The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

Home Travel StoriesSouthern Ireland 2015


By Ren Withnell

I've been to Ireland before but I was merely a baby in a pram so I don't remember that. I've been meaning to go for quite some time. Then about a year or so ago I re-connected with an old friend via Facebook. After 20-odd years he's now a nutty professor at Trinity college in Dublin and is deeply involved with Educational Psychology in particular bullying. It's hard to imagine the bass player in our band, "The Marrows Of Doom" which created such classic tunes as "Moist" and "Tepid", is now a respected leader in his field and a published author. And then there's me with my dirty motorcycle and me website...

an old picture of Ren and his friend playing a gig in the late 80's
"The Marrows Of Doom" rocking out circa 1990. My friend is in black on bass.

Slowly but surely a plan is formed that will allow me to kill 2 birds with one stone. I shall combine a visit to see my old friend and take a handful of days to explore Ireland. 

I have learned to be wary of my presumptions and expectations of a place. All too often I have found what I myself expect and what people tell me to expect are quite incorrect. Still, much as I am trying to keep an open mind I can't help but build a picture of what Ireland will be like. From the TV and the internet I know this is a modern country but the rural areas will be set in the past. Each pub will be filled with guitar and fiddle players singing jaunty jigs about hard times and how beautiful the women are. There will be cars but I'll need to be wary of farmers taking a large milk churn to the dairy on a horse and cart. Of course there will be countless maidens in traditional dress with legs moving faster than light but arms as still as a statue. This is how Ireland looks to me, this is what the media tells me to expect.

Ireland is known as "The Emerald Isle" for a reason. That reason is Ireland is a very green country. It is very green because it rains a lot. I am preparing myself for a wet trip both practically and mentally. Practically I'm thinking of ways to keep my phone and my tablet dry, which clothes will be comfortable even when wet, are my waterproofs still waterproof and do my tyres have tread. Mentally all I can do is lower my expectations and know that at least practically I am prepared. I wish to take a trip to the Atacama Desert next time, it might be cold but at least it will be dry.

I've booked the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin with Irish Ferries. At £95 for the return trip it's not as cheap as the Chunnel to mainland Europe but it's not too bad I guess. The only downside is that both trips are at 0800 which means an early start as I need to be at the port for 0730 at the very latest. The crossing is 3.5 hours which is fine although I have been told the Irish Sea can be very rough, it could be a very uncomfortable 3.5 hours. 

All that's left to do is pack and check the bike out. I'm taking the CBF 125 because again I've been told that fuel is expensive over there and anyhow I like the challenge taking the smaller bike will bring. Murphy's law, being what it is, ensures that the chain is at that awkward stage of having a few miles left in it but maybe, perhaps, not really enough to be confident that it will last the trip. Ireland is only 250 miles across so I doubt I'll do more than 600 miles while I'm there, shall I replace the chain or risk it to get the last out of it? After some consultation with my finances and my fears I decide to replace the chain. Better to be safe than sorry but it pains my wallet to waste what's left in the old one. Dagnammit! I wouldn't mind but a new quality chain and sprocket kit for the 125 is only £34. I'm just tight.

So there we are. The bike is ready, the ferry is booked, my friend is prepared for my visit and I've mentioned to work I won't be in next week. I just need to get on and do this now.

Prologue Ren's getting a plan together for a trip to Ireland. What can he expect and is he too tight to prepare his bike properly?
Cruising To Holyhead It's a slow ride into the headwinds as Ren heads off to the port of Holyhead on his overloaded CBF 125.
A Ferry And A Friend - Dublin The ferry to Ireland is fine but Dublin brings confusion. The rest of the day is spent catching up with an old friend filled with philosophy.
Across Ireland To Adare After a great breakfast Ren starts out across Ireland in search of what makes this place unique
The Dingle Peninsula Is the Wild Atlantic Way as wild as it's name suggests? As Ren reaches the West of Ireland will he find what makes this place special and unique?
Kerry's Ring And Skibbereen Will the famous Ring Of Kerry live up to the hype? Has Ren spotted the real Father Jack? Will the Germans ever get their Motorrad fixed? Oooooh the excitement is killing me.
The Southern Coastline Ireland's southern coastline provides a mix of beauty and disadvantage along with sunshine and rain. There's also a small ferry as long as he doesn't get lost again.
East Coast Session With time to spare Ren is meandering around the South Eastern coast of Ireland and thinking too much. He also finds a Session...sort of.
Dublin And Chillin' On his last day in Ireland Ren has time to spare and yet there's never enough time. Time is the most precious thing we have.
Holy Men To Holyhead Upon his return to Holyhead Ren is joined by a group of fellow bikers on a mission from God. This gets Ren thinking about life, the universe and everything. 42.
Epilogue - Southern Ireland 2015 Ren sums up his thoughts on Ireland. He's also coming to terms with the fact that the way he travels may no longer be right for him. Is this the end of Bikes And Travels?!

Reader's Comments

Phil Burrell CMA said :-
hey Ren
This is a great blog. I feel like I have been on the whole journey with you....... Not just the all to brief ferry trip back to Holyhead.
Ride safe brother.
God bless you.
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Phil!

I've yet to write up the part where I meet your good self and your pals. I hope the weather's not been bad to you in Ireland as it's a bit ropey here.

I shall endeavour to complete this trip soon as there's more trips forthcoming.
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC

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