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YOUR HOTEL & TOUR GUIDE

– YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO WHERE TO STAY AND WHAT TO SEE IN IRELAND IN 2017 –


2 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 26 July 2017

Make time Cruising by Athlone

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Atlantic waves at Achill Island, with Clare Island Lighthouse behind

Contents Pages 4-8

Enjoy the Wild Atlantic Way

ISITORS travel from all over the world to savour the incredible scenery in the north and south of Ireland. If you haven’t sampled it for yourself, now is the time to start! Tour our own beautiful Causeway Coast, relax around gorgeous Strangford Lough, head off on the Wild Atlantic Way or delve into the secrets of Ireland’s Ancient East. For unspoilt natural scenery you can travel the length and width of this island and not exhaust its riches with mountains and forest, lakes, rivers and seas to stop you in your tracks. Visit stately homes and parks, walk the

LAKELANDS Explore the lakeland counties from Fermanagh through Cavan, Roscommon and as far as Limerick by land or by water. Take a water

Get the best out of Belfast

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Get walking to make the most of Dublin

For a paws on experience...

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Culture, history and adventure along Ireland’s Ancient East

Baby Boomers good to go

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6 top picks... Explore Northern Ireland

Water, water everywhere - dive into the Lakelands Advertising manager Jackie Reid Belfast Telegraph j.reid@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Here are a few suggestions for special places to visit:

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Published by Belfast Telegraph Belfast Telegraph House 33 Clarendon Dock Belfast BT1 3BH

beaches and country trails, hike the hills from the Mournes to Macgillicuddy’s Reeks, hire a boat and cruise the Erne-Shannon Waterway, take your pick of parkland and links courses for a round of golf and feast on the finest food in cosmopolitan cities and sleepy villages.

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

Design Stuart McKinley INM Design Studio Belfast

Printing INM, Newry


Your Hotel and Tour Guide | 3

26 July 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

to explore these shores...

taxi tour of Lough Erne, explore the Cavan Burren and walk historic Athlone, then relax with a beautiful meal at one of the many great Lakeland hotels like the Hodson Bay. DONEGAL Catch the ferry to Tory Island, where Colmcille founded his monastery in the 6th Century, take a stroll through Glenveagh National Park, climb Mount Errigal and admire the views from the Sliabh Liag Cliffs. Relax in the evening with some of the great music and food for which Donegal is famed. SLIGO Yeats’ Country is littered with stunning sights, from Benbulbin to Rosses Point. Watch the surfers as you stroll along Mullaghmore and relax and soak up the great atmosphere of Sligo town. Vogue magazine has recently added Sligo to its heavenly holiday must-visit list, alongside the Amalfi coast in Italy, Marbella, in Spain, Puglia in Italy and The Cote d’Azur in France. WICKLOW Drive the Sally Gap which winds through the Wicklow Mountains for an unforgettable encounter with natural beauty... Explore the Vale of Avoca, have a day at Powerscourt Estate, named by National Geographic as the third best garden in the world, and stroll the beautiful strand at Brittas Bay.

Beautiful Wicklow Mountains WESTPORT This cosmopolitan and flower bedecked Mayo town celebrates its 250th birthday this year. Among its many attractions are the Great Western Greenway, great for cycling, Westport House and Country Estate, the iconic pilgrimage mountain, Croagh

Patrick and the gorgeous Clew Bay with its Blue Flag beaches. DUBLIN The city is constantly evolving and its stunning setting, between coast and mountains, makes for a great mix of things to do. Stroll

the beach at Sandymount, take a tour of Glasnevin Cemetery, dine in style at Howth and take in a show in the Gaiety.

Visit www.discoverireland.ie and www.discovernorthernireland.com for more ideas for holidays, north and south.


4 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

There’s more to Donegal and Sligo than sand and surf

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he sheer proximity of counties Donegal and Sligo make them perennial favourites with Northern Ireland holidaymakers in search of surf, sand and stunning scenery. However, there is more to these to Atlantic stars than just miles of pristine beaches...

Shopping

Most of us enjoy a stroll around the shops at some point during a holiday and in the case of both Sligo and Donegal, there is plenty of choice. Letterkenny is a popular shopping town with a retail park which is home to major outlets as well as many independent shops. No trip to Ballybofey is complete without a few hours at McElhinney’s department store. Stop off at Magee Clothing in Donegal town for the classic local tweed. Sligo town, meanwhile, is a magnet for shoppers from a broad area, with its two shopping centres, retail parks and excellent mix of independent retailers thrown into the mix.

or Glenveagh National Park, with its beautiful gardens. Let the kids run off some steam on the Glenevin Waterfall Walk or push yourself with a climb of Errigal. Try descending the Sliabh Leag cliffs or even rock climbing on Cruit Island with the experts from Unique Ascent (www.uniqueascent.ie). In County Sligo, follow the Queen Maeve Trail to the top of Knocknarea Mountain, pack a picnic and take a hike along a section of the Sligo Way; get up close to the spectacular Glencar Waterfall or wander along Half Moon Bay on the shores of Lough Gill, mentioned by WB Yeats.

Family fun

Back in time

Historic sites abound in these north-west counties. Get yourself arrested and marched down to the dungeons at Old Lifford Courthouse, explore the depths and the heights at Inishowen Maritime Museum and Planetarium, revisit hard times at Doagh Famine Village or take a tour of the 15th century Donegal Castle or Glencolmcille Folk Village. In Co. Sligo, Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery has monuments dating back 6,500 years while you have to climb a stone stairway to see the rare 15th century high altar in the ruins of Sligo Abbey.

Experience the Magic Hill under the shadow of Tievebaun in Co. Sligo. Park the car and let the handbrake off and the car will move uphill! See eagles flying and bird whisperers at work at the Raptor Bird Centre or visit Sligo Folk Park in the grounds of Millview House for a taste of life, 19th century style. In Co. Donegal, take a turn on the Fintown Railway along

Festivals abound through the summer and autumn, from Mary from Dungloe International Festival this week to Culture Night in both counties in September. See govisitdonegal.com and www.sligotourism.ie for listings.

Golf Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery in Co. Sligo photo, Alison Crummy

Culture

Climbing Mount Errigal

Walking

If you tire of getting sand between your toes, head inland for a range of walks, ranging from challenging hikes to relaxing strolls. In Donegal, enjoy a walk through Ards Forest Park

the shores of Lough Finn, go on the rides at Bundoran Adventure Park or on a rainy day, go Glow Bowling in the town, scale the heights at Letterkenny Activity Centre or get close to the animals at Lurgybrack Open Farm.

You can’t visit Sligo without treading in the footsteps of her famous son, William Butler Yeats. The Yeats room in Sligo County Museum is full of artefacts including a copy of his 1923 Nobel Prize winning medal as well as art by his brother Jack B Yeats, George Russell and Sean Keating. Still in Sligo, The Model is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centres and is home to the prestigious Niland Collection which includes works by John and Jack B. Yeats, Estella Solomons, Paul Henry and Louis Le Brocquy. For live shows, check out the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo town. An Grianan Theatre in Letterkenny is one of the premier entertainment venues in Co. Donegal, although in both counties, the hotels and bars are also very much part of the entertainments scene.

