Trip Planning and Preparation
Apart from building the bikes, our planning and preparation
for this trip included books, magazines, websearches, maps, tips
from friends, special clothing, and the like. I will try to recall
our most useful resources, as follows:
- Brendan Walsh, "Cycle Touring Ireland", Passport
Books Edition, 1999.
A great book - written by the sheriff of Dublin, an experienced
- Robin Krause, "Ireland by Bike", The
Mountaineers, Second Edition, 1999.
A perfect complement to Brendan Walsh's book, written by an American
who has bike toured many times in Ireland. Robin also tries to
give us an introduction to the culture and history of Ireland,
vital to get maximum enjoyment and benefit from a bike tour.
- Joanne McGrath, "11 things I love about Ireland",
Diversion, July 2000.
Sent to us by our friends Bill and Cindi - we managed to do 5
of the things suggested by Joanne, including a delightful "Cuisine
and Craic" on our 35th wedding anniversary at Rock Glen
House near Clifden, and a rejuvenating hot seaweed bath followed
by an invigorating cold seawater shower at Kilcullen's Bath House
- The touring maps that we used were the Ordinance
Survey Ireland "Holiday
Series", and found them to be perfectly adequate. The
four maps in the series cover all of Ireland at a scale of 1:250,000
(1 cm equals 2.5 km, or about 1.5 miles). I photocopied various
sections of the maps, then colored in our planned routes, a different
color for each day. I then laminated the sections in plastic
since nothing can be more frustrating than unfolding a large
map in pouring rain - it worked beautifully!
- Town maps are available from any Irish Tourist Office (Oifig
Failte or Bord Failte). In the Tourist Offices we
also found useful maps of the Aran Islands and Achill Island.
One other map that we brought with us was MapEasy's Guidemap
to Ireland, with a detail map of Dublin and Temple Bar. We used
it mainly while in Dublin.
Dublin - a convenient starting point
- The main reasons for this choice is that the railway system
is centered in Dublin.
Both the starting and end points of our tour (Galway & Sligo)
were a convenient 3 hour train ride from Dublin. Taking a bike
on any train in Ireland is extremely convenient. You purchase
a 6 Pound ticket for the bike, wheel it onto the guard van, tie
it up, then take a seat in the nearest carriage. When you come
to your destination you take it off, and ride away - its as simple
We came to Dublin by ferry
from Liverpool to the mouth of the River Liffey, rode our bikes
along the river quay (about 5 miles) until we reached the Heuston
train station, and we were off. All of this was preplanned by
checking the ferry and train
timetable on the web.
We returned from Sligo to Dublin by train, and spent a delightful
three days with our children in Dublin, before returning back
by air. This gave us a chance to pick up bike boxes at the Cyclogical
Bike shop next to the Ha'Penney Bridge on the River Liffey, pack
our bikes, and explore Dublin by foot. (Photographs have not
yet been developed - will add them soon)
- On a biking tour one can only be certain of the arrival and
departure points - everything in between depends on mood, weather,
and countless other things. Luckily Ireland is blessed with a
vast amount of B&Bs and three different Hostel systems: the
Youth Hostels (associated with the International Youth Hostels),
the Independent Holiday
Hostels and the Independent Hostel Owners. We never had a
problem of finding accommodation - we simply arrived and checked
out the various B&Bs of the town. Even though the Irish Tourist
board had sent us a thick book listing all the board approved
B&Bs, we never used it. If we found a B&B which did not
have the approved shamrock symbol, we simply asked to see the
rooms, and were never disappointed.
Clothing & other important items
- All I can say about this section is that once you have decided
on your absolute minimum requirements, divide them into two equal
piles, and leave one pile at home. This will save you having
to do this while on tour. We were extremely fortunate, in that
our son Assaf lives in Galway. We left with him a duffelbag filled
with about 25 pounds of extra items that we did not need or miss
throughout the tour, which we later collected when we met in
Dublin. He told us that he hurt his arm carrying the bulky package
on the train.