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YOUR HOLIDAY & TOUR GUIDE

– YOUR GUIDE TO HOLIDAYS ACROSS IRELAND AND BEYOND IN 2018 –


02 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Open season for holidays

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he May Bank Holidays are just around the corner... time to start planning this year’s trips. And according to the experts, we’re holidaying more than ever. ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) reports that last year, despite the weak pound, Britons took more holidays than at any time since 2011. Beach holidays and city breaks are the most popular types of holidays . The most popular overseas destinations remain mainland Spain, the Balearics and Portugal although increasing numbers of people are venturing further afield, to Asia and beyond. On top of that, a whopping 72% of people now take domestic holidays. We’re more inclined than ever, the experts say, to take one main annual holiday and a host of short breaks. The latest statistics from Tourism Ireland show the most popular places for the whole island of Ireland are Dublin, Northern Ireland

Marble Hill beach, Co Donegal and the South West with over 10.3 million visitors in 2016. For many Northern Ireland families, no calendar year is complete without a few days in our favourite seaside destination, whether that’s Donegal or Sligo, the north coast or Newcastle. Why not make 2018 the year you add another place to your portfolio of holiday favourites? Discover the incredible mountain views and stunning beaches that have made the south west counties of Cork and Kerry so

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appealing to holiday makers, visit the garden county of Wicklow, try surfing the Atlantic waves or how about an inland trip to the lovely lakelands? Combine sightseeing with a city break and get acquainted with unique and vibrant hubs like Galway, Cork or Dublin or escape into the great yonder and delve into some of the country’s little known rural retreats. In this year’s Holidays and Tours Guide we’re looking at all sorts of options, including romantic breaks, family holidays and

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Go west for sights, surf and summer fun

Have a capital time in Dublin

Beyond the here and now in the Ancient East

Bushmills... the village with a lot of bottle

Top 10 things to do in Meath and Boyne Valley

Carry on camping

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The great outdoors... and indoors!

Fermanagh, the lakes and the Hidden Heartlands PUBLISHED BY Belfast Telegraph, Clarendon House Clarendon Dock Belfast BT1 3BH

camping trips. Check out where’s worth seeing across the country from the Causeway Coast to the Wild Atlantic Way, from Ireland’s Ancient East to Dublin Bay. You’ll find everything from luxury hotels to campsites as well as tips for planning your trips and a hint of what’s hip and happening this summer. The chances are we’ll have a few good weeks... and a few wet ones but we’ll keep you on the right track for having fun, whatever the weather. Let the holidays begin!

ADVERTISING MANAGER: Jackie Reid Belfast Telegraph j.reid@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

EDITOR Fiona Rutherford Realtime Editing & Design NI Ltd f.rutherford@redni.co.uk

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


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 03

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Vespa in Vietnam

‘Mmm, frog legs’

Sometimes the scariest moments make for the best holiday memories, as Megan Kavanagh found...

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he orange sun was setting over the sky scrapers of Saigon and along with my family, we mounted the back of four Vespas with full stomachs. We had just come from the hotel bar where we stuffed our faces with burgers, the first meal we had had in the past two weeks which did not consist of rice or noodles. We were given helmets and without warning were launched into the night. Strangers stared and laughed as I embarrassed myself by screaming at the top of my lungs at the speed of the bike. Suddenly I felt a drop on

On the road in Saigon

Megan ‘soaking’ up the sights on the back of her Vespa my nose. Then my cheek, hand and leg. Within a couple of seconds, the largest monsoon of the year had started and the streets swiftly started to flood. Vietnamese children bathed in the puddles but our tour guides took no notice of the rain. Slaloming in between other rickety motorbikes, carrying entire families, we quickly arrived at our destination. Unknown to us, this was a Vespa food tour, where they drove us to different food stops around the city to taste the most obscure and

delicious food Vietnam has to offer. Soaked to the bone and still full from dinner, we trudged our way into a small restaurant and were handed a plate. ‘Mmmm chicken wings’ said my brother enthusiastically. Much to his disappointment he was quickly shot down by our tour guide who announced that our first delicacy was frog leg. Despite having lived in France for several years, this was my first time eating frog. And it was surprisingly nice, not quite as nice as chicken wings, but still nice. Once again we were ushered onto the bikes but this time my driver decided to stray from the rest of my family. I suddenly

become aware that I was sitting on the back of a stranger’s bike, with no money or phone, in the middle of a foreign country. I could feel my stress levels rising as I realised how powerless and vulnerable I was. We took a sharp turn into oncoming traffic. At this point I was wondering why the tour guide had something against me, why she wanted to kill me by driving the wrong way down a busy motorway. But quickly enough, we turned off the motorway and I was met again by my family. Turns out my tour guide just got lost and wasn’t in fact trying to kill me. The rest of the night proved as magical and action packed as the first half as we hopped from bar to bar, from food stall to food stall, while getting fuller and fuller and all while still being drenched by the rain.


04 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Inch beach, Co Kerry, where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed, is Ireland’s top rating beach on TripAdvisor, all photos Failte Ireland

Cosmopolitan Galway

Marble Hill strand, Co. Donegal

Go west FOR sights, sounds, surf AND summer fun

Clean beaches, clear skies and some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland mark out the west coast as a well deserved favourite for holidays close to home...

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or loved up couples, the family with children, friends wanting an extended catch-up and those seeking a total escape from their every day life, the western counties have the perfect blend of home comforts, attractions and timeless natural beauty. Take Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula... its expansive strand, powerful ocean waves and mountain backdrop looked resplendent in David Lean’s epic, Ryan’s Daughter, many years ago and it remains Tripadvisor’s highest-rated beach in all of Ireland, while the beach at Inchydoney, west Cork, is rated second. Those are just two of the countless beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way, which stretches from Donegal to west Cork. Between the ocean, the terrain and the excellent facilities, there’s plenty of opportunity to get active on a break, from surfing to cycling, horseback riding to golf or hike at your own pace along one of the many looped walks where you can savour the most breathtaking of vistas. Base yourself in one of the west’s intriguing cosmopolitan hubs like Sligo, Galway, or Cork or take yourself off for a truly rural retreat. From luxury hotels to quiet campsites, you’ll find accommodation Ballymastocker Bay, Port Salon, Donegal

THE HAVEN COAST

T Garretstown beach, Co Cork to suit every taste and budget. Needless to say, the seafood is legendary in these parts, however, there’s all sorts of stunning local produce to sample along the way while enjoying the local hospitality, whether you’re in a Gaeltacht or English speaking part of the country. The Wild Atlantic Way is divided into six zones: the Northern Headlands (Donegal), the Surf Coast (from Donegal to Erris Head, Co. Mayo), the Bay Coast (from Achill Island to Galway Bay), the Cliff Coast (from Galway through Clare to the north Kerry coast), the Southern Peninsulas (the Cork and Kerry coasts) and the Haven Coast (from Bantry via Skibbereen to Kinsale). Here’s our guide to some of their highlights...

Inchydoney beach, Co Cork

he southernmost stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way offers both lush countryside and dramatic landscapes from dreamy Bantry Bay through Skibbereen and on to Kinsale. Artisanal action abounds and the area’s vibrant arts scene means festivals galore. Among the notable sites are the wreck of the Lusitania, and Fastnet Rock, dubbed ‘Ireland’s tear drop’ while whale watching trips are a must. FOR WALKERS: The Sheep’s Head loop line between Timoleague and Courtmacsherwhich meanders around the sery is bound to raise spirits. cluded Sheep’s Head Peninsula, Co Cork, will bring you to BEACH: Clonakilty, famed for towering cliffs, crystal clear its sausages and trad music lakes such as Lough Akeen scene, is west Cork’s ‘beach and the ancient lighthouse centre’ with miles of sandy that stands guard on the tip beaches, coves and inlets of Bantry Bay. Those seeking nearby, including the Blue an offshore experience can Flag Inchydoney. For a day get the ferry to Clear Island at the beach with the kids, where the Gleann and Cnoicin check out Garretstown, Co Cork, loops showcase the remarkable with its large dunes. There are fine history and cultural legacy of The tail fin of a views of the Old Head of Kinsale this idyllic Gaeltacht island. The humpback whale with and when everyone is hungry, Gleann loop, in particular, offers The Stag Rocks in the there’s a huge choice of great food one of the region’s best spots for background, photo by to be had in Kinsale, the country’s whale-watching. Padraig Whooley food mecca, just a 15-minute drive away. Go in October for Kinsale’s ATTRACTIONS: A meet and greet with a Gourmet Food Festival. difference is what’s on offer at west Cork’s Waterfall Alpaca Farm. Get close to the animals and stroll the trail along forests and rivers and the beautiful waterfall. Cork’s Timoleague Abbey was founded by the Franciscan order in 1240 and was built on the site of a monastic settlement founded by St Molaga in the 6th Century. In its day it was one of the largest and most important religious houses in Ireland and a visit today will help you feel as though you’re stepping back in time. A stroll along the old railway Kinsale is the gourmet capital of the south


06 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018 Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve, Derrynane, Photo by Valerie O’Sullivan

Bray Head, Valentia Island

SOUTHERN PENINSULAS

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here’s a feeling of being at the edge of the world on these five Kerry peninsulas – Dingle, Iveragh, Beara, Sheep’s Head and Mizen, whether you want to take in the views, watch whales and dolphins, take a cable car ride over the ocean, or stargaze under Ireland’s darkest skies. FOR WALKERS: The Atlantic stretches out before you as you negotiate the Bolus Head looped walk through the sloping hills of Bolus Mountain. There are stunning views of Skellig Michael island, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and a key location for the latest Star Wars movie. The Bray Head walk on Valentia Island is just as memorable, especially when you first gaze upon the sheer cliffs of the adjacent Dingle Peninsula. No walk here is complete without a visit to Bray Tower, the abandoned signal point perched at land’s end. Skellig Michael featured in Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi

ATTRACTIONS: The area around Ballinskellings, Co Kerry, is part of the International Dark Sky Reserve due to the lack of light pollution - and visitors here get to experience the night sky in a way that most of us can only dream of. As only one of three Gold Tier Dark Sky Reserves in the world this is a truly unique experience on the Wild Atlantic Way. Astronomy enthusiasts from Kerry Dark Sky Tourism help visitors get the most out of their trip by pointing out planets and picking out star systems as well as the international space station as it moves across the skyline. BEACH: There’s something brilliantly elemental about time spent on Derrynane beach, Co Kerry. There’s a lot of beach for everyone to enjoy - even on the hottest summer days – and it’s next to Derrynane House, the birthplace of Daniel O’Connell, with its celebrated gardens.

The Cliffs of Moher

THE CLIFF COAST

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o Clare is home to some of the country’s most evocative landscapes, not least the vast limestone expanse of the Burren and the awe-inspiring Cliffs of Moher. Go in the second week of July to catch the buzz as musicians from far and wide make for Miltown Malbay for the Willie Clancey Summer School. There’s music and dancing – set, Irish and country – throughout the area for the duration of the week. Sign the kids up for one

of the local surf schools while you’re there and don’t forget to call into the Wilde Irish Chocolate Visitor Centre, Tuamgraney, on the Lough Derg Blueway, for some sweet treats. FOR WALKERS: Wrap up for the Loop Head walk, with its breathtaking Atlantic views and 350 year old lighthouse. The Black Head loop is a perfect walking trail to experience the glories of Clare’s soaring clifftops while the Caher Valley walk lets you take in the golden sweep of Fanore beach


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 07

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph Dog’s Bay, Connemara, Co Galway

THE BAY COAST

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lew Bay is the largest of the many bays that give this part of counties Galway and Mayo their name and you can take a cruise for the best take on its spectacular scenery, islands, beaches and seal colonies. FOR WALKERS: The serene Inishturk Island, nestled between Inishbofin and Clare Island, boasts the Mountain Common loop, a pollution-free haven brimming with lush panoramic views and unspoilt sandy beaches. Inishbofin itself has three looped walks to investigate, with the Westquarter loop delivering some of the most memorable coastal vistas of Connemara you could wish for. Terra Firma Tours take hikers through some of the county’s most photographable landscapes and ancient pilgrim paths on their cultural walking tours. ATTRACTIONS: Westport House, built on the former castle home of pirate queen Grace O’Malley, has something for all ages, from the historic house to the Pirate Adventure Park and Bird of Prey Centre.

