Wild Atlantic Way, Connemara, Ireland
What a beautiful country Ireland is. The rolling landscapes are illuminated with breath-taking scenery and vibrant green hues, and the roads that snake through them are some of the best – and quietest – in Europe.
The Wild Atlantic Way is the undisputed champion of what Ireland can offer the driving enthusiast. Make the pleasant ferry crossing from Britain over to either the south or north of Ireland, and you’re nothing more than a short motorway blast away from the sheer driving ecstasy on offer.
We decided to sample the northern section of the Wild Atlantic Way, taking up the route at the Victorian town of Clifden in the Connemara region of County Galway.
Even from the heart of Clifden, you’ll see road signs with a blue wave on them followed by an ‘S’ or ‘N’; follow the wave with the ‘S’ to begin your descent down the famous Wild Atlantic Way, which for this section is officially known as the R341.
Almost as soon as you leave Clifden in the direction of Ballyconneely, the purity of the rural Wild Atlantic Way reigns supreme. Along the R341, you’ll witness the majestic North Atlantic Sea to one side of every twist and turn in the asphalt, with picturesque Irish countryside on the other.
The road is smooth and fast, but keep going past Ballyconneely and you’ll see the R341 narrowing slightly, giving you ample reason to reduce your speed and savour the vista of the Atlantic meeting the countryside.
Latitude: 53°29’11.0″N, 10°01’22.0″W
Length of drive: 51+ kilometres
Points of interest:
Clifden Bay, Clifden Castle, fishing at Ballyconneely, stunning views at Inagh valley, various vistas over lakes, land and the Atlantic throughout
Food and accommodation:
Atlantic View B&B, Clifden,
+353 952 1291;
Beach Haven Cottage, Carna,
+353 953 2502
Traffic remains limited as the road traverses around various quiet peninsulas at Roundstone and Cashel, and you’ll eventually need to turn right and down the R340 via the R342 towards Carna, where the road assumes a faster pace once more, galvanised by more dramatic scenery as the mountains heave skywards.
On reaching Carna, you can follow the Wild Atlantic Way as it heads down to County Kerry, or go back north towards Inagh Valley on the N59.
This route scratches the surface of what the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer, so take a look before the rest of Europe realises this is one of the best driving routes on the continent.