Updated 21 Jun 2010

Circuit of Ireland 1990

See Route

Circuit of Ireland - Logbook

10 May - 11 June 1990

Direct transcription from my original logbook.

Route | Some photos | Logbook | Bike Problems | Poems | Weather | Kit | Hostels


| 00 | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 |
| 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 |
| 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 |
| 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 |

DAY 1 Thu 10 May 1990


Here I go again, on the start of my longest holiday ever. Dull and raining at Poole, drove to station with Rosie, bike on the roof. Poole - Oxford Countryside lovely, all the hawthorn "covered in snow", fields yellow with oil seed rape.

Easy journey to Holyhead, changed at Wolverhampton and Crewe. Little waiting. Near LLandudno, suddenly realised - did I need a passport for Eire or Traveller's cheques? I think I should have brought one. There's always some worry. Last night I discovered my expensive back tyre was splitting on the outer rubber - wise to get a new tyre when I can. Bright sunshine, sat on deck next to an old Nun doing the Telegraph Crossword - the hard one.

I managed to change £200 into Punts on the ship - exchange rate was 1.02! My Access card was sufficient ID. I nearly didn't bring it. Was told I probably won't need passport into Eire either.

No trouble with customs or passport. First off boat, raining heavily hooray! Cycled into Dublin. Cars and fumes. Got lost. Found Mountjoy Square, HQ only not a hostel. Much enquiring, eventually found Mountjoy Street, big International Hostel, you get breakfast. Guess what? I've brought my jelabi (Arab nightshirt) thinking it was my sheet sleeping bag!!! I guess it will almost do!

They warmed me up a Lasagne in the Restaurant in the Chapel next door! Then I discovered I'd been short changed £10 - the girl checked and gave it back to me.

Bed 10 pm. I look like the Angel Gabriel in my Jelabi, everyone's too polite to comment.

10 miles

DAY 2 Fri 11 May 1990


Up at 6 am, good night. Breakfast in chapel restaurant, no duties. Off at 7 am. Blue sky and sun, cool this early. Heading South. Found bike shop on Canal, got a real good Michelin tyre 700x32C called "World Tour".

Got a bit lost in the Southern suburbs of Dublin, and in the Wicklow mountains. Found the road to Glendalough, bought a picnic, climbed till knackered and ate in a field. Blue sky, convection clouds. Can't get the poem Eldorado out of my mind (see Note 1).

Hills very hard cycling, but countryside lovely. Woods and hillsides, yellow with gorse flower. Had to walk up a 1.5 mile hill short of Aghavannagh Hostel, I was knackered. Half way up hill I found a Bottle of Guinness. It was lovely. God bless the man who left it. Hostel has no sign, not easy to find. NO STORES! I nearly fainted - the handbook said Stores. The warden sold me 3 tins + jam + packet of soup and I had a gut-buster. I might be the only one tonight. Big old fashioned hostel. The way its set out, I spend all my time climbing stairs! Warden has 2 year old red-haired son, who speaks incomprehensible Irish.

Ate everything in sight, then bed. The really tiring part of the route is Larah-500-1245 (high point) - Drumgoff-465-1499 (high point)- Aghavannagh -647. Guess I'm not fit yet. Also I hadn't eaten much

47 miles

DAY 3 Sat 12 May 1990


Clear sky but cold. Set off at 8 am. Easy to get lost on side roads, seems different from map and few signposts. Lovely countryside. Everyone says hello on bike. Had no breakfast, so stopped at Carrew for picnic, next to an inquisitive goat. Finally reached the main (red) road, gradient good but quite a bit of traffic. Enniscorthy small, steep and rather ugly. Got some fish and chips for lunch and coke. Hope I've found the minor road through "The Leap". No - back to the N79 again - then down L128. Lots of sun, slight breeze from South, rough roads through Adamstown, Gusserane, to Arthurstown about 4.30. Its been a real good Irish ride - sun, 76 miles, rough roads, lovely, rolling countryside. Chatted to the Warden, who's been here 28 years - I stayed here 30 years ago. They're doing the hostel and putting new showers in. I'm the only one again tonight. Cooked a real good meal with stores from the local shop. Washed in the kitchen sink. Bike looks fine. Four corgies, one a pup, hanging round for food.

Went for a stroll to the quay, and along the road to the ferry. The sun is still high. Unfortunately, its Sunday tomorrow, so the ferry doesn't start till 9.30 am.

8.30 pm, couple arrived by car. They say Foulksrath Castle is full tonight with kids. Nearly went there today! They are from Sydney, travelling the world by car. They are going to Bournemouth next! Bed 10 pm.

76 miles

DAY 4 Sun 13 May 1990


Up at 7.30 am. Haze and cloud. Feel a bit stiff after yesterday. Couldn't sleep on, so went down to Ferry and waited till 9.30. It started on time, I got to Passage East and started for Dungarvan via the coast road. This was very hilly and I kept getting lost. Was feeling very old and stiff. Stopped for a picnic at Annestown. (My pen suddenly packed up. Found another in the kitchen at Lismore YH). Really felt knackered. Never thought I'd reach Lismore. After eating in a field, didn't sleep but kept going. Shortly after, met a couple cycle-touring. She was 58 (but looked 38). He was 85!! Both had flat bars like mine. She has an ally mixte frame. They'd cycled all over the Continent and Scotland. They were going a lot slower then me. Chatted for a bit, then shot ahead. (They also thought NUTRAK tyres poor and used MICHELIN). The going became much easier, and I made fast time to Dungarvan and Lismore. The part along the Blackwater is attractive, but the Clogheen Road up to the hostel is ravishing. A stream flows over boulders through a valley dense with vegetation. There are green things growing everywhere you look. Warden out when I got to hostel, so had a good wash and also washed shirt, which is white with salt. Had snooze, then ate remnants of picnic. No other hostellers yet.

I was the only one tonight. Went to bed at 9.00 am, and got 9 hours solid sleep. I must be tired!

60 miles

DAY 5 Mon 14 May 1990


Set off at 7.30 am, without breakfast, under a grey sky. Freewheel down to Lismore through lovely valley - Jungle scenery. Hills to Tallow, then followed river to Rathcormac. Occasional drizzle. Joined main road N8 to Cork. Fair gradients, lot of traffic, but road wide enough. About 7 miles short of Cork UNBELIEVABLE LUCK. A van stopped in front of me, 2 men got out, and said in a heavy accent "Is your name Palmer?" "Yes" "You lost [or left] this 3 miles back." It was my belt bag with £2,300 in Travellers cheques, £160 cash in Irish and £40 cash in British, plus Access card, plus my Hostel card. Nothing seems to be missing when I checked it later. I could only stammer my thanks. Can't think how I dropped it. Am wearing shorts, which don't have a belt, so I normally put it in front pannier. But a bit back I stopped to buy drink and may have left it loose in my shorts and it fell out. [May have left it in shop where I bought 2 mars Bars]. What incredible luck! It could have ruined my holiday.

