Follow me down to Carlow

Now, breakfast…. Breakfast is not a simple thing to find on a bank holiday Monday morning in Dublin. At least, it wasn’t for me.

I walked from the guesthouse I was staying at in Ringsend to Charlotte’s Quay – only about a 10 minute walk, for those of you who don’t want to Google Map it to find out – where there are a number of places that supposedly specialize in breakfasts. Or at least have coffee and baked goods. On a normal day. But today apparently wasn’t normal, so I ended up waiting for the Spar to open so I could get, at the very least, coffee and some fruit.

Even Spar was late opening its doors today, but I got a coffee to tide me over until someplace more promising opened their doors. None did, or at least, not in a period of time I was willing to wait around for, so I ended up going back in to buy a breakfast sandwich and some bottled water and an apple. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either.

Before I reached that point, though, a Jack Russell terrier came to me to get some petting, his owner’s pleas to behave himself falling on selectively deaf ears. I don’t remember the dog’s name, and I won’t try to spell his owner’s name, since it’s Irish, and Irish names are never spelled how they sound. Or vice versa. Depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. We chatted for a few minutes, mostly about the demanding nature of animals, especially cats (she has one, too, but didn’t have it with her). Then she was off to the bank, and I went to the Spar for my breakfast bun, which I took back to the hotel.

Breakfast done, I packed up the bike and headed south. I’d found the settings for the GPS to keep it from naturally shifting me onto motorways, and the result was a route I couldn’t plot on a map to save my life. So many turns, entrances and exits, roundabouts. So many country roads that turned into single track lanes sprouting grass through the paving, overhung with tree branches or hemmed in by hedgerows. Ireland has some of the best motorcycling roads I’ve ever encountered, and I’m beginning to regret not having a GoPro, since nothing I write can convey the experience accurately. Mind you, when I factor in the hours of video editing I won’t have to do, that regret diminishes greatly.

Irish motorists have clearly (and with good reason) decided that their traffic engineers are not to be trusted. When the posted speed limit on a single track country lane is 80 kmh, you know someone was just pulling numbers out of a hat. Fortunately, no one even tries to come close to achieving that limit, though. That, however, may have as much to do with another trait common among Irish motorists: namely, they routinely drive well under posted speed limits. Not all of them, mind you. I’ve had a number of BMWs and Porsches blow past me like I was parked while riding at the 120 kmh speed limit on the M roads. But then, I’ve done the same to the vast numbers of Toyotas, Skodas and VWs that insist on going 90 on those same roads.

Anyway, today featured especially good riding. And today was all about the riding. About 7 hours of it in total. From Dublin down to Carlow, then on Ardfert, where I’m staying for the night.

Carlow because of the old folk song, which I first heard from James Keelaghan (although he wasn’t the first or last to record it), “Follow Me Up to Carlow”:

Curse and swear, Lord Kildare.
Fiach will do what Fiach will dare.
Now Fitwilliam have a care,
Fallen is your star low.
Up with halberd, out with sword!
On we’ll go, for by the Lord!
Fiach MacHugh has given the word,
“Follow me up to Carlow!”

Well, I didn’t have pitched battles with English collaborators, but I did stop for lunch.

The strange collection of roads between Carlow and Ardfert was, if anything, even more impressive that those in the morning. This really is an amazing place to ride a motorbike.

The Tiger has handled everything the GPS has thrown at it (and me) almost effortlessly. I have very few complaints about the bike at all, but I’m going to share them with you anyway, in descending order of seriousness:

  1. There are too many buttons and toggles and switches, especially on the left side. Every time I go to signal, I end up changing the information display. If I try to engage the cruise control, I end up turning the high beams on. Seriously, Triumph, simplify this stuff.
  2. I’d like another inch or two between the seat and the foot pegs. I already have the bike on its tallest setting.
  3. The stock seat is as good as any I’ve encountered, but I’d have to replace it if I bought a Tiger. I’ve been spoiled by my Russell Day-Long Saddle. I can’t get by with a stock seat anymore.
  4. The Triumph luggage is good but not great. If I bought one, I’d have to get it fit with aftermarket panniers.

Other than that, I really don’t have any complaints about the bike. It’s got a fair amount of torque. It’s zippy as hell. It tips nicely into corners, and feels incredibly well balanced.

Anyway, enough about the bike. For now.

After a four hour tour of the Irish countryside, teeming with cattle and sheep, filled with mansions with palm trees in their yards (that made me laugh), and rundown stone farmhouses on the verge of becoming ruins, I arrived in Ardfert, a pretty little village a stone’s throw from the larger town of Tralee. It has both more pubs and more churches than you would think a small place like this should have. (Mind you, so did Dublin.) The place I ate dinner, Katie Browne’s, was excellent. If you’re ever down this way, I highly recommend it. Most of the customers seemed to know each other, and the staff, quite well.

The plan for tomorrow is to ride down around Dingle, and then up to Galway. I’m looking forward to meeting up with Adele’s old university friend David, and his family. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful country.

3 thoughts on “Follow me down to Carlow

  1. I’m really enjoying this virtual tour! It blends in with my reading these days. Just finished Ken Bruen’s “The Guards”, and some of Adrian McKinty’s books – police procedurals which take place during “the Troubles”. Keep us posted, and have a safe journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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