Points of Interest
Day 1 - Mizen Head – is one of the extreme points of the island of Ireland and is a major tourist attraction, noted for its dramatic cliff scenery. One of the main transatlantic shipping routes passes close by to the south, and Mizen Head was, for many seafarers, the first (or last) sight of Europe. The tip of the peninsula is almost an island, cut off by a deep chasm, now spanned by a bridge; this gives access to an old signal station, a weather station, and a lighthouse.
Fastnet Rock can be seen looking south from Mizen Head - a small islet known as "Ireland's Teardrop", because it was the last part of Ireland that 19th century Irish emigrants saw as they sailed to North America. Fastnet also gives its name to the sea area used by the Shipping Forecasts on BBC's Radio 4. The current lighthouse is the second to be built on the rock and is the highest in Ireland. It is the midpoint of one of the world's classic offshore yachting races, the Fastnet Race, a 1,126 kilometres (700 mi) round trip from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, round the rock and back to Plymouth.
Bantry Bay - In 1793 war broke out between the Revolutionary Forces of France and the British, who at that time occupied Ireland. In 1796 General Hoche planned an invasion of Britain, and the capture of Ireland first was the gateway to a possible success. A French Fleet did invade Ireland in December 1796, the proposed landing point being Bantry Bay and this failed when a fierce winter storm scattered the Fleet, the disarray and fearing the disgrace of defeat forced the French to abandon the invasion and return to France.
Day 2 - Molls Gap - named after Moll Kissane, who ran a síbín (an unlicenced public house) in the 1820s, while the road was under construction.
Black Valley – Stretches between Molls Gap and the Gap of Dunloe. It was not until 1976 that the Valley was finally connected to the National Grid, making it one of the last outposts in Ireland. Still a remote and untouched part of Ireland. The church qualifies as the centre for the community and is accompanied by a youth hostel which operates a small shop with limited supplies.
Gap of Dunloe - is a narrow mountain pass forged between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain by glacial flows. The Gap is approximately 11 km from north to south. The river running through the gap is the river Loe from where the Gap gets its name. The Gap begins at Kate Kearney's Cottage. The road, narrow in many places, winds through the pass and descends into The Black Valley. A picturesque old bridge is known as the 'Wishing Bridge'.
Kate Kearney’s Cottage - Kate was a well-known beauty in Ireland in the years before the Great Famine (1845-1849). The legend of Kate has captured the imagination pf people far and wide down through the years. It was at this síbín that Kate distilled her famous poitín, 'Kate Kearney's Mountain Dew', which was "very fierce and wild, requiring not less than seven times its own quantity of water to tame and subdue it." It was of course illicit. However, Kate flouted the law and invited the weary traveller to partake of her hospitality.
Day 3 - Ballybunion – statue of Bill Clinton. The first statue of Bill Clinton on public display in the world was in Ballybunion. In 2001 Clinton played a round of golf on Ballybunion’s world famous course – rated in the world’s top 10. "There's a graveyard to the right," his playing partner, Dick Spring, warned, to which Mr Clinton replied: "Yeah, I've come back from graveyards before."
Tiger Woods and Tommy Hilfiger have also played at Ballybunion golf course.
Day 4 - Shannon Estuary – Bottlenose dolphins are observed around the entire Irish coast but the west coast holds some of the greatest concentrations in Europe. The only known resident group of dolphins in Ireland occurs in the Shannon estuary and they are regularly seen from the cliff walk at Ballybunion and the ferry crossing.
Day 5 - Cliffs of Moher - the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most outstanding coastal features of Ireland. Rising slowly from Doolin they ascend to over 700 feet (213 metres) stretching south for nearly five miles (8km) to Hags head.
The Cliffs of Moher are home to a huge number of nesting seabirds. These include the Atlantic Puffin, Razorbuill, Chough and Common Gull. The area is designated as a Refuge for Fauna since 1988 and as a Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive in 1989.
