Travellers' Tales: Ireland bit by bit

Two bicycles are propped up against a low wall in front of a beach and sea view
The ocean is never far away
Shelagh O’Riordan rode the 1,600-mile Wild Atlantic Way in stages

My partner Ed and I decided to cycle Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way back in 2018. It’s 2,600km (1,600 miles) up the west coast from Cork in the south to Donegal in the north, finishing in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland. We estimated it would take three two-week holidays.

We set off in September 2018 and cycled all the headlands of Cork and Kerry, finishing in Tarbert where a ferry goes across the Shannon to Co Clare. The highlights were the tips of all the headlands, which were so beautiful and always had few cars.

A man and woman pose next to a way point reading 'Malin Head'. Their bicycles rest against a wall next to them

The following year we set off from Tarbert Ferry and cycled all the coast of Co Clare and Co Galway, finishing in Ballina in Co Mayo. We spent an amazing night on Aranmore, one of the Aran Islands, and saw dolphins from the ferry.

Covid put paid to the next two years, so we set off to complete our challenge last summer. We had 10 days’ cycling from Mayo to Derry/Londonderry. There were occasional busy roads with no alternatives, but otherwise miles of fabulous, beautiful and sometimes very hilly roads. We stayed in B&Bs, hostels and the odd hotel. We drank many pints of Guinness and ate our weight in salmon-and-potato suppers.

Now we just need to decide whether to carry on and circumnavigate Ireland.