Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cycling in Ireland - shot in the arm

The snow is coming down - yet again! - as I type. We joined the Ride Studio Cafe gang for part of their cafe-to-cafe ride this morning and early afternoon, before heading for home more directly when flakes started floating down. The good news is that leaves me with some free time to finish up a long promised post on my cycling adventures in Ireland at the end of 2013.

We originally had a trip to Ireland pencilled in for October last year, but Pamela's contretemps in September put that plan on hold indefinitely. To make a long story short, she had recovered sufficiently by late November to make air travel viable. And while late November and early December might not be the time that most people plan a trip to Ireland, we both really needed a change of scenery and I needed to use up my time off at work. Thus, carpe diem!

I had only managed to get out cycling occasionally since early September and felt like a complete slug. Despite having more than a little to contend with herself, Pamela could see me unravelling and kindly encouraged me to fit in as much cycling as I reasonably could, around visiting family and friends. Happily, my brother David had the first week in December off, so we were able to take advantage of genial weather conditions and get out for several spins together.

Our first spin together took us on a western slice of the Wicklow Mountains, to Blessington. You have to work a little harder these days to get out of Dublin but, once you do, road bliss awaits!

Climbing up to Red Gap

Near Ballysmuttan Bridge

View from The Ranger's Road

The lower reaches of Sorrel Hill

Descending towards the Blessington Lakes

Our route to Blessington follows:

The next day took us west into County Kildare. The day's route was in complete contrast to that of the day before - flat, but with a warren of roads to choose from to keep things interesting.

The ride looked like:

Next up was a jaunt to Skerries, on the coast, for lunch with our old (longtime, that is) friend Declan. This took in some classic roads in the north county, which I entirely failed to do photographic justice to.

Our route to and from Skerries looked like:

We then travelled down to County Carlow to visit my sister, Daphne. She is located in a simply gorgeous corner of the country and we tried to take full advantage of that fact. We pointed our wheels south towards the Blackstairs Mountains and, in particular, Mt. Leinster.

The climb from Myshall to the Corrabut Gap is an attention getter in more than one way!

Closing in on the top of the Corrabut Gap

Yours truly approaching the Corrabut Gap

The next leg of the climb up to The Nine Stones

We, err, bumped into Pamela and Daphne at The Nine Stones

Then we got to do some descending...

...before climbing again

We just managed to make it back to Duckett's Grove before sunset...

...catching a view in the gloamin'

Our Blackstairs ramble went here:

Dave next took us on a masterpiece of a spin, to Clonegal, centre of worship of the goddess Isis. We left Tullow by the historic Mount Wolseley before diving into labyrinthine lanes, finally emerging hungry in Clonegal. While the closed Sha-Roe Bistro taunted us across the street, we scrounged what we could from the shops in town before continuing with the delights of our day.

A view of Clonegal

Our route to Clonegal looked like:

The next day, on a whim, we decided to see if could find a clear view of Humewood Castle, in nearby Kiltegan. We failed, but certainly had fun trying! For those curious, you can see some pictures of the castle here.

Looking towards the Humewood estate in Kiltegan

Did I mention we had fun looking for views?

Keadeen Mountain had her head in the clouds

We took a side trip to the High Cross in Moone

An octagonal fixer-upper

Mt. Leinster in the distance

If Daphne lived there, we would have been home
Our route to Kiltegan looked like:

Returning to Dublin, I next took a spin up to the Hill of Tara with my friends Colm and Declan. We talked our way up, chatted our way through a very long lunch at the coffee shop there, where we met Pamela, my mom and my sister Suzanne. Leaving lunch just before it got dark (!), we headed to the nearby Skreen Church for sunset. That left us with a fun return through the lanes in the dark, when the craic never went below ninety!

We just made to Skreen before the sun set

That spin looked like:

A storm on our second last day was not enough to deter my nephew, Luke, from wanting to do a spin together. We took to the nearby Royal Canal for something a little different and to avoid traffic.

This picture doesn't capture how slippery the mud was

Christmas-special steam train with canal waves courtesy of the gale force wind


  1. Gorgeous scenery, fascinating lanes. Compelling. All so beautiful!
    More than worth the wait:)!! Thanks for sharing.
    Jim Duncan

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this. Simply amazing.