“Do you know Eamon Carney?” “He’s my cousin.” Oh, sure; and doesn’t everybody from America have a “cousin” in Ireland. Such were the beginnings of conversations as we cycled around Ireland this summer and “connected” with the locals in the County Sligo area.
When I was 7 years old in 1956, my parents and I visited my mother’s relatives (her aunt Mary and Cousin Eamon Carney,) in County Sligo and my mother’s father’s relatives, (the Smith clan,) in County Waterford. At that time, my father was stationed in Paris with the US Navy so the trip to Ireland was a short one. My next visit was planned with my husband in 1994 to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary by taking a two week cycling trip in Ireland. Unfortunately a broken ankle changed our mode of travel to a rental car. During this trip we visited with my cousin, Eamon Carney and his lovely wife, Pauline, and all their children. In 2014 I rediscovered the joys of long distance cycling while on a 2 week cycling pilgrimage in Spain and promptly retired so we could follow through with the cycling trip of Ireland that I missed in 1994.
My husband made all the enquiries and purchased the bikes, pannier bags, tickets, and necessary gear. Our plane landed in Shannon on August 6th and our adventures began. Unfortunately, the Irish Government limited to two months our touring visit in their beautiful country and so we determined to cycle around the country getting as far as we could. If our cycling didn’t get us back to Shannon in time for our return flight, we were prepared to catch a train or bus to Shannon in time for our return flight.
We had a plan of sorts, using a Ciccerone travel book, “Cycling around Ireland” which provided us with 12 routes (5 to 10 days length each) that made a complete loop around Ireland with a few cross-country routes (which we ended up not taking). We had a few specific destinations that were non-negotiable and that needed to be included in the loop; Derry (where my husband had resided in the early 60’s as a young teen) and Sligo, more specifically the home of Eamon Carney and his family in Bunnina. Since we thought we had ample time, we started out with the idea of cycling the entire circuit around the country mainly the coastline, going south from Shannon and continuing counter clockwise. more to come…8/5/14