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West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 64 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2017

Trailriding on Tarmac 2007

Words and Photos By Ian Vessey

In early March 2007, Julian came up with a proposal for a trip to Ireland. He'd found a deal which would sort out ferry and B&B's at a reasonable price. I checked with work that I could take the time off, which I could, so I eagerly agreed to join Julian and Cliff.

Day One: Julian had sorted out the booking, and on Wednesday 28th we met up at about 8am, and we were on our way. Half way down Symonds Yat rock, the throttle cable on the Triumph broke. Not a good start. Julian made sure I got back to the top of Yat Rock with the tickover wound right up, and off I limped home, while Julian and Cliff continued on their way.

In the next 3 hours, I pulled the Triumph apart, jumped on the CCM, went to Fowlers in Bristol, got another cable (not the right part number which was out of stock, but one that looked right), rode back home, fitted the cable, put the Triumph back together and managed to leave home again at 12.

Meanwhile, Julian and Cliff had a cold damp ride in the mist, stopping off for breakfast at Tuffins in Church Stoke on the way.

The Triumph developed a minor missfire halfway to Holyhead, but we all met up at the dock just after 4pm, ready for the 5:15 sailing.

The crossing was smooth and trouble-free, arriving 100mins later in Dublin, where we disembarked and rode more-or-less straight into a huge traffic jam caused by crowds flocking to the international Ireland v. Sweden footy match. It took an hour to get out of Dublin, but eventually we made our way to our first stop north of Dublin in Navan. At the B&B we were told that the new windows had not been fitted in time!! and we had to be escorted half a mile up the road to alternative digs. This was some way from the town centre, and the nearest pub was one of these new-build jobs on a modern housing estate. 'The Pitstop' as it was called, had more tellys in it than Currys, all showing Ireland beating the Swedes. We also discovered that the landlady's husband was a sidecar racer and would be competing at the TT this year (Eclipse Racing).

The digs were good, and breakfast was even better, which set us up for the first proper day.

Day Two: The route went west through Carrick-on-Shannon and Boyle, where we got off the main roads and cut across to Tobercurry to Ballina. It rained here for at least 5 minutes, just when we happened to be in a cafe having a coffee. From here we followed the coast road through Killala and Ballycastle to Belmullet which was about as far north and west as we could go.

We had a simple picnic of bread and cheese by the sea here (it said cheese on the packet but none of us were too sure). While here, I pulled the Triumph apart again, having decided that the cause of the missfire was due to my rummaging around under the tank when installing the new throttle cable, and sure enough I'd dislodged a wire on one of the coils. This is when I started to hear comments like "You'll be going to BVM next week to buy a reliable bike then?". From here we headed south along the coast, past vast areas where the peat had been removed on an industrial scale. Sea to the right and mountains to the left, very picturesque.

At Mallaranny, we decided to do a little detour across to Achill Island, where we rode around the spectacular coast road called 'Atlantic Drive' which brought us back to Mallaranny, from where we continued on the main road to Westport, and our second stop.

Good digs again, although a bit of a squeeze with an extra bed in a twin room, but only a 10 minute walk into the town centre. Before setting off to find food and refreshments, I had the Tiger apart again, this time to clean the plug which had fouled when it was missfiring, and which now fixed it for good. We had an excellent meal, and a few pints of Guinness before retiring.

Day Three: The next day's route looked like being the best for scenery, and we weren't disappointed. We went west first, the few kilometres to Louisburgh, and then followed the R335 south through the dramatic Doolough Pass between the Mweelrea Mountains and the Sheefry Hills. The sights were stunning in the morning haze which cleared while we watched to reveal the mountain tops. Onwards then to Leenaun in Killary Harbour, and then back up into more mountains on the N59 across to Clifden where we stopped for coffee and cakes. From here, we turned off the main road, and followed the narrow twisty R341/R342/R340 and R336 roads, which closely followed the rocky coastline and eventually took us into Galway. We navigated as best we could through Galway, and out the other side where we headed south and turn west again to Kinvarra for more coffee and cakes. Turning south from here we made our way through the narrow lanes and across the Burren, and eventually to Father Ted's house for a couple of photos! More narrow roads took us back north across the vast limestone landscape of the Burren, back to the main road at Ballyvaghan for petrol and ice creams. We still had plenty of time to get to our next B&B, so took the coast road again, around 'Black head', and down to Doolin where we stopped by the sea to watch the surf. A short ride then took us up the road to Lisdoonvarna for our next stop. There was some difficulty finding the B&B, as the roads had no names, and the house sign for the B&B was also yet to be put up!

A 10 minute walk that evening took us into the centre of the town where we dined in a pub dedicated to Celtic football club. We later moved to a pub advertising traditional music, to be served by an eastern european barmaid! Very traditional! This seems to be a feature of Ireland where there is a large immigrant labour force, supporting the massive amounts of house construction and providing cheap labour for anything else as well. There was a buss load of Poles on the ferry coming over, and in all the towns, eastern European voices could be heard. I'm sure the musicians were Irish though!

Day Four: From Lisdoonvarna we headed south along the coast past the Cliffs of Moher, and along the relatively flat coast to Kilkee where we stopped briefly by the beach. From there it was only a few kilometres to the ferry across the mouth of the Shannon to Tarbert. Eight Euros and twenty minutes, certainly beats the long haul around Ennis and Limerick. At Tarbert we had intended to have a coffee in the converted prison, but it was shut, so we carried on south down through Listowel and Tralee. Just past Castlemaine we turned off the main road and headed for the Gap of Dunloe. This is a dramatic gash in the mountains called MacGillyCuddy's Reeks. Closed to traffic in the summer, we were lucky enough to be able to ride through and also stop to take in the views and capture a few pictures. From here we rode up to Moll's Gap, and back on the main road to Killarney for petrol and a sandwich. We then headed east for a few miles on the N72 before turning off and following the more interesting side roads through Newmarket and Charleville, before reaching our final destination in Tipperary. Another good B&B, just on the edge of town. The recommended eating house was closed for food, but we managed to find an alternative easily enough. We then returned to Donavan's Bar which was nearer to the B&B and was also advertising music. We sat and had a couple of Guinnesses, and by 10pm were starting to wonder whether there was to be any music at all. At 10:15 the band turned up, and in a well rehearsed fashion, set up and sounded the first note by 10:30. By midnight, myself and Cliff had made our way back to the B&B, leaving Julian to enjoy the excellent music. Apparently, at 12:45 when Julian left they were still going strong!

Day Five: The final day saw us making our way mostly on the more interesting back roads, through Cashel, around the bottom of Kilkenny, up through Carlow to Timolin, where we turned off east to join the R756, which is a brilliant road which crosses over the Wicklow mountains. to Laragh. The R115 which then heads north is a complete contrast, a very bumpy single track road - rough but highly entertaining, with great views if you dare to take your eyes off the tarmac! Eventually we dropped down into Dublin, to get caught up in traffic again, and slowly make our way back to the ferry port. The ferry was half an hour late, but we boarded ok, and made our way across to Holyhead. When we arrived, we spent half an hour on the car deck while the crew struggled to get the ramp open - probably why it was late! The ride home wasn't too bad, we managed to find fuel on Anglesey before Julian ran out, there was an annoying amount of Sunday drivers out between Betws-y-Coed and Llangollen, and a police car followed us from Ludlow to Hope-Under-Dinmore at speeds a bit over the limit (it was dark!), and we arrived home safe and sound at about 9pm.

Many thanks to Julian for suggesting and organising this trip, and also for booking the good weather! It may have been a bit chilly, but to go five days with just 5 mins of rain in Ireland is surely more than just luck!