Shannon, Limerick
Killarney, Tralee
and Dublin
March 17 / April 2, 1991

Michael J. Ferguson
Montréal

Les Publications INRS-Télécommunications, Montréal

Journal Index

Contents

1  Sunday March 17, 1991, Montréal
2  Monday March 18, Heathrow
3  Tuesday March 20, Limerick
4  Wednesday March 21, Limerick
5  Thursday March 21, Loch Gur
6  Friday March 22, Killmallock - Cill-Mocheallog : ``St. Mocheallog's Church''
7  Saturday March 23, Killarney
8  Sunday March 24, Killarney
9  Monday March 25, Killarney
10  Tuesday March 26, Tralee
11  Wednesday, March 27, Tralee
12  Thursday March 28, Dublin
13  Friday (Good), March 29, Dublin
14  Saturday March 30, Dublin
15  Sunday March 31 - Easter, Limerick
16  Monday April 1, Shannon
17  Tuesday April 2, Montréal
18  Maps

This trip is unique. Peggy wanted to do something interesting for her spring break and was sufficiently desperate that she agreed to come on a vacation bicycle trip to Ireland. We bought her a brand new bike and she rode it for the first time, as we pedaled out of Shannon airport on our way to Limerick.

We started at Mirabel at about 2:30 in the afternoon for a 5:35 flight. I like to be there early enough to overcome whatever hassles there may be with the bikes. British Airways reservation people said they had usually had boxes, but the people at the airport said they never had boxes. After unsuccessfully trying to spring two of the five boxes that Air France had, the nice Air France lady led me back to BA. It appears that BA has plastic bags rather than boxes. They didn't offer the bags when I asked for boxes. I must learn to ask the correct questions.

We rolled the bikes into the bags ... much easier than a box, and I probably did not need to remove the seat from mine. The bikes indeed made it intact to Shannon and we were able to keep the bags for the return trip.

Our flight was originally non-stop to London but was changed to be a one stop at Boston. However this meant that we were able to take an earlier Aer Lingus flight to Shannon and arriving at about noon. Aer Lingus has better service than BA on these flights ... so it was not an inconvenience.

1  Monday March 18, Heathrow

We arrived on time, with a completely overcast approach to Heathrow. Since we were coming in from Boston, the approach appears to be from the south so we do not see much of London. We took the bus from terminal 4 to 1, to catch our flight to the Republic. The flight was nearly full, with a lady from Toronto returning, for the third time this year, to be bridesmaid at a friend's wedding in Galway, an Irish language drama group that was about to start a new tour. They talked to each other in Irish. There was also a tin whistle concert by a man a few rows up ... to the appreciative delight of everyone.

We arrived in Shannon to be greeted by a typical Irish day - rain and cold. Not ideal weather for Peggy to learn how to ride her new bike. We had about 22km from Shannon to Limerick, but first we needed to set up a B&B for our return. There was a B&B about 2km out of Shannon that I tried to stay at in September, but was unable to get any response. We stopped in the early afternoon and were able to raise the lady of the house, left a deposit, and hopefully secured a place for our return on Easter Sunday. The lady was sympathetic with our misery and wished us a good vacation. We continued on to Limerick.

It was rain and cold. We finally made Bunratty Castle and stopped at Durty Nellys, a pub since 1609. The crowd on this official St. Patrick's day holiday was the happiest that I have ever seen in Ireland. Peg still is amazed that the first song we heard as we stepped in the door was American Pie. Later we, or perhaps Peggy only, were serenaded with It's not really rain, you know, it's raining violets. It was indeed raining. Peggy was cold and miserable. She wanted some hot cider but that was not available. The bartender suggested hot port. Peg was revived and I settled for a Guinness. This was a thoroughly delightful diversion.

As we left, the rain had stopped for a short while, and we were ready to go, but had to wait to let a bunch of bicycle racers go by. Just as we were ready to go, another platoon came roaring by. Finally it was our turn and off we went, Peggy leading the way.

The rain continued on and off for the rest of the way, with long shallow hills adding to Peg's misery. Peg was making a very decent pace, on this her first day of bicycling, and we arrived in Limerick in the late afternoon. The Coolgreen B&B, at the beginning of the B&B stretch on the Ennis road just before the Shannon bridge leading to downtown, was the first one, and the one of choice, given the conditions. We were able to secure two very nice rooms, with private showers and breakfast for about $26 each.

My room was not quite ready, so I left Peg to take a shower and wandered into town, looking for a place for dinner, finding that the entire town was essentially shut down on this St. Patrick's Bank holiday. I didn't look too long but found the Texas Steak Out on O'Connell St. There appeared to be a number of others but I didn't want to go to far away, and it was not at all obvious that any were open. By the time I returned to the B&B, the room was ready and it was my time for the shower. Fortunately the lady of the house showed me how to work it. A large number of B&B s have showers with flash water heaters that you must turn on first. I had remembered the dial system but had forgotten about the switches. Fortunately she told me.

