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21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

Holidays are coming...


hat are you looking forward to when the summer holidays officially begin next week? Is it the sheer joy of getting an extra few minutes in bed when you don’t have to meet the school bus, the relief of Sunday nights without sweating over the ironing board or the end to that frantic early morning hunt for bits of uniform. You don’t even need to have schoolchildren to join that collective sigh of relief as June draws to a close. Once the school traffic has eased, the morning commute becomes a breeze, parking spaces are miraculously easy to find and a general joie de vivre greets every ray of sunlight piercing the clouds. The ultra organised among us sit down at the start of the year and sort out the holidays for the following 12 months – the ski trip or winter sun holiday, the Easter foray, main family holiday and a few short breaks. For the rest of us mere mortals, once the big holiday is booked, everything else can be approached on an ad hoc basis. Maybe there’s a festival or event luring you away, perhaps you need to fit in a few days’ break with the extended family or a bunch

Surfers at Portrush of old friends with their families? If you have a mix of generations you might look for an hotel with chalets or self-catering lodges in the grounds, so that everyone can have their own space as well as a common area to congregate in the evening and morning. Perhaps you have lost your holiday mojo through a change of circumstances and you’ve no-one to go away with this year – why not join a tour and you can have that much need-

ed break and make new friends in the process. We’ve looked at all sorts of destinations, dividing them by area and suggesting places of interest, decent walks or tours and activities to try. We’re fortunate to live on such a beautiful island and with the lakelands running through the heart of the country you never need to go far to find somewhere worth exploring. We also look at cruises – one of the fastest

growing holiday sectors – as well as general overseas holidays. Whether you dream of a romantic gondola ride through Venice or trekking through the Canadian Rockies, kayaking in Cavan, caving in Fermanagh or surfing in the Atlantic there’s no time like the present for planning a great escape. All too soon we’ll be setting the alarm clocks and digging out those uniforms again!

Contents Pages 20-23 Heartlands come out of hiding

Pages 6-10 Delightful Donegal Pages 11-15 Splendours of Sligo

Pages 24-30 Tales as old as time in Ireland’s Ancient East

Pages 18-19 Festival Focus

Pages 31-35 Capital times in Dublin Pages 36-51 Home ground: Causeway Coast, Fermanagh Lakelands, Belfast’s Maritime Mile & more Pages 52-62 A world of holidays

PUBLISHED BY Belfast Telegraph, Clarendon House, Clarendon Dock, Belfast, BT1 3BH

ADVERTISING Jackie Reid Belfast Telegraph

EDITOR Fiona Rutherford, Realtime Editing & Design NI Ltd,

DESIGN Susan McClean, INM Design Studio, Belfast PRINTING: INM, Newry


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019 Cycle the Greenway, Co Waterford Make a splash at the Forty Foot, Dun Laoghaire

20 steps to

summer fun Take the kid’s eye view and inject extra fun into a trip this summer ...


Have a sleepover with a difference Five millennia of history is showcased at the Irish National Heritage Park, Ferricarrig, Co Wexford. Try a family sleepover in a replica 1,500-year-old ring fort. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that the kids are bound to love.


Test your skills A wonderful Adventure Play Kingdom will entertain the smallest visitors while the weather independent Boda Borg Challenge will test the mental skills and physical agility of everybody over seven at Lough Key Forest & Activity Park, Co Roscommon! Take a boat trip on the lake or out to the islands, try the Zipit courses, segway or bike through the woods. Or let the kids enjoy a first driving experience on the Kids’ Jeep Safari!


Investigate our animal life There’s an incredible diversity of animal life along our shoreline and the Sea Synergy and Activity Centre at Waterville, Co Kerry, is the perfect destination for nature lovers. There are shore rambles with expert guides, snorkelling courses and even a guided beach walk at night.


Go underground The Marble Arch Caves are a must if you’re visiting the Fermanagh or Cavan area. Take a subterranean boatride and see Europe’s most amazing caves. Above ground, the Global Geopark dates back millions of years.


Have an adventure The picturesque, medieval town of Carlingford, Co Louth, is a must-see for history buffs, and thanks to the Carlingford Adventure Centre, it’s also a perfect destination for thrill-seekers. Try zorbing, rock-climbing and kayaking.


Visit a great lighthouse The magnificent beacon of Hook Head Lighthouse has been guiding ships on this stretch of the Irish Sea for almost 800 years. The nearby Dunbrody Famine Ship and Irish Emigrant Experience is another unmissable Wexford attraction.


Explore a great forest park Portumna Forest Park makes a great day out for kids, situated 1km from Portumna town in Co Galway. Pack up a picnic, outdoor gear and kids bikes/scooters for lots of outdoor fun, including leisure and mountain cycling, the arboretum, forest park, walking trails and orienteering with access for all.


Discover a science wonderland Dublin’s newest attraction is out of this world! Explorium in Dublin will entertain the whole family with optical illusions, science experiments and activities that will test you mentally and physically. It’s not everyday your kids will find themselves lying on a bed of 3,000 nails.

Tree climbing at Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon


Have a thrilling time Brave enough to tackle the longest zip-line

in Ireland? Head to Loughcrew Adventure Centre near Oldcastle, Co Meath, for zip-lining, archery, climbing trees and a chance to explore the Forest Crystal Maze.

music for kids all across Dublin. Children’s theatre The Ark and the inventive play centre Imaginosity will fuel imaginations!





Swim in the open water Dun Laoghaire and its environs makes for a delightful day trip from Dublin city. The hardy can swim at Sandycove’s famous Forty Foot and a stroll along Dun Laoghaire pier is all the better with a Teddy’s ice-cream.

Take a nature walk with a difference Colin Glen Forest Park is a beautiful wooded glen near Dunmurry at the base of the Belfast Hills and home to the famous Gruffalo Trail as well as the SKYtrek high ropes course. It was the first community park in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Green Flag Award.


Cycle an old rail line The Waterford Greenway is a spectacular 46km off-road cycling and walking trail along the old railway line that used to connect Waterford city with the historic port of Dungarvan. Its a superbly scenic route to appeal to all the family.


Visit a seaside town It may be a proud part of Co Dublin but Skerries feels like a world away from the bustle of the city centre. There are some great restaurants and plenty of coastal treks to work off all that yummy seafood.


It’s a teddy bear adventure Try your hands at the teddy bear making workshop at Bear Essentials, Co Cavan. Afterwards, there’s a tea party for the kids and teddies with sweet treats, and outside in a rural haven.


Fuel young imaginations There are oodles of kid-oriented creative workshops in art, theatre, writing and

Be eco aware The Cool Planet Experience at the Powerscourt Estate, Co Wicklow, offers an interactive experience which immerses you in climate action. Its mission is to educate, engage and inspire people about climate change.

Go ‘sky-walking’ It sounds like a Star Wars character, but Skywalkers is, in fact, Ireland’s longest rope bridge, and it’s to be found at Kells Bay House, Co Kerry. Have you the nerve to walk 11m above River Delligeenagh for 34m?


Get a culture fix Dublin has several excellent museums, including the revamped National Gallery and the Natural History Museum, which are both fantastic while the Irish Museum of Modern Art has free family fun days.


Impersonate Willy Wonka Lorge Chocolatiers, near Kenmare, Co Kerry, is run by a French chocolate maker and he loves to help children learn how to make their own delicacies. Everyone – the grown ups too – gets to sample their creations.


Explore a brilliant beach Family fun is synonymous with sea and sand and there is an abundance of glorious Atlantic beaches to make your own, including Ballymastocker in Donegal and secluded Mullaghroe at Belmullet, Co Mayo. Check out wildatlanticway. com;, www. irelandshiddenheartlands. and for lots more family fun ideas.



Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

MAKE MCGETTIGAN’S YOUR GATEWAY HUB Begin your Wild Atlantic Way journey in style

T The gateway to Donegal’s north-west is the county’s largest town, Letterkenny. McGettigan’s Hotel, in the heart of the town, is the perfect base to combine the best urban experience with a Wild Atlantic Way adventure. Each of its 82 rooms is equipped with everything you would expect from a premier quality hotel including air conditioning and plasma TVs. Its modern, sleek decor and stylish function room make it a popular venue for events and weddings, with a panoramic glass wall offering a bird’s eye view of the town. McGettigan’s Hotel is a popular spot with diners and locally sourced menus are enjoyed in the award-winning Warehouse Bar + Kitchen, with live music seven nights a week. Letterkenny offers a large selection of restaurants, pubs, night clubs and an array of indoor and outdoor activities. The hotel and the area have something to suit all types of visitors

he Redcastle Oceanfront, Golf & Spa Hotel is a deluxe 4 star resort on the shores of Lough Foyle in Inishowen, Co. Donegal – one of the most beautiful peninsulas in Ireland. The secluded hotel is set among mature parkland with its own private 9 hole golf course, exciting award-winning restaurant, fantastic spa facilities and complimentary leisure facilities for guests which include our swimming pool and gym.

UNRIVALLED LOCATION.. from families, to young couples, groups, outdoor enthusiasts or those simply looking to escape and unwind for a few days. There are so many reasons why Donegal topped National Geographic Traveller’s Cool List for 2017 – Blue Flag beaches, championship golf courses, charismatic people, stunning scenery and unrivalled hospitality. Now is the time to discover it for yourself, from your base McGettigan’s Hotel. T: 00353 74 912 2066, e:, w:

Redcastle hotel is the perfect base for exploring Donegal’s sandy beaches, rolling mountains and friendly towns and villages. Guests at the Redcastle Hotel can enjoy warmly appointed rooms, unrivalled location and a genuinely warm welcome.

Exploring The Wild Atlantic Way… There is no better place to start than at the top! Visit us in the Redcastle Hotel and kickstart your Wild Atlantic Way journey in the Inishowen Peninsula. The Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s longest coastal route, with a 2,500km scenic coastal drive along the west coast of Ireland. There are 188 discovery points, the closest is Inishowen Head, just a 10 minute drive from the hotel. From our tranquil setting on the shores of Lough Foyle, the Spa at The Redcastle Hotel wishes to provide a calm and restful place in which you will choose to spend some time. Whether your reason for visiting us is for healing, relaxation, beauty or pampering, we will take care of you. It offers the complete package to every guest. The people of Donegal have a special saying, “Up here, it’s different.” Come and see why at The Redcastle Oceanfront Golf & Spa Hotel, Donegal. W:, e:, t: 00353 74938 5555


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

48 hours in north



he number one rule about any trip to Donegal is that you’ve got to slow the pace. There’s no point in haring about, trying to see everything – you’ll simply miss the magic that is in the very air in this part of the world. However, if you’ve 48 hours and want to feel as if you’ve been away for a month, the northernmost tips of Donegal are an excellent place to start. You will be tempted to hang about lively Letterkenny and it’s the perfect gateway to the total escapism that Ulster’s most north-westerly reaches offer. Take the N56 for Dunfanaghy on leaving the town and the magic begins to happen as you move into a timeless landscape full of mountains and loughs. Enjoy the ever increasing beauty until you come to Creeslough and let the Atlantic breeze soothe away your stress. The surrounding area has more than enough for one day’s bliss. Park up at Ards Forest Park and take your pick of trails through the woodland and beach trails. Pack a picnic and relax while the children enjoy the playground. Back on the road again and you can wind your way along to the popular Marble Hill Beach, one of the county’s 12 Blue Flag strands and relax over coffees at The Shack, a tiny place with a big reputation.


Drive the short distance to Dunfanaghy and take a stroll along its expansive beach (also Blue Flag) or explore the beach on horseback with all levels of riders accommodated at Dunfanaghy stables. You can see Horn Head protruding into the Atlantic from Dunfanaghy, but if you venture on, you can get close to the cliff top and carry on to Tramore Strand. There are many excellent hotels and self-catering cottages in the area, from Arnold’s Hotel on the seafront at Dunfanaghy to The Shandon, overlooking Marble Hill. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong arts and crafts community here and you can pick up some beautiful souvenirs of your trip in Dunfanaghy. Dine at one of the fine local

The view of Sheep Haven Bay from Ards Forest Park

restaurants, like The Cove in Portnablagh, where you can view the harbour where the catch of the day has been freshly landed. For day two, head for the Fanad Peninsula – perfect for anyone who loves the twisting mountain road driving experience. Turn off at Creeslough for Carrigart and you’re treated to sumptuous views across Sheep Haven Bay, with the 15th century Doe Castle providing a sudden waterside surprise far below. Many years ago, it was home to Ireland’s own version of Romeo and Juliet with the star-crossed lovers being Aileen, daughter of the castle’s owner and Turlough, son of his sworn enemy. However, this is no time to dwell on tales of woe when there’s such sights to enjoy and Downings up ahead. Endless miles of pristine sand are enough for most people but just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, there’s Murder Hole beach. Once you’ve taken the air, and enjoyed the view of Marble Hill across Sheep Haven Bay, it’s time to drag yourself away.


Mulroy Bay reaches from the headland down to Milford and the drive takes you right along the shoreline until you come to Milford and the start of the Fanad Peninsula. Again, the scenery is simply pure Donegal, with Knockalla Mountain on one side and the beautiful blue bay waters on the other until suddenly, you round a bend and there’s Fanad Lighthouse looking pristine on its lonely promontory, guarding the mouth of splendid Lough Swilly. The guided tours of the lighthouse are ‘ahem’ illuminating – did you know that every lighthouse has its own distinctive colouring and light sequences, to help sailors get their bearings? The climb to the top isn’t too arduous although the spiral staircase will have you on tiptoes and of course the view from the top is wonderful, with the jagged heads of the northern coast-

Fanad Lighthouse with Malin Head in the background line stretching out to Tory Island in the west and Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, to the east. You can even stay in the lighthouse, with two self-catering cottages available for lease. Explore the eastern side of the peninsula and you come to gorgeous Portsalon, beloved of golfers, and the fabulous Ballymastocker Bay, a rival for Downings any day. For dinner, make for Rathmullan which is home to the Flight of the Earls Heritage Centre and the rather lovely Rathmullan House with its

Cook and Gardener restaurant, where as the name implies, much of the produce is grown ‘out the back’. Discover it all at Facebook: Irelandswaw Twitter: #WildAtlanticWay Instagram: thewildatlanticway


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Snap happy

Inishowen Head


Have a memorable time in Co Donegal

r in the pub

Trad musicians gathe

Get the catch

of the day in


Take the scenic route

Check out Cy ndi handweaving Graham’s studio at Dunk ineely

nveagh National

Spend a day at Gle Park

The Inishowen Peninsula Loop, Co Donegal is a wild remote looped walk – the perfect way to experience the bracing Wild Atlantic Way first hand. Start from the car park at the World War II lookout tower at Inishowen Head and follow the marked pathway. Along the walk you will meet the point where St. Columba left Ireland for Iona and a viewing point where on a fine day you can see Scotland. Walkers will also travel back to an earlier age passing castles, towers and ancient churches. Along the trail early Celtic

crosses and pagan monuments come together in a colourful tapestry with these great houses of the last century. The walk, which is 8km, is moderately difficult and takes in bog roads, laneways and rough tracks. Refuel: Complete your adventure with a trip to Kealy’s Seafood Bar in Greencastle – we recommend the chowder! Not to miss: Experience stunning shows and displays at the Inishowen Maritime Museum and Planetarium with magnificent views over Lough Foyle.


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide Altan Farm

Irish tours. They come to study the language and they’ll do the morning lesson and then have a walk in the afternoon through the medium of Irish. Another new development is the rough and ready railway walks. You can walk 18km in a straight line and you get dropped off at one point and picked up at another.

Which walks are best for wildlife?

Gola Island - it’s just 10 minutes on the ferry for a four or five hour walk. There are plenty of sea birds for the wildlife enthusiast and there’s an old schoolhouse there. Aranmore is also absolutely beautiful as is Fanad Head – it’s stunning.

Seamus Doohan’s Donegal


f you want to see the best of any area, ask the locals. In Donegal’s case, you can’t do better than Seamus Doohan. A native of Falcarragh, he has been running guided walking tours of the county for more than 10 years, particularly the northern reaches. The tours are filled with stories of people, places and historic events, from shipwrecks to sheep wars – and with his more recent interest in archaeology, there’s even more to discover.

Where is your favourite place?

How do you plan your walks?

People get in touch and I come to wherever they’re staying, have breakfast or lunch with them and talk about what they want to do and see and we take it from there.

There’s a good yarn with it. Earlier this year I had an 88 year old man from Chicago whose name was Altan and he travelled all the way over to see it. It’s a beautiful area and people lived there until 1900.

What’s your favourite tour?

What’s new?

Altan Farm on the shores of Lough Altan.

I’m seeing a lot more people coming on the

Glen Head at Glencolumbkille. There’s 200 metre high cliffs and you have the place to yourself. You walk up an old bog road and there’s a Napoleonic Tower and the views are amazing. It also takes in Port, an abandoned fishing village and that’s my favourite coastal walk. Then there’s Tory Island and even Glenveagh National Park is fantastic. I love this place – every weekend I find somewhere different. Seamus offers a wide range of walks tailored to the participants’ levels of fitness and experience and all ages and abilities are catered for. w: t: 00353 7491 65443 e:


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Cliffs and cruises, beaches and boogies

Sunset at Slieve League Rossnlowlagh Beach


he wild and wide Atlantic Ocean has a palpable influence on all things in Donegal – from her climate to her sea cliffs to her weather, so what better way to start your explorations of her isolated beauty than by heading to the western edges of the county and taking a Donegal Bay Waterbus trip. Running year-round, these cruises, which are fully wheelchair accessible, explore the history, environment and wildlife of this unique estuary, which is renowned for its vistas of mountains, town and sea. You can expect to get up close and personal with the seal colony near the mouth of the Laghy River and learn about Belle’s Isle where so many Donegal natives fled the Famine on board ‘coffin ships’. Other sites of historical importance include the ruins of the Abbey which was once the home of the legendary chieftain Red Hugh O’Donnell.