Rain stopped at Cork, treated myself to a hot pub meal at Mutton Lane Inn. Cork looks like sin-city after the countryside. Did a bit of shopping.

The ride from Cork to Kinsale was not nice - rain, wind, hills, traffic, bad road. Reached hostel dripping. Chatted to girl Sonya by herself on super bike, had cycled far. Went into Kinsale for a meal. Phoned Mum for 50p! Several hostellers, nice fire, 2 dogs and a cat. The Warden told me the Cape Clear Ferry left Baltimore tomorrow at 2.15 pm.

56 miles

DAY 6 Tue 15 May 1990


Got up at 6, wind blowing then started raining. Cooked breakfast. now at 7 am - shall I go?

The rain seemed to stop at 7.30 am, and I left. The route turned out to be remarkably difficult. Up to Clonakilty, the road is Irish - rough surface, far more ups than downs. The rain just held off, and the wind, quite strong, was from the left side most of the time. Reached Clonakilty 10.00 am, where the rain started, and I had to shelter twice. At this point I was only 30% optimistic of catching the ferry. However, in the darkest hour, the rain cleared and I slogged on. The road to Skibbereen is much more modern and I got there 1240 (includes quite a time sheltering). The last 8 miles to Baltimore is murderous, bumpy, narrow and practically all up!. Got to Baltimore 1.30 pm, to be told the ferry was 5.15 pm (since 1 May). I consoled myself with a super lunch of soup and grilled steak. A nondescript terrier sat with his head on my lap as I ate (called Sammy). Weather got quite sunny, but cold wind. Ferry appeared about 4.45 pm. Crossing took 50 minutes to Cape Clear. Lot of swell - the ship really heaves. No good trying to cycle on island. Met couple: 25 years in Singapore, sheep tic - gammy leg, Irish Wolfhound. Walked to old lighthouse, 2/3 of way to modern "wind-mills". 6 blokes in Hostel, 2 German, 1 Aussie, 1 French, 1 Spanish and me. We used English as the common language. They all went drinking, I chickened out. Hostel and Pubs never close. Island worth walking, but need boots, raingear, rucksack etc. I slept in women's dormitory.

QUERY: Clear Hostel was opened in 1963. Where were Robert and I heading for in 1961?

52 miles

DAY 7 Wed 16 May 1990


Woke up suddenly at 7.38 am. What I thought was the noise of wind was in fact the sound of surf in the harbour outside the hostel. Good breakfast of creamed rice and strawberries, no one else up yet. Too much Guinness? Full details + map + bird observatory details in hostel. Must come here next year in car for 2-3 nights with Rosie. There are a few cars on Cape Clear, all clapped out (unroadworthy on mainland?). Warden is tall and thin, his wife short and fat! Lots of empty beer bottles and barrels swing onto Ferry - the 2 pubs do well! Set off about 9.10 am. You can tell Cape Clear from all the houses on the North side and the 2 modern windmills on top.

Took a nice little side road which by-passed Skibbereen then hit the WIND. Very strong, cycling straight into it, bottom gear a lot of the time. Through Ballydehob and Schull (Mount Gabriel in the background with radar spheres on top). At Schull (12.30) it looked like rain was starting, so went into an Inn for a meal.

I have an area of rash, above my right calf. May be caused by cycling in long trousers which rub (dry cleaning fluid?). Chicken curry was large and excellent.

Slogged on till I reached Mizzen Head. The road ends in a lighthouse. Turned round and cycled fast, with the wind behind and sunny now. Back through Goleen and towards Bantry, looking for a B & B. Eventually chose "Foss Cottage" near Durres, 400 yards up a steep track but with a nice view of Dunmanus Bay. Run by a Dutch and Polish couple, been here 14 years. Had shower, felt civilized again.

No meal of course, but managed to filch an apple. Read "The Cruel Sea" till bed at 9.30 pm. Slept like a log. The mask is excellent.

60 miles

DAY 8 Thu 17 May 1990


Had lie in till 8.00 am. No wind, but cloud. Good night's sleep. Good breakfast. Set off 9.30 am. Perfect weather - no wind, blue sky and high clouds. Fine cycling through lovely scenery - Ahokista - Kilcrohane - Ballyroon until about 1/2 mile short of Sheep's Head I had a blow-out of back inner tube. Fortunately perfect weather to try and mend it - sunny and only slight breeze. The split is quite large - I suspect once I pump the tyre up to pressure, it will go again. Why didn't I take a spare tube with me? Repaired it, started again - then bang! - this time the outer tyre split. I have a problem. Fortunately for me, a French camper van with French couple and baby, from Marseilles, were 100 yards away. I walked with them a long way towards the lighthouse, but it was too far for him carrying kiddo. Then they kindly drove me and bike in van to Bantry, where I found 1 bicycle shop and bought an outer and 2 inners. In the man's opinion, the side of the back wheel is too shallow, and I may have a recurrence of the back tyre worn all along its edge. Cycled into Glengarrif, and booked into a posh B&B, where I had a good shower and a washing session. I wonder what the future will bring? Feel a bit frustrated because I haven't done much of a mileage today, and the weather has been beautiful.

Walked down hill to town, bought fish and chips, also salami etc. and ate in room. Also walked down to sea and across and round a little island, near 4 huge (almost dead) eucalyptus trees. Now feel well fed. Phoned Rosie (50p). She says Mrs D's house has been sold. Thank God. Chatted to elderly couple till 11 pm, who seemed amazed at my way of life.

28 miles

DAY 9 18 May 1990


Up at 7. Looks like another good day - still with blue sky.

Had posh breakfast, changed into shorts and green polo shirt and white socks (i.e. my cycling gear) and went down the hill into Glengarrif. Here I changed £200 into Punts (its 1:1 now) and headed for Adrigole. The scraping noise from my back wheel required the wheel being retrimmed a bit AND one of my brake blocks was rubbing in the tyre. Could this have been the cause of yesterday's tyre failure? Put it right and set off again through gorgeous scenery - rocky mountains, corniche roads, sea inlets and islands - and in perfect cycling weather (sun, high cloud, wind from behind, East, most unusual). There is a ring round the sun in the high cloud, is this a bad sign for the future? Through Castletownbere and on until the road ended at a jetty with Dursey Island about 250 yards away and no ferry in sight. Had the remains of my salami and water. Had a snooze on quay, was woken by a bloke in a long rowing boat fitted with an outboard. I think he's collecting mussels in mid channel.

The cyclist I'd seen earlier and passed turned up and told me Allihies YH was shut! Jumped on my bike and cycled back to find he was right. The Hostel was locked and no sign saying it was closed. So I had to cycle to Glanmore Lake YH instead. The whole route was very rough, the bit from Allihies to Eyeries being the worst, continual steep ups and downs, with tremendous tight bends, through spectacular scenery. When eventually I got to the hostel, I found the German and the Aussie I last met at Cape Clear. The Spaniard left this morning. The German is from Hamburg, called "Ingor" or something and speaks good English.