Enjoying a music session in a Galway pub Discover the joys of wild swimming or go snorkelling, kayaking or coasteering with WaveSweeper Sea Adventures on the Erris Peninsula.

BEACH: Drive across beautiful Achill Island and relish your first sight of Keem Beach from the coast road. The turquoise waters below could be from the Mediterranean. Or spend a day at Connemara’s Dog’s Bay, Co Galway. This secluded, white beach, TripAdvisor’s third highest rated in Ireland, is a five-minute drive from the picturOn the slide at esque fishing village of Roundstone Westport House & in the heart of this gloriously wild Pirate Adventure Gaeltacht area – one of five National Park, Co. Mayo Parks in the Wild Atlantic Way.

ATTRACTIONS: Catch your own fish with Fish and Stay, setting off from Carrigaholt Harbour. Look out for bottlenose dolphins and superb views of Mount Brandon, across in Kerry.

Enjoying artisan chocolate at the Wilde Irish Chocolate Visitor Centre, Tuamgraney, Co Clare as well as the Burren with its extraordinary wild flowers.

Fanore Beach, Co Clare

BEACH: The Blue Flag beach at Fanore, Co Clare, is an especially striking beauty spot as well as one of the nine sites of geological importance that comprises the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. The area was awarded this world-recognised designation in 2011 and a visit to the long, unspoilt stretch of shoreline right next to the buzzing Fanore village puts you at the centre of this special place.


08 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

THE SURF COAST

Ballyliffin Golf Course, Co. Donegal

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he Atlantic waves that crash ashore in northern Mayo and along the length of Sligo are justly famous among surfers. However, this jagged stretch of coastline from Donegal Town through Sligo to far-flung Erris in Mayo, is also rich in culture, from the Neolithic Céide Fields to a lively festival scene and, of course, the legacy of poet WB Yeats, who immortalised the landscapes of his childhood in some of his best known works – including the Lake Isle of Inishfree. Bundoran is the place to go for a traditional seaside holiday and the town takes on a different vibe for the Sea Sessions Surf Music Festival towards the end of June. FOR WALKERS: North Mayo’s Children of Lir loop, named after one of the great legends, takes the visitor into the heart of one of the country’s WB Yeats statue in Sligo

Surfing at Easky, Co Sligo most underrated sites of natural beauty with its rocky headlands and secluded coves. Sligo’s Lough Easkey loop brings the walker along the scenic shores of this picturesque lake, which is ringed by thick forest plantations. The route takes in a blanket bog, home to the common lizard, Ireland’s only native reptile. ATTRACTIONS: Stunning Cullenamore Strand in Co Sligo is a sanctuary for nature-lovers and those with a passion for archaeology. Take a tour with a Seatrails’ maritime archaeologist and enjoy a meal prepared by chefs from local seafood restaurant Trá Bán. BEACH: Several counties along the Wild Atlantic Way can stake a claim to be the spiritual home of Irish surfing - and Sligo certainly punches above its weight when it comes to spectacular options in which to catch that perfect wave. Mullaghmore has long been adored by surfers - and all water-sports lovers - and its wonderful stretch of beach, replete with sand dunes, is justly loved. Look out for the gothic edifice of Classiebawn in the distance.

NORTHERN HEADLANDS

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ome to some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe, Co Donegal offers jaw-dropping landscapes and that’s particularly the case on the Inishowen Peninsula, sometimes dubbed ‘Ireland in miniature’ thanks to its shape. The area boasts amazing views of the Northern Lights in winter and in summer there’s much to admire whether from the Nuala Star, which sails out of Teelin Pier, or from the hilltop fort of Grianan of Ailach. North Donegal is deservedly a longstanding favourite with holidaymakers from all over Northern Ireland for whom no summer is complete without a few days at Gweedore, Letterkenny or Buncrana while golfers enjoy the many links courses in the county. FOR WALKERS: The Inishowen Head loop is a stunning route dripping with history and where you’ll pass a World War II look-out tower, see the point from where St Columba set sail for Scotland in the 6th Century and, on a clear day, catch a glimpse of the west coast of Scotland. The Glencolumcille Peninsula in southwest

Donegal boasts the Drum (13km) and Tower (10km) looped walks, where you can enjoy wonderful views from Beefan and Gaveross Mountain and take in the 5,000 year old Mannernamortee megalithic tomb, in the case of the former, while the latter will bring you to a Martello Tower. ATTRACTIONS: Visit the home of Donegal tweed at Studio Donegal at Kilcar or pop into Leo’s Tavern in Crolly for a bite to eat and a session in this award winning live music venue - it’s where Leo’s famous daughters Moya Brennan, of Clannad, and Enya honed their craft. BEACH: Once named by the Observer as the second best beach in the world (behind a tropical paradise in the Seychelles), Ballymastocker feels a long way from the stresses and strains of the modern world. Located on the western side of Lough Swilly between Rathmullan and Fanad Head, it offers a mesmerising vista towards the Inishowen Peninsula. For more information visit www. wildatlanticway.com.


27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

ADVERTISING FEATURE

Stay at the Grand Central, Bundoran

‘The Coolest Break on The Planet’

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onegal was the Coolest Place On The Planet 2017, voted for by The National Geographic Traveller Magazine. The editors highlighted the following factors as the main reasons; the Donegal weather, Blue Flag beaches and off shore islands. This unbelievable endorsement will showcase the wonders that surround us at The Redcastle Oceanfront Golf & Spa Hotel. The Redcastle 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.

Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 09

T To make it easier to visit, we have launched the ‘Coolest Break On The Planet’, an opportunity to discover this part of Ireland at the Redcastle Hotel, Inishowen. Enjoy a luxurious 2 night stay including breakfast plus a delicious three course evening meal & glass of sparkling wine each from only €119pps. 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. ÷ Contact the Redcastle Oceanfront, Golf & Spa Hotel W: www.redcastlehotel.com E: reservations@redcastlehotel.com T: +353(0)74 9385555

he 3 star Grand Central Hotel is situated right in the heart of Bundoran town centre, just two minutes’ walk from the Blue Flag beach. Whether enjoying a short break with friends, spending time with the family, or visiting for a surf break, the Grand Central Hotel is the ideal destination. Stroll the promenade and take in the fresh briny breeze and stunning views across the bay. Savour traditional Irish flavours in the Wild Atlantic Bar & Restaurant or simply relax, unwind and enjoy the craic with the locals. Enjoy free wi-fi internet access in the bar and lobby.

At the Grand Central Hotel you can be sure of fantastic friendly service, great location and excellent value. The Wild Atlantic Bar, our traditional Bundoran pub with natural wood furniture and stone floors, warmly welcomes everyone. Wild Atlantic Bar & Restaurant is an inviting place to socialise, sing, and relax. At the Grand Central we know that the most important part of your stay in a hotel is your night’s sleep. Comfort, space and care feature in all our 63 bedrooms. Picture yourself sinking into a deep mattress, resting your head on a pillow that seems made for you alone and covering yourself in crisp white bed linen and you will be assured that at the Grand Central your night’s sleep is top priority. ÷ Contact us to book your perfect Bundoran break in Grand Central Hotel, Main Street, Bundoran, Co. Donegal W: www.grandcentralhotel.com T: +353 (0) 71 984 2722 E: info@grandcentralbundoran.com


10 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

ADVERTISING FEATURE

Somethingfor everyoneat

The Sliabh League Distillery

Radisson Blu

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ocated only one hour and 45 minutes from Belfast, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, is the heart of north-west Ireland, and offers a unique experience for every type of visitor. Base yourself in Donegal’s largest town to combine the best urban experiences with a Wild Atlantic Way Adventure. 4* Radisson Blu Hotel and Health Club welcomes guests with warm hospitality and is ideally located in the heart of Letterkenny. Boasting 114 guest rooms and suites, the hotel offers AA Rosette award winning food and a fully equipped leisure centre with gym, pool, sauna, and steam room.

Wake up to the West... Letterkenny offers an excellent choice of pubs, night clubs, restaurants and an array of indoor and outdoor activities. “We have something to suit all types of visitors from families, to young couples, groups, outdoor enthusiasts or those simply looking to escape and unwind.” Now is the time to make the trip and discover Letterkenny for yourself! Telephone: 00353 74 919 4444 Website: radissonblu.com/ hotel-letterkenny Email: info.letterkenny@ radissonblu.com or find us on Facebook!

There’s even more to see and do along the west coast this year with new attractions... DONEGAL DISTILLERY

The Sliabh Liag Distillery’s An Dúlamán Gin Palace, is a family owned craft distillery making a unique Irish Maritime Gin in a hand made copper pot still using seaweed foraged locally. www.sliabhliagdistillery.com

OURGANIC GARDENS

Learn the lost food skills of Donegal at one day workshops at Cashel na gCorr, Gortahork, Co Donegal. Monthly themes include bee keeping in July and seaweed gathering in October, etc. and the event also includes a tour of the gardens and refreshments on arrival. Drop in on the open days, Tuesdays

or Thursdays throughout growing season. www.ourganicgardens.ie

WRITING RETREAT

Make for Gweedore, County Donegal, for a week-long, creative writing school on June 25 – July 1 or September 24 – 30. Teaching takes place over several, fun-packed days including boat trips, guided mountain walks, Irish language and dance classes and trad music in the evenings. www.irelandwritingretreat.com

A TASTY TREAT

Pay a visit to Clarke’s Salmon Smokery, O’Rahilly Street, Ballina, Co Mayo. On the


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 11

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph Beautiful Connemara

Clew Bay with its islands

landscape studded with lakes, then relax at a nearby castle for a marvellous lunch. www.connemarawildescapes.ie

THE CLADDAGH EXPERIENCE

tour of the smokery, you’ll hear stories about fishing on the river Moy and witness a demonstration. www.clarkes.ie

REWILD YOURSELF

Discover your wild side in the rugged landscape of mountain, bog and lake at Newport, Co Mayo. Terra Firma Tours will take you through magnificent mountain and moorland landscapes. Go wild camping overnight, stargazing under the darkest skies and waking up to the spectacular vista over the islands of Clew Bay. www.terrafirmaireland.ie

TEA AND TRADITIONS

Behold an age-old tradition being played

out firsthand on Glen Keen Sheep Farm at Louisburgh, Mayo’s gateway to wild and gorgeous Connemara. Experience an impressive sheepdog herding display, followed by a wool spinning demonstration, followed by Glen Keen tea and scones. www.glenkeenfarm.com

Walk in the footsteps of saints and kings on the Claddagh Experience with cultural historian and storyteller Brian Nolan. Be regaled with fascinating tales of Alexander Nimmo, Saint Brendan the Navigator, Christopher Columbus, the Vikings and the Normans. Join a local skipper and real-life nephew of a long line of Kings of the Claddagh for a trip on Galway Bay, then enjoy tea in Katie’s Claddagh Cottage in front of a real turf fire. www.claddaghdesigns.ie

