Achill has been long-listed in the Irish Times ‘Best Place to Holiday in Ireland 2022’ competition, conducted in association with Fáilte Ireland. The longlist of 20 locations is based on reader nominations and in-person visits by the competition judges. The panel of judges consists of: Nadia El Ferdaoussi, travel blogger; Cillian Murphy, county councillor from Loop Head peninsula; Trevor White, director of the Little Museum of Dublin; and Irish Times journalists Rosita Boland and Mary Minihan. They will now decide a winner, to be announced on the August public holiday weekend in the Irish Times.
Achill was among the five finalists in the Connacht section, taking its place alongside Drumshambo in Co. Leitrim, Inishbofin in Co. Galway, Strandhill in Co. Sligo, and our own Co. Mayo neighbours Westport.
The judge made special mention of the craft shops and excellent bespoke local products including Achill lamb and sea salt, to which they could also have added our locally reared Achill Oysters, Achill Smoked Salmon (smoked on the island) and our IrishAmerican whiskey which is distilled in Bunnacurry. Reference was also made, of course, to Achill’s ‘large number of excellent beaches’, of which we have five Blue Flag beaches including Keem Strand, rated this week as Ireland’s Best Beach by the Irish Daily Mirror newspaper. These beaches, and the shallow fresh water lake at Keel, provide an ideal environment for watersports ranging from surfing and kayaking to kitesurfing and standup paddleboarding. Visitors who prefer to seek their adventure on land can choose to cycle on Achill – including three looped routes in the Achill Cycle Hub as well as the Great Western Greenway from Achill to Westport – or explore on foot. Achill has a number of low-lying and gentle looped walks, for instance in Dooagh and the Valley, a slightly more challenging hillwalk on the Slí Grainne Mhaol, and more serious walkers will be rewarded with spectacular views of Clew Bay from the peaks of Slievemore (671m) and Croaghaun (688m). Local hillwalking guides are available to lead groups, and an Achill Walks Guide booklet can be purchased in Achill Tourism’s offices at Achill Sound and Keel, or online.
Visitors seeking to discover more of Achill’s history and heritage are spoiled with a number of outstanding historical walking tours, including The Colony Tour at Dugort and a daily (weekdays) guided tour of the Deserted Village at Slievemore. And we couldn’t mention Achill’s heritage without referring to Scoil Acla, the annual summer school for traditional Irish music, dance and arts. The 2022 Scoil Acla takes place from 24th – 31st July and some places are still available.
Being an island, albeit connected by a bridge, Achill boasts a number of maritime attractions, including the Maritime History Trail and the colourful Achill Yawl Festival. But the highlight for many visitors is the chance to take a boat trip and view Achill, and the surrounding islands and landscape, from the sea. There are regular boat trips from Dugort to view Croaghaun cliffs – the highest sea cliffs in western Europe – or to the abandoned islands at Inishkea. See Geraghty Charters or Blacksod Sea Safari for details of forthcoming trips. Ferry trips to Clare Island are also available, from Kildavnet, as Achill is a key stage of the new Clew Bay Bike Trail. See Clare Island Ferries (O’Gradys) or O’Malley Ferries for details of sailings between Achill and Clare Island.