Ballyhoura: On Yer Bike With Kimye
The Mountain Bike Trails Kimye enjoyed yesterday rank among the best in Europe, says Pól Ó Conghaile, who has the inside track on their experience.
Ballyhoura is one of the best-kept secrets in the staycation game.
Or at least it was… until the world awoke to the surreal news that its most famous celebrity couple – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West – had been mountain biking in Limerick as part of their whirlwind honeymoon tour of Ireland.
Forget tropical islands and private yachts. Kimye’s Irish adventure is turning into a dream ticket for Tourism Ireland, with the couple reportedly also having stayed at Castle Oliver and enjoyed a picnic from The Old Bakehouse in Bruff.
I’ve spent an afternoon riding the Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails, and they’re absolute crackers. The stacked series of loops is not only the best in Ireland; it’s set to host the European Marathon Mountain Biking Championships this June.
But you don’t have to be super-fit to get in the saddle.
Graded loops range from a 6km starter trail to a 51km bone-rattler, are all clearly marked with dummy-friendly signage. Whether a beginner or improver, the key is to stand up, float your body about, ‘feather’ the brakes (i.e. squeeze lightly and release several times in succession), and concentrate hard.
Afterwards, you can wash the muck off your face in on-site showers.
And there will be muck. After huffing and puffing their way up into the hills, bikers barrel down tracks crammed with twists, turns, rocks and the occasional tantalising glimpse of the Golden Vale… it’s exhilarating stuff.
I can vouch for the Old Bake House’s picnics, too.
Collecting a straw hamper and tartan rug, I laid out my feast at nearby Lough Gur – gobbling up homemade breads, baked ham, Cashel blue cheese, a chilli crab salad, salmon fillets, pastries and tea in an enchanting setting.
There’s more to Ballyhoura than mountain biking, of course. Visitors can also fish at the Ballyhass Lakes, walk the Ballyhoura Way, or visit hidden heritage gems like Killmallock or the tiny Eamonn De Valera in in Bruree.
Dev referred to the area as ‘áit an-speisialta’… a very special place.
Kimye might agree.