Looking along a long straight road amidst lush green farmland

Home Travel StoriesSouthern Ireland 2015

Epilogue - Southern Ireland 2015

By Ren Withnell

Ireland is not a place of superlatives. There are bigger mountains, more impressive views, quainter villages and better roads. If you're looking for the "...est" then I didn't find anywhere or anything that would meet that criteria. It is filled with pleasant places and lovely roads, smart towns and pretty villages. There are many many good things about the Emerald Isle all worthy of merit, I am thankful I made the effort to go. Just don't expect to be blown away. That said - it might be the greenest place I've been to. Dammit.

An overcast and windswept beach on the west coast of Ireland
"Surf's Up!" Inch Beach came as a surprise to me.

Ireland is also not what the advertisers or the stereotypes would have you believe. It's not filled with little wee men wearing green, the roads are not frequented by rural farmers on horse and cart, not everyone is sloshed on Guinness or whiskey and the pubs are certainly not filled with fiddles and bohdrans. Ireland is as modern, industrialised, trendy and up to date as anywhere in Europe that I've been to. Along with that comes the good and the bad of everyday modern life which I'm sure you'll be familiar with.

I set out looking for Ireland's character. Being misled by advertisers I expected wilderness, life in the past and folk music. I didn't find much of these but 2 things stood out as different. Firstly how smart the human places are. Most houses are well kept, most streets are clean, the municipal areas look like someone looks after them and I just felt like the people care about where they live. Of course there are exceptions but overall Ireland feels like it's loved.

A bright pink building in Skibbereen with
Well this place certainly has character.

The main difference though is the people. It might be a cliché but the Irish are more friendly. Not gushingly or annoyingly so they just seem casually calmer and more accommodating. A builder stepping into his home will give a smile and a nod. The farmer in the countryside will give a friendly wave as you ride slowly by. In the streets many folks are happy to walk by with a cheery "Hello". A youth inside a shop steps aside with a grin. All this makes the place seem less threatening and warmer to mankind. 

I also noted that the Irish don't seem to look down on others. I made a fool of myself misunderstanding a young lad as he gave me a password but he didn't make out I was stupid. Asking for directions was met with helpful joy rather than a roll of the eyes. In a shop people waited with grace as I fumbled with change. There seems to be less aggression and more sympathy. As I rode home I decided the following statement to be true 

"Ireland is not about the place, it's about the people." 

This trip around Ireland has also reinforced some things I need to alter in my travelling. Rather than trying to cover large swathes of a country in an effort to cram in as much as I can into these precious and short holidays I need to focus on indulging and relishing one area. Recently I have been back to Ullapool. My most enjoyable, my most satisfactory and my most relaxing ride of the trip was a day spent covering just 75 miles of single track road looking around Achiltibuie. If I could choose to travel in any manner it would be doing 20-30 mph down single track lanes and soaking up the views and the mood of a remote peninsula.  

Ren's 125 stands outside a McDonalds in Wexford
Well this is hardly exploration and adventure at it's best really is it.

I don't like to do massive all day long rides, but they might be worth the effort. Having lived in the North West of England for most of my life I daresay I know my local area quite well by now. If I want to explore new places I'll have to press on to reach them. This makes me think perhaps I need to get a bigger bike again. But - and it's a big but - when I get to where I want to explore there is no better bike than a 125. Bigger bikes eat motorway miles but they're a pain in the proverbial around tight awkward hillside back lanes and equally cumbersome around the narrow streets of pretty little villages. 

Maybe I need a trailer. Let the car take the strain of the big boring miles and then use the 125 to truly prod, poke and investigate whichever area I find myself in. But using a car? That's just so expensive and such a cheat! Oh lordy...I think I'm getting old.

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

Henrik said :-
Seems like nice people them Irish, spending a week in Rumania 2010, despite all struggle there might be living there, so much positive vibe and laid-back
living, anti-stress, and good food that they used the hole day to cook, I will never forget this, revealed so much about my own streamlined culture, and what we lost in our "progress" ,.. guess I better stop harping on :-)

For the far distances I came up with some ideas earlier, here is one more:

Get your self another 125-bike, and see if you can get away with placing it remotely at far friends places where you can bye a cheap train, plane, or bus-ticket to reach, and then for a periode explore this area, and move on

It only works in case the infrastructure is fine where you live obviously

F.eks. if there is relatively cheap plane tickets to somewhere in france, and you have friends, connections, relatives, or family living there, with
heart and space for your MC temporary standing there for a periode, then you could explore new land in smaller bites as your work allows

I know a few persons here from DK, having a bike somewhere in the US, just waiting for them to go there twice a year or so

It could just be other parts of the UK as well obviously
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Henrik - You've got me thinking. I could fly out to Denmark and run off with your 125 for a week! Of course there's complications such as insurance. How do your friends go on with this? I guess a bike in the US would need to be insured, maybe taxed?
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I love riding in France but hate the trip down to Portsmouth and back (and don't mention going to Dover....). So for the past couple of years I haven't made it over there on the bike. I must admit your car / trailer idea has crossed my mind before - a quick whizz down to Portsmouth, stash the rig somewhere safe(?) then onto the overnight ferry with the bike.

