Fenit to Kilrush

Day 116, Monday 24 April

I suppose it had to happen. After 12 dry days in Ireland, most of them glorious, I awoke to the sound of more than one drop of rain on my window pane. Nother much yet, but big, dark, heavy clouds rolling in from the North. Thanks to Brian and the team for your hospitality at The West End and your kind concession in support of the Lifeboats. Looking back across the bay towards today’s cloud covered mountains on the Dingle peninsula, I’m pleased I managed to get over the Connor Pass yesterday.

Within 10 minutes of cycling into this morning’s much cooler northerly headwind, the feeling of being in touch with nature was heightened by the addition of a 15 minute downpour. A thorough test for the waterproof jacket and four yellow bag covers. I still haven’t found the ideal cyclists’ rain jacket. Is there really such a thing as a lightweight, water repellent and breathable jacket?

No matter today, the rest of the ride was dry, so the already wet-both-sides outer layer was soon peeled off to use the cool blow-dry effect of battling into wind to some advantage.

County Kerry has the longest, least straight coastline. It also seems to have some of the roughest, bone-shaking surfaces. The effect of hitting the occasional smooth stretch of properly laid new black-top is tremendous. The noise suddenly changes from the sound of a frantic punch-up to the gentle hiss of low resistant slick tyres, as Fondo accelerates rapidly with no increased effort from me. One of those magic moments.

Following the last bit of the northern edge of the county gradually takes us more easterly as we curve into the Shannon estuary, heading for the ferry crossing at Tarbert. This is where I must already start today’s expressions of gratitude to the good people of County Clare, in particular, those of Kilrush and even more specifically, the LOM at Kilrush Lifeboat Station. Thanks Pauline, for all the unexpected treats and preparing the way for such a great run-in, beginning with the welcome-aboard, free passage and coffee & KitKat on the ride across the mighty Shannon. Thank you Dermot Glyn and Simone & ferry crew. Next was Pauline’s instruction to call in to the stunning Vandeleur Walled Gardens where Mairead, manager of the Woodlands Bistro had offered lunch. A great welcome there from Shawna and Karoly, Vandeleur staff and volunteer Lifboat crew members. Great food in an amazing setting. Thank you all so much. And eventually, down to the Kilrush Lifeboat Station to meet Pauline herself, along with Finton (DLA), Brian & Martina (crew) and Stephen, visiting RNLI trainer and Achill Island ex mech.

Out of time … more to follow, including photos. Just time for one more mention, thanks Ethna at Hillcrest, Kilrush, for the luxury B&B and your great support for your local Lifeboat. Loop Head and Spanish Point next, and a rendesvous with a couple of  very familiar faces!

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