A Guide to Achill Island

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.

Kitesurfing on Achill Island, Attempt 1

Courtesy of Kitesurfing.ie

Here is the information that anyone can provide; 120 euro for three hours with the company Pure Magic, on Lake Keel, Achill Island. On the other hand, what I can offer is a descriptive personal experience so as you can make up your mind before you start counting the pennies.

 It was, in reality, 120 euro to stand knee-deep in dirty water while the heavens pissed on you, and you flew a kite. However, I am no cynic, I am so glad I did it. Instruction was land based for the first hour and a half using a little kite, learning the theory such as the names of the kite’s equipment, wink, wink and all that malarkey. The latter half, we progressed to the real kite and in all seriousness stood in water up to our knees and through trial and error learned how to control it.

With half an hour remaining on the clock I psyched myself up for some time on the board. When I expressed my anticipation I received my equivalent of a slap in the face. Apparently you don’t get to try the board until the third or fourth lesson. Silence, followed by horror. No, no, what we got to do was much more exciting and more importantly, it was safe. The old fella (other pupil) and I, crippled in our safety gear got to kneel in the water and be dragged a few meters by the kite, until we were recalled to safety by a whistle, just in case we passed the pink buoy and drowned in the murky depths of the scarier hip high water. My badly needed adrenaline rush fizzled out promptly.

So freezing and pissed off, I stood like a drown rat as me and your man took turns holding the kite, feeling like a loser as all around us the chiseled vagabonds whirled through the air showing off and laughing at my hapless expression.

However, I cannot write off this sport because technically I never got to kite surf, but Il be damned if I’m coughing up another 320 euro to get to lesson number four where I actually get to touch a board. So Instead my new mission will be to find a nice young man that I will charm and he will teach me free of charge!