2018 Ireland, ‘End to End’

Since I was in Europe for our Italian biking adventure, it seems only right to ‘piggy-back’ another trip during my stay.

So . . . why not ride from the southern shore of Ireland to the northern shore!!

I was on the Bicycle Adventure Club’s, headquartered in San Diego, CA, ‘wait list’ for this trip, so when a vacancy developed, I said ‘Yes’!!  Twenty six of us will venture from the south to the north using the services of a bike touring company named Iron Donkey to, daily,  move our luggage from hotel to hotel. No camping on this trip!!! Yeah!!!

Not sure how widespread wifi availability will be on  this trip, but will try to keep you up to date on our adventure. Thanks for following along!!

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Day 1, Dublin – Cork

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After several days of R&R in Dublin it was time move on with the Ireland ‘End to End’ ride . . . a quick city bus shuttle back to the airport

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. . . where I met up with 6 of the other riders. Tony, our host for the week from the touring company Iron Donkey, had arrange a shuttle, shown above, for eight of us from the airport to Cork. The rest of the 26 riders found their own way down to Cork.

Two and a half hours later we arrived in Cork . . .

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. . . where we unloaded our gear . . .

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. . . checked into our rooms . . .

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. . .and put together our bikes. Only four of the 26 are renting bikes, the rest of us brought our own. Mine had been opened in Chicago by TSI and lucky for me they got the parts of the case back together OK.

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. . . it looked like a bike repair shop as we took over the outdoor seating areas on each side of the main entrance. Nothing like a group of biker making themselves feel at home!!!

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Tony and John will be transporting out bikes and luggage to our starting point. My roomie, Don, here is ready to load his rental bike. Our Bicycle Adventure Club ride leader, Tom, from New York, is in the plaid shirt.

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Before dinner we had our first happy hour and meeting where logistics were discussed and the rules of the road in Ireland explained.

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A yummy dinner for us of vegetable soup, salmon on pureed potatoes and profiteroles was provided and we had a guest musician, Rosie. Rosie and Deb, one of our riders, have been in communication for over 20 years, via an online chat group, regarding a popular English soap opera. They had never met her in person until tonight!! Rosie provided a fine musical welcome to Ireland. One more Pinot Gris and it was time for bed.

Day 2, Mizinhead–Skibbereen

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We woke to an overcast day but no rain in the forecast!! Part of our daily routine will be to move our luggage etc. a central point in the hotel for Tony to load into the van. Here is only part of the load for the 26 of us!!!

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After breakfast we loaded into a motorcoach for a 2 hour ride tour starting point, the southern most point of Ireland Mizin Head. John had transported our bikes earlier . . .

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. . . and they were there ready for us when we arrived. We had to put on our pedals, gps, water bottles etc. and soon we were ready to go. It was misty and windy at Mizin . . .

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. . . but what a view. This point is the last thing piece of land Irish would see when they left Ireland by ship for the United States.

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. . . my official start point!!!

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Tom, our tour leader ended up having three flats before he even left the bike corral area. Had some bad ‘imported tubes’ evidently. Here his ‘pit crew’ jumped into action to install a TREK Bontrager tube that worked . . . at least for today!!!

It was getting more cold, raining and windy at Mizenhead and by the time we took our ‘Start’ photo several riders had already started riding to warm up.

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. . . as we pedaled away this was the first thing I saw . . . what, am I back in Wisconsin!!!

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We left from a high point at Mizin . . .

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. . . and descended to this park area with a beach and dune area.

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. . . and a long board walk out to the ‘outer banks’.

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Oh, Ireland has shrines out in their ag fields too, just like those we saw in Italy last week . . . some of these were quite elaborate.

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Another Kodak minute . . . tides out!!!

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There is some new construction in the area and the Irish have a nice design feature of covering the entrances to their homes with these structures making sort of a covered entry, mud room combination. Keeps out the cold!!

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I’ve got to get some Polish coal . . .while it lasts!!!!

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The town I stopped in for lunch along the way had a Croc store, should have brought mine. They had a display Paul Bunyan Croc hanging on the door that must have been two feet long

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Our bus driver Liam told us that after the British left the their influence of railroad bridges . . .

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. . . and road bridges remained.

