Keem Bay, Achill Island, Ireland
Keem Bay is a perfect horseshoe bay containing a popular Blue Flag beach at the head of a valley between the cliffs of Benmore to the west and Croaghaun mountain on the east. At the southern end of the valley, the beach is sheltered to the west by Moyteoge Head, while at the northwestern end of the valley the cliffs of Benmore connect with the spectacular mile long promontory of Achill Head. This spar is the most westerly point on Achill and tails off with two sea stacks called Gaoí Saggart and Carrickakin.
Keem is accessible for cars via a clifftop road that was constructed in the 1960s along the route of an older track. This road also crosses a local geological boundary, exposing a seam of amethyst quartz in the cliffside. Amethyst is a semiprecious stone with a magnificent purple to voilet coloration, said in folklore to have a number of properties including as a love charm, as protection against thieves and drunkeness, and as an aide to sleep. For treasure seekers hunting for amethyst on Achill, the best time to search is immediately after heavy rainfall. Good luck!
Keem Bay was traditionally used by fishermen on Achill Island and is undoubtedly the location of the artist Paul Henry's famous painting 'Launching the Currach' (1910, on display in the National Gallery of Ireland). Until fairly recently the waters of Keem Bay were home to the basking shark as well as grey seals and numerous varieties of fish. In the 1940s and 50s the basking shark was hunted by local fishermen at Keem Bay using traditional canvas covered curraghs and directed by spotters situated on the cliffside on Moyteoge Head. The oil of the basking shark was extracted for export as a fine grade lubricant for the aerospace industry. The largest specimen of the porbeagle shark caught by rod-and-line in Irish waters was caught off Keem Bay by Dr. O'Donnell-Browne in 1932. It weighed 365lbs.