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Flying High on the Wild Atlantic Way



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From sweeping beaches to towering sea cliffs, the Wild Atlantic Way is an aerial photographer’s dream. Fearghus Foyle set out in search of the most dramatic footage it has to offer, capturing adventure and inspiration in spades.

 
 

High above the meadows and crags of some of the most breathtaking locations on the Wild Atlantic Way, a little drone was hovering. Fitted with a high definition camera, it’s powerful lens was hard at work capturing video images of the picturesque landscapes of the most unmissable locations along the route, battling wind, rain, and even blinding sun as it went.

It’s pilot, Fearghus Foyle, founder of leading Irish Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) specialists Aerial Eye, stood below, determinedly navigating the little craft out over open sea, past mountains and treetops and around some of the oldest lighthouses and historical structures in the country. 

Six months after its inaugural flight, Foyle had travelled to a host of diverse locations along the route, and his trusty drone had captured enough footage to begin the careful process of editing the very best clips into one piece of work. Before long, the first virtual reality 360-degree aerial tour of the Wild Atlantic Way was complete. 

Published in 2016, it’s a video that has inspired countless visitors to Ireland’s western shores and provided an eye-opening window into the sheer variety of experiences available on the Wild Atlantic Way - as well as the dedication required to capture it all on film. 

“During this project, my mates in Dublin didn’t think I worked anymore!” Foyle laughs. “Every week I was somewhere different, and I’d send them pictures of me on a clifftop!” 

 
  • Perched at the top of the Inishowen Peninsula, Malin Head
 

"It's that feeling of wilderness when you're out on those peninsulas."

 

These days, drones are more accessible, better value and easier to operate than ever before, which is great news for someone like Foyle, who, although deeply familiar with the Wild Atlantic Way already, still found there was much left to explore.

 

“I didn’t leave the country until I was 20!” he says with a laugh. “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.” 

 
 
Over the edge at Downpatrick Head.
 

No stranger to travel, Foyle has proven himself an extensive globe-trotter throughout his life, having visited places as far-flung as South America and Australia. But the Clifden, Galway native, who spent childhood summers holidaying along the route, holds a sacred place in his heart for the Wild Atlantic Way, and was all too thrilled at the chance to travel to some of its most special spots. 

“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.” 

 
 

“Even on a cold, fresh day you get this amazing turquoise colour when the sun shines – it's almost like the Caribbean.”

 

“I actually hadn’t been to many of the Signature Points before,” he notes. “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 to Foyle was a simple yet beautiful evening watching the sun sink behind Fanad Head, a jutting peninsula that’s home to one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s iconic lighthouses. Indeed, that ever-changing light, a distinctive feature of the Wild Atlantic Way, is one that stands out in many a visitor’s mind, often as it colours a panorama viewed from somewhere off the beaten path. 

“I recently visited Inishkea South,” Foyle recounts. “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 Great Blasket Ruins
 

Whatever the backdrop, the Wild Atlantic Way offers an enormous variety of places to seek the perfect escape, and Fearghus himself has a few ideas about how best to find it.

“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; Inishshark 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.” 



Explore the epic 360-degree 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 your perfect itinerary together.

 
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