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My Favourite Drive: Neil Connolly on the wild ways of Mayo and Sligo

From ice-cream in Strandhill to getting lost at the Beach Bar.

The beach at Mullaghmore Source: dingbat2005

Journeys, even everyday ones, can mean a lot. Neil Connolly runs Connolly Motor Group, with dealerships in Mayo, Sligo and Galway. As someone with a passion for motoring, he told TheJournal.ie about a journey that meant a lot to him: travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way around his home in Mayo.

I LIVE IN Ballina, right on the Wild Atlantic Way. So last July, we just took a few days here and there. And we did two or three of the main parts of it, with our three daughters.

With the Wild Atlantic Way, you need to turn left or right off the main road. And it’s something that I rarely do, because I’m always headed from A to B. I do a huge amount of mileage for work. So it was great to be able to take that time.

We drove up as far as Mullaghmore in Sligo, almost in Donegal, where Lord Mountbatten lived – his castle is still there. It’s a beautiful part of the world. A great sweeping beach, a lovely little pier.

Mullaghmore Source: Tony Webster

We stopped at WB Yeats’ grave in Drumcliffe, we went to Strandhill, stopped at Mammy Johnston’s cafe – some of the best food in the country, and it’s right on our doorsteps.

And then we headed to the Beach Bar. Again, you have to turn off the main Sligo-Ballina road. And as you’re driving along, you’re thinking, I’ve obviously gone wrong. It gets narrower and narrower. And then you make this turn and it’s suddenly absolutely beautiful. There’s this old bungalow that is the bar. It’s a really special place.

Another day then we would have gone in the opposite direction, down towards Ballycastle and Downpatrick head. It’s a sea stack, one of the best sea stacks in Europe – a piece just standing out on its own. Absolutely spectacular.

Downpatrick Head Source: Shutterstock/walshphotos

There are parts of Mayo where, even though I’m from Mayo, I’d have no reason to be out there. I’d maybe have taken visitors but never done it with my own family. The Wild Atlantic Way is right on my doorstep, but I’d never take that left or right turn. So to do it last summer was just great. And then to be able to come back to the comforts of home at the end of the day.

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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