Published: August 28th 2006July 21st 2006
The Rock of Cashel is a raised fortress, church and barracks looming over town. Once a center for religious life the Rock has been converted to suit many needs in Ireland's history. For that, its a mess of tangeled buildings on a lonely, windy outcrop.
July 4 to July 21
Stumbling off the ferry from Wales at six am blind with sleep and hunger I fill up on seawater and Irish Brown bread. Tap water so bad and then some of the best bread I've eaten in my life. The ingredients say that half of the bread is made with buttermilk! In my 18 days in Ireland I think its safe to say I ate 18 loaves of this bread, made in heaven I think.
My first stop was Jeripoint Abby and the city of Kilkenny for some history. The Abby was manned by two different orders and left very unique limestone carvings of Saints and other religious scenes with tell tale signs for the modern viewer. For instance, if a snake has a knot in its tail, you know that it represented evil.
Kilkenny hit me with a nasty storm, the worst Ive had on my trip, for my second day in Ireland I choose to ride off figuring it might be this bad the entire trip. Hydroplaning most of the way towards the Rock of Cashel and some impressive medieval structures I was forced to stop in a phone booth
Right next to where I thought I saw something quite rare. Nope, Fungie the Dingle Dolphin has been cruising the bay since 1984, hes an old man but still kicks high out of the water.
for a quick feed. With stiff wrists I'm inhaling some food in my little cell when I hear some shouting at me, two ladies were holding a cup of coffee just outside their front window and waving towards me. I race out of the freezing phone booth to the door where they have a chair waiting for me in front of the fire. Both were mothers and took pity on the sad scene of someone eating lunch in a phone booth and if they had known I was coming they would have made some thing nice for me to eat. Gorgeous ladies.
The day after the storm of my trip the sunshine is out but the WIND persists, Ive had some bad days but after battling this day I get to my friend Steve's and take a look in the mirror and I've got a new Christopher Walken hair style for the effort. That was it though, for the rest of my time, newsprint headlines , Irish Heatwave, old people take care. Looking forward to meeting Steve since I left London I felt half dead from my battle with the wind but the old boy took care
of me, curry chips and greasy burgers and Miller beer, promised to me back in Munich. Yes, most Irish drink Miller or Bud, not Guinness or Murphy's, Steve has never even had a Guinness, my last day in Europe will be in Dublin for my flight back to the states, so the first round is on me. I spent couple of days playing the tourist, grabbing a game of football with his friends and swimming in the cold, cold Irish sea.
After leaving Cork area, the west coast amazes, lots of castles and 40 different shades of green and lots of open space. One ugly note is the very American style McMansions that are springing up everywhere, 80000 homes a year are being built in Ireland and most in a manner that only Highlands Ranch could be proud of. I rode to Mizen head and the lighthouse which was the last of Ireland the immigrants saw on their way to America. Pulling around the Ring of Kerry, I was afraid of the tour buses screeching down the road but was surprised that even the most tourist ed area in Ireland still had vast stretches with no one
around. After slowly rounding the ring I rode up the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow opening into the interior of the Kerry peninsula and the back side of Killarny National Park, with a brook running through the flat and mountains all around I came into a tiny area that was only missing little gnomes running around for all the magic and beauty that surrounded it.
With only one day off the bike since London I headed towards the famed Dingle peninsula for a couple of days lying low and relaxing in the sun on a beach. I rode hard but didn't get in till midnight, though still much light. I camped next to the water of the quiet bay and was woken up shortly to a dolphin breaching over and over again. I couldn't believe my luck that I'd seen a dolphin soaring through the air, till the next morning I find that a stray dolphin entered the bay in the 1980s and never left. Thought I was the only who had seen it. The next big sight on my list was the famous cliff of Moher, a massive tourist attraction curiously their is no fence or official walk way
along most of the cliff face which is a wonder for all the stupid things tourists are capable of. Still tracing the coast I spent my final days riding to the energetic university town of Galway where I rammed my hand into my chain ring after breaking my allen wrench trying to get my pedals off for the flight to Scotland.
For all the cyclists touring in Ireland, I did have a bit of trouble with the younger generation behind the wheel, lots of headstones on the side of the roads, one in particular was a strange shrine with a giant motorcycle next to a plaque of an 18 year old, no big mystery there.
Lucky for me the Irish drive so nice though, for the first time really since I started people were keen to yell outside their car windows at me. Such friendly folk, one even threw a beer can towards me, thought I might have been thirsty. Lots of others drove real close to me to say hi or something like it, some even swerved over, cool.
There are more photos below