George and Jean's West of Ireland Tandem Tour
July 2002

The red circles on the map are links to web pages with text and photos for each day of the tour.
There is an overview of the tour below the map.

Day 1: Swansea -Cork by overnight ferry; Day 2: Cork - Kinsale - Timoleague - Clonakilty (Co. Cork)
Day 3: Clonakilty - Castelfreke - Ross Carberry - Glendore - Union Hall - Skibbereen - Ballyourane - Culomane - Bantry (Co. Cork)
Days 4: Bantree - Glengariff - Adrigole - RossMacown- Castletownbearhaven - Eyeries; Day 5: Eyeries - Ardgroom - Lauragh - Kenmare (Co. Cork & Kerry)
Day 6: Kenmare - Moll's Gap - Killarney - CastleIsland - Abbeyfeal (Co. Kerry)
Day 7: Abbeyfeal - Tarbert - cross Shannon, Cooraclare- Clee- Quilty- Spanish Point - Lahinch - Liscanner (Co. Clare); Day 8: Liscannor - Cliffs of Moher - Doolin - Inisheer and Inishmore (Aran Islands)
Day 9: Inishmore - Rossaveal - Curraroe (Connemara)
Day 10: Curraroe - Roundstone (Connemara)
Day 11: Roundstone - Ballyconneely - Clifden - Letterfrack - Leenane (Connemara)
Day 12: Leenane - Maam - Mamm Cross - Oughterard - Galway

The trip came about because we and our Dawes Galaxy Twin tandem needed a decent outing this year and neither of us had seen very much of Ireland.
The tour was planned to visit as many scenic spots as we could comfortably reach in a 12-day cycle tour with daily targets of about 40 miles/day. Some of the terrain is quite hilly, and this target proved about right for us. As the map shows, we managed to cover about 420 miles in 11-12 days, visiting many of the best-known beauty spots and scenic areas of in the south and west. We can say that the west of Ireland seems an excellent place for any touring holiday and especially for a cycle tour.

Most of the south-west and west coast of Ireland offers outstanding scenery, resembling Cornwall or Brittany in some parts and the west of Scotland in others.
We decided to skip the Kerry peninsula and the famous Ring of Kerry because we had heard that the number of tourist cars and coaches would probably make cycling on the Ring rather unpleasant. Our experiences passing through Killarney, which is on the Ring, confirmed this.
We chose to visit the lesser-known Beara peninsula, to the immediate south of Kerry and we were not disappointed, we especially enjoyed our visit to Eyeries and the very hilly road along the north coast of that peninsula.
The Aran Isles have a unique history and one can still discern some small remnants of the original way of life (especially on the smaller island of Inisheer), but unfortunately, their renown has spread so wide, especially in the States, and travel from the east coast of the US is so easy that the locals and many of the facilities on the islands are almost smothered by visitors. This is especially true of Killronan, the main town on Inishmore. Having said that, our landlady in Killronan was very knid and pleasant and we wouldn't want to have missed the day that we spent travelling the length of the island and visiting Dun Angus, which must be the most spectacularly-sited prehistoric fort in Europe.
We found Connemara the most rewarding of the areas we visited. It offers a very impressive combination of mountains, rugged coasts, bays, fishing villages and even a fjord.

Cycling in Ireland:
Although there have been several well-know Irish racing cyclists, cycle touring in Ireland seems to be almost exclusively the pastime of visitors from Holland, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and of course Britain. But Irish drivers and our B&B hosts were pretty friendly and considerate and, apart from a few 'arterial roads' the traffic levels are very reasonable (certainly a lot less even than on minor roads in SE England). There are bike shops in all the major towns.

The weather:
Well, it was rather wet for July - we were told that the summer to date had been 'one of the worst'. But despite this, we were able to cycle every day. We got really wet on only two days and we enjoyed a lot of sunshine. We planned to have picnic lunches - much the best sort of midday meal when travelling on a bike, and we were able to do so on all but about two days.

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Copyright: George Coulouris & Jean Dollimore 2002