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We traversed the main road on several sides today, back and forth, on narrow one lane roads through ag areas where you could buy . . . fresh eggs . . .

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. . .further down the road 3 euro bags of potatoes . . .

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. . .and veggies. Too bad we are not on a self-contained ride, whomever would have been cooking tonight could have bought nearly all their ingredients items right out on the road!!

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Got my eyes open for Hanzo . . . he is AWOL. Of course it might be hard spotting him since he doesn’t like people or vehicles!!!

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. . . oh there is some reforestation going on in Ireland. Here is a plantation planted by Green Belt within an ag area.

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It was great riding today. Once we got 5 miles from Mizin the mist stopped and we had mild temps and even a tailwind for the afternoon. This is typical of the local roads we traveled . . . and virtually no traffic!!!

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Go Mall . . . Go Mall and smell the roses!!! Two track path with paved lanes!!!

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Soon I arrived in Skibbereen, our town for the night, staying at the West Cork Hotel. Nice happy hour with vino, beer and self-introductions of riders.

Dinner on our own tonight so Ron, Deb, Anne, Ben, Don and I went to the Church. An old Methodist Church now a restaurant. EXCELLENT food!!!

Day 3, Skibbereen – Kinsale

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It was raining when we got up and it would be a rainy ride all morning. 53 miles and 4,000 ft of climbing would keep us on our toes. Not to far out of Skibbereen was this graveyard our bus driver had shown us the other day. While still a ‘working’ cemetery  . . .

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. . . like in many town cemeteries there is a ‘vacant’ looking area with no headstones. This is where folks who perished in the Great Famine rest. Over 10,000 unrecorded souls have been buried in some of the cemeteries.

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A little further down the road was the Dromberg Stone Circle . . .

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. . . Irelands version of  Stonehenge. The carbon dating has determined items at the site to be from a period of 1000 – 800BC, during the Bronze age. A woman I talked to who was walking down the approach road said we would miss the fantastic view of the countryside from this high point. She was right . . . FOG!!!

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. . . after stopping for a snack the rain went to more of a dense fog/water hanging in the air.I stopped to put my vest on because I was cold and found this ‘art shot’ over my shoulder!!!

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We’d be bicycling along the coast most of the day today but seeing much of  it was impossible because of the rain and fog. Here was a large tidal pool area that was now drained . . . lots of shorebird activity. Tide’s out!!!

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We stopped for a short break at a Super Valu (reminded me of home) where they had a wide selection of deli goodies. Kerry was excited about the hummus bar!!! And they have painted elephants, similar to our cows in MSN.

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After lunch there was a road closure due to construction and we had to wander around bit to finds our way. And, Yes . . . men can stop and ask for directions. We thought we knew which may to go but Don verified it with Mary Marie who was out for a little walk.

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Again today we stayed of the main regional roads on quiet lanes ranging from two full lanes to barely one. There are NEVER any shoulders,but low traffic counts. I think the road crew may have had one to many Guinness’s at lunch before they completed this striping job.

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. . . a great old church ruin along the way . . .

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The rain finally stopped and the sun started popping through the clouds as we cycled around bay after bay. Here was a sign advertising an upcoming ‘Pain’ or ‘Pleasure’ bike ride, The Jagged Edge Tour.

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Our wandering along the bays and coves is part of a regional biking area know as the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’. We will be riding along it for a day or two before we turn inland.

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After a day of rain and LOTS of elevation gain it was nice to ‘move into’ the McDonald Hotel and Spa for the night . . .

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. . . beautiful views of the countryside from the lobby, and yes we had one last big climb up the the hotel . . .

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. . . and, brightly lit rooms!

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Soon all the riders were in, cleaned up and it was time for Happy hour . . .

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. . .which morphs into our nightly day review/map meeting . . .

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Tour leader Tom reviews the Wild Atlantic Way route.

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. . .and then it was time for dinner. Choice of three starters, I had the fish cake with a Hollandaise type sauce . . .

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choice of three entrees, I had the salmon with peas coulis and pea pods . . .