73 miles

DAY 10 10 May 1990


Left at 7, no breakfast. Cycled into Kenmare and bought stores. Day not as nice as everyone predicted. Overcast and cold. Ate stores in little park in Kenmare with table and benches. Having trouble with derailleur now, difficult changing. Has chain stretched perhaps? Headed West, fine route, rocks and sea everywhere. At Parknasilla a hold up for 10 minutes, Police, helicopter - it was the EEC ministers meeting at the Great Southern Hotel. Pressed on, through Sneem. A big hill starts at Cahirdaniel, well graded. A long slog to the top, with false summits. From there, a superb free wheel down into Waterville, where I treated myself to a pub lunch. Plaice and chips and pint of Heiniken, but it was excellent.

Continued on to Ballinskelligs, where I paid homage to Patrick O'Sullivan, in the deserted churchyard. Then I got lost, but eventually found the road to Portmagee. The map gave no indication of the FRIGHTFUL HILL between Ballinskelligs and Portmagee, and I don't remember it. Did we go a different route in 1978? Eventually got to Knightstown, pretty weary (5.30 pm), bought and cooked a good meal. Two girls in a car were there already, then 2 hours after me, 5 cyclists from Killarney turned up (2 girls and 3 men), they came my route via Kenmare. The Valentia Hostel is rather cramped, strangely laid out and primitive.

Went for a walk around the town area near the quay, but the place is DEAD. Tried to phone Mum, but got the wrong number and lost my money. Went to bed early (9.30 pm).
PS. Solved my derailleur problem by switching from "Index" to "Friction".

85 miles

DAY 11 20 May 1990


Forced to get up and dress by the great god bladder. Had snooze after breakfast, set off at 9.00 am along flat road to Cahirsiveen. Lots of tourist coaches on Ring of Kerry, but going anti-clockwise! The road through Kells to Glenbeigh is well graded and in sections goes right on the edge of the coast cliff. Got into Glenbeigh and had a bit to eat sat on a bench watching the world go by. People are gathering now, dressed in their best, having been to Mass.

Cycled into Killorglin, quite a nice place, but seemed too early to find somewhere to stay. On to Castlemaine, then took the long and straight road West, looking for B&B. One was full, couldn't find the second, no answer at third, no answer at fourth (it looked chaotic inside and said it was "hostel"). Then at Inch found a place, modern, on the road, and booked in about 3.30 pm. Washed and had a snooze. Felt very tired, I wonder why? Have done 217 miles in last 3 days, and the roads have been rough and hilly.

They gave me a small amount of bread and cheese and chicken. Watched TV in front of a roaring fire. Depressing documentary "The World in Your Hands" about the awful things Man is doing to the Planet. Two others in B&B - a German from Fermoy returning to Hamburg and a young American cyclist from Long Island. Interesting conversation. Bed at 11 pm.

59 miles

DAY 12 21 May 1990


Good sleep but woke at 5.30 am 'cos my room faces East and there's no cloud and for the first time I wasn't wearing my mask.

Good breakfast with the German and the American. This B&B is a good one. Set off about 9 am, perfect weather, easy road. Stopped at Dingle for a look round and a Mars bar, and met up with the American again, but he is now going over the Pass towards Tralee (also into the breeze from the East). Cycled on to Slea Head where I am now sat on the corniche road wall, at 12.22, magnificent blue sea below, the 3 rusty sections of the tanker still in the distance, but I think they have moved since I saw them 3 years ago. Cars can't stop here, the road is too narrow and its very steep some 300 feet down to the sea.

Walked along the rocks almost as far as the wreck, but couldn't quite get on. Found the hostel Dunquin not open yet. The only place to buy food is at the Post Office and they have very little. Lots of cyclists going by, they hire their fine new touring bikes at Dingle for £4 per day and do the Circuit. Sat in the hostel sunlounge writing up log. Some cloud has now appeared, and the wind is cold. This place is worth a visit, but there's not much to do except drink and watch TV. Several other hostellers and 2 cyclists appeared. A German said he had taken his bike by air all over Europe, no problem, no boxing. Cooked myself a good meal and walked 1/2 mile down to the jetty. The Blaskets look like Bali Hai rising out of the haze. It is very lovely here, feeling on the edge of the European influence. Few cars, no bustle, just the wind and the sea and the call of the seabirds. Stone walls climb the hillside to show the efforts of the past.

30 miles

DAY 13 22 May 1990


Set off at 6 am, before anyone else was up! Cool with a few clouds and some sun. Nice flattish ride to Dingle, then over the 1,500 ft Conor Pass. It was too long and steep for me and I walked most of it. Really spectacular going down on the Tralee side. Nice flat road beyond the Pass, and eventually stopped near Camp to have breakfast, after 30 miles and 1,500 ft. A lady in the store said the Pass had been built during the famine, and the men used to feed on sour milk and potatoes kept warm wrapped in their jackets. Their wives used to collect mussels on the sea shore.

Got into Tralee just before noon, bought more film and found a cycle shop. My rear cone needed tightening, and I had a spoke where the head had broken off! He repaired both.

Fast progress along main (but more busy) road to Listowel. Here I had a nice quick hot meal in a restaurant. On again, and reached Tarbert car ferry at 3.10 pm. Its a lovely sunny day, but with a strong breeze from the West. I have now left the hilly, bumpy roads behind, and have made real progress on the map along fast roads. It cost cars £6 on the ferry, cost me £1!

It was remarkably hard work the last 5 miles to Kilrush - short hills and head wind. Got nice B&B in town. Had a picnic in bedroom. First of Pannier rubbers has broken. Kilrush is a pleasant, no-nonsense place, quite big, wide streets and full of human-sized shops. Nice. Landlord has an incomprehensible dialect. Bed early (i.e. about 9.30 pm) P.S. Solved my derailleur problem by switching from "Index" to "Friction".

80 miles

DAY 14 23 May 1990


Had nice snooze till 8 am - what a luxury! Good breakfast, and left about 9 am. There's clouds and a breeze from the NW, i.e. a headwind.

Cycled along long, straight, gradual hills, usual bumpy surface until I smelt seaweed at Quilty. Along the coast road to Lahinch, the area is much more commercialised, and in the distance I think I can see the start of the Cliffs of Moher at Hags Head.

Turned inland along a good road to Ennistimion, where I met a Dutch cyclist heading South from Shannon. He had a tent and sleeping bag, his bike looking overloaded and with ridiculously thin tyres. I warned him about the rough South West. Good luck.

