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THE WINDSWEPT WILD ATLANTIC WAY

Untamed and utterly divine, Ireland’s west coast is a dramatic procession of deserted beaches and towering cliffs where traditional music and ancient castles abound.

A ‘savage beauty’ said Oscar Wilde and it’s certainly true. Ireland’s west coast is battered by Atlantic rollers, strewn with jagged cliffs and littered with wide beaches and sandy coves. It’s a place where inky lakes shelter between mountains, sinewy stone walls clamber across hillsides and trees are frequently bent double by the wind. The roads here are narrow and winding, grass often grows along a hump in their middle and a herd of sheep can easily scupper all plans.

It’s the part of Ireland I love most. I grew up only an hour from the coast but now that I live abroad I rarely get to spend much time here. Trips home are a whirlwind of family gatherings and, despite my best intentions, a stay on the coast never quite seems to happen. But then the contorted back roads, deserted beaches and turquoise coves of my childhood got rebranded as the Wild Atlantic Way: a 1,600-mile (2,600km) route that traces all the twists, turns and crenulations of Ireland’s rugged west coast. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker.

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