Has anyone ever done a tour of ireland? Was it by yourself or with a tour company? Would you recommend it. What places would you avoid. What tips do you wish someone had filled you in on before leaveing or after getting there?
Waterford RST-22, Bob Jackson World Tour, Ritchey Breakaway Cross, Gunnar Crosshairs, De Bernardi SL
I've been to Ireland a couple of times, once on a walking tour and the other time just traveling around. Personally, Ireland would not be my first choice for cycle touring because the roads are so narrow with poor visibility due to hedges, etc. However, if I did tour there, I would probably go with a touring company that hopefully would pick out safer routes.
My family was in the Galway area this summer, and my brother brought his travel bike. I had thought about renting a bike but decided that I didn't want to carry all of the extra gear. Anyway, my brother had some very nice rides from Galway heading out toward the Connemara region, which is very scenic and not much traffic. The roads are not very well marked, so you need to carry a map and have a good sense of direction.
The entire west coast of Ireland is very scenic. However, the roads are very narrow, winding and hilly. There are often hedges or rock walls right next to the side of the road, limiting site lines and leaving little room for error if a bus or truck comes along. Major highways in Ireland are often narrower than a neighborhood street in the U.S. I am not exaggerating.
If the idea of a walking tour is appealing, I would highly recommend Southwest Walks Ireland. Google it. Their trips are inexpensive, staffed with local guides, and include transportation, meals and lodging. Our walking trip through the Dingle Peninsula was one of the best vacations we ever took. Although I am an avid cyclist and average riding about 600 miles/month year round, I would much rather take a walking tour in Ireland than ride a bike there.
I took a short trip to Doolin, County Clare (west coast) in March - took the train from Dublin to Athenry and cycled 45-ish miles down to Doolin from there. Really beautiful area, although very windy. Got to see the Cliffs of Moher, which were spectacular. There was one big hill and the rest was fairly gentle. I hope to go back some time and see some more of the country.
I found it fairly easy to navigate, and only occasionally needed to look at the map. There's not too much traffic about so long as you keep off the major roads, although I did encounter a few drivers who were a little impatient to overtake.
Places to avoid? Dublin, the traffic's horrendous.
I did a solo tour of the Republic of Ireland in September of 1996. This was one of the highlights of my cycling life. I'd give anything to do it again. The roads were a little rough so ride 28mm or larger tires. I was cautioned about the rain but it did not rain once during the thirteen days that I was there. It's been eleven years since and Ireland has prospered greatly in that time. I hope it is today as I remember it was then. Don't avoid any place. It's all good! Best advice before going -- read all you can about Ireland's history and some novels by Irish writers. Oh, a very enjoyable, must read is Ireland, a Bicycle and a Tin Whistle by David A. Wilson. Have a great time!
Oops, almost forgot that the Irish ride on the wrong side of the road just as in England.
I'm from Ireland and at the moment the weather is actually really clear for a change. It pissed rain all summer and now its sunny for the kids goin back to school obviously, god's a bit a bollox.
Doolin is brilliant great craic. If you're goin west coast there's far too many amazing spots to hit but top of my list would be Baltimore in Cork, Dingle in Kerry and Lahinch in Kerry.
Roads are extremely **** and drivers are extreme bolloxes don't even bother with cycle lanes cos buses and taxis will drive up your hole anyway. If you're around Dublin you have to cycle out to the Southside aroun Dun Laoighre and Dalkey. Theres a place called Serrento Terrace, which on a sunny day really does look like an Italian terrace. Along the coast road in Killiney and Dalkey (still talking about Dublin here) theres a good few spots with walkways down cliffs and over train tracks, which bring you to pretty secluded spots with fantastic views.
To be honest if ur planning on taking country roads be really careful. The boy racers on the country roads really do drive like absolute idiots.
After looking over this I should become a bloody tour guide or something.
It has been a long while since I lived in Ireland. Driving style is different there like passing up the middle when there are cars approaching each other in opposing lanes and the road is narrow. This kind of thing is probably as disconcerting as features of our drivescape. I feel I would rather drive a bike there than in any of the NA areas where they aren't accepted.
