The wild west coast from Cork up to Donegal has captivated writers from Yeats to Synge and Charlotte Brontë – as well as a host of lesser-known talent
‘Go to the Aran Islands. Live there as if you were one of the people themselves; express a life that has never found expression,” was, according to the poet WB Yeats, how he persuaded the playwright John Millington Synge to discover his muse – the desolate beauty of the Aran archipelago. Whatever was the true genesis for Synge’s Atlantic coast hiatus, his times on Inishmaan culminated in the critically acclaimed Playboy of the Western World (1907).
Synge wasn’t the only literary figure drawn to the stark and moodily captivating landscape of the west of Ireland; a place that had become almost a geographical metaphor for romantic Irish ideals and ancient mythology. Charlotte Brontë honeymooned along the western seaboard as far as Loop Head in County Clare, describing it as “such a wild, iron-bound coast – with such an ocean-view as I had not yet seen – and such battling of waves with rocks as I had ever imagined”.