watch the promo video we made for celtic rider
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For any comments or questions about any of my trips, feel free to email me at email@example.com I’ll reply ASAP, even during the trip.
THE STORY BEHIND MY TRIP TO IRELAND
While I was on my Arctic Circle trip, I met Kevin from Ireland and his riding buddy, Jim from Pennsylvania. We were sitting in a long line of vehicles waiting for a pilot car to guide us through one of many construction zones. I was at the back of the line and Kevin and Jim were near the front.
The flaggers asked us to move to the front of the line because we were on motorcycles. The three of us unintentionally rode together for many miles through one construction zone after another, for a few hours.
In between construction zones, I noticed that Kevin was riding much slower than Jim and I. When the three of us stopped at another construction zone, Kevin and Jim told me that the gas station that Kevin was counting on filling up at, was closed. Jim was okay on fuel, but not Kevin.
Once past the last construction zone on the way to Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory, Kevin told Jim and I to go on ahead and that he should be able to make it to Beaver Creek okay. So, we did!
When Jim and I arrived at the gas station in Beaver Creek (which was my destination for the day), we sat there and chatted, for quite some time. But Kevin never showed up.
Since I was carrying a spare two gallons of fuel on my bike, I rode back with Jim to find Kevin. A couple miles back, there was Kevin on the side of the road, relaxed and confident that he would soon be rescued!
The three of us rode back to Beaver Creek, we all fueled up and Kevin and Jim hit the road for Alaska and I checked into my motel.
The following day, I was back on the road. After a few hours of riding, I stopped in Tok, Alaska to fill up. As I was pumping gas, I heard a couple of big bikes pull up behind me. When I turned around, it was Kevin and Jim!
They had spent the night in Tok and were just pulling out when they saw me across the street getting gas. They asked me if I wanted to join them on their ride today. The answer was easy. Yes!
We had a great time together riding to Delta Junction, Alaska. Kevin also had a video camera mounted on his helmet and we spent a lot of time recording the three of us on the days ride.
When we arrived in Delta Junction, as Kevin and I exchanged video files, Kevin said: ” If you ever want to do a motorcycle tour in Ireland, let me know”. Well…I’ve always wanted to see Ireland and no better way to do it than on a motorcycle, and now, I’ve got a connection in Ireland. No brainer!
Once we exchanged video files in Delta Junction, I parted ways with Kevin and Jim. It was a very memorable day.
Kevin and I have stayed connected since our trip to Alaska, going over details of my trip to Ireland.
And that’s how the motorcycle trip to Ireland was born!
THE IRELAND TRIP
On this trip, I’ll have a riding partner. Sean, who I’ve worked with for over 20 years will be riding along with me on the Emerald Isle. We’ve informally named this trip “the Castles and Shepard’s Pie Tour.”
Twice per year, Sean and I travel around the country for work, and sample the Shepard’s Pie, every where we go. It’s one of our favorite dishes. We’re also enchanted by old castles. Those are our two main objectives on this trip.
We plan to circle the whole country of Ireland, stopping in Northern Ireland to hopefully connect with Kevin, and spend a day or two riding together.
Unfortunately, it’s very expensive to ship a motorcycle over seas. So, we’ll be renting BMW F800 GS bikes when we get there. The tough part about renting is, I spent months preparing my V Strom with all the camera, GPS and other gear for my ride to the Arctic Circle. Now I have to replicate that, temporarily for a seven day trip, then tear it all apart and bring it all home. It’s most definitely going to be worth it though.
Update April 28th 2016
Kevin will be meeting Sean and I on day one at Celtic Rider, the place we are renting the motorcycles outside of Dublin. He is planning on riding with us for four or five days. That’s great news!
DAY ONE May 6th , 2016 – Travel Day
Made it to Charlotte, NC. We have a three hour lay over here. Right now we’re sitting in the American Airlines Admirals Club for first class passengers. We got kicked out of the United Airlines first class club in Denver. Sean didn’t bring his membership card for the UA Club. So, they said see ya’ later! AA let us in their club, no problem at all.
Next stop Dublin…in about eleven hours!
DAY TWO – Saturday MAY 7th – Hello Ireland
We passed through security at DIA without a hitch. We passed through customs in Ireland without a hitch. We drove the rental car from the airport to Celtic Rider (the motorcycle rental place) with just a few girly like screams, driving on the left side of the road! Then we spent about three hours loading and preparing the bikes. Kevin arrived at Celtic Rider, right on time. Then we hit the road in the rain. It rained all day. But it was still amazing.
Kevin kept us safe, riding in the lead and making sure we always “looked right and kept left”.
It was really tough to keep the rain drops off the camera lenses and some of the fancy camera gear we brought could not be used in wet conditions. But, we got by.
We headed north and the first place we hit was Trim Castle. Wow! This was just the kind of stuff we wanted to see.
Sean and Terry at Trim Castle
We continued north about 40 miles to Roche Castle. There wasn’t a road up to the castle, so we had to open a gate and walk through a pasture to get to the castle. And there was only one thing in our way….
