This was a big day with 84 miles to cycle to our destination. Thankfully the roads were gently undulating, rather than there being any big hills, so we were able to eat up the miles fairly quickly and we also had a “3-stop strategy” with stops at 25 miles, 50 miles and 70 miles.
At about the 30-mile mark we saw a real “only in Ireland” scene – a farmer in a very old tractor, trying to herd a VERY un-milked cow down the road, being carefully overtaken by Shaun in the ACT van, along with the 11 cyclists – and just to round it off, there then came an old boy – no helmet but woolly hat – on a very old Honda scooter through the lot of us!
We were also treated to the sight of Ireland’s next Topless male model (about 70 and about 20 stone – mainly Guinness) with wheelbarrow as we passed along the country roads.
Part of the route took us through a peat bog where we had our first sight of turf production – long lines of machine cut turf and pyramids of peat at the first stage of their drying process.
A word about what it’s like cycling through the countryside in Ireland. There are lots of houses, spread quite thinly and with large gardens. As you cycle past, there is an obligatory dog (sometimes two) in each garden which always sounds very affronted at your appearance. Mostly the dogs just run up and down their gardens barking effusively, and stop at the garden gate, but be prepared for the occasional bold one which will come out and chase you down the lane too. Typically Jack Russells!
Our 3rd stop for today was a real treat in Ballinagleragh. It was called Rynn’s Pub and Shop and, whilst it displayed a Guinness sign outside and had a bar, it was also an amazingly stocked old-fashioned shop – see photo.
Ian’s joke of the day:
A polar bear walks into a pub. He says “I will have a gin and a ………………………………………………………………………..tonic”.
Barman says “Why the large pause?”.
The proprietor of the bar was a sweet-looking old granny. She plied us with Guinness, tea, scones and biscuits, then asked us how far we’d gone. We were quite shocked by her blasphemous reposte.
A very wet final hour took us just into Northern Ireland – the village of Belcoo – for the evening. We had a real treat in store with talk from Margaret, a local lady from Belcoo, who as a 73-year-old local resident, knows all the history of the place, was able to fill us in on the origins of the town and all its history.