Bulfin Heritage Cycle Following in the 'wheelrims' of william Bulfin

Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2018

The Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2018, will commence in Durrow, Co. Laois, on August 24th, and Follow in the 'wheelrims' of William Bulfin. This year the Rally will also celebrate the Return of the Seven Septs of Laois. The Tarbert Historical Society, will carry seven torches, each representing one of the families, that were banished from Co. Laois, by Crown forces, and relocated in Co. Kerry.

Under Sentence of Death, should they ever return to the county, their descendants remain in Kerry to this very day. But the time has come for the Seven Septs to finally make their return! The seven torches will arrive at the former O'More stronghold of Dunamase, to light up a Ceremonial Laois Sept Vessel, at a very special, and unique Heritage gathering on the Rock of Dunamase.

The Bulfin cyclists will merge with our Kerry visitors at Dunamase, during the Heritage Cycle, which includes visits to Castle Durrow, Irish Fly Fishing & Game Shooting Museum, Heywood Gardens, Timahoe Round Tower & Heritage Centre, Stradbally Evening Market Fare, Emo Court, Ballyroan, Pass of the Plumes, Abbeyleix Heritage House and Aylward's Rural Heritage Museum.

The Rock of Dunamase

What's this all about?

Well first of all, it’s about parking the racer, the mountain bike, the 24 gears, the carbon fibre, and mounting a bicycle from another era….. something steely & sturdy with a saddle to match …maybe even something with a little bit of rust peeping through! Then, it’s about leaving the Lycra and dressing up for Ancient Ireland; sharing the joys of our natural & built heritage, expounding our music & storytelling, in the company of our overseas guests, and generally enjoying the Craíc. We'd like you to think Vintage bikes! but whether you cycle on a Penny Farthing, an old-time butchers bike, a restored High Nelly charmer with a stylish wicker basket, a 40s or 50s Raleigh or a modern day, genuine replica, the choice is yours. What is most important is, that you get involved in a novel heritage event where cycling is only part of the fun.

The Inspiration

William Bulfin was a journalist, travel writer and proud Irish Nationalist, who was born in Derrinlough, Co Offaly in 1864. Having returned from Argentina in 1902, where he worked on the pampas amongst the native gaucho or cowboy tribe, he set off on a journey that took him through the highways and byways of Ireland, on a steel framed bicycle made by Pierce of Wexford. “Rambles in Eirinn” is an insightful book written by William Bulfin, about his cycling experience, where each captivating page tells a story of Ireland's ancient past. The travelogue was published in 1907 and proved to be a resounding success, extending to a fourth edition, published in 1915.

William Bulfin 1864 - 1910

The Book

“Rambles in Eirinn” is an insightful book written by William Bulfin about his cycling experience. The travelogue was published in 1907 and proved to be a resounding success, extending to a fourth edition,published in 1915. The book paints a vivid picture of the history and heritage of the Irish countryside, just after the turn of the 20th century. Bulfin had an intimate knowledge of the Irish landscape along with an innate passion for the historical importance and heritage value of places such as The Hill of Tara, Clonmacnoise, Aghaboe Abbey, The Old Monastery of Roscrea and The Rock of Dunamaise.

The Bicycle

In an effort to uphold the ethos and authenticity of the event, “High Nelly”/Vintage bicycles or their genuine replicas are the preferred choice of travel. The use of the High Nelly or old steel framed bike invokes a period in the lifestyle of Irish people when the simple things in life were well respected.

The Clothing

The Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally is a hugely attractive and fun event for participant and onlooker alike. Therefore the wearing of suitable period costume is encouraged for the duration of the cycle, not to mention, the cameras - Cheese! Of course! attention to safe cycling should always be the determining factor when choosing your clothing.

View from the Rock of Dunamase

The Route

Once described by William Bulfin as; “The Smiling Midlands” the chosen route for our 2018 event will traverse the rolling hills and beautiful countryside of Co. Laois. The route is approximately 75 km, and participants can join in the joviality of what promises to be a truly wonderful Heritage Week 2018 Event.

We visit amazing heritage sites, and many places of interest in between; such as Castle Durrow and Heywood Gardens, round towers and hilltop strongholds, Gourmet Jams and evening markets, Museums of Old, and Heritage Centres, restaurants and public houses, eating as we go …. fuelling up for battle re-enactments, heritage talks, pageants, recitals, the long awaited return of the Seven Septs of Laois, and music, song and dance, with our Austrian visitors.

