Cycle the Great Western Greenway, Co. Mayo If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about cycling, take this short off-road trip at a leisurely pace along the old railway line from Westport to Achill Island. You’ll pass over and under bridges, meet wandering sheep and enjoy the colours of the Nephin Mountains along the way. The 42km-trail can be done in a day, but we stopped off in Mulranny for a night. There, what seems like an ordinary roadside pub, Daly’s, opens up to the most magnificent views across Clew Bay from the back. Leave time to explore Achill Island too – YG While you’re at it: Don’t miss […]
Drive the Causeway Coastal Route It ticks everything off the checklist of scenic drives – sheer cliffs on one side, the lush green Glens of Antrim on the other, rock arches to drive through, heritage villages along the way (Cushendall and Cushendun) and the ruins of a mysterious castle on a cliff’s edge (Dunluce). Throw in forest parks and an unusual rock formation of 40,000 basalt columns (The Giant’s Causeway) and it’s no wonder it’s often voted one of the world’s top drives. While you’re at it: To calm the nerves after Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, drop into the Old Bushmills Distillery for a tour and a tasting – YG
Take a seaweed bath in Sligo Nothing beats the feeling of sinking into a piping hot bath. And if that bath is filled with seaweed harvested from the shore that morning? All the better. A visit to the Voya Seaweed Baths in Strandhill will leave your skin silky soft and your mind struggling to remember exactly what “stress” is. My tip? Skip the fancy shampoo and dunk your head back into the mineral-rich water – your hair will dry in perfect, beachy waves – NB While you’re at it: Take a bracing walk along Strandhill beach, then pop into Shells Café for their unbeatable chicken burger.
Go Coasteering on Clare Island I’ve been on Clare Island and struggled to stand upright as fierce winds pushed me sideways. I’ve also gotten sunburnt, before dipping into translucent waters in coves that resemble tropical beaches. Both incidents occurred within days of each other – such is life on this wildly rugged, unpredictable island. Throw yourself into the spirit of the place (quite literally) with a coasteering session. A combination of wild swimming and cliff jumping, you’ll be guided around the shores of the island and leap from its craggy peaks – NB While you’re at it: Embrace the wilderness with a stay in the Clare Island Lighthouse. Details: clareislandadventures.ie; […]
See the winter solstice at Newgrange, Co Meath Walking into a passage tomb that is more than 5,000 years old is an incredible experience. Especially when, once a year, its passage becomes illuminated with the morning sun and the chamber lights up as the sun rises. Access to the winter solstice experience is limited to 50 people a year, but the good news is that it’s decided by lottery – the bad news is that around 30,475 people applied last year and there’s no guarantee of sunlight. In truth, of course, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth seeing at any time of year – YG While you’re at it: […]
Ride a horse on the beach With so many beautiful beaches around our coast, it’s an exhilarating experience to gallop along the water’s edge and feel the salt spray in your hair. If you’re not at that level, fear not – you’ll find beach-riding treks for all ages and experiences. It was while we were trotting on the beach at Murrisk Bay at the foot of Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo on a drizzly day, that, as if the backdrop of the mountain on one side and Clew Bay on the other weren’t enough, a double rainbow appeared. While you’re at it: Climb Croagh Patrick – allow about two hours […]
Go to Glasnevin Cemetery There’s something so quintessentially Irish about Glasnevin Cemetery. Weave between the headstones and your guide will know the intertwining secrets of practically each soul who rests there; the friends who became enemies, the lovers and the arch adversaries now buried a hop from one other. It’s probably the best history lesson you can get in the city – NB While you’re at it: Get nostalgic with a visit to the Little Museum of Dublin, one of the quirkiest museums around.
Stay at Ballyfin, Co Laois Ordinary folk may have to sacrifice the kids’ college fund to stay here, but a visit to Ballyfin is a re-immersaion in the golden age of Irish country house hospitality. From the moment staff greet you on the steps of the Regency-era pile to the lavish stuccowork, sumptuous library and butlers who will unpack your luggage, you’ll feel to the manner born. Arguably, it’s Ireland’s finest 21st century restoration – PÓC While you’re at it: Co Cork’s Ballyvolane is another masterful Blue Book bolthole… this one complete with glamping and its own artisan gin
See wildflower season in the Burren, Co. Clare There’s no landscape quite like the Burren. At one glance it’s lunar and sparse, but peek again and it’s teeming with life. When the wildflowers poke up between the wrinkled rocks (typically in May), it makes for a scene that could have been lifted from a postcard. Continue the floral theme with a visit to The Burren Perfumery, where you can stroll through their herb garden and enjoy a pot of tea. Don’t leave without driving along the Flaggy Shore, reciting Seamus Heaney as you go Postscript by Seamus Heaney And some time make the time to drive out west Into County […]
Patrick Kavanagh Country, Co Monaghan You’ve heard of Yeats Country. You know Joyce’s Dublin. Seamus Heaney is soon to get his own visitor centre in Bellaghy. So why, oh why, is the gorgeously intimate landscape of Patrick Kavanagh’s life and poetry so off-radar? Within a 13.5km walk, cycle or drive from the heritage centre in Inniskeen, you’ll find the poet’s grave (a modest wooden cross), the family homestead, Billy Brennan’s Barn and Inniskeen Road, where the bicycles went by in twos and threes on that eponymous July evening. Monaghan has its magic, all right – The bicycles go by in twos and threes – There’s a dance in Billy […]