Does Your Bike Have A Story? We are looking for the oldest High Nelly Bike in Ireland! The Bulfin Heritage…
Once described by William Bulfin as; “The Smiling Midlands” the chosen route for our 2019 event will begin and end in the beautiful village of Durrow, in Co. Laois. Over the course of our two day event, our journey will take us deep into our medieval past. On day one, after assembly at Aylward’s Rural Heritage Museum, we head for the 6th century Aghaboe Abbey, via St. Fintan’s Church at Cremogue. We will learn of St. Fergal and St. Canice, of their connection with Laois, and the story of St. Canice’s departure to Co. Kilkenny. Day Two will see us cycle to the Marble City, via Lisdowney and Freshford. to visit the Cathedral, named in Canice’s honour. After meeting up with Kilkenny High Nelly Club, The Flying Column, we will also take in visits to Kilkenny Castle, The Black Abbey and the Kilkenny Medieval Mile Heritage Trail. Our wonderful hosts will then treat us to some food and music, in the Home Rule Club.. At 7:30pm we will bus back to Durrow, where our event’s “Final Handshakes” will commence in Bob’s Museum Bar, with lots more music & craic. 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 on vintage bikes. This year we are also providing the option for non-cyclists to join us, on our Heritage Bus, which will travel the very same route as our bicycles!
August 24th - August 25th 2019
The Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally
Our 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. His book “Rambles in Eirinn” is an insightful account of his experiences along the route, with each captivating page telling a story of Ireland’s ancient past. The travelogue was first published in 1907, and proved to be a resounding success, extending to a fourth edition, published in 1915.
In previous years the Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally has followed some of the routes, as outlined in Bulfin’s remarkable book; through Offaly, Laois, Kilkenny and Tipperary. In 2018 we mapped our own route, concentrating on the history and heritage of Co. Laois, taking in such wonderful places as the Irish Fly Fishing & Game Shooting Museum, Heywood Gardens, Timahoe Round Tower & Heritage Centre, Emo Court and the magnificent Rock of Dunamase, to mention but a few! Each year we travel in vintage attire, on High Nelly bikes, and our journey is punctuated by heritage site visits, heritage talks, historical re-enactments, music and food; so ours is a gentle paced leisure cycle, despite the odd difficult hill!
It’s about parking the mountain bike, the 24 gears, the carbon fibre, the racer, and mounting a bicycle from another era…something made of steel…maybe even something a little bit rusty! It’s about dressing up for Ancient Ireland, sharing our heritage in the company of the overseas guests, that regularly join us, and generally enjoying the Craic. Whether you cycle on an old time butcher’s bike, a restored High Nelly charmer, with a stylish wicker basket, a 40’s or 50’s Raleigh, or a modern replica, it doesn’t matter. What does matter, is that you get involved in a novel heritage event where cycling is only part of the fun. The theme for The Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2019, is ‘Meandering Monks & Medieval Miles’ and we will forge a trail through Ireland’s rich monastic and medieval history. So if you are interested in cycling, history, heritage or just having a wonderful fun filled, couple of days, The Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally, really is for you! It is a leisurely cycle, along a route that promises to be full of hidden history, and heritage, so chalk it down on the calendar – August 24th & 25th 2019!
And Remember, All You Need Is A Bike!
Details: Day 1, Saturday August 24th
Details: Day 2, Sunday August 25th
The “Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally” was first held in 2014 as a unique event aimed at showcasing the hidden heritage and tourism potential of the South Midlands area of Ireland. Gaining its inspiration from William Bulfin, who cycled around Ireland in 1902, the event is a valuable introduction to the heritage that inspired much of the history, culture, music and storytelling of Ancient Ireland.
“William Bulfin was by no means the usual tourist and his greatest enthusiasms were for places that the usual tourist had not yet penetrated” (Benedict Kiely, Capuchin Annual 1948)
From Laois People –The Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally
On his arrival back in Ireland in 1901, from Argentina, William Bulfin set about planning a unique journey across Ireland on a brand new steel framed bicycle that he had purchased from Pierce Engineering in Wexford. While on this journey William says he took notes, “more or less hurriedly, at irregular intervals, generally out of reach of books or references”. The outcome of this almost three thousand mile journey was the book entitled Rambles In Eirinn. Published in 1907. This book is a well-regarded account of his travels around the island of Ireland by bicycle. As well as great descriptions of scenery, chance meetings and encounters, William visits places of historic interest (places of battles, events and legends) and recounts these tales, his observations there; critiques of the history as well as thoughts on the lay of the land of that day (1902).A Unique Journey Across Ireland
William Bulfin was a man who loved everything about Ireland; its heritage, its landscape, its people. Nowhere was this more evident than in his writings, as he travelled around this beautiful land of ours on his High Nelly bicycle in 1902. For him all Ireland was sacred ground, but in a particular way his heart was in North Munster and the soft melancholy Midlands, and it was in those places that his book of journeys began. In his book, “Rambles in Eirinn” William wrote …”You are higher than the grey peaks of the nearest ranges; you are on a level with the others. You are up in the blue air where only the eagle soars and the skylark sings.The rooks and daws and seafowl are winging their flight below you over lake and valley and hill. Only the clouds lie here when they are lazy or too full of rain to travel. It is the flower of bogs-the canavaun of the mountain tops of Eire.”A Man Who Loved Ireland