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Ireland / EIRE tour provided by: Adrian Burkert


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Tour

Tour outline

Zurich (CH)- London (England) - Pembroke (Wales) - Rosslare (IRL)
All around Ireland
Rosslare (IRL) - Fishguard (Wales) - Dover (England) - Calais (F) - Namur (B) - Luxembourg (Lux) - Stuttgart (D) - Zurich (CH)


The long story

The way to Ireland

1
We started very early in the morning to reach the ferry at Calais in the afternoon. Because it is about 1000km of autobahn from Zurich to Calais and this makes you really tired when driving we decided to take a short rest every 150km and then when filling up the tanks after another 100km a bigger rest (maybe 20min) - this was just perfect for the beginning of the season ... no problems with the hard @ seat even after 1000km !

In Calais we decided to drive on to the west of London because of traffic jams into London in the morning. This was the correct decision: When we arrived in London the highway was collapsing and we spent quite a while driving the 50km to the west where we spent the night close to the Windsor castle in a youth hostel (of course only after we invested the last few english pounds we carried in fluid gold in the pub nearby).

2
The next morning we drove on through England, over the Bridge near Bristol into Wales. The area of Swansea is really ugly and polluted but the closer we got to the westcoast and the smaller the roads got the nicer the landscape got. I am sure to spend my vacation sometimes in this area, it looks just great !!!

The road doesn't look as if you would drive to a port which is the only connection to the south of Ireland from South Wales, but we finally reached the port and after waiting half an hour the ferry was ready for boarding.

It is only a 5 hour passage to Ireland we spent discussing and drinking with an English businessman. He insisted on at least 4 pints so when we arrived we stayed at the nice youth hostel at Rosslare (just on top of the hill).

Ireland

As pictures express more than words the following text is just an additional explanation of the pictures ...

3
The next day we got ready for the trip then headed for the first sight. As both of us are interested in ancient and historical sites I collected the position of hundreds of these places and programmed it into my and Bennos GPS unit. So our tours will follow castles, dolmen, vista points, obelisks, ogham stones, stone forts, churches, abbeys, cliffs ....

Benno and his ZZR had at first to get used to the Irish roads: Potholes and gravel were not what a streetbiker is used to but he began to have much fun driving like an endurist ! For the @ it was no problem at all - but to mount a pair of good tires is always a good idea !

We drove up the hill to the JFK memorial where you have a nice view over the country and some castles. In the evening we reached Cashel, where we stayed at the holiday hostel.

4
From Cashel to Waterville you find many nice roads, we decided to take a quite direct route because we wanted to spend some time at Killarneys lakes (very nice !). Then a great road takes you first up to the mountains and then to the sea (really worth the ride) all along the coast to Waterville where you absolutely have to spend a night at Peters Place (tell him about us !). It is impossible to describe what makes Peter so special but it might be his humour, his strange stories ('do you know what squaw means in shoshonee ?'), his games (ask for the fruit game) or just the way he treats you (well feel at home go up take a bed leave your luggage and come to the kitchen, we're having tea and christmas cake (but he doesn't tell you from which year until you have tasted it :-) )).

Sights: Rock of Cashel, Killarney National Park, Macgillicuddys Reeks

5
Early in the morning (around 10:30) we had to leave (hard after the pub crawl with Peter last night) because we wanted to see a lot of sights today: At first the stone fort near Killorglin, then the castle which can be seen from the fort.


