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18 in 18: The Wild Atlantic Way Year in Pictures

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More than half a million images of Ireland’s west coast were shared on Instagram using the #wildatlanticway hashtag in 2018. That’s over half a million pictures of dazzling Northern Lights displays, castles at sunrise, and unspoiled valleys and villages that harken back to simpler times.

Each picture has its own unique story to tell and paints a captivating chronicle of the Wild Atlantic Way’s six distinct regions – season by season, moment by moment.

Here, we look at 18 incredible images taken along the route so far this year that we hope will inspire and encourage you to capture your own special moments, too. Because embracing the Wild Atlantic Way of life is even better when you have the snaps to share!


1. Donegal, Grianan of Aileach, Inishowen


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When the moon hits your lens…

Photographer Martina Gardiner specialises in landscape photography along the Wild Atlantic Way’s northern coastline, so when a supermoon appeared over County Donegal’s Grianán of Aileach, she was ready. To catch such brilliant lunar spectacles, you should always use a tripod, keep your exposure settings similar to what you would use on a sunny day, and use a telephoto lens.


2. Glenveagh National Park, CO DONEGAL


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This gorgeous scene was captured by @uniqueascent somewhere under the rainbow in Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal. It’s not unusual to see unbroken rainbows in Ireland, where gentle misty rain catches every colour, contrasted here by the golds, browns and oranges of the park’s mountain trails. Those photographing rainbows can enhance their vibrancy even more by using a polarising filter, and can catch them on sunny days with scattered showers.


3. Leitrim, Glencar Lough


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‘Lovely’ Leitrim might not be as well-known as some of its Wild Atlantic Way counterparts, but underestimate it at your own peril. As @tomarcherphoto proves in this misty picture, it’s a place of quietly devastating natural beauty. This pic was taken at Glencar Lough, a freshwater lake dotted with ancient island dwellings and fed by a trickling waterfall. Lovely, isn’t it?


4. Sligo, Strandhill Beach


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The sun goes down on a County Sligo sky; Ireland’s west coast has front row seats to the most spectacular sunsets on the island, turning the skies bruised purples, deep pinks and bright oranges. This one was captured by @d2Lan who spotted a solitary walker on Strand Hill beach in autumn. While strong currents mean no swimming here, it’s considered one of the best – and prettiest – places to surf in Europe.


5. Rosses Point, CO SLIGO


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See that mountain in the background? That’s Ben Bulben, sometimes known as Ireland’s ‘Table Mountain’ and pictured here from Rosses Point beach. This is the beach where a young WB Yeats spent his summers, and the islands, quirky lighthouses and maritime monuments make for some great photo opportunities. Super-talented amateur photographer @andrea_rankin took this picture during a day out on the beach with her kids.


6. Downpatrick Head, CO MAYO


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Man against nature. This epic shot was taken by @mickh51 at Downpatrick Head, County Mayo. Pictured bang in the centre is Dun Briste, a 45-metre sea stack and geological sandwich roughly carved by the turquoise Atlantic. The colossal stack was once connected to the mainland but separated in 1393 when rough seas severed it during a particularly bad storm.


7. Croagh Patrick, CO MAYO


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Sitting on top of the world. Or more accurately, Croagh Patrick! Beloved by photographers and religious pilgrims in equal measure, this sacred mountain provides panoramic views across the island-studded Clew Bay. How many islands, you ask? 365, according to local lore – one for every day of the year! This stunning picture was taken by @bic2400, who wisely brought boots and a hiking stick to aid his two-hour ascent to the summit. Go on clear days when the bay turns into one giant mirror.


8. Galway, Diamond Hill, Connemara National Park


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Diamond by name, diamond shaped by nature. Connemara National Park encompasses almost 3000 hectares of unspoiled mountain, bog and woodland, with Diamond Hill (pictured) standing tall beside the park’s visitor centre. Travel couple @flyingeastforthewinter took this picture while hiking the 7km (4 mile) looped trail, with its panoramic views across the Atlantic and Twelve Bens mountain range. There’s nothing hidden about this gem.


