How to Organize an Unforgettable Road Trip Along Ireland’s Ceide Coast

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RoadTripIreland

This travel guide, brought to you by National Geographic Traveller (UK), will lead you through an incredible road trip along Ireland’s Ceide Coast, where you’ll journey through history and witness breathtaking landscapes.

9am: Commence the Adventure in Killala

Prepare for a captivating 30-mile drive that will transport you thousands of years back in time. Begin your day in Killala, situated on the picturesque River Moy estuary. Kickstart your morning with a delightful cup of coffee at The Kiosk Café on Market Street. Afterward, explore the fascinating fifth-century Round Tower, a majestic 75ft limestone structure that seems like it could belong in a fairy tale, with Rapunzel’s hair cascading down. Take note of the doorway positioned 11 feet above the ground – a defensive measure employed against invaders, as access ladders could be drawn inside for protection.

10am: Venture to Downpatrick Head

Set your GPS for Downpatrick Head, where you’ll encounter the awe-inspiring Dún Briste, a towering sea stack standing just 80 meters from the cliff edge. The name “Dún Briste” translates to “broken fort” in Irish, and according to legend, it was separated from the mainland during a storm in 1393. Tales abound of local residents being rescued by ships’ ropes from the isolated stack.

11.30am: Visit the Ballinglen Museum of Art

Make a stop at the Ballinglen Museum of Art in Ballycastle, where you’ll be captivated by art inspired by the untamed beauty of the Atlantic landscapes. Once you’ve soaked in the artistic charm, indulge in a satisfying lunch at Céide Ladle’s food shack nearby. Treat yourself to locally caught mackerel served with salad and homemade brown bread, a delightful feast for road-trippers’ appetites.

2pm: Proceed to the Céide Fields

The visitor center, open from March to November, offers insights into the oldest-known stone-walled fields on Earth – an astonishing patchwork of Neolithic fields dating back nearly 6,000 years, most of which are concealed beneath blanket bogs. This landscape, described as “a landscape fossilized” by poet Seamus Heaney, promises a truly unique experience.

3.30pm: Take the Scenic Route from Belderrig to Portacloy

Although the endpoint, Carrowteige, is a short drive from your starting point in Killala, the journey is filled with enchanting surprises. The less-traveled local road from Belderrig to Portacloy unveils a hauntingly beautiful, hilly agricultural landscape adorned with cut bogs, grottos, and ancient ruins. It epitomizes the captivating essence of the west coast. Traveling during off-peak times may even grant you the entire Portacloy beach to revel in solitude.

5pm: Embrace a Picturesque Coastal Walk

The Ceide Coast offers an array of walking options, but a short loop on Benwee Head, near the Gaeltacht area of Carrowteige where Irish is spoken, promises a fulfilling experience. Witness the dramatic seas, towering cliffs, and the magnificent Stags of Broadhaven rocks offshore. Round off your day by returning to Carrowteige or heading back to Kilala, filled with unforgettable memories.

Published in the UK & Ireland supplement, distributed with the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

To subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine, click here. (Available in select countries only).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about RoadTripIreland

Question 1: What is the starting point of the road trip along Ireland’s Ceide Coast?

Answer: The road trip begins in Killala, a charming town situated on the River Moy estuary. Here, you can explore the fifth-century Round Tower and enjoy a cup of coffee at The Kiosk Café on Market Street before setting off on your adventure.

Question 2: What can I see at Downpatrick Head?

Answer: Downpatrick Head offers a striking landscape featuring a towering sea stack called Dún Briste, located around 80 meters from the cliff edge. According to local legend, the sea stack was separated from the mainland during a storm in 1393.

Question 3: What can I experience at the Ballinglen Museum of Art?

Answer: At the Ballinglen Museum of Art in Ballycastle, you can admire works by artists-in-residence inspired by the wild Atlantic landscapes. Afterward, treat yourself to a delicious lunch at Céide Ladle’s food shack nearby.

Question 4: What’s the significance of the Céide Fields?

Answer: The Céide Fields boast the oldest-known stone-walled fields on Earth, dating back almost 6,000 years. The visitor center (open March to November) provides insights into this ancient Neolithic landscape.

Question 5: What route can I take for a scenic drive from Belderrig to Portacloy?

Answer: The local road from Belderrig to Portacloy offers a hauntingly beautiful drive through a hilly agricultural landscape, dotted with cut bogs, grottos, and ruins. It provides a summary of the beauty and melancholy of the west coast.

Question 6: Are there walking opportunities along the Ceide Coast?

Answer: Absolutely! There are several walking options along the coast, with a short loop on Benwee Head offering breathtaking views of the seas, cliffs, and the Stags of Broadhaven rocks offshore.

Question 7: Where can I find more information about this road trip?

Answer: This article is produced by National Geographic Traveller (UK). For more details and in-depth travel insights, you can refer to the UK & Ireland supplement distributed with the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

More about RoadTripIreland

  • National Geographic Traveller (UK) – Link
  • Killala Round Tower – Link
  • Downpatrick Head – Link
  • Ballinglen Museum of Art – Link
  • Céide Fields Visitor Centre – Link
  • Benwee Head Loop Walk – Link
  • National Geographic Traveller (UK) – Link (To subscribe to the magazine)

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