Continued on to Kilenora through burren scenery, stone walls, short sharp hills, head wind, lush countryside with many different things growing. Paid for a lecture at Burren Display Centre. Lecture was a bit brief, but Centre interesting. Alpine and Mediterranean flowers grow together in gaps between clints, farmers have few overheads: cows winter on peaks and are brought down for the summer. Day has become sunny and wind has increased, hard ride into Lisdoonvarna. Hostel is "combined" with other hostel organisations, not very well organised. Cooked myself a good meal early.

Don't like this hostel for the following reasons. Its not a real Youth Hostel, its run commercially with bar and lounge, the owners kids run around noisily, we are packed in like sardines, the kitchen is strangely laid out.

40 miles

DAY 15 24 May 1990


Set off at 6 am! Because no wind at this time, not falling over other hostellers and blue sky. Had a ridiculous dream about swimming with my bike and Laurence Nelson-Jones! Very cold - need sun gloves, and glasses since I was cycling straight into rising sun! Chased a hare downhill, he ran twice my speed. Reached Kinvara by 8 am (23 miles). Still a perfect day.

Got to Galway at 10 am. It is a big place, with big roads leading to it, with unaccustomed traffic. It is still cool, with convection clouds building up. My hands look pretty awful with sunburn, like raw meat! I've done 40 miles in 4 hours - 10 mph, which seems a reasonable average for me, loaded, in Ireland. The roads prevent any high speed. They put tar down, then chippings, and no asphalt on top, so the surface wears into very rough patches for bikes. A 32 tyre is a minimum, 35 is best.

Through Spiddal but saw no evidence of "Maryville Guest House" if this is the right place. Reached Inverin about 12.30, just caught the Warden (rather surly lame lady) and signed in. Unfortunately there is a lot of ribbon bungalow development along this road, but all the stone walls are still there. Bought stores 1 mile up road. Warden let me stay in lounge until hostel opens at 5 pm. The weather has been good today, clouds high, no wind. Had snooze in sun lounge for 2 hours. After 5, the hostel became quite packed. Lots of interesting cyclists: an American, slight, beard, 57? had crossed America W-E 5,000 miles in 90 days. An Aussie was doing Europe. We had long interesting conversations.

63 miles

DAY 16 25 May 1990


Had lie in, woke to cloudless day, strong wind from East. Set off at 8 am through spectacular desolate scenery, not a cloud, the mountains standing vivid around the edge of the moor, lit by the bright sun. (See Note 2). The Aussie headed West. Just beyond Maam Cross ping! a spoke head went. The wheel was thrown out of true and rubs slightly against the fork. It gets worse when I heave on the pedals. Cycled gingerly down to Leenane, through magnificent scenery, in bright sun, with the wind behind. There's no cycle shop here, but according to the phone book, there's one in Westport. Quite a few cyclists here, but no one has any spare spokes.

Cycled gently to Westport through magnificent scenery of mountains, little lakes, rhododendrons, scattered woods and moors. The weather was superb, but the wind was from the right, and threatened to be a head wind most of the time. Killary Harbour and Croagh Patrick were both superb sights. Reached Westport about 2 am. The hostel is one of the "United" Hostels I don't like. It looks like an industrial estate from outside. Found a cycle shop who said they would mend my spoke and true the wheel by 9 am tomorrow. What I hadn't noticed, the broken spoke is on the gear side, and needs the cone and gears taken off before a new one can be fitted. The spoke size is also difficult, he may have to shorten and re-thread an existing spoke. Had fish and chips for lunch, left bike and walked back to hostel, walked and changed. The local fleapit was closed, so I couldn't see "The Hunt for Red October", with Sean Connery.

52 miles

DAY 17 26 May 1990


Another glorious day. We had a girl in our dormitory. A lot of people came in late. Breakfast at 7.30 am, strolled down to the bike shop, they had mended it OK, plus 4 new spokes spare. Shot off North towards Pollatomish, wind behind, YIPPEE!! Stopped at Newport to photo an interesting Nationalistic mural.

Exhilarating cycling between Newport and Bangor. Great, flat, boggy, featureless area, mountains wall horizon, straight road, strong breeze behind me, blue sky above, going flat out in fastest gear. Great! Extensive stretches of rhododendron, all in bloom, purple, the occasional house, otherwise desolate. Peat workings on each side of road, skylarks singing. Surely this amazing weather can't last. Cycling could be hell here - now its heaven.

Got into Bangor at 12.30, after some fine cycling (40 miles in 3 hours, including rests). Had fish and chips and coke, still glorious blue sky and strong wind from SE.

Reached Pollatomish YH about 2 pm. Its what I think of as a hostel - simple, cheerful, full of character, a friendly warden and a dog, store just down the road. Nobody for 5 days, but a girl tonight so far. No carpets but character. Bought stores and chatted to the Irish store keeper about his philosophy of life, which I didn't understand. Then talked to the warden. Then washed my shirt and hung it on the line, and had a nice shower. I'm sunburnt again. There's a strong wind outside. Shirt dried very quickly. Made magnificent meal of spuds (from warden), peas, salmon, tomatoes, bananas and milk. Girl is German, speaks English with an Irish accent. She worked with Irish horses for 7 months.

52 miles

DAY 18 27 May 1990


Set off at 6 am, just in front of the girl. Another lovely day, but a strong wind from the SE, which was sometimes a problem. There's a strange standing cloud towards which I'm headed. Reached Killala as the church bell was sounding 9 am. Only one car passed me in nearly 3 hours. My hands are a little numb, which is why my writing is odd. Am sat on the kerbstone in Killala. Lots of crows in trees, but no people.

The cloud disappeared, leaving yet another gorgeous day, not hot and with strong SE wind. The better road started at Ballina, good surface, but most of the way to Ballysadare it was straight with long looping hills, making the cycling hard and encouraging the flat-out approach. There was a long short of Ballysadare and I was pretty tired and hot when I got to Sligo at 12.45. The map on the hostel handbook is a bit misleading, and I did a grand tour of Sligo before retracing my 'steps' and finding the hostel, independent but a nice big old house. Got stores at Supermarket very close.

1,000 miles up at SLIGO, in 17 days cycling - average 58.8 miles per day.

Cooked meal like yesterday (but not so good), then walked down to and round the town centre. Phoned Mum, all OK. Read an interesting cultural encyclopedia of Ireland at the hostel.

Think I left my mask here.

78 miles

DAY 19 28 May 1990


Left at 7.30 am. Weather as before - no cloud, strong wind from SE - unbelievable. This time I have wind behind me and reached Bundoran just after 9 am (saw helicopter). Two Irishmen in a van had the cheek to flag me down and did I have the price of some diesel? I said I was broke, that's why I was cycling! Benbulben is spectacular just North of Sligo, and its shape keeps changing - a good photo opportunity. The road is good - N15 - but a lot of traffic. I'm being eaten by strange flies near a graveyard, so I'll move.