Some of my fondest memories are rolling off the ferry at Cherbourg in the early morning and taking the back roads down through the Cotentin Peninsula as the mist rose over the damp fields and the Charolais cattle raised their heads to see what was disturbing their breakfast.

Then a stop for coffee and croissants in the square at Coutances while deciding on my first destination........
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ian - you paint a very romantic and enticing picture. Once upon a time when I were but a mere wipper snapper (colloquial for young lad Henrik...) you used to be able to put a motorcycle in the guards van of a train. Alas those days are gone.

I have looked into using the train. Here in the UK there doesn't seem to be any kind of motorail at all. Europe has some options. Imagine this - getting onto a train with your bike in Manchester, Glasgow or another major city. That train then takes you through the Channel Tunnel and onto various major cities around Europe. Wouldn't that be just fantastic. Even I would pay good money for that...
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Henrik said :-
Ren, both my 125's are in Sweden as we speak, several things need to be fixed, they are not in a shape that invites for a one week trip right now.

Don't know when they will be fit, cant promise. Don't even know if I keep the Innova. XRX will stay in Sweden for obvious reasons. They are both only with basic ensurance, (only damage on others are covered), so you would need to take full responsibility if you crash them, or they got stolen, a bit problematic, becourse what are they realy worth ? don't even know that my self :-) I guess a friend could use them without conflicting with the ensurance, but I would have to check up on that,...

There is a chance that for next sesson I will get a almost new Inazuma, with full insurance, and a basic "self-risk" on 4-800 GBP, a better and more likely scenario that you could borrow this, if it shows out to be possible, and reality, as long as you are able to dispensate any loss, any time, in case anything goes wrong, that's also the principle I follow my self, when deciding if I should borrow something, or not,..

Lets get back to it, maybe possible, but the standard of the bike should be near to perfect in case, becourse I don't whant your trip to be messed up if you come all the way here in you pressures sparetime,..

BTW, when I consider an almost new Inazuma for the next sesson, its becourse
I am so afraid that my bikes and projects will not be ready in time, and it's already been a few years without any longer trips, (due to work on the house), need to break that pattern now, a Inazuma would then be a temporary solution while working on with the KLE500 plans etc. sold again as soon as possible, before the injection fails me :-)

The persons having a bike placed in the US is not personal friends, just some from my old mc-club, guess they both have profiles on advriders.com, and blogs about the trips over there, there names are Esben, and Sonny

As far as I remember the MC's was registrated in their own names, In case I
find some of the old info and links I will return with it
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hey Henrik. Wouldn't it be nice if the world was simple and we could just borrow and ride each other's machines. But it's not. Tell ya what, I'll have to ride ALL the way to Denmark on my own bike and you can make me a nice hot cup of tea instead.
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
said :-
Look for forward to see you, one way or another :-) .

Using own bike at far away destinations will expose oou for about the same risk far as I can figure.

Good thing if you bring own bike we could perhaps do some kilometers together.

If for longer periode I could introduce you to Sweeden also, I have a mc-trailer so moving both mc's from Copenhagen to around Växjö is possible in around 4-5 hours if possible

At the time you hit DK i guess you qualifi for both a cup of tea, and some food to eat :-)


01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Henrik said :-
OK, dropped the stepstone-inazuma and went directly to the real thing, just did 650 Km, love it, and it just eats the kilometres, btw. it's british with Mph instruments, imported to DK from UK, 1993, 25.000 km, 2500 GBP, it will complement the 125 XRX very well :-)


01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I take it that's the KLE Henrik? It's looks far too clean and smart. Need some dirt and some miles on it. If it's UK spec will that not be 25,000 miles rather than 25,000 kilometers?
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Henrik said :-
Hi, Yes KLE 500, like I have been harping about, agin and again,.. :-)

