Our friend Tom Joyce, of Laois Archery, is a renaissance man or maybe even two:) Everyone knows him for his great sense of humour, his innate and acquired wisdom (after all, I myself nicknamed him the Plato of the Slieve Bloom Mountains) and his near-scientific approach to the art of archery. Well, I specifically use the word "art" back here, for when Tom does it, everything becomes art! Believe me, I know what I'm talking about, I have seen his landscapes, which are breathtaking, and also his arrows, which do exactly the same to a person as his paintings. All carefully balanced, polished to the limit of reason - but that's Tom, if he takes on something, he puts his whole heart into it, along with his kidneys, liver, stomach and the rest of the human anatomy, as well as known and unknown reserves of creative spirit:) Add to this also a love of travel and technical intuition and you get a hybrid that even the mythical Kraken would not stand a chance against... Read (in his own words) about Tom's journeys ... and make sure you take a look at these great photos!
There was a time, when I left school, that all I knew about mechanical things could have fitted on a postage stamp, a small postage stamp, and my vocabulary of tools extended to “hammer” and “screwdriver”, both of which I needed to retrieve coins from the electricity meter in my bedsit !
However, out of boredom with clerical work in a cramped office, I decided to seek an apprenticeship…. as a Fitter!! At that time apprentices usually started their training at 15 years of age after they had completed two, or maybe three years of post-primary school. I was 18 and after six years in school had successfully completed the Leaving Cert., so I was “overqualified” and the oldest apprentice in the training centre but, more importantly, I could get a driving licence! I couldn’t afford a car, so I bought a motorcycle and life has never been the same since.
I loved every minute of this new, wonderful world of engineering and my age and educational experience now paid dividends as I gobbled up information and practical skills – all of which were initially focused on maintaining the motorcycle. Then tragedy struck – my bike was stolen!
In order to get back on the road I bought two old, worn out British AJS 350cc motorcycles, from the 1950’s, for £7 and £13 (equivalent to €8 and €15) and with my new found engineering knowledge, managed to repair and build one decent bike from the two.
Over the next 10 years that bike gave me the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of Ireland and long before The Wild Atlantic Way, I had explored every backroad and beach on the western seaboard. But it was when I discovered the smooth roads and warm sunshine of France that my motorcycling horizon broadened.
I had read books of various adventurous motorcycle journeys and noted that most were undertaken on BMW motorcycles, so I bought an old 1100cc BMW, fitted it out for touring and convinced my French teaching wife that she really needed to practice her spoken French amongst the French people!
That was 25 years ago and since then we have travelled the back roads and mountains of Europe on various BMW bikes. Last June we had a marvellous trip to Slovenia staying in small towns and villages, in guesthouses or small family run hotels.
Then last August I bought a 175cc Heinkel scooter from 1960 and when it was “ready for the road”, we headed off to France and journeyed from Cherbourg to the Ìle de Rè. It was such a wonderful trip that in 2023 we just might head to Spain ….to practice our Spanish of course!