It was a wonderful contry back then. It has experieced a lot of change since. I would jump at the chance to cycle there again. Dublin is congested at times, and the last time I was there it was seriously in need of stricter emision standards. It was one of the most beautiful cities in the Britain. In modern times it has had to redevelop in often ugly ways like any major city. I wouldn't miss it myself. Pretty much any coastal area is worth a look. Examine a rainfall map before you go not all areas are as wet. A historical guide is worth it to pinpoint ruins and such, and find out historical points of interest.
I tended to gravitate to areas with good climbing in my day. Glendaloch (also history and scenery), Donegal. While we have 14 lane HWYs linking major centers. Over there it may be a 2 lane road. So be careful which roads you sellect. That small 2 laner between Dublin and Belfast may well be very heavily used. Distances seem to take longer to cover over there, particularly by car. The roads wind and there are lots of hills.
I would highly recomend going to the north. If anything it is safer than the south, and in some ways has maintained more traditional charm, though it is rapidly modernizing. The thugery was political in the north. Either place is perfectly safe. But I would worry much more about the random crime in the south, than anything of the sort in the North. I have lived in both major cities. But the rules have changed since them.
what to say about ireland,more than likely you probably
have relatives here (well maby not)
i live on the north east coast ,town called drogheda ,if your into history
well theres plenty ,
we had the worst weather ever this year rain,, it rained for the whole summer..
but thats all gone now,,(hopefully) and the sun is out
the road surfaces are not as bad as people make out,,
i have been cycling on them all my life
people are friendly ,,the irish like meeting people no matter what part of the country you visit,,
sus out the local bike shops for routes to take
I have lived and worked in the Republic since 1999 and love the country and the people. Wonderful wonderful place to be. having said that the biking conditions are very frightening in my opinion..narrow roads, opposite traffic flow takes some time to get used to, no shoulders and major bus and lorry traffic at all times/all hours.. I'd advice caution for sure. I love to ride but sadly won't/don't in Eire. I wouldn't let that stop me from going though.. In Dublin you can often walk faster than drive as the traffic is crazy. Enjoy yourself.
Long Recumbent, Short recombent, racing bike, MTB, beach bike,Tandem,Fixy.2 twentys and a folding bike
One of the best places to tour.... they treat bikes with respect... lovely people... I started in Belfast and went right around... If I went again the only thing I'd do differant is.... stay all the time in B&Bs.... full breekky will last you all day... camp grounds are expensive.... so leave your tent at home and travel light.. a fun place.... narrow road were not a problem... there are lots of "Tow paths" and off road bike tracks....
My wife and I took an 11 day tour of Ireland about three summers ago. We did this on our own. We reserved lodging for the first and last night only. We easily found B&B's as we came to each small town where we were going to stay. If we knew the town we were destined for some mornings we'd ask the B&B owner if they knoew of good B&Bs in that town. They usually knew the B&B owner in the town we were headed to next - and would call and reserve us a room. It was great. This lack of an itenerary let us move on if we did not like a place - or stay an extra day if it was great. We stayed two nights in Doolin - mainly to take a day off from packing everything up (as well as to get some road-walking in). Other than the last day riding from the B&B to the airport (Shannon) - it only rained once while we were on the road (for about 20 minutes). We went in June and the B&B's had all turned their heating off for the summer. My wife thought that it was too cold at night - but it was OK by me. The non-cycling locals told us to take the major roads because they were safer than the lanes with hedges and walls. We tried the main road initially. It had a 'very' wide shoulder - but it certainly wasn't enjoyable with all of the traffic blowing by at near interstate speeds. We got off onto the country roads at the first chance and did not regret it at all. I can't recall even seeing a single car - except for a farmer in suit and cap puttering along on Sunday morning to check his cows after church.
We loved the trip and will remember it forever.
The breakfasts at the B&Bs were so substantial that we needed very little lunch. The pub food (in our opinion) in small towns was interesting for the first couple of days but got monotonous after that.
Its a great place to tour. The best month is probably sept, just off-season, better chance of warm dry, sunny spell but come prepared for cool rain.
Independant hostels are great for cheap accomodation and meeting other cycle tourists.
The W coast from Cork outwards is excellent although I wish I had taken the ferry from Baltimore to a small island and missed out a dull section of road. Try and get to the Arren Isles.
There are good bike shops in Bantry and Galway suporting local racers and MTBers, otherwise it is small-town bike shops.