Monthly Archives: July 2010

Top 10 August Bank Holiday Festivals

Are you looking for some ideas on what to do this August Bank Holiday Weekend? Enjoy these last (hopefully sunny) days of summer while visiting one of the many Irish Open Air festivals that take place on the weekend from July 30th to August 2nd 2010. We’ve put together a list of our Top 10 favourite Bank Holiday Festivals:

  1. The Spraoi Festival, Waterford: The country’s biggest street festival takes place each year over the bank holiday weekend in various locations in the centre of Waterford City. Festivities will include numerous music, dance, circus acrobatics, theatre and comedy gigs. There are quite a few events for children, the most famous of which is the Spraoi Drums which gives 20 youngsters percussion training in the lead up to shows at the festival. There will be some 200 free music gigs in this year’s programme. Get more information here
  2. Castlepalooza, Tullamore:  The right festival for all you music lovers! The Castlepalooza Festival takes place at Charleville Castle in Tullamore. The line up includes many local and international music acts. There will also be a day spa operating from the castle, a short-film presentation will be held, and much more. Learn more on: http://www.castlepalooza.com/
  3. Mary from Dungloe International Festival, Dungloe, Co. Donegal: This Donegal town has been celebrating the ballad that gives the festival its name since 1967. Each year it crowns its very own Mary, a pretty young girl who best represents the beauty and the qualities of the woman in the original song. The festival’s programme includes a wide variety of events from a triathlon to a bonny baby contest to BBQs, live music, a display of vintage cars and a soap box derby down the main street. Visit the Festival’s Homepage
  4. Stradbally National Steam Rally: This Festival attracts rail enthusiasts from around the country. The two-day festival showcases steam engines, vintage cars, tractors and oil engines in a range of exhibitions and events including the running of steam trains on the Narrow Gauge heritage railway. Around 30 steam engines will participate in live demonstrations. Click here to learn more
  5. Rathangan Lughnasa Festival: Lughnasa traditionally signifies the start of the harvest and there are a range of festivities which take place around the country to mark the occasion. The Rathangan Lughnasa Festival is a music and arts festival which takes place in Kildare. Street performers, BBQs, face painting, a fancy dress disco for kids, busking for children and adults and a photography exhibition are just some of the activities planned for this year’s festival. Visit the festival website on: http://www.lughnasafestival.com/
  6. All Ireland Open Dog Show, Roundstone, Co. Galway:  For all you dog lovers! The fourth annual All Ireland Dog Show will take place at Farrell’s Field in Roundstone, Galway on Monday 2nd August. There are 20 separate classes which pooches can compete in, plus the best in show contest which is run as the festival’s finale. For more information click here.
  7. Graignamanagh/Tinnahinch Regatta & Rowing Festival, Kilkenny: Said to be the country’s oldest regatta, the Graignamanagh/Tinnahinch Regatta & Rowing Festival is a two-day celebration of river racing. There are over 20 different events which take place in and around the River Barrow including rowing, diving, swimming, canoeing and racing. There are also activities for children and live music in local pubs. Get more information
  8. Cork X Southwest Festival, Skibereen, Co. Cork: The fourth installment of this one-day music festival will take place on 31st July in tents at the showgrounds in Skibereen. The line up this year includes Martha Wainwright, the Hot House Flowers, Luka Bloom, the Ceili All Stars and Bonnie Prince Billy. Each year the festival also organizes various artistic events covering comedy and drama along with fine food stalls featuring local produce. Tickets are €55 and revelers can camp on site for €10. For more information, visit www.corkxsw.com.
  9. Kingscourt Festival, Co. Cavan:This family festival has something for everyone. This year’s programme includes events such as a wellie tossing contest, a soap box race, live music and a tug of war. This year’s festival is looking to break a Guinness World record for the longest line of dancing drag queens…we want a picture! More Information here
  10. Killarney Summerfest, Co. Kerry:  Killarney Summerfest 2010 is bustling with a myriad of activities for all the family. The Festival programme offers a fantastic range of outdoor activities set amongst the breathtaking Lakes, Hills, Valleys and Mountains of Killarney. An abundance of childrens activities throughout the day await with dozens of Arts and Creativity Work shops and fun summercamps. In the Evening families will throng the Town Centre as the streets of Killarney come to life like never before as some of the worlds leading street performers, puppeteers, comedians and magicians entertain all the family. More details here

Click here to book a Last Minute August Bank Holiday Weekend Getaway in Ireland!

Surf’s Up Dude, Catch a Wave in Lahinch

If I say stag party, where do you think of? Newcastle…? Prague…? The Algarve? Well, what about Lahinch?

Recently I was invited to a stag party by my best friend’s brother Johnny. Johnny, 32 years of age,  younger than myself by a good few years, is at that age where it’s time to hang up his football boots. The younger lads are making him look slow on the pitch, and he’s got to train that much harder just to keep up with them and the fun is no longer there. So what are the choices? He either becomes a couch potato (which is all too easy especially as the World Cup Soccer is on this summer) or he stays active by taking up another, less demanding sport. And what would that sport be? Well, there is a wide range of choice out there… cycling seems nice and easy, golf doesn’t seem too strenuous, hill walking or mountain climbing seem more challenging. These pursuits are ideal in spring & summer but what about an outdoor sport you can do all year round without getting wet? How about surfing?

