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Leitrim cycling festival

Just a small note in one of the cycling groups was enough to make the decision to adjust our plans to make it to the small village of Manorhamilton.

In the evening we went to a presentation of two travellers before retiring to our tents early.

The next day we all made our way to the castle cafe where various events were going on.

The knotted chords played and sang on and off during the the afternoon.

Tattoos were given out to the hardest amongst the group.

Part of the people gathered then went off for a small round in the hills.

One inventor brought his Scary Go-Round. It was hard work getting this thing up to speed, but it was worth the fun.

In the late afternoon we started our tour to Drumahaire past Doon Lough.

There we sat up camp again before heading to the Crossroads. An Irish tradition around the solstice. A gathering on a crossroad with music and dancing. Every brings some food and drink and a fire is lit and the dancing and singing goes on until late.

There was a Breakfast cook up the next morning. Typically Irish and heavy.

Luckily there was a pause until we hit the local demo strech of the Greenway. We used the time in between to get our bicycles and ourselves decorated for the occasion.

There were judges along that stretch, electing the most beautiful customers, a guy sitting way up a tree playing his trombone and lots of food when we arrived at a cottage at the end of the Greenway. The “Old Market Street Swing Band” was playing and mking this a most wonderful afternoon.

For two songs, Andrea was invited to sing which you can see and listen to if you follow this link:

Old Market Swing Band & Andrea Passerini

The two people without whom this event wouldn’t have been possible are Laura and CiarĂ¡n from crank & cog.

After saying goodbye, we cycled from the festival to Sligo with our attire still donned.

Our time in Ireland is drawing to an end, but with such memories, one feels having really got to know a bit the country and its people.

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Ireland – part two

We didn’t always make it to a campsite. So we wildcamped in parts and one time just asked a local man if he knew a piece of land where we could pitch our tent for one night. Michael immediately invited us to make use of his garden and made sure we were lacking nothing.

After arriving in Doolin we toom a bus to the Cliffs of Moher before walking back. The visitor center is quiet a busy place and you might get asked to pay a fee to enter the site if coming from the coach parking. After a bit of walking the crowd thins out quickly and afterwards one is looking back and has enough space to be in awe.

The cliffs are around 150 meters at the highest. Sometimes I didn’t feel so comfortable near the cliff’s edge and also had a hard time watching Andrea finding out how far she could advance.

We cycled through a zone called “The Burren” where we stopped at the Poulnabrone Dolmen.

Stopping in Corofin for the night, we made our way to Bofey Quinn’s pub to have a pint,

and to listen to some music.

Getting into Galway was really nice. The quality of the buskers was a mixed bag. One group stood out and had also a dancer.

After Galway we cycled through Connamara which we enjoyed immensely. The photos hardly do it justice.

We are probably the luckiest tourists travelling through Ireland this millennium. In five weeks we had three days of rain and the apart from this can only praise the Irish weather.

We headed to Sligo after Connamara to attend the Leitrim cycling festival in Manorhamilton.

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locations music people

Ireland – part one

Arriving at Rosslare in Ireland, it was already late and getting cold. With all the supplies we got from Lawrence and Marina, we had already feasted during the crossing and now only needed to find a place for the night which we found in a campground just five kilometers down the road.

The first days were spent getting used to the country. The first stretch isn’t that interesting to be honest and after a couple of days we decided to hop on a bus to get to the west coast quicker. We got off at Skibbereen and made our way to Schull. We heard of a Film Festival going on there and spend two afternoons watching short films. A pleasant break from the cycling routine.

I had to get some recordings done for the songs we did with Emilio and Gustavo back in Rosario. A quick internet research put me in contact with Paul, who ran the closest recording studio. Close to Glengarriff, we sat up camp in his beautiful garden and soon after got to work.

It took a while longer and it was already evening until everything was done. Andrea made a quick dinner and then we were off towards the village for our first pub visit in Ireland.

We walked along the main road and entered the only pub with music coming out if it. We ordered some Beamish and Murphy’s and took the only two remaining seats on the bar. In the pause after the song had finished, the man next to me suddenly started singing. At first being rather surprised, we quickly got into the atmosphere and were witness to some other rather bizarre musical interludes.

At the end of the evening we sat down with the two musicians, Marie and John, and talked about music and our travels. Later they invited us to come by their house later that week and visit the highest pub in the country.

First though we cycled out the sheep’s head and parts of the Beara peninsula. In case you’re wondering why the sun is shining in most pictures, we are extremely lucky with the weather.

There are a lot of views which you could just frame and hang on a wall.

The rhododendrons were introduced in the second half of the eighteenth century when plants were brought to britain from all over the world. On Ireland they thrive so splendidly that they now face a serious threat to the native vegetation but look pretty beautiful while doing so.

Cycling through Eyeries was a pleasure. It was a day of a wedding celebration at the local pub and the whole village was dressed in their finest. All the man in beautiful blue suits and as there was noone to be seen that didn’t belong to the party, it felt like cycling through a film set. In the afternoon we stopped at the Ardgroom Stone circle. Later the scene was taken over by a herd of cows with their calfs. Usually we get interested look or blank stares when we cycle past but this time we felt it was time to take our leave as the looks were clearly stating that we were on their turf.

We made our way to the house of Marie and John the next day and could stay in the cottage next to their house. We had a typical Irish dish for dinner and went to bed early after five days continuously in the saddle. On the first Sunday of each month there is a music session in the Highest pub of Ireland, the “top of coom”. Half of the people gathered chipped in a song, a poem or a story and with the more famous songs the whole pub was singing along like “The wild rover”, “The leaving of Liverpool” or “Waltzing Matilda”.

Our hosts Marie and John playing a song together. The instrument Marie is playing here is called a hurdy-gurdy.

After the session we talked with some of the other contributors of the evening and shared a couple of Guinness.

The next day we cycled to Killarney where we stayed in a hostel. The Killarney national park has a lot to offer and we saw only a fraction of it.

Muckross Abbey is a mysterious place and its ruin illuminated beautifully on a sunny day.

A small hike took us first to a small pool of water on top of the hill before descending to the Torc waterfall.

When we arrived at the campground near Banna, we half jokingly put on our swimming dress before hitting the beach. What a surprise it was to see a hundred people already in the water despite its rather cold temperatures. After being in the water up to our hips we weren’t sure for how long we could stand it. But after finally taking a complete dip in the waves, we felt quiet alright for another while.

This was only the first half of our Ireland experience. We have crossed into county Clare by now and will have another three weeks to explore the northern half of Ireland.