The Tour of Ireland will have distinct stages and the one I have just completed could be described as the Tour of the Estuaries. I had followed the coastline passing the estuaries at their first crossing place. Because of the local fishing ports, this stage had unintentionally started to turn into a gastronomic tour as well but there is nothing like a good day’s ride to make you appreciate the local delicacies.
What had I discovered? The modest friendliness of the people, the calm pleasure of cycling though the pastoral countryside undisturbed by inappropriate development, roads in generally better condition than those of Essex, and very welcoming pubs in the evening.
The next stage will be to cross the mainland to Killarney near the west coast where I will have a rest day. Tom Cooper, the author of Cycle touring in Ireland*, had found that the problem of this section was the lack of accommodation. When booking up, Fermoy was an obvious target for the first day but the next day was a problem until I found a B & B at Millstreet. This will be a long day’s ride but I was encouraged to find that on both the first two full days in Ireland I had cycled 43 miles.
The second stage is also mainly along the valley of the Blackwater River. The main road, the N72, runs along the north side of the valley but I will be able to avoid all of this, except a few miles, by taking lanes running along the southern side, usually close to the river. This could have been the cross-country route before motorised transport as it would be sheltered and the donkey trains would have easy access to water.
Pastures new ahead.