09.08.2015 - 09.08.2015
The summer in the UK AND Ireland has been particularly bad this year with very little sun and warmth and a lot of rain. Don't we know that! However, Saturday 8th August dawned in sparkling sun and, after another delicious breakfast at the Abrae Court Guest House cooked by Nina, we rode off with our first destination for the day being Nenagh, at the foot of the Arra Mountains, a couple of hours away.
Frank's mother's family came from Nenagh and so he wanted to go there and have a look around. We had left the N7 about an hour out of Dublin and were travelling local roads when the road we wanted to use was closed. Quick GPS recalculation and we found ourselves in the town of Mountrath (County Laois) where we refuelled bikes and then ourselves with hot drinks and Jim, an eclair. The countryside we rode through was what you see in picture books, rolling green hills with stone walls segmenting the land into one giant jigsaw. Even the crappy weather of the afternoon didn't spoil what we were seeing.
Off again, still in sunshine, to Nenagh where we stopped for a quick look round and some pics.
There is a castle there as well as a most quaint historical village and, with the time now around 12:30pm, we agreed to keep riding and find a pub to eat at.
What we found, about 40 mins later, was this fabulous tavern (Matt The Thresher) in a little town called Birdhill, the town dating back 500 years. Chatting to the owner we found out that the previous owner had been Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair, who had been born and raised in the local area. We also found out that the sign above one of the doors "Shebeen" meant an illicit bar where alcohol was sold without a licence. The owner told us there were still shebeens operating in the area. We also noticed there was the Coffee Culture Barista Training Academy next door. We are still wondering where all those baristas are as we can't get a cappuccino to save our lives!! Frank thinks they've all gone to Melbourne...
The weather was fast disintegrating and so was the traffic with several traffic jams encountered along the way to our night's stop on the border of the counties of Limerick and Kerry. The first long queue of vehicles was at Adare, a designated historical town founded in the 13th century on the river Maigue. The reason for the traffic was people stopping to sightsee at the 13thC Desmond Castle, the 14thC Franciscan Friary and the Trinitarian Priory built in 1202 as well as the many thatched roof buildings etc. along the main street. There was also a wedding going on with two Silver Shadow rollers as the wedding cars. Nice! The next jam was at Rathkeale and, you guessed it, another wedding. What we found as we were riding the back roads is that the County of North Tipperary and further south west the County of Limerick are littered with castles and monasteries dating back to before the 12th and 13th the centuries.
With all that behind us we arrived, in steady rain, at our room for the night - Jack O'Rourke's Bar and accommodation, The Square, Abbeyfeale. We were met by Angela who showed us our rooms and after a change of clothes we settled in down in the bar to sink a few and watch Gaelic footy. We walked to Leens Hotel, four bars up from The Square, for dinner and then back to our rooms about 10:30pm for yet another well earned sleep.