Day 3 - Gweesalia to Ballina
Tuesday, May 29 (45-ish miles) Today we headed out by 9:15 and had a lovely ride through meadowlands lush with gourse and rhododendron. The morning’s ride was fairly easy — quite a number of long, gentle downhills to coast. Unfortunately, we had one mishap. Bill was enjoying the scenery on a rapid downhill run and his tires went out from under him when he hit the loose gravel that is placed along the sides of the roads here so that the passing cars will tamp it down. Bill was distracted by the pretty view and was going just a wee bit fast got. He got a nice road rash on his flank and arm but shook it off and continued on. He said later that he felt very close to the Irish soil (hah!)
We pedaled through forests of Christmas trees (set up by the Irish gov't to re-forest the area) and along the coast for a while. Paul set up a picnic by the road with make-your-own sandwiches, chips, bananas and chocolate bars. For our afternoon ride, we had a couple of steep climbs and a number of long up and downhill grades. The wind picked up again too and so did the traffic toward the end. Arrived at Beleek Castle around 3:00 and cleaned up and had a short rest before heading off to explore the castle. Dinner is at "half seven".
We all met up at the hotel pub (where else?) at 7:00-ish, and Marshall, the Lord of the Manor, offered to give us the full tour of the castle. He’s a stately, elderly British man, around 90 years old and has owned the castle since approx. 1965. We met him on our way in while he was tending to the massive fireplace in the castle's lobby.
A la William Hearst, he purchased many antiquities "under the hammer" (at auction) to refurbish the estate. He took a special interest in armaments and fossils, and we spent almost two hours touring his collections and various halls. We thought we’d never get to dinner but finally sat down at 9:00 to quail with mushroom risotto and monkfish for Bill and goat cheese tart and Beef stroganoff for Diane. Very nice meal. We had nightcaps in the bar following dinner.
Click here for today's photos.
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