We are wrapping up a family vacation week in Ireland, having cycled in Connemara, a very rural area in the west, and after bookending the trip with Dublin on each side.
Having gone to parochial schools for 10 years, I had many priests and nuns from Ireland as teachers and still remember well how they glowed after home leave and recalled Ireland’s beauty, which made me want to visit one day the land of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Jameson and Guinness.
Three of our four children were able to join on the trip, and it has been fun to get a quorum of the family together for another Backroads.com cycling trip
Connemara was stunningly beautiful that got a lot of rain. We saw almost no sunlight while there and often cycled in the rain and wind.
The Irish coast welcomed the storms and weather patterns as they rushed across the Atlantic until landfall. There were hardly any trees in the area, so consistent and fierce are the winds.
But, you couldn’t beat the greenery, verdant pasture lands, stonewalls and sheep and cattle that are both ubiquitous and aromatic. We visited some local eateries and pubs, all of which were cozy and had great food.
At one spot, we stayed at Ballynahinch Castle behind which are hallowed waters for salmon and trout and at which in the lobby are fly rods at the ready. I resisted the urge to fish in order to bike with the family, though one Dad did beg off to hire a guide, but, alas, reported no takes or fish at hand.
The cycling was fun. We have done more difficult routes up and through areas such as the Spanish Pyrenees and Italy’s Dolomites in the Alps. But, biking in Connemara posed mental challenges. Cycling through rain and wind for hours meant that you were soaked through, regardless of what gear you wore. So, you basically had to tolerate long periods of discomfort, which I found both intriguing and rewarding. I think fly fishing on cold winter days helped me. You learn eventually to block out discomfort for a greater goal
The Irish people both in Dublin and Connemara were amazingly friendly and genuine. Given all they suffered during the Potato Famine and while under British rule, they are a true testament to resilience and optimism.
Ireland is the most friendly country I’ve ever visited. The smiles, quips and convivial banter were incredibly enjoyable.
I will be back one day to fish.