No, he was near by, across the road. Not in the pasture.
It was Sheep poop! But we navigated around the stuff and once again…wow!
Me at Roche Castle
After Roche Castle we traveled further north, where we boarded the Ferry to the town of Portaferry.
Kevin and Sean on the Ferry.
Once we arrived in Portaferry, we decided to call it a day, after Sean and I realized why we so tired. We haven’t had a minute of sleep in over 34 hours. Sean and I had a great meat pie in the local pub, and I had my first Guinness in Ireland! What a great day.
DAY THREE – Sunday – MAY 8th, 2016
I woke up in my hotel room and looked out the window expecting sunshine as we heard from the locals, should be the case. It was pouring harder than yesterday. Kevin stayed with one of his sisters near Belfast last night and rode back down to Portaferry to join us again on todays leg of the trip. He said it was raining hard as he rode down. So, we loaded up the bikes in the rain, put our rain gear on and hit the road. Luckily as we rode further north, the rain lightened up. Our first stop for the day was Grey Abbey.
As we made our way up the Coast Road, we started to see some sunshine pop through the clouds. Along the Coast Road we pulled over for a rest, and as I promised my cousin Kevin, I looked south east towards the London area and waved at all of my relatives in England.
There are some beautiful views along the Coast Road
Our next stop was Dunluce Castle. This will probably be on top of our list of the best castles on our trip. Sitting on top of a cliff on the northern coast of Ireland, it was breathtaking.
From Dunluce Castle we made our way to Downhill Estate near Castlerock.
After day full of riding and sight seeing, we rode to Kevin’s home in Derry, Northern Ireland, where Kevin’s wife Kathleen, cooked us some home made Shepherd’s Pie. It was so good. Kevin and Kathleen really made us feel at home.
After dinner, Kevin escorted us to our hotel across town. By the time we got to the hotel, it was midnight and time to call it a successful Day Three of our trip!
DAY FOUR – Monday – May 9th, 2016
Our first stop today was Bogside in Derry, Northern Ireland, the sight of “Bloody Sunday”. It was very interesting to have Kevin tell us the story of that day.
Just up the hill, we visited the old section of Derry, completely surrounded by a centuries old wall to protect the city.
Our next stop was Grianan Fort. The circular fort is about 3000 years old. It sits high upon a hill with an amazing 360 degree few of the area.
We ended our day in Bundoran, back in the Republic of Ireland, at the Great Northern Hotel, near the Atlantic Ocean. It was a surprise gift to Sean and I from Kevin and Kathleen. They picked up the tab!
Thank you, very much!
DAY FIVE Tuesday – MAY 10th, 2016
We enjoyed our stay at The Great Northern Hotel.
After breakfast we rode our bikes behind the hotel to take a few pictures of the Atlantic ocean.
Kevin was a little too close to the edge of the cliff for me!
Then we rode southeast to Monea Castle. When we were planning this trip, we weren’t sure if Monea Castle would be worth stopping to see. After researching it, we thought it might be too small and not very impressive. It was small, but it was very impressive. Especially inside. My imagination went wild, picturing in my mind, what it must of looked like hundreds of years ago.
After spending quite sometime at Monea Castle, we rode east just a few miles to Enniskillen Castle and museum. It’s right in the town of Enniskillen. There isn’t much left of the castle, but we also strolled through the museum, which was interesting.
After our tour of the museum, the moment arrived that came way too soon. Kevin had to leave the Irish Motorcycle Adventure and go back home to Derry and get back to work. It was such a great four days. With our motorcycle helmet intercoms, we were able to reminisce about our Arctic Circle trip last year and tell each other stories for hours while we were riding through the Irish countryside. Sean and I are also going to miss listening to Kevin sing Willie Nelson and John Denver songs (he’s pretty good at it too) as we whizzed past herds of sheep. It was a fun time!
After Kevin left, it was time for Sean and I to make our way further south. We still have five more days of riding Ireland.
After a few hours, we made it to Sligo, where we checked into the Clarion Hotel and called it a day!
DAY SIX – Wednesday – May 11th, 2016
As we were loading our bikes this morning to leave Sligo, a little Irish girl wanted to sit on one of the motorcycles. We were happy to oblige…
The Monks Fishing House, near the the Abbey.
Cong is the classic Irish village. The type of village that all the tourists expect to see when visiting Ireland.
After leaving Cong, we rode about three miles down the road to try and find Ballykine Castle. Sean and I had done a lot of research on this castle that we accidently found a photograph of many months ago. We also read that it is known as Irelands “spookiest castle”, nestled in a thick, dark forest. No matter how hard we tried, we simply couldn’t narrow down, exactly where it was located. But this was the one castle in Ireland that we really wanted to see. We parked our bikes in front of a locked gate that had been marked…”no motorized vehicles”. We had a hunch that this might be the trail. So we grabbed all of our camera gear and began walking into the forest.
