Wild Atlantic Way. Just the very name conjures majesty, magnificence, unbridled beauty and raw natural scenery. That’s just what this coastal route offers in all its entirety. A journey of 2500km from Kinsale in West Cork, to Muff in Co. Donegal.
At the start of this designated coastal route, West Cork is an area steeped in the traditions of agriculture, food production, and fishing. Here is a place defined by its people, its culture, and the Atlantic Ocean that rules the climate. Often, you will see the weather coming right at you over the sea. Dark clouds gather over hilltops before rain lashes the land and turns our forty shades of green to sage and silver tones.
Afterwards, the smallest crack in the clouds will reveal a glimpse of blue sky, as the sun sends its glorious rays landward over the ocean, fields and mountains. Truly spectacular natural theatre, going on above your head!
When the sun does shine in West Cork it really lights the place up. Beaches glow ever more golden. The outlines of Sherkin, Cape Clear and many other little islands off the coast stand proud above the ocean. West Cork’s stunning peninsulas of Mizen, Sheep’s Head and Beara, jut their jagged fingers far into the Atlantic Ocean bluer than blue.
Food in West Cork
West Cork’s climate creates lush rich pastures for dairy and beef herds. Mountainous terrain yields sweet alpine grasses, wild herbs and heathers, happily munched by sheep and goats. Fields are fertile for an array of crops. The Atlantic Ocean teems with life. From nature’s larder comes the best beef, the finest milk, cream and cheese, the sweetest lamb, succulent pork and fresh fruit and vegetables. From her waters and shores, top-quality fish and seafood, wild seaweeds and sea vegetables.
This region is also the home of artisan food production. It spearheaded the local food movement in Ireland over forty years ago when a new wave of European settlers in West Cork brought a relaxed cosmopolitan feel to a region that accepted their quirks and embraced their differences. Some of these newcomers made cheese from the milk of their own small dairy herds or began growing a range of seasonal vegetables in cottage gardens. Many of the trailblazing originals are still in food production today. Two of them are proud Good Food Ireland members:
Milleens Cheese, Eyeries, Beara Peninsula. Ireland’s first farmhouse cheese. First made by Veronica Steele, from the milk of the dairy cows farmed by her husband Norman. Now in the capable hands of Veronica and Norman’s son Quinlan Steele. Milleens is a washed rind soft creamy textured cheese which can be eaten young or left to mature when it takes on an earthy herbaceous flavour with a hint of mushroom aroma.
Durrus Cheese, Durrus, Sheep’s Head Peninsula. Created and still made by Jeffa Gill. Still going strong as one of Ireland’s most famous and award-winning farmhouse cheeses. Durrus is created from the milk of the small dairy farms which dot the land of this beautiful peninsula. Diverse grazing lends subtle nuances to the milk, which in turn creates the unique and special flavour of Durrus Cheese. You’ll taste the wildflowers, herbs and alpine grasses of this untamed region, which are bound together with subtle bursts of spice in a depth of flavours.
Pick a Table in West Cork
With the abundance of home-produced food in West Cork, of course, you’re going to get a great local food experience in its restaurants. We have a cluster of members in this region who will be only too happy to meet you and feed you while you’re in the area.
Fishy Fishy Kinsale – Kinsale is at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way route, so no finer place to stop before you start
than at Fishy Fishy! As the name says, it’s all about fish here, in all its forms. Sourced directly from the small day boats in the harbour right outside the door.
[email protected]’s, Clonakilty – Geraldine Kingston comes from a background of home cooking at the family farm and this is reflected in her menus. A touch of the traditional Irish with a modern twist, as Geralidine presents local produce and superb home baking at breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. A great spot to catch up with the locals and enjoy the warm hospitality West Cork is known for. Try to make a decision on dessert from the counter laden with homemade goodies. It won’t be easy.
Kalbos Cafe Skibbereen – West Cork opens up in Skibbereen. From here, you can access many beaches and coves, as well as the little villages of Ballydehob and Schull on the Mizen Peninsula. Kalbo’s Cafe is well established in the town, known for its microlocal ethos and superb home baking. Produce and free-range pork from the family farm appears on the menu here
The Church Restaurant Skibbereen –If it’s the awe-inspiring splendour you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place here! The Church is set in what used to be an old church and still has its original marvellously preserved and restored stained glass window which dominates the rear wall on both floors of this dining space. This and other restoration features conjure a dramatic interior where lunch and dinner are served.
You can also grab a table in the pretty courtyard out front, brilliant for day or night time eating and watching the world go by. Regina Daly and her team are full of local knowledge and offer a great welcome.
The Glandore Inn – Located in one of the most beautiful and most scenic villages in West Cork, positioned on rising ground overlooking Glandore Bay and the thriving fishing village of Union Hall. The Glandore Inn is a quaint high quality gastropub, with the very best of locally caught Irish fish on the menu. There is an abundance of fresh fish available, including John Dory, Sole, Monkfish, Lobster, Mussels and Smoked Irish Salmon. The menu will feature house favourites and a selection of daily specials based on the fresh catch available.
The Lifeboat Inn – A classic gastropub restaurant located on the edge of the seafront in Courtmacsherry. One of the
Lifeboat Inn’s most showstopping feature is its unique outdoor dining space directly across the road from the restaurant with outdoor tables and seating down to the water’s edge. Savour a tantalising seafood feast as you gaze out at the waters from where it came. Sublime!
Pack up a Picnic
If you fancy dining in the great outdoors in West Cork, we’ve got a special place where you can stock up on local bits and bobs and good bread, and have a bolstering cup of coffee and a light snack before you hit the road.
Urru Culinary Store Bandon. Owned and run by Ruth Healy, who has mastered the art of local for 13 years. She has almost a hundred local and Irish products in-store, including an array of Irish cheeses and charcuterie in the deli. Arbutus bread from Cork and a fine selection of garden leaves make up the feast. Fill your bags with fantastic fresh produce and wine or soft drinks, then have a cup of superb coffee and a made to order sandwich from the Urru menu before you set off on your travels.
REST YOUR HEAD
Celtic Ross Hotel – This hotel proudly use over 35 local food producers and West Cork is home to a legion of artisan food producers. The Kingfisher Bar & Bistro provides a comfortable and relaxed dining experience. Enjoy a delicious dinner from a choice of dishes that offer a delightful variety of flavours and textures using the freshest of seasonal ingredients and local produce.
Castle Hotel Macroom – All ingredients served in the Castle Hotel Macroom are sourced locally where possible. From the breakfast eggs and rashers to the best quality West Cork well-aged beef from the butcher in Macroom town – you’ll get a local food experience throughout.
Choose from the friendly surroundings of Dan Buckley’s Bar, the casual dining experience at the Next Door Cafe and the upmarket offering at B’s Restaurant, where the eclectic dinner menu is peppered with produce from the region.
West Cork Products to Look out for
Watch out for a selection of local produce of West Cork which you will find in shops and served in local restaurants
Buy Gift Voucher