After your boat trip, head back into Donegal town for coffee or lunch at the Blueberry Tearoom, well known for its lunch specials and other goodies. Next, take a drive west out to Slieve League. These incredibly impressive sea cliffs may play second fiddle to the Cliffs of Moher in terms of fame but they are in fact the highest in Europe and spectacular to boot. With a 600m drop into the sea, they will inspire awe and maybe a little terror – as will the precipitous journey out there. Only experienced hikers will brave the narrow and exposed ridge of One Man’s Pass. However, you don’t need to be Edmund Hilary to enjoy the vistas on offer. Pop into the Slieve League Cliffs Centre, a family-run halfway point packed full of history and culture, locally made knitwear and the odd traditional Irish music session. From here, travel back to Lough Eske just north of Donegal Town. Harvey’s Point Hotel, which sits on this serene lake and boasts and impressive backdrop of lofty mountains, is a lovely and luxurious place to bed down for the evening. Even if you can’t stay, a stroll or a bike around the lake is well worth the effort. It is also a great spot to start a challenging hike into the Blue Stack Mountains. The hotel’s restaurant and steakhouse are great

Sea Sessions, Bundoran

rewards for anyone who has worked up a serious appetite. Next day, head south and stop at Donegal Craft Village just outside town where you can indulge in some retail therapy or just indulge at its award-winning restaurant. The village showcases contemporary arts and crafts, including weaving, glass, jewellery and wood carvings. Afterwards keep travelling south. Any golfers out there should stop off at Donegal Golf Club in Murvagh. This is one of the top links courses in the county and was designed by legendary course architect Eddie Hackett. It continually features in ‘Golf World’s Top 100 courses in Ireland and Great Britain’, so if you dream of greens and fairways, don’t miss it.


The western shores of Donegal are home to some of the most famous beaches in the county. Blow the cobwebs away with a long walk on Rossnowlagh’s seemingly endless beach. There is also a vibrant surf scene and school here which takes advantage of the perfect beginner and intermediate waves, so if you’d like to take the plunge this might be the place. Afterwards everyone’s welcome to hang out at the nearby Surfers’ Bar, which is adorned with classic old Irish surf photos, boards and paraphernalia. Other great spots for food and lodgings are the grand Sandhouse Hotel and Spa or the cosier Smuggler’s Creek with its spectacular views over the bay. Ballyshannon, Rory Gallagher’s hometown, is just down the coast and a lively music town at any time of year and a few miles south is the bustling resort of Bundoran, a favourite with surfers and families looking for a traditional seaside holiday. Climb Rougey cliff for a bracing walk with rewarding views. Don’t miss: Bundoran is gearing up for new festivals this season... Following hot on the heels of the Sea Sessions Surf Music Festival this weekend, June 21–23, Bundoran’s Big Week by the Beach in August will include a golf scramble, the Bundoran Surf Open, live music, quiz nights, historical events and more to be announced. The Bia Bundoran Food Festival in September will promote all that is good about the culinary offering in the town.


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

The Garavogue flows through the centre of Sligo town


splendour of Sligo


tunning Co Sligo is a dream of a destination, whether you want peaceful beaches or those with Atlantic rollers thundering ashore, or whether you love to hike through mountains and lakes, immerse yourself in the arts, eat yourself silly or shop till you drop in lively Sligo town made lovelier by the Garavogue River. While it’s hard to imagine exhausting the delights of Mullaghmore, Strandhill, Rosses Point, Enniscrone or Streedagh, all beautiful beaches, there is more to see than coastline on this part of the Wild Atlantic Way. WB Yeats, who described Sligo as the ‘Land of Heart’s Desire’, is buried at Drumcliffe graveyard and there are many sites of interest to his fans. Sligo County Museum has displays of WB Yeats memorabilia, as well as art by his brother Jack B Yeats among others. The poet immortalised the Lake Isle of Innisfree and

the island remains part of the appeal of tranquil Lough Gill, a favourite with walkers and part of the Sligo Way that traverses the county from the Ox Mountains to County Leitrim. Famous landmarks in stunning Sligo include Knocknarea Mountain, which looms over Rosses Point, Benbulben and the Dartry Mountains, and Glencar Waterfall - all well worth a visit. Streedagh Beach is where three ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked in 1588. Ancient history is part of the appeal of this western county, whether

The Queen Maeve Trail, Knocknarea, image,

Fit for a queen


n Co Sligo, The Queen Maeve trail brings walkers up the northern slopes of Knocknarea, through forests and past ancient Megalithic and Bronze Age remains. Sligo’s most popular trail was further improved last summer with an extension, enabling walkers to do a start-tofinish 2.4km looped walk, from Strandhill. At the summit of Knocknarea lies Queen Maeve’s Cairn (burial chamber) and walkers pass by abandoned and derelict stone cottages and

take in stunning views stretching as far as Nephin in Mayo and Slieve League sea cliffs in Donegal. Whilst the trail is considered relatively easy, good footwear is essential for the variety of terrains. Refuel: Pop into Shells Café in Strandhill and its adjoining shop which sells local produce and beautiful ceramics. Not to miss: Learn all about the magical prehistory of the area at The Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery.

you want to peak over a clifftop at Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave or explore the Creevekeel Court Tomb which dates back to 4,000BC or Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery near the ruins of Sligo Abbey.

Co Sligo also offers a plethora of attractions - watch eagles soar and bird whisperers at work at the Raptor Bird Centre or visit Sligo Folk Park in the grounds of Millview House for a taste of life, 19th-century style.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Things to do


utgrown your bucket and spade? There are many ways to enjoy a trip to the beach in Sligo.  Go on horseback with Island View Riding Stables for an hour long ride along Trawalua Beach with views of Donegal Bay and Classiebawn Castle in Mullaghmore  Learn to surf with one of the many schools at Enniscrone and Strandhill  Go scuba diving. Offshore Watersports in Mullaghmore, County Sligo offers a wide range of PADI scuba diving courses from open water diver to dive master  Try snorkelling with Wavesweeper Sea Adventures at Mullaghmore  Stand Up Paddleboarding has taken off and many of the surf schools offer that option. SUP DUDE is a dedicated Stand Up Paddleboarding School in Mullaghmore  Sea Kayaking is a fantastic way to visit Coney and Oyster Islands from Rosses

Point with West Coast Kayaking  Sligo Kayak Tours runs guided kayak tours of the county’s beautiful coastal estuaries and tranquil inland lakes. They also offer guided overnight Woodland Wilderness camping  Wild West Sailing runs a range of voyages from Mullaghmore, Rosses Point and on Lough Gill. Sail north to the Slieve League Cliffs and Tory Island in Co Donegal, or south to Broadhaven and Inisboffin in Co Mayo.  Kite surfing has literally taken off. Have a go supervised by qualified instructors from 360Kitesurfing at Streedagh Strand.  Catch ‘n Cook with Sligo Boat Charters. Take a full day, half day or evening trip to track down and catch your dinner while getting close to the seal colonies. Trips depart Rosses Point and your catch can be cooked for you at the nearby restaurant of Austies.


With more than 20 beaches between Mullaghmore in the north and Enniscrone in the south, there’s no excuse for not dipping a toe in the Atlantic. Not all are suitable for bathing so check out the flag before you take the plunge – red flag means danger, red-yellow flag means beach guard on duty, no flag means no beach guard on duty but it may be fine for swimming. ✱ Mullaghmore is a beautiful sandy beach and safe for families. The scenery is exceptional with Classiebawn Castle overlooking it and there are good amenities in the vicinity. ✱ Streedagh Strand is 3km of sand, perfect for surfing all year round. Check out the links with the Spanish Armada and look for fossils on the rocks. Lifeguards in the summer so great for family swims, popular with walkers year round. ✱ Rosses Point has three sandy beaches and it’s safe for swimming and popular for watersports. Views include Knocknarea and Benbulben mountains and Coney Island and landmarks include the evocative Waiting on Shore sculpture on the pier. ✱ Strandhill is an exciting seaside village and

At the southern end of Strandhill’s main beach, the sand dunes give way to a wide tidal estuary and the sweeping sandbanks of Culleenamore, image, Alison Crummy

the beach is usually packed with surfers, however it’s not safe for swimming. There are great walks from Strandhill Beach to Culleenamore Strand and to Killaspugbrone where church ruins give onto a secluded beach. ✱ Culleenamore is a tranquil sandy beach which is completely submerged at high tide. At low tide, you can see the local seal colony on the sandbanks. ✱ Dunmoran is a beautiful, sheltered beach, good for swimming and surfing and the starting point for a hike to Aughris. ✱ Enniscrone is a Blue Flag beach and one of the safest along the west coast. Its golden sands stretch across 5km from the town of Enniscrone to Killala Bay and the beach is popular with surfers and swimmers. ✱ Lissadell Beach is reached through a forest at Lissadell Estate and is popular for swimming, surfing and walking, thanks to its flat expanse. ✱ Easkey Beach is famed for its surfing, kayaking and fishing and for the 13th century O’Dowd’s castle on the shoreline. The rugged shore is great for walks and there’s a man made pool, Poll Gorm, for swimming in.

Acclaimed author of The Argonauts, American genre-busting writer Maggie Nelson (photo by Tom Atwood) will be making her first ever Irish appearance at Cairde Sligo Arts Festival. Other highlights of the festival, from July 6–13, include singers Lisa O’Neill and Seamus Fogarty, Australian classical guitarist Craig Ogden and theatre company Brokentalkers

Food, arts and fun

Get the inside track on this western county by taking in a tour or an event while you’re there. WALK, EAT, DRINK

Sligo Food Tours are run by Hans and Gaby Wieland, who moved from Germany to Sligo 30 years ago and have been at the cutting edge of the town’s food revolution. Their Friday afternoon tours, launched this spring, include tastings at Sligo’s most inventive and innovative restaurants and cafes over the course of a three hour stroll.


Tread Softly festival, inspired by Yeats brothers, Jack and William, explores the landscape – visual, literary, ephemeral and tangible – that ignited their work and continues to

rouse today’s artists, writers and thinkers. the festival runs from July 25–August 3, details to be announced. Find out more about the poet and artist by calling into the Yeats Society, on the Hyde Bridge, in the heart of town. Members offer guided tours and host readings and events.


✱ Tubbercurry Old Fair Day Festival runs on August 10–14 ✱ The Enniscrone Black Pig Festival, July 25–29 ✱ Sligo Summer Festival, August 8–11


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Eagles Flying, Ballymote

SPECIAL PLACE The Caves of Keash is on the cover of the new Sligo Hidden Gems booklet by South & West Sligo Tourism ( It includes everything from surfing, seaweed baths, horse riding, golfing and a spa to attractions, walking trails and festivals. It also includes a calendar of events and a map with details of heritage and historic sites.

Big hitters... and hidden jewels Whether you’re a romantic soul, who loves to immerse themselves in the lyricism of a place, a history nerd or someone with a taste for adventure, you’ll find just the ticket in Co Sligo.

Britain’s first ever female MP was Constance Markievicz and her childhood home, Lissadell Estate and Gardens, is among the county’s top attractions. Constance was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising and was Minister for Labour after becoming the first woman to be elected to Dail Eireann. She declined to take her seat at Westminster. Her sister, Eva Gore Booth is also renowed as a poet and suffragist while their brother Josslyn was a pioneering horticulturalist whose incredible gardens are recreated at


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

The Beach Bar, Aughris, Sligo Bay

Lissadell Estate, Lissadell Lissadell. WB Yeats was a family friend and occasional visitor. The house is now in private ownership but is open to the public from April to October.

Pay homage to William Butler with a visit to his final resting place at Drumcliffe Churchyard, ‘under bare Benbulben’s head’. His grave is by the church where his great-grandfather was rector. The churchyard also includes the remains of an 11th century high tower and hgh cross from its time as a monastery and there’s a tea house and craft shop on site.

Eagles Flying at Ballymote, is the largest centre for birds of prey and owls in the country with more than 100 eagles, hawks, owls, falcons and vultures. Altogether there are more than 450 birds and animals in the centre. Established as the Irish Raptor Research Centre in 1999, the twice daily shows (11am and 3pm) are both informative and exciting with raptors of wingspan of up to 3 metres in close proximity. Before and after the shows, visitors can walk the park lands and enjoy the birds or go to the petting zoo with its guinea-pigs, pigs, rabbits, lambs, goats, donkeys and ferrets. Favourites are Grizzly,

the pickpocketing raccoon, Tui and Allan, the tame foxes and a 4m python.

Carrowmore megalithic tomb cemetery, on the Coolree Peninsula, is the biggest in Europe and older than the pyramids at about 6,000 years. Take a guided tour to get the most out of a visit here. Pop into Breeogue Pottery Studio and Gallery nearby when you’re done.

The 16 Caves of Keash are the stuff of many legends and are open for exploration. Sited near Carrowkeel, another major megalithic tomb cemetery, the caves are believed to have been inhabited by early man as well as bears, wolves, arctic lemming and

other wildlife. Cormac Mac Airt, Ireland’s most famous High King was born by a well near the caves and was stolen and raised by wolves. Lough Feenagh, framed in the mouth of a cave, is shaped like the map of Ireland.

Stop off for a bite to eat and a drop at The Beach Bar, a traditional thatched pub at Aughris beach in Sligo bay. The setting is superb with the Ox mountains behind and Knocknarea and Benbulben to the east.

The Secret Gardens of Sligo is a group of private gardens open to the public from May to September. Admission by voluntary donation to charity. Contact sligotourism. ie for details.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019 Westport Sea 2 Summit


FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS... A warm welcome awaits you at the newly-refurbished, family-run Sligo Park Hotel and Leisure Club. Located on the Wild Atlantic Way, the contemporary and stylish four-star hotel is the perfect getaway for families of all shapes and sizes. Perfect for both quiet breaks or active adventures, the Sligo Park Hotel has it all. Relax in the plush surrounds of the hotel, which is set on lush landscaped gardens on the outskirts of Sligo town and chill out in the new–look Health & Leisure Club with its 16 metre heated pool, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and plunge pool. Or enjoy a more active break exploring Sligo’s famous historic sights and trying out the many activities available in the vibrant seaside town– from surfing and hillwalking to SUP paddle boarding and horseriding. Located in the heart of Yeats’ Country, the

Sligo Park Hotel is surrounded by some of Ireland’s most iconic scenic spots, ranging from the majestic Benbulben to the dramatic coastlines of the Wild Atlantic Way. Spectacular views are a feature of the hotel’s bedrooms. During the summer months, there is plenty to keep the children occupied at the Sligo Park Hotel with fun activities in the pool – including our fun float water slide and games – as well as movie nights, an obstacle course and exploring our fairy trail. There are plenty of delicious dining options at the Sligo Park Hotel, perfect to whet your appetite after a day’s exploring. Savour the atmosphere of Jack B’s Bar and Garden Terrace and enjoy the creative delights of our award-winning Hazelwood Restaurant. Only located 2.5 hours from Dublin and Belfast, two hours from Galway and one hour from Donegal, get in touch at www.sligopark. com or call 00353 71919 0400 to learn more about our Summer Family Escape deals which include three and four-night family packages from €459.

Get active, then explore... Enjoy some sporting action when you’re on holiday? Here are some events to whet your appetite, plus places to visit while you catch your breath. Ring of Kerry Cycle

Killarney, Co Kerry, July 6 The ring of Kerry cycle is a one day cycling event that brings together communities to participate, fundraise and enjoy the stunning scenery. The 175lm route passes through some of Kerry’s most beautiful towns including Kenmare, Killarney and Cahirciveen and arrives home to a spectacular welcome and celebration. While you’re there: Go on, give yourself a treat after this intense, endurance test and visit the famous Skellig Chocolate Factory for info and mouth-watering tasters along the way. For more information visit www.

QUEST 12/24

South West, Wild Atlantic Way, August 31 Quest 12/24 is a one-day, individual race that traverses Ireland’s highest mountains and toughest cycle routes along the Wild Atlantic Way — all in the name of adventure. For those who wish to test their physical and mental strength, the 12-hour option is a 146km route that involves running, cycling, and kayaking over mountains, rivers, and lakes. While you’re there: Take in the awe-inspiring starry night skies at Kerry’s Dark Sky Reserve. For more information visit

Quest involves running, cycling and kayaking

Cycle the Ring of Kerry

The Great Fjord Swim

Killary Fjord, Connemara, October 12 Wetsuits at the ready for this open-water swim amidst the natural border between counties Mayo and Galway. Killary Fjord may just be one of the most spectacular places to wild swim in Ireland. Competitors can choose from three courses – 750m option, a 2k course, or the full 3.9km Ironman distance – which sees them swim between the peaks of Mayo and Connemara. While you’re there: Following your swim, take a boat trip to Inishbofin to experience all island life has to offer – from traditional music to adventure walks and everything in between. For more information visit www.

Westport Sea2Summit

Westport, Co Mayo, November 9 This multi-sport adventure race doesn’t make things easy by taking place amid winter. There are two courses to choose from – the Sea2Summit Sprint (with a total distance of 30km) and the Sea2Summit Supreme (for more advanced adventurers, with a total distance of 56km). Both involve a mixture of road running, cycling, and a mountain hike across the scenic backdrop of Westport. While you’re there: Take a load off and take in the breathtaking views of the beaches of Westport with a magical horse-riding experience. For more information visit: Wild Atlantic Way:


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

Go for Galway

Ballycroy National Park, Co Mayo

For city life with a distinctly Irish twist, head for Galway. A fascinating place whether you love the arts and music or simply people watching with its lively bohemian vibe. Get glimpses of its ancient past at the quayside Spanish Arch and even Eyre Square where the shopping centre includes a section of the medieval city walls. The lively resort of Salthill is a stroll away along the promenade or hop in the car and tour the amazing rocky landscapes of the Connemara Gaeltacht.

Fun times

Take a hike


Just when they thought they’d left school behind, a different kind of learning experience awaits the little ones beneath the waves in County Clare, where a pod of dolphins will be the teachers. All aboard the ‘Dolphin Discovery’ in Kilrush Marina for a cruise along the north shore of the Shannon Estuary, home to Ireland’s only known resident group of bottlenose dolphins.


A family that cruises together, stays together! Silverline Cruises and Emerald Star in Portumna, Co Galway offers super family friendly options. Drift from town to village, stop off for a festival, pub grub or to try out a new water or land activity – a cruising holiday will create life long memories.



