Ennis is the capital of County Clare, situated on the bend of the river Fergus. Ennis owes its origin to the O’Briens of Thomond who moved from Limerick and settled in Clonroad between 1208 and 1216. Donnchadh Cairbreach O Brien invited the Franciscans to establish a settlement within his domain in 1240. The Friary dates to the 14th century and at one stage had 350 friars and 600 pupils. It was considered the finest educational institution in Ireland for the clergy and upper classes. In 1615 the Friary became a parish church and the last of the old friars died in 1617. Some returned in 1628 but the Friary was destroyed by Cromwell’s forces in 1651 (there is a recurring theme of destruction due to Cromwell throughout the entire region). Ennis became a thriving market town in the late 18th century and this expansion continued unabated throughout the 19th century. Today Ennis looks like a typical European town with a fairly old city center but more suburb-like outskirts.
First day of our bike trip and we woke up to 50 degree weather and rain. After a pleasant breakfast made by our host, Sheelagh (owner of the Westbrook B&B) we suited up
On the wrong road from Ennis to Doolin
and inspected our bikes. The bikes were quite nice, very light, and each had a pannier that locked to the side of the bike for stowing essentials on the ride (our luggage was being taken to each new B&B during the day…so we only needed the essentials, right?). I proceeded to cram as many “essentials” into my pannier as I could (because you never know what “essentials” one might need on a big trip…this being my first experience remember). . As I crammed the contents of most of my suitcase into my teeny tiny pannier, I marveled at how cool a pannier was on a bike trip…surely by being attached to the bicycle the actual WEIGHT of the pannier would have no impact to future things, like say, pedaling up a steep hill…or 50 steep hills??!! Nonetheless, I was filled with the excitement of the journey, and having successfully stuffed my pannier full, set it on the rack at the back of my bike, fitted
Pretty Ennis Brook
Unfortunately we are still in Ennis...an hour later.
my brand new shiny never-worn before helmet to my head, gently rested my bum on my extra thick gel seat, and with the simple one-page direction sheet to our first official lunch stop, Lahinch, tucked into my shirt, we were on our way by 10:30am. It started to pour rain. No one told me the pannier had to be ‘locked on the bike’ with the attached locking clips…so when you go over a curb really funny things happen to the pannier…like your pannier flies off the bike and lands in the middle of the street where little European cars are driving very fast on the wrong side of the road…so when you are jumping off your bike to go back for your flung pannier you need to watch the traffic from the opposite direction you normally would…this could have been a tragic start to my journey, but thankfully Geoff was behind me (having a terrific laugh at the spectacle I was causing) and he snatched my pannier off the street and showed me how to lock it in securely! Whew…first crisis avoided…what would I have done if I lost my pannier with all my ‘essentials’!
Now, my friends may debate
Irish road signs
Sure...they look pretty easy to read...
this next key milestone, but I believe we were officially lost after the second right turn about 15 minutes after we left. We were supposed to “follow the ring road around the town, until you come to a turning left on the road for Milltown Malbay via the Golf Links.” I assure you this does not look easy as it is written, when doing it in person. After several back tracks we did manage to find a golf course and proceeded to convince ourselves that we were in the right vicinity of where we were supposed to be and to continue in our general direction. This is about when we decided that we needed to adjust our bicycles, since Brian’s handlebars turned completely sideways and my seat dropped an inch, and Geoff’s brakes were constantly rubbing. So after 30 minutes into our trip (on the wrong road) we stopped for 15 min or so to dig the bike tool bag out of the bottom of my pannier (I must stress ‘bottom’ of my Pannier because why would I possibly think we would ever need to the bicycle tool bag at the top of the bag…not to mention why should anything
Don't want to miss this major landmark! We are finally back on the route!
BUT the tool bag be in the pannier bag…but anyway that doesn’t really matter now). One new delightful discovery was that my bike did not have a kickstand, so I had to always hold my bicycle up when we stopped (which you will learn was quite frequent). After the much needed adjustments were made (and I am glad I was travelling with a seasoned cyclist and an engineer!!), we were again on our way. During this first morning we agreed that we should stop frequently to soak in the scenery and take pictures of the landscape and old castles, etc. Our first official picture stop was near a relatively new stone bridge…we snapped some pictures and were cheerful and glad that the sun had finally come out. And even though we were not on the right road, we had a plan to get ourselves back on track. In order to ensure that we correctly locate the first official landmark the Kilmaley Inn, we decided to travel the 7 miles or so on the main road… where cars and buses were travelling 100km per hour…with no bike lane…I assure you we rode very fast to get off this road. We survived
this trek and searched for the Kilmaley Inn…what a grand name, the “Kilmaley Inn”… good thing we were paying attention this time because we could have easily passed by thinking it was just a gas station. So after a quick break and few more bike adjustments, we ‘took the first right’ on the back roads to travel the short 2.5 miles to a T-junction for the road to Inagh…at this point the morning portion of our ride was supposed to be half done. But as you will see this was not to be… (to be continued)...
Gaelic phrase of the day: Tá rothaíocht suas cnoc crua (biking uphill is hard)
Tot: 2.732s; Tpl: 0.069s; cc: 9; qc: 55; dbt: 0.0578s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb