Tuesday, July 24, 2012

West Kerry to South Clare - #100corners

It's 6 o'clock in the early evening and I am sitting in front of a pint of Guinness in Crotty's Pub in the centre of Kilrush Co Clare, after one of the toughest days I have ever had on the motorcycle. It started out OK - Waterville was misty, but it had cleared by 9.30 and the morning was reasonably pleasant. Waterville is a quiet town - I was the only guest in my hotel, but some of the other pubs last evening had some life in them. The village has statues to two famous people - Charlie Chaplin, who holidayed there, and Mick O'Dwyer. Micko's monument was recently opened and it is dedicated to his sporting achievements, including his stint as manager of Wicklow GAA 2007-2011.

The Great Micko admires my bike.
On my way out of Waterville I stopped at Daly's Hardware store to point out an error in the price I paid for the Wellingtons yesterday. This morning I discovered they were labelled at 19.50e, but I had paid 37.50e yesterday. I was refunded the difference no problem by the nice folks in Daly's.

I headed out to Ballinskelligs and into the Gaeltacht and had some excellent views of the Skellig Rocks despite rain threatening all the time. In St Finian's Bay there were some hardy souls out surfing. In Portmagee I stopped at a monument to more lost lives at sea - sadly there is room for more names along side the list of existing names. I crossed over to Valentia Island - still nice scenery and the weather was holding. At Knightstown I got the short ferry to get the short cut to Cahirsiveen where there was heavy traffic due to a traffic accident. I took a detour here out to a castle ruin near Doulus Head before heading back to Cahirsciveen. I would loved to have stopped here, but I wanted to get some miles on the road. After a brief stop at the birthplace of Daniel O'Connell I was joined on the road by Lala, the Swiss biker I had already met met a few times on this trip. We stopped in Killorglin for petrol, a coffee, and a chat. Like me she is touring the South West, and is getting fed up of the rain. We headed for Tralee where we parted ways again.

I had never been to Fenit, so this is where I was headed to next. Up until now, the weather was nothing worse than list mist or drizzle which did not cause to much discomfort - but that changed coming into Fenit. It started to rain heavily and by the time I got to the St Brendan the Navigator Heritage park at the end of Fenit Pier I was feeling quite wet. My feet were nice and dry - thanks to my new wellies, but water was getting inside my waterproof ankle to neck suit. It starts at the neck, where the water runs down from my helmet. My shirt absorbs the water and passes it on to my jeans. Eventually even my socks and new wellies were wet. This sucked, and I reached a low for the first time on this trip.

St Brendan the Navigator admiring my bike.
After Fenit I determined to get out of Kerry and make for Kilrush in Co Clare. The rain did not let up. I passed through Church Hill and Ardfert before seeing Banna Beach where I remember an FCJ Bunclody school trip in 1978 - too wet today to stop and reminisce. I passed Ballyheige and somewhere to my left was Kerry Head - my heart sank a little when I spotted a sign for Tarbert - 49 kms. I immediately converted this to 30 niles which did not seem so far. Very difficult riding conditions.

At Tarbert, while waiting for the ferry to Killimor, two Canadians from Vancouver - who were soaked through, cheered me up with their good humour in the rain. They were cycling and I felt a bit better. On the crossing I was shivering - July 24th in the middle of the Irish summer. I don't remember shivering during the Irish winter!

Drying out!
I arrived in Kilrush in Co Clare and got accommodation in Crotty's Pub in Market Square. I dragged my sodden ass into a lovely comfortable room and a hot shower - bliss! The staff here could not be more helpful and kind - they helped me with a heater to dry out, a safe place to park the bike, and a room to dry out my gear. Bangers and Mash are on the menu and I can't think of anything that would make a heartier meal right now.

I've just looked up the weather forecast on www.met.ie which predicts no rain at all for Clare and Galway over the next two days - I look forward to it, and I hope they are right!

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