bicycle touring ireland
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Bicycle Touring Ireland’s Ancient East

We landed in Dublin on a misty, dreary evening in early April. We’d been a little unsure how the weather would shake out in early spring, but we thought we would at least avoid the crowds being the shoulder season. After leaving Dublin, we rode through the Wicklow Mountains and began bicycle touring Southeast Ireland before heading to the Wild Atlantic Way.

Route

southeastern ireland bike tour map
Overview of our route through Southeastern Ireland.

Download the GPX track of our tour through Southeastern Ireland.

Section Stats:

Time Frame: Early April 2022

World Tour Days: 332 – 343

Miles: ~250

Dublin

After building our bikes in the Dublin airport, we rode straight across the city center on a Saturday night. The traffic was intense at first since we were on a bigger highway leaving the airport, and then we had to dodge all the pub-goers downtown. We did get to hop on a nice bike path for awhile before arriving at our Warm Showers host’s cozy house in a Dublin suburb.

Our host made pizza for us and we shared some stories before heading to bed. The next morning, he helped us out with some bike maintenance and even gave us a hex key we’d been badly needing.

We ran some errands in Dublin but didn’t stay too long, as it’s a pretty expensive city and we needed to find a campsite out of town before dark.

bicycle touring ireland
Trying to stay calm in downtown Dublin on a Saturday afternoon.
downtown dublin
Biking through Dublin was kind of stressful. The streets are very narrow and not the most bike/pedestrian friendly.

Wicklow Mountains National Park

Shortly after leaving Dublin, we immediately started climbing toward the Wicklow Mountains. We only had to go about 16 miles out of the city before we were in a relatively undeveloped area, which was good because we’d gotten a pretty late start. We found a spot to camp that was off a dirt side road and ate dinner quickly since it was very cold at such high elevation. Our first night was one of the coldest in awhile, and we had a decent sheet of frost on our tent in the morning.

dublin from the wicklow mountains
View of Dublin from the climb into the Wicklow Mountains.
wild camping ireland
Frosty tent in the early morning.
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Warming up in the sun with great views!

Luckily the sun was out the next day, and we had a wonderful ride through Wicklow. It seemed like there were more bikes on the road than cars that day, which was awesome to see. We had a nice chat with a couple road cyclists who welcomed us to Ireland and gave us some tips on what to check out on the Wild Atlantic Way.

bicycle touring wicklow mountains
Beautiful scenery in the Wicklow Mountains.
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Waterfall in Wicklow.
bicycle touring southeastern ireland
Great weather and pretty low traffic for a national park on a weekend.

Southeastern Ireland

We rode through lots of hilly farmland after leaving the Wicklow Mountains. The scenery wasn’t the most exciting, but we saw lots of entertaining sheep and met some friendly locals. In one small town, we were attempting to discreetly do some laundry at a rare public water fountain, and a man who was cutting grass at a small park came over to talk to us. It turned out that he was an avid mountain biker, and he commended us for braving the ferocious headwind that day. He was really fun to talk to and told us what to expect as far as hills and terrain on our way into New Ross.

bicycle touring ireland
Adorable sheep, never got tired of watching them.
bicycle touring ireland
New Ross was a cute town with lots of little shops and cafes. We had a nice breakfast sandwich here.

There were a number of interesting small towns in this area, and many historic ruins and old churches. Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland – founded in 914 AD by Vikings – and was a neat town to explore. We ran into yet another enthusiastic cyclist in the downtown area who particularly enjoyed touring in France, and he gave us some advice on where to camp for the night. Waterford is also the beginning of the Waterford Greenway, which we would ride to Dungarvan.

waterford ireland
Bikes posing with the Strongbow and Aoife Sculpture outside the Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford.

Waterford Greenway

The Waterford Greenway is a bike/pedestrian path that stretches 46 kilometers between Waterford and Dungarvan. Being a rail-to-trail, the grades and very mellow and the trail passes over some neat old railway bridges and aqueducts. Our favorite part of the greenway was the Ballyvoyle Tunnel, which opens into a beautiful little canyon with moss and fern-covered walls. There were a bunch of tiny wooden doors that people had placed into crevices in the walls and looked like fairy houses.

bicycle touring waterford greenway
Mossy gorge after the Ballyvoyle Tunnel. You can see a fairy door on the lower right if you look closely.

Coastal Riding to the Start of the Wild Atlantic Way

After Dungarvan, we mostly stuck to the coast as we headed toward Kinsale and the start of the Wild Atlantic Way. The small coastal towns were generally very pretty but also pricey since they are frequent tourist stops, but we usually rode through and stopped at some of the free attractions. Biking in these towns could be hectic at times, because the main streets are almost always busy and narrow.

We particularly enjoyed Ardmore, where we visited a 12th century round tower and some monastery ruins. Youghal was also memorable, but mostly because we were on the receiving end of a long rant from an anti-vax resident.

round tower ardmore
Ardmore Round Tower, 12th century.
ardmore st. declan's cathedral
St. Declan’s Cathedral ruins.
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One of the Ogram Stones in the cathedral ruins. Ogram is the earliest form of writing in Ireland, dating from the 4th century.
wild camping ireland
We really enjoyed the common gorse flowers at this time of year.
Bike path leading into Crosshaven. We reunited with a pilgrim we’d met on the Camino, and he graciously offered us a place to stay for a few days.

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