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Off the beaten track: 10 lesser-known attractions

Make time to explore these hidden gems on your Wild Atlantic journey

Early Christian ruins on Inishmurray Island, Co Sligo. Photograph: Joe McGowan

Early Christian ruins on Inishmurray Island, Co Sligo. Photograph: Joe McGowan


1. Sea Safari and Maritime Heritage Tours, Arranmore Island, Co Donegal

This tour in the stunning Donegal Atlantic waters includes marine history dating back to 1781. Your skipper will explain the establishment of an 18th-century fishing station in the area, while you cruise through and see the station’s historical landmarks, cliffs, sea stacks and seabirds soaring around you. For more, visit 

For more, visit divearranmore.com

2. Ards Forest Park, Co Donegal

There is a view of the Atlantic from this incredible park that will leave you forever changed. Ards Forest Park is a magical place as it encompasses a rare combination of woodland and sandy beach. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy its many trails teeming with wildlife and beautiful plants.

3. Inishmurray Island, Co Sligo

This deserted island was an early Christian settlement with a monastery founded by St Molaise in the 6th century. The last of the islanders moved away in 1957 and today Inishmurray is a significant wildlife sanctuary for both breeding and wintering birds. Boat trips are available from Mullaghmore and Rosses Point.

For more, visit inishmurrayislandtrips.com and sligoboatcharters.com

4. Seatrails, Sligo IT, Sligo

Spend a day on Strandhill Peninsula’s stunning coastline with a maritime archaeologist who will explain its landscape and history, as you explore Culleenamore Strand. Having worked up an appetite, feast on freshly-harvested mussels cooked by chefs from local seafood restaurant, Trá Bán, on the rocks.

For more, visit seatrails.ie

5. Clarke’s Salmon Smokery, Ballina, Co Mayo

With more than 70 years’ experience, the Clarke family is renowned for producing some of the finest smoked seafood along the Atlantic, including its award-winning oak-smoked Irish wild salmon. During the tour, you will hear about the history of smoking salmon and see a demonstration of how it is made.

For more, visit clarkes.ie

6. Glenkeen Farm, Louisburgh, Co Mayo

Experience age-old tradition at Glen Keen Sheep Farm with an immersive sheepdog herding display, followed by a wool spinning demonstration and the farm’s history of traditional sheep farming from the 1600s. Round it off with a cup of tea and homemade scones.

For more, visit glenkeenfarm.com

7. The Claddagh Experience, Galway city

Historian and storyteller Brian Nolan takes you through the history of the city with tales of Alexander Nimmo and the Vikings. You will also join skipper and real-life nephew of a long line of kings of the Claddagh for a trip on Galway Bay. Also included is tea in the wonderful surrounds of Katie’s Claddagh Cottage.

For more, visit claddaghdesigns.ie

8. Doolin Music House, Doolin, Co Clare

Imagine hearing a trad session in the musician’s house? That is exactly what you can experience at Doolin Music House, where Christy Barry and his partner, Sheila, have opened their home for visitors to enjoy local Irish music in relaxed, intimate surroundings. Christy explains the history of the tunes you are listening to by a cosy open fire.

For more, visit doolinmusichouse.com

9. Bromore Cliffs, Co Kerry

For one of those “isn’t it great to be alive” moments, visit the breathtaking 180-ft Bromore cliffs for a cliff-top walk. Summer sees its plants and wildlife in full bloom, while you might spot seals, bottlenose dolphins or a sea otter in the ocean below. The walk is safe, easy and suitable for all ages.

For more, visit bromorecliffs.com

10. West Cork Farm Tours

With a West Cork Farm Tour, you get to experience authentic, working farms and see examples of how this world-famous food region produces dairy, beef and pork. You won’t meet all the farmers, but any farmer you do visit, you will experience these incredible producers on the land they love and sample delicious produce.

For more, visit westcorkfarmtours.com