Post 25 - 2015 Biking Adventure

by Fred Schlomka - 

Day 51, 52 & 53 - Ireland

21st, 22nd, & 23rd June - Miltown Malbay - Doolin
Total biked - 1,380 kilometres ( 863 miles)

The Cliffs of Moher became the highlight of the day. I almost wrote high point, but the 20 tour buses and hoards of car-touring visitors detracted from the experience. It kind of reminded me of Masada by the Dead Sea on a bust day. Like Masada in Israel, the Cliffs of Moher is Ireland’s most visited attraction.

 Having said that, they are truly magnificent. Soaring over 200 meters above the Atlantic Ocean, they serve as a reminder of the magnificence of mother earth.

Evans Pub in Liscannor was a welcome retreat from the frequent but light squalls of the day. The homey decor, coal fireplace, and home-made carrot cake, all served to lull us into a lengthy break to catch up on email and chat with the other patrons.

We pass Saint Bridget’s National School in Dereen, a landmark building built in 1846 in the classic style of the era. Close by is the shrine and grotto of Saint Bridget which has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

We see several thatched cottages enroute. Some of them are similar to the English and Welsh thatch techniques, while others are a flatter, tighter thatch that hints of possible ‘thatching lite’. I suspect there is a secondary waterproof roof underneath and the thatch is mostly cosmetic.

We visit a factory outlet for traditional crafts and buy hand knitted Aran sweaters. The lady in the shop kindly agreed to send them via post to the USA where ewe will pick them up in October when we visit for our son’s wedding. Sending things direct to our home in Israel can be problematic due to Customs bureaucracy.

We are heading for Doolin - legendary centre for Irish music on the West coast. Better still, we have a personal connection there. Adva is Israeli and has lived in Doolin for eight years. We have mutual friends in Israel and together with her husband she runs the Aille River Hostel and campground in the village. We’ve been in touch with Adva so she is expecting us, and has lined up a program of musical activities for us.

After putting our tent up, visit with Adva, and have dinner, we head off to a session at Gus O’Conner’s Pub. The music is great with several fine musicians. Sunita is invited to sit in and plays along with them, leading a couple of tunes herself.

Another day off :-) I am up, showered and dressed before 6am. The internet is pretty good so I get a lot of work done before taking Sunita her tea in the tent.

Doolin is a tourist village, with all the pros and cons that success brings with it. Almost every house is either a pub, B&B, hostel, gift shop or cafe. The pubs have music sessions every night with the best paid musicians brought in from all over the Shannon region - usually 3 or 4 to a session. Some authenticity is lost amid this Irish disneyland, but the friendliness of the residents, and the quality of the music is first class.

Over two days in Doolin I get a lot of work done, catching up on writing blog posts, website editing, email and phone calls. Sunita also is busy with her blog, practicing harp, and attending nightly sessions at different pubs.

The Aille River Hostel is great. we camp on the lawn but have full access to all the facilities - kitchen - laundry - sitting area with evening fire, internet and electric.

We take long walks, to the rugged coast, to see the local castle, and to the mini-market. I make friends with Adva’s donkey and watch amazed as he lays placidly while two sparrows perch on his back and tease out large tufts of hair which the fly off with to line their nests. I learn later that this is normal and facilitates the growth of the new hair.

June 23rd is Saint John’s Birthday and is celebrated through making large bonfires. Many of the surrounding hills are aflame for the evening and we visit the bonfire at Robert and Adva’s house.

Sunita goes out for a final session at Fitzpatrick’s Bar, but I am too tired to go. I hear later that I missed a great session with fantastic musicians. No matter, for me all the sessions are great. I am fast asleep by the time Sunita returns in the wee hours.


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