Ireland end to end: Clonakilty to Goleen

HAD an excellent night at the MacLiam Lodge in Clonakilty, a wonderful home from home B/B where we, and 17 French cycle tourers, spent the night.

Wish I could say the same about our choice of drinking and eating places. Stopped for a pint of Guinness in a pub called Mick Finns – we couldn’t resist the name – and caught the last few minutes of the English Cup Final. Some locals had decided to support Hull and also in the bar was a chap wearing an Arsenal shirt who appeared to be taking it all a bit seriously.

At the end of the game one of the Irish lads made an innocent comment about Hull having made a really good game of it but our arse of an Arsenal friend didn’t agree and gave him dog’s abuse. The Irish lad didn’t want a fuss and offered to shake hands but Arsenal wouldn’t have it and behaved like a spoiled child. Hamish was desperate to tell him that it was English folk like him who made Scottish independence such a welcome prospect, but Thankfully he behaved himself for once.

Deciding the atmosphere was shit while Arsenal was still about we moved out and looked for somewhere to eat. We found a hotel which didn’t look too bad, went in and ordered a meal. Hamish had chicken Maryland and I went for plaice. When it arrived it was apparent the cook had only one method of cooking – everything was deep fried! My plaice was tasteless and was actually quite difficult to find below the thick fried batter. Hamish got a deep fried chicken breast, a deep fried chicken leg, a deep friend pineapple and a deep fried banana.

In addition we had a huge bowl of deep fried chips, an enormous bowl of mashed tatties, another bowl of creamed tatties, a bowl of peas and a bowl of carrots. We made a bit of an effort as we were very hungry, but we both felt very guilty about leaving most of it in the assorted bowls. What made everything worse was that the staff were extremely pleasant.

We both returned to the B/B suffering from that horrible sickly feeling you get when you’ve eaten too much fat… Yuch!

After a rather farty night we felt better in the morning and against the odds managed to devour a Full Irish.

we set off in the rain and were prepared for a wet ride to Goleen but when we hit Skibbereen things began to improve. Coffee and cake in a wee Skibereen cafe fortified us after 20 miles and we got chatting to a pleasant local lad who told us some of the most scenic routes to take. We had a good blether about bikes and after 20 mins or so he said, that’s it, he’d decided! He was going to buy a touring bike just like ours.

The couple in the cafe were from Coventry, and couldn’t wait to return home. They didn’t feel particularly welcome in West Cork and found the long wet winters depressing. Ho-hum. Their lemon drizzle cake was excellent.

Not long after leaving Skibereen the sun came out, the landscape changed from agricultural to something a bit more wild. We had the distinct sense we had moved into the real West, where as writer John Spillane so eloquently puts it, “Where the red fuchias weep, and the angels bleed over Bantry Bay.”

The rest of the ride to Goleen was a delight, with some great coastal views and some low lying hills that could have been Hebridean. The road to the sea was pleasantly undulating and lined with bramble and hawthorn bushes. Wild flowers dotted the edges and every so often we caught the scent of wild garlic. We were rolling along about 12 mph, the sun was warm and God was in his heaven.

Goleen is beautiful. We’ve stopped for the night at a great B/B called Heron’s Cove and our balcony, yes our balcony, overlooks the bay. I took a shower while Hamish, stripped down to his bibshorts, lay back in a deckchair and caught some sun. When I came out of the shower and settled down to write this blog his snoring was resounding across the still waters of the bay. I guess the angels did start to bleed…

Time now to encourage Himself to get dressed and join me as we search out a pub for his nightly lessons in the art of Guinness. Problem is he keeps asking the gnarly barmen if they sell ginger beer. Doesn’t do our reputation any good at all…



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