Monday, March 6, 2017

The Cyclist Rest



Here is a local tidbit to brighten your Monday! Every time I post a picture of this pub on social media, it is greeted with such enthusiasm and so many questions, that after passing it again yesterday I vowed to finally write about it here.

The Cyclist Rest is a pub in the village of Fahan, Donegal. Now, some people have tried to find its address and then emailed me when this proved impossible, so allow me to explain: In much of rural Donegal there are no street addresses as such. No postal codes, no house numbers, often the roads don't even have names. So, say you wanted to mail something to the pub? Its official postal address would be simply 'The Cyclist Rest, Fahan, Co. Donegal, Ireland.' And if you wanted to find it physically, you'd need descriptive directions. Luckily, in this case it is pretty easy: From the start of the Inishowen Peninsula at Bridge End, head along the main road toward Buncrana (R238). After about 5 miles, coastal scenery will open up on your left. The pub will be across the road on the right.



I first discovered the Cyclist Rest when my husband and I were cycling home from the Gap of Mamore last summer. We were so out of it, we did not stop ...in fact we both assumed we had hallucinated it! It was only later that I looked up the name online out of curiosity and realised the pub was real. There was not much written about it though, which I thought odd - as surely something like this would be a well-known cyclo-tourist attraction?

In reality though, as I discovered on subsequent visits, the pub is pretty low key and does not have much to do with cycling. The owner, Róisín, was kind enough to explain:

The current owners took over the pub 10 years ago. It was the previous owner, over 4 decades earlier, who had named it The Cyclist Rest, and they simply kept the name. It was a name that, as I understand it, was once not uncommon in Ireland, though today it is pretty rare. As for the name's origin, it  is rather straightforward! The pub is located along a rolling road, and it sits on a rise - so that no matter what direction you're coming from, you are climbing for a couple of miles steady by the time you reach it. Hence: time to have a rest and replenish one's strength with a pint. The name is also apt for anyone doing the popular Inishowen 100 circuit counter-clockwise - which would mean passing the pub on the final leg, after having climbed the Gap of Mamore the 'difficult' way.

But while decades ago this may have been the thing to do for cyclists, nowadays the stretch of road where the pub sits is quite busy and not entirely convenient to stop at. In fact, the pub's owner herself was gracious enough to recommend an alternative destination for my readers: The North Pole Bar (and B&B), outside of Buncrana, which is today a popular local cycling hub.

That said: Should you wish to visit the Cyclist Rest - if only to take the obligatory photo - they will be happy to have you. They even keep emergency biscuits and tea for cyclists who need rescue from the 'bonk.' And, of course, Guinness for strength.


27 comments:

  1. A pity they have not done more with the place, but the name alone is worthy of a visit. I do not know that The Cyclists Rest was ever a popular name for a pub in Ireland. I have not come across one in my life time at least.

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    1. Well, when I told a local friend about this pub he said "Oh, there used to be a few of those around." I will have to ask where.

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  2. Sorry; Curious to see the inside? - Mas

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    1. Oh it's very dark and just looks like a normal pub (not cycling-themed in any way), so I did not think to take any. Next time!

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    2. Of Course! I expected as much. BUT, If I sent you a picture of the outside of Billy Bob's; it may look like a honky-tonk inside, but you'd still want to see it! ;-) - mas

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  3. Another one in County Cork
    http://www.geograph.ie/photo/989455

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  4. In England, I was told they took the road signs down in '39 to confuse
    the expected German parachutists.

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    1. And as the signs were arms on a pole, at least in rural areas, they were very easy to spin round to further confuse the spies. Or that's how the schoolboys justified it. So my dad says...

      Interesting to see the county arms painted on the pub wall. Made me realise that Donegal is an Anglicisation (ok, that was always obvious) of the Gaelic for "Hill... erm, something." Okay, that should have been obvious too, I guess I'd never had reason to think of it.

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    2. In Ireland, the concept of one's physical address or a building' location has traditionally been based on townland as opposed to linear street address. Probably this is because houses were mostly built off the main road, in clusters, and there were no streets as such leading to them. It's an interestingly different system from anything I was used to prior to moving here.

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  5. My Monday was brightened by laying in the fields and seeing the sprouting vegetation reaching up to the gray but warm skies above. This photo has so many crisp edges that I cannot relate, or oder, or make sense of….Always interesting how we see and sense and participate with the world we move about in….

