Fiddles and the Wild Atlantic Way

Kerry Dexter's picture

The Wild Atlantic Way: its name alone suggests mystery, adventure, and discovery

You will find all these things as you travel all or part of this 1600 mile/2500 kilometer route. The folk at Failte Ireland have mapped out routes that take on the twists and turns of the roads with continuous scenic views, as well as slightly more straightforward routes where the views are intermittent but the driving is a bit less challenging or the route takes less time. The Wild Atlantic Way was thought of as a driving route, true, and while parts of it need to be explored by car, it is possible to follow parts of the Way on foot and by public transport as well.

The Wild Atlantic Way runs from the top of the Inishowen Peninsula in the north of Donegal to Kinsale in Cork far to the south. Along its length, it keeps the Atlantic Ocean as its guide while traversing parts of Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, and Cork.

Whatever method and whatever parts of the Wild Atlantic Way you choose to explore, you will be in touch with Ireland past and present, with nature and humankind, with quiet places and lively ones, with rolling green hills and rocky cliffs with crashing waves.


Fiddles and the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland


This  journey lends itself to another vibrant part of the life of Ireland: music. The fiddle is a constant presence in the music of Ireland. Continuing with ideas for a soundtrack for the Wild Atlantic Way, as you travel in geography and in imagination, take a listen to these fiddle experts:

Niamh Ni Charra comes from County Kerry. Ni Charra plays fiddle and cocnertina and sings, on her own well respected projects as well as with Spanish piper Carlos Nuñez and with Riverdance. Niamh’s mother, Olivia O’Carra, is a painter whose work focuses on the landscapes of Kerry.




Eileen Ivers, too, was drawn to choose the fiddle as her instrument. She was born in New York. Her parents, though, come from Mayo, and that landscape, the western part of which lies along the Wild Atlantic Way, has always played a big part in her life and in her music. Ivers is known for seeing and exploring connections between the music of Ireland and other parts of the world, and with other musical genres. in this clip, she’s playing her music with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.




Martin Hayes comes from Clare, the home of many distinctive fiddle traditions,and he comes from a family steeped in traditional music. You might also say he’s created a traditional style of his of his own, slowing down extending and otherwise reimagining traditional fiddle tune structure.




Liz Doherty comes from the far north of the Wild Atlantic Way route, from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal. She’s taken that fiery style of fiddling to Nova Scotia, the United States, and other realms, and still brings it home to the sea swept landscapes of Ireland’s far north.




These four are wonderful musicians -- and their music is just a taste of the music you may hear, and choose to listen to as you plan or imagine or make your trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. Ahead here at Wandering Educators  you’ll learn more of the musicians whose lives touch the landscapes of the Wild Atlantic Way -- songwriters,singers, fiddle players, guitarists, flute players, and musicians of other sorts, storytellers of Ireland all, as this series continues. Stay tuned!


You may also like to see The Wild Atlantic Way: the music begins




Kerry Dexter is the Music Editor at Wandering Educators. You may reach Kerry at music at wanderingeducators dot com

Find more of Kerry's work in Journey to Scotland, National Geographic Traveler, Ireland and the Americas, Perceptive Travel, and other places online and in print, as well as at her site Music Road.


Photo courtesy and copyright Jessie Voigts




A soundtrack for the Wild Atlantic Way, featuring fiddlers that represent the essence of music in Ireland

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