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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Rhode trip, Jul 8, 2017.
The ride report that just keeps giving... awesome photos, what a great adventure.
A sobering thought, the Famine. I spoke with a sean-nos singer and piper back in the 80's. A Derry man. He told me there were long, low mounds in some fields which the farmers never plowed, as they held the mass graves of famine victims. Lovely ride report. Thanks so much for taking the time to include us!
It seems to me that the famine touched everything...and shaped the future until today. Strokestown was just one estate, and yet its misery was spread all the way to Canada... Where over 20,000 Irish immigrants died on arrival (or shortly thereafter) from Typhus due to the overcrowding and lack of decent food and water on the "coffin" ships:
"In his worst nightmares Dr. Douglas could not have imagined the frenzy of death that would transform Grosse-Île into a “vast charnel-house of victimised humanity”. Across the Atlantic Ocean a quarter of a million people were preparing to leave, fleeing from a green and fertile island where famine and fever reigned. Over 100,000 people would set out for British North America, hoping to knock on its door. But for many of them their ship would become a coffin and a premature knocking at the gates of Paradise would be their fate.
In the spring of that same year, 1847, in Strokestown in County Roscommon, John Ross Mahon, the agent of the landlord Major Denis Mahon, was also making plans for the season. In his opinion the tenants were an “immense population”, who would have to have their numbers reduced if the affairs of the estate were to be placed on a sound footing. “Emigration on an extensive scale,” he stated, “was the principal Feature of my Plan; as while the large and completely pauperised Population which was on the estate remained, Rent could not be collected, nor could any System for the Amelioration of the Condition of the People be introduced.” He had made his calculations:
“The Cost of keeping a Pauper in the Roscommon Poorhouse averages about 2s.9d. per Week, equal to 7l. 3s. a Year. The Cost of Emigration averages 3l. 10s. to Quebec; being a Difference of 3l. 11s. in favour of Emigration in the first Year, and all after Cost of Support saved. The Cost of thus removing the Pauper Population of these Townlands named by Emigration would be £5,865 12s.; the Cost of Support in the Poorhouse £11,634 10s.; being a difference on the Entire in favour of Emigration of £5,768 18s.”
Those tenants were to be sent to America. That’ s how it was in Roscommon, and it would be just the same for the poor in other districts. The portents of Dr. Douglas’s prediction were being prepared."
Our host at the Portumna House B&B was kind enough to point out, that on the first Wednesday of the month, admission to the Portumna Castle was free.
"Free?" we said......"well, now you're talking our language!"
So we started off our morning with a short ride back down to Portuna Forest Park, and the grounds of the castle.
We talked to the nice ladies in the office/ gift shop, and they gave us our free passes. Cool! We walked through the grounds, feet crunching on the cinder paths. This was the finest home in Ireland when it was built, about 1616. Its designed in a Renaissance style... very balanced and formal in both the house and grounds.
Mrs Trip fancies the garden, and we went into the walled 'kitchen garden' on our way in.
The garden supplied the kitchens with fresh vegetables and herbs...
as well as cut flowers for decorating...
Portumna castle is actually a 'semi-fortified' house, a transitional style between the tower houses of the earlier centuries, and the later 'country homes'. They were designed to be more open, and yet defensible when the need arose. The jutting square corner towers enabled the defenders to maintain a cross fire under attack.
While the wide steps and grand entryway were designed to impress invited guests....
It turns out that Portumna Castle is very much a work in progress... It was abandoned as a home after a fire in 1826.
A new roof has been built... the first step in restoration.... and the first floor installed.
We took a quick walk around... there are displays on the history of the estate, and others on the on-going work to restore the grand old building...
It was all very interesting. Then it was back on the bikes, and out through the town...
It was a little damp... as usual!
We'll follow the mountains today...southbound, to the west of Lough Derg, and the course of the River Shannon, on a convoluted path down to the city of Limerick.