Half way to Trallee we turned left to the Dingle penninsula. At Inch you can go offroad on a small penninsula (5*1.5km, no roads, sandy beach, free for motorists). Then we had a small party (Murphy's & ham sandwiches) at the westermost point of Ireland (Slea Head). When the sun went down we visited the Gallarus Oratory, a very old christian building, then returned to Donegal.
;
The whole Dingle penninsula seems to be stuck in the sixties (Hippies all over the place) - so was the pub we went to a free concert at night.
6
It was raining the whole day as we drove from Dingle to Limerick, good to have the gore tex clothes ! At a lough we stopped and hiked some 3 hours to see some stone circles. In the evening we reached Limerick and went to the hostel. Worst hostel on our Ireland tour - even in the kitchen there were security cameras and no visitors were allowed at all !
7
8
The Burren - as Cromwell said too less water to drown someone, too less trees to hang someone and too less earth to bury someone and he is right: Limestone all over the region !!! We visited the Cliffs of Moher (200m), the dolmen (Poulnabrome) and the stoneforts and a cave, after we left all our luggage at the youth hostel in Lisdoovarna. In the evening we went to the hostels pub where we met really nice people and had fun until about three in the morning.
9
Galway was the next stop - finally back from the countryside we were back in a bigger city with all its good and bad things: The youth hostels were crowded - compared to Lisdoovarna where we were alone ! - but there were arcade gambling halls and fast food places just what city slickers like us need from time to time ...
10
From Galway nothward bound to the beautiful counties of Connemara and Mayo. Really nice to ride and a lot to see ! We decided to stay on Achill Island where you have a brilliant view from the hills. We had 'fish of the day' at the restaurant near the bridge, it was expensive but the plate is filled with vegetables, chips and a really huge delicious fish !!! Relaxing at the turf fire - drinking beer and whiskey - we had a nice discussion with a very old lady and her hard of hearing husband about the goods and bads of modern life ....
11
From Achill to Donegal we took the straight route - it took us quite a time because of the twisted roads and the weather changes (changing clothes every thirty minutes). There is a hostel with a nice host just outside of the city (to the northwest).
12
Nice Roundtrip in Donegals wild landscape: Up to Sleave League (driving half way up with both of us on the @) to see Europes highest cliffs (some 700m). In the beginning there was a lot of fog but if you can wait long enough the view is fantastic !!!

Then to the north where only few villages are. Back south over a small pass (hairpins !) back.
13
Drove from Donegal to Irelands center where we met another ATiC: Phil Herzog was staying at Tullamore a few months so we called him and he invited us to stay - so we went for a pub crawl with him and his co workers.
14
Got up and went with Phil and Adrew from Newzealand to Dublin shopping and after dinner to two clubs. Very late we returned to Dun Laoghaire by cab (good idea :-) )
15
Phil and Andrew had to go home to work again and we made a roundtrip to the north of Dublin to see Newgrange, the Hill of Tara and Monasterboice which are quite touristic places, but also a must if you are interested in ancient monumnets.
In the evening we went back to Dun Laoghaire and stayed another night.
16
We had to leave Dun Laoghaire, knowing that only a few days were left ...
Soon we arrived at Powerscourt gardens, a nice park and castle in the hills south of Dublin. In a valley there were blooming yucca (in march !!!) and magnoliae, little creeks with tiny red japanese bridges over them, palm trees and azalea we felt like in Swiss summer !!!

We drove on to Glendalough, which has gotten a very famous place in the last few years (maybe because of the movie Excalibur which is said to be made nearby). There is some magic in the air when fog vanishes from the hills surrounding the round tower and the old cemetery and sun breaks through only to warm up the picknicking bikers a little bit before the clouds take over again ...
17
18
19
5000km can really make one tired - we got up late ! Then we went to Wexford for souvenir shopping - Benno had a new front tire mounted, because the old one was a slick by now. After lunch at a chinese restaurant we returned home, fixed the bikes, wrote postcards, cooked our pasta and some custard as dessert. After sunset we sat on the balcony of the hostel and watched the full moon, the comet (hyacutake) and the zodiacs ... I was happy having sky map installed on my laptop. It was very late when we went to bed ....

sinn ag teacht ar ais!

The way back to Switzerland

In the morning we drove down to the ferry terminal to check in for the morning ferry (9am) to Pembroke, but Irish Ferries crossed our plans for an easy ride home: they sold the old little ferry and bought a new one. It could only run from Rosslare to Pembroke because the port in Pembroke was not deep enough for the new one and it would only run around 1pm.

Athough our tickets were issued only four weeks ago the management of Irish Ferries did not tell us anything about this and when were asking for full refund (to buy a ticket for a P&O ferry around 11am) they offered only about 40% of the fare we payed in advance. This was the beginning of an odissey which should bring us to the limits in the next 30 hours ...

They did not care about we would have to catch the other ferry in Dover some 600km from Fishguard the next morning at all told me I'd have to buy a new ticket in dover. In the end after about half an hour of arguing with several people at the office we decided to take the new ferry ...

We originally planned to ride to Dover in the afternoon, because of delay we arrived in the evening and then calculated that we at least have to get east of London (because of the heavy morning traffic in that area) to catch the ferry but then shortly after Bristol the ZZRs frontlights got dimmed more and more ...