Let the kids run free at the Dark Sky Reserve and Plover Clubs, taking place at Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park, Co Mayo. The series of workshops will teach youngesters everything from pond dipping, bird watching, map making, and wildflower walks – the essentials for any budding explorer.

The Claggan Mountain Coastal Trail, Co Mayo, consists of a gentle walk (1km boardwalk) within Ballycroy National Park, near Westport. This stunning coastal bay route offers visitors a spectacular scenic stroll along Bellacragher Bay where the Atlantic blanket bog sweeps down to the sea. Listen for the calls of wading birds and catch glimpses of otters and seals. The presence of ancient pine stumps on the shore and poking out of the bog give walkers a peek into past landscapes. The walk is 2km each way and the boardwalk is fully wheelchair/buggy accessible. Refuel: For post walk refreshments, visit the family run Ginger & Wild Café which offers stunning views of Achill Island. Not to miss: While there, visit the Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park Visitor Centre

(open March to October) which houses an interactive exhibition, experienced guides.


A challenging option for experienced hikers is The Bangor Trail in Co Mayo. Starting at Bangor Erris Village and ending, after 29km, at Newport, this is one of the toughest trail hikes in Ireland. It includes one of the country’s last true stretches of wilderness which features a hike up Slieve Carr, regarded as Ireland’s remotest summit. Refuel: Stop at Kelly’s Kitchen in Newport and sample their delicious seafood chowder – a firm favourite with locals! Not to miss: The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life which is home to a national collection representing the traditional way of life in Ireland since 1850.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

An Earagail Arts Festival event in the grounds of Rathmullan House, Donegal

Let the festival fun begin From sport to music and the arts, there’s a super festival or one-day event to cater for all tastes and ages this summer, whether you’re close to home or away for a few days. Here are our top picks…

✱July 1–31

Féile na Mara, Co Mayo

The three-week Festival of the Sea is a celebration of the best of Wild Atlantic Way seafood. And the rugged beauty of the setting – Achill’s Purteen Harbour – makes that sumptuous food taste all the better.

✱July 4

American Independence, Co Tyrone

The Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh, is the place to be on July 4. Celebrate all things American from the 18th, 19th & 20th centuries. A festival for all the family with American Revolutionary Soldiers, fur trappers and traders, live Bluegrass and American folk music, traditional Punch and Judy Shows, American games and much more! Major event day pricing applies.

✱Festival, Co Down

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens Food

July 5–7 The first ever food festival in the grounds of the castle will feature live cookery demos from chefs and experts, entertainment on the bandstand and lots of family fun.

✱July 13–14

Dalriada Festival, Co Antrim

Northern Ireland’s biggest family festival weekend, Dalriada Festival, returns to historic Glenarm Castle. As well as music from Peter Andre, Fleur East, Atomic Kitten, East 17 and many more, there’s fine food and drink and plenty of entertainment for children with kids’ TV stars and a farm courtesy of the Official Tractor Ted team.

✱July 18–21

Festival of Curiosity, Dublin

This one-of-a-kind festival is especially child-friendly and will fire their enthusi-

asm for the arts and science thanks to fun, innovative activities. It’s held in a variety of Dublin city centre locations.

✱July 10–28

Earagail Arts Festival, Co Donegal

The festival goes on the road from west to north, showcasing inspiring performers and native artists providing opportunities for cultural exchange, in purpose-built theatres, galleries, village halls, forests and beaches, creating a unique cultural experience.

✱August 3

Walled City Tattoo, Co Londonderry

The Walled City Tattoo in Concert 2019 returns with a 200 strong cast to commemorate


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

The Puck Fair, Kerry

Spraoi Festival, Waterford

✱August 10–12

Puck Fair, Co Kerry

the completion of the iconic city walls 400 years ago, on August 3. A spectacular visual display like no other, the Tattoo features drama, music and dance to celebrate the World Heritage site that is Derry’s Walls.

Maiden City Festival, Co Londonderry August 3–10 The Maiden City Festival brings the old city of Derry~Londonderry to life through a week of music, dance, theatre and pageant.

One of Europe’s longest running and most unusual festivals takes place in Killorglin, Co Kerry, and centres on a wild mountain goat that is crowned King of the Town. The coronation parade is not to be missed.

✱August 9–18

Kilkenny Arts Festival, Co Kilkenny

For 10 days, the city’s churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens offer a magical setting for intimate encounters between audiences and artists.

✱August 3–4

✱August 11–18

✱Festival, Co Waterford

✱Co Antrim

Beatyard, Co Dublin

A hardy perennial on the summer music calendar, this acclaimed Dun Laoghaire festival is all about quirky, offbeat acts - and there’s a huge choice of food options and pop-up cafes too.

Spraoi International Street Arts

August 2–4 Waterford, the country’s oldest city, has an abundance of excellent family-oriented festivals throughout the year and this one is all about the best in street performance from home-grown and international acts.

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann, Co Meath

The Fleadh Cheoil festival – in Drogheda for the second time – is one of Ireland’s most popular events, and the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance.

Ould Lamas Fair, Ballycastle,

August 24–27 Two days of trading, bargaining, traditional music and dance, horse trading village, amusements, artisan market and street theatre add to the atmosphere in the beautiful seaside resort of Ballycastle.

✱August 31–September 1

Airwaves, Portrush, Co Antrim

The last big event of the summer draws thousands to the Causeway Coast for spectacular displays in the skies and the sea off Portrush.

✱Co Cork

A Taste of West Cork Food Festival,

September 6–15 Featuring over 250 events taking place in 41 towns and villages and eight islands, the festival celebrates West Cork’s food culture, from the beaches of Inchydoney, to the Beara peninsula and reaching out through the scattered islands off Roaring Water Bay.

July 4th at the Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh

For more information on festivals around the country in 2019 and to help plan your itineraries visit:


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Heartlands comes out of hiding

Cruising by Athlone Castle

Kilbeggan Distillery, Co Westmeath


xplore the Hidden Heartlands of this island for a fresh take on holidays. This tranquil inland countryside, spreading out from the mighty Shannon, is in the spotlight as never before. It all begins at the Cavan Lakelands where the majestic River Shannon has its humble beginnings in the Shannon Pot. Follow the Shannon the length of its 240 miles and take your pick of counties along the way - Leitrim, Cavan, Longford, Roscommon, Westmeath, Offaly, Tipperary, east Galway, Clare and onto Limerick where the great river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Many visitors hire a cruiser and take a leisurely approach to exploring the Hidden Heartlands, however, you can find many great stopping off places whether you travel by car, coach or bike.


First up is Co Cavan where the natural gems include the Cavan Burren which like the more famous one in Co Clare, is an important area in terms of culture, archaeology, wildlife and history. Cavan Burren is part of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, a beautiful place dotted with waterfalls and abbeys, mountains, boardwalks and forests trails. For outdoorsy action, Cavan is wonderful. It is home to stunning forest trails such as that at Dún na Rí Forest Park near Kingscourt – perfect for spotting otters, badgers and foxes – and it’s also a favourite for those who enjoy a spot of fishing or canoeing in splendid surroundings at places like Lough Oughter. Cavan has a lively arts and cultural scene too.


Head south west and you come to Lough Al-

len, one of the larger loughs off the Shannon. Nearby Drumshanbo is a good base from which to explore Leitrim and Roscommon and is home to The Shed Distillery where you can pick up your Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin and Sausage Tree Pure Irish Vodka. The Shed’s first casks of Premier Grand Cru whiskey are owned by Prince Albert of Monaco and Count Carl Von Hardenberg. It’s just down the road from the popular Arigna Mining Experience and nearby is the Lough Allen Adventure Centre. Head further south for Carrick-on-Shannon, a vibrant town and the largest in Leitrim with its busy marina and lively bars and restaurants. Not far away is the superb Lough Key Forest Park where you can camp, have an adrenaline fuelled time in the adventure park or relax by the marina. A day’s cruising or an hour’s drive will take you from Carrick-on-Shannon into Athlone, the main town in Co Westmeath. Stop off at Clonmacnoise and explore the visitors’ centre and the ruins of the 6th century monastery founded by St Ciaran.


Athlone is full of contrasts with its historic quarter and ultra modern shopping centres. The castle looms over the Shannon and is worth visiting for its museum and visitors’ centre as well as the views. Lough Ree, on the outskirts of the town, is transformed into a

water adventure centre during the summer with sailing, kayaking, pier jumping, Chinese dragon boating and the tallest floating slide in the world. A short hop from Athlone takes you to Mullingar which has its own collection of lakes and a reputation as an excellent town for shops. Close by is one of Westmeath’s biggest attractions, Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, worth a visit for its intriguing history, full of scandal and tragedy. The grand Tullynally Castle and Gardens is home to the Earl of Longford and its lush gardens and parklands are open to the public. You can also hire a boat, play a round of golf or go to the races at Kilbeggan. While there, get a taste of authentic artisanal whiskey at Kilbeggan Distillery, the oldest in Ireland. Its tours offer an entertaining insight into whiskey production back in 1757 and the traditions which have survived to today. End the visit at the Kilbeggan Whiskey Bar or the on-site restaurant.


Following the Shannon as it winds south west, one comes to Lough Derg, where the hills sweeping down to the water’s edge make for beautiful scenery. Not to be mistaken for the island of the same name which draws pilgrims to Co Donegal each summer, this Lough Derg gently laps the edges of counties Clare, Galway and Tipperary and is one of the

Visit the twin Lough Derg towns of Ballina and Killaloe on July 17–21 for the annual festival celebrating high king Brian Boru three large lakes on the Shannon, along with Lough Ree and Lough Allen. Watersports abound at Lough Derg, as well as horse-riding in the surrounding hills, and there are lots of places worth visiting in the area, from the Brian Boru Heritage Centre to Portumna Castle with its maze. For salmon fishing, make for Mulcair River or the River Feale or pick a spot on the Shannon’s shores. The final stop is Limerick City, where the Shannon eases into the Atlantic. Bidding to become European City of Culture 2020, Limerick is a buzzing university town with a huge rugby tradition as the home of Thomond Stadium. Visitors can explore King John’s Castle or trace Frank McCourt’s footsteps on an Angela’s Ashes walking tour, or indulge in some serious retail therapy. There are guided tours of the city which are great for finding out all you need to know about Limerick’s lively arts scene.

Tragic march behind

Beara Breifne Way O ne of the stars of the heartlands is the Beara Breifne Way, the longest waymarked trail in the country, which winds from the Beara Peninsula in County Cork, to Blacklion, Co Cavan, where it links to the Ulster Way in Fermanagh. The terrain includes coast, six mountain ranges, the banks of the River Shannon and the lake regions of Roscommon and Leitrim. The unique appeal of the Way owes much to the community groups along its length. Each section, such as the evocatively named Suck Valley Way, has its own character and you can get a ‘passport’ and have a stamp for each part of the route completed. Parts of the trail are suitable for cycling and the aim is to link it to the existing Kingfisher Cycle Trail through the border counties of Fermanagh, Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal, and Monaghan, along lakesides, canals and through hills and lanes. It also includes the Beara Bridle Way –

Ireland’s first ever horse trail. The Way came about after a re-enactment to mark the 400th anniversary of the legendary 17th century march of Dónal Cam O’Sullivan Beare, the last great chieftain of west Cork and south Kerry. He led 1,000 men and women, including 400 soldiers, on the march north on New Year’s Eve 1602, hoping to enlist the help of the Ulster rebels in repelling the invasion by Elizabeth 1’s forces following the Battle of Kinsale. With local chieftains attacking them as they crossed through the land and people dropping away, by the time they reached Leitrim Castle, stronghold of the rebel O’Rourke of Breifne a fortnight later, only 35 marchers remained. Community spokesman Dan O’Sullivan says the idea behind the creation of the Beara-Breifne Way was to transform “the theme of tribulation into a celebration of human spirit and endurance.” The stories along the route are supported

Beara Breifne Way Image, Siobhan Burke by folk memory as much as by historical research. Apart from the legend, there are many points of interest, from ancient stone circles and places of religious pilgrimage to Big Houses and cottages. Interestingly, Donal Cam O’Sullivan ended up in Madrid where he lobbied the Spanish

on behalf of his fellow exiles. He also founded the Irish college at Santiago de Compostela, the end point of the famous Spanish Camino. He died after his throat was cut when he intervened in a sword fight.


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide Canoeing near Cloughoughter Castle on Lough Oughter, Co Cavan

Lough Derg

Crom Estate, Co Fermanagh


Into the Blue

ire a cruiser, canoe or paddle board or bring your own and immerse yourself in life on the midland waterways, known as Blueways. Fish for your dinner and enjoy it over a crackling fire under a starry sky. Or if you prefer to let somebody else do the cooking, you won’t be stuck for superb food and hospitality here. Along the way, discover castles and kings, enjoy the thriving arts and crafts culture and get up close to wildlife and unspoilt natural

beauty. Plot your own course for a unique holiday along canals and rivers, whether you want a gentle paddle or pedal, a stroll or challenging hike or an adrenaline filled day. From the Shannon to stunning Lough Derg, Lough Allan and Lough Ree as well as dozens of smaller lakes, you’ll find plenty of activity providers and guides to help you on your way. Check out Blueways Ireland for four key scenic trails, that will gently guide you on

Cycle the Royal Canal a unique journey through Ireland’s hidden heartlands: Shannon Blueway – 100km of paddling trails and 10km of walking trails cycling trails from Leitrim to Roscommon Lough Derg Blueway – 160km of paddling trails Clare, Tipperary, and Galway Royal Canal Blueway – 23km of paddling trails in Roscommon, Westmeath and Longford Shannon-Erne Blueway – 70km of paddling trails, 30km of walking trails and 13km of cycling trails in Leitrim and Cavan.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019


Explore deeper with Arigna Mining Experience The Arigna Mining Experience in Co Roscommon will certainly appeal to those looking for a day out with a difference. The visitor centre is located in a beautiful scenic location overlooking Lough Allen. Now a popular tourist spot, this visitor centre is a community inspired initiative that preserves the 400 year coal mining heritage of this area, and allows visitors an insight into coal mining life as it was in the Arigna Valley for centuries. With an ex-miner as your tour guide, the visit to the museum includes access to an exhibit area where there is a DVD presentation and a wonderful authentic photographic exhibition. The highlight of the visit is an underground tour with an ex-miner where the visitor is brought to the mine’s coal-face and where lighting and sound effects add to the reality of the experience. The centre is fully accessible and is an


all-weather facility. It is an ideal day out for the family with a gift shop and coffee shop on site. The Arigna Mining Experience and its world class tour is close to the borders of Sligo, Leitrim, and Fermanagh and located 12 miles from Carrick-on-Shannon. The centre is open 10-5pm daily all year. W:, t: 00353 71964 6466 for further details.

Branch out into nature with a walk at Derrycassan Woods near Granard, Co Longford. Suitable for any ability, there’s a choice of marked trails including the main avenue walk (3.2km each way), the nature trail, (1.2km each way) or the walled garden loop (2.3km). Sited on the shore of Lough Gowna, the woods are open to the public with parking at the entrance. Derrycassan Woods surrounds the site of Derrycassan House, the ancestral home of the Dopping family since the mid-1700s. The house was demolished in 1938 but the remains and its cellar can be viewed along the walk. Refuel: With a hearty meal in The Pikers Lodge in the tranquil village of Lough Gowna. Not to miss: Take in the calming scenery of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands from a different perspective, with a relaxing paddle around the lough with The Cavan Canoe Centre.


Ever wanted to walk on water? You can between Drumshambo and Carrick-on-Shannon at Acres Lake in Co Leitrim. The 600m boardwalk is the final leg of the Shannon Blueway, part of an expanding network of recreational trails in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands that offer a variety of activities for all the family including walking, kayaking, and cycling routes, taking you along riverbanks and through sunlit tree arches. Walking the boardwalk gives visitors a fresh new perspective of Ireland’s unique waterways. Refuel: Be sure to drop into the Sweet Geranium Café & Bakery in Drumshambo for freshly

Acres Lake in Leitrim, image, Blueways Ireland and (left) Arigna Miners’ Way, image from baked breads, cakes and scones. Not to miss: Learn about one of Ireland’s most impressive prehistoric landscapes at Cavan Burren Park, home to spectacular prehistoric tombs and fantastic geology.


The Miners Way and Historical Trail is an 8km, moderately difficult walk, tracing the route taken by the Arigna miners through the picturesque hills and valleys of counties Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo. The trail can be broken down into many parts which are varied. Start at Boyle, Co Roscommon and the route to Ballinafad takes you over the Curlew Mountains where the Battle of Curlew Pass was fought in 1599. The trail continues through forest and woodland before joining a quiet country road which leads down to Ballaghboy and the final the leg of your journey. Refuel: The Fox’s Den in Ballymote located beneth Sligo’s Caves of Keash. Not to miss: The ruin of Ballinafad Castle is located on the edge of the village of Ballinafad.

Challenge yourself with a Quest Adventure Lough Derg, Shannon area, September 14 Race around some of the most iconic waterways in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, kayak on the majestic Lough Derg and run along the banks of the mighty Shannon. Choose from three challenging, exciting routes; 22km Challenge, 57km Sport and the 69km Expert. While you’re there: Indulge in a tasty feast on Lough Derg in the Brocka on the Water restaurant. A family run restaurant with great hospitality, an organic garden and an idyllic setting. For more information visit:


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

Snap happy

Take home unforgettable memories of the best of times...

n’s on the Lake, ‘Snap’ near Flanaga y Ballina, Co Tipperar

Stand up padd le boarding in

Co Cavan

MAGIC LOUGH DERG Where better pl Portroe, Loug ace for a picnic than h Derg The view of Lough Derg from Ballycuggaran loop walk © Patrick Bolger, Discover Lough Derg At the southern end of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands is beautiful Lough Derg with its historic ‘twin towns’ of Killaloe, Co Clare, and Ballina, Co Tipperary, which are linked by an 18th century, bridge. High King Brian Boru, famed for driving the Vikings out of Ireland, was from Killaloe and the medieval town is the starting point for excellent walking trails. The Ballycuggaran Loop takes about two hours. It starts at Ballycuggaran, Co. Clare, which was the homeland of the O’Cuggarans, an important family at the court of Brian Boru. While the history is interesting, it’s the stunning views along the route that’ll enthral you.

