The Irish Times Newspaper has recently concluded its competition to decide which was the best place to go wild during a vacation in Ireland.
The competition was a hunt for the best places in the 32 counties to experience nature, from empty beauty spots, to dramatic locations that let visitors actively engage with nature through sports such as climbing, surfing, walking, biking or kayaking.
In late March, the Irish Times’ readers were asked to suggest their personal favourite locations, and subsequently in excess of 3,800 people submitted their choices resulting in a wide variety of locations around Ireland. The nominations were put before a panel of judges and who then visited each of the main contenders.
It was decided that the winning location should be easily accessible while have remained relatively unexplored. Other requirements included contrasting topography, healthy biodiversity and opportunities to interact with the natural world in a variety of activities, from gentle strolls through lengthy cycles to mad coasteering. Ultimately, Erris in County Mayo was chosen as the wildest place to go in Ireland.
Roughly a similar size to that of County Louth with a population of just 20,000, Erris stretches from the 11,000 hectares of mountain and blanket bog that is Ballycroy National Park – Ireland’s only true designated wilderness – to the white sandy beaches of the Mullet peninsula. Even here there is variety: the windswept Atlantic side is heaven for surfers, while the sheltered east-facing coves are perfect for family pottering.
The name Erris comes from the Irish Iar Ros, which means “western promontory” and is comprised of many stunning cliffs. Plunging into the Atlantic all along the north Mayo coast from Belderg westward to Erris Head, they offer not just glorious walks but the chance to spot dolphins and puffins, peregrine falcons and minke whales, as well as endless inlets and coves to be explored in a kayak.