Event Itinerary 2021
Irish Country Roads & Culture TrailsPresentRambles in EirinnBulfin Heritage Cycle Rally – National Heritage Week 2021 Laois Lore – Lords…
One of the greatest boasts of the Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally, is that of unravelling the centuries old enigma of time travel! Long has the question of its possibility been mulled over, and long is the list of failed contraptions, designed for quantum leaping! “So is time travel possible?” you ask. Well, we have been doing it, every August, since 2015, on a time-machine that was invented by an Irishman, in 1892! The apparatus in question is, of course, Ernest Bowden’s High Nelly Bicycle. Upon this machine, attired in vintage clothes, we plot our course through time; awakening long forgotten histories, exploring our rich cultural heritage, and bringing them both to life through talks, reenactments, and pageants. It’s relatively easy to visit the past because it envelops us! History is everywhere, and only ceases to be history, when time progresses beyond the unrecorded memory of a place, or event. And unlikely as that sounds, in our modern age, it happens. Our time travelling mission is to journey from present to past, preserving our heritage for the future! Our Heritage Cycle is inspired by William Bulfin, who returned to Ireland in 1902, having worked in Argentina. He purchased a steel framed bicycle, made by Pierce of Wexford, and set off on a road tour of his beloved Ireland. His journey would wind and weave a route of over 3,000 miles, along the countless highways, byways and country lanes of all four provinces. He recorded the details of his venture, cataloguing all the places he had visited, the people he encountered, and the histories they imparted; both whimsical and factual. These writings were published in 1907, in a book entitled, Rambles In Eirinn, and it is considered one of the most important social and historical documentations of Ireland in that era. Reading it is also a pretty astute way to time travel!
Saturday August 21st 2021
All activities in compliance with current public health regulations.
Please note that the above draft agenda may be subject to change.
All changes will be updated on this page.
William Bulfin (1 November 1863 – 1910) was the fourth son in a family of nine boys and one girl, the children of William Bulfin, of Derrinlough, Birr, County Offaly, Ireland, and Ellen Grogan of Croghan, County Offaly.
He attended the national school in Cloghan, where he is said to have been taught by the father of Easter Rising leader Thomas MacDonagh, the Classical Academy and the Presentation Schools in Birr, and the Royal Charter School at Banagher.
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.”
From everything that that passage meant to the soul of the man who wrote it. The ingredients of that passage are an eye for colour, a remembrance of things past, an ability to see and value the phenomena of social change.
Benedict Kiely from “The Capuchin Annual” 1948A Man Who Loved Ireland