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Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste Sea Stack

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Downpatrick Head is the setting for the spectacular Dún Briste sea stack located just off the coast of County Mayo along the Wild Atlantic Way. The rugged and untamed Downpatrick Head is stunning and Dún Briste is one most impressive sea stacks in Ireland. Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste are one of the most stunning sights on the Wild Atlantic Way.

Downpatrick Head Ireland

The epic view of Dun Briste from Downpatrick Head

 

 

Dún Briste and Downpatrick Head

Dún Briste literally means “broken fort” and refers to the fact that at one time the stack was connected to the mainland. It was severed from the mainland during a massive storm in 1393.

The stack currently rises around 50 metres out of the water and is topped with a grassy crown. It is home to many nesting birds

Downpatrick Head Ireland

The Wild Atlantic Way Viewpoint sign

 

Visiting Downpatrick Head

 

Downpatrick Head is located around 30 minutes-drive from Ballina along the scenic Mayo coastline. It is most easily reached by car. There is a visitors car park at Downpatrick Head and it’s short walk to the edge of the cliff side overlooking Dún Briste.

Downpatrick Head Ireland

The stunning Dun Briste at sunrise

 

Your experience visiting Dun Briste will largely depend on the weather. On a calm day the stack and cliffs are simply stunning. On a stormy day the rough seas turn the stack and cliffs into a truly dramatic sight.

Downpatrick Head Ireland

Wild Atlantic Way views of Dun Briste

Downpatrick Head Ireland

Dun Briste is massive!

 

Visiting Downpatrick Head tip: A word of caution for your visit to Downpatrick Head: the coastal viewing point area where visitors can view the stack is not fenced and it’s a sheer drop to the water below, so be very careful. This applies especially on windy days as the area is quite exposed. The grassy area around the cliffs is quite unique as it has developed into a very uneven/bubbled grassy area. Due to this it’s very easy to trip and fall near the cliff edge to take your time while exploring the area!

 

The Blowhole

There is a massive blowhole known as “Pul Na Sean Tinne“ or “Hole of the Old Fire” located just inland from the stack itself . There is an elevated viewing platform that allows you to peer into the massive crashing waves below. From here you can feel the true force of the Atlantic Ocean as it crashes into the darkness below. On stormy days when the waves are large, sea spray can be seen shooting up from the hole!

Downpatrick Head Ireland

The view from the viewing deck of the Downpatrick Blowhole

 

Downpatrick Head Ireland

The blowhole from above

 

Dún Briste Sea Stack Viewpoints

There are two main viewing areas to see Dun Briste from.

The first is the area around the small stone building close to the blowhole. From here you can get a close-up view of the sea stack as the Atlantic ocean relentlessly pounds it’s base.

Downpatrick Head Ireland

The first view of Dun Briste once you get to the cliffs

 

The second main viewing area is from the tip of Downpatrick Head. This is a short walk along the cliffside to the east of the small stone building.

This was our favourite view of Dún-Briste as you can see the sheer side of the sea stack against the backdrop of the cliffs and the Mayo coastline in the background.

Downpatrick Head Ireland

Our favourite view of Dun Briste from Downpatrick Head

 

 

EIRE 64 Lookout Post

One of the most unique aspects of Downpatrick head is the massive stone “Eire” sign on the grassy top of Downpatrick head. The sign is one of 83 similar lookout posts which were placed at various points around the Irish coastline during World War 2.

Their purpose was simple – to tell pilots that the country below them was Ireland and hence neutral. The small stone building located beside Dún Briste was a lookout post that was manned 24/7 during World War 2. In time these lookout posts became extremely important for relaying marine and aircraft activity to the Irish Defence Forces.

Downpatrick Head Ireland

EIRE 64 Lookout Post at Downpatrick Head

 

St. Patricks Church

Close to the blowhole are the remains of a church founded by Irelands patron saint, Saint Patrick. Today a stone statue stands in the ruins of the church to commemorate him.

Downpatrick Head Ireland

The statue of Saint Patrick at the old church ruins

 

 

Other Co Mayo sights nearby

Take the opportunity to visit these other Co Mayo sights nearby.

 

Céide Fields

The north Mayo coast is some of the most rugged along the Wild Atlantic Way. If you’re planning a visit to Downpatrick Head make sure to also stop by the Céide Fields, one of the oldest fields systems in the world. This site is over 5,500 years old. Tickets cost only €4 per person and its definitely worth a stop.

DownPatrick Head

The Ceide Fields from above

 

Achill Island

This small but beautiful island is connected to mainland Ireland by a short bridge and is home to some of the most pristine beaches and stunning coastline in Ireland. No trip to County Mayo is complete without spending a few days exploring Achill Island.