Its wet enough so the water splashes and gurgles along the roadside in an open stream...
grassy moors interspersed with pine woods.
No. She's not flipping me off. She's putting on her rain mitts.
The Magical Mrs Trip...by keeping her mitts on, she has made blue sky appear.
We're following a low ridgetop. In the distance you can see Lough Derg through the mist.
Back into forest.
I don't know that I've ever seen it. Horses not fenced from the road. There were quite a few through here, but these were the most photogenic...
We rounded a bend and came upon a woman walking a horse. She stepped out..into the road defiantly. We're used to horses. I stopped the bike and took off my helmet.
With the horse assuaged, she warmed to us, and was saying, "O, the roads rough ahead, off road, but then, you've the bikes for it." and she proceeded to offer half a dozen different routes to ride in the area. "Nice for horses, too" she said.
Didn't see anyone else... just us and the cows...
Cows. Sheesh. They really are stupid. I talk to them, nice and easy... just passing by...
...but without fail, one genius decides its better to RUN!... and they all follow along...
So I chased them about a quarter of a mile down the road...
I think this area is the Slieve Bernagh Mountains... we rode up and over....
Coming down near the south end of Lough Derg... you can see it on the right.
Lower down, into the trees again...
Skirted along, uphill from the Lough...
bottomed out in the valley... you can tell from the trees
Back up the other side... I think this is the 12 O'clock Hills... it's pretty cool there:
We had fun riding through there.
views looking to the southwest.
Came out of the 12 O'clock Hills... one last ridge before we ride into Limerick.
A quiet country road up to the top... where there's a quarry....
a wide road winding down. Overloaded lorries chased us all the way into town....
You can see the edge of the city at the bottom of the hill....
Shouldn't we all have places like this to live in? Just think, we could host a TW ride gathering and have everyone either stay in our house or camp in our yard. Ah, I love to dream.
Brilliant. Ireland is so lovely to ride through.
10/10 for the navigation/route planning team.
Did you get to Drumcliffe? Final resting place of W.B. Yeats, the poet and Nobel laureate.
On his grave marker, the inscription
Cast a cold eye
of life on death
horseman pass by
@Rhode trip Beautiful country to ride in.
@TheAdmiral yes, we should all have a place like that to live. I wonder what it would cost to build a place inspired by that lovely estate in the rolling foothills of the SC mountains?
What a fantastic journey, I've really enjoyed following along.
Nah...too much maintenance. The TW's would be a blast on the cinder paths, though!
Thanks, Nick. It looks like we passed quite close to there, but no, we didn't get to Drumcliffe. We cut inland through Leitrim and into Fermanagh that day, and then up to Donegal.
Here is a screenshot of the ride from Portumna down to Limerick.
This is the Garmin map, ... not that informative, but what amazes me is the sheer number of "named places" in Ireland. Each of the little dots represents such a place, even if there's nothing there today. We rode the sparsely dotted area...Garmin doesn't tell you they are "mountains". Even historically, fewer people lived there... so there are fewer names. But a lot of places that had a little hamlet every 1/2 mile away are very sparsely populated today.
Thanks, Ben2go. There sure is a lot to enjoy there, we barely scratched the surface.
Thanks, Bad Luck. I'm glad you're enjoying the ride. It sure is different than Moab!
Europe is very roughly the size of the US. The population is roughly double.
The nastinesses and stupidities that led to so much bloodshed and loss of life, also caused or forced many of our ancestors to leave to find better places to live.
They left legacies of their existence, in castles and crofts (those abandoned cottage scattered about) and roads and tracks, hedges and walls. Sometimes just ruins and place names.
Occasionally, one or more of the Four Horsemen would ride through leaving death, destruction and desolation in their train. Sometimes these were avoidable, sometimes not. Sometimes caused or exacerbated by human greed, cruelty or stupidity.
