Ireland Bicycle Tour...
Bicycle Touring In The Emerald Isle
Ireland is a beautiful emerald island which is deeply steeped in romantic myths & legends of mystical faerie lore, holy saints and ancient battles.
It is a land with poetry, song and dance, in its heart... and home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.
Although small, Ireland is crammed
packed with incredibly dramatic and stirring landscapes, sleepy picturesque villages and vibrant, progressive cities.
Eire has a rich and turbulent history dating back to 6000BC, and has seen the passing of the Stone, Neolithic & Iron Ages, the Celts, Vikings, Normans and British.
On your bicycle tour of Ireland you can potentially cycle over 900 miles or 1,448km of majestic coastline - from the Irish Sea to the fierce Atlantic Ocean. You can ride the 214 mile / 344km length, of the pristine River Shannon and explore curious lunar-like landscapes and basalt columns on the way.
Your grand Ireland bicycle tour can take you over cool mountain ranges, through shady green glens and around shimmering clear lakes. You can pedal alongside towering seacliffs & desolate wild beaches. Delve into the amazing Celtic history or visit a lively village pub where you can drink a local brew and dance and Irish jig or two.
Ireland has so much to offer the cyclist - everything that is except perfect weather. Still you can't have everything right?
Check out our 'Weather Watch' below, to see the best time of year to undertake a bicycle tour of Ireland
Ireland Bicycle Tour - Top Places To Visit
The Dublin district is comprised of only one county - County Dublin .
Dublin is an ancient city which can be dated back over 1000 years, and yet as it stands today it is a modern bustling city of the 21st century.
It is city which buzzes with contempory & traditional music, song and dance. There are a plethora fabulous Irish pubs, a pulsing night life and on the cultural side; an ambundance of art & history .
A great way to see the city is to lock up your bike and join an historical walking tour which takes in the best Dublin that has to offer including castles, markets, breweries, Trinity College & The Book of Kells, and the River Liffey which runs like an artery through the heart of Dublin.
Midlands / East Coast Ireland Bicycle Tour
The Midlands / East Coast of Ireland are made up of the counties of : Carvan, Kildare, Laois, Longford, Leitrim, Louth, Roscommon, Offaly, Monaghan, Meath and Westmeath.
The Irish Midlands / East Coast counties are home to a melange of different landscapes from beautiful mountains, forests, blanket / peat bogs, a criss-cross of lakes, Loughs, canals and rivers, open grasslands, agricultural farms and fertile green pastureland, such as those of Kildare, the world-renowned Irish horse breeding and racing, district.
Landscapes are gorgeous but let's face it, a bicycle tour of Ireland would be incomplete without a big dose of history.
The Midlands / East Coast of Ireland has a glut of wonderful historical sites including Newgrange's 5000 year-old Neolithic burial chamber. These ancient tombs have been given 'World Heritage' status by UNESCO.
Other amazing and significant sites in this region are:
The Rock of Dunamase an antiquated fortress situated on the hill-top which had been impregnable and repelled by attacks from both the Vikings and Normans. It wasn't breached until the 17th century, when William Cromwell's soliders siezed it and destroyed the settlement.
An Iron Age bog road made of wood called the Corlea Trackway which was constructed around 148 B.C and runs through the boglands in county Longford.
The ruins of 6th century Christian, monastic settlement, called Glendalough. Glendalough was founded by St Kevin in the heart of a Wicklow valley.
In county Offaly, at a strategically important intersection of the River Shannon, (known as the 'Highway of the Kings'), stands Clonmacnoise. Clonmacnoise was founded in 544, by St Kieran. It is one of the most significant religious sites of early christian Ireland. Still remaining, are the ruins the round tower church, high crosses and some of Ireland's most outstanding examples of ancient grave slabs.
Offaly is also home to the beautiful Birr Castle Demesne.
Another incredibly old and significant historical site - which is also strategically positioned on an pivotal intersection of River Shannon - is 'Athlone or 'Ath Luain the Ford of Luan'. Athlone Fort was build in 1129 by the Irish King Turlough O'Connor , and then in 1210 King John of England built Athlone Castle, which still remains today.
If your bicycle tour of Ireland passes through the southern border of Lough you will be able to visit the famous Boyne Valley, where in 1690 King James II and King William of Orange fought each other in the legendary 'Battle of the Boyne'.
Perhaps one of the greatest historical and spiritual sites in Ireland is found in county Meath. Meath got its moniker as the 'Royal County' because it the home to the mystical 'Hill of Tara' - a place of myths, gods, saints, kings and warriors; and it was the very center of power for the 'High Kings of Ireland' .
South East Ireland Bicycle Tour
Southeast Ireland encompasses the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford , Tipperary, Wicklow and Wexford
With the most sunny days and driest weather on the Emerald Isle, (remember it is all relative), the southeast may just be the best place for starting your bicycle tour of Ireland.
This region is jam-packed with great attractions; natural, historical and human-made...
Natural attractions include: the awesome network of the five great rivers of: Blackwater, Barrow, Slaney, Suir , and Nore.
Historical attractions include: the historic Rock Of Cashel - once the seat of power for the King of Munster, remnants of ancient settlements, medieval towns, and fortresses, hauntingly beautiful remains of castles, tombs and abbeys that silently mark the passing, over hundreds of years, of Celtic, Viking, Norman and Anglo-Saxon peoples.
Human-made attractions include: gorgeous gourmet restuarants, cafes and farmer markets, amazing music festivals, golf courses, picturesque villages and quaint fishing ports, traditional pubs and exciting horse races - to name but a few!
