Day 122, Tues 2 May
An early start. Breakfast at 7.30, in time for the 8.15 return ferry to Rossaveel. Thank you so much Alice for a very comfy night, great breakfast at Dormer House plus your kind & generous support of the RNLI.
Farewell to the Aran Islands on another perfect day.
Back on the long and winding road, keeping as close to the coast as possible, en route to the next Lifeboat Station at Clifden.
Oh for goodness sake! Is there no end to the constant, never-ending beauty of this coast? On and on, mile after mile…
No apologies for the umpteenth Fotondograph. We couldn’t have got here without each other. Fondo is indeed a fine Racelight thoroughbred, capable of most roles as a general workhorse, comfortable tourer and doesn’t even complain much about being used as pack-mule. With a name as long as KinesisUK Racelight Granfondo Ti, one would expect great things. However, Fondo’s versatility does not extend to the ability to take photos of me spoiling idyllic views. Just as well. Perhaps I should practice the art of taking selfies of me, me, me. No, no. No danger. So, the Fotondographs will continue.
Two major highlights to report on this wonderful day of blissful cycling. The first, after just 24 miles, a strong desire for caffeine and sugar caused me to veer to the right at a petrol station/local shop just before the village of Carna. At first, I couldn’t understand why, in such a quiet spot, this place was so busy. Then I realised what an essential asset to this community it is. It had everything! From diesel for your tractor to the latest hi-tech, low energy light bulbs. More important to me, it had a great coffee machine and freshly baked blueberry muffins. Ronan, the man in charge, had the ability to serve and advise several customers at once, be in more than one place at a time whilst maintaining an engaging and informative conversation with a passing cyclist who was focused on filling his face with a giant blueberry muffin and dribbling coffee. Not only did Ronan know my name within ten seconds of dextrous use of thumb & iphone, he also refused to take my money. I later discovered that he had also made a hugely generous on-line RNLI donation via my VMG link. This man deserves a William Hillary Gold Medal for services to his community and to passing strangers.
The second highlight was another 24 miles along the road at the lovely Roundstone House Hotel where, quite coincidentally, Thelma & Louise had very recently stayed for a couple of nights and spread the word, telling me to call in when passing and say hello, or at least give them a wave. Seeing so many jolly, waving residents enjoying lunch on the front terrace was enough reason to stop and drool over their meals. What a fine bunch of supporters, whose kindness has been acknowledged, paid in, and can now be seen, along with O’Dowd’s Bar and Ronan’s on this VMG link. The basic total has now passed £5,000. With Gift Aid added (thanks to you tax payers donating directly on line) this takes the Grand total today to almost £6,000. A great fundraising day, but will I reach the £1 per mile target of £8,000 over the final 1,000 remaining Irish miles? Any help publicising this would be hugely appreciated.
Meanwhile, another 20 miles of snaking, bobbing beauty all the way to Clifden, with rocky, tufted inlets and coral beaches to my left. Any danger of a stiff neck is alleviated by the need to keep an eye on the majestic Twelve Pins and Maumturk Mountains of Joyce’s Country, Connemara, to the right and a ahead, growing larger by the mile.
Clifden itself is worthy of greater praise than I have time to write. Simply a great destination with history, character and everything you need in the perfect location.
From my perspective, Clifden is unique for another reason. Its RNLI Station currently runs three very different Lifeboats. A ‘D’ Class ILB, a high speed ‘B’Class Atlantic 85 ILB and a Merseyside All-weather, ocean going Lifeboat. A fantastic range of kit, including the associated launch and recovery vehicles. All this, of course demands a big and versatile team of volunteer crew members, kitted out and fully trained, prepared to give lots of their time on regular, planned exercises and available 24/7 for the real thing, at the bleep of a pager. None of this is government funded. Most people would agree that the success of the RNLI is down to its complete independence from both UK and ROI government. As long as we continue to voluntarily drip-feed their income by regular donations (and the occasional huge legacy), the RNLI can continue to maintain and modernise it’s resources and procedures. The charity that saves lives at sea and (more discretely), prevents loss of life through education and public awareness campaigns.
Many thanks to Rob King, Clifden Lifeboat Station Mechanic, for the great welcome and very enjoyable and informative full tour of both boat houses. Thanks also to John Brittain, (Clifden LOM) and Sue for being such good hosts at their Sharamore House on my rescheduled day off with Claire and Rae (aka T&L). A real treat! Regards and best wishes to the rest of the crew, especially the cycling squad. We must get together on your stunning local road circuits one day. Preferably unladen.