From the epic coastal drive around the island to it’s gorgeous beaches Achill Island is not to be missed. One of it’s beaches, Keem Bay,  was voted one of the best beaches in the world in 2019.

The beautiful Achill coastline

 

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Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Dunquin Pier, Kerry. Ireland’s Sheep Highway!

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The narrow winding pathway of Dunquin Pier, or Dun Chaoin in Irish, is an essential stop on Dingle’s spectacular Slea Head Drive and Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. The pier is picture perfect and an iconic Irish location, in part due to the sheep which file up the narrow pathway as they make their way from the pier to the mainland! Dunquin Pier is popular with locals, visitors and photographers – here’s everything you need to know about visiting Dunquin Pier!

 

Dunquin Pier

Dunquin Pier, famous for its narrow winding pathway which snakes down to the sea, is located in the village of Dunquin, or Dún Chaoin as you might spot on the Irish road signs! Dunquin is the most westerly settlement in Ireland and is surrounded by dramatic coastline and jutting rocks. The stunning setting results in Dunquin Pier being one of the most photogenic spots in Ireland.

Ireland Dunquin Pier Dingle

The captivating Dunquin Pier

 

The narrow pathway of Dunquin Pier is meant for pedestrians only – the pier became an overnight sensation a few years ago when a visitor attempted to drive their car down the winding path to wait for the first ferry and ended up firmly stuck until he was rescued the next morning! We wouldn’t recommend.

Ireland Dunquin Pier Dingle

Drone shot: the narrow path of Dunquin Harbour from the sky

 

Dunquin Pier is a stop on Dingle’s Slea Head Drive and is part of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, a spectacular road trip which stretches from West Cork to Donegal. The Wild Atlantic Way encompasses 2,500 kilometers of dramatic coastline, beautiful beaches, jutting mountains and lush scenery. Other highlights include Achill Island, Skellig Michael (of Star Wars fame) and the postcard perfect Cliffs of Moher.

Ireland Dunquin Pier Dingle

The dramatic coastline surrounding Drumquin Pier

 

 

Ireland’s Sheep Highway!

Dunquin Pier is often referred to as Ireland’s Sheep Highway, likely due to an iconic Irish postcard image depicting the pier filled with sheep as they were transported from the Blasket Islands to the mainland. It’s rare these days but, if you get really lucky, you might see some sheep arrive and file slowly up the pier as they reach the mainland!

 

The Blasket Islands

The pier is the departure point for the ferry to the Blasket Islands, a now uninhabited group of islands belonging to Co. Kerry. The Irish speaking Islands are famous for its residents who produced some renowned literature including Peig by Peig Sayers and The Islandman by Tomás Ó Criomhthain.

Ireland Dunquin Pier Dingle

The Blasket Islands are visible from Dunquin

 

Visiting Dunquin Pier

Dunquin Pier is easily accessed from the Slea Head drive and is close to Slea Head and the stone crucifix sculpture on the route.

Sunset is our favourite time of the day to visit as the evening light makes for great photographs – on a nice evening you might come across a few photographers gathered at the viewpoint to capture Dunquin Pier at its finest!

Ireland Dunquin Pier Dingle

Sunset is one of the best times to visit Dunquin

 

If you are a movie buff, the 1970 romantic drama Ryan’s Daughter was filmed in the area and the ruins of the schoolhouse are located near to Dunquin Pier.

 

How to get to Dunquin Pier

Dunquin Pier by Car

Dunquin Pier is on the Dingle Peninsula and is most easily reached by car or on a guided tour which stops at Dunquin. Driving the route clockwise, as you drive along Slea Head from the stone crucifix sculpture there is a turnoff which is marked by signs for ferries to the Blasket Islands. Signs in Irish will display ‘Dun Chaoin’.

There are two stops: the first is the best for a direct view over Dunquin Pier and is perfect for photographs. It is marked by an information sign and a stone monument tribute to the Spanish Armada. Follow the path along the cliff and admire the views – it’s a short walk but do be careful and respect the cliff edge warning signs.

The Blasket Ferry and Blasket Centre parking is a short drive past this stop and, from here, one can walk down the pier. It is steep so don’t venture too far if you are worried about the climb back up!

As you rejoin the main Slea Head Drive road the schoolhouse from Ryan’s Daughter is located at the end of the next laneway on the left side of the road.

Ireland Dunquin Pier Dingle

It’s a steep climb back up from the pier, I can verify!

 

Dunquin Pier by Public Transport

Dunquin is difficult to reach by public transport. The nearby town of Tralee is the first point of entry and, from there, take the 275 Bus Eireann bus to Dingle.

