Vitamin Sea

Why drive the Wild Atlantic Way, when you can dive it? John Edwards of Wild Water Adventures knows every nook and cranny of the coastline and offers wild swimming, kayaking and coasteering in secret coves around North Kerry. Just the thing to get your dose of Vitamin Sea.

Say It With Flowers: Maura Sheehy runs regular workshops and classes at her flower farm on the Wild Atlantic Way. Credit: Ciara O'Donnell

Maura Sheehy runs regular workshops and classes at her flower farm on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Say It With Flowers

From cosmos to cornflowers, Maura Sheehy has turned her hillside home outside Tralee into an award-winning flower farm and floristry studio, where she offers regular workshops and private classes for those who wish to create their own natural arrangements.

Dingle All The Way

When it comes to street feasts, it’s hard to beat the Dingle Food Festival, which takes place 5-7 October this year in conjunction with the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards. As well as workshops, talks, farmers’ market and cooking demonstrations, the epic taste trail offers something to tempt every taste bud, from Dexter beef to Dingle gin cocktails.

Sub-Tropical south Kerry

Reach new heights on Ireland’s longest skywalk at Kells Bay Gardens, a sub-tropical experience in the heart of South Kerry. Boasting 17 hectares, attractions include the ladies’ walled garden, river ramble, primeval forest and bamboo glade, as well as a river cafe and the Sala Thai restaurant.

Sweetest thing

Channel your inner Juliette Binoche at Skelligs Chocolate, just a stone’s throw from St Finian’s Bay, with enviable views of the Skelligs. Visitors can see the chocolate being made and enjoy samples, treat themselves in the seasonal café and buy any of Skelligs Chocolate’s handmade range, from popular flavours like strawberry and champagne to dreamily decadent combinations like rose and pistachio. Visit

Graze the Wild Atlantic Way

Discover the “superfood” that is seaweed with Atlantic Irish Seaweed Tours in Caherdaniel with John Fitzgerald. After a slideshow introduction, it’s off to shore for a guided foraging walk, before returning to base to feast on a tasting lunch with dishes from Dillisk crisps to marinated sea spaghetti.

Bike & Hike: Pedals & Boots is a small, rural cafe and bike hire business in Lauragh, Co Kerry.Photo:Valerie O’Sullivan

Bike & hike

Follow the foxglove-fringed road between Kenmare and Castletownbere to Pedals and Boots in Lauragh, where Kilian and Jenny Murphy have converted their former post office into a destination café with bike hire and hiking facilities, such as free maps with cycling and walking routes, packed lunches and shower facilities.

Skellig Coast Tourism Network

With the Wild Atlantic Way and the Star Wars effect, the Skellig Coast has seen visitor numbers rise; and locals are determined to develop a world-class tourism destination to provide a future for the region.

Developing the Skellig Coast as a world-class tourism destination is the “last chance at changing the tide” on rural depopulation, according to the community behind the project.

The area – which stretches from Kells to Castlecove – has seen a rise in visitor numbers due to the Wild Atlantic Way, plus the Stars Wars effect since Skellig Michael featured in the blockbusting series.

However, unless the community works to provide “realistic ways of getting people to stay in the area, it’s a non-event”, says Pat Kavanagh, a farmer from Kells who is secretary of the Skellig Coast Tourism Network.

He explains that historically, many visitors have whizzed through the area on their way around the Ring of Kerry. However, the local community believe they have a lot more to offer, with 10 local development groups coming together under the umbrella of the Skellig Coast Tourism Network to put together a compelling package to encourage tourists to stay – and spend – in the area.

Established two years ago after a period of consultation, the initiative has received widespread support from Kerry County Council, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Fáilte Ireland, South Kerry Development Partnership, LEO and IT Tralee to create a strategic plan for 2017-2020.

For instance, while the coastline boasts a world-class attraction in Skellig Michael, the island is only open to the public from May to October.

However, the network believes there are many other ways to tell the Skellig story off-season, and on the mainland, with initiatives planned including the promotion of a “Monks Trail Walk” in Ballinskelligs, and further development of the existing Skelligs Experience Centre.

“It just focuses the area on how we can make the Skelligs accessible for 12 months of the year, but funnily, not landing on it all the time,” says Pat.

Other plans include the development of a Daniel O’Connell driving route, the creation of an interactive experience at the Transatlantic Cable Station on Valentia Island, building on the region’s status as a dark sky reserve, the creation of a food tour route and workshops in everything from photography to turf-cutting.

“We feel that the one- to three-day itinerary is what’s being promoted at the minute and we feel that that will have a huge impact,” says Pat of the end goal.

“Having somebody overnighting in the area is a huge benefit and if that happens for a second night and they have a three-day itinerary, we have transformed this area.”

But Pat stresses it’s not just the tourism industry that will benefit: he believes it has the potential to provide a future for the local community that has faced many challenges.

“Clubs not able to make numbers, schools closing, the whole issue of rural depopulation,” he lists. “That has brought communities together to say this is our last chance at changing the tide.”

However, if they can pull together with agency support, Pat believes there is a real future for the Skellig Coast.

“We have been bombarded with opportunities beyond our wildest dreams in a short period of time and it has just been brilliant,” he says, “but also it has to be made realistic and understood that we as volunteers have to take on a challenge.”

The wild life

Lisa Fingleton lives with her partner near Ballybunion in North Kerry. They have a small farm just under 20 acres and mainly focus on growing their own food organically and working creatively through art, photography and film.

The obvious highlights of living on the Wild Atlantic Way are the fresh air and spectacular scenery. Ballybunion is particularly stunning, with its three beaches and bracing cliff walk. I also feel that the people make it a great place to live. There is a strong sense of community and looking out for each other.

The biggest challenge for me is the isolation in winter, especially when the wind and rain have been battering against the house for weeks and the grey skies turn black. On days like this, friends and family feel so far away. I long for a cosy coffee shop in the city (where it never rains of course!).

Then the buds blossom, the swallows return, the sun shines and I can’t imagine a more magical place to live.


Kerry native Lizzy Lyons and her Polish husband Arek Turbinski left London to start their own food business, Lizzie’s Little Kitchen in Listowel, and are due to open a second premises in Ballybunion. They have two children, Ruairi (8) and Pierce (5).

Had we stayed in London, we would have never had the opportunity to do this for ourselves. Being on the Wild Atlantic Way was one of the main reasons why we are where we are today – the produce is phenomenal. The challenge in the quieter months is the footfall. The weather does play a bit of havoc with it, but the way I get around it is I cook food that suits that wild weather. It can be a bit isolated in a way, and everything is that much further.

But I know that had I stayed in London, I would have been in the rat race, feeling completely unfulfilled. I still pinch myself because I think of the years trying to get down to Bournemouth or Brighton; it was a four-hour commute to get to the beach! The kids have as much freedom as they want and it’s just a fantastic way to live.