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Ireland: the route 1100km

Route planning is always a pleasingly creative process, and the process continues into, and through, the ride itself. A combination of deciding on possible destinations, diversions to see sites of special interest, visiting relatives (in my case), offers of a bed for the night, and all the whimsical ingredients that go into making last minute decisions to go in one direction and not another.

MizMalAs ever, I will carry my little tent, and expect to use it for several nights, but I am also contacting members of Warmshowers (the hosting website for cyclists) who lie somewhere near my route, and so far I have very kind offers from 4 members of the group to stay the night with them, or to pitch my tent in their garden and share a meal with them.

The Warmshowers hosts made my trip through Japan very special two years ago. They each gave me an opportunity to experience Japanese domestic life, share their hospitality, and get a truly inside view of life in Japan. Although the Irish culture is not in any way alien to me, I have a great deal to learn and appreciate about some of the finer detail that make up the foundation of Irish sensibilities and customs.

My route this time reflects a slight change of emphasis in my thinking. Although it is an End-to-End ride, the starting and finishing points are quite incidental really. They simply provide a framework for a ride that is not intended to be the most direct route, nor the quickest but, hopefully, will be the most interesting allowed by the timescale of three weeks. So I will be seeing a lot of the west coast and, no doubt, seeing a lot of the famous weather that makes Ireland one of the greenest countries on the planet.

Ireland beckons!

YatesIt is astonishing how the attention of the long-distance cyclist can be harnessed rigidly to the idea of roaming in far-away places, some exotic, some not quite so, and what lies on or near the doorstep is completely overlooked. I’m ashamed to admit that I have never cycled in Ireland, and doubly ashamed because, on my mother’s side of the family, I have several first cousins in County Limerick, whom I visit only very sporadically. So my decision for 2017 is to right thatDubliners wrong, and spend three weeks riding the Irish ‘End-to-End’……better know as Mizen Head (in the south west) to Malin Head (in the north)…..or known more familiarly as the Miz-Mal.

It is not a huge distance. The shortest route between the two points Irish centuryis about 550kms but, no doubt, I will wander off route and take in some of the west and north-west coast, and probably notch up about 800kms. The first few days will very handily take me in the direction of my relatives in County Limerick, and it will be a huge added bonus that I will be able to spend a few days visiting, catching up with family matters, and celebrating our mutual advancing years.

As with every journey I do, I spend weeks absorbing information, reading and listening to podcasts, generally immersing myself in the history and culture of the country (or countries) I’mYeats' Ireland visiting. Ireland, too long seen as a mere appendage to Britain, is a country with its own Celtic vitality, and it has a rich heritage that is uniquely its own. My reading has taken me through the biography of WB Yeats, some of the short stories of James Joyce, the history of the 20th century and its turbulent years fighting for freedom, accompanied by the stark reality of revolution portrayed in Ken Loach’s film The Wind that shakes the barley.

Much still to unearth and anticipate. Watch this space.

Wind that shakes the barley