Achill Island Adventure – Gourmet Greenway
Leaving Dublin behind late on Thursday night with the car packed to the hilt with clothes, shoes, toys, sports gear and all the other essentials for a long weekend away with the family. The destination was Achill Island, Co Mayo, in the west of Ireland. This is the largest island off the coast of Ireland. Achill is attached to the mainland by Michael Davitt Bridge and a 3.5hour drive . Early human settlements are believed to have been established on Achill around 3000 BC. A paddle dating from this period was found at the crannóg near Dookinella. The island is 87% peat bog and there are between 500-600 native Irish speakers in Achill parish.
The wild atlantic coast awaited us, fresh sea food and ‘Ceol agus Craic’.
Keem Bay is a perfect horseshoe bay containing a popular Blue Flag beach at the head of a valley between the cliffs of Benmore to the west and Croaghaun mountain on the east. At the southern end of the valley, the beach is sheltered to the west by Moyteoge Head, while at the northwestern end of the valley the cliffs of Benmore connect with the spectacular mile long promontory of Achill Head. This spar is the most westerly point on Achill and tails off with two sea stacks called Gaoí Saggart and Carrickakin.
Looking over the cliffs of Benmore towards Achill Head, Keem Bay, Achill IslandKeem is accessible for cars via a clifftop road that was constructed in the 1960s along the route of an older track. This road also crosses a local geological boundary, exposing a seam of amethyst quartz in the cliffside. Amethyst is a semiprecious stone with a magnificent purple to voilet coloration, said in folklore to have a number of properties including as a love charm, as protection against thieves and drunkeness, and as an aide to sleep. For treasure seekers hunting for amethyst on Achill, the best time to search is immediately after heavy rainfall. Good luck!
Basking Sharks in the bay… can you spot them?
Keem Bay, Achill IslandKeem Bay was traditionally used by fishermen on Achill Island and is undoubtedly the location of the artist Paul Henry’s famous painting ‘Launching the Currach’ (1910, on display in the National Gallery of Ireland). Until fairly recently the waters of Keem Bay were home to the basking shark as well as grey seals and numerous varieties of fish. In the 1940s and 50s the basking shark was hunted by local fishermen at Keem Bay using traditional canvas covered curraghs and directed by spotters situated on the cliffside on Moyteoge Head. The oil of the basking shark was extracted for export as a fine grade lubricant for the aerospace industry. The largest specimen of the porbeagle shark caught by rod-and-line in Irish waters was caught off Keem Bay by Dr. O’Donnell-Browne in 1932. It weighed 365lbs.
The Beehive – Achill Island Ireland
On the far west coast of Ireland in a small village on Achill Island you will find The beehive. This is an informal restaurant and attractive craft shop in Keel. Run by husband and wife team Michael and Patricia Joyce. They take pride in the careful preparation and presentation of the best of Achill produce, especially local seafood.
As much a craft shop as a cafe, the Beehive dishes up healthy homemade soups with brown scones, creative sandwiches and alluring home-baked cakes. It gets crowded at lunch. But its a beehive of activity and the buzz creates a local relaxed atmosphere.
Since opening, in 1991, they have extended both the menu and the premises more than once and now offer great all-day self-service food, which you can have indoors, or take out to a patio overlooking Keel beach. Everything is home-made, including delicious soups such as seafood chowder and traditional nettle soup (brotchán neantog) all served with home-made brown scones.
As baking is a specialty, there’s always a tempting selection of cakes, bracks, teabreads, fruit tarts, baked desserts and scones with home-made preserves or you can simply have a toasted sandwich, or an Irish farmhouse cheese plate. You may want to allow a little extra time here as the shop is interesting, with quality gift items and clothing lines not found elsewhere.
Keem Bay Fish Products
Gerard and Julie Hassett started smoking Wild Atlantic Salmon as well as Mackeral, Herring, Cod and Pollock in 1985, in their Smokehouse based in Pollagh, Achill Island.
As demand grew, stocks of Wild Salmon declined and a gradual switch to farmed Salmon occurred, especially as the highly rated Clare Island Salmon is on our doorstep.
With the abolishment of drift-netting for Wild Salmon, production is now totally from “Irish Salmon” farmed by Marine Harvest Ltd. and Clare Island Organic is the premium product in our range which also includes Oak-Roasted BBQ Salmon.
Keem Bay Fish Products has developed from a cottage industry supplying locally to a successful agri-fisheries business supplying international customers. They have sold in Ireland, Europe and further afield. We pride ourselves on our quality and customer service and are proud to have lots of repeat custom. All of our stock is freshly prepared and guaranteed to meet all quality standards.
The Chalet Seafood Restaurant has been in the family since 1963 and all of our products are available on our menus. The restaurant is situated in the village of Keel, Achill and can cater for 90 people.
Recently Keem Bay Fish Products has become part of the Gourmet Greenway, a showcase of the wonderful artisan food in the vicinities of Mulranny, Newport, Westport and Achill.
This website gives you a little taste of what to expect from our products. We invite you to experience it for yourself.