We walked down to the Texas Steak Out and Peggy was amazed that we had come all the way to Ireland to have a large naked hamburger (hers) and a mixed grill (mine). After waiting, lost in the corner, for about fifteen minutes, we secured our bill. I was also amazed at how expensive it was - about $35.00. Eating in Ireland is expensive. If you like fish and chips, or in my case onion rings, it can be quite reasonable, although not too exciting. Peg is not too enthralled about such fare. We walked back to our B&B. It was, thankfully, not raining - very hard.

2  Tuesday March 20, Limerick

Peggy decided that she wanted to wander about town on her own, so we agreed to meet at the Tourist Office at 1:00pm. I showed her where it was on the map and took off. As I left, it occurred to me that I might have arranged to meet at the office just as it was closing for lunch. I thought it wise to look for the office, on O'Connell street and check. The office was not there ... slightly more disconcerting than just a wrong time. On my way back, from what felt like going all the way to Killarney, I asked someone for directions to the Tourist Office. He said that they had built a new one at Christmas ... on the Shannon, near the bridge and just in front of the new? Arthur Quay. It was indeed there, and they closed from 1:00 to 2:30. I raced back to the Coolgreen - Peggy had already gone.

I went back into town to look for some clan1 material that I had not bought enough of on my trip last September. I was in such a hurry in September that all I really saw was the Tipperary road in the dark. As I was wandering around town, I found Peggy in a book store and we arranged a 2:30 rendezvous at the Tourist Office.

This is a big year in Limerick. They are celebrating the 300th anniversary of the 1691 Treaty of Limerick, executed after the Battles of the Boyne. The treaty stone is on the Shannon opposite one of the many castles built by King John. This castle is currently undergoing renovation, with the walls covered with scaffolding. I wonder if the original builders had it this easy. Peggy wasn't convinced that they were renovating. She had seen a Demolition sign on the far side of the castle ... indeed a strange term for renovation.

I ate lunch by the treaty stone, and met a man and his fourteen year old daughter. He had just brought his eldest daughter to Limerick for an interview with Amdahl. A few years ago, he was sent to Canada and the USA, to study their Railway management practices. After looking at a large number of US and Canadian railways, he wrote a report that suggested that Canadian Pacific was the only railroad in North America that knew what it was doing - and they were doing it very well. The sun just shone here for a few minutes ... a welcome relief from yesterday.

Peggy had seen an interesting Chinese restaurant on her travels so we decided to go there for dinner. We found it closed. We were in the neighbourhood of a pub/restaurant that I had seen on the new Limerick map so I suggested that we go there. Several circles and questions later, we found it. This pub featured entertainment on Thursdays ... today is Tuesday and it was very quiet. I had some breaded prawns and Peggy had another hamburger. When we got back to the B&B, Peggy discovered that she had forgotten her retainer at the pub. I raced back there, and fortunately they had not disposed of it. The bar lady retrieved it immediately and I was able to return with it, much to Peggy's relief.

3  Wednesday March 21, Limerick

This morning we are starting on our way to Lough Gur. The major reason for the trip to the Tourist office yesterday was to get information on Celtic magic places in the area. Lough Gur is the major one here, with Ireland's largest stone circle, and a visitor center designed as the thatched rock byres (houses) of 3000 years ago. The major piece of information gleaned from the Tourist center yesterday was that the visitor center was only open from May to September ... such are the hazards of off season travel.

At 8:00, just before breakfast when I started to organize the bikes, it was overcast but only soggy. By 9:00 when we were ready to leave it was raining. I put on my rain pants and boots, but Peggy preferred to use only her jacket. This was a less than auspicious start for a major bicycle trip. The map showed that the main road to Killmallock and Lough Gur angle off the Tipperary road. We carefully looked for it, were confused at a traffic circle by signs that pointed to parts unknown, so we ended up by going the same way I did in September, using a small sideroad that joined the Tipperary and Killmallock roads. The little roads are much more fun to ride on. There were lots of wild and cultivated daffodils, with their sunny yellow contrasting with the green. It is also the time of baby animals ... baby lambs, white, and occasionally black or brown. The calves seem to be rather big but perhaps they just start out that way.

We hit the main road just after the Slow Cows Crossing sign and started up a long gentle, but quite noticeable, hill. At about 12km out of Limerick, and just after a cursed hill - Peggy wastes curses on hills, but as she says, the curses are less dangerous used that way - we stopped for something refreshing at a gas station. The doggy was friendly and, after a bit, was licking Peggy's hand.

We continued on to Bruff, which has a delightful little park in a fork of the road by a river, and continued on the Killmallock road. I missed the first turn to Lough Gur, clearly shown on my map but without signs that I could see on the road. I knew we had missed it when we arrived at the Stone Circle, in exactly the same way as I had done in September. We stopped and meditated on the fairy circles, tufts of grass sprinkled about the interior of the stone circle and I wondered again if there were a new order of power, symbolised by the trees encroaching and punishing(?) the stones on the edge of the circle.

About a 1km down the road, we found the sign to Lough Gur (1.5 somethings) and to the visitor center. This little section of road cut across the ridge lines going up and down and up - eliciting a few more curses. We stopped at little (dead) stone church (Lough Gur Cathedral?) at about 1km. The church may be ``dead'' but the cemetery is ``alive''. There were two very fresh graves.