Historic homes Lissadell House, Sligo

There’s an excellent mix of links and parkland courses in these coastal counties, most of them in stunning settings. Among the best known are The Dunes course at Enniscrone and the County Sligo Golf Club at Rosses Point. Donegal is a golfer’s paradise with top courses including Murvagh Links at Donegal Golf Club, Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, Portsalon Golf Club, Ballyliffin Golf Club and the Sandyhill Links at Rosapenna. See www.golf. discoverireland.ie

Ballyliffin Golf Club, Donegal

Glenveagh Castle, Co. Donegal

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his stately house and gardens was the home of one of the most famous figures in Irish history, Constance Markievicz and her siblings Eva and Josslyn Gore Booth. A leader of the Easter Rising of 1916, Constance was the first female MP in Westminster. Eva was a suffragist and poet and Josslyn was the driving force behind the horticultural splendour of the estate which the current incumbents, the Walshes, have been restoring. Visitors can tour the house and gardens which are in a beautiful setting. WB

Sligo Live in October attracts some of the biggest names in entertainment to the north west’s music city

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Lissadell House, Sligo Yeats was a friend of the Gore Booths and stayed at the house, immortalising the sisters in a poem. See www.lissadellhouse.com.

o visit to Donegal is complete without a visit to Glenveagh Castle and gardens. The castle has a fascinating history and was occupied by both the Anti-treaty and Free State Army forces during the Irish civil war while a subsequent owner, a Harvard professor, mysteriously vanished. The castle and grounds were gifted to the nation by American Henry McIlhenny who had restored and developed them to their current condition. He had previously sold the expansive estate to the Office of Public Works for a National Park. In 1983 he bestowed the castle to the nation along with its gardens and much of the contents. Glenveagh National Park covers 16,000 hectares including most of the Derryveagh Mountains, the Poisoned Glen and part of Errigal

Glenveagh Castle, Donegal Mountain and has walks and trails to suit a range of difficulties. Book a tour of the castle and rest up afterwards in the tea rooms. For further information visit www. glenveaghnationalpark.ie.


6 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Enjoy summer on the Wild Atlantic Way Now that the holidays are here, the Wild Atlantic Way is more alluring than ever and it’s the perfect place for families to make special memories, whether it’s a short break or a longer get-away. Read on… and be inspired. SURF LESSONS ON A BLUE FLAG BEACH There are surf schools right along the length of the Wild Atlantic Way, and many cater for kids as well as adults. Donegal’s Finn McCool Surf School is particularly admired and operates at some of the county’s magnificent unspoilt beaches. The smaller waves at beautiful Rossnowlagh Beach make for particularly perfect conditions to come to terms with this evocative sport. NATURE WALK WITH A DIFFERENCE Ards Forest Park is located on the sheltered western shore of Donegal’s Sheephaven Bay and is a magnificent place for getting into the wild with nature. There’s a boardwalk constructed with buggies in mind. And at 1,200 acres, there’s so much to see. There’s a playground too, just in case… TREKKING ON A SANDY SHORE There is an abundance of equestrian activities to try on the Wild Atlantic Way – like exploring country boreens by traditional horse-drawn carriage. Then after a more pulse-quickening experience, head to Island View Riding Stables, Co. Sligo, were you get to ride horses on the beach between Grange and Cliffoney. The bracing air, the panoramic scenery, golden beaches, and crashing waves make this ride unforgettable experience. A LINKS COURSE UNLIKE ANY OTHER Golf lovers are well catered for on the Wild Atlantic Way and some of the world’s very best links course are found here. But if you want to enjoy golf with young children you’ll need to think of something different - and the crazy golf centre at Enniscrone, Co. Sligo, is just the ticket for budding Rory McIlroys. There’s a much-loved playground here too - located in a natural hollow close to sand dunes. PADDLING… BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT One of the fastest growing water activities right now is stand-up paddling - or SUPping, to those in the know. An off-shoot of surfing, it was developed in Hawaii and has really taken on more sheltered parts of the Wild Atlantic Way coastline. Harbour Sup n Sail will help you get the hang of it and they operate at two bases: Enniscrone Pier, Co. Sligo, and the Quay, Ballina, Co Mayo. A CHILDREN’S GARDEN Located close to Oughterard, Co Galway,

With gentle, crumbling waves and an occasionally punchy beach break, Rossnowlagh is the perfect location to start off your surfing career. Sign up for lessons at Fin McCool Surf School Brigit’s Garden is the current holder of the Georgina Campbell Family Friendly Destination of the Year award. It’s something of a horticultural wonderland and will appeal to gardening aficionados of all hues, but it’s a magical place for the kids too with all manner of activities tailored for them including a children’s discovery trail and a natural playground that will help them feel at one with nature. MAKING A BEELINE FOR THE BURREN Few visitors to the stunning karst landscape of the Burren fail to be captivated by their surrounds and it’s a particularly special place for families to explore. The Burren Nature Sanctuary near Kinvara in Galway is a mini paradise for kids. There’s a chance to see the

Brigit’s Garden, Rosscahill, County Galway


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2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph Horse riding in County Sligo

remarkable plant and animal life of the area and to witness the phenomenon of turloughs, the so-called ‘disappearing lakes’. Younger children will adore exploring the magical fairy trail routes in the woods that surround the Burren Nature Sanctuary. WALKING IN THE AIR Skywalkers: it’s not the extended family of a beloved Star Wars character, but a brand new facility at Kells Bay House, Co Kerry. Ireland’s longest rope bridge takes families with a head for heights 11 metres above River Delligeenagh below them and runs for 34 metres. It restores access to a section of this garden that had been cut off for several years. The little ones will love both it - and the magnificent waterfall to be found nearby. GREAT FAMILY WALKS AND MINI-HIKES IN CONNEMARA The glorious, elemental beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way is best appreciated on foot. There are so many routes that are suitable for families and those with small children and some family-friendly highlights include the routes below in Connemara: DERRIGIMLAGH IN CO. GALWAY This is a Signature Discovery Point on the Wild Atlantic Way that opened last summer and it encompasses an area of outstanding natural beauty within the rugged and wild landscape of the Derrygimlagh bog complex near Clifden. Here nature and history combine on this Connemara trail which takes in what’s left of Marconi’s cable operation and is right beside where Alcock and Brown crash-landed, after being the first to fly across the Atlantic . The walk is made all the more interesting by a number of engaging and attractive features along the route, which

Derrigimlagh, Co. Galway, pic Andrew Downes

Black Head, The Burren, County Clare

will engage older kids in particular and get them interested in the fascinating history of this area. WALKING AND PICNICKING ON DIAMOND HILL, CONNEMARA Also in Connemara is the striking Connemara mountain - Diamond Hill which is situated in the Connemara National Park. It can be accessed from the national park headquarters, just after Letterfrack village. There are several trails of varying accessibility and difficulty including a Nature Trail walk of 0.5 km, a buggy-friendly 3 km-trail of Lower Diamond Hill, and the Upper Diamond Hill loop is a further 3.7 km with fantastic panoramic views when you get to the top. Feel free to bring a small picnic so that you can have a snack anywhere along the way while enjoying the views. BUCKET AND SPADE TIME Family fun is synonymous with sea and sand and there is an abundance of glorious beaches to make your own, including Ballymastocker in Donegal, which was once chosen by the Observer as the second most beautiful beach in the world, and secluded Mullaghroe at Belmullet, Co. Mayo - one of the county’s numerous Blue Flag beaches. While Trá Buí (Yellow Beach) in Mulranny, Co. Mayo, is another long beach perfect for a leisurely stroll in the evening as the sun sets behind Clare Island and the mountains. The Wild Atlantic Way is a place for families to fall in love with and this region of marvellous, elemental beauty is a perfect refuge to reconnect with those people that mean most to you. For lots of ideas and inspiration on how to embrace the Wild Atlantic Way of life this summer see www.wildatlanticway.com.


