Ireland end to end: Beltra to Donegal

Hamish has just worked out that we’ve cycled about 429 miles from Cork. That’s about 350 miles from Mizen Head, almost the most southern point in Ireland. We reckon two more days will take us to Malin Head and about 85-90 miles. After completing the end to end we’ll cycle the Antrim coast, and the Giant’s Causeway Coast, back to the ferry at Larne.

We coped OK last night food-wise. Some crisps, some peanuts, energy bars and a large Jamesons all kept the hunger pangs at bay and kept us going through a dreadfully dull Champions League final on the telly. It lulled us to sleep quite nicely. And this morning mine hostess, Carol, made us an excellent breakfast, with very good porridge.

We made just over 50 miles today, and it was comparatively straightforward cycling. The wind had abated considerably and that made a huge difference, although. It rained quite heavily all afternoon.

Early morning took us through Sligo and the roads were very quiet this being Sunday. After that we were on the N15 for the rest of the day. It was reasonably quiet as far as Bundoran and we took the opportunity of a little pilgrimage to the grave of WB Yeats in Drumcliff, below “Bold Ben Bulbin.”

Years ago my old chum Jim Perrin sent me an audio of Yeats himself reciting the Isle of Innisfree and there was something in his slow recitation against the crackly recording that I found curiously endearing and evocative;

I will arise and go now, to the Isle of Innisfree

Just outside the churchyard there was a depiction of the lovelorn Aedh, and the words of the Yeats poem, Cloth from Heaven.

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


We set off from the churchyard in fairly philosophical mode but we were brought back down to earth when we reached the holiday town of Bundoran. It was worse than Ardrossan on a bad day, and if you don’t know Ardrossan think of all the worst excesses of  a run down Blackpool.

We immediately noticed the change in accent, and in attitude. We had a brief lunch stop in a cafe where the boss kept gazing at us furtively, as though we were dealing in drugs or something. But maybe he merely intrigued by two old guys wearing lycra shorts in the rain. We were a bit wet.

The afternoon was strangely enjoyable, despite the rain. We stuck with the main drag,the N15 which was nicely undulating without ever getting too steep. Best of all though was a nice wide hard shoulder which we could ride along unmolested by passing cars and lorries. Other than one ijit who thought it was clever to lean out of a passenger window and roar some indecipherable message to us. Who knows what the gobshite roared but it certainly wasn’t “Well done chaps, you’r going well.”

We reached Donegal at the early hour of 3.30pm, found a B-B, showered and then watched the drama from Easter Road unfold on Twitter. I’ve never followed a penalty shoot out on Twitter before and found it quite exciting. Can’t quite believe Edinburgh won’t have a team in the Scottish Premier League next season. To quote someone I can’t remember, “It’s a funny old game.”

We then went for a curry and checked out our route for tomorrow. Night night.


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