It's mid August ‘05 and we’re flying with Emirates to the UK. We
broke the journey by stopping in Dubai for a few days (if you ever go
there take a trip into the desert and enjoy an Arab meal complete with
and free grog and belly dancers!). Mind you it can be a bit warm. It
was the second highest August temp the first day we arrived: 47.3C!
We arrived at Heathrow to be met by my sister and family who drove
down the M4 to Cardiff.
At my sister’s place we had a look in the garage for the 1986 R80RT my
mate Ralph had got for us. He’d done a great job servicing it and
sprucing it up. It was complete with BMW panniers and a top box.
couple of days renewing relationships with my Welsh family before we
were off to the Isle of Man and Ireland.
They’d had quite a dry summer so far but what was the weather going to
be like for our trip. Forecasting the weather is quite easy in Cardiff
- If you can’t see the mountains it’s raining, if you can see the
mountains is going to rain. After packing our gear on the Sunday it was
7.30 am Monday and we were off to meet Ralph and Mo at the local
service station - we couldn’t see the mountains!
They were on a 1991 R100RT which looked in very good condition. It
the first time we’d seen them since they last come out to Oz, early
On different trips to Australia we had arranged a bike for them, they’d
visited the South West, Esperance-Kalgoorlie etc, Kalbarri and Philip
Island, and this time Ralph was returning the compliment. We’d known
each other since we were kids.
He’s also got a Yamaha Faser (stripped down F1, 1000cc street bike),
beautiful Norton Dominators he’s restored as well as a few other
restorations in the pipeline.
The first destination was Liverpool to catch the ferry to the Isle of
Man (IOM), we’d decided not to take the motorway but to take the minor
roads in Wales before heading into England.
The first part of the trip was indeed quite wet, but after a couple
hours it started to fine up and we could put our wet weather gear away.
I was loving the roads, smooth and twisty, although there was a fair
amount of traffic particularly as we were getting closer to North East
Wales and England.
We were a bit early for the ferry so
we decided to have a look around
the Liverpool docks. A lot of work had been done with the old
buildings, ships and wharfs, restoring them to how it was in the 19th
century - fascinating.
It was then time to ride the bikes onto the ferry and tie them to the
rails that were put in place for motorbikes.
After watching a beautiful
sunset over the Irish Sea we arrived at the IOM.
We were too late for TT week, but luckily the Manx GP was on.
Through a friend we had accommodation arranged in Douglas. After a
great welcome by hosts, Hilary and Phil and family we were shown our
Phil had a brilliantly restored Triton (Norton frame, Triumph motor).
The work he’d done was excellent, and he recently had bought a new
K1200RS BMW, which he thought was great.
Next day we did a lap of the TT circuit - great fun - how they ride
the speeds they do has to be seen to be believed bearing in mind the
close proximity of the concrete walls etc. You can see why there are
many deaths each year, although a lot of these are bikers pretending to
be racers. Once you are out of Douglas there are no speed limits! We
found out later there were 12 deaths Manx Week. Because of time
constraints we were booked on the ferry for Wednesday
morning but hoped to see some practice action, but unfortunately it was
called off because of fog on the mountain.
The Isle of Man is certainly a beautiful place where motorcycling
huge impact, in fact we were told most locals on the island have a
The ferry was delayed for three hours, great, we’ve got time for an
ice-cream in Peel (other side of the Island) before doing another
circuit of the track.
Once again we had a smooth crossing across the notorious Irish Sea.
It was 7.30 pm when we rode into Dublin. There were people
and the roads were a bit wet and covered with tram lines - which can be
slippery. Dublin, like Liverpool and Cardiff had redeveloped a lot of
the dockland area and there were now plenty of expensive houses and
flats etc in its place - looks heaps better than the slums and
broken-down factories etc.
Eventually we found our B&B.
parked the bikes, went straight to
the nearest pub for a drink and a meal. They seem to start the evening
a bit later in Ireland, not going out until 9, 10, or 11 o’clock - past
Next morning, sun shining, we rode off towards NW Ireland (we thought),
only we got lost - still in Dublin! A bloke on a bike pulled up next to
us and Chris asked him the way. The
guy, who was on his way home from work said “Follow me”! Isn’t the
motorcycling community great?
