This corner of Ireland has been bucking the trend of rural decline for decades, and continues to draw in creative types in search of a more sustainable way of life
One summer, many years ago when I was 17, I met a Dutch girl in a pub who was backpacking around Ireland. She said she was staying in hostels and was off to Doolin in County Clare the next day. Somehow, I hadn’t realised it was that easy to strike out and see the world. The next morning I took the bus to Doolin and began a lifelong love of independent travel and the open road. I never saw the Dutch girl again despite a full search of every pub in the village.
North Clare and the Burren blew my 17-year-old mind. I still remember the extraordinary quality of the light as it burst through the tapestry of clouds looking out across the limestone fields to the Aran Islands. There’s an air about the place. The area attracted woolly hat-wearing traditional musicians and every village seemed to have a pottery studio. The next summer I got a job pulling pints in a hotel in Lisdoonvarna and days off were spent hitchhiking the backroads of the Burren, taking in the majesty of the rocky landscape.