Cycling Cork to Westport August 2010

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Our son Tom and his lady wife, the lovely Tracey went to live in Westport Co.Mayo, recently, so we decided to cycle there to see them, having a short bike tour en route. We'd covered this territory some years ago and Listowel is the obvious first port of call, but on this occasion we decided to come at it from a different angle, at least for a part of the journey.
The last time we'd cycled Cork, Banteer, Kanturk, Newmarket, Rockchapel, Tournafulla, Abbeyfeale and Listowel. On this occasion we went north from Newmarket to Broadford, Co.Limerick and then across to Tournafulla. I'd never seen this area before.

The day we left was not the best day to leave, as it was a bit wet and there was a strong northwesterly wind, exactly what we didn't want.

We began by heading north from Cork City towards Nadd. This entailed cycling more or less uphill for 20 miles, all very gradual until we reached the top of what we call the Nadd Climb.

Here we found some shelter from the wind behind a wall and I made some coffee with my MSR Dragonfly. This was quite nice with fruitcake. Better than nothing, but there was no prospect of anything until Banteer or further. We then descended to the non-village of Nadd (there's just a pub there) and proceeded on the flat but with a hilly hinterland to Banteer. From Banteer headed across the main Killarney-Mallow road ( we don't use road numbers much! ) to Kanturk, looking at Kanturk castle beforehand.
This is a big ruin. I don't think that it was ever properly finished as there was a property bust, even back in those times. I think it's about 400yr. old.

Kanturk comes from Ceann Toirc which in Irish means the Head of the Wild Boar. The origin of this name is obscure. Wild Boar have been extinct in Ireland for yonks, the only ones who pop up from time to time play rugby football. From there we rode the short distance to the pleasant town of Newmarket, which has the stress on "mark". This is called Áth Trasna, which means "Ford across.." in Irish. Occasionally the Irish and English names of Irish towns are of different origin. In Newmarket we had the old reliable from a supermarket, baguettes with fried chicken breast followed by a Magnum each, and a coffee.

We then headed up the road to Freemount, which was boring and then towards Broadford. This climbed and climbed gradually, leading us into bleak hilly territory until we reached a crest where a fine panorama unfolded. We then descended to the village of Broadford where we had a chat with a local lady who told us that the great Irish language poet, Daithí Ó Bruadair (Broderick) was from here. This was more than 200 years ago. The village was lovely and multicoloured as all Irish villages used to be.

We then cycled along the lovely up and down narrow road which followed the northern edge of the Mullaghareirk mountains, visiting Glenquin castle, a medieval towerhouse which was open but without anyone there. I loved this road

After that more coffee was made in a small village by a grotto.

The two Marys!

Glenquin Castle

On the top, which was very high there was a good view of the surrounding farming countryside.

... skirting Tournafulla and then on a more mundane boring bit to Abbeyfeale (called Abbeyfeel by upperclass people and Abbeyfale by everyone else!). "Ea" was pronounced "Ay" in Elizabethan English and this survives, strongly, in rural Ireland. The river is the Feale, which is again, correctly pronounced Fale, following the pronounciation in Irish.

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9 comments on “Cycling Cork to Westport August 2010”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Nice report Garry. I enjoyed the read and the photos. Stunning scenery as usual. We must go to Ireland one day.

    The Irish economy is front page news in the UK. I hope they sort it out soon. Like elsewhere, too much public expenditure.

  2. Chris wrote:

    Wow! Really dramatic photographs, Garry. (Do you get bored of reading that sort of comment?) The later ones look both beautiful and bleak at the same time.

    I always imagined that I would cycle to my cousin's house in Bristol and stay there for a bit. I never did, and I probably never will now. I think it must give a rather warm feeling to have part of your family cycle so many miles to your home.

  3. Garry Lee wrote:

    Not dramatic photos, Chris. Dramatic scenery. Parts of the West of Ireland are like the West of Scotland, pretty impressive. Scotland has bigger scenery, Ireland, being further south has better colour! England has of course stunning places like Yorkshire, the Peak District and the Lake District as well as fabulous towns like Durham etc.

  4. Hilary wrote:

    Those photos of Sheffrey Pass look stunning. As you say, very like the west of Scotland – I'd have been sure that was Scotland! I've been meaning to cycle in Ireland since I went on a family holiday in 1975! Must get there one day.

  5. Patrick wrote:

    Let's not forget Wales. The Welsh landscape is outstanding. Something else that distinguishes Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales (and the Isle of Man as part of the British Isles) is the buildings dotted over the countryside. They are different in each country and add character. I haven't seen many painted as colourfully as the Irish ones!

  6. Kern wrote:

    Ah, Garry, memories, memories ... I'm particularly tickled that you took the shortcut! Mary and I definitely cast our vote for Ireland as one of the best places to cycle, based on our tour this spring. Excellent.

  7. Garry Lee wrote:

    I took this shortcut for the first time about 8 years ago. It's a nice ride as well!

  8. Nicole Broderick wrote:

    I want to do this tour very much, as my ancestors come from this area (you've mentioned Dáithí Ó'Bruadair in this post). I actually found this while searching for more information on my ancestors (unrelated to a cycling search, but what a serendipitous world this is – as I am very big on cycling, do it almost every day!) I heard Ireland was a good place to cycle, I have wondered if I could cycle the area my ancestors came from. This would be the ultimate experience for me! Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. Kern wrote:

    Hi Nicole. My wife and I did this tour in 2010 (with good advice from Garry). In my humble opinion, you can't go wrong with this ride – it was one of the most enjoyable tours we have done. Go for it!

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