Erris, the wildest escape on the Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland’s 1,500-mile Wild Atlantic Way can be a trip into unexpected thrills, an adventure into adrenalin filled activity, or a journey into wilderness and utter tranquillity. For those wanting all of the above navigate for the Erris Peninsula in County Mayo.
Voted the best place in Ireland to go wild in by Irish Times readers last year, Erris is renowned for its authentic balance of nature, culture, activity, wildness and beauty.
Located right on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, this is a Gaeltacht area where the Irish language is still spoken.
The peninsula is one of the most remote areas of the country and the locals will be quick to point out that the next parish over is New York.
Their traditional easy-going lifestyle provides a welcoming and outstanding cultural experience, accompanied at every turn by stunning scenery and the pounding swell of the Atlantic Ocean.
Over the years the natural beauty of Erris has inspired many artists and writers, among them famed Irish playwright, poet, folklorist and one-time travel writer John Millington Synge, who travelled with Jack B Yeats through the area to write a series for a newspaper.
It’s clear the journey by carriage, on foot and by boat in the area had an effect on Synge – his masterpiece ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ mentions local place names no fewer than 15 times.
There are over 150 discovery points on the Wild Atlantic Way, and following the route’s distinctive blue zig-zag signposts through the area reveals that Erris has 14 of them.
Among them are the unspoilt wilds of Ballycroy National Park, the towering cliffs at Benwee Head and the final resting place of the fabled ‘Children of Lir’ – the island of Inis Gluaire.
The peninsula also features the Stone Age Céide Fields, the largest Neolithic monument in the world, with field systems, dwelling areas and megalithic tombs almost 6,000 years old.
With a wide variety of leisure activities based on land and on water, it is no surprise that the Erris Peninsula’s reputation as the wildest part of the Wild Atlantic Way is on the map.