Atlantic Amusements, Ireland

Ben! Ben! BEN! Yiiip … go home! HOME! HOOOME! Ben! To me! To ME, BEN! … Yiiip! That’s it! Ah boy, Ben, BEN! BE-EN! Yiiiip … home … Ben … BEN … AW BEN, YA CUNT!!!

Derelict single storey building stands in overgrown garden separated from sweeping road by stone wall
Derelict cottage in County Mayo

I’m standing on a roadside wall near the border between Galway and Mayo, trying to grab four or five shots of an abandoned house into the horizontal rain while being treated to the flawless synergy between one man and his not-quite-nearby collie.

Forget the dogs, it’s the people who make Ireland; from my BnB host telling me of his previous career as a news-cameraman during the Troubles, to the giggling girls in the Galway pie shop strumming Crosstown Traffic on saucepans, to the hapless, soggy shepherd in the adjacent field. Doesn’t matter that I haven’t been dry in three days, or that my ferry home to Douglas* leaves Belfast at 01:00 and will probably be late, because I’ve a new favourite road: the Wild Atlantic Way.

Alternating between fast sweeping bends and tiny little lanes with grass in the middle, the WAW hugs Ireland’s west coast like a green, sequinned negligée, tantalising the viewer with eye-popping vistas and a never-ending procession of picture postcard villages. Forgive the cliché, but it’s true. Want a petrol station in the middle of nowhere, sole customer one donkey plus cart? You got it. A seaside village of three houses, one family’s kerbside al fresco evening meal blending with drinkers at the neighbouring pub? There’s even a goat tied to the table.

Doesn’t matter if you’re sharing the craic with friendly locals or scratching your pegs on the Dunlops’ favourite Ulster roads, the only way to experience the Emerald Isle is flat-out with your grin turned up to 11.

Just ask Ben.

* There have been some changes. More later.