The Rugged Beauty of Ireland’s Southwestern Atlantic Coast – Top 5 Places to See
Ireland's southwestern coast is known for its rugged and enhancing scenery, rich history and wild spirit. Pretty villages, verdant woodland, dramatic coastline -- it is a mystical place to visit.
Just as famous is Gaelic hospitality and any traveler is bound to find a warm and gracious reception here. From fine 5-star hotels to quaint country B&B’s and local pubs, the Irish well deserve their "Land of a Thousand Welcomes" reputation.
Add to that a delightful food scene -- oak-smoked salmon, vegetables fresh from the garden, irresistible cheeses, and, yes, pints of Guinness. Sláinte! Visiting this idyllic part of Ireland should be on everyone's bucket list.
THE RING OF KERRY
Ireland's Ring of Kerry is the most famous scenic drive on the Emerald Island - it is mystical, rugged and enhancing.
It is an idyllic drive with the ocean on one side and green, sheep-filled pastures and old barns on the other. The narrow and windy, often rain-slick roads, are lined with stone walls. They have hairpin turns and are occasionally crossed by sheep. The speed limit? 100 kilometers per hour!
THE SKELLIG ISLANDS
Ireland's Skellig Islands are stunningly beautiful rocky islets with their huge colones of sea birds. They look magnificent and slightly terrifying in the the wind, rain, and waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Skellig Michael is known for its UNESCO World Heritage monastery and Little Skellig is a seabird sanctuary and home to 30,000 pairs of gannets and some seals resting on the rocks. The rocky islets became famous when they were featured as Luke Skywalker’s hideout in "The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi".
Skellig Michael was home to one of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland dating back to about 600 AD. The monks lived simple lives praying, tending to their gardens, surviving on a diet of fish, seabirds and vegetables, studying, and sleeping in stone beehive-shaped huts. Taking the steep climb of 670 steps, surrounded by crowds of puffins, is so worth it - the views over the savage seas are spectacular.
Ladies View offers sprawling vistas of the Lakes of Killarney. The weather makes a difference – the clearer the day, the more breathtaking the view.
The name comes from the admiration of the view by Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting during the 1861 royal visit. They were so taken with the view that it was named after them.
THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
The mighty Cliffs of Moher rise 390 feet/120 meters above the Atlantic Ocean. The pathways and raised viewing platforms along the cliff's edge allow visitors to enjoy the panoramic view and offer some spectacular photo opportunities.
The Cliffs of Moher are home to one of the largest colonies of cliff nesting birds in Ireland, beautiful wildflowers and grasses adorn the cliffs in spring and summer, and dolphins, whales and seals can often be spotted from the cliffs.
THE YANKEE CLIPPER
In Foynes, Co. Limerick, the Yankee Clipper is displayed outside on water, as if it had just landed. This Pan Am's luxury Flying Boat made by the Boeing Airplane Co. was regarded as the Concorde of its day and it carried all the top Hollywood stars across the Atlantic between 1939 and 1945.
It was the largest and fastest civil aircraft that operated between the US and Europe. Flights lasted as long as 17 hours and the level of service was of a very high standard. Passengers could enjoy a 14-seat dining room with linen tablecloths, crystal glasses, and full waiter service; they would find their shoes cleaned and polished overnight, and each had a bed to sleep in during the flight. This luxury came at a cost, of course, as tickets were equivalent of $11,000 today.
Foynes is also known as a place where Irish Coffee was born. In 1943 a flight to New York turned back due to bad weather and Joe Sheridan, a chef and highly skilled bartender, was asked to prepare hot food and drinks for the freezing passengers. He put some good Irish whiskey into their coffees and was asked by the passengers if he had used Brazilian coffee to which he replied ”No it was Irish coffee.” He then continued to put the coffee in a glass and topped it with pouring cream – thus the Irish coffee we know today was invented in Foynes.