The Wild Atlantic Way developed by Fáilte Ireland stretches 2,500km along Ireland’s western seaboard and is the longest defined coastal touring route in the world stretching from Kinsale in West Cork to Donegal.
The Wild Atlantic Way is captivating visitors with its dramatic land and seascapes. Along the iconic touring route, there are 188 Discovery Points each offering dramatic views of the wild and rugged landscape. The recently installed interpretation panels give visitors an insight into the rich stories of the local areas.
The Wild Atlantic Way’s southern starting point is the coastal town of Kinsale, only 20 minutes south of Cork City and its international air and seaports. As with the wider West Cork region, the town is renowned for its gourmet food and it is the gateway to the south coast of West Cork. The highlight of this section of the Wild Atlantic Way is the Old Head of Kinsale. Designated as one of Cork’s three signature discovery points, the dramatic outcrop of land includes the recently restored Signal Tower which offers expansive views of Ireland’s south coast and the newly developed Lusitania Memorial Garden.
There are 3 Signature Discovery Points located in West Cork. These are Dursey Island, Mizen Head and the Old Head of Kinsale. The most westerly of Cork’s inhabited islands, Dursey is separated from the mainland by a narrow sound known for its strong tides. It is accessed by Ireland’s only cable car, which runs about 250m above the sea. It can carry six people at a time (locals get preference) on the 15-minute journey. Without any shops, pubs or restaurants, this peaceful little island offers day-trippers an escape from the hustle and bustle of modern living. It is, however, home to three small villages and forms part of the Beara Way Walking Trail. Dursey is an excellent place for viewing wildlife, as a variety of birds can be seen here, including rare species from Siberia and America. Dolphins and whales can also frequently be spotted in the waters surrounding the island.
Located just 8km from Goleen, Mizen Head is a spellbinding place. As Ireland’s most southwesterly point, it is home to a signal station that was built to save lives off the rocky shoreline. It was completed in 1910 and later became the home of Ireland’s very first radio beacon in 1931. Here you’ll find a visitor centre that contains a café and gift shop. It also has a navigation aids simulator, displays the geology of the region, tells the story of Marconi in Crookhaven and discusses the lighthouse keepers’ hobbies. Once your tour of the visitor centre is complete, head outside and follow the path down the famous 99 steps and over the arched bridge that looks down upon the gorge. This route will take you to the signal station, which is open to the public.
The Old Head of Kinsale is a remarkably dramatic piece of Ireland, protruding more than 3km into the Atlantic Ocean. Located on the Southwest Coast in County Cork. Old Head was known for its lighthouse, established in the 17th century by Robert Reading. This is also the nearest land point to the site where the RMS Lusitania sank in 1915, after being hit by a German torpedo. Nearly 1,200 people perished in the incident.