We spent the next 2 nights in Limerick. Not a single fookin photo to show for it. But we stayed in a hotel near the university. Had a couple of good dinners. We spent August 3rd as a rest day, and just hung out. Uploaded some pics, mapped a bit of a route. Probably should have toured Limerick a bit more... Having lived most of my life in Rhode Island, I've heard a lot of limericks, and I'm practically a 'Man from Pawtucket'... Seems our favorite verse style got it's name from a ribald old rhyme that ended in the refrain..."will you come down to Limerick?" I don't know what rhymes with that.
But anyway, I also did a little internet research... and we decided to head back to County Clare...in search of Mrs Trip's roots. Her name was Neilan, a common name in the area, in at least a couple of it's forms. So we decided to go have a closer look.
Kind of north, northwest out of town. There's only a couple of bridges over the River Shannon and the traffic is fast and heavy enough that I never stopped for a photo until we were into the country. Rode up and over the lower end of the ridge that forms the 12 o'clock hills.
A tower house... it looks like it is lived in....
An interesting wall design....pointy rocks on top to keep the riffraff out.
A castle out back...
A bridge over a marshy stream.
I'm not the only one who hates people who dump their trash where it doesn't belong.
A little outside of the town of Corofin is the Monastery at Dysert O'Dea. First Founded in the eighth century, the current chapel dates to the twelth.
A lot of the graves contain the remains of people named Neylon... the same bunch, just written with a more anglicized spelling.
A High cross, the so-called "St. Tola's Cross", is located in a field to the east of the church. It dates to the 12th century. The upper part shows the crucifixion, while on the shaft is the figure of a bishop, with the back and sides showing Irish interlacing work. The cross was knocked over by the Cromwellian soldiers but repaired by Michael O'Dea in 1683. Since he used stones from the church to set up the pedestal, the church building must have fallen into disuse by then. The Synge family again restored the cross in 1871. In 1960, the cross was temporarily dismantled and shipped to Barcelona for an exhibition on Irish art.
Also near the church is an 11th century round tower. Only about 1/3 of the tower remains... it was destroyed by artillery fire from Cromwellian troops in 1651.
Just a short walk away is O'Dea castle... and here the story gets more interesting...
The stronghold of the O'Dea clan... they backed the wrong side in the Nine Years War...from 1594 to 1603, and lost the castle to the Bishop of Kildare...Daniel Neylon....
or sometimes called Donnell Neilan. There you go, Mrs Trip.... castle born, perhaps?
O'Dea castle was purchased and rebuilt by an American, John O'Day, and is considered one of the most authentic rebuilt castles in Ireland. Let's check it out...
There is a central circular stairway.
Narrow, low doorways... watch your head!
It's been set up as a museum, with different displays and artifacts in the different rooms.
Its surprising how large the castle seems inside... the rooms radiate off the central stairs.
The captured rifle rack.
This photo from around 1910 shows 2 pairs of brothers. What amazes me, the 2 kids in the middle are barefoot... too poor for shoes. Can you imagine...in that climate...cold and wet..growing up barefoot. The picture says it was common until well into the 20th century.
Its not hard to understand the troubles that arose.
Kept climbing higher...
This was a workroom.
Finally, from the battlements... I hurled insults at the knights below... (good thing they couldn't hear me)
You can see down towards the Monastery and Round Tower from here.
...and the County Clare flag, flying from the rooftop.
Back down the stairs...
and back outside....
Mrs Trip's forebear, Donnell Neilan, passed the castle down to his son, John...who died young and left the castle to his widow, Maire ni Mahon... also known as Maire Rua..."Red Mary" for her flaming red hair... one of the most famous women in Irish folklore.
Red Mary inherited his substantial estate, and a fortune of 1,000 pounds... then with her second husband, Conor O'Brien, she used that fortune to expand her new home at Leamaneh Castle. We'll check that out... but first, we rode into the town of Corofin, where there is a museum and the Clare Genealogy Center.