If you decide to explore the east side, from Ballina, the Graves of the Leinstermen are the starting point of a 6km heather-strewn looped trail that, at the summit of Tountinna, rewards walkers with a breath-taking panorama over the entire Lough Derg. Refuel: Travel to the pretty village of Terryglass where the River Shannon meets the lough to enjoy a spot of lunch. Not to miss: Keep an eye out for Saoirse and Caimin, the first white-tailed eagles to breed in Ireland in 110 years and the largest in Europe. They can be best viewed from Mountshannon harbour or the new bird hide viewing point.

Quest Adventure Series, Lough Derg


the Ern Going for a row on y Waterwa


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Glendalough, Co Wicklow Trim Castle Image, Andrea Petroni

Tales as old as time in the

Ancient East


or grand houses, historic sites, amazing stories, coastal glory and some of the best family attractions in the country, look no farther than Ireland’s Ancient East. As for the horses, the golf courses, the mountains and myths... From Louth down to Cork there’s enough holiday action to keep everyone from the dedicated nerd to the adrenaline addict smiling.


First things first and when it comes to charting the origins of this land, this is the place to start. For the most ancient history, make for Co Meath where the Megalithic passage tombs at Newgrange are older than Egypt’s pyramids and may have been the tallest buildings in the world. Part of the wonder of ancient sites is in the ingenuity of our ancestors and in Co Carlow, the capstone at Brownshill Dolmen weighs more than 100 tonnes! Meath is known as the Royal County as the High Kings of Ireland sat at the Hill of Tara. Nearby is Loughcrew, another ancient site meaning Witch’s Mountain after a sorceress who thought she’d rule all Ireland if she could leap from hill to hill with an apron full of rocks.


The Celtic saints ushered in the next phase of history and Ireland’s Ancient East is peppered with monastic settlements and stories of clashes between monks and druids, miracles and slaughters at the hands of the Vikings. No trip to Co Wicklow is complete without a day at beautiful Glendalough where St Kevin’s monastery stands in a peaceful riverside valley. It has one of a number of surviving round towers which are unique to Ireland – there’s another at Ardmore, a coastal village in County Waterford where St. Declan is said to have settled between 350 and 420 AD, bringing Christianity to the island before St. Patrick. Its elevated setting offers panoramic views of the Deise coastline. You can climb the stairs in the round towers at St Canice’s in Kilkenny City for 360-degree views and at St Brigid’s in Kildare.


Many Viking raiders stayed and their legacy is best seen in Waterford’s Viking Triangle and the 12th Century Reginald’s Tower where you can see one of their fearsome warrior’s swords up close. Don’t miss the VR King of the Vikings experience nearby. One thousand women and children are thought to have been massacred in Dunmore Cave, Co Kilkenny, and it’s worth visiting for the cave itself, if not the horrible history. In Tipperary, the Rock of Cashel has its own

connection with the Scandinavian invaders: it was here that their sworn enemy, Brian Boru, was crowned King of Munster.


The region has no shortage of wonderful castles, from the celebrated Kilkenny Castle, the centrepiece of medieval Marble City, to Leap Castle in Co Offaly, claimed to be among the most haunted in Ireland. For sheer scale, see Trim Castle, where part of Braveheart was filmed. The largest Norman castle in the country, it’s been partially restored and is open to the public and its three-storey keep offers an imposing reminder of times past. Further south, in Co Wexford, Enniscorthy Castle boasts an imposing keep, built in the 17th Century.


Stately homes are always worth a tour and one of the jewels of the eastern counties is Russborough, near Blessington in Co Wicklow. Its wonderful guided tours are made even more interesting by the superb collection of art collected by the Beit family. Not far away, Powerscourt House and gardens is justifiably famous. You can spend hours taking a self-guided tour of the gardens and browse the unique shops and cafe in what remains of the house. The estate is also home to the country’s tallest waterfall.

Many grand houses have their own folly – at Castletown House, at Cellbridge, Co Kildare, Conolly’s Folly is a peculiar 42m obelisk, while at Curraghmore House, Co Waterford, the interior of the Shell House is constructed almost entirely of seashells and took the best part of a year to complete in 1754. It’s not grand but the Kennedy Homestead at Dunganstown, New Ross, Co Wexford, gives a sense of the US President’s family history and his lasting legacy.


Local history is littered with tales of comings and goings, of famine ships and doomed ocean liners, of conquerors travelling from distant shores and spices arriving from even further afield. Check out the Dunbrody Famine Ship and Irish Emigrant Experience, the permanent nautical museum in New Ross Harbour, and the Titanic Experience at Cobh, Co Cork, which commemorates the Titanic setting sail on her ill-fated maiden voyage to America in 1912.


In a sport-loving nation, horse-racing enjoys an elevated status. The national passion can be seen at every meet at the Curragh, Co Kildare, Gowran Park, Co Kilkenny, or indeed Laytown Strand, in Co Meath, where they come from near and far to see the thrill of racing at the water’s edge.

Top 5 places for family fun There’s plenty to see and do with young ones in tow. Here’s our top 5.

the fairy trail, indoor and outdoor play area with crazy golf, a pet farm and train trips.





Tayto Park, Co. Meath For thrills, head for the Zipline Extreme, Rotator or Cu Chulainn Coaster, Europe’s largest wooden rollercoaster with an inversion! Between the zoo, play areas, water features and rides, Tayto Park is fun for all ages. Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park, Co Kildare Set on 60 acres of land in the heart of the Bog of Allen, it offers a brilliant blend of history, nature and fun, perfect for all age groups. Explore Irish heritage, culture and environments with woodland and peatland trails. For kids there’s

Rathbeggan Lakes Family Adventure Park, Co Meath What started out as a trout fishing lake has grown to encompass all sorts of fun, from swan pedal boats to water rollers to bungee trampoline and more. You can still fish or enjoy a stroll around the grounds.

Irish National Stud and Gardens, Co Kildare The world-renowned thoroughbred breeding centre is a popular place for a day out. As well as beautiful horses, there’s a museum and gardens, including the Japanese Gardens, one

Tayto Park, Co Meath of Europe’s finest Edwardian gardens.


Loughcrew Adventure Centre, Meath Brave enough to tackle the longest zip-line in Ireland? Head to Loughcrew Adventure

Centre near Oldcastle, for zip-lining, archery, climbing trees and a chance to explore the Forest Crystal Maze. Loughcrew Gardens and coffee shop are waiting nearby for some post-adventure rest and relaxation.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Festival focus

There are events going on up and down the east coast throughout the year. Here are some to tempt you along this summer.

The Old Fort Quarter Festival, June 28–30 The main streets of Portlaoise, Co Laois, come alive with free family fun, heritage events and live music at night at the Old Fort as well as along a Laois Heritage Pub Trail. Expect shields and suits of armour.

✱ Waterford Walls painting by Dan Kitchener

Kaleidoscope Festival, June 28–30 Russborough House in Blessington, Co Wicklow, is holding its first family camping festival with three days of entertainment over 16 stages, designed to entice everyone from babies to pensioners. Born out of Electric Picnic, Kaleidoscope harnesses the magic of Picnic’s entertainment and family campsites.

SUNNY DAYS ATTHE SEASIDE The sheltered and sunny south-east has its share of beautiful beaches for those longed for days at the seaside. Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow is one of the most popular on the east coast, and with its Blue Flag status, you can be sure it’s clean. It has lifeguards during the summer, good parking and toilets. Other stunning Blue Flag beaches include Tramore Beach and Clonea Strand

at Dungarvan, both Co Waterford and in Co Wexford, there’s Curracloe Beach and Morriscastle, dubbed the Golden Mile although it actually stretches five miles, from Curracloe to Cahore Point. Closer to home, Co Louth has its share of brilliant bathing spots, not least Port Beach near Clogherhead while Shellinghill Templetown at Carlingford is ideal for families, swimming, walking, kite surfing and many more activities.

Wexford Literary Festival, July 4–6 A true feast of poetry, stories, drama and film over four days, this festival is packed with award winning Irish authors and filmmakers with events in cafés, a pub and historic venues across Enniscorthy.

Moynalty Steam Threshing Festival, August 11 This event in the grounds of the Moynalty Stream Threshing Museum in this Co Meath village, includes displays of horse and steam power, reaping and binding, threshing and flailing as well as traditional crafts such as steel forging, hot shoeing, tin craft, wood turning and harness making. Tuck into freshly made brown bread, colcannon, boxty and pancakes. There are children’s amusements, an old style farmyard, a lumberjack show and music all day with top billing going to country music star Mike Denvier.

Taste of Kildare, August 18–19 Following the enormous success of last year’s inaugural event, the second annual Taste of Kildare Festival returns to the K Club at Straffan, Co Kildare. This year’s event promises more great family entertainment, a local craft food emporium and hopefully, some fine weather.

Waterford Walls, August 22–25 Ireland’s international street art festival returns for the fifth year with live painting by some of the world’s top street artists and a family-friendly programme of activities including live music, workshops, guided art trails and expert panel talks. New this year: a children’s street art programme. whats-on

Morriscastle Beach, Co Wexford

21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide



Make for Meath for family fun


fter a long cold and wet winter everyone is itching for the good weather and summer days to arrive. This year everyone is talking about Ireland’s Ancient East and the best place to base yourself is County Meath. The Cusack Hotel group has three great, 3-star hotels based in Navan and Trim – wonderful locations to explore this historic part of the country. And there is plenty for the kids to do too! The three hotels are situated a short 25 minute drive from Tayto Park – Ireland’s only

theme park and zoo, and 25 minutes from Rathbeggan lakes – County Meath’s family adventure park. The hotels’ family offers include one and two day packages to Tayto Park, one and two day packages to Rathbeggan Lakes and even some that include both. There are also packages available for Funtasia waterpark in Drogheda, for those days when the weather just isn’t behaving. Newgrange Monument is a short 20 minute drive from the Newgrange and Ardboyne hotel and Slane Castle and the new Whiskey

distillery is a mere 10km out the road. The Castle Arch Hotel is only a five minute walk from Trim Castle and a 10 minute drive to the Hill of Tara. In the evening, you can choose from the delicious a la carte menu in all three hotels. A mouth-watering carvery is also available seven days a week. Weekly specials ensure you will be spoilt for choice. Spacious family rooms make for a very comfortable stay and the amazing full Irish the next morning will have you set up for the day’s activities!

For central reservations please call 00353 46948 2100. For more information on these and all of the Cusack Hotel group’s family packages:


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Get active, go exploring The Clock Gate, Youghal

Hell & Back, Killruddery Estate, Co Wicklow

Combine an active break with some slower paced exploration with these great ideas. Hell & Back Killruddery Estate, Bray, Co Wicklow, June 15-16 One of Ireland’s most popular adventure races, Hell & Back consists of a 10-15km run over hills and mountains and through rivers, lakes and swamps with some torturous obstacles to overcome along the way. Also, why not get the kids involved with the Hell& Back junior challenge. There is a 1km course for kids aged 5–7 years and a longer 3.5/5km course for those aged 8–12 years. While you’re there: Having been to hell and back, you’ll need a warm soup or a delicious cake, preferably in spectacular surroundings, so why not take a trip to Powerscourt House and Gardens and view Ireland’s highest waterfall and some exotic gardens. For more information visit Ironman Youghal, Co Cork, June 23 Ironman is heading to Ireland’s Ancient East.

The breath-taking course features a 3.8km sea swim from Claycastle beach in Youghal, followed by a 180km bike course along coastal roads and ending in a fast and flat 42.2km run through Youghal. While you’re there: Following the ultimate endurance test, why not take in the heritage of your surroundings on Youghal Heritage Trail. For more information visit Tough Mudder Loughcrew, Co Meath, July 20–21 Wearing your best white shirt to Tough Mudder wouldn’t be advisable, because not

only will you be shattered from the physical exertion, you’re going to get very, very dirty while you partake in this 10–12 mile obstacle course. While you’re there: After changing out of those muddy clothes and having a well-deserved rest, continue your weekend in Co Meath with a trip to view Loughcrew Megalithic Centre and enjoy the Celtic Boyne Valley Tour that takes you through 5,000 years of history including stops at Hill of Tara, Trim Castle, Loughcrew and Uisneach. This is the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. For more information visit


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide


One of the last great Irish Castle estates still in the hands of the original family, Castle Leslie, in Co Monaghan, is truly beautiful at any time of the year and the perfect excuse to experience the history of Ireland’s Ancient East. Hotel guests of Castle Leslie are spoilt for choice with 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, filled with majestic woodlands and loughs. All of the walks start from The Lodge on the estate grounds with many attractions along the way including a gothic lodge, walled garden originating from 1850 and an Integrated Wetlands project. There are four marked walks of varying length, each suitable for any ability, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes Refuel: Castle Leslie offers everything from afternoon tea to fine dining, as well as pub grub, a perfect end to a hearty walk in the great outdoors. Not to miss: During your stay at Castle Leslie hone your culinary skills at their Cookery School.


The Táin Way is a long-distance, moderately difficult hike through scenic terrain that’s steeped in the mythology and folklore of The Ulster Cycle. The Táin epic recounts how warrior Cuchulain, dubbed the Hound of Ulster took on Queen Meave of Connacht

The Tain Way Image, Hiking-Walking Ireland in the legendary Cattle Raid of Cooley. The 40km circular route takes in much of the Cooley peninsula offering a mix of coastal, woodland and upland walking with stunning views of Carlingford Lough, the Cooley Mountains, Slieve Gullion and Camlough Mountain in South Armagh. Experienced walkers usually do it over two days. See for guidance before attempting it. Refuel: For a post walk recharge, relax in Lough Lounge Bar & Restaurant on the calming shores of Carlingford Lough.

Not to miss: Sample some local hospitality and enjoy an informative tour at The Cooley Whiskey Distillery in nearby Dundalk, just 5km away.


There are hiking options for all levels of walkers starting from Carlingford village suitable for all levels. This area of Ireland’s Ancient East is steeped in the myth and legend with ‘lost’ villages, stunning vistas and natural beauty. The Barnavave Loop is an easy to moderate 14km looped walk which follows

forestry roads, grassy tracks and mountain paths taking in breathtaking views along the coast to the north and south and across Carlingford Lough to the Mourne Mountains. In good conditions, you can catch a glimpse of the Isle of Man. Refuel: Post walk refreshments can be savoured in Fitzpatrick’s Bar & Restaurant in Dundalk. Not to miss: Carlingford Adventure Centre with a large variety of activities for all the family including archery, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Mount Usher Gardens

Sugar Loaf Mountain, viewed from Powerscourt Estate

Holiday on a high in Wicklow


he garden of Ireland, Co Wicklow’s timeless beauty makes it the perfect backdrop for movies like P.S. I Love You, Braveheart and Vikings. Away from the main attractions, like Glendalough and Powerscourt, there are majestic mountains and country trails to walk, gardens to gasp at and food, drink and music to enjoy.


The gardens at Powerscourt Estate are rated among the world’s greatest – but don’t stop there. Other major attractions include The National Botanic Gardens at Kilmaccuragh and Killruddery Gardens and a number of private gardens are open to the public at certain times, including June Blake’s experimental garden at Blessington and the theatrical

Hunting Brook Gardens. Don’t miss: Mount Usher Gardens, with its Avoca Garden Café and Courtyard Shops is in the village of Ashford, just 35 minutes south of Dublin city, and close to the seaside towns of Bray, Wicklow and Arklow. Recognised as a fine example of a ‘Robinsonian’ garden, its 22 acre site combines a champion collection of trees and shrubs with inspirational floral planting schemes along both sides of the River Vartry.


With its mountains, valleys, forests and coastline, there’s no shortage of wonderful walks in Wicklow. From the top of Lug, the county’s highest peak, you can see Snowdonia in Wales and the Bray Cliff Walk offers amazing coastal views. At Avoca, the Red Kite walk takes you through woodland by stunning scenery where you may spot some of the 30 breeding pairs of Red Kites in Kilmagig Forest. Don’t miss: The Sugar Loaf Trail. After all, you can see the distinctive cone from miles around, you’re certain to want to see what it’s like 500m up, at the top. It’s a straightforward 2.5km trek up mountain trails although it’s steep towards the end.

Johnnie Fox’s Pub, Glencullen, Co Dublin


Johnnie Fox’s Pub, in Glencullen, is legendary and not just for being the highest pub in the country. The food is top notch and there’s usually live music and dancing. The Harbour Bar in Bray is another top Wicklow watering hole, for its views, food, atmosphere and capacity to keep both the locals and visitors happy. Don’t miss: Next weekend sees the start of the three day Taste of Wicklow 2019 based at the Abbey grounds, Wicklow town. It starts with an outdoor showing of The Greatest Showman with a full bar and food, on Saturday there’s live music with the food festival proper on Sunday, June 30. Between 12–7pm celebrity chefs Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio, Paul Kelly will be joining local chefs for the biggest east coast food festival outside of Dublin. Expect food and craft stalls, children’s entertainment and street entertainers, all free of charge.


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

Have a




reat yourself to a break in Dublin this summer. With dozens of places and attractions to choose from, everyone from granny to your teenagers will find a lot to enjoy. Here are some suggestions to help you on your way...


Take the family to Dublin Zoo but leave time to enjoy the delights of Phoenix Park. One of the greatest city parks in the world, its fascinating history spans more than 350 years. Apart from the zoo, highlights include Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, the walled Victorian Garden, excellent children’s playground and the lake at the Furry Glen – perfect for a stroll.


Distilleries are popping up all over the country but why not visit one of the first. Jameson Distillery Visitor Centre has been refurbished recently and its tours are highly rated and of course the Guinness Storehouse tour is the toast of the town.


Find out more about where you’re standing by downloading the free, self-guided Dublin Discovery Trails which reveal the layers of history in the city. As you go along, check

out the Talking Statues. Simply swipe your smartphone over the plaque by 11 of the most celebrated statues – from James Joyce to Oscar Wilde – and you’ll get a phone call with a story written by top writers like John Banville and Roddy Doyle and read by actors such as Gabriel Byrne and Ruth Negga.