8 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

The Radisson Blu is a great base for exploring Glenveagh National Park

Destination Dunfanaghy

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f you’d like to explore more of the hugely popular Wild Atlantic Way, but don’t have time to stray too far from home, make your way to the seaside village of Dunfanaghy in North Donegal where everything you need is right on your doorstep! In the heart of Dunfanaghy check into your home away from home at Arnolds Hotel - a fourth generation family owned and operated property, who this year are celebrating an impressive 95 years in business. A strong indication of the hotel’s relentless popularity with locals and visitors alike! A warm friendly welcome, comfortable accommodation and delicious food are the order of the day at Arnolds. The hotel is also home to popular Horse-riding stables while the long sandy

beach of Killyhoey Strand provides an idyllic view to the front of the hotel. Dunfanaghy is an ideal choice for anyone who likes to stay within walking distance of all the local attractions while still being within a short drive of some of the county’s tourist gems. From horse-riding, golf, cycling and surfing to hiking, yoga and a variety of water sports for the outdoor enthusiast to Fanad Lighthouse, Ards Forest Park and Glenveagh Castle for a day trip– there really is something for everyone to enjoy on this part of Donegal’s world famous Wild Atlantic Way.

Plan your midweek or weekend escape to Dunfanaghy at any time of the year at www. arnoldshotel.com.

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Stay in the heart of Letterkenny

* Radisson Blu Hotel and Health Club welcomes guests with warm hospitality and is ideally located in the heart of Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. 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. Letterkenny is the heart of the north west and offers a unique experience for every type of visitor. Base yourself in Donegal’s largest town to combine the best urban and retail experiences, with a Wild Atlantic Way Adventure. Enjoy a fantastic retreat with ‘Two Nights Bed & Breakfast and One 4-Course Evening Meal’ for only £198 total for two people sharing. Looking for a longer stay? Ask about our three night offers.

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 74919 4444 WEBSITE: radissonblu.com/hotel-letterkenny EMAIL: info.letterkenny@radissonblu.com or find us on Facebook!


10 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Go walking

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017 The Dubline –Trinity College

to get the most out of

Dublin

One of the very best ways to truly get to know the heart of Dublin is through the eight official Dublin Discovery Trails. These specially curated audio walking routes bring you through the historic spine of the city – the Dubline – and showcase some of its finest buildings while also highlighting lesser-known or sometimes missed attractions. The beauty of these trails is that they’re not prescriptive – you’re actively encouraged to take detours, to investigate side streets, to go where your senses lead you. Along each trail you’ll find many tempting spots to stop and browse markets, shop, eat and drink. Take your time and savour every moment.

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imply download the FREE Dublin Discovery Trails App to your phone, plug in your headphones and away you go.

THE DUBLINE

The king of Dublin walking routes, this takes you from Parnell Square to Kilmainham through the historic, cultural and living heart of the city. The trail begins at Parnell Square, in the Georgian north-inner city, and includes a stop at the Garden of Remembrance – a tranquil


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2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

The Dubline – War memorial gardens oasis amid the bustle of the city. It then travels down O’Connell Street, by the General Post Office – now home to a fine 1916 visitor centre – and the Spire of Dublin, the gleaming 120m structure at the spot where Nelson’s Pillar stood. You cross O’Connell Bridge and learn the significance of the Liffey to the city’s development before proceeding to Trinity College – a centre of learning since 1592 – and the Bank of Ireland, home to Grattan’s Parliament in the late 18th century. The elegant Dame Street stretches before you with much to see in the locality – from City Hall to the sprawling complex of Dublin Castle, the centre of British rule in Ireland for centuries.

Take in Temple Bar, via the vibrant Cow’s Lane, and walk up to Christ Church Cathedral and its neighbouring Dublinia, formerly the Synod Hall. Then it’s on to Tailor’s Hall and part of the old City Wall. Further up the road, there’s the National College of Art and Design, in the former home of the John Power Distillery and you learn about the Great Whiskey Fire of 1875. A short walk up Thomas Street is the Guinness factory – its Storehouse is the most visited (fee-paying) tourist attraction in the country. It’s a perfect spot from which to explore the old Liberties and St James’s Church, the starting point for Irish pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. Then, it’s on to Old Kilmainham and a stop-off at the former military hospital, the imposing Royal Hospital Kilmainham, now the home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The final stop is Kilmainham Gaol where an impressive visitor centre was created to coincide with last year’s 1916 Rising Centenary celebrations.

■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – Choose from an irresistible line-up of cakes or classic tea and scones in the Queen of Tarts, Cow’s Lane

Northside 1 – The Epic Centre

DUBLIN’S NORTHSIDE 1 ICONIC SIGHTS, HIDDEN HIGHLIGHTS

This trail takes walkers to 15 places in the vibrant north-inner city, starting at the Guinness brewery and following the line of an ancient roadway through the heart of the old medieval city. Crossing the Liffey, you’ll learn about the temperance movement and discover the impact the fighting during the War of Independence had on the buildings here. Visit St Michan’s Church – famed for its crypts – and the newly reopened Jameson Distillery, near Smithfield’s old market square. Walk to King’s Inns Garden and on to the Georgian splendour of Henrietta Street – setting for innumerable period films.

Stop off at Dublin’s spookiest church, St Mary’s Chapel of Ease before the short walk to the Blessington Street Basin. The Hugh Lane Gallery and the James Joyce Centre are popular stop-offs before venturing down O’Connell Street, where a visit to the GPO is essential. Later, see one of Dublin’s newest bridges, named after trade union advocate Rosie Hackett, before stopping at the Custom House. Your final stop is Epic, the Irish Emigration Museum at the historic CHQ Building, which shows how people from this country have helped to change the world. ■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – Go to Blas Cafe, King’s Inn Street, for excellent coffee and cake.


12 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Northside 2 – Etihad Skyline Tour

DUBLIN’S NORTHSIDE 2 INSPIRING SPACES, HALLOWED PLACES

Your walk takes you to 10 intriguing destinations in the northside of the city. It starts at the fine Georgian surrounds of Parnell Square and proceeds to Mountjoy Square, where you’ll learn why it’s really a ‘square square’. Then it’s on to Croke Park, the country’s biggest stadium. Its Etihad Skyline Tour offers panoramic views of the city. Walk along the Royal Canal, passing Mountjoy Jail before arriving at Glasnevin Cemetery. Some of Ireland’s most famous historical figures are buried here and there’s a wonderfully engaging museum on site. Next is the Botanic Gardens and magnificent Palm House. Fact and fiction combine as you walk towards Eccles Street. It was here, near the Mater Hospital, that James Joyce gave a home to Leopold Bloom of Ulysses. The tour concludes at Hardwicke Place for a tale of penny-pinching and one of Dublin’s most beautiful churches. ■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – Have an evening meal at The Washerwoman, a short stroll from the Botanic Gardens.