I went into the Genealogy Center figuring they might have some general information... but they wanted to know if I had an appointment. They specialize in extensive research, I guess, but they were nice enough to answer a couple of questions, and tell me, sure...there's Neilans all over the area. Neylon, Neilan, they're all the same bunch she said. And we should check out the museum... which we did.
There was a good deal devoted to Frederic William Burton, a famous artist from the town of Corofin.
"The Meeting on the Turret Stairs"
and most famous, "The Aran Fisherman's Drowned Child"
all very interesting. Then back on the bikes...
another churchyard... we're reading the gravestones...looking for the right spelling.
Plenty of Neylons... but no Neilan yet.
That was the town of Killinaboy... and just a little ways out of town... Leamaneh Castle... Red Mary's new home.
Hey, wait a minute... we were here before, on our way to the Burren. I didn't know anything about this Castle then...there is no sign. But now I know.
If you look at the right side, you'll see its a traditional tower house... just like castle O'Dea. But Red Mary had the new and grand extension built on... in a modern style with her new found fortune.
Unfortunately for Mary, her second husband was killed in 1651 fighting the English. Legend has it, that when Mary realized his defeat meant the forfeiture of her estates, she rode straight to Limerick and married the first Cromwellian officer she could find... thereby insuring the safety of her properties. Later, her third husband, Cornet John Cooper, who by virtue of their marriage now had the rights to her property, encountered financial difficulties, and her estate was mortgaged for the debts. Mary managed to pay it off, and her son by Cooper, Sir Donat, who was raised a Protestant, came to be known as "the richest commoner in Ireland"
We turned south, and continued our quest... stopping for more grave-reading....
Alas, still no luck. We never did find a Neilan.
The afternoon was winding down, and we headed south again.
I thought this wall was kind of amazing.. it's built with huge stones...
The cows aren't impressed...but I am.
Synge's Lodge... a ruined guest house... with the family crest still visible over the door.
The roads took us down into Ennis, a good sized town not far at all from Limerick where we started: but it was the closest lodging I could find to Corofin...where we centered our exploring. It was Friday night, of a Bank Holiday Weekend... which means its a Monday holiday, and the busiest weekend of the summer! Lodging was tough to find, and all the prices had gone up for what was left. Where we could stay would determine our route for the next couple of days.
We just stayed in Ennis the other nite at the Temple Gate Hotel. Accommodations were slightly tight in a few places but no problems so far. Had a great time in Ireland...looking forward to going back. Such a great country to explore.
Heading over to Wales later today on the ferry.
I was wondering how your trip was going... glad to hear you had a great time. Are you taking the ferry to Fishguard? That is the way I intend to head when we return.
And nice photos... thanks for including the Cliffs of Moher...since I didn't get one. It was raining like mad and howling wind when we were near there...so we blew it off. Since then, the number one question people ask about our trip, both in Ireland and since we returned home, is "Did you go to the Cliffs of Moher?" When I rather sheepishly shake my head and say, "No", they invariably will frown and I can hear them thinking..."Loser."
Saturday, August 5th
Rain again. A steady drizzle as we pack up the bikes.
In and out of a back door of the hotel. Propped the door open so it wouldn't lock. Once we were packed, we rode around front and I went into the Lobby to
check out. Shook some rain off in the doorway...like a dog.
"Where to today?" the girl at the desk asked. "Thurles" I said. "Really? I used to live there," she replied..."what's in Thurles?"
"Well I don't know," I said, "but it looks like a nice ride."
By the time we left Ennis, the sky had cleared. As if we were itsy bitsy spiders....the sun came out and dried up all the rain.
We rode out, and up the spout again....
Came into the town of Quin... the home of Quin Abbey. Built between 1400 and 1430, on the site of a ruined castle, built on the site of an even older monastery...burnt down in 1278.
History piling up....
The town was quiet on a Saturday morning...
and we parked the bikes on the street near a little park...
...and walked down to the Abbey. Accosted by a lone cow along the way.
We rambled around the old ruin...
There is a well preserved cloisters there.
