An Eirean Odyssey

A comedy in 30 acts

..and a bunch of pictures

Characters:


Setting:

Our three heroes (unfortunately, no heroines available yet) set out for a long (two weeks) adventure roaming the green fields of Eire.

Act 1: Departure

Fully packed up, our young reckless protagonists (i.e. Tom & Michael) tried to reach the airport by bike. Clever Peter, not wanting to ruin his valuable bike in Eire, employed the services of our good ol' Munich public transport system, MVV.
In what should be a taste of delays still to come, Peter was in no hurry to meet the rest of the crew.
Still exhausted from the long ride, Tom decided to take a nap on one of the comfy seats of the departure lounge.
Luckily, he awoke just in time to catch the plane.

Act 2: The Flight

Nothing really special happened here, just the usual feasting of mediocre quality and taste. Tom tried to convince his mates to go for the free whiskey on board, but to no avail. (Stupid them!)

Act 3: Arrival

While Michael & Tom just fixed their bikes, Peter tried to go and fetch the bike he had booked in advance. (Mistake #1) To his companion's surprise, he returned without a saddle beneath bis buttocks. Instead, he wore a sad face. No bike, only the prospect of a taxi ride to Ennis and the hope of finding his bicycle there.
Only after punishing him for his foolishness Mike & Tom waved him goodbye, as he left in his taxi while they set out to follow him on their on bikes.

Act 4: To Ennis

Merrily cycling along the National Primary Road from Limerick to Ennis (N18), Tom & Michael hoped to meet Peter halfway, somewhere near Newmarket on Fergus. In vain.
Soon enough, Peter's taxi driver met us on his way back to the airport, reporting everything okay. So they went on towards the meeting point.

There, they made the aquaintance of an apparently mad Asian biker who wanted to reach Killarney before dawn. (To do this, he would have to maintain an average speed of 53.34 kmph :-) Well, he looked like he was determined to make it, though. He had no other choice, since his plane was scheduled to leave the next morning. )B-)

Tired of waiting, the cylists went on to Ennis. Just before reaching the city centre - no faith remaining in any of the two - they spotted Peter, happily cycling past without noticing them. (Mistake #2)

Act 5: In Ennis

Peter tried - in vain - to demonstrate his skills as a saddlebag packer. It just wouldn't fit on the bike. This should continue for the rest of the trip, more later.

When they tried to find a place for the night, they realized they had arrived on bank holiday, when all of Eire went someplace. In this case, this meant anyplace where our heroes could have spent the night.
In other words: No bed ...

Trying their luck again, the desparate cyclers from hell went to the next B&B, a sad look on their face and asked for accomodation, pretenting no knowledge of the situation.
And again, it worked.

They had stumbled upon the only B&B with an adjoining golf course! So they convinced the landlord they would not destroy this holy place and put up their tent there.
They struck a deal to pay 5 bucks each for breakfast only.

For dinner, they had a yummy "Tom-yam" thai soup. In blind ignorance of the english language, Tom asked the landlord for "Toast" and was quite surprised when he received such. Stupid he meant "Bread", which is what german people call "Toastbrot" anyway.
Apparently, the soup was a little bit too spicy for Peter, although Michael and Tom (anticipating his reaction) had shared the extra chilli between themselves. Not being able to decide whether to first cough and then turn red, or v.v., Peter gulped down the delicious brew. Well done Peter!
Not being able to do much in complete darkness, our friends fell fast asleep.


The next day, being served a delicious breakfast by the landlord's lovely daughter, they emptied the cereal boxes and juice jars in a speed never to be seen again. Yumm yum.

Act 6: To Doolin and The Cliffs of Moher

On the way north, they took a trip to Dysert o'Dea, an old clan tower. Just before Corrofin, they turned to the left and headed for Ennistimon.
The town and the beach (Lehinch) bustled with tourists. This sucked.

After The long ascend to the Cliffs was quite an ordeal, considering the heat of this day. Poor Michael nearly blacked out and headed for the shadows as soon as the pack reached the clifftop.

While Peter & Tom enjoyed the grand view off the cliffs of Moher Michael struggled to recover from his headrush. He surely missed something. Mike recovered they rushed downhill and soon reached Doolin.

Act 7: In Doolin

Again, there were crowds of tourists all over the place. It took our friends quite a while to pitch their tent and to wash off the marks the hazardous trip had left on their bodys and bikes.

