Atlantic Drive, Achill, Co Mayo, Ireland
Achill Island and the Currane Peninsula, on the west coast of Co Mayo, are among the most remote and scenic areas in Ireland. Some of the local roads that follow the coastline of Achill, and which boast some of the most spectacular views of the area, have been designated 'The Atlantic Drive'. These pages describe the routes of Achill's Atlantic Drive.
Loop 1: Currane
This 20km loop contains few hills and is therefore perfect for cyclists. Begin your journey at Achill Sound and take the R319 across the Michael Davitt Bridge. To the left of the road you will see the Railway Hostel which was once the end-of-line station for the Achill rail line. This line connected Achill to Westport from 1895 to the 1930s. As you continue your journey through the villages of Polranny, Tonragee, Owenduff an on to Mulranny, the dismantled railway line is located to your left. Also visible on the left are tidal waters fed from Blacksod Bay and Achill Sound, and which culminate in Bellacragher Bay, a large tidal inlet that is home to a fish farm.
To your right on this part of the journey from Achill Sound to Mulranny are several peaks, including Polranny Hill (452m) and Curraun Hill (524m). In between these imposing peaks is an extensive area of forestry that is accessible on foot via a network of paths and trails. Many of these tracks are marked on the Ordnance Survey Map No. 30.
The R319 ends at the junction with the N59 just outside the village of Mulranny. Take a right turn at this junction, then about 200m further on take a sharp right turn, following the signs for the 'Atlantic Drive' and Curraun.
This coast road runs close to the cliff edge and provides spectacular views of Clew Bay with its reputed 365 islands. Visible immediately to the left is the golden strand and village of Mulranny. Looking across Clew Bay, Croagh Patrick (764m) can be seen to the south-east, Mwreelrea, the Sheefry Hills and the Maamturks in Connemara are due south, and to the south-west lies Clare Island and Achill Beg island. There are several lay-bys and parking spots along this stretch of narrow and twisting road, perfect for picnics or simply to stop and explore the coastline on foot. One of these lay-bys is at the site of the Spanish Armada memorial. This plaque was erected to commemorate the ship San Nicolas Prodaneli which was wrecked on the shore at Toorglass, Currane Peninsula, in 1588.
Follow the road through the villages of Dooghbeg and Bolinglanna, and on into the village of Currane, where a copper mine was once worked and where the founder of the British police force, Sir Robert Peel, once resided. Curraun House, locally known as 'the George', was once the site of a famous tropical garden, and for many years was the house of the landlord Dickens.
Taking the road through the village, you will drive for some miles following the shoreline of Achill Sound. To your right is Curraun Hill while across the waters of the Sound (to your left) you should be able to see Kildavnet Tower, a 16th century Irish tower house that was formerly used by Granuaile, the legendary pirate queen. This road ends at a junction with the R319, at which you should take a left turn towards Achill Sound, your starting point on this loop of Achill's Atlantic Drive.
Atlantic Drive continued »