South West Ireland Bicycle Tour
The most south westerly region of Ireland is home to the rival counties of Cork and Kerry.
The south west is one of the most popular destinations for visitors. It is renowned for its incredibly friendly people, great seafood & gourmet restuarants, all number of watersports and outdoor activities, fascinating history and of course - breathtaking scenery.
If your bike tour takes you through the south west then you have to take a side-trip to Blarney Castle, where legend has it, if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will 'receive the luck of the Irish' .
Plan your south west of Ireland bicycle tour carefully and you can arrange to be in Kerry for Ireland's most popular festival - 'The Rose of Tralee' - which is a personality-based competition, for young women from all over the globe, who have Irish ancestry.
Some other highlights, of this beautiful corner of Eire include the town of Killarney, Muckross House, Ross Castle, the Ring of Kerry, the Gap of Dunloe and the gorgeous Dingle Penninsula - which is one of several 'Gaeltacht', (Irish-speaking) - regions.
The Shannon Region Bicycle Tour
The Shannon region is comprised of County Clare & County Limerick .
County Clare is greatly influenced by water that surrounds it - Clare shares a border with the Atlantic ocean and plays host to the magnificent River Shannon. It has dramatic landscapes of rugged cliffs, windswept coastlines and pounding surf.
County Limerick's landscape , by way of contrast, is formed into a gentle and undulating countryside, that has rich fertile agricultural pastures housed by delightful thatched cottages.
Clare is home to one of the most significant natural regions in Europe, called 'The Burren'. The Burren' is 116 square mile or 300 square km in area, and is the largest karstic limestone region in Western Europe. It is a source of great fascination and debate for geologists, archaeologists and botanists alike.
On an historical level the Bueeren is richly endowed with more than 60 wedge tombs, Celtic crosses, megalithic tombs, and the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey.
Shannon is also location for the fabulous and famous Cliffs of Moher and the unfortunately named Bunratty Castle .
West of Ireland Bicycle Tour
The 'West of Ireland' is made up of the counties of: Galway, Donegal, Mayo & Sligo.
The western seaboard of Ireland is fierce, rugged and hauntingly beautiful.
The long stretches of sandy desolate shoreline, are edged with magestic soaring cliffs, which are pounded by the wild Atlantic sea. The waves can be immense - making this area popular with skilled surfers who willing to brave the chilly waters.
The blustery western coastline has average windspeeds of 16 mph or 26 km/hr - so if you are doing an Ireland bicycle tour that visits the west coast, make sure you have the wind to your back - or it may be slow-going!
Off the coastline sits the isolated islands of Aran, which if you make the voyage across to, will transport you back to a simpler, more quaint, 'Ireland of Old', with their atmospheric fishing villages, thatched stone cottages and a cultural history / ruins, that date back over 2000 years. Gaelic is still the primary language used the Aran islanders.
If wild seascapes aren't your thing then you can cycle down sleepy roads, and see Western Ireland's other natural delights.
There are tracks that will take you past, rolling green fields that are contained by old dry stone walls, past shining lakes, through rich boglands, velvet green forests and into pictureque traditional villages.
If you are craving for a little taste of civilization then a visit to vibrant Galway is a must.
Northern Ireland Bicycle Tour
The Northern Ireland province of Ulster incorporates the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone.
Since the '1998 Good Friday Agreement', Northern Ireland has become a much more stable and safe destination, for visitors who wish to explore this less well-travelled corner of Ireland.
The northern landscape is wild and craggy, with panoramic shorlines, jutting mountains, icy lakes, ancient ruins and time-worn castles. Natural highlights include the Mourne Mountains, the Giants Causeway (which has a 'world heritage listing), and the magnificent Glens of Antrim.
The bustling urban cities of Belfast and Londonderry City are vibrant, gritty and colorful. Elaborate catholic murals adorn the streets of Belfast attesting to the recent religious conflict. Despite this tragic history the Northern Irish people are warm and friendly.
If you time your Ireland bicycle tour well, you could have the opportunity to partake in an authentic Northern Ireland horse trading fair or one of the many other spirited festivals.
Northern Ireland is an area which has, for safety reason, lacked appeal for travellers... until now. So why not take the trail less travelled and explore the northern regions of Ireland?
If you are thinking of an Ireland bicycle tour then DON'T go in winter. The days are short and dark, the weather is wet and windy.
Best time to set off on a cycling trip of Ireland is from May - September - when the days are warmer and the sky stays light until 2300 hours.
Even then remember to take wet weather gear because 'In Ireland, the only constant when it comes to weather is change.' The weather in summer, is humid and rainfall can occur at any time - out of the blue - and clear up just as quickly. It is what keeps the landscape so green and luscious
The Irish weather, although extremely changeable, is classified as 'mild & temperate' and not prone to big extremes in temperature - however they are not unknown, so pack for all eventualities.
June - August are the warmest months with average highs of 59-65 degrees fahrenheit or 15-18 degrees celsius ...
And lows of 32-36 degrees fahrenheit or 0-2 degrees celsius
January - February are the coldest months with average highs of 41 degrees fahrenheit or 5 degrees celsius ...
And lows of 7-12 degrees fahrenheit or -11 to-14 degrees celsius
Snow rarely falls in Ireland, with the exception of in the mountains, because the temperatures tend to stay above freezing.
Did You Know?
Worldwide there are over 80 million people, who have Irish ancestry - including over 40% of the Presidents of the United States.
The potato was orginally brought to Europe, from Peru, by the Spanish - and is not actually a native Irish food!