ISLAND SANCTUARY

Hook up with Scattery Island Tours at

HOME FROM HOME

At Doolin Music House, Co Clare, you can visit musician Christy Barry and his artist partner Sheila in their own home. www.doolinmusichouse.com

LITERATURE AND LAUGHS

Visit John B Keane’s Pub, 37 William Street, Listowel, Co Kerry for an insight into the controversial and widely loved figure. The pub’s theatre runs a series of 40-minute plays performed on the very premises where Keane wrote works like ‘Moll’ and his masterpiece, ‘The Field’. Learn to pull a pint of Guinness, and enjoy the storytelling from Keane’s son and fellow author, Billy. www.facebook.com/JohnBKeane

JUMP INTO KERRY

LIVING HISTORY IN CONNEMARA

What was it like to be the doomed leader of Ireland’s 1916 Rising? Or the first pilots to fly non-stop across the Atlantic? Find out on the Connemara Wild Escapes tour to Patrick Pearse’s Cottage at the Connemara Cultural Centre in Rosmuc. Situated in the heart of the Gaeltacht, it’s a truly immersive experience of the Irish language and culture. Explore the wonderful bogland

Merchants Quay, Kilrush, Co Clare, for an unforgettable trip. The island is home to a monastery consisting of a round tower and several churches, founded by St. Senan in the early 6th century, as well as a lighthouse and artillery battery and visitors’ exhibition. Scattery Island Tours offers a daily scheduled ferry service from May to September with complimentary guided walking tours plus lunch available from June to August. www.scatteryislandtours.com

Musician Christy Barry, at home in Doolin

Wild Water Adventures, north Kerry, offer coasteering, open water swimming and wild swimming along the spectacular rocky coastline of Kerry Head. Wearing a warm winter wetsuit, a helmet and a buoyancy aid, you will be guided through sea arches and caves, get washed through channels, explore caves, jump off cliffs and rocks, splash, dive and swim. www.wildwateradventures.ie


12 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Cork city at night

Climbing down to Glendalough Monastic Site in Wicklow

Look beyond the fun present and find the riches of the

Ancient East

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t’s easy to have a great holiday in the historic eastern counties of Ireland without delving beneath the surface. Its beautiful beaches, buzzing cities and gorgeous natural scenery are enough to keep everyone happy. However, the region is dubbed Ireland’s Ancient East for good reason. This is where you can immerse yourself in 5,000 years of fascinating history, culture and tradition, with legendary tales told through medieval landmarks. Through formal guided tours or encounters with locals you can unearth the weird and wonderful stories of the past, of the Viking and Norman eras, country manors and magnificent castles, ancient burial grounds and grand gardens, maritime gateways and haunted houses.

CORK CITY

In Cork City, you’ll discover history, culture and fantastic restaurants all in easy walking distance. The best way to get an overview of Cork City is from the top of one of the frequent open top tour buses. This will give you the lay of the land from the start, so you can plan your day and decide which of the many attractions to visit. The Shandon area of the city is a maze of winding streets just inviting you to explore them. Climb the bell tower at St Anne’s Church for a bird’s eye view of the city while listening to the famous Shandon Bells. Well worth a stop is the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in University College Cork – a peaceful stroll through the campus will bring you to the nearby Fitzgerald Park and you will realise what a compact and friendly city it is. There are many excellent eateries around the city – so why not try the Huguenot quarter,

Cork street art

A butter slip in Kilkenny

A master glass blower at Waterford Crystal, one of the city’s treasures

Kilkenny Castle Horse racing at The Curragh The Cork Opera House, Crawford Gallery and the culinary delights of the English Market beckon - it’s one of the oldest municipal markets of its kind in the world!

KILDARE

The horse holds a special place in national affections and The Curragh has long been its most famed playground. From chariot racing in ancient times to its modern day racecourse, this flat plain has raised many spirits and pulses. A walk in its vast expanse of sheepgrazed land is popular with many, but as you delve deeper into this storied place try to imagine the roaring of race cars. It was here, in July 1903, that the United Kingdom’s first international motor race was held – hosted in Ireland because British laws at the time would not allow it. As a mark of gratitude to the Irish, the British teams painted their cars a special colour – British Racing Green! Kildare is also home to some of the country’s best attractions, including the magical Lullymore Heritage Park and the Irish National Stud and Gardens.

Barge holidays are a popular way to get around Kildare

KILKENNY

The medieval heart of Kilkenny city is marvellously atmospheric. A great deal of its old character remains intact, particularly in the little side streets – the butter slips – where the denizens of Marble City have trod for centuries. Did you know Kilkenny woman Dame Alice Kyteler was the first Irish person to be condemned for witchcraft? Alice’s legend lives on in one of the great Kilkenny pubs, Kyteler’s, which dates from 1324, and was reputedly established by the Dame herself. A perfect place to try a local legend, Smithwick’s, which has been brewed since 1710. Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile Museum is also well worth exploring. It tells the story behind Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and the wealthy merchants

Tour Waterford city on the sightseeing train

who built and attended St Mary’s church and ruled the city between 1200 and 1650. While there a visit to the Kilkenny Design Centre is a must – it’s home to some of the best Irish fashion and crafts.

WATERFORD

Ireland’s oldest city – founded more than 1,100 years ago – is forever linked with the Vikings. These ferocious Scandinavian invaders gave it its name and created a settlement here and their story lives on in the aptly named Viking Triangle. It’s here, in the centre of Waterford city, that you can learn just why they provoked such terror in the trio of the great museums, collectively known as the Waterford Treasures. They cover the Viking years, the city’s remarkable medieval past and its more recent Georgian era. Finally the popular Epic Tour of The Viking Triangle is a super-fun way to pound the pavements for a history lesson with a difference!


14 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide WEXFORD

This corner of the country has stunning coastlines and exciting activities to keep everyone entertained. Why not jump on your bike and explore the Norman Way on two wheels. Discover the history of the Norman invasion and how they first landed on Irish soil in Wexford, as you pedal from site to site and work up an appetite – then pause for your picnic on one of the many stunning beaches along the way. The Norman Way cycle route forms part of the EuroVelo – a series of 15 cycle routes across the European continent – starting at Rosslare Harbour, with the Wexford leg finishing at the Ballyhack Ferry. Be sure to visit the world’s oldest working lighthouse – Hook Lighthouse. Fully guided tours are rewarded with breathtaking views of the south east coast. Book a sunrise or sunset tour, a seafood banquet, or a traditional fish and chip supper tour and turn a visit into an event, see www.hookheritage.ie for details.

You can climb to the top of Hook Lighthouse

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018 Wicklow Gaol

Events full of Eastern promise The eastern counties are perfect for fun-lovers, history buffs, adventure seekers and children of all ages and the summer months bring a wealth of festivals and events that will enrich your understanding of this vibrant region. Check out what’s happening and experience the magic this summer...

WATERFORD GARDEN TRAIL, MAY 4 – SEPTEMBER 30

Bray Air Display

SUMMERFEST CARLOW, JULY 21 – 22

The Waterford Garden Trail boasts a range of Summerfest Carlow is a brand new music festival events and includes gardens of the great old coming to Carlow town this July. Oak Park, Carlow houses as well as garden centres. Rugby Club’s ground will play host to the festival, which will feature some of the biggest country KILKENNY ROOTS FESTIVAL 2018, and western artists from Ireland.

WICKLOW

The forbidding edifice of Wicklow Gaol has been a feature of life in Wicklow’s county town since 1702 and is still known by the grim monicker, ‘The Gates of Hell’. Today, it offers an Irish museum experience quite unlike any other and the modern visitor can still get a sense of what it was like to be incarcerated here and the scrawled graffiti of long-dead prisoners offers a tangible link with the past. Whilst in Wicklow be sure to visit the Glendalough Monastic Site and Visitor Centre. It’s nestled in the spectacular scenery known as Ireland’s Garden County and one of Ireland’s most famous landmarks. The county is also home to splendid attractions such as the fascinating Russborough House and the beautiful Powerscourt House and Gardens. For more great stories and exciting things to do and see plan your next break on www.irelandsancienteast.com

MAY 4 – 7

Discover Kilkenny’s medieval streets and your BRAY AIR DISPLAY 2018, next favourite band at the much-loved Kilkenny JULY 28 – 29 Roots Festival as it celebrates its 21st birthday. The skies over Bray will burst into action at the end of July with the return of the annual Bray Air UISNEACH BEALTAINE FIRE Display, one of the most popular tourist events in CELEBRATION, MAY 5 the whole country. The Hill of Uisneach in Westmeath has played a role in many significant events of Irish history, CARLINGFORD OYSTER FESTIVAL, with relics found there dating back as far as the AUGUST 9 – 13 Neolithic era. The Carlingford Oyster Festival is an opportunity for the seaside town to celebrate its heritage and HOOKED ON THE SEA FESTIVAL, one of its most famous exports.

JUNE 2 – 4

The Hook Lighthouse will host a celebration of THE LITTLE FESTIVAL AT THE BIG our maritime heritage with the Hooked On The HOUSE, AUGUST 18 – 19 Sea Festival on the June Bank Holiday weekend. The Wells House and Gardens are teaming up with the Wexford Arts Centre to present The CORK MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL, Little Festival at The Big House this August in JUNE 15 – 24 Ballyedmond, just outside Gorey. Cork Midsummer Festival is a ten-day multi-disciplinary arts festival that takes place each summer For more great festivals check out and uses Cork City as its backdrop and inspiration. irelandsancienteast.com


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 15

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph where Reginald’s Tower and the King of the Vikings experiences are. www.waterfordtreasures.com

The Longest Viking Sword in the World in Waterford

HIGH JINX

Munster Vales is in the heart of Munster incorporating the Comeragh, Knockmealdown, Galtee, Ballyhoura and Nagles mountains. It offers activity breaks with cultural and heritage offerings – Ancient Trails & Legendary Tales. www.munstervales.com

RELAX IN CORK

WHAT’S NEW? Old and new come together for the latest offerings from the eastern counties. Here’s what’s new in the Ancient East…

ALL IRELAND FLEADH

Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann 2018 moves around the country and this year it’s the turn of Drogheda, Co Louth, to play host from August 12-19. Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann is the world’s largest annual celebration of Irish music, language, song and dance. It will feature workshops for young musicians, competi-

Nano Nagle Place is an unexpected oasis in the centre of bustling Cork City which opened this year. Nano Nagle, who lived in the city in the 18th century, founded the Presentation Sisters and dedicated her life to serving the poor. The

centre celebrates her vision of empowerment through education, inclusion and spiritual engagement for a contemporary world. The complex houses a heritage centre, gardens, a café and shop and is open seven days per week with guided tours at 11am and 3pm daily. nanonagleplace.ie

CROSS OVER

The new Scenic Carlingford Ferry, based at Greenore Port, Co Louth, is more than simply a means of getting across Carlingford Lough. It offers an opportunity to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Cooley Carlingford and Mourne area on this 15-20 minute ferry crossing. It operates from 6.30am - 6.30pm, Monday to Friday, and 9.30am - 6.30pm at weekends. carlingfordferry.com

tions, concerts, singing, céilis and lots of fun throughout the week. www.fleadhdrogheda.ie

RECORD BREAKING VIKING SWORD FOR WATERFORD CITY

The Guinness Book of Records’ Longest Viking Sword in the world has arrived in Bailey’s New Street. This wooden sculpture is 23 metres long. Carved from a native giant douglas fir tree by a team of four, led by Waterford tree carver John Hayes, it includes a series of panels along the tree which tell the story of the area’s Viking heritage, including the Vikings’ journey from Norway to Waterford, Reginald’s Tower, the romance of Aoife and Strongbow, and the link between Waterford’s Vikings and the town of York. It is installed in the Viking Triangle

Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann brings music onto the streets of Drogheda this summer


16 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Top 10

Rathbeggan Lakes

things to do in

Meath

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eath might not be the first that come to mind when you’re thinking of taking a break... and yet it’s home to some major destinations that are very much at the top of people’s lists of places to go for a day, a short break or longer. It’s the area that more than anywhere justifies the tag, Ireland’s Ancient East, with historic landmarks like the Hill of Tara and Newgrange. Its thoroughly modern appeal is to be found in huge draws such as Tayto Park, Ireland’s only theme park, Funtasia and Rathbeggan Lakes. Head for Drogheda this August to hear the best trad music in the world when the town hosts the all Ireland finals, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann or go this May Bank Holiday weekend for Drogheda Arts Festival. Here’s our top 10 of places you won’t want to miss in Meath.

