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The Journey - Ireland

Dublin - Bangor

This was background work rather than one continuous journey, as I headed north, trying out the bike and visiting some places with connections to Columbanus, and some that just happened to be on the way.

Newgrange and Knowth mounds and passage graves were an anachronistic way to start, and after a night in a B+B near Drogheda, it was Monasterboice and Mellifont abbeys next (although it's bizarre to consider that the Cistercian abbey at Mellifont was built nearly 600 years after Columbanus came through Co. Louth).

A pleasant ride brought me to my aunt's near Dundalk, even if I hadn't expected there to be a motorway there. Over the border into bandit country around Newry before I faced my first real hills in the beautiful Mournes. My first night in the North was in the quiet but charming seaside resort of Newcastle.

Powered by Ulster fries, it was on through Downpatrick on the good roads to the Victorian holiday town of Bangor. The museum there has some Columbanus material, and if you stand on the hill near the town hall you can look along Abbey Hill where the saint spent most of his life, and down towards the harbour he sailed from, heading for the continent.

He left by boat; I rode into Belfast and got the train home to Dublin.

Total Distance: 309km

Dublin - Rosslare

The real journey began with a slog through Dublin suburbs and out along the east coast. Into the wind all day, stung by a bee near Malin Head, and I grumped all the way to Gorey for bad food but a welcome B+B.

In a better mood the next day, singing through Enniscorthy and down to the grim ferry terminal at Rosslare.

Total Distance: 182 km

Irish Best and Worst

Best food: Ulster fries, Newcastle and Bangor (be still my lard-encased heart).

Worst food: The Lanterns restaurant, Drogheda (like a works canteen in hell). Special mention: the nautical menu in Bangor ('I'll have a Fletcher Christian, please.')

Best tourist attraction: Newgrange (still staggering, no matter how often you visit) Worst omission: No monument or street named for Columbanus in Bangor - or did I miss something? -

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ISBN: 0340832282
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