Wild Atlantic Way food story inspiration

Wherever you are based along the Wild Atlantic Way – you’re a long way from home for the typical visitor. You’ll want to make them feel the experiences you offer are something they couldn’t get at home, and worth making the journey for.

And you’ll want to make your story part of the bigger stories of the Wild Atlantic Way and of Ireland’s food tourism –  to make the food experiences you offer an integral part of a visitor’s reason-to-travel, and a ‘must-do’ part of their trip.

Here are some examples of different ways businesses along the Wild Atlantic Way are telling their stories. Do let us know if you have more to add!
 

  • 1. Using a sense of place >>

  • picnic, horse, and caravan, salted fish, couple eating outdoors

     

    Murphys Ice Cream, Co Kerry

    Murphys Ice Cream uses a clever play on words in their logo and strapline: “handmade in Dingle”, followed by “ice cream that knows where it’s coming from”.

    Fundamental to their business is the Kerry cow, an internationally recognised icon of Irish food: “Murphy's ice cream uses milk from the rare, indigenous breed of Kerry cow because the milk is so wonderful.”

    Their short videos are fun too. Throughout, there is a sprinkling of Irish and Irishness – both Irish words and Irish icons. They offer truly Irish flavours such as Dingle Sea Salt and Toasted Irish Oats. In their list of ingredients online you can find peat-smoked sugar, Guinness, nettle, tea, clover … they’ve even got “Irish rain” listed as a possible new flavour! 


    Dillisk food project, Co Galway

    Dillisk is something very different, very on trend, and (literally) very ‘out there’. In lots of ways, it embodies the spirit of the Wild Atlantic Way, with its pioneering spirit and far-flung communal dining “in a cosy, converted boat shed”, fresh raw ingredients, dedication to foraging, and casual, handmade homespun style.

    Planting, pickling, and picking their way through the summer, while harvesting seaweed and buying fresh off the boats in Cleggan Harbor, Dillisk serve “a tasty menu with the best produce that the day has to offer”.

    A sample menu, featuring elderflower-pickled mackerel with garden radishes, braised lamb neck with bog mint, honey caragheen with a brown bread crumb, and coffee with Aughrusbeg seasalt, feels very modern and very Irish.


    Aniar Restaurant, Co Galway

    Aniar puts place at the heart of what it does, describing itself as a “terroir-based restaurant”. “Terroir” is usually used in wine-making and refers to the factors that give the wine its character: soil, climate, and environment. It’s often associated with something less tangible too – around the nature and heritage of the land and place.

    In the case of Aniar, “we use the word to describe the way in which our food comes from the specific place that is Galway and the west of Ireland”. Even the name “aniar” is an Irish adverb meaning westerly, or from the west.

    Aniar says it is “committed to the local and the wild in contemporary Irish cooking”, and speaks of keeping both tradition and innovation in mind. Reviewers say it’s seriously good food – and they also praise the lively buzz of the atmosphere.

  • 2. Thinking from a visitor's perspective >>

  • seafood platter, picnic on the beach, icecream

     

    Toddies at the Bulman, Co Cork

    This Kinsale pub invites potential visitors to put themselves in the frame as it paints two enticing pictures. The first: on a fine day, “you can wander out to the seafront and sit on the wall while enjoying a bowl of Oysterhaven mussels or locally caught lobster, looking out at the Atlantic Ocean”.

    The second: on a winter’s night “with the open log fires burning, dinner in the bar, banter every night”.

    Quite simply, a few carefully chosen words mean people can imagine themselves in a particular place. That way, emotions are engaged, and holiday decisions made.


    Gregans Castle Hotel, Co Clare

    This establishment promises “sustenance for the body as well as the soul” with creative, modern dishes using fresh, local ingredients – such as organic Burren lamb and Atlantic seafood.

    They also provide visitors with a really comprehensive guide of things to do in the area and encourage visits to the local artisan food producers, quoting John McKenna as saying “County Clare consistently boasts one of the most quixotic, stubborn and intriguing collection of artisan food producers”.

    We assume that some of these characters supply the restaurant, and we’re intrigued enough to want to know more.

  • 3. Sharing your story >>

  • couple with picnic basket, butter churns, hands with leaves


    Inis Meáin food project, Co Galway

    This extra special project has won international accolades for its architecture, interiors, and contemporary approach. The philosophy of “elemental eating, inspired by prime ingredients from our pure location” sounds a touch serious and cerebral, yet still sits well with the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Food Tourism Story.

    But it’s the personal story of Ruairí de Blacam, a professional chef who has worked in kitchens across Europe, that really explains the emotional depth of the place, and the “grounded” authentic approach to food.

    Ruairí grew up on the island before it had electricity, and when there was only one supply boat a week. Each household had a cow, while pigs and chicken were common. People salted fish and foraged – not for fashion – but out of necessity.

    It allows us to understand what drives him and we believe him when he says he’s committed to using the best available island ingredients and presenting them simply.

  • 4. A strong sense of self >>

  • picnic with friends, smoked fish, woman growing food


    Out of the Blue Restaurant, Co Kerry

    They seem very sure of themselves … and that’s a good thing! There’s a strong, clear message about the freshness of their seafood from this small casual restaurant on Dingle harbour: “Everything depends upon the catch of the day and nothing but the best will do. If there’s no fish, the restaurant doesn’t open”.

    And a mantra like this will travel well too, as others find it easy to remember and repeat: “If they don’t like the catch, they don’t open,” says Lonely Planet.

    Of course that means there’s no menu on the website. Instead, there are photos of chalkboards – handwritten, straightforward, and showing that the fish really is centre stage here.


    Vasco Wine Bar

    Vasco leads with location, which isn’t surprising as this “stylish outpost” (Lonely Planet) looks straight out at the Atlantic Ocean. Its strapline is “explore great taste” – a clever allusion to the far-west location as well as their contemporary take on Irish food.

    There’s a serious mission statement in the small print: “We are committed to prioritising the core indigenous ingredients of Irish cuisine and promoting local and artisan food producers”.

    But Vasco’s style is warm and informal, and there’s an easy-going invitation to “unwind with our speciality micro-brewer beers and wines and then stay for a seafood feast or see what else we have gathered or what our farmers and fishermen have delivered.”

  • 5. Keeping things simple >>

  • artisan cheese, plate of oysters, fresh vegetables


    Fishy Fishy Restaurant, Co Cork

    Fishy Fishy tells us in simple words that co-owner and chef Martin Shanahan “knows a thing or two about fish”. Which may be an understatement in this instance – after all Martin is one of Ireland’s leading seafood chefs, with books and TV shows to his name – but it’s actually all the more effective for that.

    And then there’s the unvarnished evidence, provided by a little backstory and a lot of positive vibes about provenance: “Martin's background as a fishmonger ensures that the restaurant is supplied with only the best of fresh fish from the waters off the south coast of Ireland. He takes pride in personally knowing who has caught his seafood that morning and ensures that only the freshest catch and local produce go onto his menu.”