It was at least 1.5 miles when we reached a crossroads, we saw the Swan B&B and another sign for the visitor center off to the left. The crossroads were, in fact the village of Lough Gur ... we still had a ways to go. Mostly down some steep hills, we finally reached the visitor center, on the edge of the Lough. There was one car in the parking lot, and the ducks and geese were lounging in the drizzle by the waters edge. I walked down a short distance, and found the way up to the center. The fence gate was fake locked so I walked in. The two buildings are stone and thatch, and they were really locked. I saw a little path behind the first building, and thought that they could be caves and went exploring. When I was able to see them a little better, I thought that they might be bathrooms. I was wrong on all counts. The second one, a dark dreary cave with a door, was occupied by the custodian/guard. He was glad to talk to someone, apologized for the Irish weather, and to make me feel better(?) said that it was always like this in March. I went back to tell Peggy and we both came to look.

I had gotten a guide book of Lough Gur at the visitor center in Limerick but managed to leave it in Limerick. Peggy had remembered that there were two castles in the neighbourhood - there appeared to be one at the end of a lane on our way out. We went up the lane, and found a large farmhouse, a small noisy Irish Terrier, two larger quiet collies, and a square tower that looked as though it was currently being used by the cows. There were three cars in the courtyard and no other signs of life. We waited for several minutes and then left to tackle the steep hill up and out.

Peggy was thoroughly miserable, and I was sweat soaked and wet. She saw a sign that said Teas Snacks 100 yds ... a possible chance at lunch. We arrived to find a little shop, about 8 feet by 20 feet, with the door open, lights off, and no one in sight. The shop was about 6 feet from the house. Peggy was devastated - she was convinced no one, but a little yellow cat was around. I walked up by the kitchen window, got the attention of the shop lady, and she immediately came out. We now could get something hot to eat - Peggy had a hamburger and I had a very substantial vegetable soup. The door was open, allowing the poor cat, that was thrown out into the rain by its mistress, back in, but also not creating much heat to dry us.

At this point we were not in any real hurry ... we had decided to stop at the Swan B&B at the top of the hill ... so we waited for the rain to abate somewhat. It did, and we walked/rode up the hill to the crossroads. We knocked on the door of the Swan B&B to no avail. There was no one home. Peggy was absolutely miserable, and soaked, praying for someone to materialize. I was none too dry myself. Peggy was in no mood to tackle the hills again that we had conquered on the way in. We were contemplating leaving when a Hello rang from the foot of the driveway, and Mrs. Coleman retrieved her milk from under the anti-rook cans on the gate post and came up to welcome us in. She had been at the thatched cottage where she was doing some cleaning. Her neighbour came to the cottage to tell her that there were a couple of tourists at her door and she came over immediately ... such are the advantages of small villages.

Mrs. Coleman offered to press and dry our stuff on the radiator. She also offered Peggy one of her daughter's sweatshirts in the mean time. Peggy took her hot shower while I evaporated dry. We sat for most of the afternoon in the sitting/living room in front of a peat fire. I thought they had put weights on the wood to help it burn but the weights were actually processed peat. I would have liked to have brought some home but they were heavy and I wasn't sure whether Agriculture Canada would be cooperative. Peg curled up by the fire, read, and then fell to sleep. She woke up and said that she would go to her room to sleep. Now it was my turn to warm up by the fire.

Mrs. Coleman's house and front yard were full of daffodils. She said that on Thursday she was going to pick them all for the Irish Daffodil Day on Friday. On Friday the nurses sell daffodils all over Ireland to raise money for cancer research. I presume that she will travel somewhere distant like Tipperary for the day. I am sure the traffic in Lough Gur is minimal at this time of year.

I did not see any restaurant in town on our way down to the visitor center, nor on our way back. When I asked Mrs. Coleman about this, she offered to cook supper for us ... after she had fed her family. She asked what we would like, and I suggested some hot food would be wonderful. She was able to find some fish and chips and we were quite satisfied. After dinner, Peggy watched some television with the family and I went to write and read.

4  Thursday March 21, Lough Gur

It was almost nice this morning. The sun was bursting out and I thought, just perhaps, the rain had ceased. I started loading the bike ... only to be partially drenched. Mr. Coleman returned with the happy thought that it was much nicer. When I pessimistically suggested that it was raining, he suggested that this was only a shower. Indeed, by the time we were ready to start, it had stopped raining. Lough Gur has some Christian ruins too. We stopped at the remains of an old church, without roof, but interestingly, with an active churchyard - some of the graves appeared to be as recent as yesterday - still soft and no headstone. It looked as though the church had burned many years ago. I wonder if this is the efficient use of hallowed ground.

We continued back to the main road, up a couple of very steep pitches, and made our way towards Killmallock. It was uncustomarily dry, for which we were quite thankful, and we passed through Bruff arriving in Killmallock at about 10:15 in the morning. Peg did a quick check of the town, while I was at the Bank, and declared there were only two B&B s. We checked into the nearest one.

