Travel Through Ireland on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

Ireland on a Harley (3/10/98 - 14/10/98)
Distance 1660 km (117413 km to 119073 km)

This is part of the fourth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from The United Kingdom
 

3/10/98 Heading south we crossed the border from Northern Ireland to the independent Republic of Ireland, a new country, well that depends on who you are talking to. The Republic of Ireland has always laid claim to the North and thus there are no border signs, check points or any indication other than currency change places that the border is there. One of the great monuments of the world is at Newgrange. A neolithic passage tomb built 5000 years ago (500 years before the Pyramids and 1000 years before Stone Henge) of 200,000 tons of rock and earth, facing the winter solstice where the sun shines down the passage into the main burial chamber for only about 20 minutes for a few days of the year. This is only one, with  dozens of smaller satellite tombs in the area, some excavated and others still exactly as they were deserted. Stayed the night in Dublin.

4/10/98 We get a lot of jokes about the Irish in Australia, never taking them seriously, but one starts to wonder when the speed signs of a country are in miles per hour but the distances are in kilometres generally, but not always everywhere. This is not a transition having been the same for all of this decade. Spent most of the day in Dublin, just skimming the surface of this rapidly changing city. Business is booming here with tax incentives, as is tourism (often the weekend boozers from the U.K.). A movie, cathedral, museum and a walk to round off the day.

5/10/98 We haveNewgrange neolithic tomb, 5000 years old stayed our three nights in Dublin at the home of the parents of a friend we met in Morocco. I cannot overstate the benefit gained by staying with people in different countries. Just through normal polite conversation more is learned of a country here than in any museum, tourist place (other than perhaps a friendly pub) or guide book. You can get a feel for where a country has been, where it is heading, its problems and successes and most importantly remove any preconceived ideas the media has planted in the brainwashing. Visited Kilmainham jail, where for 150 years “political” prisoners trying to overthrow British rule were kept. It took this long to gain independence for most of Ireland, the rest is still to be decided. Some of the more serious offenders to the British were hung or shot in the prison grounds as well as many more from the civil war following independence.

6/10/98 We are slowly piecing together this enormous jigsaw puzzle called the world, collecting the pieces through sights, people and museumsKilmainham Jail, home for many political prisoners until each day we have more pieces and a better understanding of where the world has been, is and is going. Kilkenny, billed as the music pub scene of Ireland, with a pub on every corner and at least a few with traditional music every night. A four piece band jammed out fast foot tapping Irish jigs to entertain us over a couple of ales at “Matt The Millers”.

7/10/98 Heading further south on a gloriously sunny day. Into Waterford then on to Kinsale, a lovely (but touristy) beach town near Cork. Waterford is where probably the best crystal (cut glass) in the world is made, and a tour of their factory and showroom is a must for anyone vaguely interested in its beauty. They have some of the worlds biggest glass pieces there and some magnificent contract pieces etched and carved for sporting trophies and company displays. They hold their reputation by destroying 50% of what is made by rejects and always keep copies of all contract pieces in case they need another to replace the first.

8/10/98 Well ifThe village of Blarney you thought there was a lot of bullshit coming from this site in the past watch out because today I kissed the Blarney stone. Queen Elizabeth 1 invented the term a lot of  “BLARNEY” after Lord Blarney was full of talk and no action. Queuing up amongst the throngs of American tourists (I cant imagine what it is like in high season) we waited 20 minutes for the opportunity to lie on our backs leaning out to kiss a rock covered in thousands of other lips and germs at the top of the castle. Luckily most only managed to kiss the rock wall not the stone as there middle age spread prevented them from bending backwards far enough. Moved onto Killarney for the night.

9/10/98 Running out of time (winter wise) we are only selecting tourist type places to visit, and the most visited is the Ring of Kerry. A loop road around magnificent scenery out of Killarney and past Irelands highest mountains. We started in warm sunshine for an hour then were dumped on by heavy rain, mist and fog meaning we saw nothing of the main coast only to be in sunshine for the last hour and our return. That's Ireland. What we saw was indeed beautiful.

