. As you mosey along the water, your dedicated instructors will share their knowledge of the local history and wildlife for an incredible adventure you’ll be raving about.

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Leave relaxed, inspired, and probably heading to the nearest bookshop to buy a book written by your new favourite poet.

 
Aughamore Near, Carraroe, Co Sligo

Land of your Heart’s Desire
Aughamore Near, Carraroe, Co Sligo

A meal in the evocative landscape that inspired some of the most beloved William Butler Yeats poetry undoubtedly has a little magic sprinkled in. 

Surrounded by beautiful works of art and the stunning architecture of Broc House, learn all about the famous poet and his days in the area while you dine on a sumptuous meal made from ingredients sourced fresh from the garden. Suitably sated, take in the view from the terrace, where several locations mentioned in Yeats’ work can be seen while the owner of the house, Damien Brennan, tells you the inspiring story of this visionary writer and his beloved 'Land of Heart’s Desire'. You’ll leave relaxed, inspired, and probably heading to the nearest bookshop to buy a book written by your new favourite poet.

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iSurf Ireland, Strandhill, Co Sligo

Catch a Wave 
iSurf Ireland, Strandhill, Co Sligo

Tune into your inner surfer dude or dudette at the stunning Strandhill Beach in County Sligo, an extremely popular surfing spot and an area of great natural beauty with panoramic views of Knocknarea and Ben Bulben mountains. 

Learn the basics of surfing on the shore before heading out into the waves to experience the thrill of catching your first ride. If you want to spend more time on a board before getting up on it, you can try your hand at bodyboarding, a popular, dynamic, accessible and fun activity that will have you confident to ride a wave in no time.

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Seatrails, Sligo IT, Ash Lane, Sligo

Shellfish by the Shore
Seatrails, Sligo IT, Ash Lane, Co Sligo

A takeaway with a twist is what’s on offer with Seatrails in County Sligo. Spend a day exploring the stunning coastline of the Strandhill Peninsula, where you’ll be accompanied by an experienced maritime archaeologist who will explain the landscape around you as you meander through golden dunes and across stunning Culleenamore Strand. Keep your eyes peeled and cameras at the ready as this part of the coast is a seal sanctuary. Walk along the bay, known for a number of prehistoric shell midden sites, working up a hearty appetite for the feast of freshly harvested mussels that awaits. 

Cooked for you right there on the rocks by expert chefs from local seafood restaurant, Trá Bán, it’ll be a scrumptious experience to savour.

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Killaspugbrone Loop Walk, Strandhill, Co Sligo

Sacred Steps
Killaspugbrone Loop Walk, Strandhill, Co Sligo

While you probably love the idea of walking in the footsteps of saints, be careful not to trip and lose a tooth! This story might sound strange, but it will all make sense on this walk along the stunning coast from the seaside village of Strandhill. The trail brings walkers through a variety of coastal habitats including sand dunes, salt marsh and pine woodland, with magnificent views of Ben Bulben and Knocknarea mountains and out over Sligo Bay. It passes by Killaspugbrone Church, an early Christian site founded by Saint Patrick in the fifth century.

According to local folklore, when Saint Patrick visited the site he tripped on rough ground and lost his tooth. The tooth was thence enshrined in the church, a relic that is still regarded with reverence to this day; documents show that at some stage during the 14th century, Thomas de Birmingham, Lord of Athenry, whose family owned property in Killaspugbrone, entombed it in a golden casket, which is now preserved in the National Museum of Ireland. Enjoy the scenery, the fresh air and history, but watch your step.

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The great outdoors opens out in front of you along the rugged coastline of County Mayo.

 
The Jackie Clarke Collection, Pearse Street, Ballina, Co Mayo

The Drama Unfolds
The Jackie Clarke Collection, Pearse Street, Ballina, Co Mayo

Bring the drama of the 1916 Rising to life by checking out the extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, newspapers and photographs, as well as other events in Ireland’s history, that helped shape the country it is today. 

Hear the stories of the heroes of the rebellion through artifacts such as rare books, proclamations, posters, political cartoons, pamphlets, and handbills, as well as letters from Michael Collins, Douglas Hyde, Michael Davitt and O’Donovan Rossa. Considered the most important private collection of Irish historical material in public hands, it comprises over 100,000 items spanning 400 years. Having educated yourself on Ireland’s exciting history, it’s time for a stroll round the walled garden to let it all soak in.

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Clarke’s Salmon Smokery, O’Rahilly Street, Ballina, Co Mayo

A Tasty Tradition
Clarke’s Salmon Smokery, O’Rahilly Street, Ballina, Co Mayo

Since time immemorial smoked salmon has been served as a mouthwatering hors d’oeuvre at parties and special occasions. A visit to Clarke’s Salmon Smokery will stand out as a special occasion too, with the wonderful range of smoked salmon on offer for you to sample. 

On the tour of the smokery, you’ll hear stories about fishing on the River Moy and the history of smoking salmon and witness a demonstration of how it’s done. Start by sampling their award-winning oak-smoked Irish wild salmon, made using the original recipe handed down from Jackie Clarke himself, before moving on to the extended range, created by Clarke’s sons to include organic and flavoured smoked salmon, too. Armed with all the knowledge you need about smoking quality fish - as well as a few items from the gift shop - you’ll have no excuse not to serve it at your next party.