Viking Splash tour Trinity College, Dublin


It would be a shame to visit Dublin and miss out on a trip to the theatre. This summer you can catch Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre, Rocky Horror Show and The Bodyguard at Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Copperface Jacks, the Musical at the Olympia and many more while the music venues, big and small, have everyone from Elton John in the 3Arena to Aslan at the Iveagh Gardens.


Escape one of the busiest parts of the city for the quiet of Trinity College. Visit the Long Room and the Science Gallery – one of Dublin’s most popular museums. For a literary love-in, visit the Writers Museum

in a grand mansion at Parnell Square where the collection features the lives and works of Dublin’s finest wordsmiths – Swift, Sheridan, Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett. Nearby is the James Joyce Centre on North Great George’s Street where the interpretative exhibition includes Leopold and Molly Bloom’s front door to No. 7 Eccles Street, a copy of Joyce’s death mask and the furniture from the apartment where Joyce worked on his final novel, Finnegan’s Wake.


St Anne’s Park is Dublin’s second largest and covers much of the former Guinness estate

between Clontarf and Raheny covers much of the former Guinness estate. Go for the Red Stables Farmers Market on a Saturday or take a walk and you’ll come out at the coastline with a fine view of Bull Island. Walk or drive over the famous Wooden Bridge and you’re on Dollymount Strand.


The Viking Splashtours of the city are the silliest way of tackling some seriously historic sites. The commentaries are entertaining and the shuttle around the city ends with the bus turning into a boat taxi and splashing into the Grand Canal in the lively docklands. A different type of thrill accompanies the Skyline tour of Croke Park stadium. Even if you’ve no interest in sport or Gaelic games, the views are worth seeing, especially on the walkway suspended directly above the pitch.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019


Days and nights out

S Even people who don’t like shopping can enjoy a stroll through Dublin’s fascinating Grafton Quarter. Pick a pavement cafe and settle in for some satisfying people watching while the shopaholics swoon over the sheer range of options. You know you’ve arrived in retail heaven as soon as you turn onto Grafton Street and are greeted by the ritzy Brown Thomas with its major designer labels. Grafton Quarter, Temple Bar and the new kid on the block, the Creative Quarter (a small area west of Grafton Street including Clarendon Street, William Street South and Castle Market), are where it’s at when it comes to bagging the best goodies. For designer gear have a look at Costume Dublin in Castle Market while neighbouring Drury Street is where you’ll find boutiques like Om Diva and the Irish Design Shop.

For vintage finds, head for Harlequin on Castle Street or the Siopella Designer Exchanges in Temple Bar and Wicklow Street. And for vintage bargains, pop into the Ha’Penny Flea Market at the Grand Social on Lower Liffey Street on a Saturday morning, Folkster in Eustace Street, Temple Bar, is where you’ll find something for a special occasion. With summer upon us, Nine Crows just round the corner, is the place to nail your festival look. If you simply want to browse at your leisure, George’s Street Arcade – an enclosed Victorian market – has boutiques and stalls selling everything from fashion to collectibles. For general shopping, the Mary Street and Henry Street area is good, with everything from Arnott’s Department Store to Jervis Shopping Centre with its high street favourites.

hopping is hungry work but you don’t want to waste your hard-earned time and money stopping for a rest somewhere mediocre. We asked Grainne MacNeice (25) to give us the heads up on the best places to eat. Grainne works in advertising in the city and her job often involves entertaining clients. She has eaten, slurped and sipped her way around enough of the city centre’s eateries to qualify as an expert. Here are her top picks...


 SALAMANCA, Andrew St – Tapas bar and restaurant near Molly Malone  THE GREEN HEN, Exchequer St – French cuisine with Irish variations in an informal brasserie  777, South Great George’s St – Mexican food and cocktails in a trendy setting  SAN LORENZOS, South Great George’s St – Contemporary, New York-style Italian restaurant making its own bread, pasta and ice cream  PI, South Great George’s St – top rated pizza restaurant  DRURY BUILDINGS, Drury St – contemporary Irish with an Italian twist  MASA, Drury St – It’s all about the tacos

Grainne MacNeice (right) with Lorna Mulvihill in the Market Bar restaurant in Fade Street. “They do tapas at great value for groups and fab cocktails, especially espresso martinis.”  MARKET BAR, Fade St – Laid back tapas bar


 Kaph – Drury St speciality coffee and gourmet cakes  Bear Market - South Great George’s St big on architecture and coffee


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide


See more with a Pass

 Honest to Goodness – Dame Court Fresh, healthy and nutritious


 Hogans - South Great George’s St  Bar With No Name – Fade St  P Mac’s – Stephen St Lower


 Fade St Social – Fade St  Café en Seine – Dawson St  Zozimus Bar – Annes Lane  9 Below – St Stephens Green

Even if you are familiar with the city, there’s always more to discover. Whether you feel like being a proper tourist or showing friends from overseas around the place, you can see more and spend less by buying a Dublin Pass. The best value one is €91.80 for an adult, €49.50 for a child for three days. It covers entry to over 30 top attractions, monuments and museums, as well as wide range of additional discounts and dining offers. It also gets you a 24 pass for the Hop on Hop off bus tour and allows you to fast track the queues at the most popular places. Attractions include:  Guinness Storehouse  Jameson Distillery  Teelings Distillery  Dublin Zoo  EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum  Glasnevin Museum  Dublin Castle  Christ Church Cathedral  St Patrick’s Cathedral

For a relaxing city break, choose the Herbert Park Hotel


he 4 star Herbert Park Hotel, located in the heart of Ballsbridge, has everything you need for the perfect summer break and more. Surrounded by stunning parkland, the hotel provides a truly unique location in Dublin. The 48 acre Herbert Park is right on the doorstep so perfect for taking a stroll in the sunshine or letting the kids run riot. There is so much to see and do in Dublin and Ballsbridge. With a great selection of lively bars and restaurants on the doorstep, the RDS Venue only a stone’s throw away, the Aviva Stadium just a 10 minute walk, not to mention Grafton Street close-by, you really can have it all... a relaxing break with the buzz of the city optional. All guest rooms are fully air-conditioned and are equipped with the modern essentials along with a Nespresso coffee machine to

make your stay as enjoyable as possible. With the added benefit of secure underground parking you can park up and relax. This summer Herbert Park Hotel will open the Park Residence which will include 43 studio apartments designed to offer guests the perfect balance. Feel at home and relax in comfort in the superbly appointed studio apartments, offering a tranquil park-side setting at the heart of one of Dublin’s most vibrant city neighbourhoods. To hear more about the Park Residence and view special offers please visit


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

The Dart passing by Dalkey and Dublin Bay Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand

Slow the pace at

Dublin’s coastal villages


Dún Laoghaire Habour


reat yourself to all the pleasures of a break in Dublin and much more by staying at one of the coastal villages and towns at the city’s edges. Choose an adventure break – rock-climbing in Dalkey, sea-kayaking in Howth, kitesurfing on Dollymount Strand or stand up paddle boarding in Dun Laoghaire... or do what we did and enjoy a thoroughly chilled out weekend taking in the cosmopolitan buzz married with maritime village charm of the area. Our chosen base, Portmarnock, is on the north side of the city and was an easy two hour drive from Belfast, with no traffic worries. The 4 Star Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links is the luxurious product of clever investment in what had been the family home of the Jameson Whiskey dynasty. Our room overlooked the championship golf course and beyond that, the perfectly named Velvet Strand. On the horizon, but still seeming just a par 3 away, the striking island of Ireland’s Eye rose from the glittering waters of Dublin Bay. To the right was a stunning vista stretching to the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.


Hungry for adventure – and lunch – we made for the neighbouring village of Howth with its famous fish restaurants. The Oar House, one of the many award-winning restaurants that line the West Pier, is so hip that we had to wait for a second sitting on a Saturday lunchtime. It was the same story the length of the pier. We used the waiting time to explore the weekend market on the main street. A smaller version of Belfast’s Continental Market, it had a variety of stalls selling foods from all over the world, arts and crafts and was packed with visitors. Tucking into our delicious salmon and scampi lunches, we were impressed by the way Howth’s fishing industry and culinary culture complement each other, with utilitarian function on one side of the pier and stylish, high quality eateries on the other. The plan had been to hike one of the many looped trails on the Hill of Howth, taking in the exquisitely named Bog of the Frogs, but we cheated and drove up through the village to take in the panoramic views from the cliffs overlooking the bay instead. Lots of other people were made of hardier stuff and the

viewpoint was busy with walkers admiring the vista in the spring sunshine.


Back in Portmarnock, we enjoyed a much more leisurely stroll along the beautiful Velvet Strand before dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. What a treat that proved to be! The hotel is a huge draw for golfers and the restaurant was busy that night but the meal was exceptional. Breakfast on Sunday morning was just as impressive and set us up for a day’s sightseeing.


We had heard Malahide Castle was worth a visit and were delighted to find that was true. Owned by the Talbot family for a remarkable 800 years, it was sold when the last remaining member of the family, Rose, decided she would rather see out her days as a Tasmanian sheep farmer. Thankfully, Fingal County Council bought it and opened it to the public and the guided tours by the fabulous staff are well worth joining. Visitors get to see the evolution of the castle from its medieval beginnings to the present and it has been beautifully maintained with the National Portrait Gallery, which bought the multitude of art works, kindly leaving them in situ for the rest of us to enjoy. Afterwards, we followed everyone else into Avoca for a browse and coffees which we sipped beside the ruins of the abbey in the castle grounds, as a family of rabbits hopped around the precariously tilting gravestones. The castle grounds are a huge draw to the people of the area, with football

Malahide Castle

pitches, ornate gardens and a large children’s playground full of locals and tourists on a Sunday morning. Visitors to the castle can choose to arrive or leave in quirky style with Toots, the Malahide road train. Michael, the owner, rescued the carriages from a Llandudno field and set about creating a fun way to link the village with the castle. Over 100,000 passengers have enjoyed the hop–on, hop–off service which goes between the castle, the village and the Blue Flag Beach in recent years and have been rewarded, not only with a bell ringing, horn tooting fun ride, but a sticker offering discount in the village’s beautiful shops and boutiques.


Down in Malahide village itself, we were impressed by how pretty and prosperous looking the place was. Each of the coastal villages we visited was positively buzzing with young families out walking and shopping and people cycling and running. The locals were invariably friendly and helpful with advice and directions and even better, the weather was kind to us and we could enjoy the spectacular scenery in its best light. It would be a pleasure to spend a week or more in this area, with the city within 20 minutes reach, the enormous Pavilion Shopping Centre at Swords up the road, and everything else you need for a great family holiday – pristine beaches, a choice of every possible adventure, stunning scenery and superb restaurants – right at your door. see


Ireland’s Eye

Dublin Bay’s unique islands are worth exploring. Lambay Island, the largest, is home to an important seabird colony, grey seals, fallow deer and some wild wallabies living on the island. It’s owned by the family of Barings Bank founder Lord Revelstoke and their castle was designed by Edwin Lutyens. You can charter a boat for sightseeing, mackerel fishing or sea angling, kayak around it or take a walking tour which avoids the castle. Ireland’s Eye has a Martello tower and the ruins of an 8th century church. Now a bird sanctuary its coastline has a free standing rock formation dubbed ‘The Stack’ and guillemots, terns, gannets, razorbills, cormorants and puffins nest around the shore. To the south of the city, off Dun Laoghaire, Dalkey Island has a colony of seals as well as a herd of wild goats and most excitingly, a pod of bottlenose dolphins in the area. The island is believed to have been settled over 6,000 years ago and its history and archeology are intriguing.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019


LIVE IT UP IN LISBURN AND CASTLEREAGH There’s so much to see and do in Lisburn and Castlereagh. Explore historic castles and ancient sites, enjoy fabulous family fun, wander through exquisite scenery and discover an unrivalled shopping experience.


Tee off at top golf courses in spectacular settings, cycle or run along the lovely Lagan Towpath and take part in the famous Lisburn Half Marathon. The area is a magnet for sports lovers with its state-of-the-art leisure and activity centres.


Discover the giants of retail at some of the finest shopping centres, such as Forestside, Sprucefield, Sprucefield Park and Lisburn’s Bow Street Mall, as well as stylish boutiques, traditional markets and welcoming independent retailers throughout the area.


The kids will love the fast water rides at the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex, the largest such leisure pool in Northern Ireland. There’s so much fun to choose from at Dundonald Ice Bowl, including an Olympic size ice skating rink and state-of-the art bowling with glow in the dark Xtreme sessions.


With many great cafes, restaurants and bars in the area you will be spoilt for choice from Chinese to Indian to traditional cuisine.

School’s out, time for summer fun The schools are almost finished, it’s time to get out and ‘do’ summer. Go wild swimming, abseiling, bouldering or make a splash with some of the many water-sports options close to home. Take a day trip or two, pack the tent and head off for a couple of nights or book into a sumptuous 5 star resort and forget the world for a bit.


With so much to enjoy, why not stay longer in the area? There are many welcoming B&Bs and great value hotels to choose from, plus campers and caravanners can enjoy the excellent facilities at Dundonald Touring Park in the scenic Castlereagh Hills. For more information log onto:

The Specials are playing at Open House Festival, Bangor, on August 25


Dig out the buckets and spades and make a run for the sandy delights along the coast at Murlough, Tyrella or Cranfield. Stay a few days in Newcastle and enjoy the many walks around Castlewellan and Tollymore Forest Parks or head into the Mournes for the stunning Silent Valley walk. North Down has its share of beaches too, from Crawfordsburn to Cloughey. Take a road trip around Strangford Lough and stop off at Mount Stewart House and Gardens before going on to Portaferry and Exploris where you might just arrive on time to see the seals being fed. Get close to a gentler form of wildlife at Seaforde Gardens and Tropical Butterfly House or feed the animals at the open farms at Dundonald, Castlewellan or Newtownards. History is celebrated at superb museums from the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to Bagenal’s Castle, Newry. The living history tours of Hillsborough Castle are well worth


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide Armagh, on July 22–27; 7 Hills Blues Festival from August 8–11; Ring of Gullion Lúnasa Festival throughout August.

Murlough Beach, Co Down and (inset) the Guildhall, Derry~Londonderry Images © Northern Ireland Tourist Board


Exploris Aquarium, Portaferry

a visit and are followed by a stroll around the lovely grounds. Make sure you pop into the village once you’re done. What’s on: June 22, Festival of Flight at Newcastle, starring the Red Arrows; on June 28–30, Mourne Mountain Walking Festival; Comber Earlies Food Festival with chef James Tanner in Comber on June 29; Vintage Seaside Revival Festival, Bangor on July 6. Hillsborough Castle & Gardens Food Festival, from July 5–7; Portaferry Gala runs from July 13–19; Wake the Giant is on August 24–25 in Warrenpoint. Finally, Open House Festival across Bangor throughout August – this year’s line-up includes Villagers and The Specials.


The Orchard County’s apple crops may

have earned it a place on the world stage but the area’s history goes back a whopping 6,500 years as you’ll find out on many of the local tours. Major sites include Navan Fort, two St Patrick’s Cathedrals and Armagh County Museum with its children’s trail. Make your own apple juice on a tour of Armagh Cider Company’s orchard or have a crunch moment on a tour of Tayto Castle at Tandragee. Sample a VR tour at Armagh Planetarium or support the National Trust at Ardress House or The Argory where you can tour both house and gardens and stop at Lady Ada’s tea-room while the children play in the adventure playground. Good walking spots include The Ring of Gullion forest park in south Armagh or Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island Nature Reserve which also has children’s play areas. Gosford Park, near Markethill, makes for a great day out for young nature lovers. At Lurgaboy Adventure Centre try archery, a high levels rope course and a 375m zip wire. What’s on: John Hewitt International Summer School at the Market Place Theatre,

The Maiden City’s walls celebrate their 400th birthday this year. They mark the boundaries of the old town, built long after 6th century St Columba opened his monastery. The Tower Museum, within the walls, is a must see as is the ornate Guildhall – the Walled City Market is in Guildhall Square on the first Saturday of the month. Go from the old city by foot or bike across the Peace Bridge to Ebrington Square, now a venue for public events. Away from the city, you can paddle at the shores of Lough Neagh or visit Seamus Heaney Homeplace at Bellaghy. What’s on: Highlights include Country comes to the City at Ebrington Square on July 6; Interact Youth Arts Festival on July 3–6; Maiden City Festival, August 3–10; and the Walled City Tattoo on August 3.


The Ulster American Folk Park, outside Omagh, brings the story of Irish emigration to life, and includes a full scale emigrant sailing ship and American Frontier cabins. For more Americana, visit Ballygawley for the homestead of President Ulysses S. Grant or Dergalt, near Strabane, for President Woodrow Wilson’s ancestral home. For more history see Lissan House, near Cookstown. It was the home of the Staples family from about 1620 until 2006. Baronscourt Estate in Newtownstewart offers country sports and for active fun, head for Todd’s Leap activity


The Sperrin Mountains in both Co Tyrone Derry~Londonderry are ranked among the world’s top 101 scenic drives by National Geographic. Reach them by the Glenshane Pass near Dungiven, or Gortin Glen Forest Park, outside Omagh. Enjoy! centre, near Ballygawley. The pace is more leisurely at Blessingbourne Country Estate near Fivemiletown for mountain biking trails. The kings of Ulster were from here and the Hill of the O’Neill at Dungannon is scenic and interesting. What’s on: Tafelta Festival for children is in Magherafelt, June 21-22; Coalisland Summer Bash is back on June 28 for the Newell Stores 10K & 5K run. Tyrone County Fleadh comes to Omagh on June 23; Paula McIntyre is at Omagh Food Festival on June 29; July 4 sees Independence Day celebrations at the Ulster American Folk Park; the Appalachian & Bluegrass Music Festival returns to the Ulster American Folk Park on August 30–September 1.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Ballintoy

Portstewart Strand All images © Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Follow the coast for a road trip to remember


amed for its epic scenery, the Causeway Coast and Glens is the holiday maker’s dream. Dramatic coastline, vast sandy beaches, seaside towns, quiet villages and

historic monuments earn it a place the bucket lists of travellers all over the world. Take a road trip and soak up the sights, then enjoy a feast and a night out. Or get in a game of golf – the atmosphere will be electric

when the world’s top golfers arrive for The Open at Royal Portrush from July 14–21. Go fishing or biking, surfing or swimming and get close to amazing wildlife from porpoise to puffins. One of the first stops on any tour of the north must be Glenariff Forest Park, in the heart of the Antrim Glens. There’s a choice of trails from the shortest Viewpoint Trail where you get a perfect view across the coast, or the stunning Waterfall Walkway which takes you through a Nature Reserve to the six mile Scenic Trail for those who want a climb as well as views of the coast and waterfalls. Stop off for coffee afterwards in quaint Cushendall, at the foot of Lurigethan Mountain, or pretty Cushendun with its unusual Cornish style cottages. The National Trust owned Corner House cafe in Cushendun has recently reopened.