Since we have been blessed with Irish Weather, I thought that the most reasonable way to proceed is to try to go between the big cities by train. Killmallock used to be on the main route between Limerick and Cork. It has been supplanted as the regional town by Charleville. There is not even a train station in KIllmallock. It is 11.5km away in Charleville ... whose most obvious claim to fame is that it is on the N20 between Limerick and Cork. It looks as though bicycles are known to the Irish Railways - there is an extra $6.00 charge for bicycles. We have been assured that there will be no problems. There are several trains to Killarney - we will try for the 11:30.

Killmallock was a centre of activity in the sixth century. The church ruins date from much later.

Perhaps the most distressing ruin is the Round Tower Church that is now the graveyard of the modern St. Peter and St. Paul church. The entire sanctuary appears to have been sold as grave sites to the Fitzgeralds. Jesus was distressed with the sales of alter offerings in the temple - I wonder.

We went for pub grub at Hannigans. It consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich. This was the first time I had indulged in pub grub and it confirmed my worst fears - barely edible. we went up the street to Sgt. Peppers Fast Food for something more substantial. Peg had a cheese burger and onion rings and I had sausages in batter - an interesting change.

We have now retired to let the sun set over Killmallock - and to struggle with the instant? hot water shower heater.

5  Friday March 22, Killmallock - Cill-Mocheallog : ``St. Mocheallog's Church''

At breakfast this morning, Mrs. Kirby asks us to sign the guest register. There has not been too much business recently. The last entry was on Valentine's day, and very few before. Peggy signed the book and wrote Pob Hwyl, meaning Good Luck in Welsh, and hoping that the lady would be able to understand.

It is cold, and a most unusual day, the sun is shining. We ride, after breakfast, for 12km to the railway station in Charleville ...  to go by train to Killarney. Our map shows rail lines from Killarney to Listowell and then back along the south shore of the Shannon to Limerick. However, the rail map in the station at Charleville is more modest. The line stops at Tralee. It looks as though we will be coming back the same way we go.

The sun remains while we stroll up and down the one main street of Rath Luirc also known as Clarleville looking for a sketch pad and some coloured pencils for Peggy. We buy a bunch of daffodils on this Irish Daffodil Day, and carry around our own sunshine. Peg found a spot for them in the pocket of her saddle bag and plastic bag and water carried them all the way to Killarney. The train was quite full so we ended up in the dining car for the whole trip ...  the entire hour. Our companions were a group of business men getting drunk at the bar - and working very hard to get their ladies, who were sitting by themselves at a table, drunk too. Across the aisle, we had a group of high school girls on an outing. The conversation was continuous and totally unintelligible.

Killarney - Cill-airne : ``the church of the sloes''

We arrived just after 12:30 and hauled our bikes off. The two conductors were in such a rush doing important stuff that they told me to go ahead. Another bike had joined us in Mallow, but it was empty and easily moved. In a few moments the huge hockey bag and the bikes were off, rebuilt, and we were on our way with Peg racing ahead.

I finally caught up with her at the far end of town in front of a pair of guest houses. She picked the Linden House and we were ready to unload. I went out to find that a shower was drenching my sheepskin seat. Oh well - it stopped soon.

We will be here for three nights, and then we will go to Tralee. This afternoon we separately explored the town. I was looking for some very specific clan souvenirs and a Chinese restaurant. Peg said she was tired of burgers. There was one. I passed by it the first time, hidden away back in an alley, and found it the second time only after Mrs. Knoblauch, of the Linden House, gave me explicit directions.

The Mayflower appears to be an Irish Chinese restaurant. We saw no evidence of any Chinese, or chopsticks, in the vicinity. The food was decent but not exciting and rather expensive. The menu was unusually split between appetizers and main courses. Apparently the(?) Chinese restaurant in Tralee is actually run by Chinese.

6  Saturday March 23, Killarney

The sun is shining again this morning - wonderful. I am off up to Moll's Gap, for the clan souvenirs that I couldn't find here and then off through the Gap of Dunloe. Peg is going to explore Killarney some more and visit the Celtic Shop that we passed on our way to supper last night.

Peg bought Claddagh ring for herself and a Celtic Knot pendant for a friend. I returned about 4:30 after a 60km tour through the Muckross Peninsula, the Meeting of the Waters, Moll's Gap, and the Gap of Dunloe. My major disappointment was that my source for clan doodads, at the top of Moll's Gap was closed. My real discovery this morning was a part of the Kerry Way, a walking/cycling path along the shore of Lough Leane, past the Meeting of the Waters, and along the shore of Muckross lake. It was a beautiful cycle, as they say here ... disturbing some deer and, perhaps, only marred because I did not see any Killarney Bear - I wonder if they really still exist.