Checked the cables, changed light bulbs, unmounted the GPS - nothing helped as we finally got stuck with an empty battery, no chance to push the bike to run anymore (worked the first two times) and not being able to call the insurance which could organize someone to pull the bike to Dover (wrong phone number) .... even the guy from AAA who passed by accidentially could not start the engine nor diagnose a problem. After we reached a gas station we tried to organize some help by ourselves, but with only 100£ cash noone would move his ass after midnight (they wanted 350£ !!!). We decided that I try to pull his ZZR with the @ using one of the straps that held my luggage. After we had a hard time learning to drive like that (the strap was torn apart twice, I accelerated Bennos bike too much in roundabouts, we almost lost our way in the hills north of the highway) it was working more bad than good.

Running down a long straight from a hill Benno tried to start the engine again and after a few hundred meters and at about 8000RPM the miracle happened - I never liked the howling sound of a roadbike as much as in that moment !

We made it back to the motorway and drove as fast as the @ gets into London - I lead and the ZZR without lights followed.
In London at 3am it was faster driving the satellite guided direction directly through the center (nice sightseeing tour though) - when Murphy was punishing us again: the ZZRs engine fell under 7500RPM when I hesitated wheather to go to the left or right at a junction. We were swearing like gold diggers when we tried to start the engine again - no chance !

So the @ was the last chance again - a race against time (the GPS telling us the estimated time of arrival). When we saw that we wouldn't reach the ferry at that speed we decided to take the motorway and I pulled him the last 90min at a very high speed.

We finally reached the ferry and were able to get the ZZR battery reloaded and a new battery in Calais. We decided to take the nice route over Namur (Belgium) where after more than 30h riding (and only about 3/4h of sleep) we found a nice Youth Hostel, two great belgian trappist beers and a bed ....


The next day we drove from Namur to Luxembourg, Saarbruecken, Stuttgart and in the evening we reached home...





Theshort story
Day Tour Distance
1 Driving from Zurich to London (ferry Calais - Dover) 1000km
2 From London to Rosslare (ferry Pembroke - Rosslare) 0550km
3 From Rosslare to Cashel 0250km
4 From Cashel to Waterville 0300km
5 From Waterville to Dingle 0200km
6 From Dingle to Limerick 0200km
7 From Limerick to Lisdoonvarna 0150km
8 From Lisdoonvarna to Galway 0100km
9 Roundtrip to Clifden 0200km
10 St. Patricks Day in Galway 0000km
11 From Galway to Achill Island 0300km
12 From Achill Island to Donegal 0275km
13 Roundtrip Sleave League 0175km
14 From Donegal to Tullamore 0220km
15 From Tullamore to Dun Laoghaire (close to Dublin) 0125km
16 From Roundtrip north of Dublin 0150km
17 From Dun Laoghaire to Bunclody 0200km
18 From Bunclody to Rosslare 0070km
19 Shopping tour to Wexford, travel preparations 0050km
20/21 From Rosslare to Namur (Belgium) 0950km
22 From Namur to Zurich 0800km
3 weeks Eire march 1997 6500km

Camping


You'll find any kind of accomodation you like everywhere in Ireland ...
  • Luxury hotels in the bigger cities, luxury Bed and Breakfasts all over the country
  • The official international youth hostels
  • Holyday Hostels - really nice, modern, luxurious at a youth hostels price (I recommend the one in cashel !)
  • Independent Youth Hostels - if you are looking for character and not the ordinary people
  • many Campgrounds
AFAIK you're allowed to camp anywhere in the country ('wild camping') as long as there is no explicit sign. If you are camping on private property ask the owners first !

Alltogether about 400 Hostels all over Ireland, most of them cost 4-7 irish punt, campings cheaper.

Most of the bikers travelling to Ireland will not use a campground ! It's just not worth carrying around a tent all the way with you unless you are looking for adventures in the wilderness ....


Sights in the area

How long ?
I went to Ireland three times, two times I drove around the island and I needed about three to four weeks including the way to and from Ireland.

How to get there?
Basically you have the following ferries taking you to Ireland:

  • Dublin - Holyhead
  • Dublin - Fishguard
  • Rosslare - Fishguard
  • Rosslare - Pembroke
  • Rosslare - Le Havre
I travelled twice with Irish Ferries, once from Le Havre and once from Pembroke to Rosslare and it was two times not worth the really high fare - nowadays there are many other companies serving these ports.

I can recommend the Tourist Maps (north, east, south, west) of Ireland which contain more than 500 most important ancient and natural sites (from obelisks to stoneforts, from dolmen to castles and from vista points to cliffs) they should be available in Travelshops in your country.

If you are using a GPS unit I could send you a few hundred waypoints we collected.


WWW Links
Pictures

Pictures are in the text included.:-)