Achill Island on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
Achill Island is located in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland. Its location on the Atlantic seaboard puts it at the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way, a spectacular 2,500km driving route along Ireland’s western coast. Connected to the mainland by a bridge since 1887, Achill has long been one of the country’s most popular holiday (vacation) spots and is now one of the ‘must see’ destinations of the Wild Atlantic Way. Achill occupies some 57 sq miles (148 sq km) and has a population of about 2700. Part of the island and the adjoining Currane Peninsula are Gaeltacht areas where the Irish language is still widely used.
Visitors to Achill can enjoy five Blue Flag beaches* as well as numerous unclassified beaches and coves including Dooagh beach, a short walk from the Achill Field School. (*Blue Flag is a European standard covering safety, cleanliness and facilities). Achill’s stunning landscape includes the iconic Minaun Cliffs and Keem Bay, a perfect horseshoe bay accessed via a hillside road leading down to a golden Blue Flag beach. Keem Bay is one of Achill’s four ‘Discovery Points’ on the Wild Atlantic Way, with two further Discovery Points to be found on the neighbouring islands of Inishbiggle and Clare, two more at Corraun, and a further two close by at Mulranny.
Activities available for visitors to Achill include surfing (Keel strand is one of Ireland’s most popular surfing destinations with ideal conditions for beginners), windsurfing, kitesurfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hillwalking, horse-riding, scuba diving, rock climbing and much more. Cycling is particularly popular, with three looped trails available as part of the Achill Cycle Hub, and the world-class Great Western Greenway, a 42km off-road track from Achill Sound to Westport following the route of a long-disused railway line.
Achill hosts a very popular half-marathon in July and a triathlon-like event called the Achill Roar in September. Some less energetic activities available locally are traditional crafts such as basket weaving, alternative therapies, painting schools, and a very successful summer school in traditional Irish music and culture.
Achill’s stunning landscape, natural beauty and remote tranquility have long offered inspiration for artists and writers, among them Paul Henry, Robert Henri, Graham Greene and Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Boll. Boll’s 1957 book ‘Irisches Tagebuch’ (Irish Journal) documented life on Achill at that time and includes a fascinating section on the Deserted Village at Slievemore, the site of some of the excavation and research work carried out by the Field School since its establishment in 1991
What to Do on Achill?
Lots of local festivals and events available during Achill’s peak holiday season – May to September
For more information see Achill Tourism and the Wild Atlantic Way (click images for links):
Keem Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way
Places and Facilities on Achill Island