William Allingham's grave is at Ballyshannon, close to the church door. Its now marked with a sign. I waited till the church clock had rung 10, then said "The Fairies" in respect for my first poet. (See Note 3).

Reached Donegal at 11 am, after fast cycling on good road with wind behind. The weather seems to have changed. There's high dark cloud now, so think I will head for Ball Hill tonight. Treated myself to a steak and chips meal in Donegal, then bought some stores and cycled down the lane to Ball Hill YH. Just after I got there it rained slightly, the first I've seen for 13 days. Washed and made friends with the little Jack Russel "Patch". I seem to have left my eyemask at Sligo. What a pity. Take a spare next time. Over the next few hours it rained softly occasionally while I read a couple of New Scientists and tried to get a patch of oil off my shorts.

44 miles

DAY 20 29 May 1990


Set off at 7.30, nobody else up. Reached Killybegs 9 am. Rained a couple of times, used cape for first time for 13 days. Nasty fishy smells coming into Killybegs. Russian factory ship "Etna" from Vladivostok tied up at quay. Went into a lounge bar and had a pint of Guinness - talked to an Irishman (courier of bus), the German driver and a Swede. Its only 10 miles to Carrick, so I'm taking my time. Am slightly pie-eyed 'cos of the Guinness.

Cycled on slowly to Carrick and encountered fog and some drizzle. Outside the Youth Hostel (now closed) chatted to a woman who knew the 2 sisters who were wardens. The younger one left the house in her will to another relative, expecting her older sister to die first. But she didn't, the elder lived to 103 and had no house to live in. The old hostel is for sale for £20,000. Cycled down to the pier at Teelin, bought a picnic at the Post Office and ate it at back of village hall (being renovated I hope). Booked in a B&B near by, cycled up road saying "Bunglas 2". They are tarmacing the road and it is closed, but let me through. At Bunglas - fog, the great cliffs suddenly appearing and disappearing like a colossal ghost. What a sight! There are choughs here - black birds with a grating call. Another exciting sight, a brown hawk of some kind, hovering above the cliff edge, wings motionless in the updraught - perfect control. Slieveleague is exciting because: the cliffs are colourful and gnarled, it has a "big" sound, it has presence, there are inaccessible beaches at its foot, it usually half hides itself in mist or cloud, you come across it suddenly at Bunglas Point, big, spectacular and close. The local nurse referred to the cliff as the "back" of Slieve League, to me it is the front. Maybe the cloud is gradually rising. 3 pm. Tiny white dots at the sea foot are seagulls. The cloud is slowly rising. 3.34 at last I have seen the summit. Met 2 middle aged Germans who had been on the Langtang trek. Said goodbye to Slieve League, cycled back, had wash and clean up. Watched TV, here they get RTE (Irish) channel 1 and 2, Ulster TV and BBC 1. They gave me a nice lot of sandwiches for tea (are they called O'Brian). Have a son Liam aged about 3 and a daughter 1. Weather forecast looks OK for tomorrow, except wind from NW. Bed about 10 pm.

40 miles

DAY 21 30 May 1990


Slept well, but woke at 5.22 am with sunlight (no mask). Left, after good breakfast, about 9 am, reached Glencolumbkille at 10. Looked round folk village, no people, quite nice. Then up to and over the spectacular Glengesh Pass to Ardara. Met a cyclist going the other way, and two Dutch hitchers going my way. The Pass is really steep on the North side, a U-shaped glacial valley.

Continued on through Maas. Very attractive countryside, rocky, green, roads winding, short ups and downs. Little thatched cottages. Weather turned from mostly cloud to mostly sun. Lovely day. Beyond Lettermacaward turned left down road marked "Scenic Route". This quickly became an 8 ft wide gravel surface, "grass in the Middle" road, no signposts, 50% push and 50% cycle. A few cottages, mostly traditional thatch. Will they ever find me? Eventually got to Crohy Head YH, rather fine, opened in 1971 I was told, no other hostellers, cycled down to Marghery, bought stores, pushed them back up the hill and had a super meal. The Warden is puffing, very Irish, rather amusing old man with very blue eyes.

Went for a walk. There are some fine cliffs nearby, with a natural arch a few yards out. The ground is very dry, there were no wet areas at all (except the well not far from the Hostel). Three French female cyclists have turned up, none particularly attractive. Its only 8.30 pm, but I'm tired and have nothing else to do, so think I'll go to bed!

51 miles

DAY 22 31 May 1990


Left at 7.00 pm. Girls not up. High clouds and very strong wind from SW. Rough road to Dunglow, then N56, fast with wind usually behind. At Gweedore, turned partly into the wind. Errigal is a marvellous, dominating sight as you approach Dunlewy. The Old Poisoned Glen House is I think the one attached to the Post Office and now done up posh. Called to see Mrs McClafferty's grave as usual in the churchyard of the "rocket-like" church. The new hostel is close by, small and nice, no one up at 9 am! Cycled on, very strong wind, Poisoned Glen looks spectacular, must explore one day. Hard grind to the watershed, then really fast over bumpy road with wind behind. Very lonely moorland. Missed turn off to Falcanagh, took next one, turned through Cashel just before Creeslough and reached Downings before noon. Bought stores, then cycled slowly along peninsula to Tra-na-Rosann. A Welsh couple are Wardens, who's son is passing out in August at Portsmouth. No one else here, but 1 bike. Wind blowing hard outside, whistling down fireplace in common room. Walked to Boyeeghter Bay, wrote "JCP 29 years on" in sand. Then had paddle, but too windy, cold and waves too big for a swim. Its a lovely beach. Walked back and cooked myself big meal of meat, carrots, spuds, milk. Two Germans now in, one I have seen twice before. He said he climbed Errigal yesterday. He's also been to Crohy Head. He said Arranmore was full (party!). Met Aussie I last saw at Inverin. He, the German and I had really good natter - all in English of course! Bed at 10 pm.

50 miles

DAY 23 1 June 1990


Clouds, but high wind. Wind veered to West I think and abated. Up first, breakfast of Ambrosia Creamed Rice and strawberries (as usual). Rained quite hard at 8 am, so had to wait. Finally left at 8.41, caught again by a shower, then high cloud and occasional quick showers. Carrigart, Milford - attractive country. Slight wind from West. Descended to Letterkenny, then onto N13, best road I've been on yet, breeze behind, hard shoulder to ride on, did nearly 20 mph to border.

Irish Customs non existent. Ulster Customs - barbed wire, high barrier, speed bumps, soldiers, - rather nasty. Just beyond, a patrol of about 16 soldiers, spaced out on each side of the road. Got into centre of Derry city and - a cloudburst. Took shelter in a pub and had 1 pint of Guinness and peanuts. Got street map and B&B info from tourist office, met American cycling round Europe, looking for B&B, had sudden puncture. Repaired bike behind Bogside Inn, new tube went flat too! Left bike, walked to cycle shop at Sackville Street, got new tyre (700 x 32c, not a very good tyre). Met the Aussie from last night! Repaired bike, found B&B, had shower, went for walk round Bogside, photoing political murals. Now bright sunshine. Walked round a bit more, then phoned Mum. Get quite a bit more time for my money from N.Ireland. Everything OK back home. Went back to the B&B, chatted with Mr Pyne about World affairs, then watched some TV. Bed about 10.30 pm and slept well. Mrs Pyne took pity on my height and put me in a room with no board on the bottom of the bed.