So off we went at 100 mph, lane splitting
(which Chris isn’t that keen on), overtaking on places where we
shouldn’t have, trying to keep up with the bloke before he stopped at
the outskirts of the city. He thought we should be all right from here.
Somehow we were.
At last Irish country roads, we headed to the north west of Eire (Sligo
- where we thought we’d stay the night), stopping to see anything of
interest on the way.
We changing our minds about Sligo deciding to ride a little further
a B&B outside a place called Pontoon.
Before we had left Albany, Ronnie told us about a website called
Bikestay. It lists motorcycle-friendly accommodation all over the
world. I’d clicked onto Ireland and written down the cheaper places
which looked good,
county by county, together with phone numbers, this system worked
The best time to ring and book was lunch-time.
You had a good idea
where you’d be that night and accommodation wasn’t booked out.
By now the oil cooler on Ralph’s R100RT was leaking, spreading oil all
over his boots and leathers. He bought some hose clamps and isolated
the oil cooler, fixing the leak.
This was done at a B&B, the bloke there was most helpful and his
wife fixed us up with cake and coffee/tea - great people.
We dined that
night at a hotel overlooking Loch Conn.
Next day we meandered down the West Coast.
The roads aren’t exactly wide and they can be pretty bouncy, but the
bends are superb, we were having a great time.
We were surprised at the lack of traffic especially as it was school
holidays. We can only guess that not many people holiday in Ireland -
so this is definitely a good place to go.
The views were as you’d seen on the TV or postcards, stunning.
We then rode over a mountain range, arriving at Galway in the
afternoon. Mo’s mum was born in Galway and she wanted to see the old
house. Funny thing was that when we pulled into the town we stopped
opposite the house, not good navigation - pure luck.
As we were leaving Galway people were on their way home from work, but
because of daylight saving we still had over 3 hours of riding time
left, and so headed down the coast.
We stayed the night in a B&B on the Cliffs of Moher, had a meal the
other side of the road in a centuries old restaurant - beautiful.
Down the coast we rode until coming to a ferry outside Kilrush where
crossed the Shannon Causeway. It cost $4.00 for the 2 of us and saved a
long ride inland to Limerick.
The Dingle Peninsula was the next destination, again beautiful views
and great roads (bends).
We had booked ourselves into a place on the Ring of Kerry that night
called Cahirsiveen. When we rang we asked if there was a pub where we
could eat nearby. I don’t think we’d ever seen so many pubs in such a
The peninsulas as well as the
Beara Peninsula are all National Park
and I think are most probably the most picturesque part of Ireland.
Rolling hills, rugged coastline, and many pretty fishing villages.
Roads as bendy as they can get - but still quite bumpy.
After spending a fabulous day riding we then headed to Cork and then
Cobh, where we had again booked accommodation - a place called Harleys
I got some directions of where to go on the outskirts of town (quite
involved) and thought it best to get some more further on.
I stopped to
ask this guy where the street was, he didn’t know, and at the same time
Ralph was yelling on his bike behind me. Where had we stopped? -
outside Harleys B&B! Luck of the Irish! As we booked ourselves in I
asked if he had a Harley - he didn’t know
the front of a bike from the back! Cobh was an interesting place, very
old, it was also where the Titanic
left on its disastrous trip. Our room was on the third floor and as it
was on the waterfront, it was not unusual to see a ship sail outside
Next morning, yet another coastal road, stopping for a bite to eat
pub in Dungarvan, there were another dozen bikes there - part of a tour
We were now on the road to Waterford, I was interested to have a look
at this place as my grandmother came from there. It was another lovely
town with the River Nare cutting through the centre of it. We got a
momento of the place at the Waterford Crystal factory.
We were then in Wexford County, riding through John F. Kennedy Memorial
Park (he was born there) towards Kilmore Quay - a very pretty place,
old buildings, all thatched roofs.
Before we knew it, we arrived on the outskirts of Rosslare where the
ferry was to take us to Pembroke, South Wales.
We stayed at another great B&B (with a pub next door) it was incidentally another tranquil crossing on the Irish Sea - I think we were quite lucky. Ireland was brilliant, the people were very hospitable and friendly, we couldn’t fault the place. We’d heard many stories about the high rainfall, but I think going late August/September (their autumn) is the ideal time to go, as the weather we encountered was mainly mild and dry.