In 2019, at a crossroads in her own life, Gráinne Lyons decided to travel the Wild Atlantic Way on foot. Inspired by her great-grandmother who was a lacemaker on Cape Clear Island, Gráinne began her journey with an intention: to walk in the footsteps of other women deeply rooted in this Atlantic landscape and explore their lives along the way.
Beginning at the southernmost tip of Ireland, Gráinne heads north in a series of walks, each one focusing on the life of a different woman, some long gone, some living and working today. At Bantry Bay, she considers Ellen Hutchins, Ireland first female botanist. Walking the length of the Great Blasket Island, she looks beyond the stereotype in which Peig Sayers has been cast. In Clare, she explores the work of Edna O’Brien. Onwards then the warrior queen Grace O’Malley in Mayo, and the power of a great story with the matriarch Queen Meabh.
Time and again, she is reminded that, in its history, achievements and ambitions, this landscape is decidedly female. Writing with emotional honesty about the challenges and vulnerabilities of travelling alone, Gráinne Lyons asks what we can learn from these pioneering women and looks anew at Irish identity. Wild Atlantic Women captivates and inspires the 21st-century reader to walk alongside these extraordinary west coast Irishwomen.