Kilmore Quay and its iconic thatched cottages in south Wexford was the venue for a recent overnight staycation. A view of the sea, a walk on the beach and I’m a happy woman. And Kilmore Quay, nearby Ballyteige Burrow, and Ballyhealy Beach deliver all that.
Where the Irish Sea meets the Atlantic, where the Saltee Islands rise out of the sea, you’ll find this working fishing port. The 60-berth marina in this picturesque village indicates how central the sea is to this area. The trawlers and fish processing plants highlight how livelihoods depend on the bounty from the sea. The RNLI lifeboat is a reminder of how that same sea cannot be taken for granted. And the pleasure craft give a nod to the importance of tourism to this neck of the woods and Wexford in general.
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Add in the tours to the Saltee Islands, home to gannets, puffins, gulls, cormorants and more. Ireland’s largest bird sanctuary not only attracts feathered friends, but plenty of photographers too who take the ferry to snap shots of guillemots and razorbills as well.
As you walk west along the coast from Kilmore Quay, you pass the Memorial Garden to lives lost at sea. Then, the sandy coastline and its sand dune systems stretch in front of you.
A Special Protection Area, it is home to Brent Geese, Golden Plover, Lapwing, wrens, linnets and a host more. You can walk along the beach or through the dunes. We walked on the fenced path at the back of the dunes, then cut through the dunes to walk back along the beach.
From the top of the dunes, you get a fantastic view of the area, from Ballyteige Bay and the Ballyteige Burrow Nature Reserve in the west. The Saltees and Kilmore Quay bring the eye back to the east, and you can follow the coast along to Hook Lighthouse and Forth Mountain.
As you look east from Kilmore Quay, the coastline curves inwards, which is where we later discovered Ballyhealy Beach.
This was a huge treat – an uncrowded sandy quiet beach stretching for miles on either side. On the clear July day of our visit, the sun glistened on the waves, and we were treated to a light show like no other. As far as the eye could see, diamond-like lights glittered off the tips of the waves.
As the waves rose up, the sun reflected off the sea horses, casting a mirror-like image on the water below. The wave wiped the mirror clean to make way for the next light show from the next wave. It was simply stunning – and unforgettable.
Ballyhealy Beach is typical of the Wexford coastline – with its hidden gems that literally take your breath away.
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History buffs will like to hear that all of this is on The Norman Way, a heritage route that runs along the south coast of Wexford. Between medieval sites and the 15th Century Ballyhealy Castle, this area is teeming with stories of Ireland’s Ancient East and Celtic Routes.
I’ll be back …
You might also enjoy:
- Johnstown Castle gardens
- Raven Wood Nature Reserve at Curracloe
- How walking trails are at the heart of Celtic Routes initiative