So it was quite late when they set out to get something to eat. Unfortunately, Eirean restaurants close at 9.30h, so it turned out to be a walk along closed restaurants. Here, Tom missed the only chance to get a Shepard's Pie in Eire, for he never again found a place where it was served...

The only source for food was a run-down fast food shack called "The Chipper".
Being a bit less than delighted, they wandered off to the local pubs - and made the acquaintance of a nice young dunken fellow who talked faster than he gulped down his drinks. Luckily, he went for the toilet and they took the chance to make their getaway and returned to the camping site.


Act 8: Past the Burren (Fanore)

Passing Ballylackan Castle, our furious three headed towards Fanore, seeking sandy beaches and bikini-babes. While buying some postcards and other useful stuff, they met two german chicks from "Rheingau", Bifi and Ellen.

Exhausted from the long ride downhill the cool atlantic waves were a welcome refreshment - at least for the more sturdy of them. Among many irish vacationers they happily splashed along, until they were thoroughly frozen. In other words: fishfingers.

Before parting, they agreed on a meeting point with the babes in Galway the next day.

On the trip went, the hills of the burren to their right, round Black Head towards Ballyvaughan. There, they enjoyed the great view over Galway Bay, one of the most beautifull sights in Ireland There the group agreed on spending the night in a B&B. As Michael, their guide, had been to Ireland before, he suggested a short trip to Ailwee Cave without their heavy saddle bags.

Unfortunately, it was already too late in the afternoon and the cave was closed. So the group set out to visit the old celtic ring forts along the road up to the Burren. Past many thorny bushes and barbed wires, they struggled to get some good photos of these hidden fnords.

Afterwards they visited the village and had a little snack in a bar lounge. Lasagne, mussels and some Harp'ies gave strength back to our weary travellers. Afterwards they spent some time watching the stars in a clear sky at Ballyvaughan Harbour.


Act 9: The Galway Race.

The sun not high on the sky, the merry band saddled up and went on a long ride to Galway. After a lunch break at Kinvara Castle, the busy N18 brought the smell of civilization back into memory. Before rushing into Galway, a little break on a green field in the shadow of high trees brought back the power to maintain the impression of youthful strength.

Cycling through the narrow streets of this - by eirean standards - giant town, they asked an old man for the way. On hearing about their german origin, he congratulated on the Germans kicking the Brits asses
I like the Germans, 'cause they gave the Brits a good hammerin' .

After the ordeal of finding the Bus Terminal, they rejoined with the Fanore ladies. Fortunately, these had already booked the room for the night in the Galway Hostel. By the time the cyclers arrived, no room would have been left...

Since Tom had been without Alcohol for nearly four days, a pub crawl was due. The chicks claimed having had five pints each the night before, and indeed they proved worthy :-)

Since the bar man gave the impression of inability to stand straight without the help of his broom, Tom and the babes - made reckless by their abundant consumption of alcohol - tried to make a run without paying the bill.
They succeded, their veines filled with 100% adrenaline .
Michael and Peter were quite pissed off by this, but too late. Then these two left for the hostel, leaving Tom with this two loonies.

At arriving at the hostel, the warden wanted to see their passes.
Surprise! They had none.
Michael tried all his language skills on persuading the grim Cerberus - and he succeded. The were let inside. Thanks Bifi!

At the other end of town, Tom and his companions had succeeded in getting booze long after the Last Order. They proceeded to a nearby park, where they had interesting discussions with other drunken people and Pot smokers. And Tom didn't score ;-)


Act 10: Connemara

The girls left early in the morning, so it was the great good-bye for Tom, but he coped quite well.

Due next was a trip to connemara, so the group left town to the northwest. On the N59 they cycled towards Oughterard - where they had a little break by the side of a small stream - and Maams Cross.
Being hungry, they visited the Quiet Man Center where this stupid film with John Wayne in Ireland ran simultaneously on six TV's.

After Recess they turned right and reached Killary Harbour Fjord after the longest ride on this journey. This was again one of these rare occasions where they camped.


Act 11 : A Day at the Abbey

As a reward for their past ordeals, the vacationers decided to be lazy and make only a daytrip without baggage.
Destination: Rinvyle Castle.
This pile of old stones had once been a fortification of the local people, destroyed by the british oppressors. After having a little snack of sandwiches at a local pub, Peter decided to return to the tent, while Tom and Michael decided to visit Kylemoore Abbey, a supposedly hidden treasure. The sideroad going there proved to be a little more tricky than they expected, even though they didn't have any luggage with them.