THE ‘REAL’ DUBLIN

This starts at St Andrew’s Church and then the Powerscourt Townhouse, now a popular shopping hub on busy South William Street, but for many years, the city bolt-hole of Richard Wingfield, 3rd Viscount Powerscourt, and his wife Lady Amelia. Then it’s on to the George’s Street Arcade, the first purpose-built shopping centre in the city, before strolling up to Aungier Street with some of the oldest houses in Dublin amid the cool shops and cafes. Walk on to the Iveagh Trust Buildings, built for the poor by the Guinness family, and stop off at St Patrick’s Cathedral. One of Dublin’s ‘hidden gems’, Marsh’s Library, is just around the corner and boasts a stunning collection of antique books. The trail continues to the comparatively new Teeling Distillery, taking the Liberties, including the Guinness brewery.

Rebellion Tour – City Hall

REBELLION

The Easter Rising, over six days in April 1916, has had lasting implications for Ireland. Begin at Dublin Castle were the first shot was fired, and walk the short distance to City Hall for dramatic stories of the conflict. Walk on to St Stephen’s Green, where the rebels dug trenches and spot the bullet holes on the Royal College of Surgeons’ facade. Cross the Liffey at O’Connell Bridge and walk down to the General Post Office, the rebels’ HQ. The visitor centre there provides great detail about 1916 and its aftermath. Then it’s down busy Henry and Moore streets before stopping at O’Rahilly Parade, to learn of a dying man’s last words. The final stop is the Garden of Remembrance, opened by Éamon de Valera on the Rising’s 50th anniversary.

Empire Tour – Powerscourt Townhouse

North Dublin 2 –Botanic Gardens

now home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art and boasts wonderfully maintained grounds, including Bully’s Acre, an ancient military cemetery. Walk through the archway of Richmond Gate and call to Kilmainham Gaol, where the ‘Invincibles’ were hanged in 1882. From there, it’s a short walk to the Irish National War Memorial Park where a stunning rose garden commemorates Irishmen who died in the first and second world wars. Then, it’s on to the Phoenix Park, where the 62m Wellington Monument commemorates the duke’s victories in the Napoleonic wars. The final stop is Collins Barrack, now the Decorative Arts and History branch of the National Museum of Ireland but formerly a British army garrison.

Then it’s on to St Werburgh’s Church, which once boasted one of the highest steeples in Dublin, Christ Church Cathedral and nearby, St Audeon’s Churches - both the Catholic and Protestant churches that stand side-by-side share the name. Wood Quay is next on the itinerary – synonymous with both the Vikings and the much criticised Dublin Civic offices developed in the 1970s and 1980s. Walk on to Temple Bar – and take a look at its cultural attractions with new eyes. Visit the Bank of Ireland building on College Green and discover who lives at Number 1, Grafton Street.

■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – Have a picnic opposite the magazine fort in the Phoenix Park and drink in the views of Dublin from this elevated spot.

STORY OF DUBLIN

Start at City Hall before visiting three points at Dublin Castle: its Upper Yard, home to State apartments for visiting dignitaries; its Lower Yard to learn about medieval Dublin; and its Castle Gardens to discover how Dublin got its name. It’s a walk that takes you on streets less travelled, including Ship Street, where you hear of a daring escape from the once impregnable Dublin Castle.

■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – Sample some of the finest fish and chips in the country in Burdock’s, directly across from St Werbergh’s.

EMPIRE

This walking tour explores British rule in Ireland and focuses on the 18th and 19th centuries. It starts at Dublin Castle, where the first shot of the 1916 Rising was sounded. Then it’s a walk up bustling Dame Street to the Bank of Ireland building, which for 18 years was home to Grattan’s Parliament. Next it’s onto Trinity College, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, before walking up to Leinster House, were the Houses of the Oireachtas meet. A short walk to St Stephen’s Green takes in the Huguenot cemetery, before a stroll down Grafton Street, which was first named in 1708. The walk stops off at the Powerscourt Townhouse in the heart of the ‘Creative Quarter’ before concluding at City Hall, home of Dublin City Council. ■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – grab a coffee and sandwich to go from Coppa, Ely Place, and have a picnic in St Stephen’s Green, just a minute’s walk away.

■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – Enjoy a properly authentic Chinese meal in M&L across from the GPO on Cathedral street.

ECHOES OF WAR

This walk starts at Heuston Station before moving on to Dr Steevan’s Hospital and the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The latter is

Story of Dublin – Temple Bar

Real Dublin – George’s Street Arcade

Empire – St Stephen’s Green ■ Simply download the FREE Dublin

Real Dublin – St Patrick’s Cathedral ■ ‘WHERE TO EAT’ – Devour superb falafel wraps and salads at the Fumbally, close to St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Discovery Trails App to your phone and select your chosen walk to start your adventure. For lots of great Insider Tips on exploring Dublin on foot and to find out What’s On throughout the year go to www.visitdublin.com or find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @ VisitDublin.


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2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Northern family behind Sandymount Hotel B irthplace of WB Yeats and home to James Joyce for a time, Sandymount has been voted among the best places to live in Ireland with its pretty village charm amid some of Dublin’s top attractions. One of its popular local landmarks is the Sandymount Hotel which has long had a place in the hearts of visitors from the north as well as the rugby fraternity, thanks to its understated style and proximity to the Aviva stadium. The hotel has recently undergone a €6 million expansion. It now has 168 bedrooms and plans for a further 19, with all the original rooms, bar and restaurant being completely refurbished. Originally a Victorian home in the heart of the prestigious Dublin 4 area, the Sandymount Hotel began life as a four bedroom guesthouse which was opened in 1955 by Tyrone man George Loughran and his wife, Rosaleen, nee McConn, from Downpatrick. It was their first home and they bought it with the aid of fellow northerner, Michael O’Hare, who worked in the local building society, and got them the loan. Three weeks after they moved in, Rosaleen gave birth to the second of five children, John, who now runs the hotel. It’s been very much a family operation from the start with everyone helping out. George, who came from a large farming family, was shy but resourceful and his talent for everything from carpentry to building soon had the guesthouse up and running. Soon the couple were able to extend the guesthouse by buying the neighbouring

property. They were often ahead of the trends. “In the 1960s we would have been one of the first guesthouses to have central heating and my father put in en suite bathrooms before anyone else was doing that,” says John. Rosaleen was the outgoing half of the couple and her warm and friendly welcome ensured guests returned time and again to Sandymount. They continued to expand and by the time the couple handed over the hotel to the next generation in 1988, it comprised five of the period houses and had 100 bedrooms. It has now expanded to encompass eight of the two storey buildings. The couple continued to live above the hotel until Rosaleen’s death in 2004, followed by George’s three years later. John has fond memories of growing up in the hotel, as well

as summers at Dunnamore near Cookstown in Co. Tyrone helping out on the farm. “We probably got in the way more often than not,” he laughs. These days the Sandymount Hotel may be grander and much larger – it’s among the top 20% of hotels in Dublin on TripAdvisor – but at heart it retains an enduring emphasis on making sure guests are well cared for. The longest serving member of staff, Beatrice O’Donoghue, has worked on the reception for 37 years and Rose Foley, the housekeeping manager, has been with the family for 30 years. The ambience of the Sandymount Hotel befits its position in this village in the city. On match days this base for the TV sports crews as well as the Ireland U20s squad is positively

buzzing. People attending concerts at the 3 Arena can beat the traffic by taking the riverside walk to the arena. It’s also handy for the Bord Gais Theatre and the RDS, however, with its residential setting, the hotel avoids weddings and noisy functions. “The most important people to the hotel are the guests who spend the night and that’s the way the hotel has always been,” says John. Part of the recent refurbishment has included creating an outdoor terrace and a barbecue area, perfect for a relaxing summer’s evening and as ever, visitors from the north are assured of the warmest of welcomes. “In the early stages of the hotel and through its most difficult times in the recession, our friends from the north were crucial to our survival while many around us closed. They will always have a special place in our hearts,” he adds.


