Dodging Traffic on the Wild Atlantic Way

I broke my own rule. I never go on vacation or take a trip (yes, they are different) during holiday season. I would rather stay at home and catch up on repairs and maintenance. Circumstances dictated I visit Ireland in August in 2015. It seemed the entire population of the world had the same idea.

The Wild Atlantic Way has been receiving a great deal of media attention. It is the world's longest defined coastal touring route. It winds its way all along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north to the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork, in the south. That is 1,600 miles (2,600 km) of spectacular scenery, numerous places of interests and well-maintained roads.

Some of those roads are narrow and twisty. I used to think Chicago rush-hour traffic was bad. I would take it any day instead of the traffic I encountered on the Clare section of the WAW. Tour buses, rental cars, bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, local traffic, large farm machinery and trucks. Some of those trucks were of the articulated or semi variety. They were traveling on the left of the roadway for the most part. The Continental drivers who drive on the right in their home country have difficulty keeping left of the center line. The center line is white and the road edge lines are yellow. In some places, there is no center line because the road is too narrow.

Finnish travel blogger Satu Vänskä-Westgarth (left), beating the traffic, on her successful navigation of the entire length of the Wild Atlantic Way.

There are no official passing places as in Scotland. One finds a gateway, driveway entrance or whatever to squeeze by other vehicles. A bicycle event was in progress during my journey. Drivers showed commendable good manners and patience as they drove slowly along hoping for an opportunity for a speedy overtake. Roadworks were in progress in two places. I could call it organized chaos, but it was not really organized.

In the early afternoon, it started to rain. A light drizzle evolved into a steady downpour. In some places the posted speed limit was 100 KPH but attempting to maintain such a velocity would have been foolhardy. White knuckles gripped steering wheels tightly. People pulled off at viewing areas to allow following traffic to overtake. I wondered if the group of Harley-Davidson riders in Ballyvaughan wished they had gone to Sturgis.

I wondered if Donald Trump was visiting his exclusive golf course near Doonbeg. Hundreds of people could be seen climbing the path to O’Brien’s Tower at the top of the Cliffs of Moher. I did not join them. I have been there when I had the place to myself and cattle sheltered in the tower. The wind was picking up and adding to the misery of holidaymakers and locals alike.

Bicycle riders dropped another gear and lowered their heads even more. Rental car drivers sought an even faster speed for the windshield wipers marked “Irish rain.” Some wished they had forked out the extra for an automatic, as this was no time to learn how to master a stick shift. (The roads will be deserted except for the occasional sheep and donkey cart, the brochures stated.)

All clear at Mizen Head, the most southwesterly point of Ireland, along the Wild Atlantic Way. Wikimedia Commons

They peered through the windshield for a parking space in the villages to no avail. When one was spotted, it was at least a mile from the shops and restaurants. I debated stopping myself. Should I continue to my destination? I kept on keeping on. The conditions were showing no signs of improving, and it was best not to prolong the endurance test.

That is the last time I visit Ireland during "vacation season." In 2014, I visited in March. I would not have been overly disappointed if the weather then had been less than perfect. It was OK with very little rain. There were actually a few sunny days. That’s the Irish climate for you. 

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Tags: 100kph, Ballyvaughan, Biking, Donald, Doonbeg, Recreation, Travel, Trump, Wild Atlantic Way, tourism


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Comment by That's Just How It Was on November 4, 2015 at 6:05am

PJ Francis ............. give me Ireland at any time of the year . Its home , where the grass is greener and the people have time to stop and chat.

Rain ;hail or shine its home .

Comment by Jill Fuller on November 7, 2015 at 10:00am

This made me laugh, P.J. :)

Comment by Kathleen Acker on November 8, 2015 at 4:59pm

OMG, this whole article is silly.  I just came back from Ireland in late September and we had THE best times along the Wild Atlantic Way.  In face, I preferred our time in the Western part of the Country over busy, crowded Dublin with all its' road construction.  The roads aren't 6 lanes wide but not once in the entire time we were there were there any problems or issues.  Yes there were sheep occasionally in the road, but they moved.  We saw other drivers but no one blew their horns, or made wild finger gestures or anything that we see here in the DC area.  I found it quite relaxing.  I cannot wait to be back in Ireland and traveling along those roads.

Comment by Finbarr O'Regan on November 8, 2015 at 5:56pm

Pity you did not get someone else to drive!

You could have relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery rather than worrying about what side of the road you should be on!

Comment by P.J. Francis on November 8, 2015 at 6:59pm

I am delighted Kathleen enjoyed the Wild Atkantic Way. September is a wonderful time to experience it as the agriculture trafic has lightened (the silage had been cut), there are fewer buses, the Europeans are back at work and the kids are back at school. Being a native of County Clare I have experienced the wonderful scenery long befor the Wild Atkantic Way.

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