9. Pine Island, CO GALWAY


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Does it get any better than this? Taken by @allaroundireland on a summer’s evening in County Galway, this picture shows how magical sunsets on the west coast truly are. The sky above Pine Island is streaked with pink, orange and blue, contrasting so well against the bogland that surrounds it in Connemara, a vast national park where both nature and culture remain totally unspoiled.


10. Cliffs of Moher, CO CLARE


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Most people capture the iconic Cliffs of Moher from above. But @bglandscapetours is not most people! Taken from the bright green algae-covered rocks below, this picture shows how imposing these sheer cliffs really are. Stretching for 8km (5 miles) along County Clare’s coastline, there’s a visitor centre where you can learn about bird colonies, geology and local history. They’ve even been visited by Harry Potter, but that’s another story…


11. Atlantic OCEAN, CO CLARE


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When you think about surfing, chances are you picture an exotic beach with swaying palm trees and piña coladas. So it may come as a surprise to hear that the Wild Atlantic Way is considered by those in the know to be one of the best places in Europe to catch a wave. This epic shot was taken by Ian Mitchinson inside a barrel wave. Those looking to recreate it might want to invest in water housing camera solutions. And a good wetsuit.


12. Dingle, CO KERRY


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Say cheese! Meet Fungie, County Kerry’s most beloved resident! This bottlenose dolphin is probably the most photographed dolphin on the planet, putting on an aquatic display for boat tours off the coast of Dingle every day, year round. Local Instagrammer @gilly_may1 has snapped him countless times breaching the water, somersaulting through the air, or simply popping up to say “hello.”


13. Dingle Peninsula, CO KERRY


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The Wild Atlantic Way’s coastline is characterised by rugged cliffs, deserted beaches and improbable headlands. Nowhere is this more evident than County Kerry, where photographers are treated to some of the most dramatic seascapes in Ireland. This picture was taken by @_shanefinn along the Dingle Peninsula, a winding coastal route with island views. Do the Slea Head Drive, stopping whenever something catches your eye.


14. Kinsale, CO CORK


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It’s impossible not to fall in love with Kinsale – the entire town is a kaleidoscope of cute galleries and shops, superb restaurants and maritime monuments. This picture of Main Street was taken by @cheran_du who loves working with bold colours. Around the corner is the equally photogenic Kinsale Harbour, with cruises over to Charles Fort, a stunning 17th-century star-shaped fortress. Bring an extra SD card, you’ll need it!


15. Nohoval, Co Cork


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Just look at those craggy coastal views! @aileentroy took this stunning photo in West Cork, where secluded bays, rocky outcrops and deserted beaches await around every bend. This one is Nohoval Cove, which might be the most spectacular of the lot. Natural lighting is so important when it comes to photography, and you’ll need to play around with shadow and colour saturation to get the best results.


16. Garnish Island, West Cork


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West Cork or Lake Garda? Garnish Island is not your typical Wild Atlantic Way island. Situated in the centre of a naturally sheltered harbour in Bantry Bay and warmed by the Gulf Stream, it has an almost subtropical microclimate that allows exotic plants to thrive. @alanpbarry captured this pic at the island’s Italian gardens, where both photographers and horticulturists can marvel at the vivid colours and classical architecture.


17. Rosses Point, CO SLIGO


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Sunsets have the power to stop you in your tracks. Like this one, where it looks like a giant pink egg yolk has been cracked on the horizon and is seeping out into the sky. But capturing them as well as @janellcarew did here isn’t as easy as you think. Try to include silhouettes, disable auto white balance mode and experiment with exposures to make them even more dazzling.




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At almost three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, Sliabh Liag (Slieve League) holds the title of highest sea cliffs in Ireland, and among the highest in all of Europe. Here’s @bemytravelmuse, as pictured by @backpackersteve, taking in the view on an incredibly clear day. The bright red coat really helps the colours pop!


So, there you have it! 18 incredible images that inspired and excited us in 2018 so far! We’d love to see yours, so remember to always tag your pics using #WildAtlanticWay and you might find yourself featured here. Follow us on Instagram to get involved with a community of fellow travellers, photographers and adventurers who embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of life!



Start planning your Wild Atlantic Way experience and show the world your own adventure.

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