Kilmallock-Doon Circuit: a flat and village-filled cycle
Fancy rolling green fields and hedgerows teeming with birdlife?
St John’s Castle, Kilmallock, Co Limerick: start and end point of a fine and easygoing cycle
The flat nature of this cycle is reminiscent of Holland. In Ireland, you get used to fabulous descents and eye-bulging ascents. The highest climb on this route is no more than 50m. Very long, straight roads indicate the dearth of major features in the landscape. There are no mountains sweeping down to the sea, no mighty rivers thundering past. The Ballyhoura mountains and, farther east, the Galtees are still there, of course, but distant, just a reminder that you are in a mountainous country. And you’ll need that reminder. What there is in abundance is rolling green fields and hedgerows teeming with birdlife. And village after village.
Southwest out of the busy market town of Kilmallock, pick up the R515 road for Knocklong. A pleasant 13km of relatively anonymous character (except for the curiously named village of Elton) whooshes by. A sharp left turn now on the R513 and you aim for the next node: Hospital.
The roads around here are fairly quiet. Continue to the end of the village on the long street before ascending to the right on the L8502. This is the toughest (and virtually the only) climb on the circuit, lasting about 1.5km. Next comes the village of Kilteely, followed soon after on the same road by Old Pallasgreen and then swiftly, Pallasgreen.
From here take the L1152 roughly north. It crosses the Limerick-to-Tipperary road and becomes the L1135, which goes to the attractive village of Doon. Just before Doon, cross Dead River. Several fine-looking pubs entice the thirsty or scone-seeking cyclist. Perhaps a bit early for that as we have completed just over 30km out of 88km.
Retrace the route for several kilometres here, west on the R505, to get back on track for Cappamore – again, long streets are the hallmark of this village, indicative of the flat hinterland.
At the end of the village push on for the next node of Caherconlish. Before this village it is necessary to recross the very busy Limerick-to-Tipperary road. Directly across the road is the route, which forks after 50m. Take the right turn on the unnamed, unnumbered road which leads right into Caherconlish on what is the prettiest section of the entire cycle.
Heavily wooded side roads, virtually traffic-free, meander though a rustic setting. Would that it could last! Instantly in Caherconlish, the Norman character of the town strikes you. There are de Barra and de Courcy names over business premises and a mock round tower. This is a fine spot to stop for a coffee before the final and busiest section.
Ballyneety is the next port of call, 6km west, again on an unnumbered road, but signposted – always a help. A sharp turn left (south) follows on to the busy R512 and an 11km run to the very attractive village of Bruff on good-quality roads. Three kilometres before Bruff is one of Ireland’s most famous prehistoric sites: Lough Gur. Finally, continue south on the R512 for 10km to the start/finish point of Kilmallock.
Kilmallock-Doon Circuit, Limerick
Kilmallock - Hospital - Pallasgreen - Doon - Cappamore - Caherconlish - Ballyneety - Bruff - Kilmallock
Location: Co Limerick
Height gain: 570m
Duration: 4-5 hours
Verdict: Very flat countryside. Very good for going through the gears on long flat stretches.
Kilmallock, Co Limerick: from Limerick city, the most direct route to take is the R512.
Edited from Cycling Munster – Great Road Routes by Dan MacCarthy (The Collins Press, €14.99), available in bookshops and online from collinspress.ie