I was driving home from the shop just before Christmas when I noticed a clutch of shiny new signs by the roadside. Now, I'd already heard that the people who look after such things had been causing a bit of a kerfuffle locally. Lots of new shiny directional signs were going to be put up, I'd learned, to help confused visitors find their un-satnav'd (listed in my dictionary of makey-uppey-words) way around our beautiful countryside.
As an aside, I'd also been told that a number of businesses were more than a bit miffed by the fact that the pay-off was to be the removal of all those (some say) unsightly - and (in many cases) illegal - brown 'local attraction' finger-boards that point handily (and sometimes even in the right direction) towards some B&B or other. Yes, we were all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new roadsigns. We watched, fascinated by the unparalleled - almost indecent - haste with which the lovely new sparkly signs were being erected by a company called 'EXT'. "Ah," said many a knowing local, "that'll be why it's all happening so fast," they surmised, "it's because it's private lads that's doin' it and not the council..."Well we somehow coped with the blistering pace with which 'EXT' changed the face of our landscape, and now we're on the other side of the trauma. Nothing, however, prepared us for 'The Wiggly White Line' . (Strictly speaking, it's supposed to be a wiggly blue line, but let's not confuse the issue too early.) No, the new road signs I spotted that had me screeching to a halt at the end of our road were these:
Various opinions were offered as to the meaning of 'The Wiggly White Line'. Could it be 'Snakes Ahead'? No, this is Ireland... Okay, how about 'Beware of River'? Unlikely. It was only after a little leisurely googling that its true purpose was revealed. It's the logo for the new 'Wild Atlantic Way', the multi-million Euro project to put in place the longest coastal touring route in Europe!
It just happens that my way home from work coincides with a point at which the Wild Atlantic Way or 'WAW', (maybe that should be 'WWL' for White Wiggly Line?), hits a bit of a hiatus in its meanderings along our lovely coast. Its 2400km route along the Irish Coast, from Donegal to Cork - or vice-versa - takes a double-loop detour at a point on the N59 Westport Road just north of Clifden. If travelling from north to south along the WAW/WWL, the route emerges onto the N59 from the Cleggan/Claddaghduff Peninsular Loop only to dive off right again 100 metres later onto the Sky Road Loop. To reassure the un-mapped WAWer that they're on course, this requires numerous White Wigglies with bracketed compass directions to the south or north. Small, waist-high repeater signs (Wiggly - N and Wiggly - S) appear immediately after each junction, presumably to reassure the traveler that they've not done an accidental 180 in the process.
The official Wild Atlantic Way logo
The WAW launches in March this year, so it's really reassuring to see all the signs have been put up in good time! (You see, it really is a blue wiggly!) With the growing body of information coming from the likes of Failte Ireland and others, let's hope the world and his wife will soon know about the Wild Atlantic Way - and be prepared to travel to sample it.
It shouldn't be lost on us here in Connemara that we are smack-bang in the middle of the route, meaning that travellers arriving in Dublin only have to dash down the M4/M6 motorways to Galway and they'll have the choice of going WAW(N) or WAW(S)! (even though technically we are WEST of Galway!)
I have a feeling that, with all the publicity that's bound to accompany such a major initiative, we should be prepared to welcome yet another class of enthusiastic visitor to Connemara - the Wigglers!