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.