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Rachel’s Irish Adventures, Quay Road, Ballina, Co Mayo

Find Your Passion
Rachel’s Irish Adventures, Quay Road, Ballina, Co Mayo

The great outdoors opens out in front of you along the rugged coastline of County Mayo. Choose from at least 20 adventure activities and many more cultural ones in this stunning part of the world, with Rachel’s Irish Adventures. Activities include hiking, mountain climbing and trail running, as well as road biking, cookery classes and whiskey and wine appreciation sessions. 

It sounds like a lot of choice, but don’t be overwhelmed; Rachel creates bespoke adventures for you and your friends or family to explore anywhere throughout Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and beyond, so you can start wherever you wish. Rachel will welcome you into the heart of her native north Mayo before taking you with her on an exhilarating experience through the wonderful landscapes of the Wild Atlantic Way.

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Connacht Distillery, Beleek, Ballina, Co Mayo

Water of Life
Connacht Distillery, Belleek, Ballina, Co Mayo

Greta Garbo said it best when she uttered her first words in the 1930 movie, Anna Christie: “Gimme a whiskey, ginger ale on the side and don’t be stingy, baby.” Like Garbo, the team at the Connacht Whiskey Company doesn’t do things by halves. The result of a dream shared by three Americans and one Irishman, Connacht Whiskey is bringing pure pot still Irish whiskey back to the west of Ireland after an absence of over 100 years. 

These folks share bonds of family and friendship, and they truly enjoy sharing their love of Irish whiskey with visitors. The guided distillery tour will bring you through the process of how whiskey is made. As you go through the tour, you’ll see why they are so passionate about single pot still Irish whiskey. The Gaelic word for whiskey translates as ‘water of life’, so choose life; choose this tour.

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There are few things more liberating than feeling mud between your toes and foraging for your very own supper.

 
Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours, Ballybrooney, Killala, Co Mayo

Forage for your Supper
Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours, Ballybrooney, Killala, Co Mayo

There are few things more liberating than feeling mud between your toes and foraging for your very own supper. Spend an afternoon with Denis Quinn of Wild Atlantic Cultural Tours in County Mayo, where you’ll get as close to nature as humanly possible out along the shoreline under the huge skies of north Mayo. 

As the wild Atlantic booms and seabirds swirl and swoop, Denis will guide you expertly across Killala Bay, crossing mudflats, scrambling over rocks, gathering edible seaweeds, rooting around in rock pools and spooning cockles, mussels, clams and winkles from the vast expanse of soft sand uncovered at low tide. Come and experience life along the coast and feed your inner wild child.

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Céide Fields, Ballycastle, Co Mayo

Refresh Your Perspective
Céide Fields, Ballycastle, Co Mayo

When we think of Ireland many of us picture green fields patterned by stone walls. Céide Fields in County Mayo is home to the world’s oldest known stone walls, dating back nearly 6,000 years, as well as the most extensive Stone Age monument in the world, consisting of field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs. 

 

It’s not just the ancient sites that attract visitors to these fields; it’s also the thousands of acres of wild, natural bog that blanket them. The colour of the bogland, its unique vegetation and wildlife make for a visually arresting tableau. Discover how this landscape has changed from forest to farmland to bogland on a guided walking tour of the area before putting it all into context at the visitor centre, where you can explore the archaeology and botany of the region and learn about Neolithic life. With your head full of satisfied curiosity, pay a visit to the viewing platform. Positioned on the edge of a 110m high cliff, it commands views as far away as Sligo and Donegal.

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Wavesweeper Sea Adventures, Belmullet, Co Mayo

Feel the High
Wavesweeper Sea Adventures, Belmullet, Co Mayo

Don’t let the names of some of the jumps while coasteering with Wavesweeper Sea Adventures in County Mayo put you off; spend your time climbing cliffs, plunging into the pristine Atlantic Ocean, riding the swell across the rocks and exploring nearby caves. 

Climb ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, take a plunge into the ocean, and enter ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’, a deep cave with a hidden cavern behind it. Using the power of the Atlantic swell, thrust yourself across the rocks to ‘Rowley’s Wall of Death’ before making your way back to the highest jump, ‘The Widow Maker’. While your nerves might be tested, the feeling of accomplishment and adrenaline will make it all worthwhile.

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Walk the Light Fantastic
Wild Atlantic Tours, Drom Ard, Belmullet, Co Mayo

The west of Ireland is already considered remote, but Carrowteige in County Mayo is truly one of the most secluded and isolated corners of the west, making a visit to this area a true escape. 

Step out along spectacular cliffs on the very western edge of Europe, taking in superb coastal views of the Wild Atlantic Way as you go. With waves crashing against the ancient rocky cliffs, peer out over the edge of a deep natural inlet and marvel at the wide expanse of ancient bogland and mountain scenery. Along the way, your guide Agatha Hurst will point out native birds, seals and, if you’re lucky, whales. The area will be brought to life with stories and legends from the area, of St Patrick and the Children of Lír, all set to the lyrical melody of spoken Irish in one of the few remaining Gaeltacht areas in the west.

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Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, Eachleim, Blacksod, Co Mayo

Window to the Past
Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre, Eachleim, Blacksod, Co Mayo

There is no better way to understand a county than to explore its past. Mayo’s history of emigration and the harsh life faced by those forced to leave their homeland shaped the people and the place forever. 

The Ionad Deirbhile Heritage Centre provides fascinating insights into the difficult life its 19th-century residents faced. Learn about James Hack Tuke’s assisted emigration scheme, which in 1883 helped more than 3,300 people to depart Blacksod Bay on steamships bound for America and Canada. The centre’s accounts of local history, folklore and archaeology, and its commemorative garden, will transport you back in time, and who knows? You might even find the name of one of your ancestors. 

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