Surfing in winter?… in Ireland? Are you mad you say? No, not at all! If you’re gonna get wet on dry land, why not go the whole hog and take the plunge…. Johnny’s stag was last weekend. We went to Lahinch… to surf! This is the sport Johnny opted for a year ago and he is now hooked… an out and out aficionado!  To be honest, I thought to myself before going to Lahinch, I don’t get the surf thing! It’s just a bunch of guys and girls, who say “hey dude” to everyone they meet, and who like to hang out by the beach! Well, I was in for some surprise! And I have to say, with just one day trying to “ride the waves” and failing miserably (I did manage to get on my knees twice!!) , like Johnny, I am hooked and cannot wait to go back!

I spent two full hours in the water trying to come to terms with the 2 metre high waves and was blown away by it all, literally! I wasn’t alone… I would say there was about two hundred surfers on the water – it looked impressive. And I’ve learnt that it can be done all year round wind, rain or snow (okay, within reason of course and depending on your level!) and with the wetsuit, you don’t feel the cold or the rain! Happy days! Well so I’m told!

If you’re half thinking of giving it a go, my strong advice to you is….DO! You won’t regret it. The great thing about Lahinch is there is something for everyone. Whether you’re in a group, a couple, going solo or with your kids, there’s fun there for everyone. And the atmoshere is very relaxed and friendly! If you’ve never surfed before, go see Ben on the beach http://www.benssurfclinic.com. Ben is a certified, professional instructor and offers excellent rates. He also gives sound and honest advice and his school is fully insured! Avoid others who are not insured!

Even the kids can try out the surfing and according to Ben the best age to learn is when you’re young. Next time I go down I will be bringing my wife and 10 year old son so that they get to experience what the joys of surfing in Lahinch are!

  • Where do you stay? I stayed in the Lahinch Golf and Leisure Hotel, located 1 minute from the beach & just off the main street in the town. For more hotels in Lahinch visit http://clare.hotelsireland.com
  • Where do you have breakfast/brunch/lunch? Danny Mac’s on Main St. A top class fry with all the trimmings!
  • Where do you have dinner? Kettler’s Restaurant
  • Where do you drink? Kenny’s Bar
  • Where do you go in Lahinch? The Beach… to surf of course!  If you prefer to swim there is a surf free zone for swimmers on the beach. The waves are excellent! Not too big and certainly not small!
  • Where else should you go? Visit the nearby Cliffs of Moher. Go to the town of Doolin & take the ferry to the Aran Islands – a must see! Past the Cliffs of Moher and Doolin, take the high road along the coast to Fanore & Ballyvaughan for some amazing views of the coastline almost as impressive as the Cliffs of Moher!
  • What other activities should you do? Go golfing, play pitch & putt, or go rock climbing (drive towards Fanore and the Burren for ideal climbing loactions) or go on a cycling day trip of the Aran Islands. You can also visit the Ailwee or Doolin Caves. The Doolin cave houses the largest stalictite in Europe – it’s impressive! And there’s the Burren! Wild and fascinating!

Thats all for now,

Shane (Self-acclaimed Surfer!)

Book Clare Hotels

Bring Bello: dog-friendly Accommodation in Ireland

It’s the same question every summer (well, at least for dog-owners like me): Where can I go on holidays and what will I do with my pet?
Why not bring your little friend with you! I mean, most of us here in Ireland opt for a “staycation” this year anyway – for various reasons (from ash clouds, over the “summer of the century”, to recession). And believe it or not, in the last couple of years the tourism industry here in Ireland opened up towards travelers taking their pets with them. There are various types of holiday accommodation available to pet lovers: B&Bs, Holiday Homes, modern Hotels and even Castle Hotels.
Here are some of my favourites:
Self Catering – I like the idea of going on a self catering holiday with my dog. Simply because it gives us the ultimate freedom. He can be in the same room when we’re eating, he’ll in most cases have a garden to run around and play and there might be other doggies around to play with.
Markree Castle Hotel, Co. Sligo – This Castle Hotel seems to be very pet-friendly. You can take your dog with you into your room which is in the actual hotel and the castle is set in the middle of its own huge estate where you can go for long walks. It looks absolutely lovely and romantic.
Ardilaun Hotel, Salthill, Galway – 4* Hotel with Leisure Centre. On check in you will receive your Ardilaun Doggy Pack which contains all the necessities for your dog’s stay. Love the idea.
Harvey’s Point Hotel, Lough Eske, Co. Donegal – 4 Star Hotel directly at the lake shore. They offer special dog-friendly Courtyard rooms. The area is just beautiful. Will go the in autumn. Can’t wait!
Castlemartyr Resort, Co. Cork - Famous luxurious 5* Resort. Always wanted to go there – can’t believe that they’re taking dogs! They have especially appointed guestrooms for dog owners with an outside entryway and an intimate, private garden area. Unfortunately, only dogs under 50lbs are allowed in. So my German Sheperd will never get to stay in such luxury… If you travel without your four-legged friend and miss going for walks, you can still “borrow” the resident Red and White Irish Setters.
Twelve Hotel, Co. Galway – The Twelve is a modern 4 Star Hotel close to Galway City. It is a lovely hotel and the area is perfect for long walks. When you’re there you can even book pamper-packages for your little friend. The only thing is that there are maaaany rules you have to follow when you want to bring your pet…
If you’re travelling to Ireland from abroad and you’re planning on taking your dog (or any other pet), I strongly advice you to check Ireland’s regulations! There’s no rabies on the island and they want to keep it out, so immigration is very strict regarding pets. You can find more information here.
And just because it’s so funny and we love our doggies:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb92wQpPG-s]