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14 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

great things to do in Dublin

BY FIONA RUTHERFORD

F

requent visitors to Dublin can fall into the habit of going to the same places each time they visit and miss out on some of the major changes to the city’s landscape. If you normally go for the shopping and a show, take a look beneath the surface and get a feel for this wonderful city’s intriguing past and its transformation into a stylish, multinational hub. The docks, once a rundown no-go zone for tourists, is now a vibrant centre for commerce and the arts and a must-see for a flavour of 21st century cosmopolitan living, Dub style. Try these for a glimpse of Dublin past, present and future....

1

THELITTLEMUSEUM at St Stephen’s Green. You know you’re going to be on Grafton Street anyway and will probably take a few minutes at the Green. Book ahead for a tour of The Little Museum and allow yourself a few laughs and a trip down memory lane. Our guide knew exactly how much gossip and trivia to drop into the tour to keep a very mixed group entertained. For instance, who knew that the guns fell silent at St Stephen’s Green for an hour every day during the Easter Rising to allow the park keeper to go in and feed the ducks? This museum, staffed by volunteers, covers everything from the city’s

beginnings to visits by everyone from John F Kennedy to Pope John Paul 11 with an eclectic mix of collectibles including gold Monster Munches. There are also separate rooms set aside for tributes to U2, The Irish Times’ most famous editor Bertie Smyllie, who confounded the censors to report VE Day, and stellar Dubliner Alfie Byrne, a much loved mayor and TD throughout the 20th century. You can also book tours based around the city’s many famous writers, its music greats or its women or book in for one of its lauded lectures by visiting experts. See www.littlemuseum.ie

2

THE VIKING SPLASH TOURS. I know, I know, when you see these yellow WWII amphibious trucks careening through the streets you may think, ‘Never in a month of Sundays’ but you’d be missing out on a rare treat. Turn left out of the Little Museum and you’ll see them lined up outside Starbucks. Our guide, Emma, had a touch of the Caroline Ahernes about her and left us in no doubt of her feelings about the talents of the late Sam Stephenson, the architect behind some of the city’s ugliest buildings as we wove through the streets, scaring the wits out of pedestrians by the good old Viking tradition of roaring at them. The guides point out places of interest such as Christchurch Cathedral and the government buildings as well as Viking

sites before the boat splashes into the Grand Canal for a tour of the thoroughly upmarket docklands. We cruised by everything from kayakers and the new cable wakeboard park to U2’s studios. It’s informative and fun and the youngest passengers even get a go at taking the wheel on the water. See www. vikingsplash.com.

3

THE DOCKLANDS. Forget the seedy district of former times – everyone from Google to Facebook has their European headquarters here and the area is a shiny advert for the new Dublin. We stayed in the 5 star Marker Hotel whose rooftop bar affords a view for miles around, as far as the sea and the mountains beyond the city reaches. From its restful spa and pool, which children can use at certain times, to its airy bar and restaurant, The Marker is a luxurious and welcoming oasis for business travellers and holidaymakers alike. It’s right next to the striking Bord Gais Energy Theatre, designed by famous architect Daniel Libeskind. Its

‘garden’ with poles representing trees, which was designed by Martha Schwartz, looks wonderful lit up at night.

4

CROKEPARKETIHADSKYLINETOUR.Scale the heights of the city with this stroll over 40 metres above ground. As well as info points dotted around the perimeter, explaining the landmarks stretching far into the distance, you can have the benefit of a tour guide with all the insights and quirky stories that add colour to what is an already impressive experience. Learn about the architect who forgot to include a staircase in his plans, leading to a new concept in design on the streets below – and don’t forget the hapless cleaner who accidentally dumped a €4m piece of moon rock, presented by President Nixon, after a fire at the Dunsink Observatory in the 1970s. However, it’s the views of the city in its beautiful natural setting which is the true star, as well as the velvet grass of Croke Park far below. One of the highlights (or scariest bits) of the tour takes you away from solid roof


Your Hotel and Tour Guide | 15

2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Say ‘Hello Summer!’ with a Dublin Daytripper rail adventure

and onto a gantry where, safely harnessed to the rail, you can truly experience the thrill of this sky high adventure. There are also great tours of the stadium, which is the third largest in Europe after Barcelona’s Camp Nou and London’s Wembley Arena and holds 82,300 on a match day, and just a few less when the venue is hosting a concert by mega stars such as Beyonce and Coldplay. The GAA musuem inside the building is well worth a visit and you don’t need to follow football, camogie or hurling to enjoy the interactive displays and challenges.

W

5

FEAST! Ireland’s capital has no shortage of first class eateries and many of the newest additions are worth checking out for fine dining that won’t cost the earth. Across from The Marker is Charlotte Quay, a must visit for great food with a view to match through the floor to ceiling windows. The menu tantalises with fresh Irish produce served with an east Mediterranean twist with starters such as delicious spicy Gambas pil pil or fresh Crab salad with avocado, lotus root and chipotle mayo and mains to please every palate from the Braised beef cheek with soft polenta, courgette, violet artichoke and salsa verde to the Tuna nicoise, green beans, kalamata olives, crispy quail eggs and boquerones. Finish it off with a smile-inducing dessert such as the White chocolate mousse with strawberries and sorbet for a superb feast and service to match. See www.charlottequay. ie. For a lunchtime snack when exploring the city, try Lemon on Dawson Street for fun food and flippin’ great pancakes. Or staying around the Stephen’s Green area, the Cliff Townhouse is making waves with its up to the moment menu and refined Georgian interior. Choose an afternoon tea where the emphasis is on fresh seafood and lobster bisque, pop

in for oysters and champagne or linger over the pre-theatre menu designed by Michelin star executive chef Martijn Kajuiter, of Cliff House Hotel in County Waterford. and head chef Sean Smith, fresh from Bentley’s where he worked under Richard Corrigan. Every element has its place, from starters such as Baby Squid, Chorizo & Feta Cheese, Mussels and Parsley Sauce to mains such as Venison, Red Cabbage, Fondant Potato and Mulled Wine Sauce through to the finishing touches like Rhubarb Jelly, Vanilla Ice Cream and Cider Sabayon. See www.clifftownhouse.ie. As with any trip to Dublin, one leaves with a few regrets... We ran out of time and didn’t manage to fit in Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, historic Glasnevin Cemetery or Kilmainham Gaol, the new Epic centre or the Vermeer exhbition at the National Gallery. There’s only one thing for it – Dublin, we’ll be back!