We walked for about 35 minutes looking through the thick trees, as we heard that it’s very hard to see the castle from the trail. If you’re not looking for it, it’s easy to walk right past it. Then off to our left, several yards, there it was, the mysterious castle that we’ve been so anxious to see for months.
As we approached the dark, eerie looking structure, we couldn’t believe what we saw. Sean and I looked at each other in silent disbelief…
The whole area was fenced off, with a locked gate! The sign read “No Entry, Structure Unsafe”. All of the fencing and gate looked brand new. As though they had just finished installing it yesterday! I’m normally a very cautious, follow the rules type of guy. But I just traveled nearly six thousand miles and waited months to see this place. That’s when the crazy rebel in me took over. I’M GOIN’ IN! I climbed over the gate and it was worth it. It was just as it was described.
Then Sean and I began the long walk back. We were tired and beginning to feel the energy draining away from our bodies. As we arrived at the locked gate where we parked our bikes, we realized the gate was open and our bikes had been moved to the side. Which would be really hard to do, because the front forks were locked. Then minutes later, a logging truck loaded with fresh cut trees pulled up and the truck driver stepped out. He and a coworker had to pick the bikes up and drag them to the side of the gate to get his logging truck in. These are not light motorcycles. Probably close to 700 pounds each. He told me that he was considering picking up the bikes with the logging machine that loads the logs onto the truck, and setting the bikes down, deep in the brush where we wouldn’t be able to get them out. As much trouble as we put this truck driver through today, he was very friendly and gave us helpful information on how to get to our next destination, and where to stay, without the big smile on his face ever going away. Another fun day!
DAY SEVEN – THURSDAY – MAY 12th, 2016
Another spectacular day of riding and sight seeing. We put a lot of miles in on these Irish roads. We left our hotel in Headford in some cool, but decent weather.
On our way to The Cliffs of Moher, we spotted Dunguaire castle on the side of the road by accident. It wasn’t in our travel plans, but it was very picturesque.
Further down the road, we found these castle ruins. I wasn’t able to find any information on it yet, but I’ll keep looking. The back side of these ruins are crumbling into the sea.
We then made it to The Cliffs of Moher. What a jaw dropping sight.
We decided to take a 20 minute ride on the ferry across the Shannon river, which saved us a lot of time by cutting off about 35 miles of roads.
After several more hours of riding, we made it to The Gap of Dunloe, which is basically what we would call a mountain pass. It was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever experienced in my life.
DAY EIGHT – FRIDAY – MAY 13th, 2016
We left our hotel in Killarney this morning in perfect weather. It was sunny all day long.
We arrived at Ross castle within 10 minutes. Ross castle sits on the shore of Lough Leane. It was another picturesque castle.
The ride from Ross castle, to The Rock of Cashel was very therapeutic and beautiful.
We arrived at The Rock of Cashel, which is one of those movie set type castles. However, there were some major repairs going on at the time, so a lot of it was covered in scaffolding.
But what caught our attention, about a half mile down the hill, was Hore Abbey. It was fascinating. It was built in the 1200’s. Once again my imagination went wild picturing what this place was like in those days, as I walked through these incredible looking ruins.
The Rock of Cashel in the distance, as seen from Hore Abbey.
Today…was a great day of sight seeing!
DAY NINE – SATURDAY – MAY 14th, 2016
I’d like to start off today’s post with some news that was quite a shock to me. I received a text from Kevin early this morning, who is back at home in Northern Ireland.
Jim, Kevin’s very close friend and riding partner on his Arctic trip, was in a serious motorcycle accident in Tennessee yesterday. His injuries are very serious. Jim is in the photo’s from my Arctic trip at the top of this page. I had a great time riding with Jim and Kevin in the Yukon and Alaska last year. I wish Jim and his family the very best.
Jim called me a couple weeks ago and he’s making a tremendous recovery from his accident. He’s still got a lot of healing to do, but he’s expected to recover from his injuries. Jim’s also looking forward to getting a brand new Harley!
We left The Horse & Jockey hotel in some beautiful weather…once again!
We just happened upon another castle by accident, that was not in our travel plans, Cullohill Castle. The scenery around the area was spectacular too.
Our next stop, and final castle on the motorcycles, was The Rock of Dunamase. This was an amazing place. Once again I imagined how it looked in it’s day. The scenery around the area also had some breath taking views from up on top of the hill.
Sadly, it was time to return the bikes to Celtic Rider that afternoon. The staff there went well out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed to make our Irish motorcycle journey a success.
In closing, I’d have to say that this trip was as incredible as I thought it would be. The scenery was truly some of the best I’ve ever seen. Every person I had contact with was very friendly and helpful (read about the logging truck driver on day six as an example). I would easily return to Ireland to do it again. To all of those who said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland” after I mentioned that I was going…DO IT! You’ll love it.
Tomorrow will be a preparation day for traveling back to Denver. If I have time to do a little sight seeing, I’ll add DAY TEN. Otherwise, I’ll see everybody back in the States!