Saturday we pushed through to Achill Island arriving late afternoon. Despite using Booking.com at the last minute, I was able to secure a reservation at Derreen’s Hill House, and the owners immediately sent an email with directions. That was good because although we were right there, we didn’t see the small rock at the driveway entry to indicate we had arrived. We pulled in and parked by the new construction, as indicated with the Mayo flags flying, and were warmly greeted by Rob and Angie. They showed us our en suite room and then the best part, our own private living room. It was separate from the bedroom, designated only for the guests. As they offer just one bedroom, this living space was not to be shared with anyone. It was spacious with lots of wide sofa seating, a fireplace, views of the bay, and where we were served our breakfast. They call it the London Room due to the wallpaper commemorating their former residence.
Just down the road is an old cemetery and a castle of Grace O’Malley, formidable female pirate of days gone by. Sheep help keep the grass around the gravestones at a low level. The castle is really just a tower which seemed to have had several floors. We kept eyes out for seals but never did see any, though our hosts did twice that day. They even saw a sea otter.
Further on, in the middle of the island, is a long road up a mountain topped with cell towers. From there is a superb view of Keem Bay with its wide wide beach of gently sloping sand. The color is exquisite. We continued on up the hill to where we could see a religious statue, and from there the views were a bit grander. Many cairns pepper the down slope on the other side. Having to pee and with no one else around, I hid on the side of the statue protected from the wind and took advantage of the situation.
Once back down at sea level we visited that enormous beautiful beach. Few people were enjoying this rare sunny warm day but a father and daughter were having fun with buckets of sand. Perhaps a sand castle was in the making. At low tide the sandy beach seemed to go on forever before touching the low waves curling on to the shore.
At the end of the road and the island is Keel Bay, another gorgeous, yet smaller, beach. From here one can hike to the top of the tallest sea cliffs, say some, in Europe. Having already exercised enough where the view was better, we left this adventure for others. We continued exploring the island by road though there was really nothing particularly exciting. I did buy some sea salt made on the island, but have yet to try it.
Dinner the first night was at Alice’s Restaurant, back near the entry bridge. The dinner was pretty good, the salmon being moist, though the dessert was nothing special. The next night we ate at Amethyst Restaurant. We arrived just as the crushing defeat of the county Irish football team happened again, so the waitress seemed a bit snippy at first. She settled down once she turned off the deafening television and waited for our orders to be ready. Again, the food was ok. I had lamb this time, which I think I really prefer as chops or in a stew.
After leaving Achill Island we took Rob’s advice and drove the long way around Curren which follows Clew Bay. He hoped we would observe basking sharks and/or dolphins, but we were simply given sparkling calm deep azure water with the ever present sheep grazing nearby.