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TAYTO PARK AND ZOO is already a huge hit with Northern Ireland families and a major investment over the past couple of years has seen new attractions, including the Viking Voyage at the Park water flume ride and the World of Raptors birds of prey demonstration, adding to its appeal. Thrill-seekers love the gravity-defying Rotator, the Power

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IRISH MILITARY WAR MUSEUM At this popular museum, near Drogheda, you can actually learn to drive a tank and take home a dog tag licence! The museum has everything from reconstructed WWI trenches to original weapons you can try out. Its next Family Fun Day is on May 5 when you can tour the museum, let the kids loose on the inflatables and join in the barbecue. See www. irishmilitarywarmuseum.com.

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THE BOYNE VALLEY is just an hour down the M1 Surge and The Cú Chufrom Belfast and is packed lainn Coaster, while kids with interest, not least the adore Dinosaurs Alive, a Battle of the Boyne Visilife-size animatronic dinotor Centre in picturesque saur exhibition, featuring a Oldbridge. You can see the Tyrannosaurus Rex, StegoTayto Park and Zoo uniforms and artillery of the saurus and Apatosaurus. Take Williamite and Jacobite camps a steam train tour of the Park and before the famous battle. Follow the take your pick of eateries. To find out Townley Hall Woods Trail through the batmore go to www.taytopark.ie. tle site or take a leisurely, self guided stroll through the grounds of Oldbridge Estate. RATHBEGGAN LAKES began life as a See battleoftheboyne.ie. trout fishing destination but has evolved to become a Family Adventure Park with a NEWGRANGE. This World Heritage Site, Bounce and Playground Zone, High Kings in the Boyne Valley, is over 5,200 years Tower Zone with zipline and high ropes old and thought to predate the Pyramids course and Water Zone with fishing, obstacle at Giza. It’s a passage tomb built by Stone course, paddle boats and water rollers, see Age farmers, surrounded by 97 large stones www.rathbegganlakes.com. called kerbstones, some of which are engraved with megalithic art. Access to the FUNTASIA, at Bettystown, Drogheda, is monument is via the Brú na Bóinne Visitors’ packed with entertainment for all the Centre, which has an excellent guided tour. family. Aside from the water park with its See www.newgrange.com. water slides and helter skelters, pirates’ cove for younger children and jacuzzi for SLANE CASTLE AND DISTILLERY Situadults, Funtasia offers bowling, zipline, ated in a dramatic setting by the river climbing wall, crazy golf, playzones and more. Boyne, Slane Castle has been home to the Visit www.funtasia.ie. Conyngham family since 1703. Tours cover the

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family’s colourful history and stories about the world famous rock concerts. You can also tour Slane Distillery and sample a taste of the estate’s signature triple casked blend, Slane Irish Whiskey.

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THE ROYAL COUNTY was the ancient seat of the High Kings and the summit of the Hill of Tara offers an evocative glimpse into another era as well as an amazing panorama. As well as being the traditional inauguration site of the ancient High Kings of Ireland, Tara features in the stories of key historic figures from St. Patrick to Daniel O’Connell, who chose that spot for a major speech.

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LOUGHCREW ESTATE AND GARDENS Birthplace of the Irish martyr St Oliver Plunkett, the estate at Oldcastle is home not only to the ruins of the saint’s home church but also an adventure centre, beautiful gardens and cairns or ancient passage tombs believed to predate even the more famous ones at Newgrange.

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TRIM is a town with an intriguing heritage and home to Europe’s largest Norman castle, which featured in the movie Braveheart. As well as taking a guided tour of Trim Castle, visitors can see where St. Patrick built a church on the banks of the Boyne as well as ruins of monasteries and churches, not least the Yellow Steeple, which overlooks the town opposite Trim Castle. Famous former residents include Jonathan Swift and the Duke of Wellington. Visit Trim Visitor Centre when you’re there to find out more. For more information on attractions, accommodation, food and events, see www.discoverboynevalley.ie.


27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

ADVERTISING FEATURE

Familybreaksat

Ardboyne Hotel It’s all happening this summer in the Boyne Valley and the Ardboyne Hotel on the Dublin road in Navan is the perfect spot to base yourself. The hotel is situated a short 25 minute drive from Tayto Park – Ireland’s only theme park – and 25 minutes from Rathbeggan lakes, County Meath’s family adventure park. The hotel’s family packages include one and two day tickets to Tayto Park, one and two day packages to Rathbeggan Lakes and even packages that include both. There are also packages available for Funtasia waterpark in Drogheda – for those days when the weather just isn’t behaving. The Ardboyne Hotel is also situated right in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. Newgrange Monument is a short 20 minute drive away and Slane Castle and the new whiskey distillery is a mere 10km out the road.

In the evening, treat yourselves and the kids to the hotel’s extensive a la carte menu in the Kells Bar or Hugo’s restaurant. Weekly specials ensure you will be spoilt for choice. Their spacious family rooms make for a very comfortable stay and the amazing full Irish the next morning in Hugo’s restaurant will have you set up for the day’s activities! For more information on these and all of their family packages visit www.ardboynehotel.com.

Tour the Ancient East from the Newgrange Hotel

Castle Arch Hotel — a Trim jewel Trim in County Meath will be buzzing with activity this summer. Between visitors to the famous Trim Castle, activity on the river with Boyne adventures and tourists discovering this pretty heritage town. The jewel in the crown of this heritage town is the beautiful Castle Arch Hotel.

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fter a long, cold 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 luxurious Newgrange Hotel, right in the heart of Navan town, has some amazing family packages this summer. The hotel’s family packages include one and two day tickets to either Tayto Park, Rathbeggan Lakes or both for maximum family fun. These huge attractions are both a short 25 minute drive away. Funtasia waterpark in Drogheda can also be included included.

Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 17 Steeped in history, this boutique hotel is the perfect place for discovering Trim and beyond. The hotel is situated a short 25 minute drive from Tayto Park and 25 minutes from Rathbeggan lakes — County Meath’s Family Adventure Park. The hotel’s family packages include one and two day tickets to Tayto Park, one and two day packages to Rathbeggan Lakes and even packages that include both. There are also packages available for Funtasia waterpark in Drogheda. Trim Castle is a short five minute walk from the hotel and the beautiful river walk. In the evening, you can choose from the delicious a la Carte menu in the Arch Bar and Lounge. Its mouth-watering carvery is also available seven days a week and there’s a range of weekly specials to choose from. Its family rooms are spacious and comfortable and the breakfast menu includes a full Irish breakfast in the Arch restaurant. For further details visit www. castlearchhotel.com

Newgrange Monument is a short 20 minute drive from the hotel and Slane Castle and the new Whiskey distillery is just 10km away. Newgrange Hotel guests can choose from the delicious ala Carte menu in the Bridge Restaurant or Rowleys Bar for their evening meal, or opt for something delicious from the carvery or one of the specials. Their stylish, comfortable family rooms have plenty of space and the excellent full Irish breakfast is perfect for setting everyone up for a day’s fun. For more information on these and all of its family packages visit www.newgrangehotel.ie.


18 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Enniskillen Castle

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018 round tower where the Celtic monks tried to evade the murderous Vikings, and White Island with its mysterious stone sculptures, as well as historic houses and the musuem in the castle itself. Castle Archdale, near Lisnarick, is always worth a visit for those who enjoy a walk in gorgeous surroundings and it’s where the RAF set up a base during WWII - find out more at the Centenary Celebration weekend on May 26-27. Stop off on the way at the lovely Manor House Hotel for a great meal.

The view from Castle Archdale, photo by Stevie Lawn

You can take the girl out of

Fermanagh...

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arvary Hill, on the back road from Fivemiletown to Enniskillen, is one of those jewels in Fermanagh’s crown and one of my favourite places in the world, writes Fiona Rutherford. It follows an unremarkable drive, lifted by the approach to Tempo where arching trees form a leafy canopy that continues through corner after corner. It’s not as dramatic as the Dark Hedges but in spring and summer, it’s beautiful and in autumn, it’s like wheeling through a tunnel of fire. The trees give way to Tempo where the narrow street means single file traffic. A couple of miles further on and suddenly, you’re at Garvary, the world falls away and you have a panoramic view of Enniskillen with Belmore Mountain beyond. It’s a sight that has made my heart sing over the years. “You’re home,” it whispers,

SHOP AND EAT

although I have lived more years away from Enniskillen than I spent growing up there. The town, which is surrounded entirely by water, has changed immeasurably over the decades and has continued to blossom following the facelift for the G8 summit in 2013. There’s a connectedness that many other towns don’t enjoy and even better, you can leave the car and bring your boat to do the weekly shop if you like. Most recently, the area around the Fermanagh Lakeland Forum has been landscaped and you can now stroll right along the riverside and unpack a picnic with great views of the water and Enniskillen Castle.

BEAUTY SPOTS

While it’s hard to escape the endless rounds of tea in my mum’s kitchen, sometimes it’s possible to get out and enjoy the sights. There are too many slices of perfection in Fermanagh to be able to include them all. Take almost any road and you’ll find yourself

getting glimpses of incredible scenery ... the Lough Shore Road which takes you to Belleek and Bundoran lives up to its name, hugging the shores of Lower Lough Erne and offering beautiful vistas. Stop off at the Lough Erne Resort for a coffee or a meal or book into the spa. Take a detour to Lough Navar Viewpoint for the best vantage point over the country’s finest sights. Another superb vantage point is Topped Mountain, beside Garvary. An easy climb is rewarded with amazing 360 degree views as far as Donegal and Sligo. The National Trust properties are lovely for walks... Cuilcagh Mountain and the Marble Arch Caves are close to Florencecourt House while Castle Coole is just on the outskirts of Enniskillen. Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of outdoorsy activity in the area, from kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, fishing and water-skiing to golf, caving, hiking, abseiling and bouldering. History buffs have ancient sights galore to explore, not least Devenish Island with its

Enniskillen thrives on the trade from across the border and as a result, has a great mix of high street and local, independent shops as well as the Buttermarket, where local artists and crafters work. There’s no shortage of good gastro pubs and hotels while a firm favourite for a night out is Franco’s Restaurant, where the eternally youthful Betty Sweeney makes sure everyone is well looked after. Its neighbours, Dolakis and the Kamal Mahal are excellent for Greek and Indian cuisine and they’re all just off the main Townhall Street and Darling Street where most of the pubs are. Blake’s of the Hollow ticks all the boxes, with its basement restaurant, Cafe Merlot, its old bar and snug where you’ll often get a trad session and its trendy upper floors. These days, you’re more likely to find me in Claire McElholm’s opticians getting an eye test than downing a Guinness in the Hollow, however, there’s still plenty of craic to be had from a weekend at home. When we leave, it’s always with the thought that some day we might move back. Over time, that view of the town from Garvary would become less thrilling but I’ve no doubt it would remain just as beautiful to me.