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. . . and everyone had their own little dessert sampler plate. 4,000 foot of climbing today + Happy Hour + Big Dinner = . . . zzzzzzzz

Day 4, Kinsale – Youghal

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Good sleeping at the Spa Resort last night and soon it was time for the ‘Full Irish’. These are just the hot items. They had a full selection of pastry’s, cereals, juice and fresh fruits. Good thing it is going to be another big day of riding!

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. . . about half of our group arrives promptly when the doors open at 7:00am!!!

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It was raining when we woke up and was still raining when we left . . . down the road was one of many mushrooms I saw today growing on the sides of the road. Guess they thrive in a wet environment!!

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. . .WOW, the Irish know how to use color . . . maybe because the days can be so gloomy.

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Today we needed to make a narrow river crossing which was facilitated by a short ferry ride. While Tom and I waited for the ferry . . .

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. . . several more riders showed up for the ride across. Very similar to the Merrimac Ferry but this one cost 1.5 Euro to cross.

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. . .riding through the countryside it was not uncommon to see the ‘quintessential’ Irish pub, restaurant and inn . . .

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. . .this one even had a hand pump for bikers to fill their water bottles!!!

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. . . further down the road I had a nice chat with Bessie, the Bovine, regarding the fat content of the famous Ireland butter. Mooooooo.

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We rolled through Midleton, Ireland, population 13,000. A big town on our trip!!! The Mideltonians are trying to live the dream to by buying up the newly built 3 & 4 bedroom free standing suburban homes. All the residential construction seems to start with laying up cinder block walls. No wooden wall components!!!

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Most of us stopped at the Cobh Heritage center to learn about the Titanic and the emigration of the Irish. Very well done!! Annie Moore left Ireland in 1891, with her two brothers, and they were first immigrants to be processed through at the newly opened  Ellis Island facility in New Your. There is a duplicate of the statue located there.

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Typical of the roads we traveled today. Mostly two lanes but hedgerows and stone fences right up to the road edge.

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As we came back down to the sea, right off the coast was this island with a lighthouse that had never been completed due to financial issues. Nice setting . . .

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Oh and the Irish are VERY meticulous about tending to their hedges. Mowing was  being compete today by tractors with boom mounted rotary blades to trim the tops and sides . . .

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. . . trouble was they were also cutting the thorny berries bushes too and the needles were all over the road . . . and as you can see here, they can go through Gatorskin tires (I put two new ones on on before I left).

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It wasn’t until 4:00pm I rolled into Youghal, our home for the night. This is pretty typical of small town architecture in Ireland.

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. . . with a nice arch every once in a while.

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Youghal is big enough to have a movie theater and as you can see . . . the movies are all American made!!!

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Tonight we are staying at the Old Imperial Hotel, where we are also having a group happy hour, our nightly meeting and a group dinner.

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. . . another splash of color. Hope I can sleep tonight!!!!

Day 5, Yougal – Dungarven

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A little noisy last night at the Old Imperial but after the last two days of riding, no on really had any trouble sleeping . . . and a yummy breakfast!!

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. . . soon the group was assembling in the courtyard for todays ride . . . only 30 miles!!!

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For the first six miles we road on the national highway. Great 7 foot shoulder . . . you can see the size of the chipstone in the asphalt. Pretty typical for most of the roads we have been riding. Rough riding on 25mm tires.

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Tides out . . . just tie your  boat up in the middle of the river and wait for it to come back in!!!

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As I rounded a corner it look like traffic was stalled ahead, maybe an accident or a police stop . . . no just EVERYBODY in a ten mile radius stopping at this little diner. If I hadn’t just eaten breakfast, I would have stopped in for a cup of Joe.

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Oh, there have been accident death markers along the way in Ireland but most are not as elaborate as this one . . .

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. . .and I haven’t seen much roadkill or even varmints along the way. This is evidently one you can run into (hopefully not) . . .

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. . . and here is a distant cousin.

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There have been flowers the last several days . . .

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. . . just growing along the road. Nice to look at as one bikes by.

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Soon we entered Altmore, where the language had suddenly seemed to change from English to Gaelic.

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This towns claim to fame is the old monastery, church and graveyard . . .

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. . . the tower at one time was the highest free standing tower in Ireland . . .

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I’m surprised it is still standing when see’s what settling soil had done to the gravestones.