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    1. It's the pub's edges that make it recognisable from a distance. You're climbing up the road, all endless fields and tree clusters, and when you see that gable peering over the crest you just know: pub.

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  6. Ooh, I do love a good old Google Maps search.

    https://www.google.com.au/maps/@55.0755883,-7.4487227,3a,75y,72.28h,93.62t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sUqsyWUQ1RzGOW6YhZhFtkA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Looks a bit different back when the Google Car went through.

    Note that Google Maps has the incorrect placement for the pin 200m down the road.

    https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/The+Cyclist+Rest+Bar/@55.0755883,-7.4487227,631m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m12!1m6!3m5!1s0x485fe4c5c8687163:0xef269aefb2595984!2sThe+Cyclist+Rest+Bar!8m2!3d55.073745!4d-7.445548!3m4!1s0x485fe4c5c8687163:0xef269aefb2595984!8m2!3d55.073745!4d-7.445548

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    1. Wow, that must have been a good few years ago.

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    2. Helpfully, Google Maps let you know in the upper left corner what date the street view was last updated. In this case, this was July 2011!

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  7. The Pub in Co Cork is near the Ballincollig Regional Park which has seen a really great transformation over the last few years, including a pedestrian/cycle path which runs through the entire area. With a skate park and playground also its ideal for parents to visit with their children . Don't forget to put the bikes in or on the car or SUV. Lovely coffee and home baked cakes also available from Margaret at Chico's Coffee trailer...worth the visit alone.

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  8. If you are interested in cycling-related street furniture you can find Cyclist Touring Club signs in odd places in Irish and British towns https://goo.gl/images/XlELeu

    As you are into dress and cycling you might be interested in the CTC involvement in the court case about 'rational dress'.

    In 1898 the gloriously named Florence Wallace Pomeroy, Viscountess Harberton (1843–1911), president of the Western Rational Dress Society, was refused service in the coffee room of the Hautboy Hotel in Ockham, Surrey. Instead she was shown into the public bar, a place no respectable woman could possibly go. This was because the good Viscountess was dressed in 'rational dress', a jacket and a pair of long and baggy trousers which came together just above the ankle.

    The CTC prosecuted the hotel for "refusing food to a traveller"; lost the case and a considerable amount of money.
    This loss led the CTC to become much more diffident about representing cyclists and had a lot to do with the failure to deveop a road-racing culture in the UK.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_UK#Foundation

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  9. OK, I saw the Guiness sign hanging on the far side of the building's second story. But can you tell me what the blocky red "T" on the opposite corner stands for? (I'm guessing it has nothing to do with the current U.S. president.)

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    1. "T"ennent's. A Scottish lager

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    2. Is yummy.

      But my favourite Scottish drink is Lagavulin. Liquid peat, so it is!

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    3. Have not tried Lagavulin, but have consumed my share of another ultra-peaty Scotch whiskey: Laphroaig. One of my friends offered this insightful description after one sip: "It tastes like dirt." Come to think of it, he doesn't eat beets because: "They taste like dirt."

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  10. On the subject of dress and cycling, you might find this woman interesting:
    http://www.katjungnickel.com
    and eg http://bikesandbloomers.com/bloomer-ride-prep-and-victorian-pockets/

    On a completely different topic, I'm interested in the grammar of the name: The Cyclist Rest rather than the Cyclist's Rest, or even the Cyclists' Rest. Is this standard Irish-English grammar or is it just a pub name thing? I'm quite interested in the grammatical variations between different varieties of English but I don't know much at all about Irish English.

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    1. Funny you say that, because every time I see the sign my brain wants to change it to 'The Cyclist's Rest.' I don't think it is normal grammar, even in Hiberno English. But maybe it is a pub thing. I've asked a few people, but no one seems to know!

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  11. Not sure as a non native you can help with this, but how does one pronounce the name of the county as it appears on that mural? Much thanks! Jim.

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    1. a non-native, who has taken 2 yeas of Irish!

      It's pronounced 'Doon-na-Nahl' : )

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  12. Since there is a beer reference in this article, I have this question for the writer: After living in the USA for a while, what are your thoughts (or tastes) about the "warm beer vs. ice-cold beer" debate?

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    1. I am continental-European born and only moved to the US at age 11. As such, I never quite got the ice-cold drinks thing. A drink which is not hot tastes ideal at room temperature. Beer included. Dell's lemonade excluded.

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