20 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

ADVERTISING FEATURE

Love

the lakelands this summer

DelveintotheArignaMiningExperience

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he 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 as your tour guide 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 located close to the borders of Sligo and Leitrim and located 12 miles from Carrick-on-Shannon. The centre is open 10-5pm daily all year. Visit www.arignaminingexperience.ie or phone 00353 7196 46466 for further details.

If you’ve made the decision to holiday at home this summer – excellent choice! Ireland has it all, from stunning coastlines to serene lakelands. It’d be foolish not to explore the cerulean paradise on our doorstep...

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hile our breathtaking rugged coastline lures swarms of tourists, our lakelands are every bit as beautiful and well worth a visit. Not only offering outstanding natural beauty, these inland beauty spots have lots of great places to stay and play, as well as visitor attractions to keep the whole family entertained. Failte Ireland has recently unveiled its plans to encourage more visitors to explore this region, dubbed ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’, an area teaming with lakes, walkways and blueways, or water trails. The River Shannon will take centre stage with lots to do both on and off the water and in the towns surrounding it. Visitors

Cavan Burren Park are encouraged to get ‘active in nature’ and to go off-the-beaten-track through a range of activities including walking, food, cycling, fishing and boating routes.


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 21

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Athlone

Starting with the fabulous Fermanagh Lakelands, a mecca for celebrity anglers, there are luxurious hotels as well as award winning caravan parks and campsites on offer. Attractions include the Marble Arch Caves and Castle Coole and Belleek Pottery. The Fermanagh Lakelands merge seamlessly into the Cavan Lakelands where the majestic River Shannon has its humble beginnings in the Shannon Pot. Cavan has a thriving arts and music scene and its Burren is part of the famous Geopark housing the Marble Arch Caves. From Cavan, head south west to Lough Allen, one of the larger loughs off the Shannon. It’s the perfect base from which to explore Leitrim and Roscommon, the latter home to the popular Arigna Mining Experience. Visitors gain a unique insight into what coal mining life was like, from its beginning in the 1700s until closure in 1990. Head further south for Carrick-on-Shannon, a pretty and vibrant town with a pic-

Lough Allen Adventure Centre

of Westmeath and Roscommon, and has the perfect blend of a fascinating historic quarter and a buzzing commercial centre. The town’s castle gives panoramic views of the surrounding area and functions as a museum and visitor centre. On the outskirts of the town, Lough Ree is a hive of activity in the summer months with sailing, kayaking, pier jumping, Chinese dragon boating and the tallest floating slide in the worldcare of Baysports. Follow the Shannon as it winds south west and you’re in Lough turesque marina. Nearby is the 800-hectare Derg, not to be mistaken for the isLough Key Forest Park, where you can camp, land of the same name in Co Donhave fun in the adventure park or relax and egal which pilgrims flock to each take in the gorgeous views at the marina. summer. This Lough Derg laps To go off the beaten track even more, the edges of Clare, Galway and the winding stretch from Carrick to Tipperary and offers a vast Athlone is soul-soothingly rural array of watersports with verdant sloping fields, as well as horse ancient bogs and charming riding in the survillages like Roosky near rounding hills. the Leitrim Roscommon Other visitor border with its distincattractions tive stone bridge. Activinclude the Brian Boru ities in the Roosky area Heritage Centre and include golf, horse ridPortumna Castle with ing, boating and angling. its quirky maze. Stop off at ClonmacThe final stop is Limnoise in Co Offaly, explore erick City, where the the visitor centre and the Shannon spills into the thunruins of the 6th century monderous Atlantic. Limerick is a astery founded by St Ciaran en bustling university town with a big route to Athlone. This is the main Killaloe at rugby tradition. Visitors can explore town of the midlands, on the border Lough Derg King John’s Castle or trace Frank

McCourt’s footsteps on an Angela’s Ashes walking tour. There are also guided tours of the city, which are great for finding out about the city’s lively arts scene. So, whether you love water, or exploring historic towns, the Hidden Heartlands are waiting to be discovered. Visit: discoverisland.ie discovernorthernireland.com


22 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Have a capital time!

Dressing up for Bloomsday with At It Again

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he villages around Dublin – Dún Laoghaire, Bray, Portmarnock etc make perfect bases for a family holiday. Beaches and lively seaside resorts are surrounded by beautiful mountains offering spectacular views – and the city is literally minutes away. Spend a morning on the beach, take the kids kiteboarding and in the afternoon explore one of the city’s attractions, from the zoo in Phoenix Park to Trinity College to Glasnevin Cemetery. The beauty of a break in the city is the choice of things to do in the evening, with or without kids in tow, and there’s a wealth of theatres to choose from, not to mention music venues. Dublin has a great cinema heritage and the recently reopened Stella in Rathmines puts the glamour back in the film-going experience. And if it’s those smaller independent cinemas you love, Dublin has several, including The Lighthouse in Smithfield, an architectural delight, while The Irish Film In-

stitute in Temple Bar is the leading arthouse cinema in the south. This May Bank Holiday sees the launch of a new festival in the city: Vinyl Weekend Festival, on May 5–7, includes more than 60 events featuring musicians, producers, designers and filmmakers celebrating the legacy of vinyl records. It’s all happening at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, which is worth a visit at any time, and the festival makes the most of its expansive grounds, Great Hall, Baroque Chapel and cobblestone courtyard. The line up, whether for ‘conversation’ or music, is a

Avid Joyceans from all over the world descend on the city each year for all sorts of fun and frivolity. A major draw for families is Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular which brings international street performers, music and food to Merrion Square over July 6–8 and a fortnight later, on July High jinx on 19–22, the Festival of Curiosity returns Killiney Hill with interactive installations, pop-up playgrounds, theatre, art, and night time who’s who of the music industry over decades, events popping up across the city. including Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde and Among the free attractions is a thought Snow Patrol as well as actors of the calibre provoking art exhibition in The Coach House of Martin Freeman and Cillian Murphy. at Dublin Castle from now until June. Coming Among the exhibitions is Rory Gallagher’s Home: Art and the Great Hunger features vinyl collection. See www.vinyl-dublin.com 50 artworks from Ireland’s Great Hunger for more details. Museum in the USA. Coming Home: Art Of course, there’s barely a week that doesn’t and the Great Hunger is the only exhibition see a festival of some sort in the capital and of its kind in the world and constitutes an another new addition this year is Summer in incomparable direct link to the past of almost the City, on June 24, with The Chainsmokers 6.5 million Irish and 40 million Americans. headlining. June 16 is Bloomsday, the very day in 1904 on which all the action of James See www.visitdublin.com for further Joyce’s renowned novel Ulysses takes place. information.


24 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Get under Dublin’s skin with its

‘talking’ statues

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here are many ways to get around Dublin, but the free walking tours really help you to get under the skin of the city. Download the Dublin Discovery Trails App and take one of the self-guided Dublin Trails and you’ll uncover a heap of stuff that you didn’t know about the city as you stroll from street to street. A new addition visitors to the city will love brings the stories behind 10 of the most interesting statues to life. Simply take your smartphone, swipe on the plaque next to the statue and you will immediately get a call back from Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Cúchulainn and several other figures, both real and imaginary, that have been rendered in bronze and stone. Voiced by such well known figures as Brendan Gleeson and Gabriel Byrne, with words penned by outstanding authors like John Banville and Roddy Doyle, it’s a brilliant way to get to know even more about Dublin. Listen to Oscar-nominated actress Ruth Negga bring to life the angel ‘Fidelity’ beneath the statue of Daniel O’Connell... or the distinct voice of Brendan O’Carroll as he brings James Connolly to life. It’s a totally different side to the man behind Mrs Brown.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin 2

(Written by Arthur Mathews, spoken by Stephen Brennan) This marvellous embodiment of Shaw was sculpted by his great friend, Prince Paul Troubetzkoy – an Italian artist of Russian extraction. Shaw’s famous words about the importance of art feature prominently on the wall behind – appropriate considering the venue. You can also catch some great exhibitions this spring in the Gallery while you’re there including Emil Nold / Colour is Life running until June and Geurcino: A Journey of a Masterpiece running until the end of May.

‘MEETING PLACE’ Lower Liffey Street, Dublin 1

(Written by Rachel Kilfeather, spoken by Brenda Fricker) Dubliners have always loved a good natter, and this evocative statue – nicknamed ‘the Hags with the Bags’ by the city’s wags – captures it beautifully. Sculpted by Jackie McKenna – co-founder of the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, this statue is located by the iconic

Meeting Place

Ha’Penny Bridge and the Woollen Mills – one of Dublin’s vibrant restaurants.

JAMES JOYCE North Earl Street, Dublin 1

(Written by Roddy Doyle, spoken by Gabriel Byrne) There is no writer more associated with Dublin than James Joyce and the streets of the city come alive in his major works, including Dubliners and Ulysses. Marjorie Fitzgibbon’s statue could have found a home in hundreds of Dublin locations with a link to the author, but this site, just off O’Connell Street, offers the perfect starting point to explore his Edwardian city. Nearby, in North Great George’s Street,

you will find the James Joyce Centre, which boasts a treasure trove of Joycean memorabilia and some of the most knowledgeable guides imaginable. James Joyce


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 25

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph DANIEL O’CONNELL O’Connell Street, Dublin 1

(Written by Paula Meehan, spoken by Ruth Negga) One of Dublin’s most famous statues and sculpted by John Henry Foley, the monument is in three parts, surmounted by the figure of O’Connell. The base of the statue is heavy limestone with four winged figures representing Patriotism, Fidelity, Courage and Eloquence. And it is Ruth Negga’s voice that brings to life ‘Fidelity’ and her outlook from where she is sitting beneath Daniel O’Connell. The middle part is of figures representing O’Connell’s labours and triumphs.

JAMES CONNOLLY Beresford Place, Dublin 1

(Written and spoken by Brendan O’Carroll) The Scottish born socialist and republican is revered for his commitment to raising the standard of living for those in impoverished conditions in Dublin which at the time was regarded as the second city of the British Empire. This striking memorial depicts Connolly in front of a starry plough – the image that featured on the flag of the Irish Citizen Army, which the Scot had co-founded. It was also of inspiration to the great playwright Sean O’Casey and to the third in his ‘Dublin Trilogy’, The Plough and the Stars. The footbridge, named in honour of O’Casey, is to be found further up the Liffey and connects the CHQ building (home to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum) on the northside with East Lombard Street on the southside.

OSCAR WILDE Merrion Square, Dublin 2

(Written by John Banville, spoken by Andrew Scott) The great writer was celebrated for his devil-

housed the rebel leaders during the 1916 Rising, and it’s a suitably grand public space to show Oliver Sheppard’s 1935 statue, ‘The Death of Cúchulainn’. While you’re there take time to explore the award-winning GPO Witness History experience which offers an immersive tour through one of the most significant years in Irish history and even those with a detailed knowledge of the conflict are bound to learn something new here.

Andrew Scott and John Banville in front of Oscar Wilde may-care attitude to life and that’s captured in Danny Osborne’s much-loved statue. Oscar reclines on a quartz boulder – sourced in the Wicklow Mountains – and he is flanked by a nude portrayal of his pregnant wife, Constance Lloyd, and a male torso representing Dionysus, the Greek god of drama and wine. The location on the north-western corner of Merrion Square was deliberately chosen: Wilde’s childhood home, Number 1, Merrion Square, is directly across the street.

THEOBALD WOLFE TONE St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 1

(Written by Patrick McCabe, spoken by Brendan Gleeson) The famous revolutionary, immortalised in rousing song, may have been a diminutive man in height, but you would never know that from Edward Delaney’s magnificent 1964 statue. Wolfe Tone stands proud at this corner of St Stephen’s Green. St Stephen’s Green has several statues and other objects of note and one of the best ways to get truly acquainted with it is on Donal Fallon’s ‘Green Mile’ tours that start at the Little Museum of Dublin at

O’Connell Street’s angel ‘Fidelity’

11am every Saturday and Sunday.