To make things worse, the site proved to be an assembly place for all the tourists in Connemara, who flooded the place with busses and cars. Not bothering to go inside, the two decided to return to their lonely companion, resting peacefully in their tent.

As there was still time left and the day was hot, Tom and Michael decided to go for a swim on the lovely beach full of smiling irish vacationers. Tom quit quite early, but Michael stayed for a really long time in the freezing cold water.
Brave Michael.:)

Tom used the time for an extended walk on the long beach, where he became inspired for a short story


Act 12: Stormy Departure, Wet Arrival

When mike peeked ot of the tent early in the morning to fetch some water for tea, the dark clouds promised no good.
Quickly packing their tent, the group went for Westport as their next station on this trip.

Unfortunately, things got really bad.
Soon after leaving the clouds started to leak and continued to do so until 5 miles before Westport..

Since all were soaking wet, there was not much nerve left for searching a place for the night. So when the local hostel was booked out, they went for a B&B.
While Mr. Dryer was busy drying the really wet stuff, the three heroes distributed the remaing not-so-wet stuff all over the room.

After showering really hot, our hungry fellows trodded off to try the local cuisine, i.e. the famous Westport Fish 'n Chips and - of course - the local pubs with live music.
That is, after Peter and Michael left for the B&B Tom had to experience that some places in Eire still take the Last Order seriously. Quickly, he rejoined his companions on their way back.


Act 13: Technical problems strike

Soon after leaving Westport, Michael discovered a strange noise coming from his rear tire. After a puzzling search for the source of this disturbance, he discovered a weak spot in his outer tire, where the inner tube was trying to get out.

Panicking, he tries to convice his fellows to return to Westport, but to no avail. Fearing the worst, he continued to Newport. Fortunately, he there discovered a small bike shop, whose proprietor was able to provide a new outer tube for the bike.

Merrily, and with a big smile on Mike's face, the band continued westward towards Achill Island.

Act 14: Achill Island

On their way across the island, passign Achill Sound, they stumbled upon an old, deserted franciscan Abbey. They last monk there had died in 1978 and indeed the place looked like nobody had gotten there ever since.
Only a solitary dead sheep and his still living relatives showed signs of nearby human presence.

They soon reached their destination, the Dougort camping site, the cheapest and cheesiest they encountered on the whole journey.
Can you spell sand flea ?

Despite the shining sun, the weather was quite cold. And the water was even more so. Again, Mike proved his qualification as a polar bear. Tom joined him for a short while to enjoy the splendid surf. The westwind created some enormous waves up to 2 meters high. The ideal conditions for fun in the sea - if you can stand the temperature. :-)

Tom couldn't, so he immediately went for a hot shower.

As usual, Peter refused to get in contact with sea water.


Since there was no more Eire left in this direction, the cyclists were bound to return to Westport the next day.

Act 15: Frenchies everywhere

As there is only one mayor road to (and from) Achil, the crew had to drive the same route back all the way to Westport.
To fill the day, they visited all the sites along the way - i.e. one. Driving down a little side road to Burrishoole Abbey, they came upon a noisy bunch of french tourists bustling all over the place.

This was to become a regular sight, as Eire seemed to be a quite popular place for visitors from this country that year. And one could never see less than ten of these frog eaters at a time.

Act 16: Back in Westport

Upon arrival in Westfnord, Michael convinced his friends not to stay at a B&B but to try a hostel again. Finding the "5 Pound Hostel" was quite a coincidence, they discovered it on their way to the "Railroad Hostel" and decided to give it a try.

As you get what you pay for, the landlord never seemed to change the bed linen. Everybody complained about itches, whereas the humble travellers were not sure if they were still suffering from sand flea.

And another surprise!
Just on the next bed, a girl recognized Tom...
As it turned out, she came from N., a small farm village near E. And, to make the surprise complete, she went to school with Michaels Brother E. This world is really small, isn't it? She had spent some years in Ireland as a student and had returned on vacation to Eire. Another girl from former Eastern Germany decided to join the band for a night in town.

After visiting the famous "Matt Molloy's", which wasn't as exciting as everyone present seemed to think, so they wandered off into the next one.

Michael decided to go for lunch with one of the fellow hostellers - an apparently mad cyclist from Berlin. Peter and Tom went on another pub crawl.


Act 17: From Westport to the east, via Killavally to Toormakeady.

Happily cycling along the way, our reckless three suddenly discovered an old Church on the way. Being in need of a rest anyway, they decided to rest there.
But that was not as easy as it seemed at first. There was no obvious way to the church except right through the frontyard of the local farmer.

