Ireland had always appealed as a cycling destination, due to its vast network of quiet roads, combined with the scenery. We wished to visit the south west.
Air is reasonably priced and there are several ferry routes. Our choice was eventually via coach and ferry. A new service had been introduced running from Hull across northern England to Holyhead, then ferry to Dublin, and on via Galway to Limerick. This was with a coach pulling a trailer for cycles, with pick up, and drop off, points along the route .We boarded near Manchester for Limerick. Return pick up was Galway. The dis-advantage was that it was a night crossing, sailing at 0330. On a later visit, at Dublin airport we learned of Aer Lingus carrying tandems, without much trouble, from a couple who flew in from Germany.
The tourist guides say expect rain, morning mists and a sun tan is unlikely. Our first day cycling we ended up sunburned, and it remained dry for most of the two weeks, and our specially bought rain suits only came out once.
The south west does contain the highest mountains in Ireland and although some will probally have to be crossed, most is undulating countryside. Apart from the main roads, everywhere else the roads are very traffic free. One day to avoid a busy road, we took the old road, no more than a track over one of the mountain passes, and enjoyed a six mile walk.
The Ordnance Survey do a series of 4 maps for the whole country, at 1/250000 (1cm-2.5km) which are of the variety with tourist features marked, which we found adequate.
Food and Lodgings
Pubs are everywhere and nearly all provide food and there are numerous cafe’s. B&B’s are everwhere. The tourist board do a booklet on their recommended ones. We found another group known as The Friendly Homes of Ireland, who generally have less rooms, and are generally less expensive. Most of these were extremely friendly and expected you to spend some time chatting in their living room or kitchen. Having sampled one or two of these, we then used them all the time.
Accomodation was less than in the UK, but most of the rest was on par with the UK.
The Irish people we found extremely friendly. No problem with speaking the language. The favourite areas for cycling are the south west (although the Ring of Kerry should be avoided as it gets very busy and the roads are narrow), Galway, Mayo and Wicklow. We aim to go back to visit Wicklow. We understand that the railways do carry tandems, but have no personal knowledge.