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Sudden weather changes are the order of the day in Ireland. Unfortunately, some say. Good, say the others, because it is precisely the often stormy elements that create the moods that make the country so special.

Josef Seitz


Rain. But not just any rain, but Irish rain that is something special. There is something gentle about it, it softens paths and washes away thoughts that you have brought with you, it ensures slippery roads and full pups, it drives flocks of sheep into huge balls of wool and supplies the water for the best whiskey ever, it muffles every noise and obscures the view, and he lets a motorcyclist ask what he’s actually doing here. Almost everyone warned me. To Irland? With the motorcycle? To where the annoying rain suit becomes a constant companion? The first few hours on the island confirm this prognosis, but suddenly the gray clears and the silhouette of the Rock of Cashel stands before me in a bright light. The church ruins, enthroned on a high hill on the northern edge of the town, are one of the most impressive ruins in the country due to their exposed location. Here kings were crowned and church history was written. A quick look is enough for me, then I steer the Honda down south. First past the Galty Mountains, then over a pass that lets the view fall far across the country, across the Knockmealdown Mountains to Midleton, where everything revolves around whiskey and the museum of the Jameson Distillery houses the largest copper still in the world. It holds over 60,000 liters. Irish whiskey is said to have a finer taste than Scottish, I find out on site. This is because the malt is dried smoke-free and the fermented wort is distilled three times. Ireland travelers should know something like this, because whoever praises Irish whiskey, praises Ireland. And those who praise Ireland will quickly find friends. Probably the good taste is the reason why half of Irish whiskey production is consumed in the country itself. Perhaps the Titanic even had a few bottles of Jameson on board when she went on a perpetual diving station in the middle of the Atlantic. Your last port of departure on the way to doom was in any case only ten kilometers from here in the port of Cobh. I rush along the River Lee towards the southwest coast. Curve to curve. The Africa Twin lies down from left to right and right to left. The land grows harsher, and halfway around the Beara Peninsula, Healy Pass rises across the mountains. The landscape changes abruptly. After just a few meters of altitude, the lush, exuberant vegetation has given way to high alpine flora. After a sea of ​​ferns, only colorful lichens like abstract patterns cover the rock and the surrounding mountain slopes. On the further way out to the westernmost tip of Beara, where a cable car leads to an offshore island, the pastures of the sheep farms with their kilometer-long hedges and stone walls extend again. Lush green everywhere you look. The brightly painted houses along the coastal road in the north of the peninsula and in the small village of Eyeries are just a touch of color. There, however, only one half of the village shines in bright tones, while the other part makes a rather dreary impression. The owner of an antique shop knows why. Before filming for an English television series, these houses were specially repainted – in gray. A well-paid extra income for the residents in this corner of Ireland, where it is not exactly easy to earn a living. Past Kenmare, I follow the Ring of Kerry, as the panoramic coastal road around the Iverag Peninsula is called. This region is said to have the mildest climate in Ireland. Despite the fog that envelops everything, it is pleasantly warm. The Gulf Stream continuously flushes warm water into the Irish Sea, so temperatures hardly drop below freezing, even in winter. This mixture of warmth and moisture creates almost tropical conditions. The road is overgrown with green leaf tunnels, tree trunks are padded with thick moss, and lush climbing plants tend to grow on the stone walls. A few kilometers behind Kenmare there are even palm trees growing on the side of the road. There is a strange atmosphere until the fog clears for a few minutes after a while. The incredibly green meadows border the dark blue of the sea, and far outside I can make out the steep, 200-meter-high cliffs of the monastery island of Great Skellig, on which hermit monks cut over 600 steps in the rock 1300 years ago, a few easy ones Stone huts and a church dedicated to the Archangel Michael were built. Pilgrims visited this tiny island well into the 12th century, and in the interior of the Iveragh Peninsula the roads become narrow, almost single-lane. Hardly anyone is on the move, for this – or precisely because of that – those who approach each other greet each other all the more cordially. The often tiny farmhouses make it clear that not everyone in Ireland has got their share of the economic boom of recent years. But this area inspires. It goes briefly through dense forests, which is an exception in Ireland, then another wide, treeless plain spreads out behind the Ballaghisheen Pass. A valley full of damp, swampy peatland, covered with sparse growth of grass in innumerable shades of color. Only a few sheep, marked by their owners with splashes of color, roam the swampy bottom. It’s too good to just keep going. I look for a place for my tent a little above Lake Caragh. In this secluded area, nobody cares about a wild camper.The next day belongs to the Dingle Peninsula, the northernmost of the great peninsulas, which seems a tad greener than the area I drove through yesterday and all the stereotypes of Ireland apparently trying to outdo it. As far as the town of Dingle, in whose bay a tame dolphin has lived for twelve years, I rush over sweeping curves. The 953 meter high Brandon Mountain, the second highest mountain in Ireland, dominates the view until the path leads through a rough and rugged landscape of rock and stone in which a house or a meadow can only be made out from time to time. But this area was settled