Road Trip: Ireland

Living Off the Land and Sea: A Taste of Ireland’s West Coast

Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, along the Wild Atlantic Way

Leave the stereotypes of bland, tasteless, potato-laden meals at the door. Over the past decade, Ireland has truly undergone a culinary revolution, characterized by its farm-to-fork and tide-to-table movements. This is particularly true along the Wild Atlantic Way, where scores of small businesses exploit the abundant fruits of land and sea.

Durrus Farmhouse Cheese
Durrus Farmhouse Cheese in West Cork has been sharing their passion for cheesemaking since 1979

The pastures along the Wild Atlantic Way are ideal for both cattle and lamb and provide a variety of delicious dairy products from cheese to chocolate and, of course, meat. The Sheep’s Head Peninsula in West Cork is home to the famous Durrus Cheese, made by Durrus Farmhouse Cheese. One of the first specialties to emerge in the 1970s revival of traditional farm cheesemaking in Ireland, this semi-soft cheese contains cow’s milk from two local farms and a washed rind that takes advantage of the region’s rainy, humid climate.

Connemara Hill Lamb is indigenous to the Connemara region in Galway and arguably the best lamb you’ll ever eat due to its natural diet and slow rate of maturation.

The Atlantic coast provides a cornucopia of fresh seafood, too. Most notable for its smoked salmon, Burren Smokehouse in County Clare also prepares smoked mackerel and trout, which can be enjoyed while learning about the smoking process at the visitor’s center. And Galway is home to a special type of oyster, the ostrea edulis, used primarily in gourmet foods. In September, the county hosts the International Oyster and Seafood Festival to promote this local treasure.

 Each year during the last week of September, Galway hosts the International Oyster and Seafood Festival--don’t miss the World Oyster Opening Championship!
Each year during the last week of September, Galway hosts the International Oyster and Seafood Festival–don’t miss the World Oyster Opening Championship!

Another interesting marine product is Irish seaweed, which has a variety of uses in both cooking and wellness. Carrageena, a seaweed rich in iodine, is often used for desserts and dressings. Duileasc, rich in protein and antioxidants, is baked into breads or added to champ.

Looking for something sweet? County Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula can satisfy any sweet tooth with fudge, chocolate, or ice cream. Overlooking Skelligs Rock, in Ireland’s first international dark-sky reserve, Skelligs Chocolate Company is a family-run chocolate factory where you can watch chocolates being made while enjoying some samples.

Located in the heart of the Kerry Dark Sky, Skelligs Chocolate Factory claims not only delicious chocolate but one of the most unusual, breathtaking setting.
Located in the heart of the Kerry Dark Sky, Skelligs Chocolate Factory claims not only delicious chocolate but one of the most unusual, breathtaking settings.

If you’re hankering for real ice cream made from fresh Kerry milk, eggs, and cream, be sure to stop by Murphy’s Ice Cream.

No matter where you go on the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll meet people with a love for the land and sea–and their life-sustaining bounty.