ADVENTURE CALLS: The great outdoors of the island of Ireland waiting to be explored

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Presented by Tourism Ireland

CASTLES, monasteries, follies, dolmens, medieval bridges, historic gardens and a myriad of other testimonies of a rich secular heritage emerge during any walk, hike, bike ride or on the canals of the island of Ireland.

Whether you stroll through the ancient ruins of Clonmacnoise Monastery in County Offaly, admire the extraordinary Brutalist architecture of the Ulster Museum in Belfast or examine the Reginald Tower in Waterford (possibly Ireland’s oldest urban monument ), you will be touched by an extraordinary culture that has developed here on the fringes of Europe.

You can do it quickly, or you can do it languidly – even in a horse-drawn trailer if you want to.

Several companies rent old-fashioned caravans that wander slowly, along the narrow streets and lanes of fuchsia and meadowsweet, the hedges filled with birdsong.

Kayaking is another way to see the coast.

Head to Carlingford, originally a Viking harbor town, and seek out the muscular fortifications of King John Castle.

Located on the edge of the old harbor, it was once the northernmost outpost of Pale.

Paddle your canoe north of this, and – as you will have already understood – you are beyond the Pale.

Dinghy, horseback riding, rock climbing, whale watching, paddle boarding, sailing – there are plenty of activities to choose from on every coastline, and Ireland has plenty of coastlines. You are sure to find an adventure that could transform your vacation and – who knows – maybe even your life.

Cycling

Irish counties are great for road and off road cycling.

In Northern Ireland, you can stroll along beaches such as Newcastle Strand, or along the quiet back roads of Co. Tyrone, past prehistoric stone structures such as Creggandeveskey’s Court Tomb.

Built around 3500 BC, it is tilted to make the most of the solstice.

It doesn’t matter Stonehenge – it’s the real deal, and you’ll likely have the place all to yourself to contemplate the mysticism of midwinter.

The island of Ireland has several dedicated cycle paths, many of which follow now-defunct railway branch lines, along bridle paths or along ancient canal systems.

From east Belfast, the Comber Greenway crosses a quiet green corridor through the city.

In Mayo, the Great Western Greenway opens up to spectacular views of Clew Bay, while the Waterford Greenway crosses impressive Victorian bridges and viaducts before arriving at Dungarvan Bay.

Enjoy a breath of fresh air on the open road

Trek

The mountains of the island of Ireland will take your breath away in more ways than one as you travel through heather and history.

A huge expanse of countryside – mountains, moors, bogs, coastline, and woods – means you can wander around all day at will.

Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s tallest mountains, offer the toughest challenges, but Slieve Blooms (mostly in Offaly) or Mournes and Sperrins in Northern Ireland offer everything from demanding climbs to enjoyable hikes.

Several marked routes crisscross Ireland – the Ulster Way, the Tain Way, the West Way, the Wicklow Way, all offering breathtaking views.

Nautical sports

The full force of the Atlantic is hitting the west coast of Ireland, which is great news for whitewater enthusiasts.

The award-winning surfers’ paradise of Rossnowlagh in County Donegal is world famous, but other water regions in Ireland offer a variety of water sports: canoeing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, dinghy.

A cruise on the Shannon-Erne Waterways or Lough Neagh will give you the opportunity to explore islands or stop at one of the many riverside inns.

Some beaches on the island of Ireland, such as Benone Strand in County Derry-Londonderry, offer ideal conditions for kitesurfing and sand yachting.

The rugged coastline in places such as County Sligo or County Antrim offers excellent possibilities for coasting trade.

It involves following a shore, stream, or river and passing the many obstacles that stand in your way, sometimes diving into the water.

It’s probably not for the faint hearted.

The luxurious Adare mansion in Limerick

Golf

The island of Ireland can claim some of the most beautiful fairways and greens in the world.

With more than 400 courses to choose from, it is a golfers’ paradise.

Royal County Down is on any list of the top ten courses in the world, with Golf Digest naming it number one.

It also happens to be one of the most spectacular in the world, while Royal Portrush, on the spectacular North Antrim coast, was the spectacular setting for the 2019 Open Championship.

And this competition, which is the oldest major championship in the world, returns to Royal Portrush in 2025.

Ireland also has its fair share of park runs.

The most famous park course is the K Club in Straffan, County Kildare.

Having already organized the Ryder Cup, you have to reckon with these 18 holes.

In 2027, the luxurious Adare Manor in Limerick, which has its own 18-hole golf course, will in turn host the Ryder Cup.

Ireland’s golf courses can offer the toughest sporting tests.

But they’re still set in the most spectacular scenery and inevitably come with all kinds of luxuries, from spa to pool.

So even if you can’t tell a bewildering spoon from a hole in the ground, you’re probably having a blast.

Always check out the latest travel and public health tips and gov.ie, nidirect.gov.uk and Ireland.com for information and inspiration

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