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The tower was used to escape the bands of Viking marauders that would sweep through the area. They would load their books, food and themselves in the tower, pull up the ladder and seal the door. Must have worked unless the Vikings were willing to wait them out.

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Tides out again and folks were walking the beach.

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There is a nasty invasive species problem here with the Japanese Knotweed. Signs all over the place . . . the Irish are trying to do the right thing.

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Stopped to talk to this mother and daughter team. Very inquisitive . . .wish I had had an apple!

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Along the way there were lots of ‘Stately Wayne Manors’ built in the suburbs of Dungarven.

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Just before I got to town it started to rain. I pulled over into a driveway to put on my rain gear and this herd of young ones came from across the field, in a stampede, to say hello . . . fun!!!

See movie above!!!!

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We are staying at the Park Hotel tonight, a lovely place . . .

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. . . soon Monika, Liz and I headed into town for some lunchy . . .

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. . . I had the soup and sandwich special which in most pubs is PLENTY for lunch!!!

Day 6, Dungarven – Waterford

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Quite a night at the hotel last night as they hosted 150 young woman, their dates and families upon the completion of their ‘finishing school’ Some of our group had rooms right next to the large room the group had reserved for a dance and the music did not quit until they were ‘finished’ at 2:30am. Glad I was on the other side of the building. Our bikes were stored inside two sheds and if you were one of the first ones to get your bike out this morning it was like a game of pick up sticks!!!

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Today would be another relatively short day, about 34 miles. I chose the Waterford Greenway route to see what the Ireland ‘Rails to Trail’ is all about . . . it was nice!!!

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. . . all of the road crossings on the 34 miles stretch have these double gates to prevent cars from driving on the surface. The whole trail is paved, with a surface much smoother than the roads we have been riding on during the ride. AND . . . no trail pass required!!!

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oh . . . they have bridges that look older and more decorative than those on our trail system in WI.

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. . . and did I mention the views are a little more stunning those at home on the Badger or Glacial Drumlin.

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. . . there were some dramatic cuts along the way  . . .

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. . . and even a tunnel. Could easily have been a photo of the Sparta Elroy or Badger Trail tunnels . . .

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. . . but this one had lighted alcoves through the length of the tunnel. No headlight required!!!

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. . . riders also leave little mementos to friends and lovers on the wall approaching and leaving the tunnel . . . nice!!!

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. . . the trail paralleled the region road for some distance and it was usually down below us like in this photo. Very picturesque!!

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oh . . .and there were flowers along the way . . .

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lots and lots . . .

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. . . and lots

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. . . of flowers.

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oh yeah, did I mention the scenery was not to shabby either. Great vistas!!!!

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. . . the trail did pass under paved roads in several locations using the standard poured concrete construction but it also served as a canvas for local artists. Here Traci TREK gets a couple of smoochies!!!

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. . . about half way though the ride the trail crossed a river on this high viaduct. I got off and rode down into the town and enjoyed a little bun and a coffee.

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. . . another example of some home renovation being done. New roof and stone work.

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Three quarters of the way to Waterford there was a train depot that served food and had rides available on a small train into Waterford.

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. . . the rain must have been getting ready to roll because there were guys in bright vest EVERYWHERE. They were also stationed further down the road at road crossings. I believe they were volunteer train enthusiasts helping out the cause.

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. . . oh and if you meet the train going under this bridge YOU need to give the train the right of way on the tight passage or you might loose an arm!!!

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. . . I may not have mentioned today that the coastal views were stunning!!!

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. . . the trail ended at this point in Waterford. Dungarven where it had started this morning had quite the little park and visitor center for the start of the trail Waterford is a much bigger city than Dungarven and evidently don’t consider the trail as big a deal. Here is the rather unceremonious ending point in Waterford!!!

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Tonight we are staying at the Waterford Marina Hotel located at the convergence of the Suir River and one of it’s tributaries . . .

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. . . which when we had arrived was a victim of the tide being out!!! In this area of Ireland the tide flows in, and out, twice a day. Crazy!!!

Roommate Don worked with Liam, an Irishman, back in the 70’s in the United States Liam and Maria eventually moved back to Ireland but Don and him have stayed in contact. They live in Waterford so Don set up a dinner date and invited five us from the tour to  head to dinner with them . . . and away we went!!!