For a thrilling drive, take a detour from the

Ballintoy beach

Surfers at West Strand, Portrush


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

Giants Causeway, Bushmills

main road for Torr Head and follow the narrow twists and dips to the headland where the rewards are epic views. Next stop is Ballycastle where you can relax and enjoy the harbour or the beach. There are lots of decent places to stop and eat before taking the ferry across the Moyle Sea to Rathlin Island. Pop into the Boathouse visitor centre for a map of the local walking trails or book a guided tour. Alternatively, bring your bikes and explore the island at your leisure. The best place for viewing the island’s rare seabirds and puffins is at Rathlin West Light, the ‘upside down’ lighthouse built into the cliffs.


Back in Ballycastle and it’s a short drive to Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. If you’re frightened of crossing it, with the sea 30m below, just think what the original version, built by fishermen in 1755 must have been like. And they didn’t have a coffee shop to recover in. Bring binoculars for the chance to spot basking sharks, dolphins and porpoises. Dive into the history of the area with a guided tour. Next up as you journey on towards Bushmills is Ballintoy – one of many Game of Thrones locations in the area – with its lovely harbour and beautiful pale sands and cliffs of Whitepark Bay nearby. The Giant’s Causeway is next for a scramble across the legendary basalt columns, ranked up there with Mount Everest and the Giant Redwoods of California for its importance to World Heritage. Next stop is picturesque Bushmills with its famous distillery – check the website for tours as the month up to July 12 is set aside for maintenance which can affect the experience. Back on the road again and magnificent Dunluce Castle rears into view, the site of many cliffhangers over its chequered history.

Ballycastle golf course and beach

The first castle there was built in the 1300s, however, the present ruins date back to the 1500s with parts of the building crashing into the sea in the 18th century.


There’s no fear of Portrush finding itself abandoned as this seaside hub is still a top spot for holidaymakers, surfers and those who like to dine out, then dance the night away. All three of its beaches – East Strand, West Strand and Whiterocks, have Blue Flag status, making them a hit with families as well as surfers. Stay a while if you like but the roadtrip continues through Portstewart with its beautiful strand, down into Coleraine for shopping and on across the Bann to Castlerock for more shoreline fun. Nearby is Mussenden Temple, part of the Downhill Estate and then, of course, the glorious Benone Beach. Twenty minutes away and you can look down on the coastline from the stunning vantage point of Binevenagh Mountain. After that, you can finish your trip at Limavady or the liveliest hub in the west, Derry~Londonderry.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Belfast... it’s the business!

Short walks and long hikes Get out, get active and get to know Belfast with a handy guide book by journalist, author and playwright Seth Linder. Belfast Walks features 25 walks, ranging from 1 to 10 miles, and lasting anywhere from 45 minutes to 3.5 hours, so it has something for everyone, from casual to serious walkers. Routes include the Lagan Towpath, Cavehill Country Park, Divis and Black Mountain, Titanic Quarter, Stormont Estate and more. It’s full of easy to follow directions, maps, facts and information on history, flora and fauna.

Shopping at Cornmarket and Victoria Square


ack in the post-ceasefire era, the slogan ‘Belfast is Buzzing’ was everywhere. In those days, it was more wishful thinking than a statement of fact. Now, however, the buzz is palpable, day and night. New hotels, bars and restaurants have sprung up across the city, the entire waterfront has been transformed and now the old Sirocco Works site is set to take its place in a modern, cosmopolitan cityscape. The city centre is so compact, you can easily fit a mix of shopping, socialising and sightseeing into a weekend or a few days. If you’re on a break or showing visitors around, make a beeline for the Lagan for an instant hit of the best of new Belfast with the Maritime Mile combining the city’s shipbuilding heritage with chic modernity. If you haven’t been for a while, you’re in for a pleasant surprise... here are our tips for keeping everyone happy. At the tills: If a shopping trip is your bag, start at Cornmarket in the heart of the city. Grab a coffee and watch the world go by the

Spirit of Belfast sculpture. Victoria Square is right there, with its airy malls and striking dome where you can see for miles around. The streets fanning out from Cornmarket are packed with a mix of the beautiful and the bizarre. Over on Royal Avenue, the burnt shell of the Primark building has become a macabre landmark and the shops surrounding it are now easily accessible and worth visiting, especially the Disney store if you’ve kids in tow. With High Street favourites, trendy brands and designer labels all packed into the city centre, you can easily while away a day.

Stop and eat: After a couple of hours at the shops, you need to stop and take stock of what you’ve got and what you still need. Nip into one of the many restaurants, bars and cafes such as the Maldron Hotel’s Red Bean Roastery for a specialist coffee. When the hard graft is done, give your feet time to recover with a pre dinner drink. Try some of the local craft tipples such as Yardsman Ale or Copeland Gin. Treat yourself to Afternoon Tea in the 5 star Fitzwilliam Hotel or cocktails at the Observatory at the Grand Central Hotel – Ireland’s highest cocktail bar.


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

Cocktails in the city centre, All images © Northern Ireland Tourist Board

For an evening out: Head for the Cathedral Quarter and have dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in St Anne’s Plaza before taking in a show at the MAC. There are excellent restaurants in the vicinity of the Grand Opera House. The Waterfront Hall and the Ulster Hall, all close to the city centre. Pre-show dinner at The Lyric opens options for a slap up dinner in the Botanic Avenue and Stranmillis area while for the SSE Arena, your best bet is Novelli’s at City Quays or The Wolff Grill at Titanic Hotel. You can catch live music at one of the many bars that support live acts, such as The Limelight and The Empire or the Oh Yeah centre. Other ‘in’ spots include the Harp bar, Thirsty Goat and

the Tipsy Bird. For trad music, try The Dirty Onion or Madden’s. For clubbing, head for the Cathedral Quarter, or the Dublin Road at the start of the Queen’s Quarter.

Family fun at Belfast Zoo

Take a tour: If you want to feel like a holidaymaker, choose from one of the many guided bus and walking tours – or for something different, try the Wee Toast pedal-powered bar, a segway, boat tour or black taxi – you’ll find out plenty about the city and have a few hours’ craic in the process.

bot Street, near St Anne’s Cathedral, which charts the impact of the blitz on the city. In the worst incident, on Easter Tuesday, 1941, approximately 1,000 people were killed and half the city’s housing stock was wiped out. For a different take on history, hop on board HMS Caroline, the WWI battle cruiser or the SS Nomadic, tender to the Titanic.

For history: Dive into the city’s past at City Hall or The Linenhall Library or pop into the Northern Ireland War Memorial at Tal-

Take the kids: W5 is a top pick for a day out with the kids, with the option of a game of bowls or a live Belfast Giants ice hockey

match in the SSE arena. Titanic Belfast is a top rated attraction close by. If the weather is fine, Belfast Zoo is the place to go, right next to the beautiful Belfast Castle – or Botanic Gardens with their palm house and the wonderful Ulster Museum. If your future Giants player fancies their chances on the ice, Dundonald International Ice Bowl is just up the road. High flyers also enjoy the indoor skydiving at We Are Vertigo, along with the climbing frames, inflatapark, ninja warrior course and trampoline park.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Explore the Maritime Mile

Sinclair Seamen's Church

St Joseph’s Church

Belfast Harbour Commissioners

The City Hall

Y UA LQ AL G The Belfast NE DO



Lagan Weir Footbridge


Belfast Waterfront


Big Fish

AC Hotel Belfast


Sailortown Albert Quay Lagan Boat Tours

Abercorn Basin & Marina

way Slip nic ipway a it l T ic S mp Oly

Dock ilton Ham Dock Café

Rain Check Bistro

The Great Light

Titanic Belfast

SS Nomadic

SSE Arena & W5

The Arc Apartments



Gateway to EastSide

Steam Cranes

Titanic Hotel Belfast & the Drawing Offices


Belfast Met


Belfast’s Window on Wildlife AIRPORT ROAD

Sam Thompson Bridge

Samson & Goliath


HMS Caroline


Vertigo Indoor Skydiving



Clarendon Dock


Visit Belfast Welcome Centre

Barnett Dock York Dock



xa Ale


Titanic Studios

Titanic’s Dock & Pumphouse n pso

om Th

Catalyst Inc




21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

The Great Light

Maritime Mile making waves with Belfast visitors


ive into Belfast’s seafaring history and have a fun day out by exploring the Maritime Mile. This area across both banks of the River Lagan, goes from the

historic Clarendon Dock and Sailortown up to the Big Fish, across the Lagan Weir and through the Titanic Quarter, taking in some of the city’s greatest attractions. There are wonderful places to stop and eat or even stay the night. Hotels include the stylish AC Belfast

The Salmon of Knowledge aka the Big Fish

on the waterside near the Big Fish. It has a stunning terrace where you can enjoy Tapas under the sun or go inside to the delightful Novelli at City Quays, celebrity chef Jean Christophe Novelli’s signature restaurant. On the other side of the river, the boutique Titanic Hotel echoes with the history of the Harland & Wolff Drawing Offices. Explore the Maritime Mile by bike, on foot or take a tour by boat, bus or hop on the Wee Tram for a unique shipyard tour.

Look out for the yellow signs along the route as objects along the Maritime Mile are also coming to life. Find an object signposted with the yellow branding, send a text, and get ready to experience Belfast’s Hello Maritime Mile. Major attractions such as the SS Nomadic, Great Light and new additions the Belfast Buoys all have something to say if you ask them, and even the Lagan Weir Footbridge wants a chat as you cross it.

A star of the tour is the famous Big Fish. Created by John Kindness, this 10 metre salmon is finished in ceramic blue tiles, each documenting a scene from Belfast’s epic history. With the backdrop of the beautiful River Lagan it has become an Insta-hit with tourists and locals alike. Anyone with an SMS enabled phone can text the Big Fish and learn about its history.

The newest arrivals on the Maritime Mile are the Belfast Buoys, which took up residence on the quays just as the Tall Ships arrived for the Belfast Titanic Maritime Festival. The distinctive buoys celebrate the city’s maritime heritage and are just past the SSE Arena, home to world-class entertainment. The arena hosts major concerts, family shows, sporting events and is also home to the Belfast Giants ice hockey team. Right Continued on page 44 ➤

44 | BELFAST Take a photo with HMS Caroline

Titanic Belfast

The Drawing Room, Titanic Hotel

A Glass of Thrones window

beside the arena, W5 is the discovery centre for families interested in science, with over 250 interactive exhibits. The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is the official archive for NI, holding over 3 million public and privately deposited records. Why not explore your family and local history.

Another stop on the tour is the SS Nomadic. This vessel is the last remaining White Star Line ship and has been restored to its original glory. SS Nomadic was used as the RMS Titanic’s tender ship, ferrying first and second class passengers from Belfast to Cherbourg. Visit Hamilton Dock and discover the ship in the city in which it was built. This fully interactive experience stretches over four floors and contains a crew wealthy with knowledge about the ship’s 100 years’ worth of maritime and social history. Don’t forget that entry to SS Nomadic is included with a Titanic Experience ticket.

Five star visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast, beside the Titanic slipways and the Harland & Wolff Drawing offices, is a key part of any tour. Its self-guided Titanic Experience

tour tells the story from the creation of the ship through to its tragic demise on the exact spot Titanic was designed, built and launched in 1911. The reality of shipbuilding in the early 1900s is recreated as you walk through the original gates of Harland & Wolff. Aided by special effects and animations, visitors learn about the exciting design innovations that led to the creation of the most luxurious ship in the world. Then experience the excitement of launch day in 1911 as you view the actual slipways where both the Titanic and Olympic once rested. Guests are greeted with extraordinary computer generated imagery and interactive databases that make you feel like you are boarding the real ship. With exact replicas of the cabins and dining rooms it really is not to be missed. Upon leaving the ship guests are given a chance to pay their respects to the 1,500 people who lost their lives on this voyage.

While strolling the Maritime Mile, follow the Titanic Walkway and you’ll discover

BELFAST | 45 The Maritime Mile is packed with must-see attractions

an incredible maritime artefact, The Great Light. One of the largest optics of its kind ever built, it is around 130 years old and produced one of the strongest lighthouse beams ever to shine.

Further on is a one of a kind floating museum. HMS Caroline is one of the last remaining ships from the First World War and visitors can explore areas such as the sick bay, captain’s cabins and galley kitchen, take part in interactive activities such as cracking codes and afterwards, stop by the Mess Deck Café for some refreshments.

On your way back down the mile, lovers of Game of Thrones® can call into the Titanic Exhibition Centre for the Touring Exhibition, which includes costumes, authentic props and majestic settings from all seven seasons. Don’t forget to visit the stunning Glass of Thrones windows, depicting scenes from the hit TV show as you make your way back to the city centre.

Download the Maritime Belfast app and get planning your Summer adventures along the Maritime Mile. Search for Maritime Belfast on the ITunes Store or Google play. The interactive texts of Hello Maritime Mile have been extended to September 2019 but you can get to know this rapidly developing and vibrant part of the city at any time of year. The Maritime Mile is an initiative developed by Titanic Foundation in association with the Belfast Harbour, Odyssey Trust and Titanic Quarter Limited.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019


Sit back and enjoy the Maritime Mile from the water with Lagan Boat Company


he Lagan Boat Company has operated for 21 years on the River Lagan and Belfast Harbour, specialising during the summer in daily guided Titanic Boat Tours at 12.30, 2pm and 3.30pm as well as private tours and parties. Starting at Donegall Quay, the beginning of the Maritime Mile, the vessels, Mona or Joyce Too will sail along the Queen’s Quay and pass by the Titanic Quarter where the former Harland & Wolff Works were once located. Here you will have unique views of the Harbour Marina, SS Nomadic, Titanic Belfast and the Titanic Hotel illustrating how the Maritime Mile is linked together. The tour continues down the Channel, passing by the Titanic Film Studio, HMS Caroline, Thompson Pump House and Dry Dock and round into the Musgrave Channel

Hop on board the Wee Tram to see Belfast’s large breeding seal colony. Finally, the vessel will head towards D1, the new Belfast Harbour Cruise liner berth, to see the visiting vessels close up before returning back along the Channel to Donegall Quay. This guided tour illustrates the changes

along the Maritime Mile / Harbour, from its industrial Titanic heritage to a vibrant, award-winning area which locals, tourists, private tours and parties can enjoy and be proud of, as our exclusive trademark ‘She was alright when she left here’® states.

You’ll be AMAZED W5 is Ireland’s award-winning Science & Discovery Centre. With over 250 amazing interactive exhibits in four incredible exhibition areas, W5 provides a unique experience as well as fantastic fun for visitors of all ages. Visitors can step into our brand-new technological space ‘AMAZE’ and take unique, spectacular and fully-immersive adventures, scale the heights

on ‘Climbit’ our huge multi-storey climbing structure, meet ‘Robothespian’ our life-sized, humanoid robot and SO much more! In addition to permanent exhibits, W5 also presents a changing programme of large and small scale temporary exhibitions and events. Visitors can also enjoy a daily programme of live science demonstrations and shows throughout the day.


The Wee Tram is a fun, funky, fully-guided tour of Belfast’s historic shipyard. Passengers hop on board tram carriages inspired by the red-and-cream trams that transported Titanic’s shipbuilders to work every day. Then (ding ding, all aboard!) the tram sets off to explore Titanic’s slipways and docks, HMS Caroline, Samson and Goliath, SS Nomadic and the Harland and Woolf Drawing Offices. The story of the shipyard comes to life on board with a live guide. You might get a wave from a giant (you’ll trundle right under the feet of Samson and Goliath) or feel the breath of dragonfire (as you pass the studios and sets where Game Of Thrones was filmed). You can even get in the mood by donning a duncher (the old yardman’s flat caps). You can hop on and hop off all day long, or complete one full circuit in about 30 minutes. The tram departs from Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic every half hour, every day in summer. Hop on board and rest yer wee legs!


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019 The Fermanagh Lakelands

Florence Court House

10 fab Fermanagh spots

View from the top of Cuilcagh Marble Arch Caves

From the top of Cuilcagh to the deepest reaches of the Marble Arch Caves and from the serene beauty of White Island to the woodland trails of Castle Archdale Country Park, Co Fermanagh easily finds a place in the heart of any visitor. An active arts community, busy towns, wonderful hotels and restaurants and a lively music scene ensure all the boxes are ticked. Here’s our top 10 picks of places to see...


Florence Court is one of the country’s finest National Trust properties and one of three in Fermanagh. The grounds are a popular spot for a walk, with their gardens and play area. You can tour the 18th century home of the former Earls of Enniskillen and round it off with a bite to eat in the traditional tea rooms.


Cuilcagh Mountain with its famous Stairway to Heaven boardwalk, is a must. There are resting points as you climb the 3,500 feet and a ‘Congratulations, you’ve made it’ sign to put a smile on your face at top – if you can pull your eyes away from the views.


Cuilcagh is near Florence Court and is part of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark which has many beautiful trails. Take an award-winning tour Marble Arch Caves by boat and on foot. It’s a comfortable 75 minute walk and well worth experiencing.




