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    Books Ireland  
 
Modified: 06.11.2003

Olaf & Angela travelling from 02.09.1992 until 11.10.1992.

Ireland is, as is maybe known meanwhile, a wonderful green island with incredibly friendly inhabitants. We made our first experiences with this country in the summer of 1992 when we cycled through Ireland for one month. At first our journey lead us from Dublin south to the Wicklow mountains, then turning across the country to Galway at the western coast, up to the north, even crossing a little region of Northern Ireland, and then back to Dublin.

Arriving in Dublin with your bike is not easy. A large circle traffic is the start of the roads from the airport into the city. On the large road cycling is of course not allowed and you would not want to do this anyway. So we leave out Dublin at first and travel directly southward to the Wicklow mountains. These wonderful mountains, in which Angela conquered the first pass in her life (because of the well-meant advice of an Irish woman that we asked for the most beautiful way) have a wonderful heathland in which sheep obviously feel great. And soon we notice another characteristic of Ireland: The ever changing weather provides suprises in every hour, everything between sunshine and cloudburst is possible anytime. Besides some real wet trips this showed us lots of rainbows on the island.

In the center of the Wicklow mountains Glendalough is located, the ruins of a mediaeval cloister. The structure is made up of a few houses and ruins that were build in the 7th century. It's a wonderfull location in a valley (= Glen), near a large, quiet lake (= Lough). In my opinion Glendalough is one of the most beautiful sites on earth. But you really have to be there before (or after) the big run of coaches that spit out all too many tourists especially during summertime. A large, cylindric tower still exists which was the place of refuge in the time of the vikings. Very interesting are the reconstructed houses with very thick walls carrying a heavy roof made all from stone. This provides insight in the limited technical abilities that were not sufficient to copy or even further develop the earlier achievements of the roman architecture.

From Glendalough our path leads us into the interior of the country. A landscape of green grass is our companion, nice little towns are the home of friendly inhabitants, not least because not too many horrible tourists get there. Our journey leads us to Tullow, where for the first time we are very impressed by the hospitality of the Irish: On our ride Angelas bike starts to groan under the load of the luggage and after a short time the first spoke breaks. Well, we did not have any substitute so we try to get on to the next town. But "Pling" goes the second spoke. So there is no way to cycle on, we have to push the bike for the next three kilometres until we reach Tullow. We make our way to the local bike shop which is more or less the garage of a detached house. Its saturday, 6pm, so we are very curious how this will go on this weekend. The door is opened by a very friendly woman who tells us that her husband is just attending a game of football so he could inspect the bike not before tomorrow (which is sunday!). She asks us where we are going to stay tonight. We do not know until now so she invites us to put up our tent on their lawn, then we could have some breakfast together before her husband fixes the bike. We are flabbergasted by the overwhelming hospitality. The good guy fixes the bike on the next morning and refuses to take money for it and after a warm goodbye we cycle on with a feeling of luck and happiness through "our" Ireland.

An exhausting trip awaits us: Not the steady up and down of the Irish landscape but the rain that accompanies us for the most part of the 60 kilometres to Kilkenny gives us a hard time. Just before Carlow there waits one of the oldest sights of Ireland to be inspected: The Browns Hill Dolmen with a covering slab of more than 100 tons. A new rain shower ends our stay there and it goes on into town. Actually we wanted to stay in Carlow for the night, but on arrival we decide that this grey town is not very inviting (this impression maybe depended on the gray rain). So we cycle a few more kilometres until we reach Kilkenny and we get a good reward for our staying power: Kilkenny is a really beautiful town.

Not only is Kilkenny the home of the tasty Kilkenny beer, it is in many ways a typical Irish town: On the one hand there exist a huge church that seems to be more than big enough for this little town. But this seems to be quite normal in the catholic Ireland. Inspite her size the church is worth visiting and the lookout from the tower is wonderful. The roof beams of wood are impressive and in their plain manner they provide a strong contrast to the splendid interior. On the other hand Kilkenny shows good examples of the casual way of dealing with their past: When we were looking for the ruins of an abbey that we found on our city map we managed to find it only after a few attempts. We just did not look to the right direction because the abbey stands in the center of the ground of the Kilkenny brewery. It's a strange sight seeing this abbey in the middle of hundreds of barrels being loaded onto trucks.

 

 
 
Literature:
 

Irland per Rad. Ein Fahrrad-Reiseführer. Wolfgang Kettler. Verlag Wolfgang Kettler, Neuenhagen, 1991. ISBN: 3-921939-37-2.

 

 
 
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