Tom & Peter decided to try it the rough way, crossing fields with vegetation reaching up to their chest, climbing fences, jumping small streams. To no avail.

After one particular reckless jump, they found their way barred by barbed wire. Through the wire, they could make out Michael stretching himself in front on the church.
Frustrated, they went all the way back and finally took the straight path through the frontyeard.

But he church was worth all the action, since it had been sitting there in this farmer's lawn for a long time, obviously untouched.

Act 18: To Cong

Passing a very suspicious sign , the team turns right to pass along the dark waters of Lough Mask. After a short break at Toormakeady they continued their trip on a steadily ascending road up to Maumtrasna. Propelled by the prospect of rain, hovering behind their backs, our heroes sped downhill towards Cong. Fortunately, only a few drops made it to the ground. The last part of the trip led the cyclers through a dark and damp forest. And then: Cong.

Unfortunately, the local hostel was booked out, so the trip was not quite over yet. Up a road, past Ballykine Castle to the Hostel/Camping site.

This was one of the rare occasions, where our sweaty smelly fellows had a chance to get their clothing washed. As a bonus, there were some socks and a pink panty hose with laces in the basket. As usual, Tom refused any knowledge about the origin of the latter.

Their crazy berlin friend joined the hungry lot again and offered to share his meager provisions (i.e. Spaghetti) with them. So they went back to Cong to complete the evening meal, while Tom stayed there to rub his aching butt.

To finish this great day, Tom introduced Peter and Michael into the secret art of professional bavarian "Watt'n", a very popular game of cards.


Act 19: From Cong to Headford, Ross Abbey

The next day the merry band headed southeast and travelled on sideroads towards Headford. But after a few miles, all of a sudden Peters bike falls apart. Well, not completely, only his carrier with his saddlebags still on. Somehow, the technically gifted members of the team managed to strap it back on, using the leads of their lighting gear.

Cycling along on the R334, they finally reached Headford and took a sideroad to Ross Abby, an old, abandoned friary.
The interesting fact is that there is a burrial site of the Lynch family, who became famous when a member of this Galway family sentenced his own son to death for murder and, as no one was willing to hang him, did it himself.

Act 20: Silent running to Liscananaun

From Headford on, the group used deserted sideroads to the east to get to Galway. Suddenly, no car could be seen at all!

On the other hand, there were no roadsigns at all, so orientation proved a bit difficult. After a few minor distractions (including an unvoluntary visit to a haunted castle) Michael found their way back to the main road to Galway.

Half a mile after the junction at Liscananaun, as it was early in the afternoon, the crew decided to have some sandwiches and tea in a roadside low dive.
And indeed they needed the fresh energy to stand the unpleasant trip to Claregalway. Numerous lorrys made even passing the road a tedious task, let alone cycling there. The smell and stink took away their breath, but there were no alternative routes.

Act 21: Claregalway Abbey/Castle

Claregalway Abbey looked nice but the constant exposure to old churches started to tire Tom and Peter, as they all looked the same.
Anyway, Tom kept his spirit high by eating his favorite Double Choc Cookies. Mollified, he and the rest proceeded the remaining few miles to Galway.

Act 22: Again Galway Hostel

Once again, our weary travellers found accomodation at the Galway Hostel. Finally, Tom and Michael got a chance to watch some Beavis and Butthead, their favourite TV show.

Tom met a few Irish girls and went out with them. After some pubs, they tried to drag him into a Techno disco (The first and only disco Tom ever found in Eire). Fortunately, one of the girls was too young to be allowed inside, so they all returned to the Hostel for tea and some more TV.


Act 23: To Oranmore on Motorway (N6)

Early in the morning, they went to get some money from the ATM and - to their surprise - met the mad Berlin guy a third time.
Anyway, they continued east towards Oranmore, on the N6 motorway. Despite their expectations, there wasn't that much traffic and cycling wasn't that unpleasant. Rather soon, they could turn from the main road to Athenry.

Act 24: On to Athenry, sieged the local castle

In Athenry, the gang went to visit Athenry castle, which had been turned into a tourist attraction. Michael and Tom stuck to their principle of never paying an entrance fee whatsoever. Peter however paid his fee (1) and decided to get every penny out of it. Michael was thrown out soon since he hadn't paid and joined Tom who waited outside.
Together they scaled the castle walls using a siege tower they had built before ;-). Ok, just kidding, there had been a historical play the day before... After looking at any possible stone twice, Peter finally emerged, where Michael and Tom were already pissed. They still had lots of miles to go that day.

