Thanks folks, all very helpful and appreciated.
I see I haven't given you all the facts! I don't consider myself a cyclist as I don't cycle regularly, if at all, I generally run or circuit train for fitness....
However, I have previously cycled San Francisco to LA on a road bike in 2009, averaging 80 miles a day. I just got the bike, trained for the trip, did the trip, loved it, but never really continued with the cycling once I got home for various reasons.
Obviously, once I got to Big Sur, I realised that a road bike was not ideal for touring! And so I want to get the right bike for the job this time around where I'm planning something like the Southern Tier Feb-May 2011 (not confirmed yet, just one option I'm looking into). I would hope to do more touring in the future also.
I think I will steer clear of the options posted above, the consensus seems to be that they aren't ideal, and seek something else in the UK/Ireland - and try some UK forums as suggested.
I think I will take the time and effort to visit a shop with knowledge of tourers (if I can find a place in Northern Ireland) and get properly fitted etc, as suggested.