Limerick county is an ideal, central, convenient and multi-faceted base from which you can explore the very best of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Wild dramatic coastline, unforgettable cliff walks and rolling hills - peppered with historical ruins, picturesque villages, bustling market towns and breathtaking views. From Malin Head to Kinsale Harbour, this is Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way - 2,500km of coastal road that takes you into the heart of a unique way of Irish life. It’s a journey of music and people, of hidden beaches, peaceful bays and epic cliff tops.
With Shannon Airport just a quick drive away, the River Shannon right there, and the rich cultural, sport and musical flavour of the region - Limerick county is your perfect introduction to what lies ahead.
With this in mind, Fáilte Ireland is busy developing a series of loops off the Wild Atlantic Way and into the heart of Limerick - so that visitors can see more of the area. One of the routes will see Limerick City included in the Wild Atlantic Way - adding some city style and convenience to the route.
Come Fly with Me
The Limerick highlight of the Wild Atlantic Way has to be Foynes – a village and major port in the midwest of Ireland, located on the southern bank of the Shannon Estuary. It’s neatly positioned at the foot of the forest slopes of Ballynacragga and Knockpatrick, giving the village natural shelter. Just north of Foynes is Foynes Island, forming a boundary to a deep channel which houses the harbour.
The area has a fascinating history as a place of great aviation importance. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Foynes was the last port of call on its eastern shore, for seaplanes crossing the Atlantic. The result was the area became home to one of the biggest civilian airports in Europe during World War II.
The first transatlantic proving flights were operated on July 5, 1937, with a service from Botwood, Newfoundland and Labrador on the Bay of Exploits - and a BOAC Short Empire service from Foynes. The transits took twelve and fifteen-and-a-quarter hours, respectively. Services to New York, Southampton, Montreal, Poole and Lisbon soon followed – and this was the beginning of a brave new world of travel.
The Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum is a very important tribute to this fascinating era of early aviation and is NOT to be missed by anyone touring the Wild Atlantic Way. There’s a really comprehensive range of exhibits and fascinating graphic illustrations – and a real treat is experiencing an authentic 1940’s cinema where you’ll watch the award-winning film ‘Atlantic Conquest’.
The museum has the only Boeing B314 replica in the world and also includes the original terminal building, radio and weather room – complete with transmitters, receivers and Morse code equipment. A fascinating fact too is that Irish Coffee was invented here in Foynes – made by a chef in 1942 to warm up some damp passengers. The centre has a tea room and gift shop – and there is plenty of parking.
Here’s a taste of how you can use Limerick as your Wild Atlantic Way base, and set forth for great adventures ahead..
This itinerary is a circular Wild Atlantic Way route of 257km (160 miles) which starts and ends in Limerick City:
- From Limerick, take the N18/M18 to the town of Ennis and then the N68 then southwest to Kilrush on the Shannon Estuary. From Kilrush take the N67 to the seaside resort of Kilkee.
- Travel northward along the coast to Lahinch via Doonbeg and Spanish Point. Lahinch is a popular water-sports destination and is Ireland’s ‘surf central’. Its beach is considered one of the best in Ireland.
- Take the R478 west to Liscannor and enjoy panoramic Atlantic views south to Spanish Point and Mutton Island.
- Take the R478 to the world-famous Cliffs of Moher. One of Ireland’s most visited natural attractions, the Cliffs reach 214m at their highest point.
- The next stop is pretty Doolin, surrounded by the spectacular bare limestone landscape of The Burren on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The village is renowned for its traditional Irish music while you can also catch a ferry from here to the Aran Islands.
- Take the R477 back to the coast with wonderful views of The Burren and continue on to Black Head – looking out across Galway Bay to the Connemara coastline.
- Travel the R477 to the small harbour village of Ballyvaughan before starting the journey back to Limerick on the N67.