early on. More than 1000 years ago, monks and farmers built dome-shaped huts from flat, stacked stone slabs, which are reminiscent of beehives turned upside down. The remains of these so-called “beehive hats” can still be seen on some slopes. Finally, I park the Honda at Slea Head. The churned Atlantic crashes against dark cliffs, and far outside the red sandstone cliffs of the westernmost islands of Ireland, the Blasket Islands, glow. On my way again, I rush over the Connor Pass, the only connecting road between the south and north coast of the Dingle Peninsula. The route climbs gently. Nothing breathtaking like in the Alps, but from the top of the pass a view over a primeval landscape. Countless small lakes and a little further stretch between the rugged cliffs and eerie peat landscapes. However, the whole thing is like color TV with poor reception. For a few minutes the picture is clear all the way down to the seashore, only to disappear grumpy behind veils of fog within seconds. Until there is no reception at all. I maneuver the Honda down from the pass at walking pace. Only a few kilometers further on the way to Doolin, bright sunshine accompanies me again. Shortly before the small town, Ireland’s coast shows its most spectacular side. The cliffs of Moher plunge two hundred meters into the sea, black steep walls over a width of six kilometers. And this time I’m lucky. After an hour of waiting in the thick fog, the wind simply pushes the soup aside, and there is TV reception at its best. The live music at O’Conners in Doolin is also from Finsten. A place where the beginning and the end cannot be exactly made out, the pub, which is also the village shop, is the top address for Irish folk music according to the travel guide. Evening after evening, the residents of the village and the surrounding courtyards gather in the cozy rooms, and someone is always there with fiddle and whistle. When I get there, three young women and an old Irishman are setting the pace. The atmosphere in the pub is getting livelier by the minute, and that is not only due to the music but also to the dark Guinness, which is served pint after pint over the counter. “Guinnes is good for you” is written on a neon sign hanging over the counter, and everyone present seems to be convinced of this message. Until the landlord loudly announces the police hour. The Burren, probably the most inhospitable region of the country, begins directly behind Doolin. On the way to Galway I drive through a furrowed, white-gray karst landscape, marked by wind and weather and almost without vegetation. Grasses, ferns and even orchids grow only in the protected crevices in the rock, the “grikes” that run across the plateau. Only down in Galway Bay does Ireland show its green side again. Within a few minutes the sun disappears behind dark rain clouds and I flee to the next pub. It’s really cozy in the »Quay«. The room is modeled on the inner deck of an old ship and is full of antiques from seafaring. Almost a museum where you can also get something to drink. And the weather outside is a reason to start right away. On the way up to Connemara, I stop at Maam Cross, a place that consists only of a gas station and a restaurant. Countless cars with large trailers are parked on the side of the road, and I learn from the gas station attendant that a cattle auction is taking place behind his building today. The farmers came from everywhere to trade in cattle and sheep. One after the other, the critters are presented and examined, their fur and teeth are checked, until finally the auctioneer opens the trade. The man speaks so quickly that I can hardly understand a word. He repeats the last offer over and over again to drive the price up. At some point the hammer falls, bills change hands, sales contracts are sealed with a handshake. Those present follow the procedure with grinning faces. Faces that seem chiseled out of Irish rock. Angular, weather-beaten character heads, in which the stories can be read that only a rough life can write. Behind Leanane, which lies in the Connemara Mountains, an endless peat landscape extends. This part of Ireland is one of the poorest parts of the country, and the peat sod, which is occasionally left to dry by the road, is still used as fuel for the stoves in winter. Poverty and unemployment had almost completely depopulated this area as early as the 17th century. A time when the great famine wiped out thousands and many Irish emigrated to other countries because of the hopeless situation. I drive slowly on small roads in the direction of Sligo. Simple houses, small hilltops, wild meadows with bright flowers. After the rough coast, the country of County Sligo looks like the calm after the storm. Shortly before the lake area of ​​Upper Lough Erne I enter Northern Ireland. At the crossing, which until recently was secured like a border and controlled by the British military, nothing is reminiscent of the painful conflicts that made sad headlines for decades. Place names like Londonderry, Omagh or Belfast bring back images of burned-out buses, street battles and terrorist attacks, which in the course of the current negotiations will hopefully be a thing of the past. The drive through the lonely Sperrin Mountains and further along the breathtaking coastline in the northeast to the “Glens of Antrim” makes you forget everything anyway. Narrow and winding paths lead through a green hilly landscape to the basalt columns of the Giants Causeway, which are similar to over 40,000 organ pipes, to the kilometer-long sandy beaches of White Bay or to Bushmills, where the world’s oldest whiskey distillery is located, which has been in business since 1608 . Finally the route that branches off to Torr Head after Ballycastle. The way to the cape is a tad narrower and more like a roller coaster and it seems like it was made for motorcycling. Here I nestle in a private room with a view of the sea and drive on a narrow dirt road a bit along the sunlit coast and let the peaceful atmosphere sink in. Will Northern Ireland ever find peace? I wish its residents nothing more than that.


