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The Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2018 We followed in the 'Wheelrims' of William Bulfin

Two wonderful days in August!

In the end it all came and went so quickly! After months of preparations the big day finally arrived on August 24th, and the Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2018, was finally under way.

We have so much to share, from an event that truly touched the hearts and minds of all who took part. So many wonderful places were visited, wonderful people were met, new friendships formed, histories and heritages imparted, battles re-enacted, and the fun and camaraderie that abounded was amazing.

In County Laois we cycled, and travelled not just through the beautiful countryside and rolling hills, but through time itself! Each site we visited was steeped in history and wonder. For many of our cyclists these visits may have been their first to certain places, but not their last, we were continuously informed. For others among our convoy, not only had they never been, but had never known of many of sites we called upon, and the fascinating stories attached to each!

And that is what the Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally is all about, and is also why we can say, with hand on heart, that the event has been a great success. For it’s all about delving into our heritage, finding, highlighting and sharing it, with those wonderful people who brave the two days with us, on vintage bikes in vintage attire.

Preparing to leave Castle Durrow, as the journey begins!

Day One - August 24th 2018

It all started off with registration, at the Pavilion, Castle Durrow at 9:30 a.m. as ominous looking skies filled with dark clouds. Nonetheless spirits and optimism were high. As the cyclists began to arrive, so too did our farthest travelling guest, from Austria! We have built a strong bond with our Austrian friends, who have joined us before, and we too have travelled to their wonderful Gamstagage Festival.

This year we were delighted to welcome D'Oafochn, a wonderful group of musicians who specialise in, and treated us to traditional Austrian music!

D'Oafochn, who travelled all the way from Austria to join us!

Registration at the Pavilion

What a wonderful setting to begin our journey from! Nestled in a corner of the grounds of Castle Durrow, is the Pavilion! With tea and coffee on the pot, and a fire lit, to almost tempt us to stay, we really could not have asked for a more pleasant start to the Bulfin Cycle.

Once everyone had signed up, they received their Event Passport, which was stamped along the route, as each heritage site was arrived upon. Then all bicycles underwent a safety check, before the group hit the road, for Attanagh, Co. Laois, which was to be our first stop.

The Pavilion, at Castle Durrow
Scenes from the Pavilion

Onwards to Attanagh

It was raining as we left Durrow, but not as heavily as it had fallen in the previous hour. We dared to hope for better weather, and amazingly, it was the only period of cycling, over the entire two days, where we got a little wet! But it was only a little, and we somehow managed to evade some huge spills of rain, for the remainder of the day!

Our tractor & wagon, all set to lead us off!
On the road to Attanagh

The Irish Fly Fishing & Game Shooting Museum

Our first stop, and what an amazing experience it was! The museum is somewhat akin to the Tardis, in that it appears quite small on the outside, but once you enter, the place unfolds into room after room of countless interesting artefacts.

Mr. Walter Phelan founded the museum in 1986, and has continuously added to his amazing collection of artefacts. These include guns, tackles and rods, as used by the affluent society of yore, who hunted and fished for pleasure. Also on display are the more basic contraptions of hunting, such as a hollowed out cow horn, used to carry fishing bait, by ordinary people; who no doubt hunted and fished to feed themselves and their families. And the conflict of rights between the land owners, and those that illegally hunted their estates, is vividly illustrated by one of the museum’s more macabre features – the man trap!

Arriving at the Museum in Attanagh

Used to foil poachers in the 1700’s, these metal teethed snares would break a man’s leg once triggered, not to mention the infliction of severe and deep lacerations. To fall foul of these barbarous devices, would most likely lead to a slow and agonising death for the victims, even if they managed to free themselves from their clutches. Thankfully man traps were outlawed in 1829.

We also visited the Gamekeeper’s Room from the 1800’s, a Gunsmith’s Workshop, Fishing and Game Shooting Room, the Trophy Room, the Clay Pigeon Room, the Boat House, the Library and the Hatching Room. We were then treated to a scrumptious Fish & Game Breakfast, in the Meeting Room!

At the Irish Fishing & Game Shooting Museum
Some of the artefacts on display.
Two of the many birds on display!
Bulfin bikes, in Attanagh

Heywood Gardens, Ballinakill

Heywood Gardens is the site of two garden types: the great park created by Frederick Trench in the late 1700s and the small interlocked formal gardens created by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll in the early 1900s.

After Trench built Heywood House in 1773, he landscaped the area between his house and the village of Ballinakill. Inspired by his Grand Tour of Europe, Trench moved hills, dug lakes, planted trees and placed follies. His results were considered to be the most exquisite romantic landscape of their time.

