Road trip route to attract tourists
Plans are being drawn up for an "end-of-the-world" drive along Ireland's Atlantic coastline to rival the most scenic road trips around the globe.
Tourism chiefs are working on a link-up of existing routes from Donegal's dizzying Slieve League sea cliffs to the wilds of west Cork to draw in thrill-seeking motorists from overseas.
The trail will be pitched to continental Europeans and US visitors in particular as the "authentic Irish experience" on a self-drive journey to match famous drives such as California's Pacific Coast Highway or Australia's Great Ocean Road.
Alex Connolly, head of communications at Failte Ireland, said the "Wild Atlantic Drive" could be promoted as a two-week holiday which can also be completed in smaller stages for those with less time.
"We'll be pitching this at people who want to come over and have an authentic experience and enjoy not only Irish landscapes, but also the company of Irish people," he said.
"It will be for people who are looking for that rugged, authentic Irish experience, the Ireland that at one stage - before the discovery of America - was considered the end of the world, but still has that remoteness and beauty about it."
The proposal is one of the flagship projects for the state tourism agency in the year ahead.
There is no defined route yet drawn up but it is already envisaged it will join up the most dramatic by-ways and highways from Donegal through remotest Mayo and Achill Island, into Connemara and over the Burren and on to west Cork.
The themed trail will also act as a "shopping aisle", with points and markers along the designated way to tempt holidaymakers off the main route to "pleasant diversions" including historical, cultural and tourism attractions.