(View from the Smugglers Creek Inn, Rossnowlagh, Co. Donegal)
Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way covers 1,553 miles of coastline from Kinsale, Co. Cork, to Malin Head/Lough Foyle in County Donegal. Within and along that route there is endless dramatic scenery, quaint coastal villages and lively Irish towns and cities, all worth a visit and time to explore.
As a Tour Guide covering all of Ireland for several years, there are few parts of this route which I have not yet visited. In fact examining a map of Ireland, I cannot see any portion of the route I have not covered. I am often asked by visitors for recommendations on where to stay or tour along this route. In 2017, I was asked by one visitor to list what I considered to be the best pubs along the Wild Atlantic Way. I had never thought of compiling such a list, and when I did think about it I realized that I had visited scores of pubs along the Wild Atlantic Way over the last few years, and many of them were indeed very special. Time to set down that list in writing!.
The list which is set out below is based on my own opinion of what are the best pubs either directly on the Wild Atlantic Way route or in towns or villages near the route, and regularly visited by tourists on the Wild Atlantic Way. I have been inside each of these pubs over the last few years, some more than others. They are listed in order from south to north. No doubt there are other fine pubs which are not listed, the list is confined to pubs I personally know. Each pub on the list either is situated in an area of fine scenery or has great character, or both.
Here we go!
(1) The Bulman, Summercove, Kinsale.
Located at the very southern end of the Wild Atlantic Way, this award winning gastro pub directly fronts Kinsale Harbour and has awesome views right across to Kinsale Town. A delightful place to spend a few hours, especially in the seating area outside by the water. A great place for food as well.
(2) The Spaniard, Kinsale.
Nearer Kinsale Town, a pub full of character and a representation of the Spanish influence that runs through the town of Kinsale. You will pass it coming back from The Bulman into Kinsale Town. Be sure to stop.
(3) The Glandore Inn. Co. Cork.
Set high above the stunning Glandore Harbour this pub cum Restaurant is another location to spend time surrounded by fantastic scenery in a hideaway village off the beaten track. Again avail of the option to eat or drink outside overlooking the Harbour area. You will never tire of the view!.
(4) O’Sullivans Bar, Kilmacellogue, Beara Peninsula.
A particular favorite of my own. Overlooking a Kenmare Bay at Kilmacellogue Harbour this lovely traditional Irish pub is a gem. Every visitor I have brought to it has fallen in love with it. The surrounding scenery is breathtaking. The pubs serves lovely snacks and light meals as well as perfect pints of Guinness.
(5) Crowley’s Kenmare.
A very old style pub set in the lovely town of Kenmare. Great atmosphere with a local clientele.
(6) Reidy’s of Killarney.
Set on the Main Street, this beautifully restored traditional Irish pub has recently been taken over by the Sheehan Family who have done a superb job in restoring this premises and retaining its character. This is a must visit place when in Killarney. At any time a music session could break out. The local clientele are as Irish as you will get, the pints are top class. At the moment it also serves tea/coffee and light snacks. I would rate this as the number one pub in Ireland.
(Reidys of Killarney)
(7) Kate Kearney’s Cottage, Gap of Dunloe.
Although off the Atlantic Coast, this charming lively pub at the foot of The Gap of Dunloe is a must visit pub by any standard. Serves full meals, excellent food. The surrounding scenery is breath taking. Again a music session could start at any time when the locals start to come in.
(Kate Kearneys Cottage)
(8) Dick Macs, Dingle, Co. Kerry.
Another gem. Situated right in the middle of the lovely coastal town of Dingle, this quirky old style Irish pub is most certainly worth a few hours. Has several snugs and cosy areas off the main bar. You could meet anybody here, perhaps a few film stars, but you will get most enjoyment from the locals who frequent this one off. Good pints too!.
(9) Foxy Johns, Dingle.
Around the corner from Dick Macs on Main Street, another traditional Irish pub with great character. Don’t miss this one if in a Dingle. Again great pints of Guinness.
(10) Durty Nellies, Bunratty, Co. Clare.
Having left the south and South West of Ireland you will pass this pub while travelling into into Co. Clare. Located directly beside the 15th century Bunratty Castle, this 17th century old Inn is another must see. Full of character and serves excellent food. Plenty of outdoor areas to sit and view the castle. Well worth a stop.
(11) McGanns, Doolin.
Situated slightly outside Doolin Village this is another old style Irish pub full of atmosphere. A great place to meet the locals and serves excellent food. Don’t miss it.
(12) Tigh Neachtain, Galway.
Situated at Cross Street, beside the lively Quay Street, well worth a visit when in this part of Galway City. The Quay Street are is the place to go in Galway for a lively atmosphere, good food and plenty of alcohol. This pub ticks the boxes.
(13) Campbell’s, Murrisk, Co. Mayo.
Located right beside the entrance to Croagh Patrick (Ireland’s Holy Mountain) with fine views across Clew Bay, this old style Irish pub is another local institution dripping with character. A great place for food and can be very lively when the crowd arrives.
(14) Molloy’s of Westport
Situated in the heart of Westport town, Molloys is a traditional Irish pub serving great pints. Has a fantastic atmosphere, especially when the music starts. Well worth a visit when stopping in the charming town of Westport.
(15) The Smugglers Creek Inn, Rossnowlagh, Co, Donegal.
Way off the beaten track and set high above a Rossnowlagh Beach, this pub cum Restaurant is a real gem. The views (see photo above) are jaw dropping. The food is excellent and the drinks are not bad either. This pub has arguably one of the finest coastal views in Ireland, on a summers afternoon you will think you are in heaven. Relatively unknown as a tourist trail, a visit to this pub is worth including Donegal as part of your itinerary to Ireland.
(16) Nancy’s Ardara, Co. Donegal.
Situated a few miles away from the beautiful beaches of Narin and Portnoo in County Donegal, this lovely charming old Irish style pub is another must see. It’s exterior does not prepare you for the cosy nature of what is inside. Several rooms off both bars make this an experience in itself. Good food and find pints. Don’t pass it.
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(Nancy’s of Ardara)