I had been hearing about the fish pie and decided to give it a try. Cod, smoked haddock, salmon in a cream sauce topped with whipped potatoes . . .comfort food  . . . YUMMM!!!!!

. . . after several glasses of wine it just seemed appropriate to have a nice hot brownie with salted caramel ice cream and whipped cream. Wouldn’t hurt anyone (I don’t think????)

There are lots of Viking exhibits around town and here is  a typical size boat the Vikings would use in their raiding parties . . .

. . . and hear is a ‘Paul Bunyan’ version of a Viking sword carved from a single tree!!!

, . . . it was a perfect night and with a full moon. Sixty miles tomorrow and 3,500 feet of climbing!!!!

Day 7, Waterford – Tullow

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We woke to BLUE SKY!!! First one on the trip and it would be blue sky ALL DAY (I guess we’ll pay for it tomorrow when it is supposed to rain all day!!) A half hour down the road I came around a turn and there was the ferry we would catch this morning to get us across the river . . .

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. . . tide was out when I drove to the ferry dock in Passage East . . .

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. . . but the water was deep enough for the ferry and 10 minutes later the ferry arrived . . .

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. . . so had a few more riders so away we went. In fact, Bob and Mavis missed the ferry leaving by only 30 seconds and the captain backed up the ferry so thy could load . . . nice!!!

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Between these two towns they just about have the human body covered . . . funny!!!

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One of the first sites we passed today was the ruins of the Dunbrody Abbey and Castle. The castle features an intricate yew hedge maze made up of 1,500 yew trees and gravel paths, only one of two full mazes in Ireland. Unfortunately, we rolled by about 9:30am and the whole thing did not open until 11:00am

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About ten kilometers down the road was the homestead of JFK’s great grandfather, Patrick Kennedy . . . .

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. . . the exhibit traces his leaving Ireland as a famine emigrant to his great grandchildren’s return years later.

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Saw several very elaborate memorials to folks who died along the rural country roads. This young chap was only 19 years old.

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Here was a new HUGE bridge being built on the outskirts of  New Ross. I thought it was interesting they started on both ends AND the middle, connecting all the pieces. New Ross has a VERY compact downtown area and a fellow I talked to at the Lidl store said the new bridge will relieve the two hour daily weekday traffic jams in New Ross.

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. . . oh the Irish are interested in what is happening in the United States . . .

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. . . in fact there is even an Irish American magazine display at the Dunbrody Visitor Center which offers highlights of famous  Americans of Irish backgrounds.

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Traci TREK takes a little rest as I eat a little lunchy!!!

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Here is the Dunbrody which is an exact replica of a ship used to transport folks from Ireland to the west. As many as 200 poor souls would be held below decks for the 40 day journey, rarely allowed to get up on deck. Needless to say the conditions were horrible . . . and many died during the trip.

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Here is a the Emigrant Flame that was lit from a flame carried to Ireland from the Kennedy ‘Eternal Flame’ Memorial in Arlington, VA. It traveled the 3,700 miles and lit this flame exactly 50 years after the visit of JFK.

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As I rolled thought town in SLOWWWWWW Saturday traffic I passed Hanrahan’s which looked like a nice place. Too bad I had already eaten lunch. I could see from the traffic issues the new bridge and bypass is VERY much needed.

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Back out in the countryside, the views rolled by as I climbed up from the river. GREAT views and vistas today made especially nice by the sunshine.

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oh. . . . I guess they have powerline issues in Ireland too!!!! Utilities seem to be the bad guys all over the world.

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This was typical of the rural road we traveled today. Even on the weekend these local roads had VERY little traffic. Maybe one car every 15 minutes and I got the idea they were homeowners along the way. Peaceful!! But the poochie ‘telegraph’ system announced our arrivals with one dog barking and the next one several houses down picking up the cadence. The dogs are very friendly and I never had one chase me. Just came out to say ‘Hi’!  Woof!!

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Oh boy . . . first one of these I have seen in Ireland!!

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Bicycle art along the road . . . nice!!!

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I stopped mid afternoon for a little ice cream sandwich at Murphy’s. In the rural areas stores are rare and gas station mostly just sell . . . gas. Lucky for me Murphy’s had a freezer full of ice cream novelties!!!