Take a self-guided tour of the stony fortress of Enniskillen Castle, home at first to the local chieftain Hugh Maguire and now housing Fermanagh County Museum and the Inniskillings Museum. You’ll learn how Kathleen’s Island (Inis Ceithlean) got its name and there’s a cafe on site as well as picnic tables along the banks of the River Erne where you can watch the swans and kayakers go by.

Share Discovery Village

Castle Archdale Country Park, near the gorgeous Manor House Hotel, has a campsite, lakeside forest trails and an activity centre where you can hire bikes or a boat, Canadian canoe or kayak for a paddle around Lower Lough Erne.

Visit one of the many islands on Lough Erne. At Devenish Island, you can see ruins of the original 6th century church, hear how the Vikings devastated the place in the 9th century, and see the 12th century round tower which can only be accessed by ladder. White Island is close to Castle Archdale and is famous for its enigmatic, 6th century stone characters which predate the church that was later built.


Hire a cruiser or take a water taxi. Captain your own vessel and tour the lakes at your leisure or hire Erne Water Taxis for an entertaining, guided tour. The taxi accommodates up to eight people in rain-proof comfort. Go for an hour or all day if you like and explore the incredible wealth of natural beauty and heritage in this part of the world.


The Share Discovery Village, near Lisnaskea, is a must for a fun day out with dinghy sailing, canoeing, archery, banana skiing, indoor and outdoor climbing wall, pedal go-karting, kayaking, windsurfing and their new water park meaning there’s something for everyone. There’s even arts and crafts for those who can resist the lure of all that activity.


Belleek Pottery dates back to 1857 and is home to the world famous Belleek Fine Parian China. There are guided tours, including one aimed at children, and there’s a museum, showroom, restaurant and gift shop where you can buy the iconic pottery as well as crystal, silverware and the latest addition to Belleek’s crafts, jewellery.


Enniskillen Taste Tour Savour the best local food and drink with this three hour walking tour which starts from Enniskillen Castle at 10.30am on Saturdays. Breakfast and lunch are included, along with a few nibbles and tipples so leave the car keys behind.

Paddle boarding in Enniskillen


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide

Island Bothy a hit with glampers


ettle in for a fun-filled break at Share Discovery Village – a top spot for a campers. Its location, on a beautiful 60 acre site on the tranquil shores of Upper Lough Erne, is ideal for a complete getaway in the great outdoors. Stay in one of the cosy chalets or book into the campsite. Or for a unique and magical

experience, Share Discovery Village owns part of Trannish Island and visitors can stay in its wonderful Bothy which has been listed by The Times among the top 20 campsites in the UK. The Bothy, an old stone farm building, was restored in 2011 to provide a fantastic overnight glamping experience. It’s a popular stopping off point for anyone exploring the


Lough Erne Canoe Trail and if you don’t have your own canoe, you can hire one at SHARE. Enjoy a barbecue with the family or friends while taking in the stunning lakeland surroundings or warm up at the wood-burning stove after a hard day in the outdoors. It’s possible to have exclusive use of the Bothy which sleeps up to 12 and there’s camping around it as well. The facilities include self composting toilets and two covered outdoor barbecue areas. All SHARE’s facilities are accessible. Back on the mainland, the camping and caravan facilities are Northern Ireland Tourist Board approved. The touring caravan and campsite is in a secluded wooded corner, with 10 sites for touring/motor campers with electric hook ups and space for 24 tents. Relax and unwind while the children enjoy the play park and pool tables or take a guided tour of the lough on the SHARE Inishcruiser. Join the Summer Schemes or Activities for All programme and get the whole family involved in the water and land based activities, from sailing to climbing. Make a splash in Lough Erne on the amazing new Water Park that

includes fun obstacles, water trampoline and climbing wall. Or sign up for the on-site Leisure Suite with its swimming pool, sauna, steam room and fitness suite. At peak holiday periods, you can have a drink in the Trannish Bar and there’s also a TV lounge and laundry facilities and of course the beach, Smith’s Strand. If you need to stock up on supplies or fancy dining out, Lisnaskea and Derrylin are nearby while Enniskillen is just a half hour’s drive away. For further information: t: 028 6772 2122 e: w:


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Island life suits Enniskillen

Enniskillen Castle


here’s more to Enniskillen than the busiest Asda store in the UK. This lively town was shortlisted among The Sunday Times’ Best Places to Live in the UK this year. It happens to be the only island town in the country with old stone bridges leading off towards Belfast at one end, Sligo and Donegal at the other and Omagh in between. Packed with quaint shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and pubs, it is the perfect base for exploring the county.


Park up in one of the many free car parks around the town and explore it on foot or

See artists and makers at work

travel there by bus. The old railway lines were closed years ago and some converted into walking trails.


As well as Enniskillen Castle, a must see is the old Buttermarket, in the centre of town, where you can watch crafters and artists at work and buy their wares in the shop and cafe.

Castle Coole is on the edge of town and is a neo-classical masterpiece, owned by the National Trust. Guided tours of Castle Coole include not only the lavish interiors where the Lowry-Corry family lived, but also the servants’ quarters. Its landscaped estate is very popular for a stroll.


Forthill Park is up steep steps beside the war

memorial and is a peaceful place with views over the town. As well as the towering Cole’s Monument, it has a bandstand and is the venue for a huge family fun day every summer. At the other end of the town, at The Brook, the Round O is a popular playground and park and its riverside jetty is just the spot for admiring swans. There’s an adventure playground with zipline and lots of fun for kids of all ages beside Fermanagh Lakeland Forum at the Broadmeadow. That area leading up to Enniskillen Castle has been transformed into a walkway with beautiful views across the Erne and plenty of picnic benches.


As a county town, Enniskillen has enough options to keep visitors entertained if the weather turns bad. Fermanagh Lakeland Forum has a pool and typical leisure centre facilities, as well as soft play zones for young


21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide


and older kids. There’s a multi screen Omniplex cinema and the Ardhowen Theatre has a good mix of drama, musicals and arts.


Enniskillen has a coveted ‘Purple Flag’ marking it out as a safe and convivial place for a night out. Most of the pubs serve good food and many have music on weekend nights. For a proper old pub experience and a decent pint of Guinness, push your way into Blakes of the Hollow – the west’s answer to Belfast’s Crown Bar. It’s the original part of a popular complex that now includes wine bars and a nightclub. In the basement cellar, Cafe Merlot has stone floors and pillars and excellent menu. The Horseshoe, another old style pub, has been refurbished and now has a wine bar upstairs and a good reputation as a place to eat. Granny Annie’s is fun if you aren’t tyring to have a serious conversation as the quirky decor and furniture on the ceiling is far too distracting. For live music, hit Blakes, Grannie Annie’s and The Crowe’s Nest. For a good spot outside the town, the Taphouse gastropub has a welcoming interior and the food is excellent.


Foodies tend to return to their favourite haunts and in Enniskillen that means Franco’s Restaurant where you can have anything from oysters to pizza and soak up the superb atmosphere. Dollakis Greek restaurant nearby is also extremely popular. The food is excellent but space is at a premium so it’s wise to book even for lunchtime sittings. For lunch out with the kids, The Jolly Sandwich is good, as is The Lavender Room cafe behind

Cathcarts on the Tempo Road – don’t go if you’re trying to resist mouth-wateringly outsized cakes. For a slightly more formal meal out, the Manor Country House Hotel’s Belleek Restaurant is delightful and the conservatory offers breathtaking views over the lake. You can walk off dinner in the beautiful gardens or along the lakeside afterwards. Another top spot for special occasions is the Catalina Restaurant at the Lough Erne Resort where chef Noel McMeel works his 3AA Rosette winning magic. The perfect place to relax and refuel after a challenging round of golf. Keep an eye out for the famous Fermanagh Black Bacon on local menus, or stock up directly from O’Doherty’s Butchers and take some home with you, along with a bottle of the local Boatyard Gin.


Enniskillen Blueway Water Activity Zone is open all summer beside the footbridge at Erneside Shopping Centre and is the ideal location to try out canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. It offers a new adventure experience for family fun days out or for individuals and groups who want to explore Enniskillen, or further afield, from the water. If you would prefer to captain your own boat, there are a number of options for day boat hire. Also on offer will be the new heritage boat, a boat tour taking in the monastic and heritage sites around Enniskillen including Devenish Island. Or step on the MV Kestrel from the Brook Park for a leisurely tour, a great way to explore Fermanagh! See

Luxury and charm at the Manor House Country Hotel

Experience the best of the Fermanagh Lakelands from the comfort and ease of the multi-award winning Manor House Country Hotel. Visitors and locals alike attest to the warm, friendly welcome, fabulous food and sumptuous interior. Dating back to the 17th century, the building’s high ceilings and ornate fixtures enhance the sense of grandeur, however the facilities tick all the boxes for the 21st century guest. Visitors from all over the world enjoy its spectacular setting, right on the shores of Lower Lough Erne in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands with extensive grounds, perfect for a stroll along the lough-shore. To the rear of the hotel a striking fountain takes centre-stage in the landscaped gardens. While the Manor Country House Hotel is in demand as a romantic wedding venue, with its magnificent Grand Ballroom and banqueting suites, it’s the perfect base for the leisure or business traveller too. Dining is a pleasure in this country manor with options ranging from fine dining in the

AA Rosette winning Belleek Restaurant with its stunning views, to the sleek Watergate Bar with its marble bar and sophisticated decor, to casual dining in the Cellar Door Bistro with its traditional cottage style walls and vaulted ceiling. Its extensive all day menu is also served in the Cellar Door Bar, a hub of activity with live entertainment at weekends and sports on the TV screens. The lobby area and adjoining lounges are perfect for relaxing over tea or coffee and basking in the fireside ambience. The hotel’s leisure facilities include its beautiful swimming pool, outdoor hot tub, steam rooms, jacuzzi, sauna and fully equipped gym and fitness suite. And June 28 sees the official opening of the newest addition to the hotel – the Spa Sanctuary. In the surrounding area, activities on offer include angling, golf, sailing and a host of water-sports while islands nearby include the famous Devenish with its round tower and White Island with its historic carvings. Guests can take a tour on the hotel’s own Lady of the Lake Cruiser or enjoy a special occasion or event on the water. Up to 40 people can be accommodated for lunch, dinner or simply refreshments on board.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

A world of holidays, waiting to be discovered


t’s summer and whether you’re looking for a last minute bargain, planning ahead for winter sun, a ski trip or dreaming about next summer’s holiday, there’s lots to choose from. How about a family cruise? These all-inclusive holidays have become increasingly popular – but if you prefer a quieter option, there are adult only options available, whether you want to explore the Caribbean or take one of the in demand river cruises along Europe’s historic waterways – perfect if you want to combine a cruise experience with a city break.

While the sun, sea and sand holidays are still popular, there’s more demand than ever for off-the-beaten track treks to far flung places, from south America to central Asia. Why not have the best of all worlds with a two centre holiday, starting at a beach resort and then a safari or a city break, ending with a beach resort. You can save yourself much time, energy and money by popping into your local travel agent for expert advice and discounts you won’t find anywhere else. They’ll help you find exactly what you need to make your holiday dreams come true.

The Grand Canal

The sights, sounds and tastes of Venice The star of northern Italy, Venice deserves its reputation as one of the most unique and enticing cities on the planet, finds Thomas McCoubrey


tepping out of the airport shuttle, keen to end my summer of travels around Europe on a high, I was mesmerised by the crisp blue Venetian water as a mahogany water taxi sailed towards me. A friendly man proclaimed ‘Welcome to Venice’ as I stepped onto the boat. We sailed along the canals which were better suited to film sets than real life. It was impossible to not be in awe as the boat sailed alongside the ornate architecture. I arrived in Venice famished and decided what better way to become accustomed to my new surroundings than to join a guided

Burano Island

food tour. From the Rialto Bridge we set off through the beautiful streets on foot and were treated to the specialties of the city’s culinary culture. Over the course of three hours we sampled ‘cicchetti’ (Venetian tapas) along with seafood, gelato and wine. Although not as well known as Spanish tapas, ‘cicchetti’ is just as delicious and certainly a must try for anyone going to Venice. The next morning I embarked upon a tour to see more of the wonders of the Venetian lagoon and was not disappointed. At the island of Murano, the island’s fascinating glass-making heritage was a highlight before travelling to another island, Burano, where

Doge’s Palace the group was free to roam the colourful, quirky houses and scenic canals at one of the most photogenic spots Venice has to offer. Walking around the city you simply cannot miss Doge’s Palace, once the seat of power and now a major museum. This masterpiece of gothic architecture is as beautiful inside as it is outside with works from famous artists such as Tintoretto and Veronese. The duration of the tour lasts between one and two hours and with loggias (a gallery with open sides) of the palace overlooking St Mark’s Square and the lagoon, even if you aren’t interested in the art or history, the beauty will make the tour worthwhile for everyone. Whilst not known for its nightlife, Venice has hidden gems spread around the city such as Wine Bar 5000. Located on a small street, the combination of affordable wines and

outside seating meant it was easy to spend an evening watching the Gondolas and the world, sail on by. The Venice Jazz Club was the perfect venue for my last night in the city. The club is full of character and with live music six nights a week it’s a big success story for Venice’s nightlife. The artists explaining the meaning after their songs it provides an experience like no other. No matter what night of the week the club provides a fantastic atmosphere packed with people from all over the world. Due to its popularity I would advise booking ahead to ensure a table. Clean and vibrant, Venice is a city filled with culture, beauty and great people. Throughout any season, if you are looking for a getaway then no matter what your tastes, Venice has something for you.


Amazing holidays start with a big adventure!


ere at American Holidays, it’s a pleasure to help others discover their own American dream; to ignite a curiosity for this diverse continent in all its beauty and varied flavours and inspire a love affair that will last a lifetime. Whether you are a seasoned traveller or first time visitor, there is no doubt that the USA and Canada can open your eyes to places where holiday experiences enchant, inspire and delight you!


American Holidays don’t come off the shelf. We tailor-make for each customer down to the finest detail. Our team of destination experts give customers the inside track on the hidden highlights that others often miss. From adventurous road trips to epic cruises, together with luxurious beach stays or exciting city breaks, we create exhilarating itineraries, celebrating all things USA and Canada, both on and off the beaten track.

Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019


Take a cruise

The magnificent Rockies


American Holidays and Visit The USA are proud to present the Belfast City Blues Festival 2019. Going into its eleventh year, the Blues Festival is hosting over 60 free live gigs across Belfast from Friday – Sunday, June 28–30. This year’s line-up is bursting with music, dance, and food and is sure to be an event to suit all tastes. This is the summer festival not to be missed!


America is the spiritual home of jazz, blues, funk, soul, bluegrass and country. You can make pilgrimages to Paisley Park – Prince’s mythical creative sanctuary in Minnesota, Nashville the home of Country, The Fillmore in Frisco, New York, the concert epicentre of the world, the iconic Memphis with Beale Street sporting 1.8 miles of blues clubs, as well as Elvis’s legendary Graceland. And then, when it comes to American festivals,

the possibilities are unlimited!


Canada offers something for everyone; it’s a country as vast and different as its people, who are just as friendly as everyone says! American Holidays can help you discover the best that Canada has to offer from escorted tours through the Rockies, self-drive tours featuring Toronto, Niagara Falls & Montreal, rail tours from Toronto to Halifax and multi-centre holidays to Vancouver & Whistler. Let us be your eyes and ears when arranging your Canadian adventure. Wander, trek, or glide; no matter how you choose to explore Canada’s dramatic natural wonders, getting around is half the fun.


Why not try a cruise in 2020 and let the scenery come to you with excellent value?

Help for travellers with ASD


any of us feel a little anxious at the thought of flying but for people with hidden disabilities, airports and air travel can be an overwhelming experience which may put them off flying altogether. Fortunately, with increased awareness of the implications conditions like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can have on travellers, the Civil Aviation Authority has introduced regulations demanding airports implement measures to ensure anyone with

hidden disabilities can expect help and understanding when they travel through any of the UK’s terminals. Many airports offer a familiarisation visit ahead of a trip, letting travellers see the airport layout and procedures and giving them an idea as to what they can expect to experience on the day of travel. Staff will hopefully be able to put people’s minds at ease by explaining how they might be able to help during a journey. Some airports offer autism assistance videos which will demonstrate a traveller’s jour-

See the sights

ney through the airport, allowing a person to get accustomed to the airport experience from the comfort of their own home. If a video isn’t available, the majority of UK airports provide downloadable autism-friendly guides to travelling through their terminals which can be found on their websites. Airports across the UK offer travellers with hidden disabilities lanyards, wristbands, pins or cards which will discreetly let staff know the wearer may need extra time or help with elements of the airport experience – the majority of airports will provide these aids even

Tot up your average daily cost on a conventional holiday – flights, hotels, meals, taxis, trains, etc. – compare that with a cruise and you might be surprised at the savings. Pick a cruise that features the destinations you want to visit, then sit back and relax as you sail to each port in style and luxury. Everything is organised for you. And, if you fancy it, blend the scenery and resorts of North America with the relaxation and indulgence of a cruise. Our experts will tailor-make a cruise holiday that combines the very best of land and sea. Find out more at

if special assistance hasn’t been requested or isn’t needed. Contact the airport ahead of your journey to find out which aids they use and how you can access them (it’s usually just a case of collecting a lanyard from the assistance desk on arrival). Some airports offer a ‘quiet route’ through the terminal, sometimes with an escort, to help avoid the stress of busier, more crowded areas. Some allow travellers with hidden disabilities to use priority lanes for security and when boarding. Several airports offer specific ‘quiet areas’ which provide a calming space for passengers with special needs to relax in before their flight. If a little more help is required, special assistance can be requested through your flight operator or travel company. Passengers need to give at least 48 hours notice of the type of help they need, whether it is reduced mobility or difficulties with social interaction and communication. Assistance can be provided as soon as passengers arrive at the airport and can help with all aspects of the airport experience: from the journey through departures; boarding and disembarking the aircraft; transferring between flights and travelling through the destination airport. Special assistance is available at all EU airports and across the USA but it’s worth finding out whether your destination airport will offer help as some parts of the world don’t offer assistance or a fee may be required. For a full list of autism-friendly airports visit: For details of Special Assistance visit:


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019 and even the Antarctic … demonstrating just how intrepid Northern Irish travellers can be when it comes to their holidays afloat!”