ith the holidays in full swing, it’s time to say ‘Hello Summer!’ with Translink’s Dublin Daytripper train service now available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until September 2. In addition to the normal Enterprise train timetable, this special NI Railways day return service will run from Belfast Central Station to Dublin Connolly also serving Portadown and Newry. Whether it’s hitting the shops in Grafton Street, strolling around St Stephen’s Green, exploring the museums and attractions or simply soaking-up the cool city vibes, travel by train to Dublin for a relaxing traffic-free journey. And, if shopping and attractions just aren’t your thing this summer, Dublin’s buzzing with a jam-packed events calendar and a culinary scene that’s a real taste sensation with cafes, pubs and restaurants catering for all appetites. Try the train for a comfortable and convenient journey where you can read a good book, browse the internet, catch-up with friends, play games with the kids or simply sit back and enjoy the scenery. The Translink Dublin Daytripper service offers good value return train tickets at just £15 adult, £10 child or £50 Family & Friends ticket (up to 2 adults and 4 children) leaving

you with more to spend when you hit the shops, sights and cafes! Tickets are available to buy online and from Belfast Central, Portadown and Newry Train Stations. With leisurely mid-morning departures from Belfast Central Station – Thursday & Friday (10.27am), Saturday (10.20am) - also serving Portadown and Newry, arriving in Dublin right on time for lunch. If you’re a regular Translink ‘Smart Mover’ or new to public transport, make the most of your time off work and school by enjoying a ‘Dublin Daytripper’ adventure this summer! Visit www.translink.co.uk or call 9066 6630 for details.


16 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Culture, history and adventure along Ireland’s Ancient East B

Immerse yourself in 5,000 years of fascinating history, culture and tradition on a magical journey along Ireland’s Ancient East, from the Boyne Valley in the north east, south through medieval Kilkenny and Viking Waterford, and onward to beautiful coastal Cork – with lots in between!

rimming with stories and packed with fun family festivals and adventure, see at first-hand how this sacred region seduced early Christians and medieval lords all those years ago... and enjoy stunning scenery, top class food and great accommodation along the way. Ireland’s Ancient East is for fun-lovers, history buffs, adventure seekers and children of all ages.

Historic sites

Travel back in time at the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage site with its exceptional passage tomb of Newgrange in Co. Louth bringing you back to 3200 BC. See the wonders of the megalithic Brownshill Dolmen in Co. Carlow and in Clonmacnoise in Co. Offay explore the monastery founded in 544 by St. Ciarán. Be King as you conquer the wonders of Kilkenny Castle along The Medieval Mile, and

attack other regal gems such as Enniscorthy Castle in Wexford, the atmospheric fortress of Athlone Castle or Leap Castle in Offaly. The Waterford Viking Triangle speaks of an Ireland both past and present with medieval treasures, art and craft and a walking tour. Make memories among the ruins of St Kevin’s monastery at Glendalough and the Rock of Cashel in Tipperary. At Wicklow Gaol’s spooky confines, stories abound about the hardships faced by prisoners interred after their involvement in the 1798 Rebellion. For some coastal heritage, set sail for a tour of Hook Lighthouse in Co Wexford, reputedly the oldest in the world still in operation. Or head to picturesque Cobh in Co. Cork and take in the Titanic Experience.

Natural beauty

The incredible natural landscapes of Ireland’s Ancient East will capture you with its stories

Kilkenny Castle – not all of them with a happy ending. At Belvedere House & Gardens, in Co. Westmeath, you can hear about cruel Robert Rochford who kept his wife imprisoned for over 30 years and who also built Ireland’s largest folly ‘The Jealous Wall’. Wander through the world-famous gardens at Mount Usher and Powerscourt, both in Wicklow. Or tease yourself with the renowned biodiversity of the Cavan Burren. Feel the sea spray on your face by soaking up Waterford’s rugged Copper Coast. Wexford and Waterford boast some of Ireland’s best golden beaches, the perfect places to take to the water and get the blood pumping with a surf lesson. Or find a spot on a clifftop to


Your Hotel and Tour Guide | 17

2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph Burren Forest, Blacklion, Cavan

make lasting family memories enjoying a picnic with a stunning backdrop. Or how about a reviving walk on the Blue Flag Curracloe Beach in Co Wexford, where scenes from Saving Private Ryan were filmed. Step it out and enjoy the stunning natural beauty of mountains like Wicklow’s distinctive Sugar Loaf – or the beautiful bogland in the flat central plains of Offaly and Longford and the lush green pastureland in Tipperary and Kilkenny.

writers from all over the world. Or try some events of a quirkier hue, such as the Trim Haymaking Festival in Co. Meath. The Waterford Harvest Festival of Food is the place to go to taste the best of Irish food. And if food is your thing – do not miss the English Market in Cork City! Take your pick for adventure and fun. Go mountain-biking in Co Carlow, or zip-line

among the trees at Oldcastle, Co. Meath. Be on top of the world on a hike up the Comeragh Mountains in Waterford and your reward will be a view that will stay with you forever. Water lovers can take to sea kayaking or surfing in Waterford and Wexford. Or travel inland to canoe and Stand Up Paddle Board along the River Nore. Or stroll tree top bridges in Castlecomer Discovery Park in Kilkenny set in 80 acres of woodland.

Taste and see

Festivals and fun!

Ireland’s Ancient East is packed with things to do for young and old to do. This is a land where our tradition of great festivals continues proudly to this day, from the internationally renowned Kilkenny Arts Festival to Electric Picnic in Stradbally Co. Laois, a favourite with music lovers. And literary buffs will love The Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas in Co. Carlow which attracts leading

Curracloe Beach

Mount Usher Gardens, Wicklow

Ireland’s Ancient East is a region with rich land that yield the finest of home grown artisan food. Dine in one of Kilkenny’s two Michelin star restaurants, taste Waterford’s world famous signature bread the Blaa or breakfast with Inch black pudding in Tipperary. You can wash it all down with a pint in a marvellously atmospheric pub. Tynan’s Bridge House pub in Kilkenny is one great

Carlingford Adventure Centre

pit stop, dating back to 1703. Or take an interactive journey through 300 years of brewing history at the Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny. You will not of course do Ireland’s Ancient East in one go. Each time you visit you will unearth a new set of secrets adding to your own unique experience to share. The stories of Ireland’s Ancient East are truly compelling - and not only because they have been thousands of years in the making, but because they will stay with you forever.  Discover it all at www. irelandsancienteast.com  Facebook www.facebook.com/ IrelandsAncientEast  Twitter: www.twitter.com/AncientEastIRL #IrelandsAncientEast  Instagram: www.instagram.com/ IrelandsAncientEast


