Saint Patrick’s Day is coming (if you’re reading this in the 3/16 newsletter, it’s here!), and many people know the traditions of the holiday and history of the man on which the holiday is based, but what of the Emerald Isle known as Ireland?
For one, it’s an island. This alone should make it a more obvious dive destination. But secondly, the water is pretty cold. That said, the Irish are used to water sports. If it’s going to rain all day, you’re getting wet anyway.
There’s even surfing in Sligo…
Personally, I’m partial to Sligo due to an affinity for W.B. Yeats and having studied in the area years ago. That said, there are several places around the island to explore below the surface, so let’s check out some…
Saint Patrick’s Day Dives
Every year, millions of tourists flock to Ireland to see its natural beauty, rediscover their history, and bother locals by telling them that they’re Irish.
PROTIP: Nobody from Ireland cares where your great-great-grandfather milked a cow.
But, if you’re here for the unlikely reason that you’re looking for a dive holiday, you’re in luck. As the island isn’t internationally known for the sport, there’s a good chance that you’ll be heading out into waters that aren’t very crowded. Here are a few places to get started.
Baltimore, County Cork
A small crag with a lighthouse situated on the southern tip of the island, Fastnet Rock, sits just off of County Cork. Occupied since 1853, it’s been a source of curiosity for divers for quite some time. In addition to the usual coldwater fish one would expect to find in such a climate, whale sightings are quite common. What’s uncommon, but a pleasant surprise for divers, is finding dolphins in the area.
The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare
The Cliffs are a great drop-off spot for tourists first arriving in Ireland, but they’re also a great drop-off point for diving. If you’ve ever been, you’ve noticed that the bottom is, in fact, wet. Throughout the area you’ll find some coves and caves, walls to drop down, and wildlife galore. Just don’t enter from the top.
Inishbofin, County Galway
While it’s not advisable to run through the streets of Galway and hop straight into Galway Bay, you might have a bit more luck taking a dive on the outlying islands. Around this area you’ll find starfish, lobsters, sharks, and even the occasional mola mola.
Achill Island, County Mayo
Connected to the main island by bridge, Achill Island is both easy to access and pleasant to visit. The small port towns roadside throughout this stretch of County Mayo offer a nice bit of relaxation on land, while the location of the island itself allows easy access for those traveling to the larger cities of Galway and Sligo. Pretty much right between the two, a bus trip out that way is a perfect getaway.
Saint John’s Point, County Donegal
Rounding it out with another lighthouse destination, visitors from all over come to County Donegal to enjoy the ocean. In particular, people love biking along the paths that are spread out along the coasts. At Saint John’s Point you can take a break from the long, sweaty bike ride and find yourself among the reefs and walls of this historic landmark. Dive with the things that hide there, and find yourself a new Ireland.
There’s always more to discover. Let us know where you dive in Ireland on Planet Deepblu.
– Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor