Looking along a long straight road amidst lush green farmland

Home Travel StoriesSouthern Ireland 2015

The Southern Coastline

By Ren Withnell

Another night in the tent is punctuated by regular toilet trips, my sore rib and too much daylight in the morning. Never-the-less sleep has been forthcoming and I feel suitably refreshed. I'm packed and ready to hit the roads by 0800, as I load the final bits onto the bike the German gentleman appears from his large tent and asks why I am leaving so soon. They have a full fried breakfast planned and won't be on the road for ages. I'll grab something from somewhere sometime, I'm not that well organised.

I could just hit the main N71 again but Castletownsend looks like a pretty seaside village according to my maps and it's not far away. Castletownsend reveals itself to be a gorgeously wonderful, small and cute little harbour town with houses running down a steep hill, locals delivering furniture and lush countryside. I stop on the harbour wall to take it all in. I try to fix it into my mind and I hope my camera will capture it for others. This is worth a little detour.

Blue skies over a small and perfectly still harbour at Castletownsend
Castletownsend's small gorgeous harbour. Well worth the detour.

The route back to the main road also shows me more small hamlets and charming villages. Arriving back at the main road is something of a let down but I must be moving on, there's a lot to do today.

The main road flows well and my surroundings are pleasant yet I am no longer in the Boondogs any more. I make steady progress through Clonakilty and Bandon and Cork is getting close, I can feel the city starting to grow around me and close me in. I guess Cork will be a good option to get some supplies and I soon find a Tesco to replenish my food stocks and grab a sandwich. Tescos are much the same here as anywhere else. I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to these fiddly Euro coins though.

A shiny glass fronted tesco in Cork
This could be anywhere...but this is one of the Tescos in Cork. Thrilling stuff huh?

Cork has a river running through it just like Dublin and I honestly have to ask myself several times am I suddenly back in Dublin? Cork is much smaller then the capital city but the centres near both rivers look almost identical. Considering Cork is smaller it matches Dublin's traffic jams with equal aplomb too and sure enough I'm lost among bustling streets and grinding one way systems designed to deter even the most determined tourist. I hate cities.

Much like a cork I pop out the other side of town straight onto the open dual carriageway of the E30 eastbound - thankfully. I wonder if that's where Cork gets its name from? Youghal shouldn't be far away, I shall seek some respite there and eat my sandwich.

Perhaps Youghal used to be nice once upon a time. Now though when compared to the clean and well kept towns all around Youghal seems to have missed the financial boat that everywhere else enjoyed. There's no obvious reason why. The location seems pleasant, the harbour looks solidly suitable and it's not far from the main road. Perhaps it lacks a beach to bring the holiday money? I don't know why but it seems a shame. 

The yellow harbour pilot's boat in the pretty Youghal Harbour
There's nothing wrong with Youghal, it just seems to have missed out somewhere.

I park up on the harbour wall between 2 blocks of apartments that ought to be trendy and smart coastal retreats for dynamic people but somehow seem to have ended up as affordable accommodation for a disillusioned generation. On a broken concrete bench 2 elderly chaps talk and I say hi as I look around. They're happy to talk and they both berate the state of the area and the lack of employment. And through all this they still seem happy in their retirement and in each other's company. As they wander off I sense a drop of rain on my hands. It's time for the ridiculous waterproof dance I suppose. Hop-hop-wobble-wobble-hop and stretch pull twist and turn.

Just in time. As I leave Youghal the heavens open with the kind of rain that splashes twice. I make careful progress out of the town and into the countryside once more. I turn into Dungarven for fuel and notice this town, but a few miles along the coast from Youghal, has returned me to the crisp clean and pleasant streets that I've become accustomed to in Ireland. To enhance this contrast the sun comes out again and the sea shimmers, I return my sunglasses back to my face. 

Ren's 125 stands beside the coastline of Ireland
Sun, rain, sea and the shoreline. It's all rather pleasing.

I could continue on the N71 but the road to Tramore looks much more interesting and I am here to see as much as I can. This road, the R675, is much quieter and is leading me through some agreeable countryside. Where the road meets the sea agreeable becomes captivating with cliffs and ruins, fields and farms and then the occasional secluded beach. I'm cruising gently through it all on my 125. I do hope the campsite I'm heading for is of equal merit.

Tramore is another small seaside town with just a tad more bustle than Dungarven. I stop for a stretch and as I hop off the bike I spot a small cafe, I guess that's fate telling me it's brewtime. The "Mother Of Pearl" cafe is also an arts and crafts shop...oh heck it's going to be all hippy nonsense and bio-degradable green peppermint tea. Fortunately the lady running the shop is young and smart with the foresight to offer common or garden tea for common as muck folks such as myself. As I sip my brew I talk to the lady and later with her friends who join us. There's a sense of community here rather than hippy alternative. I like it.

Tramore, looking up a street in the pleasant but busy coastal resort
Tramore provides a pleasant chat with my brew in comfortable surroundings.

Next I plan to take the ferry at "Passage East" but first I need to put my blinking waterproofs back on...again. Look if you're going to rain just rain, if you're going to be sunny be sunny, just stop messing around and make your mind up will ya! 

I have a thing about ferries and I'm not sure why. Big ferries are OK, like the one I caught to get to Ireland but these small ferries just float my boat (sic). There's something delightfully surreal about a boat with a small car park on it and a 5 minute crossing over what is usually an estuary of some description. As I roll up to the soggy concrete slip the last of this crossing's cars are boarding and I could join them. But no, I'd miss my photo opportunity, I'd miss seeing the ferry in action and time is still on my side. I pull off to the side of the slipway and watch as the rain streams off my helmet. I hope my camera doesn't get too wet.

The ferry at Passage East, loading up with cars
A ferry! Muchly excited, this is my kind of ferry. I want a ferry.

My crossing is made in the wet and there's not even enough time to get off the bike and take a picture. I am liking this enough but frustratingly I'm amidst the cars and the vessel's structure so I can't see out across the water. Damn, oh well not to worry. On the other side I immediately get lost in a maze of narrow lanes and overgrown verges, without the sun to aid navigation I suppose I'd best pull up and find where I am on my map app. It's fiddly trying to operate a tablet inside a plastic bag inside a tank back in the rain with wet hands and water pouring off my helmet. Perhaps I should spend £400 on a decent waterproof sat nav and a further £80 on a nice warm dry hotel tonight? Where's the challenge in that?

Right on queue once I find my bearings and get on the right road the sun pops right out from behind the clouds as I approach my destination. This is the most expensive campsite of the trip so far. This one also boasts the longest walk to the toilets from the camping area. This one also boasts no wifi, a badly stocked and very expensive shop with peculiar hours and an abundance of averageness in all other departments. It's a myth that price reflects quality when it comes to campsites. It's not far to walk to the next town but there's no footpath and I'm just not in the mood. I settle in for the evening with a movie on my tablet, a shower, lots of tea and some time spent talking to a young couple in a beat up self made VW campervan. 

Sunshine over the estuary at passage east making the views spectacular
Yep, sun's out now and it's quite enchanting.

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?!

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