Act 25: To Ardrahan eastwards using sideroads to Burren

On a sideroad parallel to the main road from Galway to Kinvara (which they took in the first place), the cyclers went on to the village Ardrahan where they had lunch. Tom turned a beer mat into a postcard, and indeed it worked. When buying the stamp, Tom tricked the shop clerk into accepting some british coins.

Unbelievably, the lonely roads turned even more lonely, not one car the whole day, even only a small handfull of houses along the way. Only burning fields illuminated the way of our lone riders.

The grey mass of the Burren rock towered above them and gave them an uncanny feeling of the hardships still to come.

Act 26: Long ascent, lost orientation

Suddenly, the uphill challenge began, and our cyclers found themself pedalling up an ever increasing path up the rock. To make things worse, they had run out of water hours ago. The only pump along the way produced no water, so they had no choice. After an hour, Michael failed to remeber the right direction, and despaired. Peter spotted a Bed n'Breakfast place, so he and Tom refused to continue uphill. Michael lured them a few meter on, into a pub.

There, they washed down their frustration with some liquids. Tom downed a Harp in one gulp, which turned his rage into oblivion. Now Michael had an easy game, and they continued the trip. As he had asked for the way, they went on in the right direction.

Unfortunetly, they eventually came to a junction with no signs whatsoever. Michael chose the wrong road, multiplying the remaining distance by at least three. So they had to go to Noughnaval first, then turn right and continue towards Rolf's Cottage.

Act 27: Rolf's Cottage

After they nearly missed the hostel in the increasing darkness, the tired lot managed to get bunks, bought some food from Deidre, Ralph's girlfriend. With these fresh vegetables, they fixed their evening meal and went to bed after having lunch.

Act 28: Day of rest

Exhausted, but happy to still be alive, the travellers decided not to continue by bike but instead recreate their energies. They asked Susan, the Burren Witch, for some interesting place to visit. She pointed out some ancient burial places and, of course, the Portal Dolmen, also known as Poulnabron Dolmen.

For a change, they went by foot.

First, they visited a wrecked 10th century church, then continued to Wild Horse Cave, just besides the road. However, there wasn't much to see except a big hole in the cliff.

Then came a leg-wrecking walk across the cracked surface towards an ancient Burial Site. To get back to the road, our friends had to pass several severe obstacles, walls, thorny bushes, creeks and worse.

On the way, they encountered the damned junction where they took the wrong road yesterday. It could have been only a few minutes cycle...

Anyway, they turned left and finally reached the Portal Dolmen where they tried to blend into the tourist hordes that sieged the Dolmen. Tom had to wait for half an hour just in order to take a photo with no tourists on it. As a revenge, they constructed a fake Dolmen to trick these miscreants. [Bild] See if you can spot the real one!

On the way back, they collected lots of blackberries they found along the way. They decided to make pancakes with blackberry filling.
As Michael had confused Wholeflour with Coarseflour, the pancakes turned out to be a hearty meal. Tom will remember this pancakes for the rest of his long life.

As a french family had booked some beds in advance, Peter and Tom had to move to another room, and Michael decided to sleep under the star spangled sky in his sleeping bag.

Unfortunately he woke up at 5 am due to the morning mist and grabbed a documentation about the history of Donald Duck. Rolf was quite surprised when he came out of his sleeping room and found Michael reading in the first light of the day.


Act 29: The Living Past

While Michael decided to stay another day to relax, Peter and Tom continued their journey to "The Living Past" project, where some people had rebuilt an ancient village.

Michael didn't experience much, just reading, eating, talking to and watching the Burren Witch preparing some potions.


Act 30: Leaving Eire

The three rejoined the next day at Shannon Airport, where Michael arrived hours too early, just to make sure he didn't miss the plane.
There, they met two friends from Old-E., who had been touring Eire for a week in a rental car. They took the same plane home. Eire is really small.

Peter immediately grabbed his pack and got on his train home.

No longer accustomed to the cold continetal climate, Michael and Tom cycled home from the airport, afraid of being run over by a drunken aboriginee in the dark.


Come back here soon, we plan on compiling some do's and dont's for those who will be going to Eire.
Written by Tom & Michael
Photos taken by Tom & Michael
Scanning, Gfx stuff by Michael
Layout, HTML etc by Tom
Summer 1996