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Ireland and Northern Ireland 2022

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Ireland and Northern Ireland 2022

I'm planning to bike (Covid-19 dependent) the perimeter of Ireland and Northern Ireland, two of the most most serene, ruggedly scenic and hospitable countries in Europe, over 30 days in June and July of 2022.  Dates TBD.  Just under 1,000 miles total and 40 miles a day average.  Bed and breakfast overnights with dinners in restaurants and pubs followed by lively traditional (trad) music sessions most every evening.

We'll begin and end in the Co. Clare town of Ennis and head clockwise to Burren National Park, the Aran Islands, Connemara and the Maumturk Mountains, bike up the gentle side of Glengesh Pass, visit the walled city of Derry, the Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, then train to Belfast, Dublin and Cork. 

From Cork we'll take in a few coastal fishing hamlets, traverse the remote and sparsely populated Beara and Iveragh Peninsulas, climb Healy Gap and the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney National Park and spend the last several days in Dingle Town and on the Dingle Peninsula.  

Summer days in Ireland are pleasantly cool (50°-60° F) with near-daily, intermittent rainfall and little sunshine.  A countrywide network of narrow, quiet back roads, light traffic, attractive towns, villages and out-of-the-way Irish-speaking settlements, a plethora of pre-historic sites, wonderful B&Bs and grand food and beers make Ireland ideal for experiencing by bike.

Although I will be traveling with just one other person, I invite inquiries from anyone who may be interested in joining me.  My preferred travel companion (M/F over 35) is sociable, energetic and flexible with a light sense of humor, a knack for good conversation and a love of leisurely cycling, history, culture and chatting with the people we meet along the way.

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Hi David,

Hi David,

I might be able to join you for a while. We'll see closer to the time. I live about 30km from Shannon airport. You are welcome to stay as well. I cycle a lot in and around Co. Clare and last year I cycled the Wild Atlantic Way.

Hendrik

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WildAtlantic Way

Hi Hendrik : Can you tell me your thoughts on the Wild Wild Atlantic Way . Next year want to do my first trip in Europe and thinking route !  Any comments on your experience really appreciated !

Cheers from West Coast of Canada

Brenda

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Hi Brenda, The Wild Atlantic

Hi Brenda, The Wild Atlantic Way is a fantastic route. The scenery is second to none in Ireland. I cycled the Wild Atlantic Way Audax. Which might be on some smaller roads than the Wild Atlantic Way which was set out to do by car. It also has deviations you cannot do by car. Now there is also the Eurovelo 1 which is signposted. This is also nice as it is mainly over very quiet roads but the surfaces can be horrendous, rough and slow. Also eventhough it is the EV1, Atlantic route it is often away from the coast line. I cycled the WAW in first year of Covid so a lot of places were closed. That is very different now. The places along the coast have improved significantly with lots of pop up cafes and nice outside seating areas that were there this summer.

 

Hendrik

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Wild Atlantic Way

Brenda,

Hendrik is right.  If the only place in Ireland you ever ride is along the West Coast, then you've discovered 95% of the country's beauty, grandeur and culture.  I'd also add Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland, where you'll find the Giant's Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, as well as some challenging coastal climbing along its Northeast corner.   

To appreciate the full picture, get Michelin map #712.  Ireland is interlaced with an extensive system of quiet back roads (the yellow and white roads on the map are ideal for cycling), as well as the busier red roads connecting the larger towns and cities.  And you don't necessarily need to hug the coastlines themselves, since many small roads cross national parks, take you over mountain passes and the like. 

I'd also digress a bit from Hendrix's description of road surfaces.  They do tend to be somewhat bumpy in the Republic, though not at all uncomfortable, while they're noticeably smoother in the North.     

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Hendrik,

Hendrik,

Thank you for your interest.  Where exactly in Clare do you live?  I know Ireland quite well.

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Hi David,

Hi David,

 

I am between Ennis and Gort.

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Hendriik,

Hendriik,

Thanks.  I know that area well.  Stay tuned as my trip plans develop, Covid dependent. 

Reuters reported the other day that Ireland is planning (the operative owrd) to open for tourism, including from Americans, on July 19. What's the situation actually like there now with B&Bs, pubs and restaurants?   

 

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Hi David,

Hi David,

Pubs and restaurants are opening for guests outside next week. I believe BnBs/hotels as well. I am looking forward to it. It is a terrible sight passing the locked up pubs wondering if they will ever open again. A lot of country pubs might stay closed. It was very sad to see how the land of a 1000 welcomes changed to xenophobia.

 

Hendrik

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Hendrik,

Hendrik,

Glad to hear that those enterprises are on the cusp of re-opening.  But it would indeed be sad if many rural pubs can't stay in business.

Xenophobia - and not the virus?

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Hendrik,

Hendrik,

What's the the Covid situation like now?  Are most B&Bs and pubs open for business this summer or are they holding off on reopening?  I'm still hopeful of returning in 2022, but any trip across the puddle is a wholly health and safety matter.

Slainte!

David

 

 

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Hi David,

Hi David,

I think restaurants and pubs have opened this week inside for vaccinated people. The rest have to stay outside. I have not been out this week to experience it. The summer has been good and Ireland has been transformed. There are many nice places to sit outside that look really well. Our local here in Ballinruan is still kinda closed but Whelans in Shanaglish is open.

Hendrik

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Hendrik,

Hendrik,

That sounds more promising than here, where mask mandates are being put back into place in various states and indoor establishments because of the virus' delta variant and folks who refuse to get vaccinated.  It'll be many more months before we'll have a better idea of where this is headed in the long run - or not.   

Are Ballinruan and Shanaglish two local villages or something else?  They're not shown on my Michelin map.

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The masks are still widelly

The masks are still widelly used and mandatory in shops, Shanaglish and Ballinruan are very small villages.

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Villages and B&Bs

Hendrik,

Thanks!  I don't believe I've ever been in an Irish village too small to be shown on the map!

Do you have any sense of how many B&Bs there are in Ireland these days, pre-Covid?  That is, are the numbers relatively steady or have owners been leaving the industry in droves for whatever reason?  The few B&B websites I've found collectively list around 1,000 or so facilities, but I have no way of knowing what percentage of actual operating B&Bs that includes.  

Just after my last trip in 2007, there were about 2,500 published in the ITB Bed and Breakfast Guidebook, the relevant county pages of which we carried with us.  Then the Internet took over.  Today's print version has only 400 or so, and I know of a few we've used over the years that have closed because the kids have grown up or the parents aged out, etc.

My traditional modus operandi is to look for ITB-approved signs and knock on doors after arriving in a town or village.  To pre-empt the possible question and suggestion, I don't own a cell phone and never will.  I like the search-and-knock spontaneity it adds to the trip. 

Thanks!

David