I have been all over the West of Ireland and I’m always amazed at how friendly the people are – even towards English people. Whenever you go, be prepared for rain, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the wild beauty of this amazing area. Apologies for some of the less-than-wonderful pictures taken in the pre-digital era.
Yes, it does rain a lot in the West of Ireland, particularly on the West coast. The wettest months are July and August. But that simply means that Ireland is very, very green – The Emerald Isle. Here you can see the mountains and lakes of Killarney taken one gorgeous morning. The lake really was that blue!
Muckross House, a short cycle from Killarney. Queen Victoria stayed here. The house is okay but the gardens and views around the house are amazing.
A short cycle from Muckross House – Ross castle, from where the boats leave across the lakes to the Gap of Dunloe.
The ride across the lanes is beautiful – as long as you get good weather as we did – in March! There is a patch of snow on the hillside on the right.
The view from the top of the Gap of Dunloe.
A beautiful twisting road through the Gap of Dunloe with beautiful lakes.
A few from further down the valley looking back up.
An old photo of the Gap of Dunloe. Behind my good friend Mariola, there is a jaunting car (horse and carriage), typical of the area.
Thanks to Jana Vratna for this one. This Church, on the Dingle Peninsula, was built when Columbus was a twinkle in his great great great etc grandfather’s eye. About 1100 years old and still standing.
County Mayo is the home of Derval McHale, one of my best friends in Ireland. This county has the beauty of Kerry – and even better – remarkably few tourists. Here you can see a busy Mayo road at half past eight in the morning. Planning a cycling holiday in the West of Ireland?
Taking the ten minute flight from the mainland to the Aran islands really gives you a sense of how desolate the islands are. The biggest island has less than a thousand inhabitants and Irish is spoken here as a first language.
The cliffs at the Aran Islands. Barely a tree on the whole island but on both my visits, once in April, once in September, I had perfect weather. The islands are superb for cycling, hiking and getting away from it all.
Here I am, daringly climbing up a sheer rock face on the Aran islands. How people managed to scrape a living from these islands is incredible. There was a film called Man of Aran made in 1934 by Robert Flaherty (who made Nanook of the North in 1922) which has recently been released on DVD.
Dingle is much smaller than Killarney and a lot less commerical. A cycle around the coastline is breathtaking and well worth the effort.
Fungi the dolphin. A resident of Dingle harbour, Fungi has been bringing in tourists for over 16 years. I joined a group of mad people, donned a very thick wet suit and swam with fungi for about an hour – in February!