We have toured many times in Ireland over the past years and it never fails to make us smile, a combination of the scenery, the rugged nature of the landscapes, the community feel and the warm welcome received. A weather window presented itself recently with the promise of calm seas across to Dublin and so it was an ideal opportunity to spend 4 days on the Emerald Isle researching ahead of a tour coming up in September this year and for the future.
The Irish Tourist Board knew what they were doing when they started marketing the coastline as “The Wild Atlantic Way”, it can be wild due to the nature of the seas but also to the surrounding countryside which switches from mountains to rolling hills, sandy beaches to rocky coves, moorland to forests. The weather can be unpredictable but then it only adds to the variety of this part of the world, one thing which is constant is the friendly nature of the people you meet.
The purpose of our trip was to check out some of the route we intend to use on our tour to the South West later this year, whilst we have run tours to the region before, on this visit we are heading further onto the Beara and we very much prefer to check the roads out first as well as the intended coffee and lunch stops. As with many parts of the UK some of the smaller cafes and bars in Ireland are closing down which means it is so important to touch base with places we will be visiting. One such town where we received a great welcome was Lismore, a pretty heritage town complete with a stunning castle, it had a good sense of community about the place and at least 3 good cafes for us to use in September. A little treasure trove we came upon is now a home but was Bridget Greehy’s pub which closed in 2003 after 50 years of being open. Bridget used to bottle her own guiness at the back of the pub and the present owner gave us some of the labels as a momento, they have also maintained the windows with historic trinkets, old tins of ovaltine and large bottles of coca-cola where you could get 10p if you returned them to the shop (maybe something to consider in this “throw away” day and age?). We also spotted a perfect pannier sized travel iron….. will have to try and get hold of one of those!!!
The main purpose of this trip was to once again visit the Beara Peninsula south of the Ring of Kerry and much quieter, we have ridden over the Healy Pass several times on previous tours but this time we went further west and were not disappointed. Whilst the roads are not billiard smooth tarmac the landscape is breathtaking with harsh rock formations which the road curves through whilst you are rewarded with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and the waves crashing onto the shore. The road signage is pretty bold too, with this particular one painted onto a low wall they most definitely do not want you to go straight ahead 🙂 🙂
With several things “ticked off” our check list we headed back to Dublin Port for yet another calm sea crossing to Holyhead….. let’s hope we have those same seas in September, but more sunshine would be good too 🙂