For over 5,000 years, Achill Island ironically has been a secret to many. Most know of the Cliffs of Moher, the Giant’s Causeway and the Ring of Kerry in terms of Irish coastline, but this island of jaw-dropping cliffs seldom crawls with tourists donning fanny packs and Hawaiian shirts.
The Megalithic tombs and forts note that you are not the first to discover this piece of Irish paradise. As most of the road signs feature the Irish language, Achill Island is something special in a country very much changing with the times.
While it is Ireland’s largest island, Achill Island somehow retains a cozy feel. Accessed via a road bridge from the Currane Peninsula in County Mayo, you might be tempted to never return to the “mainland” after touching down in its cozy embrace.
The inspiration for countless artists and writers, you too can find inspiration at some of the most unusual places on this island off of an island. First you’ll need to get there with cheap flights to Ireland.
Don’t look down while driving Atlantic Drive—While it sounds more like a spot on the Monopoly board, Atlantic Drive is the main scenic road around Achill Island. It stretches for 40 kilometers, snaking along the island’s breathtaking coastal scenery. You can take it many different twists and turns, all offering gorgeous views. Cliff-lookouts allow you to park the car and take it all in along with a few sheep, clinging so effortlessly to those cliffs. The wind whips through your hair as though it is angry you are here. “This is not your island,” it seems to whisper.
Sunbath on Keem Beach—Head out to the furthest point on Achill Island and you won’t be disappointed. Keem Beach almost looks like somewhere in the Mediterranean and nowhere near Ireland. The waters sparkle turquoise and the sand glistens a golden yellow. Keem Beach sits in Keem Bay, horseshoe in shape at the very western tip of the island. The cliffs provide some cover from the winds that whip through here, but you won’t mind the unpredictable weather once you get a little sand beneath the toes. If you haven’t had enough of Achill’s beaches, the isle holds five Blue Flag beaches, considered to be some of the best quality beaches in all of Ireland.
Feel chills at the Deserted Village at Slievemore —A whole village of deserted and decaying homes stands on the slope of Slievemore Mountain. Juxtaposed to this deserted village is a graveyard that only adds to the spook factor. If an Irish ghost where to be anywhere on Achill Island, it might be here, among the remains of abandoned lives. Used as summer residences and later abandoned, the Deserted Village reminds visitors of the lives the Famine took with it. You can wander through home after home, but watch your back. This is the sort of place where you feel like someone is watching you.
Flickr: Andrew Muir