51 miles

DAY 24 2 June 1990


Cold, cloudy wind from West quite strong. Landlady was late with breakfast but it was good when it came. Chatted to the American (one of 12 siblings) from Ohio, didn't leave till 10 am. Landlady noticed that back tyre rim was protruding at one point, put it right but it is a worry.

Crossed Craigaven Bridge and left Derry with wind behind. Good fast road to Limavady and Coleraine and traffic, but makes a nice change, but then it gets poorer. Stopped at two cycle shops I passed, but they had no 700x32 tyres only a 28 inch. One chap oiled my chain and sprockets and also squirted it with LP3T - nice of him. Somewhere I passed a British Army barrack area, surrounded by high security fence, it must be terrible for the wives and kids living inside.

Joined the coastal road at Portrush. Walked down to Giant's Causeway. It is now owned by the National Trust and is free, but the parking and centre and teas and film show etc. etc. are not! Quite interesting but only spent 15 minutes there as it was cold and grey. Basalt is interesting but not sensational. Dr. Johnson said: "Worth seeing? Yes. But not worth going to see"

Through Bushmills and reached the rather nice hostel at White Park Bay about 3 pm. Didn't open till 5 pm, so dumped my bags and cycled into Ballintoy to get stores. Went into a Pub for a pint, which really warmed me up. There was a well dressed wedding party in there, I felt under dressed in shorts. Back at the hostel, met the German from Tra-na-Rosann! Cooked usual good meal before the rest of the hostellers, washed and changed. There are lots of 14 year old girls here, so many that they have overflowed into gent's dormitory. The men are running around with screams of modesty!

55 miles

DAY 25 3 Jun. 1990


Up at 5.50 am, off at 6.15 am. High clouds and sun to start, but deteriorated. Did a duty for the first time, cleaning part of the common room - ash trays full of fag ends and empty coffee cups. I am only cyclist. Dormitory full last night, bed 9.30, woken 2 or 3 times in night, not too bad considering. Took A2 to Ballycastle, turned out to be a long steady climb and descent. Again took A2 to Cushendall, long climb right up into Ballypatrick Forest, moors and pine trees, then long descent. Found nice shed by roadside to shelter when some rain, stone walls, tin roof, had bales inside. Lovely. Looks nasty in West, dark cloud pall. Here found a store open, got 2 Mars bars and Sunday Express. Its very cold and warmed up. The super coast road starts here, and though it rained, I put my cape on which kept me warm and caught the wind and I bowled along in great fashion to just beyond Ballygalley. Have done 47 miles by 11 am, so obviously shall press on. Phoned Rosie somewhere along the way, £1 lasted a long time but not long enough for Rosie to do too much gossiping. Through Larne (where Robert and I ended holiday in 1961).

Five miles short of Carrickfergus and - suddenly a puncture in the front tyre. Stopped in a lane and looked at the tyre - found a piece of flint that seemed to be the cause. Took tube out and could find no leak at that point, but found a large hole elsewhere. Tried to patch it several times but no luck. Also pump didn't work properly. Walked 100 yards to a farmhouse and was given a container with water. Just then a cyclist passed and I hailed him. He had a spare tube, too thin but might do. He insisted I took it, then another cyclist turned up and insisted I took his. Really friendly. I fixed the front wheel with the new tube, then noticed I had a hernia on the back tyre. Set off for Carrickfergus, but only got 1/2 mile when BANG - back tyre and tube gone. Walked the bike to a garage and phoned a bike shop in Carrickfergus - yes they had a 700x32c and yes they would sell it to me on a Sunday. Couldn't thumb a lift or contact a local taxi so eventually got a Carrickfergus taxi, drove to Carrickfergus, collected tyre, tube and new pump, drove back to garage, inserted new rear tyre and tube. Its a NUTRAK, like the front, and what I started with from Broadstone! (Met second cyclist again - he said he'd been round Ireland several times!). Then pedalled on through occasional showers and strong wind coming from all directions at once.

Difficult navigating through Belfast, some bloody idiot turned left right in front of me. Eventually got onto A24 for Newcastle, which became Ormeaux Road. After some trouble found hostel just before it opened at 5 pm. Checked in, washed and walked downhill for stores. Cooked a meal, then checked bike and changed rear brake blocks, which just may have been rubbing on rear tyre. Cyclist from Scotland and couple from Massachusetts. Its been a long day.

79 miles

DAY 26 4 June 1990


Snoozed till 7.30 am, only 4 in my dormitory. Weather looked good and forecast is poor, so decided to head South rather than spend a day looking round Belfast. Left at 8.40 (leaving a bit of food behind which I didn't eat). Headed towards Newtownwards along busy roads, but traffic eased and pleasant cycling with wind half behind from Newtownwards to Greyabbey and then to Portaferry, where of course I just got on the ferry before it sailed to Strangford. Its now 11 am, blue sky and some clouds and brisk wind from West.

Cycled on along coast road, pleasant, side wind only. Couldn't recognise old Youth Hostel at Minerstown or hedge behind which I hid in 1977, but think I know now what happened. I waited for Rosie [in 1977] on the Ballykinter Road, but she took the A2 and bypassed me! Got into Newcastle at 2 pm, with Mountains of Mourne forming a fine backdrop. The hostel doesn't open till 5, so shopped for a tube, and treated myself to a Guinness! Saw a patrol of soldiers, bit of a shock with guns etc. Walked down the main street, found a library, read Telegraph and Mail, almost like home. Hostel opened at 4.30 pm, had wash, went shopping, cooked myself a good meal, wrote up log. There are 2 Germans here, one is an orderly in the German Army, is a born-again Christian, and hangs around in a strange way. Hope he's not in my dormitory. Two girls just come into Lounge, both smoking. Awful. This Hostel is one of the best - stylish old house outside, modern well laid out inside. it has an excellent drying room, and I had a really good washing session, sweater, shirt, pants, socks, hankies.

