Alternative New Year’s Eve: Achill Island

Wrap up warm for a bracing start to the new year on Achill

Nothing beats being down the island of Achill overlooking Keem Bay and watching the sun sink below the sea, knowing that later on that night you’ll be escorted from the only pub in Keel, along the road out to the church at Pollagh, just up from Purteen Harbour.

In the distance you will hear another piping bank on the wind coming in from Dooagh, and when they meet they greet each other aurally, each taking it in turns to welcome in the New Year as locals and blow-ins huddle together.

To the left is the wild Atlantic. If you're lucky, after you've belted out Auld Lang Syne you might get a kiss from a loved one or even a stranger.

The accommodation on Achill is fairly basic. There are no boutique hotels or swish fancy guesthouses.

But what it lacks in luxe it makes up for in atmosphere.

And when you rise on the first morning of 2015, full of hope and probably a bit of a head, a bracing dip in the icy Atlantic at the traditional New Year’s Day swim on Dugort’s Golden Strand should set you up for the next 364 days.

For those without kids, this is a great way to ring in the New Year.