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.