A guide to Achill Island. The un-commercial version.The thing about Achill Island is that it can either make or break you and it is a fine line between the two. But if you are one of the lucky few who ventures beyond the veil of torrential rain, you are guaranteed to discover a place of immaculate beauty and adventure.
I present you with a list of things not to be missed on Oilean Acla.
1. The Greenway: Achill’s latest batch of trials are incredible, running from Mulranny into Achill sound (13km). You can rent bikes in Newport or bring your own. It is the closest you’ll get to an open top bus tour.
2. If you don’t fancy walking, then I hate to break it to you but you are in the wrong place. Achill hosts several routes, several hundred that is. But my two personal favourites are Keel Beach and The Deserted village
But check out this brochure for all the hill walking routes: http://www.achilltourism.com/hillwalking.html
3.Croagh Patrick. No arguments, just climb it. It is something to add to your bucket list and then tick straight off.
4.Keem – the secret beach. It is not so much a secret as so downright scary to reach the destination that not a lot of people venture there. But if you can bite the bullet and drive over a tarred road that scales the edge of a cliff, then both the getting there and the destination are unreal.
5. Cafe’s: My Mammy’s favourite part of the island and I am sure the only reason she accompanies me on the six hour drive from home. There are a lot of dives but amongst the crap three or four shine through:
-The Beehive Crafts and coffee shop, Keel
-The Cottage coffee shop, Dugort
-Blackfield surf hut and cafe, Keel
-Lynotts Pub, Cashel
6.Now, down to the real fun, Achill is a hardy adventurers paradise. The playing field, the equipment and the teachers are there if you are willing to cough up the dough (money).
-Surfing – There is a pile of surf schools to choose from for the young ones. However, if you just want to give it a go yourself, Surf le Thomas is on site at Keel Beach all day everyday at prime time with foam boards for a tenner to use at your leisure.( Would you check out my rhymes!)
-Windsurfing , kayaking and kite surfing (€120 for three hours with PureMagic) all on Lake Keel.
After a few days of this, my advice is take the evenings off, shut your doors, shower the muck and sweat off your face and retire to the couch with a novel, a notepad or a DVD and a lovely cup of tea, I won’t even judge if you add a splash of whiskey to that, you are in Ireland after all.