The cycle path eventually met the main road and it was up, almost all the way towards Molls Gap. The Upper Lake was about 6 feet higher than in September showing only about two feet of black on the rocks rather than the 8 to 10 feet that I saw before. The water is clear but a dark brown. At home this is due to Tannin. Here the colour is due to the peat. It appears that this water can actually dye the rocks black ... or is it really dark brown. This explains the eight feet of black rock that I saw in September but does not explain the reason for the variation in the level. Neither Muckross nor the Lower lake, Loch Leane appear to show such variations. The lake was much prettier in its fuller state. I continued up, disturbing the sheep, and meeting not one tour bus. I was moderately worried when I passed a closed store at Ladies View - named after the set of enthralled Ladies in Waiting of Queen Victoria during a visit in 1868. I did indeed find the lockup shop, locked up when I arrived at the summit. After wandering around for several minutes, and deciding that the owner was not going to arrive to open up while I was there, I continued along the road to my turnoff. I had the 1cm=500m map and so could navigate with confidence. This map even had the houses on it. The valley had been rising rapidly, and I was hoping that I could just cross over and be at the same level as the Gap of Dunloe. This was, of course, wishful thinking. I dropped steeply into the valley, and paid for it later, as I went back up to the top of the Gap. The steepest section (up) was the initial switchback off the main(?) road. It was here that the main road became a cul de sac.

When I reached the top, the wind blew. I was assured that it was all down to Killarney from there ... this was almost true; but not quite. There were some short sections of up but they were negligible. The major problem was finding a sheltered place for my picnic lunch. I did, beside a small stream and behind a huge rock. It was a quiet and peaceful lunch - Peggy's souvenir Guinness bottle was emptied during the lunch.

The Gap is a ``high alpine'' (no trees), relatively wide pass with a number of lakes and a river that flows the entire length. It is sufficiently rugged that two kind souls actually walked their horses down hill rather than ride them. I also saw a poor girl with only a five speed bike have to quit and walk up one of the hills.

As you crossed the exit of the gap, the green valleys jumped into view. Kate Kearney's Cottage, a pub and gift shop, seems to be the unofficial entrance to the gap. I stopped there for an Irish Heinekans and to be warmed by the fire. Then downwards to Killarney.

7  Sunday March 24, Killarney

Today is another beautiful day. Everyone feels compelled to comment upon it. Mr. Knoblauch gave me directions to a bike path on the Kenmare estate - leading to Ross Island and Ross Castle. I must admit I didn't understand what I heard until I actually found them. At that point I even understood the directions on how to get there.

Ross Castle is the dock for the Lily of Killarney, a large tour boat that sails on Loch Leane (the Lower Lake). The sailings are down from six to one a day. None of the other boats are even running.

Just as I found the Dero Tour bureau, Peg found me, and we bought tickets for the single sailing. On the way down to the castle, through the grounds, Peg followed every side path available - even going through the garden and down the stairs of the Knockreer House.

We are now here waiting for the Lily to float away ... meditating in the sun on the vagaries of existence.

The lakes islands remind me of a Chinese painting. They are rugged boulders, apparently dropped out of the Devil's mouth after he got hit on the head by a Shillagh. He was flying across the lake with a mouthful of mountain, taken in a fit of pique after losing a bet. Today was almost, perhaps appropriately, dead calm and the islands shimmered. It is impossible to do it photographic justice, especially from a tour boat.

Ross Castle looked like one of the strongest that I have seen in Ireland, and held out the longest of any against Cromwell. Unfortunately, it had a strategic flaw, being undefendable from an attack from the lake. The defenders gave up without a fight when they saw sixteen rafts full of troops and assorted boats in the bay.

It has been a beautiful day. Several people have commented that you would never find it nicer - even in the summer - and this without crowds.

8  Monday March 25, Killarney

This morning we were greeted to a cloudless sky ... and managed another day without a shower - a sheer delight. We took the train to Tralee at about 12:45 and arrived roughly a half hour later. It was rolling hills the whole way; perhaps it would have been too much. After we got to the station at about 10:00 and organized the bikes, I wandered into town, finding the tourist office open for the first time. They had poster of the coats of arms of all the Irish clans, including even the Fergusons. Of course the Crean, Dowd, O'Mahony, and Coffey coats of arms were there too. Most of these are quite rare in the tourist shops.

Tralee - Traigh-Li : ``the strand of the river Lee''

I bought Peg some lip balm from the Body Reform Shop in Killarney, an Irish competitor to the Body Shop. Peggy has already discovered the one in Tralee and is planning more purchases.

After wandering around Tralee, I decided that I would check on trains to Dublin ... Peg would like to go there. I found that Irish Rail is not too consistent. The schedules I picked up in Charleville and Killarney showed quite clearly that there was one through train from Tralee to Limerick. When I looked, and asked here in Tralee, there were none. This is awkward when you are taking a bike. There is only one direct train to Dublin ... at 7:30am ... but that has an early bird fare. We will take it on Wednesday. It arrives in Dublin at 11:10am. The train from Dublin to Limerick is also supposed to be direct. Hopefully that will remove much strain.

When I was here in September, I had the impression that Tralee was a much more interesting town than Killarney. One afternoon has made me less sure.

We had Chinese food again ... quite good but no Chinese to be seen. We ate beside an aquarium and were amused and chagrined at the fishy behaviour. As before, it was very expensive for Chinese food.

9  Tuesday March 26, Tralee

This morning I am getting up before breakfast to see Ireland, the Conner Pass. I was told by Mr. Laffen that I had not seen Ireland until I saw the Conner Pass. It will be a long haul for one day ... but we shall see. Perhaps I still will not see Ireland.

