Day 3: Athy to Clonmel

Monday July 14, 2008, 128 km (80 miles) – Total so far: 248 km (154 miles)

It was another nice morning when we woke up, and the fellow on Camp Radio predicted and nice day too. We left camp and popped into The Hunting Club for a gut-busting Full Irish Breakfast of bacon, egg, sausage, beans, tomato, hash brown, black & white pudding, toast and tea. A full Irish breakfast is almost identical to a full English breakfast but with the addition of White Pudding. We know what goes into Black Pudding and anticipating similar ingredients we decided not to ask what White Pudding was made from, it tasted fine anyhow. Once done we hit the road south enjoying the small hills put in front of us and the headwind too.

We arrived in Kilkenny at around 1pm, stocked up on lunch, and had a picnic in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle. After lunch, we continued south aiming for Carrick on Suir, our destination for the night. The afternoon rolled by much the same as the morning – up and down, still enjoying the headwind. We arrive in Carrick for around 5.30pm and seek out the campsite.

It turns out it shut down a few years ago, D’oh! With the help of the staff from a pharmacy, we are able to deduce that the next nearest campsite is around 25km away, about 1.5km out of Clonmel. We follow the River Suir to get there, undulating all the way. Once in Clonmel we stock up and follow the signs to the campsite.

Well, it turns out the campsite is not 1.5km out of town but 8km! And it’s uphill all the way. We wearily begin the climb. Around three-quarters of the way up Justin is a long way ahead of me and Agata the same behind me when I round another corner hoping to see the campsite and being disappointed yet again when it doesn’t materialise. I stop to scoff a cereal bar in an attempt to muster some more energy; I was deep in the pain cave and had lost my torch.

A small van comes around the corner and stops by me. Agata is sitting in the passenger seat, grinning. It’s like my prayers have been answered, the clouds part and I’m bathed in glorious sunshine. It turns out Agata had got a puncture a couple of kilometres down the road and Maeve, our road angel for the day, kindly picked her up knowing how far she still had to travel to the campsite. We load up my bike in the back too, squeeze into the front of the van and complete the last part of the journey with ease – the world is a good place again.

We get to the campsite and Justin is there already tucking into a Bulmers Cider. We get one each too and also have some tea and biscuits. Our host explains these are free to cyclists as a reward for getting to the top. Once we’ve signed in, we get the tents up and hit the showers. The campsite also has a hostel so, as we’re the only people staying here tonight, we make good use of the kitchen facilities to make dinner and hang out in for the evening listening to the radio.

The toucan has become as much a symbol of Guinness as the harp, here seen advertising the black stuff on a pub wall in Athy Toucans are not indigenous to Ireland

The toucan has become as much a symbol of Guinness as the harp, here seen advertising the black stuff on a pub wall in Athy. Toucans are not indigenous to Ireland

“I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I'’m miserable now

“I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour, but heaven knows I’’m miserable now

A nice bridge near Kells - just north of Carrick-on-Suir

A nice bridge near Kells – just north of Carrick-on-Suir

There was no shortage of road signs in this part of Ireland

There was no shortage of road signs in this part of Ireland

Resting by a Celtic cross. These crosses are to be found all over Ireland and many were erected by monks, some as early as the 7th Century. This one was more recent, a war memorial

Resting by a Celtic cross. These crosses are to be found all over Ireland and many were erected by monks, some as early as the 7th Century. This one was more recent, a war memorial

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