Saturday, May 10, 2014

5/2/14 Day 106 Murrisk, Ireland

After putting in 7.5 hours of work on our Work Away program four days in a row it is time for our weekend! We wake up at 7:00 and Karl gives us a ride to the train staion where we are able to catch our 3 hour long train ride from Kildare in the middle of the country to Westport, located up in county Mayo in the Northwest corner of Ireland. The town is adorable with brightly painted pub names and doorways. Each time that we pass a bike shop we stop to inquire about rental rates as the plan for tomorrow is to ride the Greenway trail, a 42 kilometer bike trail that will take us out to Achill Island. By the time we've talked to four different bike places we are able to settle on Clew Bay, they have been operating for three years (as long as the trail has been established) and they also offer a shuttle service and roadside assistance for anyone who needs flat repair. After paying our down payment of half the rental (15 euros) and talking the guys up about walking to Murrisk and hiking up Croagh Patrick they actually offer to let us take the bikes for the night, no charge! We giddily pick out our bikes and fit ourselves with helmets by the time we get to Murrisk (9 kilometers away) our backs are already killing us from biking with 8 kilo packs on (luckily our other 17 kilos of weight is stowed safely back at our Workaway home in Moone). Croagh Patrick is a very spiritual pilgrimage and known as the holiest mountain in Ireland as Saint Patrick fasted there for forty days, hordes of pilgrims and nature enthusiasts alike climb to the top where there is a small church (there is one man who climbs to the everyday to open the church). We arrive to Croagh Patrick at 16:00, it is too late to store our packs so we lock up the bikes and start our ascent. It is steeper than expected and our packs are seriously feeling very heavy. With heavy consideration we almost stash them among the bogs but in the end decide to tough it out as the time is already 18:00 and darkness is approaching, we can't make it to the top at this hour anyways. So we hoist our packs up, carefully climbing higher through the scree until we get to the cloud line above which is an impenetrable gray layer. We snap a few photos with a promise to return earlier on a clearer day with Julie when she visits in July. Unlocking our bikes and riding another 7 kilometers further from Westport we get to the recommended beach camping at Old Head where we manage to find a beautiful wooded area close to the white sand beach in the widest arches of Croagh Patricks topography. 

The Irish usage of roundabouts is extremely efficient, instead of stop lights and crossroads...roundabouts. If you miss your turn you just take another spin around, more flow, less traffic congestion. 
The beautiful city of Westport
Me, as always chasing baby animals, they are just too cute!
Kevin enjoying a bikeing Guiness. 

The view from the top of our climb

This beautiful sculpture is to embody the victims of the great famine, a beautiful depiction of the countries trying history. 
The beautiful and small peninsula of Old Head and our campsite for the night

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