In fact I didn't see Ireland. I had, instead, an unintentional walk between Derrymore and Tonevane, just west of Tralee. I was on my way to Dingle, passing cars covered with frost, and wondering if my fingers would ever thaw when I heard a snap, then felt the rear wheel wobbling. I immediately checked the spokes - they seemed ok. I tried to ride again and the wheel started to rub. I turned the bike upside down, and felt that the wheel was loose. I thought that it might be a broken axle again - but a check of the wheel suggested that this was not true. Then I saw the problem ... the frame had broken just at the axle so that one side of the wheel was completely free. It had enough strength to carry the light load that I had but not my weight. I started walking back to Tralee. After about 8km, I tried to flag down trucks ...  while I kept walking. After about a half hour with no success, a large ice cream truck stopped. The two chaps, sympathised with my plight, and knew of the best welders in Tralee - Heinrich's Engineering - just the advice I needed. They drove me there, and dropped me off. Heinrich's said that they could weld it, no problem. I took off derailleur, fender, and rack, and in ten minutes it was fixed. In another half hour, I was able to put all the pieces back and was off. The total cost was $5.00 ... and a walk in the country ... a real bargain. Perhaps I shall see Dingle when I can spend a few days.

After some breakfast at O'Mahony's, I rode through town looking for the road to Fenit, on the north side of the Lee Estuary(?), with a possible wonderful view of the Dingle mountains. As usual, the directions sent me around on a tourist route out of Tralee. I recognized the corner, with the billboard with a bubbly head of beer and the single word probably - neither of us know who is being advertised. I continued on finding a

** Soft Margin

The next margin consisted of six inch, freshly chopped rock. It looked as though it would make a fine mess of my bike. The road went through Spa, past the 20 by 30 foot Family Superstore, and then hit the coast a few km later. I stopped for lunch, in brilliant sunshine, with the cormorants, and the Dingle mountains across the water. Perhaps this was the best way to see the mountains.

** DON'T LET NICKY KELLY DIE, STOP EXTRADITION - In France, stopping extradition meant entire racial groups, like the Turks. Here, as explained to me on the Fenit Pier, it was one person and the extradition was to England.

10  Wednesday, March 27, Tralee

We got up at just after dawn, to catch the 7:30 train to Dublin. It had the great advantage that there was an almost half-price round trip day fare and the train was direct. We have been traveling now for about an hour and a half, overcast all the way, and are now entering Charleville again. Peggy has seen a one sheep town, the Irish equivalent to a one horse town, and a very tiny house, about the size of a small garage, complete with a garden. She wonders how anyone - single or plural - could live there.

** The commercials for the dining car are loud and clear but the station stops are invariably garbled.

Dublin - Duibh-linn - Ath-cliath :: The latter name translates to be the ford of the hurdles ... the ancient name of Dublin. The former is translated as black pool.

We arrived at Heuston station right on time, and got off the train to see our bikes, and bag being taken off the baggage car. After putting the bikes together, I rode into the station ... down the platform - it was a long train ... to be greeted with a sign Beware of Pickpockets.

I had seen an ad for the Kinlay House (budget accommodation) on Lord Edward St. in downtown Dublin and decided to ring them up to see if they had room. All they had was a triple, and only for one night. Apparently there is a dance festival in Dublin this Easter weekend. The only B&B that I could get, of the list that I had picked up in Tralee gave me a similar story. There was one B&B that would not answer their phone so I left Peg in the station and went out to see if I could scare them, or someone else up. Across from the station I found the Ashley Hotel. After some discussion of our plight with the lady, she gave us two special flats, one with a shower for Peg and one without for me, at the reduced rate of $40.00 each.

When I arrived back with Peg, the lady asked about our bikes, and was very worried that we had left them on the street. I told her that we had locked them and were going to use them later. I took my hockey bag to the room and went back for my saddle bags. I had just secured Peg's bike to the fence across the street, and was unloading mine, when a man, who had been a hotel customer for seventeen years, saw me and suggested that it was too dangerous to leave the bike locked to the fence and that it should be put in the back. He was worried about pilferage ... right down to the wheels. I didn't think it was a danger for such a short time so continued and took my bike across the street to secure it to the fence. As I was doing this, he came back with the manager and they both insisted that I put the bikes in the back ... I did.

We both wandered around Dublin this afternoon ... Peg going one way and I another. I found Grafton St. and then Peg at the Lord Edward Pub. She arrived after getting lost several times and feeling glad to be alive after several harrowing experiences. I don't feel that the Dublin drivers are taking aim at you, as I felt in Philadelphia, but I am not certain that they are at all concerned about your continued existence in this sphere.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company is playing here and we were fortunate to pick up a cancellation ... the Andrew's Lane Theatre was full and people were waiting for cancellations. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) was a wonderful evening of mayhem. I wonder if they could have learned their trade any other place than Cal (UC Berkeley). Peg had seen it before in Montréal, loved it a second time, and was disappointed that we were flying out of Shannon on their opening day in Limerick. She is also distressed that she is missing the rock group Judas Priest, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is opening here in Dublin on Easter Sunday.