10/10/98 WithHow we saw most Irish countryside, through fog and drizzle the rain still happening we lazed around the tent reading till 2 pm when a clearing enticed us out for a walk amongst the 50 acre gardens of Muckross House. Autumn is now fully here and the leaves changing colours and falling, the blackberries ripe for eating and the jaunting carts (horse carriages) taking the odd tourist for a ride, it was a great way to pass an afternoon. A rollicking Irish band and a few ales in the evening.

  11/10/98 North to Limerick, Galway and onto Clifden. Passed more lovely coastal scenery but it was the bog country that got my vote for beauty. Rugged grey rocky outcrops with the orangy brown (almost apricot in sunlight) bog grasses between patches of green. These treeless areas of hills and lakes produce peat. Used in all forms of fuel from cooking to heating, even generation of electricity from power stations. Simply rotted vegetation (on the way to coal) it lies in saturated areas. If you walk across the ground it moves and vibrates under your weight like a jelly. Dug with a spade and let dry it burns slowly and with a lovely sweet aroma, such that walking through a village at night instead of smelling the acrid coal smoke that you would in EnglandPeat bog, dug up for houshold heating fuel you get this pleasant wafting of peat smoke. We camped in heavy rain and strong winds on top of a hill but sheltered by small trees overlooking these peat or bog lands.

12/10/98 Followed the main road east to Drogheda and after 300 km of kangaroo roads arrived. Ireland with its peat bog has great difficulty in keeping roads smooth and on some it is impossible to travel at the speed limit due to bouncing around. Also there are very few places to pull over and rest as the gypsies occupy any area of public land with their old caravans. It seems that they can remain for up to 3 months before having to move and many roadside areas now have low boom gates high enough only for a motor car, preventing their caravan access. Now three months out and camping almost every night it's amazing how supple our 45 year + old joints have become, sitting on the ground cooking, reading and sleeping on a 1 inch mattress. For the first month they were getting stiffer and stiffer but then freed up as we continued camping despite the cold weather getting worse.

  13/10/98 If you travel long enough eventually everything you want to see you will. On our last night in Ireland we were directed to a tiny pub (the size of a An Irish Abbey large bedroom) called Carberry's, been in the family for generations, and run by the current matriarch, this pub has had music sessions on a Tuesday night for as long as anyone remembers. Tucked away in one corner about eight musicians with their varied instruments played and sang for the love of it and a few drinks provided by the house. Mainly traditional Irish music but mixed with some blues and Irish popular music. Occasionally one of the crowd would sing a song they knew and the musicians would try and beat out the tune. A couple of hours of relaxed play, the pub closed and they will be back next Tuesday. For us, we are off to England tomorrow.

14/10/98 Using the second leg of the Seacat package, we are off to Liverpool from Dublin. Probably didn't allow enough time for Ireland, such a small country with so much history and culture, some of the friendliest people we have met and despite their troubles and the weather, amazingly happy, or perhaps because of it. Arrived in Liverpool during peak hour traffic and no map or accommodation booked and the only van park 20 km out. Still with the van park at 5 pounds a double and dorm beds in the hostel at 10 pounds each not much choice. We dined out and had a few ales at the local on the 15 pounds saved.

15/10/98 Liverpool today and deftly avoiding the Beatle mania of, his school their house tour, or the “Beatle's Story”, we learned about Liverpool's chequered history of slum houses, industrial revolution and diseases, and population caused by it, plus how it is managing to chameleon into a service economy. But a unique museum on museums won us. The E.U. “Museum of the Year”, it shows how museum pieces are prepared, preserved, renovated, rebuilt and displayed. Looks at stuffed animals, furniture, fabric, paintings, sculpture and even motorcycles with an opportunity to talk with the conservators and watch their work through live video. Back to our tent at a farm shop in the countryside.
 

Move with us to the  Isle Of Man or go to our next visit to Ireland
 

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