Ireland is a motorcyclist’s dream. Small, winding roads run through the “Green Island” with its varied landscapes – everything is offered between white sandy beaches and gloomy high moors.

Arrival: There are direct ferry connections to Ireland from the French ports of Le Havre, Cherbourg and Roscoff (Irish Ferries, Brittany Ferries). They call at either Rosslare or Cork. For a return trip, you have to calculate from 400 Marks per person and motorcycle, depending on the season. Alternatively, there is a trip through England. The Calais-Dover, Pembroke-Rosslare and Holyhead-Dublin ferries can be booked as a package. The English motorways M20, M25 and M4, past London south and on to Pembroke via Bristol, are toll-free. The direct ferry connection France-Ireland can also be combined with the arrival or return journey via England. Depending on the season, this variant costs between 275 and 580 marks per person and motorcycle. Information and bookings either from the general booking agency Geuther in Bremen (Irish Ferries), phone 0421/14970, or from DER TRAFFIC in Frankfurt (Britany Ferries), phone 069/95885800 Travel time: The months June to September are suitable for a trip to Ireland. In the main travel season between July and August, it can get quite crowded, especially on the west coast. If you are already out in May or October, you should definitely have warmer clothes with you. But there are hardly any tourists around during this time. According to statistics, May is the month with the least rain, of course there is no guarantee that the weather will be good. Rainfalls are often short-lived. Overnight: Camping in tents is allowed, but the owner of the property must be asked for permission. A list of Irish campsites is available from the Tourist Office or a selection in the ADAC Camping Guide Northern Europe. The Bed & Breakfast Guesthouses. The prices per person in a double room with breakfast start at around 40 marks. The hotel and guesthouse directory “Be Our Guest” is very good. All around 900 registered houses are listed with a photo, a short description (in English) and information on equipment and prices. The book is available from the Irish Tourist Office, Westendstrasse 16-22, 60325 Frankfurt, phone 069/234504, fax 069/233480. Literature: The DuMont travel guide “Ireland” for 36 marks is very informative. The Merian XL travel guide »Ireland« by Graefe and Unzer for 39.80 marks is also highly recommended. To get in the mood, it is still worth taking a look at the GEO Special about Ireland, published years ago, which provides interesting reports and excellent pictures about the country and its people. Most of the small road connections are also on the Michelin map 405 at a scale of 1: 400,000 Ireland’s listed. In addition, the map offers a place directory with the corresponding coordinates. Distance driven: 2300 kilometers Time required: three weeks

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