Ireland, June 2017 -part 1

Part 1 - Part 2

Each daily entry was written on the day so the style is a bit inconsistent. Never mind that.

9 June
I'm on my way to Ireland. I left after work today and made a first stop in Hay-on-Wye after a very relaxing ride.

This wasn't supposed to be a solo trip but I didn't want to cancel and I needed the break. It's a good start to the trip anyway. I'm camping in a nice place, the town is pretty (quiet for a Friday night though) and the Welsh beer is good.

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As a side note, I'm going to avoid Esso petrol stations when possible. They made me get off my bike to refuel which makes it difficult to fill up properly. They said it was for my own safety. Bollocks to that.

10 June
I made it to Ireland today. The weather turned nasty in Wales so I got soaked as I crossed to the west coast. I had chosen a fantastic little road through the valleys, but it was so tricky and I was so slow that I started to worry about missing the ferry. Needlessly, as I made it with plenty of time to spare.

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The crossing was uneventful and after a few hours I was finally in Ireland. It was fun noticing all the little things that made it obvious I was in a different country. I had a nice ride to Kilkenny, stopping in Inistioge, a little village that was used in films a few times.

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I found a busy pub in town. I did the obvious tourist thing and ordered a pint of Guinness. Next one has to be a Kilkenny.

Irish Stew is nothing like I imagined. Tasty, though.

It's not cheap getting drunk in Ireland but it's easy with all the Trad music. This pub had 3 bands playing each night.

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So far Ireland is delivering on all the promises I didn't know it had made.

11 June
I liked Kilkenny last night so I decided to stay for another night.

I had a wander around the town in the morning, having a look at most of the sights. I would have liked to go to the top of the round tower but it didn't open until a couple of hours later. When I was near the castle it started lashing down so I rushed in and visited it. I might otherwise have skipped it but it was interesting.

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It rained several times after that but nothing too bad. I took the bike to the Rock of Cashel. It's quite an impressive place, especially when the sun comes out. Tour guides try to ruin it for everybody else though. They argue with each other and their groups are too large and behaved like herds of blind elephants.

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I rode back to Kilkenny on nice country roads (except for a stange choice by the satnav, a narrow lane that probably saw its last maintenance 50 years ago).

Back in town for more live music and a few pints.

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12 June
I left Kilkenny earlier than I expected, considering yesterday's late night. I rode south through slowly changing scenery. There never seemed to be a place to stop when there was a nice view.

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I made a first stop in Midleton, a colourful market town, best known these days for the Jameson Experience at the old distillery. I didn't visit it because it isn't a working distillery anymore.

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Next was Cobh, on the seafront. I thought there was something odd about their cathedral until I realised it's practically new (late 19th century). It started raining as I tried having lunch outside and it never really stopped, but it wasn't bad.

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I spent some time in Kinsale.

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And finally I went through Cork but barely stopped. Too tired! It's a big city and deserves more time to explore. Maybe tomorrow or on the next visit.

I'm camping in Blarney and I'm now enjoying the local brew, Franciscan Well Red Ale (best yet) while listening to the ever present live music.

June 13
Today: just wow!

I didn't go back to Cork today. I'd seen enough towns yesterday so now I'm ready for the Wild Atlantic. I did make a stop in Clonakilty though.

I found some nice biking roads today - if I choose to ignore the bumps. I found a nice beach and spent a bit of time there.

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Then I went to the Drombeg Stone Circle and Bronze Age settlement. I've always found those sites fascinating.
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I made my way to the Sheep's Head peninsula (so very beautiful) and rode as far as possible. The weather had been steadily improving but as I parked the bike, I was in thick fog. Actually, the strong wind against the cliffs is causing the formation of clouds. I just had to walk a bit further to be out of it. It was sunny for the next two hours as I hiked to the lighthouse. It was fantastic. The second half of the loop was much more difficult but it was worth every slippery, muddy step.
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I'm camping at the far end of a small peninsula. Its just that little bit special. There isn't a pub in miles though. Maybe I'll get "Whiskey in the jar" out of my head...

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I've heard "Whiskey in the jar" every night since Saturday. Now I've got the chorus stuck in my head.

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da  
Whack for my daddy-o  
Whack for my daddy-o  
There's whiskey in the jar"


If only I knew what it means.

14 June
Today: wow again, and eeek.

I left the tent on its spot by the sea. It's nice not to have to pack every morning.

My new SatNav has an annoying habit of sending me on very small single track lanes, presumably because it is slightly shorter, but it takes a lot longer. I call those Shitty Shortcuts. There were several of those today. The first Shitty Shortcut was actually amazing. It sent me on a demented roller-coaster of a track that had absolutely fantastic views. I think the mountain pass is called the Preacher's Leap. It was difficult but I loved it.

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I explored Baera peninsula, doing several loops.

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I visited Derreen's Gardens. Unfortunately it was much too late for the flowers.

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I stopped at another stone circle at Ardgroom.
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At the very end of the peninsula, just across from Dursey Island, I went for a walk. It had become very windy and grey but it added something to the barren landscapes.

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Just as I started to head back, I was surprised by the clouds coming down and heavy rain. It made for an uncomfortable ride back and then the Shitty Shortcuts came back. I avoided a few stupid detours but I eventually turned, as directed, into a road that seemed fine at first but quickly deteriorated. Steep climbs, blind crests, hairpins, stubborn farm animals in the middle of a slippery track the width of a car tyre. That would have been "interesting" in the morning, but not in the fog and rain after a long day. I would have dropped the bike three times in those 8km if it wasn't for traction control. Thank you, Kawasaki. F*** you, Garmin.

I made it back, I'm trying to get dry. It was a good day.

Part 1 - Part 2