Ireland

Introduction

Based on a tour by Tyler Folsom and Fran Solomon in August Ė September 1998.

Location

From Limerick south along the west coast, then east, ending in Dublin.

Season

The Romans got as far as Scotland. When they looked across to Ireland, the weather was always dreadful, so they didnít bother to invade. The Latin name for the country, "Hibernia" means land of winter.

July and August should be the warmest months. Rainfall is plentiful and unpredictable.

We found that early September temperatures in Ireland were comparable to early October in Seattle. 1997 was an exceptionally dry and warm year; 1998 was one of the wettest ever, though we did get dry weather for all but one of our cycling days.

Transportation

Irish rail carries bikes on almost all routes except for Dublin commuter trains.

Accommodation

We brought camping gear but did not use it. Bed and breakfasts are everywhere; there are far more than are listed in guidebooks or on the web. Typical costs in a double room are 14 to 20 punt per person. A punt is worth about $1.40. Hotels cost at least twice as much as B&Bs and were beyond our budget.

Terrain & Roads

Ireland is underpopulated and has an excellent system of secondary roads. The National roads can get a bit busy but can be used where needed.

Comments

The people are warm and friendly. There is often good music in the pubs. While there are lots of castles and abbeys, many of them are in ruins due to the strife that has plagued the country.

References

The recommended map series is the Ordinance Survey Holiday Map series. This covers the island in four maps at 1:250,000. The tour given here uses the South and East maps.

The Irish Tourist board will send a free map by Blarney Woolen Mills, which is adequate for cycling.

Cycling Ireland, Philip Routledge, Motorbooks International; available from GORP.

Itinerary

Day 0: In air

Biked from home to the Seattle airport, then caught a non-stop British Air flight to London.

Day 1: Arrive Shannon; bus into Limerick.

Day 2: In Limerick.

Aer Lingus delivered our bikes and baggage in the morning. We spent the day sightseeing at King John's castle and elsewhere.

Day 3: Tarbert (bike 40 miles)

The first part on N69 was rather busy and it drizzled a bit. I took some pleasant back-roads between Ferry Bridge and Askeaton, but did not go as directly as I had planned.

Day 4: Camp [name of a village] (bike 49 miles)

We took some minor roads via Ballylongford, Lisselton, Ballyduff and Banna Strand, then through Tralee. The beach at Banna was pleasant and the water warm, but there was a bit too much wind chill for swimming.

Day 5: to and around Dingle. (50 miles)

Road N86 was has light traffic and the climb over the peninsula is not too steep. This loop from Dingle town is beautiful and lots of people bike it. The Gallarus Oratory is a perfectly preserved tiny stone church from the ninth century.

Day 6: Kilarney (42 + 5 miles)

We stopped at Inch Strand where I rode on the beach along with too many cars. This was good for swimming until the wind picked up in early afternoon.

Day 7: in Kilarney; (17 miles)

We explored the National Park. It is possible to get a boat to the farthest [Upper] Lake and bike back from there. We didn't get started early enough to arrange this, but took a boat to the Middle Lake and then followed bike trails and roads back to the Lower Lake and the town.

Day 8: Mallow; (45 miles)

We biked along the River Blackwater and caught the Sunday horse fair in Millstreet. Just before reaching Mallow, Fran tripped while crossing a country road and landed on her knees, cutting them badly. We cleaned the wounds and then went to the hospital for stitches.

Day 9: In Mallow.

This was an unplanned rest day to recover from injuries. Plus it rained heavily all day.

Day 10: Cashel; (biked 15 miles)

The remainder of the cycling was reduced to facilitate knee healing. We took the train to Thurles, then biked to Holy Cross Abbey and Cashel. The cathedral on the rock dominating the town is an inspiring sight. In the evening we went to a folk music and dance performance.

Day 11: Kilkeny; (35 miles)

We biked to this medieval city and spent time exploring.

Day 12: train to Dublin

Visited Kilkenny Castle in the morning. Dublin was the only place where we had to look hard to find an available B&B.

Day 13: bus to Glendalaugh.

Took a B&B in Laragh and walked into the early medieval monastic center on the old footpath.

Day 14, 15: in Dublin

Explored more Dublin sights while staying out of the way of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Day 16: bike to airport and fly home

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