These story boards of the early stages of Turas Columbanus, the latest addition to pilgrimage routes, give a great insight into the life of Columbanus and his journey from Myshall to Bangor and eventually to Bobbio in Italy. Hopefully they will be rolled out soon for the rest of the route to Bangor in County Down for the Irish sections of the route. The route moves to Europe where it crosses through France, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. I cycled a version of the Irish route last year and the map of my version of the route follows after the story boards. Credit to all involved in the research and production of the story boards that highlight the life of one of the great saints of Ireland.
The bicycle is a curious vehicle; the passenger is its engine
John Howard, US cyclist
Climbing any of the roads up towards Bilboa and Killeshin or the Ridge at Old Leighlin definitely reinforces that quote! There’s nothing quite like a good steep climb on a bike ride to reduce you to a quivering mess. Heart rate is through the roof, legs are full of lactic acid and you just feel …. great to be alive!
It’s nice to change things up and get up a few hundred metres to admire the views back across Carlow towards the Nurney Plateau, the Blackstairs and the Wicklow Mountains. Especially at harvest time, fields of golden brown mixed with forty shades of green stretch out before you like a painting. The views are stunning and make the bit of effort to climb the hill so worthwhile.
The Blackbog Road is a great road for getting out of Carlow Town; it’s so quiet, has a good surface and brings out to Milford in a flash. Instead of crossing over the skew bridge at Milford I turned left and carried the bile over the drawbridge across the canal, then took the local road out by Ballygowan to Tomard and continued up to Tomard Upper. These are just perfect roads for cycling, virtually traffic free and so peaceful.
This route is a nice weekend route; its 37kms with about 400 metres of uphill – and better still 400 metres of downhill!
The descent from Rossmore down past the Reservoir and Killeshin Romanesque Doorway is just fantastic but caution is needed – this section fo road can be busy at times and you pick up serious speed so don’t be taking any risks! There’s a lovely walk around the Reservoir and the Romanesque Doorway is always worth a stop off.
And we all think our bosses are the worst in the world! Poor Phil Kennedy worked as a farm steward for Sir Richard Butler of Garryhunden, the part of the county we visit on this route. He was a member of the United Irishmen during 1798. Sir Richard gave him a letter to deliver to authorities in Carlow. When it was opened, it read ‘hang this man’ and the poor man was executed.
I love these gems of local history that I pick up on cycling the backroads of Carlow and beyond. Well done to Carlow Tourism on erecting fantastic storyboards at heritage sites across the county. This one is at Clonmelsh graveyard, where many of the Butler family are buried. One of their ancestors went on to become a signatory of the American Constitution and the creator of the daft Electoral College systems used in American elections!
This is a lovely flat 30kms loop that takes the quiet Blackbog road out of Carlow Town and out to Milford. Just before Morrisseys Quarry, take a right onto a bóitrín which brings you down by the two graveyards. Continue on and you meet the back road to Bagenalstown. Stay on this road as far as the Harrow Cross and turn right for historic Leighlinbridge, one of the prettiest villages on the River Barrow. I love stopping here at the memorial garden where a lot of Carlovians are remembered. Among them the famous scientist and Alpine mountaineer, John Tyndall, Nurse Margaret Kehoe, Orchard, Leighlinbridge, who was shot on Easter Monday during the Easter Rising in 1916 as she carried out her duties. She must surely be related to Captain Myles Kehoe who fought and died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn with General Custer and the 7th Cavalry.
There’s lots more to see in the Memorial garden, well worth a stop and a nice place to snack. We took the Barrow Track back to Milford.
We crossed over The Barrow at Milford and returned home along the back road to Carlow Town an in along the Green Road.
Whether we like it or not Covid restrictions are with us in the medium term and we need to adapt or we will all crack up! With the long summer evenings now is the best time of the year to really get to know your own locality.
I’m going to post up some my favourite local routes using Carlow Town as the starting and end point for my evening routes. The routes will follow the local road network and mostly avoid regional and main roads.
We had a terrific easy 24kms cycle this evening on traffic free roads all within 5kms of Carlow Town Centre!
I’m a firm believer that the local road network is not promoted enough for safe cycling; there should be some investment in good signage and in identifying loops that can be connected up to provide an extensive safe network of dedicated shared cycle routes – it could be done at a fraction of the cost of developing greenways!
Just so good to be able to get back down south along the Barrow Track and surrounding area. With the stretch in the evenings it’s important to take advantage of any opportunity after being locked up for so long.
Not wanting to reopen the whole Blueway Debate but look at how pretty the natural path is on the Barrow.. hope to see the old railway line developed as a greenway and an imaginative use of current infrastructure to bridge the gap to Carlow.