JIM LARKIN O’Connell Street, Dublin 1

(Written by Enda Walsh, spoken by Stephen Rea) James Larkin, or ‘Big Jim’, was one of Ireland’s greatest champions of workers’ rights and he was ever-present during the country’s toughest labour-relations battle, the 1913 Strike and Lock-out. Oisin Kelly’s 1980 statue features the great trade unionist in typically combative mode and its O’Connell Street location, at the junction with Abbey Street, could hardly be more apt. In Larkin’s day this was where the greatest concentration of trams were to be found in the city – and it was the wealthy tram owners that the ordinary, blue collar workers of the city stood up to. Today, the Luas red line crosses this same point.

CÚCHULAINN GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1

(Written by Eoin Colfer, spoken by Peter Coonan) This figure of myth and legend is housed in the General Post Office. Few buildings are as mythologised as much as this place that

GEORGE SALMON Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2

(Written and spoken by Joe Duffy) A man with a scientific and religious mind, George Salmon was professor of mathematics for many years as well as a Church of Ireland rector. He was provost of Ireland’s oldest university during its tricentenary celebrations in 1892. Today, a great deal of the Trinity he loved remains exactly the same and students continue to walk over the same cobblestones and congregate around the same playing fields. And there is something magical about walking through the main entrance at College Green and escaping the clamour. But, like any great university, there’s change too. Its newer buildings include the Science Gallery, on Pearse Street – a must not just for science nuts, but also those with a fascination with how the world works – and the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art near Grand Canal Quay. Performances from students there are open to the public. For lots more on Talking Statues check out www.talkingstatuesdublin.ie. For help to plan your next trip to Dublin, go to www.visitdublin.com.


26 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

village with a lot of bottle The

You don’t have to be a fan of the hard stuff to have a soft landing in Bushmills, Georgina Hatch found...

T

he waiter looked rather gobsmacked when informed that my husband did not drink whiskey. We were, after all, in the tasting room-cum-convivial-pub that forms the heart of The Old Distillery in our favourite village of Bushmills. For those of us who love the lush rural countryside on the north coast of County Antrim, Bushmills is the ideal spot, just 60 miles from Belfast and located conveniently close to the glorious Giants Causeway and

The Giant’s Causeway the popular holiday towns of Portrush, Ballycastle and Coleraine. It owes its name to the River Bush and to a large watermill that was built there in the early 17th century. One of the village’s most visited attractions is The Old Bushmills Distillery which boasts a rich heritage; it’s the oldest working distillery in Ireland and has been around

for more than 400 years. Its triple-distilled whiskey is legendary far and wide and even boasts numerous literary mentions, including James Joyce’s Ulysses and, more recently, in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larssen). Non-whiskey-drinking-husband notwithstanding, it is well worth a visit just for the atmosphere alone.

GIANT ATTRACTION

Bushmills is beloved by all who visit as a quintessential Northern Irish village with a pub on every corner and a few more in between. There are fewer than 2,000 inhabitants but its inland location on the Causeway Coast attracts thousands of tourists all year round. We northerners are proud to lay claim


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 27

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph to the Giants Causeway which is one of the most amazing places on earth. Tourists, both local and international, are astounded by this natural phenomenon comprising thousands of hexagonal stones stepping gently into the sea. These stones were formed either by the geological processes within an ancient volcano or, as locals would prefer to tell it, the giants of legend who stomped the coastline, raging battles of gargantuan extremes. The story goes that the Irish giant, Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool), from the Fenian Cycle of Gaelic mythology, was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant, Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. The magic and mystery surrounding this legend permeate the village of Bushmills with its old-world buildings and weathered locals.

recoiled from the salty, tangy delicacy that is harvested locally. The strong, briny flavour is an acquired taste, I guess. For such a small town, Bushmills boasts many restaurants and eateries, some of which offer food of gourmet standard. I haven’t tried them all (yet) but can attest to the tantalising menu of Tartine and to the grandeur of the Bushmills Inn Hotel with its myriad charming rooms and fascinating nooks and crannies. Then there are the outstanding local ‘chippies’ and takeaway venues. There is even a café famous not only for its Ulster Fries but also its delicious, authentic Thai food. Foodie visitors can enjoy a Food Tour which is a guide-led stroll around Bushmills, visiting six local venues and being introduced to the passionate people who catch, grow and make the scrumptious local food. Samples

SALMON AND WHISKEY

The River Bush meanders through the town and provides a frequent, joyful sight of leaping salmon. The village’s two celebrated culinary products are honoured annually in the town’s Salmon and Whiskey Festival which this year takes place on June 9–10. The festival incorporates whiskey tasting and cookery demonstrations with restaurants promoting locally sourced salmon and Bushmills Whiskey as key ingredients. Visitors can enjoy live music, dance troupes, street performers, barrel roll, salmon station tour and much more. The oldest tavern in the village is named after the legendary Finn MacCool and it was here that we once shared a bag of dulse, the popular vitamin-rich, reddish-purple seaweed snack, with a group of bemused Canadian tourists. Their mouths pursed, and tongues

The Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival

on offer range from goat bacon to hot toddy scones with drunken jam, and the famous hot-smoked salmon accompanied by a glass of whiskey. Bookings are available through Ballycastle Visitor Information Centre, on 028 2076 2024.

BIG NAMES

Of course, the village is not all about just food and drink. It is fast gaining a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous. The Queen and Prince Philip visited in 2016 and there is now an annual international Polo Tournament which attracts renowned polo players and spectators from all over the world. Its reputation and economy will be enhanced further by the holding of the British Open Golf Tournament in Portrush in 2019. Bushmills is a village that blends past and

The Old Distillery, Bushmills, photos © Northern Ireland Tourist Board present seamlessly. Alongside the modern boutiques and restaurants and quaint gift shops stands the War Memorial, occupying a space in the very centre of the village. The statue, which has been exhibited in the Royal Academy, London, depicts the life-sized bronze figure of a soldier, with fixed bayonet, at the charge. Standing on a high pedestal of granite, the brass tablet on the front of the monument is inscribed to the men of the town who gave their lives for their country in the Great War, 1914 – 1918. Poignantly, in a village of such a small population, there are more than 100 names on the list. Nowadays, Bushmills is a great wee town that fairly buzzes with laughter and chatter and warm, friendly welcomes. We first discovered it on a day trip with our aunt and uncle. So charmed were they by this magical place that they returned the following week and bought a house in the heart of the village – true story. They are now converted locals, having woven themselves into the rich, colourful tapestry of village life. Needless to say, we are regular visitors and continue to delight in the wonderful offerings of this beautiful, charming area – though we are still trying to convince my hubby to drink the whiskey!


28 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

I

t’s becoming more fashionable to take several city breaks rather than opt for the traditional week or fortnight away. This way, you can see more of the world and have weekends to look forward to throughout the year rather than having just one holiday which you daydream about and then feel crushed when you return home. One such city which offers everything in the way of entertainment, dining and relaxation is Belfast. If you’re not from the city, (or even if you are), it’s a vibrant destination to unwind and have fun in. Catering to hens, stags, girly breaks and families, it’s especially good for couples who love to wine and dine. You are certainly spoiled for choice when it comes to hotels in the heart of the city centre. Choose from the Titanic Hotel, or the Fitzwilliam, which is currently undergoing a facelift, to the Ramada Encore or the Europa with its elegant decor and relaxing piano bar lounge. These central hotels are also a short distance from many of Belfast’s top visitor attractions including the Ulster Museum, The MAC, Grand Opera House, City Hall, Titanic Belfast, the Waterfront and the SSE Arena. In the Linen Quarter, the recently opened Maldron Hotel on Brunswick Street offers a pocket-friendly option, and is situated minutes from popular tourist attractions, shops and restaurants. You don’t have to venture far if you’re hungry though as you can enjoy mouthwatering gourmet food options in their Grain and Grill restaurant. Another eating out option is the New York-inspired RBG Bar

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Make a break by Davina Gordon

for

Belfast

The Beacon of Hope, or ‘Nuala with the Hula’

The Cornmarket and Victoria Shopping Centre & Grill at the Park Inn which offers guests an extensive drinks menu to accompany their indoor or al fresco meals. Grill favourites and local flavours allow diners to indulge a little or a lot. For couples or ladies on a girly break, a visit to Rita’s on Franklin Street is a must. This gorgeous boutique cocktail club has

a chilled out vibe and offers a delectable selection of tipples and small plates. Sadly, you can never guarantee the weather in Belfast, but if the sun decides to shine, the Perch Rooftop bar (and sister to Rita’s) is well worth a visit. Enjoy the rays while sipping on an ice cold beer or glass of prosecco in pretty,

avian-themed surroundings. The Gasworks Restaurant at the Radisson Blu, Cromac Place, also offers a great accommodation option and serves a vast range of dishes. The Gasworks plaza and water feature in front of the restaurant beckon you to relax on a contemporary terrace as you take in the views.


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27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

If you’re planning to take a break in June, why not be one of the first to check out the luxurious Grand Central, a sister hotel to the Europa and The Culloden – one of a number of new hotels on the horizon? Even if you’re not staying, you can still enjoy a romantic aperitif with panoramic views before hitting one of the many stylish restaurants you have at your disposal. The eponymously named Howard Street delivers fresh locally sourced ingredients put together to form delicious dishes. In a lofty, industrial-esque setting, customers can enjoy the food along with carefully selected wines or a show stopping cocktail. Heading into the beating heart of Belfast, there is a cornucopia of imbibing emporiums and hotels to choose from. The MAC, Belfast

Bullitt Hotel on Church Lane is a cool place to both stay and play. Winner of the Georgina Campbell Best new Hotel of the Year Award 2017, this hip hotel offers a superb in-house restaurant Taylor & Clay, a courtyard beer garden and Babel, a rooftop bar and garden for cocktails, small plates and stunning views. Heading deeper into the bustling Cathedral Quarter, Muriel’s Cafe Bar and The Spaniard offer quirky, cosy spots... perfect for couples to gaze into each other’s eyes over a craft beer or dreamy cocktail. When you’re in the vicinity, you simply must visit the sumptuous 5 star Merchant Hotel. With Victorian and Art Deco style bedrooms, the divine Great Room Restaurant, cocktail bar and champagne lounge, it’s the perfect stop for a couple to enjoy a romantic dinner or drink. For jazz enthusiasts, head round to Bert’s Jazz Bar which offers a bistro style menu and extensive drinks list. If staying at the Merchant, why not avail of a pampering spa package? There’s no better way to unwind before bubbles and dinner. Of course, a city break isn’t complete without shopping ‘til you drop – at least if you’re the female of the species. Victoria Square is a one-stop shop for high end to high street, with a great selection of restaurants and an Odeon if you fancy taking in a movie. We hope we’ve given you plenty of food for thought if you’re thinking of making Belfast one of your city breaks this year. Cosmopolitan yet compact, this blossoming city is bursting with life and is the perfect place to make memories with your other half this summer.

