1150GS Motorcycle trip through Ireland

A year after our wedding, my wife and i finally got around to taking a honeymoon. We started off in Paris (her choice) and then she suggested we rent a motorcycle and ride through Ireland (I’ve always wanted to see Ireland… and you know i married the right gal when she makes a suggestion like that).
After months of internet searching, I finally found Celtic Rider just outside of Dublin. I had reserved a BMW 1150GS with luggage, riding gear and a GPS.
We landed in Dublin and went to the city for a quick visit, a night in a comfortable hotel. We couldn’t help but notice how wet everything was.
The next day we woke up to pouring rain. Our car arrived to take us to Celtic Rider and we were wondering what we got ourselves into…
We met with Paul and Liam (the mechanic) at Celtic Rider and quickly realize that they were a down to earth, trustworthy, friendly and humorous bunch. Paul suggested a route to avoid the rain, made arrangements for our first Bed and Breakfast, gave us a map, and then suited us up with all the necessary gear. He had everything we could ask for in every size you could think of… Waterproof pants, jackets, boots, gloves… and of course, skid lids.
Here we are getting all geared up for a ride in the rain:

My wife was pissed this photo was taken after she was all bundled up like a child ready for the snow... and I wasn't. haha.

Paul and I went on a brief local ride to get to know the bike, and to learn about round-a-bouts and riding on the other side of the road. After that, we loaded up our luggage, my wife jumped on and Paul escorted us to the freeway heading to western Ireland.

The rain ended about an hour or two west of Dublin. Our gear held up well and we were not wet or cold. We kept referring to our ski trips where we have been much colder… Ireland was no big deal.

After about 3 or 4 hours of riding, and the guidance of our trusty GPS, we arrived in the town of Westport Ireland along the west coast of Ireland. Phew. Time to relax.
This is our bed and breakfast for the next two nights.
We went straight into town for some window shopping and dinner.
We ended up at John J O’Malleys for an amazing meal.
I saw on the menu they had ‘award winning’ black pudding. I figured it must be good…

black pudding

And it was. Amazing in fact. My wife and I devoured it. Then the waitress took our plate and asked us if we knew what it was… to which we replied “No”.
Then she said in a low voice, “It’s coagulated sheep’s blood”.
At that point, i thought my wife was going to vomit…
I was shocked as well… but we had to put it past us and remember how delicious it was. The rest of the meal was amazing as well. I recommend the Seafood Symphony!
Following the meal, we headed to Matt Molloy’s pub down the street. Matt is the flute player for the Chieftains. We were welcomed to some traditional Irish live singing however after a song or two, and a few beers, it got quiet and it was then time for bed.

Westport Ireland with the tide out.

Local house in Westport

Westport at sundown.

Day 2
Breakfast and a plan.

Off to Achill Island and then to explore the North West of Ireland.
Riding to Achill was when the ride started to feel like vacation.
We finally hit the small country roads… and sheep are everywhere!

My wife's view of the road.

As we approached Keem Beach on Achill Island… we started riding high up along a cliff. Being on the left side of the road, i was getting a bit scared because it was a LONG way down should we go off the road. And then we saw the cove… it felt like we arrived at a hidden cove in Hawaii. The water was bright green/blue and totally placid. Ireland? really?

Keem Beach, Achill Island

After a nice walk around the area, it was time to ride on. We rode for another hour or two up around Ballycroy National Park to the small town of Bangor for lunch.
Then got lost thanks to the GPS trying to take us ‘As the crow flies’ though some crazy farm country (thankfully we were on a GS).

Our trusty on and off road machine.

Once we got back on route, we rode down to Castlebar and then back to Westport.

Just after taking this photo i stepped in a quicksand like mix of mud and manure. I had mud up to my knees. Luckily i found a guy washing his car with a pressure washer and asked him to hose me down.

Day 3

A LONG day of riding ahead… For some reason, my wife had it in her head that we had to make it to Dingle. Also, Paul suggested a route to Dingle from Westport with various stops along the way.
Off we go.

The ride between Westport and Clifden Ireland was probably the most spectacular part of the trip. The terrain went from mountains to valleys to rivers to lakes…
A taste of it is here… however, i apologize, my wife suffers from vertical video syndrome…

And then we ended up on the Sky Road in Clifden. It is one of the most scenic roads in the west part of Ireland.

Along the route, we stumbled upon a 200 year old abandoned castle. We parked the bike and walked down the long driveway up to the castle.

Castle off to the right.

Road to the Castle

Between the castle and the stables.

After some exploring of the castle and the area around it, i heard my wife talking to somebody off in the distance. We were greeted by Raymond who is part of nine families that own the Castle. He also politely mentioned that it isn’t open to the public but said we were OK. He gave us wonderful history about the castle, who built it and the politics that surround it. I can’t disclose the location of this castle but Raymond did say that he gets occasional visitors and was in need of money to repair the road.

Back on the road… We have lots of ground to cover…
We took in lots of scenery and had some occasional pit stops but our next major destination was the Cliffs of Moher. WOW.

Those small things atop the hill on the upper left are people.

Off to Killimer to catch a ferry across the Shannon River. We probably should have called it quits around the Kilrush / Killimer are. We covered a ton of ground… and the wife’s knees were starting to get stiff (she is a runner and can’t sit for that long). But she had it in her head we had to get to Dingle. So off we go…

Waiting for the ferry

We made it to Dingle with some sunlight to spare. phew. that was a LONG ride. Longer then we had expected. Amazing though. We went into town for an amazing Pizza, a few drinks and then exhaustion took over.

Streets of Dingle.

Day 4
After another amazing breakfast at our B&B, we started to head back to Dublin.

Our main stop on the return trip was King John’s Castle in Limerick. The castle was empty and we were the only few visiting this amazing piece of history along the Shannon River. It was build around 1209 and has a history we can’t even imagine as two people growing up in the USA.

Kink John's Castle, Limerick Ireland.

Back to Dublin… and back to the rain once we got close to Dublin.
I wish we had another week to continue riding. I guess we’ll just have to come back someday and do it again.

We were greeted by Paul when we returned to Celtic Riders. He took our GPS off the bike, went into the office for a minute and then came back and asked if the number ‘400’ on the GPS odometer meant we rode 400km or 1400km. I told him 1400 and his eyeballs nearly popped out of his head. He thought we were absolutely crazy for riding so much. After i did the math, i realized that it was only about 850 miles over 4 days. That isn’t too bad… is it?
Regardless, he was happy to see us and the bike in one piece. He helped us unload, gave us T-Shirts and chatted about our trip.

I couldn’t say enough about Paul and his crew at Celtic Rider. They are warm, welcoming, friendly, and avid motorcycle riders. The bike ran fantastic, the gear was perfect, and their guidance was spot on. I hope to visit them again someday so we can explore more of a country we came to know and love.

Celtic Rider