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Very, very nice riding today. Lots of climbing but very few steep elevations . . . and it was all stretched over 60 miles.

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Nice example of a typical church found in the small towns we roll though dotting the countryside . . .

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. . . right down from the church though was the 1798 ‘hanging stone’ which I guess was used to handle worldly crimes the locals were not willing to wait for the good Lord to handle (. . . but the funeral was probably held down the street at the church!!)

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. . . well this should not be a problem during our stay in Ireland. Sounds like July and August are the best months to bike in Ireland. The rest of the year can evidently be too ‘iffy’!!!

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Very sad . . . only 13 years old.

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. . . but right down the road was this spray of color . . .very nice.

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We were supposed to stay in Buncloddy tonight but between the time Tony made the reservations in December and the start of our tour the place closed down. And it was the only hotel in town. So . . . we got a nice ‘upgrade’ to the Mount Wolseley, a country club, golf club, hotel and spa. Yippee (however it did make what would have been a 45 mile day into a 60 mile day to get here). Here is their website. In the lobby, I talked to an American from Atlanta, over in Ireland for a wedding. The wedding was yesterday, Friday, and the reception started last night and lasted until 6:00am this morning. At 3:00pm, when I rolled in and talked to him the wedding party was back in the bar . . . continuing the celebration!!!

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Nice place . . . and once again we just rolled our bikes through the lobby and into one of the meeting rooms for overnight storage. I hope all the cow manure I rolled through  today had worn off the tires!!!

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Very bright room.

Soon it was time to retire to the bar where there were about 10 bar stools but many, many comfy couches. Down right civilized!!!

. . . so of course our BAC members started Happy Hour in grand fashion . . .

Judy had a gin and tonic . . .  BIG!!!

With drinks in hand, Deb, Denise and Ron were ready for our nightly meeting . . . 

. . . where ride leader Tom surprised us with  a tasting of St Jameson Irish whisky . . . he said it ‘might’ absolve us from missing Mass tomorrow.

. . . Bo and I poured and passed out the samples . . .

. . . and Ben, who is a beer tasting judge back home in TN, led us through the proper way to sample and judge a fine spirit . . .

. . . soon it was time for dinner. Usually be have a choice of 3-4 starters, main courses and desserts.  Nobody left dinner hungry!!!

Day 8, Tullow – Glendalough

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The forecast was for rain last night into this morning and when we woke it was raining!! It was predicted to stop at 11:00am and that’s when it did, so it was a late breakfast and late start for the whole gang. And a lot of raingear came out for the first time. We have four tandems on the trip!!!

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Soon we were on the road and biking into Ireland’s Ancient East . . .

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. . . great scenery along the way. Most of the fields are separated by stone fences rather than barbed wire . . .

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. . . which of course keeps all the sheep in line!! Lots and lots of sheep.

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We rolled through Tinahely, where the people are well . . .

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TIDY!!! The small towns we roll through do not see a lot of tourists, are very clean and well kept. Not a lot of litter along the roads in Ireland.

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Around the corner up ahead I saw the first significant road kill of the trip . . .

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. . . a beautiful red fox.

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Oh they still have a few of these around. Not sure if a millennial would even know what it is!!!

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. . . and we have seen a number of pumps along the way . . . always well tended, too.

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. . . the Irish have concerns about wind power just like they do with high lines . . . similar to  rural Wisconsin!!

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. . . soon it was time to pull over in Aurithm for a little lunchy. The wind has not been an issue on this trip, so far. The prevailing surface winds generally being South/Southwest in Ireland. Today with the weather front passing we had a nice little tailwind.

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The roads can be bumpy at times. Very few miles have been the ‘baby butt smooth’ roads of asphalt we have in SW Wisconsin. Most roads have some type of aggregate in the mix. The bigger the size the rougher the ride, especially on 25mm tires!!

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As we exited the ‘Ancient East’ the locals wanted to say goodbye in style . . .

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. . . lost in translation!!!

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Great statute in a small town of man and his best friend . . .

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. . . puppy!!!

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The last 10 miles were through a beautiful forested area with mature timber on each side of  the road . . .

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. . . leading us into the Glendalough Valley . . .