"Oh look, another Neylon or two"
The old church nearby, St Finghans, built in 1278.
Back to the bikes... with a look back at the Abbey. That was an interesting find... never heard of Quin Abbey until we rode up to it... or the town of Quin, for that matter.
Down the road a piece...with hills looming up in the distance...
12 O'clock hills again, further to the north from where we crossed them 3 days before.
Came down from the ridge heading east. We are making a lateral move today, east across the center of Ireland. Thurles was one of the few places in range that we could find reasonable lodging for a Saturday night on the bank holiday weekend.
Cross the "R" road...between the old walls....
and down to the town of O'Briensbridge, named after the old bridge over the River Shannon.
A houseboat out on the river.
A short ride beyond the river, and a new experience.... a manual railroad crossing. Had to figure it out....
Stop. Open one gate. Make sure you look both ways... no train coming, so cross the tracks and open the other gate.
Ride through both gates.
Then back across, and close both gates.
Good job. Safety First!... and watch out for the CCTV.
We headed back to Dublin so my wife could catch a plane back to the states. I then took the ferry to Holyhead UK to store the bike with a friend. Been having a great time here in the UK. Returning back to the states later this week.
Back to our easy cruise after the excitement of the self service railroad crossing...
We pulled over on the narrow road to let a truck pass... there's not much room....
We're heading towards the mountains in the distance.
Through the little village of Killoskully... a school, and Ryan's Thatched Bar
...and that was it... and down the road we went.
We rode up a valley that narrowed as we went, rising higher into the Silvermine Mountains.
Dark clouds closed in on us out of the blue sky.
and a short ways off, a leading edge of rain....
...that quickly overtook us.
into a pine forest as our elevation increased... that offered some shelter from the showers...
Blue sky struggling to break out...
Caught up to this guy on a steep winding hill... watched his bales shift as the trailer swayed....and decided to stop for a few photos. Seemed...prudent.
nice view from the hillside, anyway.
From this photo.... you'd think we were going fast...until you remember what bikes we're on.....
As we got closer to Thurles, we came across Holy Cross Abbey just south of town.
The Abbey has an interesting history... a relic of a piece of the original cross gave both the Abbey and the town their name...Holy Cross. The relic was last exhibited in 1632, and then was lost for centuries. The Abbey fell into ruin. It was named a national monument in 1880, and was allowed to be restored as a place of worship in 1969. The Vatican endowed it with an authenticated relic of the True Cross.
Thieves stole 2 crosses, one containing the relic, in 2011, using a hammer, screwdriver, and an angle grinder to remove them. In January 2012, they were reported to have been recovered.
The oldest parts of the Abbey date to 1168.
We rode the short ways into Thurles and circled the town square. We had hamburgers and chips for supper, and hung out for a while as Saturday wound down.
Oh my goodness. The goodness of this ride report doesn't end. What a great place.
When it comes to rain Mrs. Trips posture says it all. I think we've all experienced this when we look out the door and it's raining, riding or not. Now, her posture may just be the weight of the backpack but I want to believe it's because of the rain.
Cool. I hope to visit Anglesey on our way north. I see on your GPS that you're on the A5... did you go through
It's on my bucket list.
Ha, ha. You're a keen judge of character. We weren't expecting rain, as we'd looked out the windows earlier and it was sunny.
There were a few times when we were saying "Please...just stop raining for a while!!!"
This day was actually great, though. Our saying is: "a nice day in Ireland, it only rains on you a couple of times..."
We did go through Snowdonia Park and the surrounding area. But did not go through Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. I should try plugging that into the Garmin!!
Honestly, I found Ireland a much more laid back bike friendly country to tour about. England while steeped in history and charm is quite a bit more congested, which made navigating and riding on the left an ongoing challenge. Even after riding the preceding ten days in Ireland.
Am looking forward to riding the continent and Africa this coming year then returning to Ireland!!
(Of course after Arizona and México this coming winter!)