From Dingle, Bus Eireann operate the 275A between Dingle and Dunquin on Monday and Thursday only. The first bus departs from Dingle at 8am and the latest return from Dunquin is 12:55pm.

Check the latest bus timetable before travelling.

 

We hope you have as much fun visiting Dunquin Pier as we had!

Ireland Dunquin Pier Dingle

 

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

18 Best Things to do in Clare, Ireland

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Located on the West Coast of Ireland in the centre of the Wild Atlantic Way, there are lots of incredible things to do in Clare. It boasts some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in Ireland and is home to the world famous Cliffs of Moher. There is so much more to this stunning county and we've put this list together of the best things to do in Clare to inspire you for your next visit. 

Things to do in Clare

 

18 Best things to do in Clare

From the world famous Cliffs of Moher to the stunning Fanore beach and the quaint and colourful village of Doolin, here are our 18 best things to do in Clare

 

1 | The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher are instantly recognisable given that the stunning backdrop often features as the postcard image of Irish tourism. They are one of Ireland's most visited tourist attractions and an absolute must see in both Clare and Ireland. The cliffs soar over 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean and stretch for over 5 miles with a sheer vertical drop to the sea below.

Nothing beats a walk along the cliffs as the wind gusts and the waves crash below. Wrap up well, check out the viewing platforms and prepare to be mesmerised by the stunning beauty of the Cliffs!

Things to do in Clare

Things to do in Clare tip: One of the most spectacular ways to see the Cliffs of Moher is to take the coastal hike from Doolin up to the cliffs. It's a tough uphill hike but the views are truely incredible.

Things to do in Clare

Views from the Doolin Cliff walk

 

The Cliffs of Moher are spectacular from all directions but the view from the sea is truly awe inspiring. We opted for a one hour cruise from Doolin pier which follows the cliffs as they climb along the sea. 

The boat is an awesome vantage point from which to check out Branaunmore sea stack. 

Things to do in Clare

The Cliffs of Moher Cruise from Doolin

Things to do in Clare

Crusing

Keep an eye out for Dusty, the much loved Doolin Pier dolphin who likes to hang around the boat. Seriously, who doesn't melt at the sight of a dolphin?

Things to do in Clare

Dusty the Dolphin

 

2 | The Burren

With its huge pavements of limestone and beautiful plant life the Burren is a truly strange and unique landscape. Given the abundance of limestone it's quite fitting that the meaning of its name is the stony place!

The Burren and Cliffs of Moher region was awarded UNESCO Global Geopark status in 2011 due to the international importance of its geological heritage.

Things to do in Clare

The Burren

 

3 | Poulnabrone Dolmen

Along with the Cliffs of Moher, the Poulnabrone Dolmen is one of the most iconic sites in Clare. The ancient stone tomb, with its beautiful Burren backdrop, dates back to somewhere between 4200 BC and 2900 BC. IIts name literally means 'the hole of sorrows' and the remains of 16 adults, 6 children and a newborn dating back to the Bronze Age were found buried under the monument during excavations in the 1980's.

Things to do in Clare

Poulnabrone Dolmen, 8km South of Ballyvaughan

 

4 | Loop Head

The scenic drive to the Loop Head Peninsula is part of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is famous for its plunging cliffs, improbable sea stacks and dramatic coastline. We'd have to agree that Kilkee and the Loop Head Peninsula are one of Ireland's best kept secrets!

Things to do in Clare

Loop Head Lighthouse

Things to do in Clare

Things to do in Clare

The sea cliffs at Loop Head

 

5 | Dromoland Castle

First and foremost, Dromoland is a stunning castle! It has incredible history, amazing grounds and, if you venture inside, glorious old world charm. It dates back to the 5th Century when it was an ancestral home and the neo-gothic castle is set in 410 acres of woodland and lakes which are open to the public.

Things to do in Clare tip: Keep an eye out for the resident hawk who is often on show with the Dromoland School of Falconry.

Venturing inside the castle feels like taking a step back in time with the plush furnishings and coats of armour in the halls. 

Things to do in Clare

Dromoland Castle, Newmarket on Fergus

 

6 | Fanore Beach

The unspoiled sandy beach of Fanore is a hidden gem in Co Clare. With its clear waters and soft sands, Fanore is perfect for sunny days and long walks on the beach. 

Things to do in Clare

Fanore Beach

 

7 | Father Ted's House

Calling all Father Ted fans! It's only Father Ted's House smack in the middle of the Burren in Co Clare and it looks exactly as it did in the television series!

Father Ted's house is a private family home but the family offer an organic afternoon tea to allow visitors to take a closer look at the Craggy Island Parochial House. You’ll have some tea… are you sure you don’t want any? Aw go on, you’ll have some. Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, GO ON!! 