The Titanic Quarter


30 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

ADVERTISING FEATURE

Spring has sprung at

Lough Erne Resort E mbrace the change of seasons at Lough Erne Resort this Spring with these two-night, mid-week packages designed to get you out and around the stunning Fermanagh Lakelands. Experience one of the county’s most famous attractions with ‘Fermanagh Down Under’ – with a complimentary tour of the Marble Arch Caves. Or, if taking to the Lough by water is your thing, ‘Cruise into Spring’ offers guests the chance to come aboard for a one-hour cruise with Erne Water Taxi. Both packages are available Sunday to Thursday from only £115pps and include indulgent breakfasts, access to the Infinity Pool at The Thai Spa and access to the Collop

Walk on the resort grounds. Why not make your Spring break unforgettable and book a range of additional options? The possibilities at Lough Erne Resort are exceptional. Choose from a round of golf on one of two championship golf courses to an authentic thai spa treatment in The Thai Spa which was voted Northern Ireland’s Leading Spa Resort at The World Travel Awards. Afterwards relax with tempting Afternoon Tea or dine in style with seasonal tastes by Executive Head Chef, Noel McMeel and his culinary team at The Catalina Restaurant.

For further information and booking visit lougherneresort.com or phone 028 6632 3230.

Catchthe craicat SeaFest, Galway

F

lyboarding, seafood, sailing and talks from famous wildlife cameraman Doug Allen are among the activities and entertainment on offer at SeaFest 2018. Ireland’s largest and most spectacular maritime festival will take place in Galway from June 29 to July 1. SeaFest has quickly become one of the most popular summer festivals in Ireland, and aims to create awareness of Ireland’s maritime heritage and celebrates the amazing ways that our seas

and oceans enrich our lives. Festival-goers can enjoy talks from award-winning wildlife cameraman Doug Allan, who is most famous for his work alongside Sir David Attenborough on documentaries such as the BBC’s Blue Planet and Frozen Planet. PowerFly’s World Champion Flyboarders will showcase their awe-inspiring skills up to 15 metres in the air in Galway Harbour. Free kayaking and sailing sessions will also take place, and visitors can tour the Commissioners of Irish Lights vessel the Granuaile, the Marine Institute’s research vessel RV Celtic Explorer, and an Irish naval vessel. Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) and Bord Bia will encourage visitors to get up-close to live fish and shellfish species and enjoy dynamic exhibits and virtual reality displays. For seafood lovers, some of Ireland’s best known chefs and fishmongers will prepare culinary delights using sustainably-sourced produce.

Wildlife cameraman Doug Allan filming a humpback whale

For more information visit www.seafest.ie


32 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Heed the call of the road...

of caravan suits you. With a towing caravan, it’s a breeze, should you find somewhere you want to spend a few days, to unhitch the van and go exploring in your car every day. A motorhome gives you the added freedom that you don’t need to return every night. If you’re buying a new caravan, you can often choose the layout and specifications to suit your budget. The latest generation of caravans, campervans, park homes and mobile homes incorporate clever design and ingenious storage solutions so that you can pack in not only friends and family but also all their ‘essential’ baggage and home comforts!

G

o where the wind takes you – and as often as you like – with a mobile home, caravan or campervan. They are the perfect option for those who love nothing more than being able to head off on a whim, especially when the weather turns out to be better than forecast. For many people, it’s the perfect way to switch off after a week’s work and unwind completely... you’ll feel as relaxed and rejuvenated after a weekend as you normally would after a week away. “We head off over the summer when we feel like chilling out,” says experienced caravanner Hilary. “The beauty of it is that you can go on the spur of the moment.” As well as giving you complete freedom, a camping or caravanning holiday offers something to suit all ages and every budget. While some people love nothing better than throwing a tent in the back of the car and hitting the road, others like their home comforts just as much when they’re away from home. And with the latest mobile homes equipped with toilets, showers, heating, fridge freezers, TVs and more, the only thing to miss

about home is the people you’ve left behind. With a caravan or motorhome, you enjoy the benefit of a lifetime of holidays for one investment and as modern caravans can be equipped with everything you need to keep you comfortable all year round, from insulation to central heating, your holiday season is longer than ever. SPOILT FOR CHOICE You can opt to park up for the night on a coast road or bask in the solitude of a mountain-top retreat. Packing a couple of bags and hitting the road is a great way to spend quality time together and the excitement of exploring pastures new will make even a weekend’s break a holiday to remember. Bring your kids, their friends, your friends, the dog, or whoever you wish and make the most of the

HOME FROM HOME While some people view a carVantastic avan as a means of visiting fun pastures new, for others Do you dream of taking a it is very much a second funky VW on the road for the home where they can break from routine. summer? Meet kindred spirits at With such a self-sufrelax at weekends and Vantastival in the grounds of Beaulieu ficient way of getting holidays. House, near Drogheda, County Lough, around, the sheer They have fallen on June 1-3. Live music, tents and range of choices mean in love with a beaucampervans are the order of the day you need never visit ty spot, be it along with dozens of acts lined up for this the same place twice. the north coast, Dondistinctly family friendly festival. You can head for the egal, Strangford Lough, See www.vantastival.com Causeway Coast, the beauNewcastle, the Fermanagh for details. tiful Ards Peninsula, south lakes or beyond and love Down for sea and mountain nothing more than returning sights, or the Cork and Kerry mounto that place at every opportunity. tains. Feel like touring the Lake District or And while a holiday home is a much taking spending the summer on a road trip more economical option than buying and around the Continent? With a camper van equipping a second house, very often holyou can avoid airport waits and security by iday homes are so loved and lived in, they taking the ferry to Europe and once there, end up having almost everything a house you can go wherever you like. would have. The first decision, of course, is what sort Often whole communities evolve around


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 33

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

Parklife

these static homes-from-home and people love the easy accessibility to their favourite scenic spots. In some cases, they remain open all year round so you can tuck into your Christmas turkey and toast the beautiful sea views before you. It stands to reason that campsites have evolved to keep pace with caravans and today’s sites have every amenity, often including wi-fi, a shop, restaurant and playground for the children. Some run entertainment over the summer and foster that sense of community spirit and wellbeing that has made the caravan and camping holiday such an enduring favourite.

B

Onestopshopto thegreatoutdoors Downshire Camping & Caravans Northern Ireland is Ireland’s largest supplier of caravans and outdoor leisure equipment. As Premier dealers of Elddis, Xplore and Buccaneer caravans, Downshire offer a large selection of lay-outs and specification in new caravans suitable for all budgets along with a wide range of quality used caravans, backed up with a warranty and aftersales service second to none. The showroom and accessory shop at Banbridge, Co. Down, stocks a comprehensive range of camping and caravanning equipment and display of awnings, tents and caravans along with every conceivable part or accessory you need to help create your home away from home. See www.downshireleisure.com.

uying a static caravan holiday home is a lifestyle choice which gives you somewhere relaxing to escape to when it’s time for a hard-earned break. A home from home to enjoy fantastic holidays with your nearest and dearest, year after year. Lifestyle Homes Ireland have three Holiday Parks in North Down and the Ards Peninsula which stay open all year round so there are no limits on how often you enjoy your holiday home. Windsor Holiday Park enjoys a scenic and tranquil setting at Groomsport, two miles from Bangor. The park has a superb frontline position offering direct access to coastal paths which lead to breathtaking sandy beaches and the Irish Sea. If you’re looking for somewhere to leave behind the stresses and strains of the modern world, Ballyhalbert Holiday Park may be your own piece of heaven. The whole family will love the beautiful beaches right on your doorstep, although this delightful park has an impressive list of on-site facilities. With its children’s playground, excellent mini golf course, multi-purpose clubhouse and its own ice cream parlour, you’ll never be short for something to do during your stay here. With a stunning beachfront location, Cloughey Holiday Village has direct beach access from the park, beautiful views across the Irish Sea and benefits from a 12 month season so that owners can use their holiday homes at any time of year.


34 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

Summer holiday

Dos and Don’ts E By Davina Gordon

mbarking on a holiday with your loved ones can, ironically, be stressful. With a little organisation, you can give your family the best chance of things going smoothly. Here’s our top Dos and Don’ts for pleasant vacationing.

DO: MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

This is the first rule of family holidays, although, of course, it depends on your destination. If you’re holidaying at home, it’s easier to manage these expectations. If you’re all heading off to an exotic location, then it’s easy to get carried away. Blazing sunshine might be your idea of heaven but the same doesn’t always go for small kids or teenagers, who may struggle with the heat. Teens will also be unwilling to be separated from their beloved smartphone. If you’re going by air, little ones may find it hard to cope with being in a confined space so make sure you have a ready supply of crayons and toys to keep them occupied and sweets and drinks to help if their ears get sore. If you accept that not everything will be perfect, you’ll likely enjoy yourself more than you thought possible.

REMEMBER MEDICATION

This is high on the list because forgetting it can cause no end of headaches and visits to a pharmacy, which can be frustrating if you’re going to a foreign country. There’s nothing worse than being on the road and having a cold chill descend over you when you realise you’ve left your important medication at home. This will be even more of a catastrophe if an elderly person is involved. Make a list and check it thrice. If you’re flying, make sure you can access meds in hand luggage. While not medicinal, but still pretty essential, be sure to bring enough contact lenses to last you through your holiday, allowing for a few pairs to be jettisoned in the event of dropping them. It’s also a good idea

to bring glasses, just in case your eyes decide to be extra sensitive.

SET A BUDGET

This may seem like a no brainer but you’d be surprised by the number of people who ‘wing it’ in an ‘anything goes’ carefree holiday mindset. If you’re going abroad, check the exchange rates and get your currency in good time. Set yourself a daily limit, allowing for meals, transport and activities. Buying all your meals out can be expensive so you could opt for the family to enjoy a big breakfast, a snack at lunchtime and then an evening meal. You don’t need to eat out every night, but if you do, ask the locals for recommendations for reasonably priced fare and be wary of overpriced tourist traps. It’s also a good idea to use a prepaid credit card on your travels; this will protect you from opportunistic pickpockets. Agree pocket money for kids before you head away to avoid tantrums.

BRING THE ESSENTIALS

It’s amazing how we’ve become so attached to our electronic devices. With that in mind, bring mobiles, chargers and (travel) adaptors so you don’t need to pay through the nose in an airport. You don’t want to land at your destination with some of your party lamenting about how their phone is almost out of battery, or a little one screaming because the iPad is powering down. For teens and grown-ups, not being able to charge an e-reader will put a dampener on sunbathing by the pool/beach. Other essentials to bring along include toiletries. Bring travel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash and moisturiser, unless you’re happy using what your accommodation provides. If flying, remember the 100ml rule if bringing toiletries in your hand luggage and ladies pack expensive perfume in your checked-in bags. Before you leave the house, ensure you

ADVERTISING FEATURE

Tour with Dodds Fancy a few days away in May? Contact Dodds to get your seats booked to the Cotswolds. This popular tour departs on May 4, staying in the historic city of Worcester for five days with a visit to Adam’s Farm, or Cotswold Farm Park. This visitor attraction is the farm owned by Adam Henson who is well known to all viewers of Countryfile. The tour stays in the Whitehouse Hotel & Leisure Centre in the centre of Worcester. A new, special two day tour has also gone on sale to the Royal Highland Show, departing from Belfast only, on Wednesday, June 20, on the 1530 hours Stena sailing for £149. This tour stays overnight in the Carlton Hotel in Prestwick and departs early on Thursday morning to enjoy the Show until 1900 hours when it departs to connect with the 2330 hours Stena sailing back to Belfast only. Dodds offer a great selection of tours to the UK & Ireland from 3–8 days, visiting seaside

towns and mountain scenery with something to interest everyone. Visit Islands, cross bridges, enjoy diesel and steam train journeys, lake cruises, Castles and Great Houses or the Enchanted Forest! Phone Larne 028 2827 4645 for details and free brochure. Remember, pick-ups are available on all tours (except some Specials) from Belfast City Centre, Stena Line Terminal Belfast, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Ballynure, Larne, Antrim, Glengormley, Bangor, Holywood and Newtownards with a new additional pick up for 2018 from Sprucefield. Favourite tours to Skegness, Peak District, Llandudno, Blackpool, Lake District and Harrogate are all featured with tours giving the opportunity to visit the Royal Highland Show and the Great Yorkshire Show! New tours include Magical Mayo, Heart of Ireland and Dublin Delights or to Wales we offer the Welsh Highlands, Anglesey & Puffin


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 35

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph

have your wallet with credit card, debit card and cash for emergencies.