11  Thursday March 28, Dublin

12  Friday (Good), March 29, Dublin

Good Friday is not an official Holiday in the Republic, but Easter Monday is. The day started out cold and sunny - another lovely day. Hotel security is tight. The car park is protected by a short tunnel behind two massive gates, and dogs in the car park courtyard at night. During the day, a guard is always on duty. I don't know if it is possible to get a car at 6:00am, before the dogs have been removed.

I went for an early morning ride, before breakfast, and was lost as I passed the world's largest stout brewery - Guinness. The sun shone, the strollers said ``Good Morning'', and the traffic was uncustomarily non existent. The apparent major concession to Good Friday is that all the pubs, grocery stores that sell wine, off license shops, and wine bars are closed.

Lunch on St. Stephen's Green: I just spent an enjoyable hour talking with a nice old lady, Dorothy Myer ... at least 90 ...  who opened the conversation by asking me to describe the labour conditions in my country (Ireland). She had been born in Russia, but now lives in New York. She, and her daughter-in-law(?), a young lady from San Rafael, were quite interested in my bike and my experiences. Dorothy told of the introduction of the bike in 1905 in her home town in Russia ... it was brought in a horse drawn wagon - a red carpet was rolled out - tricks were performed on the carpet ... the bicycle was actually ridden - then the hat was passed and orders taken. She also had a similar story about the introduction of a Singer sewing machine with her mother doing the demonstration. Her son, Karl Myer writes editorials for the New York Times, and writes, according to her daughter, who is also a writer, critically acclaimed failures.

Some Observations

13  Saturday March 30, Dublin

It is a semi-lovely day in Dublin, overcast but not raining - maybe later it will be a lovely day. We are off this morning back to Limerick. Unfortunately the only direct train to Limerick gets us in too late. This means we shall have to navigate a train change at Limerick Junction. Traveling with a bicycle on the train is easy, except for the need to remove all the gear from the bike, because the Irish stations that we have seen so far range from a step of six inches to three feet to the platform. Six inches is easy to negotiate with the loaded bike ... three feet is impossible. At Dublin the drop is six inches. I shall have to find out, if possible what it is at Limerick Junction. At Limerick there would be time to unload.

I wanted to visit Eason's this morning and look at their bird books. The bird book that my sister Judy gave me is beautiful, and I have it with me now. I would like something slightly smaller - if possible.

I also wanted to take some pictures of Dublin. I was sufficiently paranoid about the camera being stolen that neither I nor Peg carried it during our first three days. When the camera was not complaining of running out of film at the 27th shot on a 24 roll I was a little worried. I tried rewinding it and it stopped in about 1/2 second. That was most disconcerting. I checked the film and indeed it had rewound. Evidently I had not given it enough leader for the automatic loading and I was taking all the pictures on the same frame. I had lost all our pictures, including the ones I had just taken of Dublin. I loaded a new film and retraced, almost, my picture route in Dublin. However, Peg had taken some pictures of the Dominican Church ruins in Killmallock, especially to illustrate a story of her classmate Cristine. I was most distressed that I had missed those. A partial recovery was possible, only partial because Peggy would not be in the picture, by having Peggy go directly to Limerick, while I would go to Charleville, and retrace our route the 50km backwards through Killmallock to Limerick.

The train was grossly overbooked so Peg sat on the floor near the dining car, finishing her Breughel for Cristine, while I sat with a group of three fourteen year olds on their way to various parts of the west. They asked me how I liked Dublin, and I agreed with their feeling that it was very beautiful, but was dismayed that at the risk of loss of things from my bicycle. They were equally dismayed by the fact that they regularly get mugged when they visit downtown Dublin ... for example around the Halfpenny Bridge. They recounted their most recent adventure when they were accosted by about four littler kids, beat them off; felt safe, only to be confronted with a much larger group, including some sixteen year olds. They survived, but evidently were not too happy about it.

I arrived in Charleville at about 1:10pm, dropped my bike the three feet to the station platform, followed by my bag, and started back. I redid the pictures and the film ran out, as it should have, at the Druid circle at Lough Gur. I arrived in Limerick at about 5:30.

Meanwhile, Peggy was having her problems. She was to go back to the Coolgreen B&B that we had stayed in at the beginning, and try to book in there. That turned out to be impossible because the parents of the house had gone away for the weekend. She tried a number of B&B s in the area and all but one was full. That one insisted on cash in advance for the night, and she did not have enough. This is a first. None of the B&B s that I (we) have stayed at have asked for such a thing. I told her that we would not want to stay at a place that had such an attitude. She then went to the tourist office to find a room ... any room. They had one six miles out of town, obviously silly being on bikes. They also had one at the George Hotel, right downtown. Although it is the most expensive rooms we have had in Ireland, I think she did very well securing us a place to stay. We could have stayed in Dublin and avoided this hassle, but we would not have been able to recover the lost photographs.

Dinner was at the Texas Steak Out again, only half a block from the hotel. Decent, but not inexpensive. Eating here seems to be very expensive ... confirming the opinion of a Galway lady, now living in Toronto, that Ireland had become expensive.

