The Ironman Ireland Route Miles 20 – 30
Cloyne to Midleton – Ironman Ireland
20 miles – 30 miles
OldVelos doesn’t have a race legal TT bike, or any modern bike, but you’ll be glad you brought yours as you enjoy the next ten miles. However, we do have up-to-date analytics and they tell us many of you are reading these blogs surreptitiously at work. So OldVelos took themselves out in the rain and southerly wind on a wet Tuesday to better feel your pain. After getting lost last week there was more comfort in knowing the roads close to our home.
You’re now heading for Cloyne, Cork’s hurling heartland, on roads best described as agricultural. From Cloyne comes some of Cork’s sporting heroes, on and off their famous GAA field: Christy Ring, there isn’t a sporting table quiz where he remains anonymous; Diarmuid, stand aside Dwane, the Rock O’Sullivan, and Donal Óg Cusack, who’s progressed the game far beyond the goalmouth. My daughter thinks the statue of Ringy looks like an alien, for most Cork people he’s nothing less the celestial.
It’s a rough road out of Cloyne, in sporting parlance entering and exiting is a game of two halves. All I’ll say as you leave it you’ll know you’ve been there. The 2 miles from Cloyne to Whitewell Cross offers one thing, the promise of the main Whitegate – Midelton road. You’ll be making ground when the marshall shouts ‘clear’ and you swing right to smooth tarmac. These roads are smoothed by bulk oil containers and while your enjoyment will be temporarily interrupted at Saleen it’s now’s the time to agree ‘yes, 54×11 was the right choice of top gear’.
An undeniably fast left at Saleen – Sailín, a little inlet – onto a fine road, past the church of the ‘Mother of God’, which onlookers might just hear you say as the road rises to the right and your 11-tooth ring takes a nap. If you don’t enjoy history, just look out for words like ‘up’, ‘turn’ ‘descent’ and ‘dash’ in the following paragraphs. If you do, pull close your chair. If I had started with the history of Saleen I’d be afraid you wouldn’t make the corner, but now that you’re listening Saleen is a hamlet which grew between the neighbouring estates of Rostellan, Castlemary and Jamesbrook, all dating to the 17th century. The rather reduced Jamesbrook is all that remains, the others lost to civil unrest.
Leaving Saleen and rising on a sweet small road – a latter addition to the route – you have ¾ miles of climbing to Garranakinnefeake. Go on, out loud, pronounce it! On a wet day this road will be dry, on a hot day it will be cool. Who Kennefeake was is conjecture, but their grove is well named. Even older, presumably, is the Ráth – or fort – at the top end of your climbing. Right now, you’re just interested in turning right and riding fast along the crest, but if you glance left you’ll receive the heart-warming news you’ll neither be hunted nor shot. Behind which handwritten sign lies An Ráth. This ancient cemetery goes back to a time when iron was wood, deer were baked and sheep were afraid. Local historian Charles Hayes brings it back in manuscript to 1302. It was well built before velum dried that ink.
I love this lane and the Ferry Road you’re about to right turn on. It’s quick, surface reasonably ok and promises you a return to truck smoothed asphalt and high time to wake up that bottom cog. On a long summer evening it captures the best of the light, grain filled fields are bursting with life and if you’ve come from Africa the swallows overhead might recognise your riding style. Admittedly it’s only a mile long!
Back on the main road you’re going to dash to the bottom of the descent where you’ll get up and over the dip without noticing. Nor will you have known it was along a stretch of lane to the left that two coastguard men lost their lives in a reprisal to the Battle of Clonmult. More of that when you leave Midleton. Soon you’ll be coming to Ballinacurra, a coastal village split by the good road you now enjoy, when you swing left I ask you to think of your ancestors. It was from these quays that famine time passengers embarked toward emigration. The authorities didn’t hold much for the meagre Irishman then and you’ll soon think the same as you curse the sleeping policemen and the 110psi that rumble between them and the humble ironman (and woman). Feel peace however, when you glance to your left and witness the kindness of the human spirit. The beautiful metal feathers are a modern reminder of the generosity of the Choctaw nation who aided our ancestors in 1847. More local history and no doubt things to do in our next blog, in the meantime there’s always the ‘IM Cork Visitor Info’ facebook page to answer your questions and keep you up to date.