AND THE REST…

It’s a good idea to bring a first aid kit to tend to grazed knees and wet wipes for messy faces. If you’ve got a road trip ahead, stock up on a selection of treats for peckish travellers, toys to keep the little ones entertained and refillable water bottles. Finally, do enjoy yourself! It won’t be perfect but having some precious time away with all your family will do you all some good.

a minor complaint but bear in mind that they can become infected or in some cases, become more serious. You may also need to get travel vaccines so be sure to check if your destination is on the risk list. The same goes for sun cream. SPF 50 should be used on fair skin while skin that tans can tolerate a lower SPF but don’t go too low. Remember that tanned skinned is burned skin. Don’t forget after-sun and aloe vera to soothe exposed skin at the end of the day.

FORGET YOUR TOOTHBRUSH

If going overseas, don’t forget travel insurance. Always expect the unexpected. Accidents and minor illnesses can take over a holiday with trips to the doctor and expensive prescriptions. Such a misfortune happened me when holidaying in San Diego, setting me back almost $350 for medication I could have got free from my GP at home. Ouch! With that in mind, it’s possible to order preventative antibiotics for conditions that may be exacerbated from being on holiday.

Well, and a few other things besides. If you’re going on a beach holiday, pack a good few swimsuits/bikinis/shorts so you don’t need to splash out on overpriced swimming gear which you’ll probably just wear on holiday. Some hotels provide beach towels for free while others will charge. It’s a good rule of thumb to bring a decent-sized beach towel per head. Don’t forget beach essentials like flip flops, sunglasses and hats, which can be pricey when you’re away. Oh, and speaking of toothpaste, don’t raid your bathroom cabinet, instead buy travel-sized tubes. You don’t want to return home and not be able to clean your gnashers.

RISK IRRITANTS

TAKE THE KITCHEN SINK

Island with Southport, Chester (pictured) and a new Cotswolds Tour also on offer. Our exclusive £20 offer to park your car for any duration at the Stena Line Terminal in Belfast will continue for 2018! Park right beside the ferry to be greeted by a Dodds’ representative; step aboard the Dodds Coach and relax, your tour has begun. Then, on arrival back in Belfast, you will have your pre-paid ticket so can conveniently step out of the Dodds Coach and just exit the car park so you will be back home before you know!

Twenty-four hour booking is available online with all tour details on our website www. doddsoftroon.com or by phoning 028 2827 4645 with no charge for credit/debit cards. For your convenience we offer some tours departing on the 1130 hours sailing. Very popular last year was the Ayrshire & Isle of Arran Tour based in the highly acclaimed South Beach Hotel in the lovely seaside town of Troon. It’s departing on June 25, with visits to Brodick Castle, Drumlanrigh Castle and the outstanding Dumfries House. Carlisle & the Settle Railway also departs on the later sailing based in the Crown & Mitre House situated in the centre of Carlisle on July 9. If you fancy a visit to the Edinburgh Tattoo we offer the Brooks Hotel situated in the centre of Edinburgh departing on August 10. Always a popular choice, it includes a ticket for the Tattoo and fireworks on the Saturday evening. With our expert drivers and great customer service we look forward to welcoming you on board! Find details of all the tours at www.doddsoftroon.com.

DON’T: GET CAUGHT OUT

Here’s another one for going abroad. You probably already know if you’re a delectable treat for mosquitoes but don’t take any chances even if you think you’re not. Spray everyone liberally with insect repellent to eliminate the risk of itchy, unsightly bites. They’re usually

It’s tempting to overpack but you’re not moving abroad. Consider whether you really need each item you’re packing and be realistic about how many outfit changes you’ll need. There will be some nights when you want to keep it casual, so do you really need that many heels?


36 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

The great

outdoors... and

indoors INDOORS

Living in a country with such inclement weather, planning is key when it comes to holidaying at home. You may strike it lucky with balmy conditions but it’s always wise to consider how wind and rain might impact your holiday. Being inside doesn’t mean there’s less fun to be had, however... Here are some ideas for keeping everyone amused – no umbrella required.

If you’ve energy to burn, Jumpzone in Dublin offers the perfect place to have fun and burn off some of those holiday calories, thanks to the mindset of ‘I’m on holiday so I can have starter, main and dessert’. But, if you’ve young kids, this is a no brainer. You can all jump around on the trampolines or take part in a trampoline dodgeball league. Visit jumpzone.ie.

While staying indoors means there’s a definite preference for staying dry, it’s hard to resist a water park no matter what age you are. Funtasia Waterpark in Drogheda is a great choice. Not only is it good exercise swimming around, you can also enjoy lots of rides and slides. It’s sure to be a winner with the young and young at heart. Even better,

parents can enjoy a jacuzzi while the kids splash about and have a whale of a time. Visit funtasia.ie. Keeping with the watery theme, AquaZone in Dublin offers another good option for water lovers offering a roller coaster, surfing machine, pirate ship (for little ones) and water slides as well as a wave pool and

bubble pool. Visit aquazone.ie. If you and your family are adrenaline junkies, but not quite brave enough to jump out of a plane, why not try indoor skydiving? WeAreVertigo in Belfast offers the thrill of being suspended in mid air without any of the dangers. You can fly if you are at least four years old and are no taller than six


Your Holiday and Tour Guide | 37

27 April 2018 | Belfast Telegraph at Ballymahon, Co Longford, in an inflated ring. It’s good for children from eight years up but the minimum size group is 12 people. So, why not get all the in laws together for a family bonding session with plenty of thrills and spills. Visit outdoordiscovery.ie. Nature loving families can take a two to three hour boat trip in Co Clare to view the 200 dolphins that like to hang out there. You can also hear these friendly creatures communicate via an underwater microphone in skipper Geoff Magee’s boat. Booking is essential and is suitable for toddlers upwards. Visit dolphinwatch.ie. Saddle up for trek on the Wild Atlantic Way along Streedagh Strand or Mullaghmore in Sligo. This enthralling activity is suitable for both children and

✱ within 60 minutes by way of challenges and puzzles. It’s fun and unique and you have the added incentive of achieving something as a family. Visit escapebelfast.com.

OUTDOORS

foot, five inches. Previous experience is not essential and flight instructors will be on hand to keep you safe. Visit wearevertigo.com. If your family enjoy working as a team and exercising their grey matter, Escape Belfast could be the ticket. Perfect for families, your team is locked in a room with the goal of escaping or completing your mission

While indoor activities certainly have their place, it’s hard to beat being at one with mother nature and embracing all that she throws our way. If you have the right attire you can face anything, and you never know, you may be blessed with gorgeous sunshine. Here are a few activities sure to get your heart pumping. Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen… just in case.

Think bumper cars with water, you can run all seven rapids of the River Inny

adults and it’s available daily, year round. Visit islandviewridingstables.com. If you love water activities, make a splash with a 10km-loop along Longford’s Camlin River and the Shannon, and paddle a stretch of Cloondara Canal too. Children aged 6-12 must be accompanied by an adult. This is one activity where having the sun beating down would be a wonderful bonus. Visit bluewaysireland.org. Sticking with water activities, why not treat your family to a surfing lesson at Lahinch Surf School, Co Clare? Suitable for absolute beginners, you will learn how to pop up to your feet in just three steps. Equipment is provided with a fully qualified Irish Surfing Association instructor. Visit lahinchsurfschool.com.


38 | Your Holiday and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 27 April 2018

The good old ways

T

he more you know about a destination, the richer one’s experience of it becomes. Get a fresh perspective on any part of Ireland with historian and journalist Jo Kerrigan’s new book, Follow the Old Road - Discover the Ireland of Yesteryear. This well researched hardback, with monochrome photos by Richard Mills, makes for an entertaining read, whether you’re using it as a travel guide on holiday or enhancing your understanding of a favourite walk or journey. Kerrigan weaves ancient myths and legends with historical events, dipping into different eras to knit together a multi-dimensional picture of each place. Blogging about the book’s release on her celticmemoryyarns.blogspot.com, Jo Kerrigan writes: “It seems to have taken us forever, what with travelling all over the country to discover the ancient tracks and the forgotten canals and the lost railways and the winding rivers and the invisible sea routes which connected one tiny fishing village with another and with the wider world. Crumbling railway halts covered with ivy, tiny piers on river banks, ruined abbeys, mysterious lakes, stories of emigration, stories of trade, echoes, echoes, echoes of the past everywhere. A major job, but what a world it opened up!” Find out about Sean’s Bar in Athlone, the oldest pub in Ireland and quite possibly the world, which has remained virtually unchanged through power grabs by the Normans, the Tudors, Stuarts, Georgians and Victorians and even survived a period of ownership by Boy George... and the calamatous West Clare Railway, ‘fondly remembered as the most unreliable train of all time’ and immortalised in Percy French’s song, Are Ye Right There, Michael? after he was delayed for so long en route

to a gig that his audience had gone home by the time he got there. Having explored the river routes, canals and old railways, she also delves into the coastal routes long used for trading, which she calls the sea roads. Kerrigan’s neat knack for bringing Follow the Old Road by Jo Kerrigan dry histoand Richard Mills, £16.99 ry to life is much in evidence when covering the close links between the Antrim coast and Scotland which once saw both regions governed as one - the kingdom of Dal Riada. She describes the kings of Dal Riada travelling on royal visits to the High King’s court in Tara. “One can imagine enthralled eyes following their progress, these wind-tanned seafaring warriors, swinging south with the exotic air of foreigners from a saltier environment.” Throughout the book, the people who helped shaped the history of the land – from the mythical to the important to the ordinary – are brought to life and it’s fitting that it ends by imagining the journey a young person leaving the isle of Dursey would have taken to board a ship at Cobh – where Titanic set sail – for a new life in the New World.

Skellig Michael, where Star Wars: The Last Jedi was filmed

Lightsabers at the ready!

T

he Wild Atlantic Way is going galactic with Fáilte Ireland’s new ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ festival. Kicking off on Friday, May 4 (the day when fans across the globe commemorate the Star Wars Universe), the festival will bring fans together to celebrate the galaxy far, far away with a host of fun events for all-ages taking place across the Kerry villages of Ballyferriter, Portmagee, Ballinskelligs and Valentia Island. Joining Star Wars enthusiasts all over the world in celebration of Star Wars Day, fans can enjoy outdoor drive-in movie screenings, guided film location walks, children’s workshops, a special céilí for Star Wars fans (fancy dress encouraged!) and more, all set against the breath-taking backdrop

of the west Kerry coast, which featured in the latest movie. Voyage along the cosmic coastline; gaze deep into the night at galaxies far, far away; enjoy screenings of Star Wars: The Last Jedi against the backdrop of actual film locations; catch behind-the-scenes exhibitions; visit beehive huts; and enjoy great tours and tastings. There’s fun to be had from one end of the universe to the other. Be sure to pop into the Skellig Experience Visitor Centre too, for a truly out of this world experience. For more information and full the festival line up, please visit: www.wildatlanticway.com/may-thefourth-festival


Holiday & Tour Guide 2018  

Belfast Telegraph - Your guide to Holidays across Ireland and beyond in 2018.

Holiday & Tour Guide 2018  

Belfast Telegraph - Your guide to Holidays across Ireland and beyond in 2018.

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