Time moves differently around us, we aren’t in a hurry to do anything or be anywhere. Out on the road friendly Irish folk wave or call out “Good Cycle.” As baying donkeys, lowing cattle and pretty sheep vie for our attention, I’ve noticed that sheep baa while goats nah, it’s a subtle difference.
With water, water everywhere running in rivulets along the roadside, the blackberries are growing plump and juicy over the Celtic crosses in long forgotten church graveyards. Cafes and pubs are full of Irish music, tea and fruit scones, where I find soda bread to be an excellent carrier for the creamy Irish butter. I enjoy the song thrushes as they keep us company on our rides, singing their melodic tunes. However, I’m wary of the marauding jackdaws, who snuck in under the tent and ate our granola!
There’s no way to avoid the steep hills between Killarney and Blarney. We took the road less traveled. It was strenuous but our reward was the magnificent rural vistas of fertile farmland, forests and abandoned rustic stone buildings. The uphill climbs were followed by some magnificent hair raising, sweeping downhill runs through the hedgerows.
Legend has it that those who kiss the Blarney Stone gain the gift of eloquence. I joined a nervous throng of American tourists as we mounted the narrow stairway to the top of the ruined castle, where we took it in turns to lay prone on our backs to be held out over the ramparts and kiss the stone. The ritual completed, I look for signs of increased vocabulary amongst the Americans, which isn’t immediately apparent. I move off to explore the expansive gardens. In particular I’m drawn to the poison garden, full of plants that can kill you or make you very sick: Yew, wolfsbane, mandrake, poppies, marijuana and surprisingly helabores. I may have to pull up my Winter Roses as they are commonly known.
This is a mystical place. It’s said to be be the site of an ancient Druidic settlement. I think myths grow as tall as oaks in this country.
On this grey morning we cycle into Cork city where we glide past St Finn Barre’s Cathedral. I didn’t go in. Apparently there are five Irish St Finn Barres, perhaps I should pray to at least one of them for deliverance from my self diagnosed ‘cycling palsy’.
My right arm is killing me. I have adjusted the handlebar height, break levers and grips in an effort to find some relief. I have lost a little upper body strength and hyper extended my arm, which has only exacerbated things. I think the solution may be in heading to a warmer climate and resting up on a beach somewhere for a couple of weeks.