60 miles

DAY 27 5 June 1990


Really bad weather - strong wind from West, low cloud, drizzle. My wash and drying room last night was really successful. Also had good night's sleep. Not far to go today so think I will stay in hostel late. Its the best hostel I've stayed in this year - clean, modern, excellent facilities, friendly warden, ideally positioned in town, lots of shops. Saw patrol of 8 soldiers, guns etc. I set off at at 9.30 into a strong headwind and drizzle. The road was reasonable, but I had to wear jacket instead of cape because of the wind, and gradually got wetter and wetter. Still made quite good time through Kilkeel to Warrenpoint. Here there was no trace of a ferry even though it was signposted. Its ridiculous, the other side looks very close, with high mountain backing a coast road, but I still had to peddle into Newry to cross the water. The mistake I made was not using a cape earlier (wind died but rain got heavier) or my spats. Soon I was so wet it didn't matter. I was heavily splashed by a car as well, partly my fault for half lifting my cape to try and slow him down. No sign of people at the "frontier", eventually got to Omeath about 1 pm, persuaded the Warden to let me change my clothes in the Kitchen. My drying clothes spread all over, and my shoes on the grill with 2 back burners lit! Hope its a good idea. Pity about my newly washed sweater. Of course the rain stopped when I got to the hostel. Walked down to the village and got myself some stores. Cooked spuds, carrots, corned beef, peaches and milk. Very good. The sun is now showing occasionally, I'm almost dry and its 4.30 pm. Signed in at 5, moved to North side of road (dormitories). Checked bike - OK, few pumps needed. Only one here. Nice here when sun shines. Mellifont YH is closed, so its B&B tomorrow. Walked down to the village again. Its now a beautiful evening. German has arrived, last saw him in Newcastle on bike.

40 miles

DAY 28 6 June 1990


The weather is very bad again. Wind and rain like yesterday. The lovely hills have vanished under a pall of cloud. Woke up at 5.30 as usual, snoozed until 8, now 8.47, had breakfast, bike is ready but the German is not up yet! Will now wait in the Hostel until I get chucked out or weather improves, whichever comes first. Have got spats on for first time and will wear cape in spite of wind. It not only keeps me dry, but also warm. The German left at 9.30, so I did, then he came back saying the wind was too strong and he would stay at Omeath, but I pressed on. It rained hard to Dundalk via Carlingford but the wind was from the South i.e. often behind. From Dundalk to Castlebellingham was sheer hell. I decided to take the N1, which had a hard shoulder to cycle on (bumpy) but also had a stream of huge lorries which often blew my cape over my face unless I held it down and sat on it.

At Castlebellingham it was raining so hard and blowing so hard that I put my bike in someone's shed and went into a Lounge Bar for a pint of Guinness and a hot pie. Two young lads behind the counter seemed very interested in my exploits and travels. When I left - LO - the sun was shining and the wind had veered to the West. Cycled on through Dunleer in a very strong, drying, side wind to Drogheda where I got 2 Mars bars. Couldn't find any B&B as I headed West. Climbed Dowth mound, then booked into Glebe Farm B&B (very posh but a bit expensive) and went to Newgrange to look round. Went inside, passage and high corballed roof 3,000 BC very impressive. Blue sky and few clouds but terrific West wind now. Had good wash and wrote up diary. Aussie couple and landlady very interesting to talk to. She is tall, widowed. Says her barn is built from bits of Dowth!

51 miles

DAY 29 7 June 1990


High cloud, very strong wind from NW. Woke at 5.30 as usual, snoozed till 7. The lady gave me a good breakfast, but charged me £2 for the scones last night!

Set off at 8 am, just as Aussies got up. Blown by wind to Droghda, then took very nice road to Naul. Surprisingly hilly, but narrow, bumpy and almost traffic free. The strong wind from the side only, good progress through very English countryside to Ballyboghil and right past Dublin Airport. The clouds are gathering now. Stopped at The Bat Inn, bought myself a pint of Guinness to celebrate. Was diverted round New Airport runway and got lost in Dublin as usual. Finally got to the Hostel at 12 noon.


Back into Hostel, washed and changed, changed a Traveller's cheque. Now I will WALK and look round Dublin.

Found my way down to O'Connel St, where I bought ferry and train ticket back to Poole at the Sealink counter of the Multiple Store Clery's. Went to Trinity College to look at the Book of Kells again in the Library. Its always rather murky in the lovely old library, but the Book is like a pre-Conquest banknote, it has so much detail. I wonder how long it took to write or draw? Then on to Kildare St to have a glance round the National Museum. Not as big as I expected, I'll have another look tomorrow. There are a lot of posh shops in the area, I'd like to get a quality souvenir if something catches my fancy, but most of it is junk or puke-making. Cloudburst on the way back, but this time I was able to shelter. Went into a Pizzaland place on O'Connel St, I know its the expensive way to eat, but I'll treat myself. Then walked back to the Hostel the short way, and wrote 5 postcards extolling my great triumph to my friends while I watched rubbish on TV. This hostel is big, 500 beds I believe. It has a lockable car park at the back, full kitchen facilities as well as a restaurant (quite cheap), a TV room and a big reception area. Now all I have to find is a nearby supermarket. The only problem is they keep the front door locked - everyone has to ring the bell, which happens a hundred times a day.

38 miles

DAY 30 8 June 1990


Up at 6.30. For the first time, I don't have to cycle anywhere today! I have £45 (Irish) left to last me 3 days, so I must be careful. The restaurant here opens at 6.30 am. I can get my bike out of the compound anytime by asking at reception. There are postcards for sale here.

Walked down to the National Museum and went in at 10 am when it opened. Paid to see the exhibition "Work of Angels" about 8-9th Century Irish and related metal working. The Derrynaflan Hoard on display was especially fine, showing a Patten and a Chalice among other things. Then a film (in German) about the objects, showing in detail the unbelievable fineness of the decoration. 1pm and I've just come out, been in there for 3 hours - my eyes are on stalks and my legs are tired! While I was inside there was another cloudburst. Weather still rainy with strong wind from West. 2pm. Am sat in the Guinness Brewery hop store in Crane Street having my free Guinness. There is an extensive demonstration area or museum for visitors, it costs £1 and a film show too. At the end of it all is a bar dishing out 1/2 pint of Guinness. Its nice to have a sit down, and I'm really getting to like the black liquid with the white foaming head. Its called Porter or Extra Stout. The use of hops means it keeps well. The use of some yeast gives it the foaming head. Just managed to get another one. I wonder when they stop? I walked here along the S.Bank of the Liffey - I could walk back along the N Bank. Walked up to the ILAC supermarket on Moore Street and bought myself some stores; walked back to the Hostel and cooked myself a good, filling meal of soup, bread, milk and stew. Then watched Argentina v Cameroon (champs v who?), the opening match of the World Cup. Argentina played rubbish, except for their star player Diego Maradona, agreed to be the best player in the world. What excitement, Cameroon won 1-0 in spite of Maradona and finishing with only 9 men. What an upset! The Argentinian goalie fumbled the ball and let it through. They won't let him back in the country! Went to get washed and the Gent's washroom had 7 bowls and no plugs! Complained and was given one. Washed and went for a walk. Got into conversation with some dead-end kids. They are quick-witted and foul-mouthed. Also found the Wax Museum. Watched some TV at the Hostel.