18 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Stately homes and

in Wicklow

BY FIONA RUTHERFORD

S

s Park

tately homes, heritage sites and beautiful scenery are a distinctive feature of Ireland’s Ancient East – and where better to start than the garden of Ireland, Co. Wicklow. We spent two nights at the luxurious Powerscourt Hotel this summer, sampling some of the key attractions drawing visitors to the area. The hotel is in the grounds of the 18th century Powerscourt Estate with its world famous gardens and you could be a million miles from cosmopolitan Dublin in this gloriously restful oasis. Voted number 3 in the World’s Top 10 Gar- Powerscourt House and Gardens dens by National Geographic, Powerscourt Gardens have evolved over about 300 years. natural beauty pervades its grounds, with While the grounds cover 47 acres, you can see views of the distinctive Sugarloaf Mountain the main areas, from the fabulous formal gar- taking centre stage in the Sika restaurant. dens with their terraces and ornamental lake to If you could tear your eyes away, there were the walled garden, dolphin pond, Japanese gar- often people playing the giant chess game in dens, rose garden and the pets cemetery with a the garden below. The hotel’s award winning one hour tour. Children will love climbing the ESPA is as stunning as one might expect from Pepperpot Tower, built as a playhouse for Lord a 5 star resort and includes a fitness studio and Powerscourt’s children, with great views from a 20-metre Swarovski Crystal-lit heated pool its turrets. You can get an audio guide which which children were allowed into at set times. gives snippets of information at points of inter- Meal times were a delight with the friendly est, with comments by the head gardener Alex staff happy to chat and the menu at this award Slazenger. The borders in the walled garden winning restaurant offering a stunning range are the longest herbaceous borders in Ireland of contemporary dishes with an emphasis on and unsurprisingly, as soon as the man tasked fresh seafood and local ingredients. See www. with weeding them is finished, it’s time to start powerscourthotel.com for more. over. One of the most impressive things about While you could easily spend two days and Powerscourt is that whatever vantage point you never leave the hotel, there are other attracstop to admire the gardens from, the vista is tions to see in this part of the world. sublime. Everything works together perfectly and while in summer, the flowers were in full Into Wicklow bloom and filling the air with fragrance, you We started with a tour of Wicklow Gaol in the can admire it throughout the changing seasons middle of pretty, flower-bedecked, Wicklow as it’s open all year round. town. Known as the Gates of Hell, the gaol was Once you’ve filled your lungs, you can built in 1702, and is a must for anyone with a browse Powerscourt House. Tragically, the desire to plumb the depths of human misery. interior of the stately home was destroyed by A sombre voiced ‘warden’ checks visitors into fire some years ago but it has been restored and the gaol and gives you an idea of the fate that the huge stone walls are home to the stylish awaited its previous inmates. In the courtyard, Avoca stores and other luxury outlets where you can still see the cruel treadwheel where you can stock up on everything from clothes prisoners, including children, sometimes met to gifts to food and fashion, before putting their end. This award-winning museum charts your feet up and enjoying a welcome coffee the fates of individual prisoners during the and the panoramic views of the gardens and Great Famine, the 1798 Rebellion and the War mountains beyond in the terrace restaurant. of Independence and upstairs you can board a Alongside the speciality shops, visitors can famine ship for a sense of what conditions were browse an exhibition on the history of the like for the many people deported to Australia, often for merely being poor. The dungeons are estate (see powerscourt.com). It’s a few miles’ drive through beautiful as dark, dank and spooky as you might expect wooded parkland to one of the other must and it took a few minutes to adjust to the bright sees – Powerscourt Waterfall which, at almost summer sunshine when we emerged. See 400 feet, is Ireland’s highest. It’s a great spot www.wicklowshistoricgaol.com. for picnics and barbecues with a children’s It was a short half hour drive from the gloom playground and refreshment kiosk on site. of the gaol to the beauty of Glendalough with Back at the hotel and the same sense of its famous monastic settlement. Despite the many coaches in the visitor’s centre carpark, and the throngs at the roadside stalls, the site itself didn’t feel crowded and we spent some time exploring the ruins of the monastery founded by St Kevin in the 6th century. The round tower is a particular wonder and you’d have to climb a ladder, as the monks did, to get to its inner reaches. The ancient cemetery bears witness to the many members of the Byrne family in the area and it was interesting The view of the Sugar Loaf Mountain to see how many headstones had been erected from the terrace of Sika Restaurant, by parents in memory of their lost children. Powerscourt Hotel


2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

stunning gardens

and Kildare

Beautiful Glendalough Walking along the lakeside, through wooded valleys, it is easy to see how Kevin and his fellow monks found a thin place between heaven and earth in this very special place. See www. glendalough.ie for details.

Stately homes

As we were keen to explore the Ancient East theme, our trip included two more stately homes – Castletown House and Russborough House. We visited Russborough House first but for a better idea of the lay of the land, go to Castletown House first. This is Ireland’s largest and earliest Palladian-style estate and is near the village of Celbridge, across into Co. Kildare. It was built in the 1720s by William Connolly, who had risen from humble beginnings as the son of an innkeeper to become the wealthiest commoner in the country and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. You can still imagine how grand it must have been, admiring the façade, designed by the Italian architect Alessandro Galilei, and the wings added by Irish architect Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, and the grandeur continues into the vast entrance hall. However, there is a vast amount of work required to restore the rest of the house to its former glory after a property developer bought it in the 1960s. He removed the roof to avoid paying taxes and caused incalculable damage to the property. The Office of Public Works is working to maintain the property now and it hosts a variety of exhibitions and displays. During our visit, there was an exhibition relating to Princess Grace of Monaco and out in the pretty courtyard with its coffee shop, the Big Brick display - a huge collection of Lego and other bricks – put together by Derry man Michael Finan was taking pride of place. See www.castletownhouse.ie for details. If you can only fit in one stately home on a tour, make it Russborough House at Blessington, in Co. Wicklow. This perfectly preserved home is mesmerising and Russborough our guide talked with House’s ceilings such affection of Sir are exceptional. Alfred and Lady Beit, The house was who left the house to designed by Ireland, that you felt Richard Cassels almost as if you knew for Joseph Leeson, them. We lingered the First Earl of Milltown and built long after the tour between 1741 and to look at the many 1755

photos taken by Alfred on his world travels as well as while entertaining stars of their day like Jackie Onassis, Rex Harrison, Coco Chanel and Fred Astaire and to sit in the cinema where guests could watch the home movies he made. The Beits had bought the house to store their art collection and despite attempts by everyone from Rose Dugdale to The General to the IRA to steal it, they left their vast array of masterpieces to the National Gallery of Ireland. About 50 paintings and drawings in the world-famous Beit Collection and the Milltown Collection remain in Russborough House. The entire house is full of fascinating artefacts, all in mint condition – even more amazing when you learn that the children of the owners prior to the Beits rode their horses right through it. See www.russborough.ie.