Things to do in Clare

Father Ted's House, The Burren

 

8 | Burren Birds of Prey Centre and Aillwee Caves

If you love owls, a stop at the Burren Birds of Prey Centre should be high on your list of things to do in Clare. The Centre is also home to eagles, falcons and hawks and it's wonderful to watch them flying and interacting. 

 

Things to do in Clare

Burren Birds of Prey Centre, Ballyvaughan

 

It's a short hop from the Birds of Prey to the Aillwee Caves next door. The caves are home to stalagmites, stalactites, a waterfall and extinct bear bones. The stunning terrace overlooking Galway Bay is perfect for a post sight seeing glass of wine.

Things to do in Clare

The Ailwee Caves

 

9 | Corkscrew Hill

If you're driving in Clare don't miss Corkscrew Hill. On the road from Ballyvaughan to Lisdoonvarna, Corkscrew Hill was built as part of the famine relief scheme in the 1840's. Successful navigation of the steep and winding hill is rewarded with stunning views over the Burren.

Things to do in Clare

Corkscrew Hill

 

10 | Ballyvaughan

Ballyvaughan is an incredibly charming and picturesque harbour village and a great base Clare. The people are lovely, the food, drinks and craic are fantastic and the location perfect for sightseeing.

Things to do in Clare

One of the beautiful cottage in Ballyvaughan

 

O'Loclainn's Whiskey Bar, a small bar stocking 50 different types of whiskey, is located in Ballyvaughan and is a whisky lovers haven. It was once described by Steven Spielberg as one of the best pubs he had been in.

Things to do in Clare

O'Loclainn's Whiskey Bar in Ballyvaughan

 

Pinnacle Well: Situated on the coast road close to Ballyvaugan, the small spring served the people of Ballyvaughan in terms of drought.

Things to do in Clare

 

11 | Black Head

The headland, which winds around the Burren from Ballyvaughen and down the coast to Fanore Beach. is known as Black Head. This rocky coastline is truly unique due to the dark rock that makes up the headland. The views here on a clear day are spectacular and there are lots of places to pull in and take in the views

Things to do in Clare tip: If you have time make sure to try the Black Head Loop walk. This hike takes around 6 hours and includes some of the most beautiful views of the Burren.

Things to do in Clare

Black Head Co. Clare

 

12 | Lisdoonvarna

Thousands of romantics make the annual trek to Lisdoonvarna to attend one of Europe's largest matchmaking festivals. 

Things to do in Clare

The Matchmaker Bar

Things to do in Clare

The Lisdoonvarna sculpture

 

13 | Doolin

Doolin is the quintessential Irish village in the stunning setting of the Burren with the beautiful backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. There's an abundance of Aran sweaters, Irish music and thatched cottages.The Cliffs of Moher cruises leave from Doolin pier and it's home to Doolin Caves which houses the largest free standing stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere.

Things to do in Clare

Doolin

 

14 | Great Hunger Memorial

: The Great Hunger Memorial, on the Lahinch Road, was erected in memory of the victims of the great potato crop failures of 1845 to 1851.

Things to do in Clare

Great Hunger Memorial

Things to do in Clare

Great Hunger Memorial

 

 

15 | Doonagore Castle 

Doonagore Castle sits on a hill 1km above the village overlooking Doolin Point. It is used as a navigational point by boats approaching the pier. The views are stunning but be aware that the castle is a private holiday home and therefore inaccessible.

Things to do in Clare

 

16 | Bunratty Castle

A medieval fortress built in 1425, Bunratty Castle contains 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries and works of art. The grounds include a folk park and a walled garden and the castle hosts medieval banquets and traditional Irish nights.

Things to do in Clare

Bunratty Castle, Bunratty

 

17 | Durty Nelly's, Bunratty

Next door to Bunratty Castle is Durty Nellys an Irish pub dating back to the 1620s and is the self styled oldest pub in Ireland. Legend has it that Nelly herself introduced poteen, the traditional Irish beverage, to Ireland.

Things to do in Clare

Durty Nelly's

 

18 | Keating's Pub

Enjoy a Guinness at the nearest bar to New York in Kibaha! I'm still not convinced on the geography behind this one but we trust they know what they're talking about!

Things to do in Clare

Keating's Pub

 

So there you have it, our guide to the best things to do in Clare a county with an abundance of sights and lots of craic! Let us know if we missed anything in the comments1

About Us

 

Your Irish Vacation aims to give you the best itineraries and guides to make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

Your Ireland Vacation

 

Helping you make the most of your trip to Ireland

 

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