14  Sunday March 31 - Easter, Limerick

It is another semi-lovely day ...  hopefully it will remain at least this way. The Irish World Dancing Championships are indeed in town. I wonder what dance festival was going on in Dublin. They are being held in the Jet Pavilion on the Shannon road near the edge of town. I was out exploring before breakfast and discovered that they will be going on until about 9:00pm tonight ... starting at about 8:30 this morning. I think we shall stop for a few hours on our way to our B&B at Shannon.

We stopped at the Irish World Championships for the senior ladies, hard shoe competition. This was the second match and some of the kids had been eliminated. I thought that a girl from Long Island was terrific, and so I told her so and asked her if she thought the same thing. She felt that it had been quite good ... my judgment was not that bad. The most fun was watching the kids, almost petrified, waiting to go on.

Bunratty - ``mouth of the Ratty'' a river.

The day has been sunny, but with a headwind, for the whole trip. We stopped at Bunratty Castle, in sunshine. Peg set a strong pace and was stripping off her jacket when I arrived. The castle had a magnificent banquet hall, used originally by the Earl's troops and retainers that would make wonderful setting for the Selwyn House Medieval banquet. It even had a stairway leading to the dungeon for unruly guests.

The village was a collection of thatched cottages, ranging from a labourer's (serf?) one room, thatched roof, and a fireplace that did not draw well to a prosperous Golden Vale farmer's thatched house, with quality antique furniture that would have made his Saskatchewan counterpart envious. There was also a small village with working shops, printer, pottery, art gallery, sweets, antiques - disguised as a Pawn Broker, and a small tea and scone emporium of two small rooms. There was even an old barn/house where the living room was split into two sections, one for the people and the other for the cows. The piggery appeared to be outside.

We continued into our headwind and arrived at our B&B, only to find no answer. After about a half hour, while Peggy worked on her Breughel, and I read the ordnance guide to Ireland. A neighbour came by and said that the people had gone to Galway for the day. Peggy was gathered by a pair of little girls who were fascinated with her art and started an impromptu art lesson. The girls were enthralled. I started writing ...  after about an hour, the people arrived, full of apologies, and said that their good-byes took longer than expected. They expected to be back by 5:30. When I pointed out it was not quite 5:30, I learned that daylight savings time had been started this weekend. On the standard time, we would have been an hour late for our plane.

The lady is indulging our early departure with a simple breakfast of corn flakes, toast, and coffee at 6:45. We still have our plastic bags from the flight over so it will, hopefully, be easy to get the bikes ready.

15  Monday April 1, Shannon

We got up even before the crack of dawn, to a drizzle - a dreary bank holiday for those that are concerned. We arrived about an hour and a quarter before our flight left, and I was able to reuse the plastic bags and did not need to remove the seat. It was quite easy to wheel them inside and they seem to protect them quite well. Little did we know at the time that our bags and bikes would get left in Heathrow.

This is indeed off season. Only the tiny secondary duty free store was open. Peggy was able to find gifts for everyone though, so we got rid of all our Irish pounds - or so we thought. The total destroyed all my Irish pounds so I paid the remainder in Sterling. I presumed that I would get my change in Sterling and didn't check until it was too late, at Heathrow. We ended up with about a pound and a half in miscellaneous Irish coins.

I blew it again at Heathrow. Peggy wanted to visit the Body Shop because they had flavours, such as pineapple, there that were not available in Canada. There was one in Terminal 1 where we landed, because we had seen and patronised it on our way to Ireland. I thought there was one in the Duty Free area of Terminal 4 but, much to Peggy's dismay, I was wrong. On our next trip to some exotic place, we shall have to look for pineapple lip balm.

The plane to Montréal and on to Detroit was completely full. One large contingent was the Central State University Marching Band, from Wilberforce, Ohio, who were coming back from playing at halftime during a London game of the new World Football League. My seatmate on the aisle - Peggy had the window - was coming back from Dhahran, where he was working for a Saudi company making outhouses for the troops in the desert. His souvenir of the war was a polished piece of Scud missile, with his name engraved on one side and Scud on the other.

We arrived on time in Montréal, but none of bags or bikes made it. Peggy had seen them loaded at Shannon so apparently they were left at Heathrow. When we filed a claim, the was some email showing that at least two of our bags were there. We filled out a custom's release form and were promised delivery sometime. We weren't the only ones without bags ... perhaps they forgot to load a complete trolley.

To add to the complications, we apparently have no vehicles at all. Both cars are sick and the bicycles are somewhere else. Virginia had to rent a car to meet us at the airport.

16  Tuesday April 2, Montréal

The bags and bikes were delivered at about 6:30 this evening. The major curiosity is that my bike came without its plastic bag, and its handle bars straightened to their normal position. I wonder how they managed that.

17  Maps


Footnotes:

1On my last trip I had bought some Crean family crests for my Dick, my brother in law. Unfortunately, I only bought three of them and the family is quite large. Now I was trying to redeem myself.


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On 12 Nov 2008, 12:54.