Trip Reports

Trip Report Wild Atlantic Way – Connemara & Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher, county Clare, Ireland. Photo courtesy of Chaosheng Zhang

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way takes you on an unforgettable journey of tiny roads reaching out into the ocean, dramatic cliffs, golden beaches, spectacular lighthouses and tranquil villages and towns.  

This is the third post in a blog series authored by Melanie Nelson. She will share her day-to-day experiences of her trip along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, county by county. Today’s Trip Report takes you on a journey through Connemara, Kylemore Abbey, the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, and picturesque village of Doolin.

Follow Melanie’s upcoming Blog Posts as she uncovers the myth & magic of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way! 

Photos: Melanie - author of the blog – and The Girls!

TODAY'S ITINERARY - connemara & cliffs of moher

Kerry Experience Tours guided us through a fantastically full day from Westport (County Mayo) to Doolin (County Clare) by way of Kylemore Abbey (the magnificent 1,000-acre estate and home to a Benedictine order of nuns for the past 100 years), traditional Connemara region in County Galway, Kilshanny (to visit Maggie's ancestral home in County Clare), and the spiritual Cliffs of Moher (my personal favorite).


Mostly cloudy breaking into a sun-filled late afternoon.


Churchfield B&B in Doolin conveniently located across from popular McDermott's Pub.
TIP: It was a challenge finding accommodation that could accommodate our group! Doolin is a popular destination as it's the gateway to the Aran Islands, and booking your place to stay at an early stage is strongly advised.


McDermott’s Pub in Doolin is as Irish as it gets: a well-deserved gin and tonic, fresh beef and Guinness stew, scrumptious brown bread, warm apple crumble in an endless bowl, and live Irish trad music! Highly recommend!


Another stupendous day in the Emerald Isle full of one highlight after another. I cannot tease them apart to rack and stack. So, for today only (maybe), THREE highlights.

1) The first glimpse of Kylemore Abbey was stunning. The morning clouds and mist offered the perfect backdrop in which to experience its splendor - and we beat the tourist buses. I will return one day to tour the inside and hike the hill behind it. By the way, the Abbey has one of the best high-grade souvenir shops we encountered - woolen products galore, chocolate made by the nuns, racks of jewelry, and any Irish trinket imaginable. Highly recommend!

2) We had a unique Irish experience spending time with Maggie's wonderful cousins (over the course of the week we met five!), visiting the family land and cemetery, and catching a glimpse into Irish farm life complete with chickens, geese, and peacocks. We thank Maggie’s family for their warm welcome. 

3) Cliffs of Moher is my happy place. And it must like me too because the clouds parted and the sun came out for my second visit. A few years ago, I explored from the Visitor Center south. Today, we headed north taking the cliff path (downhill) all the way to Doolin. We're not entirely sure how many miles we hiked, but it took over three hours to make it to town.

Other than a minor tussle with a thistle bush, I loved it - phenomenal views, waves crashing the rocks, birds gliding on air, cows grazing, and horses playing. Every turn in the path got better. This place makes me wonder why I don’t live here. Note to self: Do this again!


This afternoon we focused on Maggie's father's (Joseph O'Loughlin) family, visiting the O’Loughlin gravesite in Kilshanny Cemetery, so it only seems appropriate that we celebrate her proud Irish heritage. Joseph's parents were farmers Michael and Mary Leahy O'Loughlin of the small townland Carrowmanagh in the parish of Kilshanny, County Clare. Michael was born to Thomas and Margaret Mcgrath O'Loughlin in 1875. He had at least one older brother Patrick who died in his thirties and a younger brother and sister. The Catholic family probably had more children (we're still discovering).

Ancestry Ireland

Michael lived in his parent's three-room home on the family farm which also held a stable, two cow houses, one piggery, and a beautiful view into the valley. He married Mary, ten years his junior, in the Church of Rath in 1909. Mary was the daughter of farmer Patrick and Bridget Doheny Leahy, also of Kilshanny. Michael and Mary had several children. Consistent with the times, some immigrated, some stayed, and some died young (Thomas at age 3 and Michael at one month).

Maggie's O'Loughlin grandparents and great-grandparents rest with some of their other children in Kilshanny cemetery within sight of the farm still operating under the family's care.


Maggie's lovely cousin Jersey delivered good humor during our brief visit. When discussing a weather warning for the following day's boat trip to the Aran Islands, he suggested, "Tomorrow's a day for the Pope...drink all day in the pub." Likewise, when asked the drive time to his farm from the cemetery, he wryly smiled and replied, "Well, how fast can you drive?"

Photos below: 1) Killary Fjord, Connemara 2) Doolin 3) Cliffs of Moher

Trip Reports

Read other posts in this Blog Series "Trip Report Wild Atlantic Way" here

About the author

Melanie Nelson is a devoted aunt to five nephews, skillful genealogist, ardent fan of the Florida Gators, U2 zealot, gin tippler, avid traveler (anywhere in Ireland!), amateur photographer, and eager learner. She fused her passions into her business which offers genealogy research and family heritage planning. The Emerald Isle holds a piece of her heart. Find out more at MelNel Genealogy and her posts about Irish genealogy in the Tracing your Irish Roots blog series.

Tailormade Multiday Tours of Ireland

Interested in learning more about a tailor-made multiday tour of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way? Find out more here.

About Kerry Experience Tours

For a truly local experience in one of the most charming and warm cultures in the world, Kerry Experience Tours will show visitors the most magical parts of Ireland. On offer are private day tours, and multiday tours  tailored to suit your wishes. Enjoy the most scenic drives, spectacular land and seascapes, historic wonders, inspirational places, and hidden gems off the beaten path, completed with background information and stories. Enjoy the absolute best Ireland has to offer, creating memories that last a lifetime. Join Kerry Experience Tours and find the Ireland you’ve always imagined.