Cead Mile Failte

18 May 2023

Firstly, something we missed out of the last report. In the last campsite in Wales, we met a guy called Will who was pedalling around the coast of the U.K. for charity.  Not that unusual apparently. However, Will was cycling a Brompton folding commuter bike and pulling a trailer, which to me is hard as nails! Small wheels, six gears and about 100kgs total weight, which means a lot of walking for the Ducks and Drakes children’s cancer charity. Good luck Will with the rest of your trip.  Hopefully you will be home by winter as planned!

13 May 23 Rosslare Harbour to Rosslare – 8km

We ensconced ourselves at the front of the ship, got comfortable and went to sleep! Considering the woman in the seat next to us didn’t stop talking for the whole journey, we did pretty well on that front and before we knew it we were an hour away from Ireland. One last bit of excitement on board was when Martina spotted some “jumping things” in the water ahead of us, which turned out to be dolphins. Unfortunately we only got to see them a few times as our view out the windows was blocked by the front of the ship, but it was pretty cool all the same.

No issues with disembarking the ferry and we had an easy journey to our AirBnB for the night. As expected it had been a long day and we weren’t much use to anyone and once we’d devoured the tea and cakes supplied by our lovely host Anne we were in bed.

14 May 23 – Rosslare to Tramore – 70km

Up, packed, sarnies made and out fairly early as this was our first day on the road in Ireland.  As it was a Sunday we had the roads to ourselves. Early on there wasn’t much to see except some fairly nice, rural roads and a light drizzle at times.

We stopped at a castle in Coolhull which wasn’t marked on the map only to be accosted by an angry black Labrador that saw us off whilst baring its teeth. We stopped in Wellingtonbridge for our morning coffee and a chocolate brownie! The next few hours continued the same except the rain came on properly and every now and then we could just see the sea.

The plan was to cross the River Barrow using the Ballyhack ferry and as we descended to the slipway there was a queue of traffic.  We thought this was a good sign as it meant that they were all waiting for the ferry.  Turned out that the ferry was actually broken down on the Passage East side of the river.  We chatted to a few people and got different stories about how long it was going to take to fix…which ranged from between half an hour, 2 hours and who knows? We went to the local pub to settle in and wait to see if anything was going to happen. We made a few enquiries to see if there was local accommodation as a plan B as there was no way we would be able to cycle the extra 38km around the long way to reach our destination for the night.  I also asked around to see if there was someone who might have a boat that they could put our bikes in and take us across.  But there seemed to be no takers, so plan B looked all the more likely…..until that is, a guy at the bar called Alan, said he’d give a friend of his, who has a small boat, a call and see.  Half an hour went by and the bar filled up with a group of Americans who were also waiting for the the ferry.  Alan then came up trumps and told us his mate David would come and get us, to which I said out loud “that’s excellent news”.  The Americans overheard me and thought this meant that the ferry was back working and a lot of confusion then ensued to the point that they thought that I was actually the captain of the ferry itself! It definitely wasn’t me that cause the confusion…they put two and two together and made much more than 4 in a very short period of time! Picture of our saviour, Alan, and David’s very small boat in the background…

Rather smugly we departed the bar, man-handled our bikes onto David’s very small boat and away we went.

Five minutes later we man-handled the bikes off the boat on the other side, tried to give the boys something for their time and effort, which they refused, and off we went again, saved! What brilliant people! Alan’s parting message was that he was’t looking forward to going back to the pub to face the Americans! (We found out on Facebook the next day, that ferry wasn’t going to be fixed until the following afternoon, so we really were saved!).

The last 20km was through some very tough hills, but at least it was in sunshine. We were very tired by the time we found our accommodation, a self-catering wooden chalet in Tramore, as it had been a much longer day than anticipated. We did however, manage a walk into the centre of Tramore town and found the convivial Victoria bar and had our first Guinness of the tour! We need the iron after all!

We were still back and in bed by 9:30 as we were pretty pooped! (Martina ‘s was a Guinness 0.0% by the way which is actually pretty close in taste to the real thing).

15 May 23 – Tramore to Dungarvan – 48km

After yesterday’s epic I think that we were both rather glad that today’s cycle to Dungarvan wasn’t too far.  We’d been told that the coast road to Stradbally and then the Greenway to Dungarvan was a nice route and it didn’t disappoint.

What no one had told us was that there were yet more steep hills involved! Pretty tough going, but there was the bonus that around each corner there was a great view. We stopped for a break in the very picturesque little village of Stradbally.

The Greenway is a cycle and walking-only path built on an old railway which runs from Waterford to Dungarvan and we picked it up just outside Stradbally. Beautifully smooth with more great views the Greenway was a blessing, only marred by the large number of teenagers larking around on it. Still it presented a nice opportunity for 15km-or-so of easy riding into the centre of the lovely town of Dungarvan.  We had a mooch around the centre, did a bit of food shopping and ate a sandwich in the town square before heading out to our digs for the night.

Bairbre our cycling friend who lives in Amsterdam who we peddled with in the Netherlands at the start of our world  trip has a sister, Anita, who lives on the edge of Dungarvan, and organised for us to stay with Anita and her husband Ciaran when we passed through.  Turned out that Anita wasn’t going to be there – in fact she was in London on Monday.  But not to worry as Ciaran would look after us. We were given instructions on how to get to their house and told to make ourselves at home as Ciaran wouldn’t be home until 7pm. Turns out that they live in an amazing house right on the waterfront. So we did what we were told…made ourselves at home …..put some washing on, made dinner and chilled out! Ciaran came home at 7 and we spent a very enjoyable evening chatting with someone we’d only just met, but felt like we’d known for years! (Look at the amazing view from their house in the background).

16 May 23 – Dungarvan to Kildorrery (pronounced locally Kildolery) – 68km 

Amazing weather to wake up to with blue skies and a few clouds, so we were up, fed and packed fairly early.  We said our goodbyes to Ciaran and meandered away from the coast towards Martina’s old stomping grounds in Mitchelstown, North Cork to stay with another friend, Linda and her husband John. I think that today we really started to get out cycling mojo back. On previous trips it has taken a good couple of weeks to get cycling fit and get in the groove but it definitely felt like we were getting there today.  The roads were perfect for cycling with some undulating hills and nothing too steep.  The sun was out, the birds were singing and we were positively whizzing along taking in some stunning views along the way….

We stopped in the lovely town of Lismore for a pit-stop and a bit of people watching in the sun ….

…and then again in Clongulane for our first sandwich of the day. When we got to Fermoy, we realised that we were going to be very early at destination so we headed to the very pretty park to chill out and where one of us (me!) fell asleep on the grass for half an hour.  The final 14km was uneventful, and we finally got to Linda and John’s dairy farm, with Linda waiting at the gate to welcome us. We are here for a couple of days to recharge and plan the next chapter of our trip and also for Martina to do a bit of work.

Had an enormous chicken curry for dinner before Linda and John took us on a whistle stop car tour of the local area, the highlight of which, for me was the Labbacallee (translation, Hag’s Bed), a 4000 year old wedge-shaped burial chamber.  An amazing structure which made us wonder how they built it so long ago without any machinery. One local story says that the hag threw a boulder after her fleeing husband which landed in the nearby river pinning him to the bottom!

All-in-all a fabulous introduction to Ireland over the last 3 days but I have only seen one leprechaun so far – the one that is following me on a bike!

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