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. . . and our home for the night the, Glendalough Hotel. Glendalough means ‘twin lakes’, not be be confused with the Glendalough Park in Otter Tail County, Minnesota!!!!

We beat the rain today and celebrated with a nice happy hour and dinner!!!

 

Day 9, Glendalough – Celbridge

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Fine sleeping last night at the Glendalough Hotel. I was up early and decided to take a walk before breakfast to the monastic cemetery and the upper and lower lakes of the adjacent park. Here is the breakfast room in the hotel . . .

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. . . the outflow from the lakes flows right under the hotel!!!

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St Kevin’s church . . .

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. . . and cemetery . . .

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. . . with St Kevin’s cross. This cross is a fine example of how St Patrick, trying to help the once pagan people of Ireland acclimate to Christianity. This was done by combining the cross with the circle representing the sun, because the pagans worshipped the sun and moon. A local legend surrounding St. Kevin’s Cross says that anyone who can wrap their arms around the entire width of the cross body and close the circle by touching fingertips will have their wishes granted.

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. . . along the trail to the lakes the vegetation was lush. This seasonal waterfalls had stopped flowing.

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. . . the paved path led me along the shores of the lower lake . . .

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. . . and ten minutes later I was on the shore of the upper lake. Very serene. I was the only one out and about at this time of the morning,

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Saint Kevin lived as a hermit in a cave (a Bronze Age tomb now known as St. Kevin’s Bed), to which he was led, in the account of the Vita, by an angel. St. Kevin’s Bed can best be described as a man-made cave cut in the rock face very close to the edge of the mountain. It is reasonable to assume that the cave could only have been used as a sleeping place, and would have been impossible for an adult to stand upright in, so it is quite likely that St Kevin only used it as his bed, or a place for pious prayer or meditation.

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Soon we were on the bikes and began our 6 mile climb up out of the valley of the lakes. The weather was fine as we started the 1,100 foot climb but began to deteriorate almost immediately . . .

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. . . the rain was not the bad part, but the horrendous winds were vicious!!!!

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. . . we thought things were going to get better when a rainbow appeared at what we thought was the top!!!

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. . . the weather did not seem to affect the sheep who browse right next to the road, like deer, until you stop to talk and take a photo of them. Then they scamper away . . . beyond arms reach.

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. . .  as we neared the second top the storms blew across aided by the vicious wind . . .

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. . . and at Wicklow Gap, elevation 2,687 feet, the vicious wind nearly blew us off our bikes!!!! Over the top we rolled  and had to descend quite some distance before the vicious wind abated. The Wicklow Mountains form the largest contiguous upland area in Ireland. The mountains became a stronghold and hiding place for Irish clans opposed to English rule.

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This was an usual design of a church we passed along the way . . .

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Soon we neared the twin man made Blessington Lakes constructed 50 years ago with the building of a dam  and hydroelectric station. The road runs right between the lakes.

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Since the beginning of our ride, almost daily we encounter these vegetation tunnels sometimes only  a 100 feet long sometimes maybe a half a mile long. Fun to ride through!!!

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Near Celbridge we passed  over the Grand Canal, half of a pair of canals connecting Dublin, in the east of Ireland, with the River Shannon in the west.  The last working cargo barge passed through the Grand Canal in 1960.

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Soon Bo and I rolled into the courtyard of the Celbridge Manor Inn . . .

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. . . looks like Tony, of Iron Donkey, has done us right again by providing superb accommodations!!!!

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Nice . . .

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. . . lots of nooks and cranny’s filled with comfy chairs for reading, enjoying  a drink or napping!!!

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I’m always amazed at how accommodating the hotels have been by usually allowing us to park our bikes inside their hotel in a conference or ballroom. We roll them right through the reception area and into their overnight home!!!!

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. . .  speaking of overnight homes the rooms were very comfy . . . no sleeping on the ground in tents on this trip!!!

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. . . to bad I am not a bathtub kind of guy!!!!

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Anne gave us the good news at our ride meeting that the climb to the Gap today is actually the fourth hardest climb in Ireland!!!!

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. . . another great dinner AND yummy chocolate toffee caramel dessert . . .

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. . . soon I was  . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

. . . we are on the road again!

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