Grassroots adventures... along the Wild Atlantic Way
The opening of the Wild Atlantic Way is creating new opportunities for agri-tourism
The launch of the Wild Atlantic Way in 2014 opened up so many doors for both the long-established, and fledgling tourism enterprises. From the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal to Kinsale in Co Cork, some 500 visitor attractions are dotted along the world's longest touring route covering over 2,500 kilometres.
Among the dozens of farming-themed attractions are riding holidays in Connemara with Connemara Equestrian Escapes, and Wilma's Killorglin Farmhouse Cheese in Kerry.
Another venture that is quickly catching the eye of those in search of something completely different is Martin Feeney's Atlantic Sheepdogs in Sligo.
Operated by the long-time sheepdog enthusiast and his father Eugene, and rated among the 'Avonmore Top 10 Family Adventures in Ireland' the business offers visitors from across the globe the rare opportunity to see Irish farming at the grassroots in one of the most spectacular locations, at Streedagh Beach under the shadow of Mount Benbulben.
"It all came about by accident really," Martin says of the idea to incorporate tours with the day-to-day running of a busy sheep farm.
"Back in 2012 a friend of ours, Niamh McSharry, was working at the local tourist office and called me one day to see if I could facilitate some Danish tourists who wanted to visit an Irish sheep farm. I agreed, and that was the start of it to be honest.
" We took a few groups here and there for a while after that but once the Wild Atlantic Way was launched we felt it was time to get the business up and running properly."
So impressed was the tour operator at the time, that he has since returned with many more groups who have been fascinated with Martin's collection of rare breeds, such as Zwartble and Teeswater, and the loyal dogs who keep them in check every day of the year.