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. (From Laois.ie)

The Bulfin cyclists at Heywood Gardens Ballinakill
Heywood Gardens
Leaving Heywood Gardens
On the road to G's Gourmet Jams

G's Gourmet Jams

When Helen Gee, founder of G's Gourmet Jams, was talking to one of our organising committee about the Bulfin Cycle, she realised our route would take us right past her door.

"You'll have to call in for some tea!" she insisted. So, one slight tweak to our schedule later, and we had factored in this courtesy call!

The hospitality we received from Helen and her family was second to none. We were invited into their beautiful home, where tea, coffee, scones, buns, jams, creams, and so much more was laid on for us. We were then treated to a guided tour of their fascinating factory, where all those amazing jams are produced, and indeed we all left with the gift of a couple of jars!!

Our sincerest thanks to Helen, Cyril, Sandra and Clive, for the wonderful welcome we received, on what was one of the highlights of this year's journey!

A few memories from our call to G's Gourmet Jams
A tour of the factory facility, at G's Gourmet Jams
G's Gourmet Jams
Preparing to leave G's Gourmet Jams

Timahoe Round Tower & Heritage Centre

There were a few mighty hills to traverse, as our journey continued to historic Timahoe. But atop of each climb we were always rewarded with the other side of the hill, and we happily glided down, as we were afforded a bit of recovery time before the road rose again!

Huge dark clouds hung in the skies above, and we could clearly hear a few rolls of thunder, close by, but luckily it lumbered off into the distance, and for the most part we were swathed in glorious sunshine!

Timahoe Round Tower & Heritage Centre

Our sincerest thanks to Roghan Hayden for his excellent heritage talk, which gave us all a fascinating insight, into the vast history of not just the round tower, but Timahoe in general. It is no exaggeration to say we could have stayed and listened for hours, but for our pressing schedule. Everyone present truly enjoyed the experience, and all wished we could have stayed a little longer!

Timahoe Round Tower & Heritage Centre
Pictures from our visit to Timahoe

Michael Aylward leads the Bulfin cyclists out of Timahoe

Stradbally Evening Market Fare

Our next stop was the Evening Market Fare, at the Old bandstand in Stradbally. We arrived a little late, but in doing so, managed to avoid a huge hail shower that fell in the town, just before we reached it. But our apologies to all who were waiting on us, and our thanks for such a rousing reception upon our arrival.

We were treated to some excellent traditional Irish music and Irish dancing, and our thanks to all involved for such a wonderful display. Our Austrian guests D'Oafochn, also treated us to a set of traditional Austrian folk music.

Everyone present had a wonderful time at Stradbally, and a few purchases were made at the Evening Market, including what we were told were the best scones in Ireland!! An incredulous claim it sounded, until we actually tasted them, and yes we wholeheartedly agree. They were simply delicious!

One of our cyclists also decided to buy a year's supply of jam!!!!?? .... then realised several jars in a plastic bag, dangling from the handlebars of a High Nelly bike, was probably not a great travel plan! Thankfully we had support vehicles!

Two Irish Dancers, and two fans!!
D'Oafochn treat us to some wonderful Austrian Folk Music
Traditional Irish Music
D'Oafochn
At the Old bandstand, Stradbally
D'Oafochn
Stradbally Evening Market Fare

Treacy's Bar & Restaurant - The Heath

Heading across The Heath, to Treacy's

Our final stop on day one, was Treacy's Bar & Restaurant, The Heath. All the pressure of keeping up with our busy schedule had abated, but we had to leave Stradbally in time to get to Treacy's before nightfall. And we did!

A Bulfin sign, on the Heath

All bikes were checked, and stored for the night, and sleeping arrangements were sorted out. Most of the cyclists would spend the night in the local G.A.A. centre, whilst some opted for a more luxurious night's sleep, in the nearby Gandon Inn.

At Treacy's, The Heath

Once all luggage had been sorted, and our bicycles safely stored, it was time to retire to Treacy's for a very well earned rest. There had been a few difficult climbs during the day, and no doubt some muscles were a little sore, but everyone was in exceptionally high spirits!

There was a suggestion that a few lessons in the reading of ordnance survey maps wouldn't go astray on those that mapped the route, but all in jest, we reckon!

So after a brilliant day, we were rewarded with a slap up meal at Treacy's Bar & Restaurant, and how we enjoyed it. Suffice to say there was also a couple of drinks had too!

Checking the bicycle, after the day's cycling!

Some more photographs from Day One

Leaving G's Gourmet Jams
At Castle Durrow
Bikes & our tractor!
Ready to hit the road again!
Here comes the wagon!
One for the road!!!
Created By
Andy Walsh
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