Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Archive for ‘December, 2017’

2017 Photo Gallery

Here is a Photo Gallery of my 2017 on the bike ; they bring back great memories of cycle routes across South Leinster and they have set me planning trips near and far for 2018!. Happy Christmas to all who read this blog, hope you find the posts of interest and that they provide an insight into an undervalued corner of the Emerald isle. My blog stats for 2017 show over 3,800 visitors and over 6,200 views of my posts. The word is spreading slowly!


Winter Solstice at Knockroe

I included a visit to Knockroe Passage Tomb in my book ‘Cycling South Leinster’ on route no 28 – ‘Ollie Walshe Way’. South Kilkenny is a treasure trove of heritage sites, many of which are not sign posted, including this very important 3000BC Passage Tomb.

With today being December 21st, the Winter Solstice, I took a quick drive down to be present for when the light from the rising sun lights up the eastern Passage Tomb, as it has done since Pagan times. Of course the morning was cloudy and overcast but it did not take from the sense of occasion; the passing of the shortest day of the year; the birth of the sun. It is an occasion wrapped up in mystery and spiritual meaning.It is no surprise that the Christian Church aligned the birth of Jesus with the time of the winter solstice.

The early farmers fully understood the importance of the arrival of the sun and the potential for new growth and survival.

Those beliefs and associations are as important today as they were then. Man needs to live in harmony with the natural world.

Anyway it was a lovely visit this morning. A nice crowd gathered to celebrate and witness the occasion.

Eastern and Western Passage Tombs with solstice celebrators

A necklace of quartz stones surrounds the eastern Passage Tomb

Facing sunrise at Knockroe from above eastern Passage Tomb

Not as well known as Newgrange but there is always a nice gathering of locals and public at Knockroe

Stone decoration visible in the passage tomb – spirals on centre standing stone

Enormous amount of art work on the standing stones in the Passage Tomb

Via Appia Antica

Winter has well and truly arrived and the only cycling I am doing is in my dreams of fine summer days and bike touring! Here is a great shared memory from 2010 on the VIa Francigena with Ronan. Maybe there is another book to follow on from #CyclingSouthLeinster with the Collins Press!

Having cycled from Canterbury along the Via Francigena, we had one more hurdle to negotiate before our flight home. Getting to the airport at Campino with our bicycles.

We decided to depart from the Colliseum and pick up the historic Via Appia Antica, in the hope it would lead us in the general direction of the airport.

It was an incredible last day of cycling. We had the Via Appia to ourselves. It was easy imagine Roman Legions marching up and down this paved road, the earliest of the main arteries to service trade routes across the Empire and transport troops to the front lines. The forced march of prisoners back to the centre of the Empire, the roadside crucifixions of Spartans….out past the catacombs – was this the road the Apostle Peter, first Bishop of Rome, followed back to Rome and his eventual crucifixion?. Staggering history along every kilometre of this road.

Appia longarum… regina viarum“- the Appian Way the queen of the long roads”

As we made our way along the treelined lined cobbled road, a shepherd with his dogs herded his flock of long eared sheep over the roadside ditch and past us on his way to pastures new…. magical memories!

Hard to believe it was 2010 and my plan was to come back and continue to Brindisi with the final destination Jerusalem. One of these days I will get to take up where I left off and resume my pilgrimage to the Eternal City.