Birthday ride

It was my birthday today. Officially entrenched in my mid-thirties, I’m happy to report I’m still healthy enough to ride my bike and sleep in a tent.

Farmers use a machine to first cut the grass into neat rows. A second machine then vacuums the cut grass and deposits a cellophane wrapped hay roll that looks like a giant marshmallow.
Farmers use a machine to first cut the grass into neat rows. A second machine then vacuums the cut grass and deposits a cellophane wrapped hay roll that looks like a giant marshmallow.

This brings me to the following observation and subsequent rant. Ireland has a thriving tourism economy. Tourists are everywhere and in great numbers. The trouble is that most, okay nearly all, of them get around this gorgeous country by personal motor vehicle or tour bus. At times even the minor roads have a steady stream of tiny hatchbacks zipping over the twisting roads.

As a cyclist I’d prefer to see fewer cars everywhere. They’re noisy, they take up a lot of space wherever they go, but this isn’t an anti-car rant. This is a rant against all of the tourists who are fit enough to get around using their own power yet choose to rely on a hulking machine to do a simple task. I see so many beautifully fit young people popping out from behind their rented steering wheels prematurely wasting the best thing they have going for them: the vibrancy of their youth.

This is my challenge to all of you: return your rented vehicles, throw your clothes in a backpack or some panniers and use your beautiful bodies to walk or pedal around the Emerald Isle. Take a bus or train once in a while if needed, but use your own muscles whenever possible. Don’t squander your youth in a fecking car.

Now that my rant is done, it’s time to describe a bit about what happened today. We saw some dolphins bobbing out of the water while taking a ferry (I’m a hypocrite) across the mouth of the Shannon River. Seeing some dolphins was fun since we skipped out on paying for a dolphin tour in Dingle. We didn’t get to see the famous Dingle harbor dolphin named Fungie though. He’s apparently been a daily sighting in the harbor for thirty years.

After the ferry ride we headed to the coast and the town of Kilkee. Carrie read that Kilkee had cliffs similar to the famous Cliffs of Moher but just not as tall. We decided to check them out because it was a warm day and we had plenty of daylight left before reaching our campsite.

Here I am admiring the Kilkee Cliffs.
Here I am admiring the Kilkee Cliffs.
Another view of the Kilkee Cliffs on a sunny June day.
Another view of the Kilkee Cliffs on a sunny June day.
We took a dip in the Atlantic in a tidal swimming hole.
We took a dip in the Atlantic in a tidal swimming hole.

While the cliffs were indeed impressive, what turned out to be the most fun was swimming with the locals in the tide pools. As the tide goes out it creates large swimming holes. The sun heats up this water to create a refreshing place for a dip.

After settling into our campsite in Doonbeg, we walked into town to find a pub for a birthday pint. We entered a cozy pub, nearly all Irish pubs are cozy, and sat down at the bar, which was occupied by some seniors and a group of marrying-age women. Everyone seemed to know each other. This has happened in most pubs we’ve visited. Suddenly one of the young women belts out a traditional Irish song I believe called Galway Bay. She was fantastic. About a half hour later, the friendly lady barkeep and most of the seniors clear a space to do some traditional Irish dancing, which looked like square dancing. It was a hoot to watch these people have a good time together and a fun why to end my birthday.

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