Chart a course for your dream holiday


Many couples opt for holidays on board smaller ships which boast a relaxed and sociable ambiance with an emphasis on fine dining. ”If you want to kick back and chill in style, river cruising is a terrific choice, providing a fabulous opportunity to visit a host of destinations in a single holiday but without the bother of having to pack and unpack as you move from place to place!”


nce famously the exclusive preserve of the loaded and leisured, cruise holidays have come a long way in recent years. High end luxe still abounds on the high seas, but today cruising is more accessible than ever before, attracting ever broader audiences with a dizzying array of cruise styles and destinations. The traditional destinations remain hot favourites but, as Oasis Travel Managing Director Sandra Corkin explains, it’s no longer a choice of the Med or the Carribean: these days you can take your pick of everywhere from the freezing Arctic to the tropical Galapagos. “Cruising is the biggest growth sector in the travel industry,” she says. “There are cruises to cater for everyone now – for families, for couples and for singles. The cruise holiday today is attracting a much younger market and it’s especially big for honeymooners and, increasingly, for families.


“Families love cruises because of the number


of things that are included in the holiday package. Knowing that food is included in the cost is great from a budgeting perspective while the entertainment on family-friendly ships is second to none with everything from water parks, mini golf, dodgem cars to ziplines, ice rinks and even climbing walls and surf pools on offer … and that’s before you take account of the huge variety of things to do in your ports of call. It’s fantastic for kids, with most family-choice ships offering great clubs for kids and teens. We often find three generations of a family going away together.”


The past 25 years have seen cruise fans advance into previously unchartered waters, with exotic and unusual destinations proving increasingly popular. Mature but active couples in particular are looking for something more unusual, having done the Med and the Caribbean. “River cruising is opening up in Vietnam and Cambodia: places you might not normally think of visiting,” says Sandra, “but I would certainly recommend them. China too offers fantastic cruising while we have been taking quite a few bookings for Galapagos

While budget cruising is for almost everyone the ultimate 6 star cruise is unashamedly elitist. “These ships are almost like private yachts, catering for just 100 or 200 discerning guests who are looking for a truly high end experience,” Sandra explains. “Facilities and service on board are absolutely stunning and, because these ships are able to dock at smaller ports, they can take their passengers on true voyages of discovery. Think of dreamy stopovers at the picturesque Italian fishing village of Porto Fino … the smaller Greek Islands … or the magical islands off Croatia.” There’s always something new to discover, not only ashore but also on board with sometimes dozens of restaurants and bars on one ship and with spas, pools and sports facilities the norm. Despite the wealth of choices, some destinations are enduring favourites with Northern Ireland holidaymakers, such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean with their year round sunshine and stunning scenery. Whatever type of holiday appeals, where there’s water there is very probably a way of cruising there.


Perfect 2020 vision for Belfast cruise departures


MG Cruise and their UK cruise partners Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) are offering exceptional value cruise holidays with 31 exciting itineraries sailing from Dublin, Cobh and new for 2020 - Belfast. This 9-night Majestic Fjordland cruise on board Magellan, sails from Belfast on July 2, 2020, and they also have an 8-night River Seine cruise

Relax in the on deck whirlpools

Cruise the Norwegian fjords departing from Belfast on June 24, 2020. In 2020 Magellan sails from Dublin on a new itinerary to Spain, Portugal and Morocco with a call in Casablanca, where tours can be taken to Marrakech. This exciting new summer holiday itinerary sails on August 5, 2020, for 12-nights calling La Coruna (Spain), Cadiz (Spain), Gibraltar, Casablanca for tours to Marrakech (Morocco), Lisbon (Portugal)

and Liverpool before returning to Dublin. Fares include delicious full board cuisine, afternoon teas and late-night snacks, Captain’s Cocktail Party, complimentary tea and coffee 6am to midnight, big show entertainment, cabarets and classical interludes, daytime activities and leisure facilities, guest speaker and arts and crafts, porterage of luggage, port to cabin and port taxes. For

greater convenience CMV operate an automatic tipping system on board, so instead of worrying how much and when to tip, an amount of £7pp per night (£6 for 16 nights or more) will be debited to the passenger’s on-board account. Family-owned JMG Travel is the tour operating division of well known Donegal Coach holiday operator McGinley Coach Travel and started to offer cruise holidays in 2011. Most Irish departures will be onboard Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ 1250 guest medium-sized cruise liner Magellan, which features a wide range of comfortable lounge areas, well-appointed facilities and expansive panoramic viewing ideally suited to these scenic cruise programmes. The company has also released its 2021 cruise preview with incredible value offers available. Check or call 00353 74913 5201 for brochures.

58 | TOURS

Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019


10 reasons Giles’ summer tours have something for everyone


iles has a varied tour programme visiting the popular and favourite tourist destinations both at home here on the island of Ireland and across to GB. The extended tours vary in length from 3-8 days, are competitively priced and based in 3 and 4-star hotels. The spring and summer tours are now well underway, with some new and interesting itineraries - the Harrogate, York & Emmerdale Experience five day tour, staying at the 4-star Shipley, is proving to be very popular. The amazing Norfolk Broads tour includes a visit to the beautiful Sandringham Estate and a scenic tour of the Broads of course. The Warner Hotel at Bodelwyddan, north Wales, is growing in popularity as word spreads of the entertainment programme there. The Lake District, Llandudno and Blackpool are popular for

both summer and traditional autumn breaks, and the Blackpool Illuminations five day tours remain firm favourites, with bookings flooding in. Giles also has a selection of day trips. These include its popular visit to Doagh Famine Village in Donegal – a lovely scenic run followed with a humorous guided tour at the famine village before moving on to enjoy an evening meal together. Then there’s the traditional leisurely day trip to Fermanagh’s Lakelands and the Enniskillen area. Not forgetting the younger generation, there are trips to Dublin Zoo and the exciting world of the Tayto Park in Ashbourne. If you would like more information, please contact Giles Tours on 028 9181 1099 for further details or a brochure.


to take a tour

rive a coach (and horses) through your cabin fever by getting on the road. Coach tours and package tours are as popular than ever – here’s why.

the place you’re going which will enrich your experience. And they not only know about the end destination, but can point out places of interest along the way.



No hassle: Someone else does all the hard work of organising the transport, timetable, ferries/flights, hotels and meals while all you need to do is get your hair done, pack your bag and turn up.


The social aspect: You can go with a group, with friends, your other half or completely on your own and you’re sure to make new friends and get to know acquaintances much better.


Shared interests: It’s wonderful to spend time with people who want to see the same things you do. You can immerse yourself in a tour of grand houses or gardens or whatever takes your fancy among people who ‘get it’ as well.


Local knowledge: Coach tours are led by people who have a level of expertise about

Safe and sound: If you’re nervous about going somewhere new, you don’t need to worry about getting mixed up over the customs or currency on a tour as there’s always someone on hand to give you advice and support if needed.

TOURS | 59

21 June 2019 | Holiday and Tour Guide




Tour groups in Dresden


Freedom to choose: On a tour, you can join in as much as you like, or if you feel like having a day to yourself by the hotel pool, that’s no problem either.


Night life: Often if you go away as a couple or a family, the evenings can be hard to put in. On a group tour, there’s likely to be entertainment available in the evenings, from live music to a show to a chance to dust off your favourite dance moves.


Rest and relaxation: Forget about hours at the wheel or worrying about getting lost or ending up on the wrong side of the road.

Take a coach tour and you can sit back, relax and let the professionals take the strain.


More for less: Package and coach tour operators have access to discounts the individual holidaymaker can’t achieve meaning you can do and see more with a group than you could on your own.


Flexible fun: If you want to organise a trip for your club, group of friends, extended family or colleagues, simply explain to a tour operator what sort of venues and entertainment you are interested in and they may be able to tailor make a holiday, just for you – perfect!

updated brochure is now available with all the Autumn Tours such as the Blackpool Illuminations for five days staying in the Queens Hotel & Leisure Complex on the seafront and including a visit to Southport, while Pitlochry and Enchanted Forest on October 21 is based at the Fishers Hotel. On November 8, we depart for the Classic Motor Show in Birmingham. For the festive season, Edinburgh Christmas Markets departs on December 6 and we also have a special Edinburgh Weekend on January 10, 2020, that includes the Lion King at the Playhouse Theatre. Christmas Tours to Perth or Oban depart for five days on December 23 and Hogmanay in the Highlands for four days. Warner Leisure Turkey & Tinsel in Cheshire departs for five days on November 4, staying in Alvaston Hall Hotel. Christmas on ‘The Cobbles’ visits Coronation Street and the Manchester Christmas Markets on November 22. Closer to home and Donegal tours depart on September 9 staying in Donegal Town with a special departure to Bundoran on November 17 for a Turkey & Tinsel Tour. Waterford & Wexford heads to the Treacys Hotel on October 14. Then there’s Pearl of Wales to beautiful Criccieth on September 28 or Stirring Snowdonia on November 25. There is a selection of new tours, hotels and itineraries to choose from. A new four day tour departs on Thursday, August 15, to visit the ‘BBC Countryfile Live Show’ at Castle Howard and is based for three nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast at the lovely Doubletree

A Dodds tour in the Scottish Highlands by Hilton Hotel in Hull. There are still a few seats available on the three day weekend to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which departs on Friday, August 9, is based for two nights’ bed and breakfast at the Brooks Hotel in the centre of Edinburgh and includes entry to the 10.30pm performance of the Tattoo on Saturday, August 10.


Phone our booking line on 01461 33 77 99 for details and free brochure. Bookings can also be made at appointed travel agents within Northern Ireland, contact us for details. Alternatively, visit Pick-ups are available from Belfast city centre, Holywood, Bangor, Newtownards, Sprucefield, Dunsilly Roundabout, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne, Ballynure and Glengormley or you can join at the Stena Line Ferry Terminal in Belfast and receive a discount of £10 per person. Group bookings are welcome; our group travel department can tailor the travel arrangements to suit your requirements.


Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Wild camping under the Northern Lights at Keel Bay, Achill Island, Co Mayo

Fall in love with the great outdoors


o you love the thought of sitting under a sky full of stars with the flickering flames of a log fire warming your toes? Or lounging on a river back on a summer’s day, watching green tree tops waving in the breeze against a backdrop of deep blue sky and the occasional white cloud? Make it happen with a camping, glamping, caravanning or campervanning holiday on this island – you’ll find tons of amazing places for an outdoorsy holiday. “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my sense put in order,” said American naturalist John Burroughs. Despite the hard work that comes with camping, many people believe that there really is nothing quite as magical as sleeping out under the twinkling night sky. And what a twinkling sky it is, with International Dark Sky Reserves at Mayo and Kerry. However, pick any rural part of the country and you’ll find a spot that’s free from light pollution and perfect for star-gazing! And then, there’s the landscape. Think green valleys, glistening coastlines, tranquil waterways and sites where you can opt-in for all the modern conveniences you desire, or simply do without – the choice is yours. Whether you want to stay close to cities or go off the beaten track, camping gives you the ultimate freedom to take your time and experience all that both part of this island

Relaxing by a campervan

“I really love campsites – love ‘em – but there’s still nothing like pitching-up in some field/mountain/ cliff in the back end of Ballynowhere.” -THOMAS BREATHNACH, TRAVEL WRITER

Inside one of the chalets at Rockhill Holiday Park, Co Donegal have to offer. Here’s what you need to know...


Traditionally, camping has been all about how much you can carry strapped to your back, into your bike’s panniers or tucked away in the boot of your car… have tent, will travel, so to speak. But with natural landscapes just minutes from urban hubs, you definitely won’t be short of sites where you can pitch up, plug in and relax beside the barbecue. The good news is that many of the island’s

very best campsites are surrounded by the kind of scenery that will take your breath away. Not only that, but lots of sites come with amazing activity centres, giving you the chance to do everything from horse trekking to zip-lining to canoeing and kayaking. And you’ll usually be close enough to a local grocery store, or towns and villages where you can stock up the ice box.


Getting mucky in a lovely green field overlooking sublime views can be lots of fun for some, but if you’re hovering on the fence about whether you really want to go camping and all that it entails – then how about going glamping instead? Glamping literally means glamorous camping and the options come in all shapes and sizes – eco-pods, eco-cabins, wooden pods, island yurts, horse-drawn caravans, treehouses, teepees and even bubble domes! You can still say you’ve been camping to anyone who asks, just don’t tell them about how luxurious these places can be!


Have motorhome, will travel

Pitching your tent or motorhome in a place other than a designated campsite may sound ideal, but according to The Outsider, it’s not always as simple as pulling over at the side of a road and finding a flat patch of land: “Landowners are often reluctant to let people

camp on their land and a lot of public spaces prohibit camping, whether that’s in a tent or a motorhome.“ Always ask the landowner before you pitch, and if they say no, just move along. When it comes to motorhomes, Camping Ireland says: “There are plenty of resting places along the coastal roads, where you can stretch your legs, enjoy the view and, of course, take beautiful pictures. It is not intended that you stay longer on these rest areas, so it is often difficult to get to the parking lot for vehicles, which are higher than about 2.5 metres.” The best advice is to plan your overnight stops in advance so you can be confident you are parking up legally.


Not all campsites are the same, so head over to Camping Ireland, which lists all the approved sites in Northern Ireland and Ireland. You can search by type, see if your site allows pets, and what facilities it offers (showers, communal kitchens, barbecues etc). They definitely advise you book ahead – either online or by phone – especially during peak holiday times. And remember it’s not just about pitching your own tent, many sites have mobile homes or caravans, which you can rent out. So, yes, technically you can sleep under the stars, but you’re a little more toasty indoors!



BY REBECCA PETTICREW ou’ve found your dream destination, got your itinerary sorted and know just how you’re going to spend your time. Whether you going to be lounging by the pool or exploring the local sights, a few mix and match suitcase staples will ensure you stay stylish from dawn to dusk, without incurring excess baggage charges.


Coordinating colours: Choose three coordinating colours for all of your items of clothing, this means all of your individual pieces work well in any combination. Include neutrals like black, white, khaki and navy, with coral or yellow pieces added to bring colour and complement a tan.

Holiday and Tour Guide | 21 June 2019

Bikini or Swimsuit: Scalloped edging is bang on trend and adds interest to a simple onepiece. This stylish option from Matalan comes in under £20, leaving you with more to spend when you reach the sun. Textured Scallop Swimsuit £16, Matalan

The right capsule wardrobe will take you a long way

For a flattering bikini which is fun but doesn’t scream ‘look at me!’ it would be hard to beat this black and white striped beauty with contrasting red ties, £19.99, Bon Prix

No more than three pairs of shoes: trainers for travelling and heavy walking days; a pair of comfortable shoes to walk in during the day – low heeled sandals or loafers; and a pair of higher heels or wedges to zhuzh up evening attire. When it comes to summer trainers, it would be madness to choose anything other than a pair of white Superga. These classic canvas tennis shoes have been in production since 1911 and definitely stand the test of time – they go with anything. Superga trainers in white, £55, White Stuff

T-shirts: This is where you really apply the coordinating colour rule. For a versatile and simple table, make sure you include a plain white T. White Plain T-Shirt, £12, Brown Satin Wrap Midi Skirt, £35, Miss Selfridge

✱ Seasalt’s 100% leather upper Palmaira sandals come in a variety of colours. With padded insoles and lightweight rubber soles for extra comfort, these Menorcan sandals will make a comfortable yet stylish option for a daytime or evening look. Sandals £47.50,

Managing to combine glamour, comfort and giving a nod to holiday vibes, these metallic espadrille wedges are the perfect accessory for evening wear, Espadrille Wedge Sandals £30, Lipsy

And if you can’t choose between a bikini and a one-piece, why not go for the best of both with the Cut-Out Swimsuit, £12, Primark

Costume jewellery: A traveller’s best friend. Nobody wants risk losing pieces which have sentimental value, or having expensive items stolen. Be bold, choose a statement cocktail ring and/or pair of earrings to turn a simple dress into elegant evening wear. It’s hard to beat gold such as these Faren Circle and Rhinestone Earrings, £22, Oliver Bonas

White Linen Shirt: This is truly the workhorse of any holiday wardrobe. Throw it over a swimsuit as a cover up, pair it with denim cut offs and a straw hat for a classic look, or team it with your lightweight trousers for a casual evening meal. Find a cotton/linen blend to help reduce creasing. This beauty from Cos ticks all the boxes, upsize for a relaxed fit. Cotton-Linen V-Neck Shirt, £59,

Shorts: Look no further than these relaxed fit, high-waisted denim shorts with a raw edge hemline from & Other Stories, £55,

Hat: Essential to keep the sun off your face, nothing can beat a classic straw hat. Try this bargain, £12.99, New Look

Black Dress: A simple black dress in the right material is a very versatile thing. It can work as a daytime sundress – when it gets really hot you can protect your shoulders and stay stylish by throwing your unbuttoned white linen shirt over the top; add your costume jewellery and high heeled shoes and you have an elegant evening look. This lightweight option from Hush has a gathered waist to give your silhouette some definition without looking fussy. Cinched Waist Dress in Black, £59,

Lightweight trousers: A pair of lightweight trousers with cuffed ankles is the perfect choice for evening dining outside: the cuffs will prevent you becoming the main course for any mosquitoes. They can also be useful for any chillier than expected days. These light khaki, Utility Joggers fit the bill perfectly, £38, Lipsy

Sunglasses: If you wear glasses, do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a pair of prescription sunglasses; you’ll be delighted you did every time you go to read your book or a menu. Your optometrist will be able to advise you on styles (some prescriptions work better in certain frames). If you’re blessed with good eyesight, the world is your oyster – spend as much or as little as you like, go high street or designer, but make sure any sunglasses you choose have a UV400 rating, the CE ‘kite’ mark and are British Safety Standard certified, to be sure they’ll offer a safe level of UV protection. Stand out from the crowd in these Nkiru Round Tortoiseshell Cat Eye Sunglasses, £75,