Since 2004, Pure Adventures has offered self-guided cycling vacations in Ireland, the home of St. Patrick, the country's most famous patron. While little is known about his early life, St. Patrick's influence on religion and culture around the world is still widely felt - and celebrated each year on March 17. St. Patrick himself lived thousands of years ago, but St. Patrick's Day is a fairly modern tradition, having been made a national holiday in Ireland in 1903. Festivals, parades and of course, enjoying a pint of beer are all favorite traditions celebrated on St. Patrick's Day. In honor of Ireland's favorite Saint, Pure Adventures celebrates these favorite Irish parks, pubs, cyclists, trails and festivals.
Grand Marshal Stephen Roche
Stephen Roche, one of Ireland's most celebrated professional cyclists, was named Grand Marshal of one of Ireland's biggest St. Patrick's Day parades. Roche, who won the 1987 Tour de France, The Giro D'Italia and the world championship, will lead peleton through Dublin's streets on Monday, March 17. In an interview with The Irish Times, St. Patrick's Day Festival chief executive Susan Kirby said they were "thrilled" to announce Stephen Roche as Grand Marshal. "Stephen has inspired a generation of cyclists in Ireland and has been a great ambassador for the country," she said.
Galway's eclectic pubs
This vibrant university town is where two of Pure Adventures' most popular self-guided cycling tours begin. Boasting something everyone, the pubs in Galway are just as famous for their live music as they are their relaxed atmospheres. Pubs in Galway are open seven days a week and like the rest of Ireland's pubs, are smoke-free. The Galway City Pub Guide is a good place to start when choosing where to enjoy a pint or check out Galway Tourism's top five beer garden on their online travel guide.
Connemara National Park
Located on Ireland's western windswept coast, the Connemara district is renowned for it's amazing landscapes. Connemara National Park covers 7,307 acres of mountain ranges, bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. While the Park has only been open to the public since 1980, the land itself is rich in history. A mysterious early 19th century graveyard, 4,000 year old megalithic court tombs and the current Visitor Center - a farm building built in 1890 - are proof of how early humans settled in the region. Connemara National Park is open year round and admission is free - check the Park's website for Visiting Center hours of operation and park events. Our 7-night Connemara self-guided tour allows cyclists to explore the region on two-wheels - see the complete itinerary here.
Roundstone's arts and crafts
Made famous by the painters who have admired it for its harbor and ocean views, Roundstone is a quaint fishing village cyclists will pedal through during Pure Adventures' Galway and Islands self-guided tour. Roundstone was settled in the mid-1820s and is home to busy fishing harbors and a thriving arts and culture community. No doubt the jewelry, crafts, instruments and paintings created in Roundstone are inspired by the surrounding mountains and seascapes. The Roundstone Arts Week, a family-friendly two week festival held in late June, offers workshops for writers and musicians, as well as traditional art exhibitions.
Clifden's bike-friendly Sky Road
Dubbed the metropole of Connemara, Clifden first became famous for Marconi's transatlantic long wave wireless telegraphy station. Present day Clifden is a bustling tourist hub that cyclists rave about due to its wide paved roads and the picturesque Sky Road Loop. The 11K route takes in the back roads of the Connemara countryside which includes mountain ranges, castle ruins and bogs. The Sky Road Cycling Loop is very popular - hit the road early if you wish to avoid congested roads. Pure Adventures' travelers ride the Sky Road loop on day 7 of the Galway and Islands tour.
Westport's festival scene While some travelers head to Westport for the amazing blue-flag beaches and fresh-water fishing, Wesport's thriving cultural and festival scene offers something for everyone. The summer and fall are the busiest months:
- Festival of the Pirate Queen (May 2-5, 2014)
- Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival (June 13-15, 2014)
- Westport Festival of Music & Performing Arts (June 28 and 29. 2014)
- Wesport Food Festival (August 2014 )
- Westport Arts Festival (October 1-5 2014)
Pure Adventures offer three unique self-guided cycling tours of Ireland - Connemara Special - 7 nights, Galway and Islands - 7 nights, Galway Highlights - 4 nights. To book your own self-guided cycling tour of Ireland, contact Pure Adventures.
If you are a member of a cycling club wishing to travel to Ireland, our free e-book to How To Travel for Free will help you plan a group cycling trip to Ireland - find us on Facebook to download the free e-book.