0 miles

DAY 31 9 June 1990


Got out of bed by great god bladder, had breakfast and went out walking about 7.30. Went to look at Mountjoy Square HQ and got opening hours. Then walked down to Docks and saw a Guinness ship, quite neat, filling up with Guinness from a [road] tanker. Walked to Dublin Castle, then back through ILAC center. This walking is very hard on the feet and legs, more tiring than cycling! By the way, the weather is overcast but dry so far. The wind seems to have fallen. Passed a real flea market in Cumberland Street. Called in at Mountjoy Square HQ to get the book "Fifty Years Young - the story of An Oige" (1980) and they gave me one free! The jovial warden said I was the 3rd person in 3 years to ask for one, and they had hundreds left. I said "Are you someone famous, will you sign it for me?" He said "Only the warden" and signed, Walked back to the YH, found a shop on the way and bought stores for evening meals for the rest of my time in Ireland (i.e. 2 days). Now, after tomorrow's overnight fee of £7 I have £7.40 left for expenses. I'd like to go to the pictures (£2.30), the Zoo (?), 2 Mars bars (£0.70). Went back to the hostel and had 1 hour's snooze on my bunk and must have been tired. Then walked down to the Adelphi off O'Connel Street and watched "The Hunt for Red October". It was quite good, about a new Russian Typhoon missile submarine (32,000 tons) equipped with Magnetohydrodynamic propulsion which is so quiet as to be undetectable. On the maiden voyage the captain (Sean Connery) defects to America. The Russians send half their fleet to intercept it, and the Americans interpret this as a possible first strike attempt. Things get complicated but it ends with Sean Connery getting to the States, the Americans getting the sub, and the Russians losing an attack sub as well. All this was supposed to have really happened in 1984, just before Gorbachev came to power, but admitted that both sides deny it. Walked back and cooked myself a good meal (well filling anyway) and watched TV in the TV room. World Cup this time was Italy (host Nation) v Austria. Italy made numerous chances, but eventually only won 1-0. There must have been 30 young blokes in the room, but I got a good seat early. Bed at 10 pm, the bloke over me has gone.

0 miles

DAY 32 10 June 1990


Dragged out of sleep at 4.30 am by an alarm bell. The sky was clear and I gradually worked out that it was the burglar alarm from the pub across the road called "The Traveller's Rest! After 1/2 hour the bell was replaced by an electronic whistle that continued for hours. Everyone is thinking, why doesn't someone else do something about it? Its a nice morning, sun and no wind, I had a good crap, shower, shampoo and breakfast. Just outside the hostel, I met a man who said that a window of the pub had been broken. It looks like someone tried to break in, about 4 am, but they must have been frightened off by the alarm. Walked towards Phoenix Park, at Philsborough found another alarm bell ringing on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Pub. Dialled 999, but police said someone was already on their way, but I never saw police arrive. Near Phoenix Park, met 2 girls who turned out to be Mormons, and we had the usual long theological discussion. They were German I think (sister Bader) but spoke good English. They took my address and phone number. When eventually I got to the Park, it was opened at 10.30 am (Sunday), about 10 minutes. Phoned Rosie, only had about 1 minute for 50p,

Went in when the Zoo opened. It was rather expensive but quite good. The Siberian Tigers in particular were magnificent. Stayed in there for about 2 hours, then walked back to the Liffey, buying a loaf of sliced bread on the way. Now I have only 56p left, not enough to buy a decent Sunday newspaper! (Actually I have £1,900 in Traveller's Cheques and £50 in sterling, but I don't want to break into this if possible). Went back to the Hostel, had a snooze while watching the French Tennis Finals, then cooked a meal, Afterwards, helped a Brazilian girl with her English and doing a crossword. I taught her how to say 'th' and 'ship' not 'sheep'. Also told the girl about the method of using a safety pin through the tongue to stop lisping. She speaks Portuguese of course and works in a Tourist Office. The TV room was full as usual for Brazil v Sweden. There are 2 Brazilians in the room and at least 1 Swede. Its like the UN here. Brazil are not as brilliant as of yore and the Swedes are almost as good. Brazil won 2-1 after an exciting last 15 minutes. Got everything ready and bed 10.30 pm.

0 miles

DAY 33 11 June 1990


My top bunk neighbour arrived at something like 2 am, and I got little sleep thereafter as he snored and I prodded him. Dawn came about 4 am, clear sky, a blue blush over the chimneypots of Georgian Dublin. I seemed to sleep better when the sun came up, but snoozed till 6.00 am, dressed, readied and loaded my bike and was the first in the restaurant. Left about 6.30 am and had a leisurely cycle through the traffic-free streets under a blue sky to Dunlaoghaire (only problem, lots of traffic lights). I was first on the ship (St Columba again) and got a seat in the lounge and chatted with two Australian widows doing Europe (Betty and Yvonne). They were very interesting.

Getting into Holyhead, a bit of a shabby station, got on the train and had to wait almost 1 hour before it left. All the way to Crewe I was with 2 Irish families, sat with the 2 men, who were really interesting and hospitable. They insisted I share their picnic, one of them (an Inspector on railways) gave me his address and insisted I look them up next time I go to Ireland. The address is on page 157. I said I would treat them to a Guinness next time. They had broad accents, and were travelling to Birmingham. They were very kind and hospitable. They were very interested in my Tour of Ireland.

Phoned Mum from Crewe to tell her to tell Rosie not to bring the Golf down to Mum's flat, but to bring her Metro. I can leave my bike in Mum's garage till tomorrow. Chatted to a train spotter on the end of Platform 5 at Crewe. He was my height, about 40, and said he'd seen most of what came through Crewe, but couldn't afford to travel elsewhere to spot. He was from Manchester. Said Crewe was electrified about 1963. The "Motive units" all look the same to me, the character vanished with steam. Bought a drink and burger on Platform 5. The 2 girls serving are Brummie types, have a faintly sardonic expression and a "take it or leave it" attitude. Its much easier to spend money here than in the West coast of Ireland!

Caught the 1656 from Crewe to Poole, via about 16 intermediate stations. It will take over 5 hours. Got stocked up with a bit of food and the FT to read before we left Crewe. Through Smethwick. Past a canal whose huge excavations put maiden Castle to shame, great brick warehouses now derelict that speak of great building feats in the past. Graffiti and inner city decay all round. Man seems to work so that he can work. Is it all never ending?

Through beautiful countryside near the Thames and Oxford. At Reading the train reverses.

Eventually got to Poole and unloaded my bike. I had to cycle very fast to Mum's flat, because it was dark and I had no lights! Here I found the 2 girls in my life, Mum and Rosie, waiting for me. I told them about my Odyssey, was fed, and taken home by Rosie, leaving my bike in Mum's garage, to be picked up tomorrow.

So is brought to a successful conclusion a 30 year old dream.

3 miles

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