August 19, 2011
We arrived at the Shannon Airport early in the morning with bikes, bags and a strong need for coffee. We decided to forgo coffee and hop a bus ride from the airport to Limerick. It was a super easy operation – literally just walk outside the airport and down the street a few hundred yards and the bus stop is right there. It costs 6 euro to Limerick and because we were tourists and uncertain of what we were doing, we failed to get change for a 50 euro so we were at the mercy of the bus driver. He looked at us through his dark sunglasses and we looked at him with wide eyes. Thank God they speak English in Ireland – we would have been in a bigger pickle otherwise. We explained we didn’t have change…and uh….please still let us on because we just hauled all our luggage onto the bus already…
He let us on and ended up showing that Irish hospitality to us on the first of many occasions we were helped out by people in the country. Note here: Buses in Ireland are NICE. They are a little more expensive but so comfortable and relaxing to ride in.
We arrived at the Limerick Bus Station about 45 minutes later and found out that bus stations around Ireland let you STORE YOUR BAGS for a daily fee. Since we had our bike bags and luggage, we wanted to build our bikes and ride around town without the hefty problem of luggage. Unfortunately, “Left Luggage” was closed on Saturdays but the jolly manager of the place let us put our bags in the back of his office for the day for free….ah…Irish hospitality AGAIN!
We unpacked our bikes and built them in front of the bus station. Tech geek side note: These bikes are pretty rad. We had custom bikes built by Bronto Bikes. They are hand-made steel frames with a custom option of S-Couplers so we can separate the frame into two pieces, stack them on top of each other and fit them into a bike box that is small enough to check as a regular checked bag. YES – no bike charge. Awesome and worth the extra dough for the couplers.
It took about 45 minutes to build two bikes and then we were off and pedaling around the streets of Limerick.
Limerick isn’t terribly bike friendly but it’s not a bustling, busy town either. We were able to safely get from one end of town to the other easily and without too much traffic. It was a gorgeous (but brisk!) day
in Ireland and we had a blast riding around town. We stopped and sat on a bench to look up a great place to have breakfast. We found The Sage Cafewhich was voted one of the best places to eat in 2010.
Sage Cafe lives up to its reputation. We had a pot of tea for two, scones with jam, and eggs and sausage (Irish breakfast) in a bright and sunny cafe with clean decor. Waking up in Ireland was treating us well! We continued our bike tour of Limerick and found a quiet and pretty boardwalk where we decided to have our first Irish beer at Clohessy’s. Clohessy’s is a fantastic place to go and watch rugby – which plays non-stop. We enjoyed watching a game and having a beer while looking out the window at the water.
We then peddled over to the Limerick Museum and King John castle. The Limerick Museum is worth a visit just to see the kitschy mementos and posters from long ago of Limerick. It’s a very small museum and is free and also has
free public restrooms. King John’s castle is a pretty cool place to spend the afternoon. King John never actually lived in the castle and it definitely does not LOOK livable. It was used for a number of purposes – barracks, armory, business center. Feeling a little tired from our long day traveling, we laid the bikes down on the lawn of King John’s castle and took a nap. We woke up to a couple of kids screaming and running down the sidewalk and noticed some pretty ominous clouds. We decided to find a place to take cover and headed out to find another cafe.
On our way, the clouds cleared and the sun came out again. This is very typical, we found, of Ireland. One minute it’s sunny and the next it looks like leprechauns are going to spit all over you. I tore off the layers of clothing I had put on when it got cloudy, threw on the sunglasses and had a fantastic cappuccino at Carlton Coffee.
We ended our fine day in Limerick with a return trip to the bus station to pick up our bags and an order of fish and chips from across the street.
We met up with a buddy to head to the Single Speed World Championships in Kilfenane, stopping in Blarney to camp and see the sights the next day.
Information on Blarney Camping & Caravan Park: Very “groomed” place to stay. Free hot showers, free wi-fi (with password), use of camper’s kitchen which has a fridge, microwave and hot water pot. There is also a TV lounge and laundry. Closest Bar: Blarney bar. Weird place. No food. Decor is more like walking into an Italian restaurant in Westchester County, New York.
I ended up borrowing a spot of milk from fridge for instant coffee. This place was pretty high end. Campers next to us came in with a Mercedese SUV, trailer camper AND a satellite dish. The hedges are groomed and the lawns are well manicured. There is also a playground on site.
We ended the night with beers and sandwiches at Muskerry Arms. We had gotten there well after the kitchen had closed but Mary Beth, the manager, showed us some of that Irish hospitality again – she ordered us up sandwiches and french fries which we ate up quickly as the live music started up. Lively place with lots of people, great food and a great atmosphere! Definitely worth a stop on your way to Blarney Castle.