Wednesday 19 August 2015

Arghhh.. The Relief

Current Location: Kiltyclogher (pop 233), Co. Leitrim, Ireland
Distance Cycled This Trip: 3,688 km
Three Year Tandem Total: 22,714 km
What We Don't Like: Ireland's midges (worse than the rain)
What We Do Like: Ireland's hostels (excellent shelter from weather & midges)

When the weather has brightened, the riding has been excellent. We can't get over the lack of traffic on many country roads. 

We have been rained on, savaged by midges and Judy was pooped on by a bird. 

So it is hardly surprising that when we discovered there was a self contained room for €30 in a hostel in Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim, we snapped it up.

First for one night, now a second and a third. Anything to escape the Great Outdoors.

"It's not as bad as Shackleton and those people," said Judy referring to the book she is reading, South: The story of Shackleton's 1914-1917 expedition.
"However, I'm not in the Antarctic. I'm in Ireland."

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves about the joys of cycling. 

Dancing their hearts out at Fleadh Cheoil, Sligo, 2015.

On the plus side, we have just had a wonderful four days in Sligo town, at the Fleadh Cheoil or traditional Irish music festival. The city was crammed with tens of thousands of visitors - sports grounds were turned into temporary campgrounds and buskers struggled to be heard over each other.

Crowds, music, pubs - the Fleadh is a hugely popular event.

We came across the Fleadh quite by chance, learning about it the day we arrived. The variety of gigs - formal and informal - was astounding, though we have to admit that by the end we had heard enough of those jigitty jig Irish jigs and reels. To our untrained ears, a lot of them sounded the same. 

Buskers of all ages were out on the street. This girl playing her bodhrĂ n seemed more interested in the passersby than the music being played by the rest of her group.

Artist at work - Sligo

As if to prove the point, our favourite busker - and everyone else's - was a gentle faced young man of about 18 who was playing a country/Americana hit, Wagon Wheel, on high rotation. First made famous by Old Crow Medicine Show, the beat was infectious - some people dancing and even the most restrained of us unable to resist tapping a foot.

So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama anyway you feel
Hey mama rock me

We sensed every mother in the crowd would have liked to take him home, give him a good feed and run him past their daughters.

For anyone interested in Irish music, here are some of the people we have enjoyed lately.

Cathy Jordan

Song: Liscannor Bay. We saw the group perform in Doolin, Co. Clare.

Emma Ni Fhioruisce

Emma Ni Fhioruisce performing at this year's Fleadh.

Colm O'Donnell

A quiet voice asked us to pull over and the woman in the picture announced to us: "Maria says hello from Germany". Sabine (pictured) is the best friend of a Maria whom we know from her travels in New Zealand. You can imagine our surprise. Apparently Maria had mentioned to Sabine that while she was on a cycling holiday in Ireland with her friend Uwe (left) she might just spot us on our tandem.

Sometimes you just click. We met Dublin teachers Liam and Clare while having coffee and in the space of a few minutes ticked off work, the benefits of travel and cycling and the quest for a balanced lifestyle. They were delightful, and we would have loved to spend more time with them. 

At rest on Sligo's Garavogue River.



  1. Great wee story you two!

  2. Fascinating, as always Mike. I do so enjoy reading of your travels and you write so entertainingly and informatively. I've never been to Ireland and, to be honest, your descriptions haven't exactly got me longing to go. I think all that rain and midges would finish me. Bravo to you both. Love x


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