Our now famous annual club outing took place on the second weekend of August this year. Yet again we had a very enjoyable, entertaining and memorable weekend from start to finish. In keeping with our island theme on these trips, our destination this year was Achill Island on the west coast of Co. Mayo which proved to be an ideally isolated location for the group that was about to descend upon it!!
The weekend began on the Thursday with one of our hard core mountain biker’s crossing over to the dark side by jumping on a road bike and setting off on the journey to Achill in celebration of his milestone birthday. On the Friday morning John, Francis, Oliver & Peter set off from Glenties to undertake the 240km trip by bike too, a journey which would see them reach Charlestown by mid-afternoon for a nice quiet overnight stay at the highly recommended Riverside B&B.
Saturday morning saw the departure of the rest of the 35 strong group from Glenties by car & van as everyone aimed for a 1.30pm meeting at the Achill Sound Hotel, a target which Hugh was easily achieving after an overnight stay in Castlebar. Unfortunately for the four lads leaving Charlestown that deadline was going to mean some tough miles without the melodic airs of Francis’s rendition of “Achill Island, so far away….” which drove them on the previous day, but with Oliver leading the charge west they were in safe hands!!
On arrival at the hotel we were treated to a very welcome picnic of tea & sandwiches served up by the ladies. The highlight of our weekend was about to begin as the hired bikes were adjusted and readied for the journey back towards Newport on the Great Western Greenway, an old railway line that has been transformed into an off-road walk/cycle track which provides stunning views across Clew Bay towards Croagh Patrick. Our younger members, Jamie, Dylan, Kieran, Mark, Aaron & Stephen pushed on ahead through Mulranny towards Newport along with the tougher members, & enjoyed a warm cuppa at the coffee shop along the way. However some of the older, wiser heads realized after 15kms that the return journey had to be made against the wind & rain and were soon Achill bound once again.
As everyone returned safely from the Greenway it was then onwards to the Valley House Hostel, our chosen accommodation for the night. The anxious looks on arrival were eased as Mairead proceeded to organize and allocate beds & tents which relaxed everyone and the tone was set for a great night. With everyone showered safely and party rags on it was on to Masterson’s Bar & restaurant which was just two minutes (or was it two miles??) over the road where we were treated to a fantastic evening meal which included the presentation of a cake to our new roadie Hugh to mark his big birthday.
With everyone wined & dined the night progressed lively with the Tir Chonaill GAP CC contingent keeping the place rockin’ and a keen competition developing on the dance floor where Sean displayed his dancing talents and showed a clean pair of heels to James & Big G who had to concede defeat on the night though Sean has offered them a rematch should they wish to take up the challenge in the future!! Celebrations continued in the back bar at the hostel with one for the road before everyone retired for a well-earned night’s sleep…………however some had other plans as Mairead decided a game of “I Spy” was in order which proved difficult & frustrating for those in the other rooms of the hostel to play even though they could hear every clue clearly!!! Meanwhile still licking his wounds from defeat on the dance floor, Big G was on DJ duty blasting out requests on his early morning show with everything from Paulo Nutini to Bruce Springsteen & Green Day.
Sunday Morning began with varying versions of the night before over breakfast before the tiresome dismantling of the tents in the back garden. And so the mass exodus of Tir Chonaill folk began back north but not before a tour of Achill brought us to Keem Bay via a cliff top road that would match our own Glengesh & this was immediately selected as a hill to be climbed on ant future trip west. Sunday lunch was had in Henry’ Restaurant in Sligo to top off a fantastic weekend.
On behalf of the club we would like to thank our members for making it another memorable club outing and a special word of thanks goes to Mairead for organizing the weekend down to every last detail as usual. We’re looking forward to next year’s trip already!! ……It’s Achill Island so far anyway……