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FEATURE ❘ CONNEMARA


onto another surprisingly well surfaced road and pedalled back towards Clifden hoping the weather would hold off until we returned to a semblance of civilisation. This stretch of roadway is locally referred to as the Greenway and as I mentioned earlier, work is underway to convert the route into a well maintained route accommodating cyclists and walkers.


Thankfully the flat landscape enabled us to make good speed in our quest westwards. The surroundings reminiscent of a beautiful Snowdonia and Exmoor concoction, rugged and barren with the odd sheep or cow grazing happily, it was a place of total unequivocal solitude. We easily negotiated Arkeen Beg and Arkeen More before reaching the outskirts of Clifden and tedious unwanted reality. I longed for the mystery and peacefulness that I had been exposed to over the previous few hours. We couldn’t leave without experiencing the Sky Road and the Inagh Valley so the next morning as the sun was shining we followed the signage towards the viewing point on the Sky Road. The encounter was overwhelming, the views from this natural hillside balcony over the Atlantic and the mass of rocky desolate islands and secluded bays has to be one of the most scenic in Ireland. It was a similar experience as we


travelled slowly along the Inagh Valley, the Twelve Pins glowing in the bright sunlight. We couldn’t prevent ourselves from stopping like annoying tourists to capture the unbelievable array of photo opportunities. We followed the route through to Kylemore Abbey. The building was built for a wealthy English businessman in the 19th Century, nowadays it is run by nuns as an exclusive convent boarding school with some sections open to the public. It was unfortunately time to leave this beautiful place and rather emotionally we pointed our vehicle in the direction of Galway and Shannon Airport and our plane home. But we will be back, Connemara has left an imprint on both mine and Sarah’s hearts and will always be somewhere we remember fondly. Unfortunately I am unable to attend the event on the 23rd May but I have agreed with Mark O’Connell that Cycling World Ireland will sponsor a competition for a blogger to write a small piece detailing their experience of the ride. That individual as well as having their words published in a subsequent issue will also receive a year’s subscription to Cycling World Ireland. Who knows we might uncover a real talent!


March 2015 l Cycling World


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