Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way

27 May 2017

The Creative Jetsetter: Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + Guy Who Doesn’t Travel Nearly Enough…

If a storm like this were to hit Los Angeles, the local news would cover it all day — make that all week — with sodden reporters stumbling around and calling it something like Mega Tempest 2017™.

Here in Ireland’s aptly named Wild Atlantic Way, the locals refer to it as “a Tuesday.”

Wild Atlantic Way shipwreck

Boat wreck remains, Rossbeigh Beach, Ireland

The rain flies in sideways, with bevies of Banshees rattling the windows trying to break in. My stunning view of the surf gets swallowed by 500 shades of gray (50 is for wimps). Since it’s May, I’m spared sleet and snow, but were I to venture outside, my California-acclimated blood would likely become pomegranate slush.

Yet here inside, with an Irish whiskey at my side, I’m loving every minute of it. Moreover, I’m plotting how I might live here forever.

I’m writing this in Glenbeigh on the Iveragh Peninsula about three hours southwest of Dublin. My family has rented a hillside house overlooking the waves. The second I got here, I stood transfixed by the view, which makes the beaches of L.A. County seem like spray-tanned wannabes.

We’re in Ireland to visit my mother-in-law’s ancestral origins, and though my own roots lie on the other side of the planet, this feels like home.

I think any writer would feel this way. It’s the ideal environment for letting the imagination wander. No wonder Ireland has produced a long literary legacy, from James Joyce to Roddy Doyle. But Glenbeigh lies far from their haunts in Dublin. It’s green to their grit. Open and airy to their cramped and crowded. I could happily stay here, at least until the hordes of summer tourists arrive (although I am a tourist, I’m allergic to others of my ilk).

Ring of Kerry castle

Castle ruins, the Ring of Kerry, Ireland. Photo by Michael Beaudoin.

Since we’re fans of off-season travel here at Atomic Tango, the currently half-populated town suits me perfectly, with locals so friendly you could spend all day sharing stories with them. Nearby, sheep dot the steep hillsides like puffs of migratory cotton, and the town of Killorglin offers cute stores and highly-rated restaurants.

Most intriguingly, we’re also just off the Ring of Kerry, a string of historical sites linked by a highway that’s one spectacular view after another — including fantasy-sparking castle ruins now ruled by angry crows.

(Tip: Should you decide to visit, book a private tour with the gregarious Ann Marie Morrison, who’ll effortlessly navigate the twisty, treacherous highway — treachery compounded by the fact that the Irish drive on the left side of the street, with every other oncoming vehicle a massive bus encroaching on your lane — while you get to enjoy the scenery. In addition, Ann Marie’s nimble van can access sites that the lumbering tour buses can’t, and you don’t have to spend half your trip boarding and unboarding behind dozens of other tourists.)

Take the Wild Atlantic Way’s combination of thousands of years of human history, weather that mood-swings from beaming sun to torrential downpours and back again, postcard views every way you glance, and a tradition of artistry that encompasses literature and pottery, music and craft beers, and you’ve got a writer’s paradise. Give me a year here, and I bet I could finish that novel I’ve been dreaming of writing for decades — that is, if I can ever tear my eyes away the view.

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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