16.000 miles, guess that's around 25.000 km ? yes relatively nice, got some GIVI E41 and a big topbox from the old GS500 will try to fit that, but in a way that its easy to remove, I prefer very light luggage, trip route in link



https://www.google.dk/maps/dir/57.1552065,14.7814497/Uglev+St.,+7790+Thyholm/@56.3371881,10.7133125,8z/data=!4m9!4m8!1m0!1m5!1m1!1s0x464a283bccb83ac1:0xc02edebc7f9b1c7a!2m2!1d8.541106!2d56.6122416!3e0
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Henrik said :-
Link ,.. one more try
www.google.dk/maps/dir/57.1552065,14.7814497/Uglev+St.,+7790+Thyholm/@56.3371881...
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Do it in winter...? How harsh are the winters in that part of Sweden?
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Henrik said :-
They can be VERY harsh, right now we got an unusual nice September with temps from 0-15 celcius over the day, in 8-12 weeks from now that can go down to night-temps below minus-20 Celsius at night. I would not do it in the winter, unless I was trained and with special equipment, but still the nature is unique and worth a look moving around on the feets that is ;-)

I can elaborate futher, just ask,..
photos.google.com/u/0/album/AF1QipMjBhL_MdjVAUMZIP-KLAenDMcLM2_bH8bChRrW...
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Henrik said :-
Hey, Ren, you might find this very interesting, see link,..
www.naturetravels.co.uk/faqs-wild-camping-sweden.htm...
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hey Henrik. Interesting and an open minded approach to public access in Sweden. Here in England just about all the land belongs to someone and anyone found on anything other than established paths, roads or public areas will find themselves in real trouble. Scotland does allow some wild camping and like Sweden a lot of it is common sense and showing consideration to nature.

-20! Now that sounds cold. Speaking as an Englishman here it can get to -5 or -6 at times but it is a bitter, damp and biting cold. I am told that in some countries even though the thermometer is low a person will not feel it in quite the same way. I'd like to experience it for myself one day. I wonder if they do snow chains for a CBF 125...
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
jammy said :-
Took my Honda c90cub over to Southern Ireland back in june 2015 (from my home in Dorset) clocked around 1000 miles over a long weekend. Took part in an organised ride (ring of Kerry) with 240 other c90/70/50's. They are well into their small Honda's over there. And yes very friendly and plenty of rain!


01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
jammy - you've got the best bike in the world there! The idea of 240 C90s, 70s and 50s all razzing around the Ring Of Kerry is a hilarious and sounds like a lot of fun. I'm guessing there's a Cub club you're a member of. Loving the exhaust pipe.
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
This chap took a C90 to northern Norway and lived to tell the tale.....

http://www.therevcounter.co.uk/threads/90768-So-it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time-Hell-by-C90
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
jammy said :-
Well a couple of informal cub gatherings I attend in the UK, but the Irish do loads of well organised cub runs where anyone can just turn up and register,20 euros for charity and you get a hot meal on the day also! It seems most of the Irish cubs are mint or wrecks(told they don't MOT bikes in Southern Ireland) For touring on a budget c90 is top/been to France and Belgium on mine a couple of times/always gets attention on the ferry to!!
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ian - that guy on the C90 is just bonkers. I find it curious that he actually know Ed March who is also similarly bonkers. He does write a good tale though. A fine line between genius and insanity.

Jammy - I would assume you have heard of Ed March mentioned above? If not look him up he's traveling the globe on one. I have looked at getting a C90 myself but the tiny teeny fuel tank under the seat would drive me insane! I can get 300 miles on the CBF125 before I think of fuelling up.
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I hadn't come across Ed March but have looked at his blog which is another one to read in the dark evenings.

He doesn't seem to have posted anything on their North America trip since May though - hope they are OK?
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
He's fine. He's travelling with his girlfriend who is much more "online" at the moment.

Check the link out
wanderonahonda.co.uk...
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Thanks Ren. A shame she uses such an awful typeface......
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Yeah, it is a bit rough on the eyes ain't it.
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Ren.

I'm planning on keeping one bike in UK and one bike at home once I pass my test, whenever that will be. I have no problems at all with you borrowing it if you want to swan around Spain, you can fly to Malaga, Granada or Almeria airports to get to my place. I can probably supply a limited amount of camping gear as well so you wouldn't need to bring the kitchen sink.
20/04/2017 18:25:13 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Borsuk! You need to get a CB500X and a Z250SL. Oh and some luggage and Kriega bags. Oh and a Coleman stove and some sleeping bags...and...and...

That's a really great offer. Just don't tell everyone unless you want a stream of random bikers at your door.
21/04/2017 06:54:58 UTC

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