Return to the Emerald Isle – Part 4 motorcycle Ireland

Return to the Emerald Isle – Part 4 motorcycle Ireland

This is the fourth and final part of my Return to the Emerald Isle Blog.  If you missed earlier posts you can go to Part 1 at this link.

The weather was looking unsettled for potentially the first hour or so of the day and although I have a rain cover on my tank bag I still took the precaution of wrapping the cameras in plastic bags just to make sure things stayed dry.  As turned out my precautions were not needed, Monday was to turn into a superb day with good weather and some seriously exceptional scenery.

Last full day – brigands and highwaymen

After a decent breakfast at The Mountain Inn my bike was loaded and I was on the road for about 8:45 or so. My first stop about 14 miles away in Sligo for fuel.

On leaving Sligo it was up towards the coast and then the 30 or so miles to Ballyshannon before turning inland to head through the Barnesmore Gap, a mountain pass that cuts a chase through the Blue Stack Mountains of Donegal.

The Barnesmore Gap marks the divide between the Northern and Southern parts of County Donegal. Travelling through the gap in 2022 meant I had no need to worry about being robbed or murdered, an outcome that was not unusual before the beginning of the 19th Century.

In earlier days it was not uncommon to befall a terrible fate by roaming brigands and highwaymen. It was so significant and so serious that in the middle of the 18th century a garrison of Red Coats (British Troops) were based at the Ballybofey end of the Barnesmore Gap to look after traveller’s safety. In fact as a deterrent, a gallows was actually erected in the Gap. Just have a read of the story at this link!

Information for another trip

With there being no sign of highwaymen I made my way onwards in the general direction of Letterkenny stopping to pick up information at one of the Tourist Information sites. Once that was done I turned towards Derry and Portrush.

It’s worth saying that the service at the Tourist Information Office outside of Letterkenny was first class. If you are travelling in Ireland and need information it seems the Irish Tourist Board have got it well sorted and I recomend checking one of their offices out. I’ll certainly be looking to collect some information from the Tourist Information service before I make my next bike trip there.

Onwards to Larne

After leaving the outskirts of Letterkenny I headed for Portrush a small seaside resort village on the north coast of County Antrim. Next it would be another 60 miles or so down to Larne on the Coastal Causeway route, travelling towards Giants Causeway, Balintoy and Cushendall before reaching my overnight accommodation.

Along the Coastal Causeway

The Coastal Causeway route is a stunning visual feast of the highest order. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it is a truly wonderful part of the world.

I gather that the whole of the ’causeway route is some 130 miles long. In 2018 the area was listed in Lonely Planets top 10 regions to visit and it’s very easy to see why.


Simply stunning

I didn’t stop to visit Giants Causeway itself – that is something I want to do with my wife and all things being equal we plan to do that together before the autumn.

It really is one of those places that words and pictures can’t fully capture – you just really need to go.

I know already that going back again one more time just won’t be enough to see and experience that whole area as much as I would really like to.

The day had been brilliant and I had another really good day’s motor biking in Ireland. Of course all good things must come to an end and my overnight stay in Larne pretty much marked the end of what had been another very decent trip to the Emerald Isle.

Great accommodation in Larne

I had decided to stay in Larne as lit seemed to make for a decent midway point between Coolaney and Dublin. My journey to the Port of Dublin for the ferry to Anglesey the following day would be around 130 miles and less than four hours (non motorway).

Staying in Larne also gave me the option of reducing my travel time to Dublin if I needed to. It was possible to reduce the journey to just a couple of hours by taking the motorway route. Doing that would have been an option I would have only exercised had the weather been really bad.

The place I stayed at in Larne was Derrin Guest House, it’s an absolute gem.

The property itself is over 100 years old, originally built in 1912. In the 1940’s it was used a doctors surgery before becoming a guest house in the 1970s. The current owners Siebe and Ivy took over the property in 2005 and have done an absolutely first class job with the place.

I got a lovely welcome from Siebe when I arrived and happily he confirmed that my bike could be left at the back of the property where it was perfectly secure.

The room I had booked was a ‘small double’ and it was plenty big enough for me, absolutely pristine and really well fitted out with good quality fixtures and fittings.

Whoever had been responsible for the fitting out and general design of the room had a good eye for detail and coordination. It was really lovely and comfortable. The bathroom was good with an excellent shower and inviting fresh towels which was ideal after a day on a motorbike. Additionally the breakfast was excellent. Hot, fresh, cooked to order, nicely presented and nicely served.

Quality stopover

Derrin House really is an excellent stopover – it’s close to the town but set in a quiet residential street. The owners Siebe and Ivy have really got this place right and all at a very competitive price. I had stumbled on Derrin Guest House when I was looking for somewhere to stay, having now stayed there I wouldn’t look for anywhere else if I was overnighting in Larne again, and I’m more than happy to recommend it.

Time for home

Thankfully the weather looked set to be decent for my ride to Dublin. After a superb breakfast I was on my way, first to Glenavy, then Banbridge, Newry, Dundalk, Dunleer, Slane and then finally onto the Port of Dublin. It was quite a pleasant  effortless ride with a mix of rural and semi urban environments.

Riding through Northern Ireland had the same sort of feel as riding in England, in so much as road signs, road markings and speeds (being in mph) were the same as in England. Once I had left County Armagh and County Down and was back into Southern Ireland in County Louth the roads looked and felt as they had earlier in the week and that felt like the best way to end the trip.

A small compromise

One compromise I did make on my return to Dublin was to get onto the M50 motorway so as to be able to take the Dublin Port Tunnel.

As a general rule I try to avoid using motorways, Autoroutes, Autostrada, Autobahn etc. when I’m away on my bike. It’s not any sort of purist approach to biking. For me it just seems a pretty pointless thing to do given there’s plenty of motorways to choose from here. Having had the experience of negotiating my way through Dublin city a few times now I think I would always recommend taking the tunnel to save that slog.

The tunnel itself is only about three miles long, doesn’t require you to be on the M50 for very long at all and I think costs only about €3 so. All in all it seems the best thing to do.

Smooth and easy

The journey across the Irish Sea was smooth, although I slept through much of it. I had a seat in the Stena Hygge lounge on the ferry, I’ve read mixed reviews on whether it’s worth it but I’ve used the lounge on three separate occasions. It’s quiet and comfortable, ideal for a snooze and in my opinion probably worth the £8 extra that it costs.

Home baking

It’s good to go away and it’s good to come home.

Not for the first time after me being away Pat had made me a superb ‘welcome home’ cake.

This one was a super sticky/super strong ginger cake. I absolutely adore ginger cake and I have to say this one was something of a beast and packed full of fresh ginger.

Dirty bike, clean bike and what next

I had left home with my bike in showroom condition, not surprisingly when I arrived home after 1,600 miles it looked a right old mess. A few hours later in the week soon put that right and the bike now stands ready in the garage for the next time out.

As for what next then who knows? There will be more days out before the biking year is done but I doubt there will be any more ‘adventures’, well not this year anyway.

As for next year who knows – there’s currently a ferry ticket down to Spain with my name on it but I can’t really imagine I won’t be hankering to be in either Ireland or Scotland on a bike again at some point in 2023.



Remember you can follow this motorbikes blog on Instagram at motorbikefotos

Picture gallery 1 – the magnificent Coastal Causeway

There are two picture gallery’s in this blog post. The first picture gallery is directly below.  You will  find the second picture gallery after the first … which is probably what you would have expected.

Clicking on any of the images below will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through.

Picture gallery 2 – heading for home, cake time and cleaning 

Clicking on any of the images below will open a picture gallery that can be clicked or scrolled through.