Hi there! I am Miriam, an Afro-Irish lady with a passion for exploring. I love discovering new places, cultures, and literature. Once a month, I’ll give you a first glance into what my idea of exploring Ireland is.
For our first adventure, I will take you on a road trip to the West of Ireland. Together, we’ll venture through Strandhill Beach and get a workout by visiting the hiking trails of Benbulbin. We’ll also take a quick dip in the freezing water of Achill Island, and of course, stop off at a local Chipper to get the best and heartiest portion of fish and chips for less than a tenner!
My dear best friends Elle and Susie joined me on this trip and certainly added a lot of character and joy to this adventure. So please, fasten your seat belts, and let’s start this road trip!
The beginning of our adventures
As a Galway girl I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear, when my dear friends and I finally decided to head on our long awaited road trip to the west of Ireland. Sligo and Mayo were 1st on our agenda.
“We had rented a beautiful little cottage in Skreen, with the Ox mountains as our back garden.”
Elle kindly collected me from my home post-night shifts on a wet and windy Saturday morning. We quickly picked up Susie from her house so that our adventure could begin. Of course, it would not be a proper Irish road trip without a stop at your local Circle K, accompanied with a gourmet McDonald’s meal from their Euro saver menu. To say it was delicious would be an understatement.
The first stop on our Irish road trip was Sligo. We had rented a beautiful little cottage in Skreen, with the Ox mountains as our back garden. It was a wholesome and homely little cottage that we would call home for the next two days.
No rain will get us stuck in
We were all ready and set for the first place on our plan, but then it started raining cats and dogs (a commonly used phrase to describe the unpredictable Irish weather). Oh well, it wouldn’t be Ireland without a refreshing downpour of summer rain.
“We were drenched within minutes!”
Despite the rain, we were still determined to explore the unique area of Skreen, especially because Strandhill Beach was about a 30-minute drive from us, and we had also heard that this was one of the most popular beaches people usually visit.
So off we went to explore the area, and we were drenched within minutes. We had hoped to go for a quick dip but soon realized that that was wishful thinking.
One thing we were extremely grateful for was our rain jackets and wellies. When visiting the west, always bring a rain jacket with you. That is the most valuable piece of advice I can give. So make sure to add it to your list of things to bring to the west of Ireland.
On our way home, we stopped at our local gas station, which also happened to be the local grocery store. It was conveniently built in the garage of one of the locals in Skreen. That was certainly a unique experience. We quickly filled our tote bags with our favorite Irish snacks, from the likes of Barry’s tea, gummy bears to Cadbury Wispa bars, and of course Taytos’ cheese and onion crisps.
Easy like Sunday morning
Sunday morning was looking more promising, weather-wise. We eagerly set out on our adventure to discover Glencar waterfall and the Devil’s Chimney. To our dismay, the roads that led to these two beautiful waterfalls were flooded due to the heavy rainfall overnight.
Glencar waterfall is famous for being a source of inspiration for the world-renowned poet William Butler Yeats. Mentions of the fall appear in his enthralling poem, The Stolen Child.
The Devil’s Chimney waterfall, on the other hand, is a mesmerizing phenomenon. Sruth in Aghaidh an Aird, which means the stream against the height, is the Irish name for this natural beauty. The name comes from the fact that, during certain weather conditions, the wind coming from the South blows the waterfall upward and back over the cliff.
“We ventured off to Benbulben for the 2 km forest trail. It was breathtaking!”
During the dry seasons, the waterfall does not flow. However, it is still spectacular to watch it directly after heavy downpours of rain. We will be planning another road trip to experience this beauty, for sure.
A trip around the west of Ireland is not complete without a hike to get our heart rates up. We ventured off to Benbulben for the 2 km forest trail. It was breathtaking, and many people from all ages and walks of life came together to burn off their Sunday brunches. Benbulben is sometimes referred to as Ireland’s table mountain due to its unique shape.
Off to Mayo we go
Our tranquil stay at Skreen was slowly coming to an end, and it was time for us to move on to the next part of our Irish road trip. Off to Mayo, we go. A beautiful county filled with an abundance of hiking trails, waterfronts, and quirky amenities.
Monday morning, we arrived at Westport, a scenic town full of character. This time, a good friend of ours hosted us at her parents’ Airbnb. The house was once a shed, and they have converted it into a cozy apartment. It had everything one could ask for, including a stunning view of Croagh Patrick.
“We were living on the edge as we carefully drove up the Cliff to admire the beautiful views at the top”
Our first port of call was Achill Island. On our way there, we made a quick stop at the alluring White Cliffs of Ashleam, one of the main attractions unique to the Wilde Atlantic Way. We were living on the edge as we carefully drove up the Cliff to admire the beautiful views at the top. It was definitely worth the gut-wrenching drive, and on top of that, we made friends with some whimsical mountain sheep.
Achill Island was a sight for sore eyes. The water was freezing, but Ireland was undergoing a heatwave at the time, so this was the perfect combination. Children were paddling out with their paddleboards while parents peacefully sunbathed. It was as if we were in the likes of Costa del Sol.
It went without saying that after our day passed swimming, our delicious snacks weren’t enough, and we made a quick stop at our local chipper. I can say, without a doubt, that was the best portion of fish and chips we had had in a long time. The tanginess of the vinegar perfectly complemented the fresh taste of cod on our pallets.
A visit to the town center
We made a quick stop at Westport House, known as the jewel in the crown of Mayo. This estate beautifully portrays the heritage of Mayo through the grand Georgian house, works from William Butler Yeats, and a gorgeous amusement park. The Browne Family once owned the Park, and it was first opened to the public in 1960.
“It is a place that vividly brings back a lot of nostalgic memories”
All three of us had fond memories of this beautiful place as we spent many school tours here as primary school pupils. So naturally, we had to pay this attraction a quick visit as it is a place that vividly brings back a lot of nostalgic memories.
We could not conclude our trip without popping around the town center of Westport. We wanted to experience the norm of living in such a whimsical town. Of course, this had to include food, and in an Irish Holiday, no matter the weather, ice cream!
Krem Gelateria and Cafe came highly recommended by the locals. They had every delicious flavor under the sun. From vanilla to brown bread, Achill Island Sea Salt to Bailey’s Irish cream. We were spoiled for choice.
When making a trip down to Westport, which I strongly advise, consider visiting the Kreme. Not only are the ice cream flavors to die for, but the customer service is outstanding. The staff immediately made us feel right at home. It’s a 10/10 from Susie, Elle, and me on this one.
To Wrap it Up
That’s all the little nuggets of wisdom I have to share from this fun-filled road trip in the West. From getting drenched at sea to enjoying some wholesome moments with my best friends, chatting over a hearty portion of fish and chips from the chipper.
So if you’re planning to visit the West of Ireland, make sure to get a pen and paper to jot down some notes, but more importantly, remember to bring a raincoat and wellies!
I am already planning our next Staycation and looking forward to sharing that with you in the next post.
Slán go fóill
About Miriam Adenyo
When I’m not drinking cups and cups of Barry’s tea, I’m usually spending time with my friends exploring new places or cooking a hearty meal together. I believe there is beauty in every form of art, and each artist tells a unique story, whether they are using a paintbrush, a pen, or their voice. I’m always on the lookout to find where my next adventure lies. Let’s see what’s next! Check Miriam’s Instagram