There is also a rich variety of diverse rural landscapes to be enjoyed. As your leisure cycle progresses, you will encounter a wealth of inland scenery; away from the hustle and bustle of busy roads, and the usual tourist areas. Then when the final pedal is turned, we will cap it all off, with a Celebration Banquet at one of Durrow’s top restaurants.

This enticing all-round Heritage Cycle is accessible to all, without any major difficulties. It is ideal for cyclists who want to discover roads less travelled, and histories less told, whilst journeying through the rolling green countryside of Co. Laois. Even if you do not partake in this year’s event, why not join us, or just say hello, somewhere along the route!

Day One

Friday August 24th 2018

10:15am: Assembly at the Pavillion, Castle Durrow, Country House Hotel: Registration, Event Heritage Briefing, Welcome Reception and Introduction to our Austrian Visitors. “I am Owney McRory O’More” introduction to Laois Sept, O’More Family. Opportunity to view Castle Durrow Gardens Tea & Coffee served.

Castle Durrow

11:45am: Attanagh: Irish Fly Fishing & Game Shooting Museum: Heritage talk with Walter Phelan. (Fish & Game, period breakfast) Irish & Austrian traditional/folk music.

1:45pm: Heywood Gardens Ballinakill: In the early 1900s, Colonel Hutchenson Poe hired the eminent architect Sir Edwin Lutyens to create formal gardens around Heywood House. The gardens were probably landscaped by Gertrude Jekyll. Although the house is gone, the gardens are among the best surviving example of Lutyens’ work in Ireland.

Heywood Gardens Ballinakill

G's Gourmet Jams (Courtesy Call)

3pm: Round Tower & Heritage Centre, Timahoe: Heritage talk – O’ More Family History. The round tower of Timahoe was built sometime in the 1100s, on the site of a religious community founded by Saint Mochua (a 7th-century warrior who converted to Christianity) around 600 AD.

Timahoe Round Tower - Photo from LaoisToday.ie

4:15pm: Stradbally; Evening Market Fare, at the Old Bandstand: Irish & Austrian traditional/folk music, Irish dance exhibition, country market & light refreshments. The Old Bandstand is a unique building which has stood in the centre of Stradbally since 1899, and is a rare and architecturally significant example of a pagoda style corrugated structure.

6pm: Arrive at Treacy’s Restaurant, The Heath: Wash & Shower facilities available. Evening meal at Treacy’s, followed by Irish & Austrian music session. Camping at The Heath GAA Grounds or upgrade to a local hotel (additional cost) (bed only required).

Day Two

10am: Event Breakfast at Treacy’s Restaurant: Breakfast Heritage Talk, “The Battle of Mullaghmast” with “William Bulfin”.

11am: Depart Treacy’s for Emo Court, to music of “March of the High Kings of Laois”. (with “Owney McRory O’ More”). Medieval Chariot Ride/High Nelly Cycle to Emo Court, followed by guided tour of Emo Court & Gardens.

Emo Court - Photograph from LaoisToday.ie

12:45pm: Rock of Dunamase: Bulfin Cycle will merge here with Kerry visitors, from Tarbert Historical Society, arriving with “7 Sept Family Torches”. Pageant: O’ More Family History. Kerry/Laois Schools – Flags Project. Souvenir Parchment: Copy presentation of original “Septs Transplantation” treaty document. Medieval Chariot Ride/High Nelly Cycle to Ballyroan.

The Rock of Dunamase
The Rock of Dunamase

2:45pm: Ballyroan: “Pass of the Plumes” 1599 battle re-enactment at Rockview Walkways & Resource Centre.“Owney McRory O’More soldiers” intercept “Earl of Essex soldiers.” Heritage Talk. Irish & Austrian Traditional/Folk Music and Dance. Light refreshments served.

4pm: Abbeyleix: Heritage House: Heritage Talk. High Nelly/Vintage bike cycle to Durrow via Killamuck and Clonking.

Abbeyleix Heritage House - Photograph from Laois Partnership

5pm: Aylward’s Rural Heritage Museum; Viewing of museum artefacts.

6pm: Durrow: Ashbrook Arms: Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2018 Finale; Event Celebratory Meal, followed by: Music, Entertainment, Sing-Song at Bob’s Bar with Irish & Austrian musicians.

All food, refreshments, heritage site visits, pageants, & entertainment included in ticket fee.

Contact Details

Contact and Event Ticket details.

To download our Postal Registration Form click HERE

Our Austrian Friends


Bulfin Heritage Cycle 2018

2017 Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally


2017 Event Poster

View the Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2018 Brochure - HERE

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