O'Brien's Tower was built on the highest point in 1835 by Cornelius O'Brien, as an observation point for the hundreds of tourists who even then, visited the Cliffs.
The Burran and Doolin - meaning “Rocky Place”) - a karst landscape of bedrock incorporating a vast cracked pavement of glacial-era limestone, with cliffs and caves, fossils, rock formations and archaeological sites. Characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. The Burren's many limestone cliffs are popular with rock-climbers. For cavers, there are a number of charted caves in the area. The nearby village of Doolin is a popular "base camp" for cavers, and is renowned as a centre for Irish traditional music and attracts many tourists.
Ballyvaughan – Martello Tower - From Ballyvaughan harbour, one can see the Tower at Finnevarra to the north of the Bay. In recent years the owner of the tower died and willed the tower to the State for future preservation. The tower is in excellent condition; oval shaped and built of cut stone. Nearby are the ruins of the gunners quarters and the surrounding flat grassy areas suggest that in the past the land was well tilled, possibly providing fresh vegetables for the garrison stationed there.
Day 6 - Dunguire Castle - is a 16th-century tower house on the south-eastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway.
Day 8 - Doolough Tragedy. On Friday 30 March 1849 two officials of the Westport Poor Law Union arrived in Louisburgh to inspect those people in receipt of outdoor relief to verify that they should continue to receive it. For some reason the inspection did not take place and the officials went on to Delphi Lodge – a hunting lodge – 19 kilometres (12 miles) south of Louisburgh. The people who had gathered for the inspection were thus instructed to appear at Delphi Lodge at 07:00 the following morning if they wished to continue receiving relief. For much of the night and day that followed therefore seemingly hundreds of destitute and starving people had to undertake what for them, given their existing state of debilitation, was an extremely fatiguing journey, in very bad weather.
A letter-writer to The Mayo Constitution reported shortly afterwards that the bodies of seven people, including women and children, were subsequently discovered on the roadside between Delphi and Louisburgh overlooking the shores of Doolough lake and that nine more never reached their homes. Local folklore maintains the total number that perished because of the ordeals they had to endure was far higher.
An annual Famine Walk between Louisburgh and Doolough commemorates this event.
Day 10 - Statue of Rory Gallagher in Ballyshannon. Born on March 7th, 1948 in Ballyshannon. An Irish blues-rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste during the late 1960s.
Day 12 - Banba’s Crown at Malin Head - named after a mythical goddess of Ireland. The tower was built by the British Admiralty in 1805 as part of a string of buildings right around the Irish coast to guard against a possible French invasion. Malin Head was one of 83 coastal locations used to provide a picture of wartime events along the Irish coastline. The coast watchers here had plenty to report on in the early stages of the war as German U-boats attacked convoys in the vicinity. Coast watchers worked around the clock in pairs on eight or twelve hour shifts. One man operated the telephone inside the loo-out post, the other patrolled outside. They had to report every activity they observed at sea or in the air in the vicinity.
Eire 80 – Neutrally Sign. On the flat plain just below the Tower is the word EIRE, marked in stone and painted white. This was an important navigational marker for pilots in World War Two to alert aircraft to neutral Ireland (“Éire” English: “Ireland”).
The Northern Lights - One of the world’s most amazing natural phenomena has started to make regular appearances off the Inishowen peninsula. Thanks to a peak in the sun’s activity, the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis are being spotted off this coast.
Star Wars Episode VIII – In 2016 cast and crew of Star Wars Episode VIII landed on Malin Head to shoot scenes for the new film, excitement reached fever pitch in the villages around. A huge structure appeared on a cliff's edge and was believed to be the Millennium Falcon. The space-age construction - at least 50ft (15m) across and 10ft (3m) high - was balanced precariously on cliffs a mile from Banba's Crown It was shielded by nets, with rescue boats deployed offshore as work intensified in the hours before filming. The entire shoot was top secret, with locals and landowners sworn to keep it that way.