Off to Lullymore

Our final tour took us to a unique mix of ancient and modern, Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park at the Bog of Allen in Co. Kildare. You can’t rush a visit to this fascinating place which Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park combines important conservation work with an eclectic selection of activities designed to entertain visitors of all ages. The park is evolving as surely as the land on which it is built and has breathed new life into what was once a desolate place, with miles of peat bog as far as the eye could see. The park takes up 60 acres of the immense bogland and is now an important destination for field trips as new life springs up from the ground with many plants and species of wildlife appearing for the first time in decades. You can walk the new Biodiversity Boardwalk out to a thatched roof hide where you can study the Peatlands Exhibition, which includes bog butter, and spend time spotting the wildlife, or take a train ride around the grounds, or have a go at cutting turf with a champion cutter. Children love the outdoor play area with its zipline and crazy golf where the final hole is played on top of a tower, and the pet farm with its Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. Even the historic displays have diversity at their heart with multimedia displays covering everything from the story of Erc, a local druid, who was converted to christianity by St Patrick and went on to found a monastery on the site, to Captain John Doorly, a local man who was executed for his part in the 1798 rebellion. Other areas of the park are home to a Stone Age Farmstead, a Famine House and a Hedge School while the Fairy Bower is enchanting and has been copied widely. Actors add to the excitement of a visit and the locals say it is a must see at halloween for extreme scary fun and at Christmas, when the park is truly a winter wonderland. There’s even a huge indoor forest-themed play centre and restaurant where freshly baked scones and great tasting coffee will help you keep your energy levels up to make the most of this great and deservedly award-winning spot. See www.lullymoreheritagepark.com for details. For many more ideas of places to visit in Ireland’s Ancient East, see www.irelandsancienteast.com.

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20 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Stay close to home for

A

6 of the best

ugust is here but don’t despair, there’s plenty of summer fun still to be had, whatever your age and lifestyle. From families with young children to pensioners with a penchant for adventure, there are thousands of options for great days out and short breaks – and you don’t even need to leave Northern Ireland! You can tailor-make the perfect holiday for your loved ones – and your budget – with a great choice of places to stay from self-catering cottages to five star resorts, and from quiet country lodges to family friendly hotels complete with kids’ clubs and entertainment programmes. Take your pick of natural beauty spots, mountains and forest walks, rivers and loughs and coastal paths and beaches. Should the weather disappoint, make for the great indoors for arts and culture, historic homes, musuems and heritage tours and great food and drink. If you normally go to the same places, why not try a different county for

a change? All six counties are packed with places to explore...

Armagh

Armagh’s history can be traced back 6,500 years and the best way to learn about it is to take a guided walking tour. The area is packed with important archaeological and historical sites such as Navan Fort, where living history Apple picking in characters bring the Armagh story of the Celts to life, two St Patrick’s Cathedrals, Ireland’s oldest museum - Armagh County which has a children’s trail – and Armagh Gaol which only closed after 200 years in 1986. The Georgian architecture adds to the city’s ambience and

in autumn, the Orchard county comes into its own. Visitors can tour Armagh Cider Company’s orchard, see how cider is produced and make your own apple juice – perfect for washing down all those crisps form the tour of Tayto Castle at Tandragee. Take a virtual trip to the international space station at the Armagh Planetarium or visit one of the National Trust properties in the area, The Argory and Ardress House. At The Argory you can take a tour of the elegant house and gardens and relax over afternoon tea in the award-winning Lady Ada’s tea-room while the children play in the adventure playground. For a great countryside walk, head for the Ring of Gullion forest park in south Armagh or Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford Island Nature Reserve which also has children’s play areas. Gosford Park, near Markethill, makes for a great day out with its rare breeds, deer park, walled garden, nature trails and play areas. For high energy fun, make for Lurgaboy Adventure Centre for raft

Armagh’s cathedrals building, archery, a high levels rope course and a 375m zip wire. What’s on: Armagh city joins forces with Downpatrick each year for a major St Patrick’s Day festival and other large scale events in the area include the annual John Hewitt International Summer School at the end of July, the All-Ireland Road Bowls finals in Blackwatertown on August 5–6, the 7 Hills Blues Festival, from August 10–13, and the Charles Wood Festival of Music, on August 20–27. The Ring of Gullion Lúnasa Festival in South Armagh, runs from now until August


Your Hotel and Tour Guide | 21

2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph 27, including a Zombie Apocalypse survival day, a chance to meet T-Rex at the Geotastic Extravaganza, a Flagstaff Fiesta and Fleadh Rua, the red-head festival. See www.ringofgullion.org/events. For more details, even more things to do, how to book and get there, visit www. armagh.co.uk.

Antrim

Co. Antrim is a magnet for visitors, thanks to the Causeway Coast and nine gorgeous Antrim Glens. Kids love the steam train ride from Bushmills to the Giant’s Causeway and no visit to the Causeway Coast is Giant’s Causeway complete without a stroll around Dunluce Castle, a ferry crossing to Rathlin Island to see the puffin colony and a shuffle over Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Top rated guided tours include the Old Bushmills Distillery where you can have a dram and a bite to eat and buy a bottle with a personalised label, and Game of Thrones tours including stops at the Dark Hedges, Cushendun Caves and Ballintoy Harbour. Co. Antrim is home to many award-winning beaches with Portrush’s East Strand, West Strand and Whiterock Beach among the favourites, At Ballycastle the Causeway Coast gives on to the Glens of Antrim which sweep down as far as Larne. The nine glens – Glencloy, Glenarm, Glenariff, Glenballyeamon, Glencorp, Glenaan, Glendun, Glenshesk and Glentaisie – rival each other for natural beauty with woods, waterfalls and scenic walks.

Drive or cycle around Fair Head and Torr Head, on the scenic route from Ballycastle to Cushendun, for spectacular views across to the Mull of Kintyre. Stop at pretty Cushendun with its historic cottages or carry on towards Cushendall with its lively music scene and sheltered beach. Nearby are Waterfoot town with its beautiful beach and a half hour drive inland takes you to Glenariff Forest Park, a must visit, with its cascading waterfall. Back on the coast road and you soon come to Carnlough, at the foot of Glencloy. Its landmarks include its harbour and also the Londonderry Arms Hotel and Garron Tower, both of which were inherited by Winston Churchill in the 1920s. Inland is Slemish Mountain, where St Patrick tended sheep as a slave, and further along the coast is Glenarm with its magnificent castle where Lord and Lady Dunluce live and where the famous Glenarm shorthorn beef and Glenarm organic smoked salmon are produced. The grounds and tea shop are open to the public and you can see inside the castle during the Tulip Festival in May and the Dalriada Festival in July. Ballygally, another favourite with fans of Game of Thrones, is a popular beach resort and within easy reach

of Carnfunnock Country Park with its mix of activities and attractions including a maze and treasure trails. It’s a short hop from Larne and Carrickfergus across to Islandmagee Peninsula with one of Northern Ireland’s best kept secrets, the lovely Brown’s Bay beach as well as the notorious Gobbins cliff path, dubbed the most dangerous walk in Europe. You can tour medieval Carrickfergus Castle, with its banqueting hall and cannons and then visit former US president Andrew Jackson’s Cottage and the US Rangers Centre before winding up in Belfast. With so many well known spots, as well as the main towns of Antrim, Ballymena and Ballymoney, there’s no end of things to see and do in Co. Antrim. What’s on: Major festivals include Heart of the Glens Festival in Cushendall on August 5-17, Newtownabbey Shoreline Festival on August 26, and the Auld Lammas Fair, Ballycastle, August 27–29. There sky high fun at the Kite Festival at Downhill, from August 5-6 and Air Waves Portrush International Airshow will be ready for take-off on September 2-3. See www.visitcausewaycoastandglens. com for more details.

Derry~Londonderry

St Patrick’s Trail at Slemish Mountain

The city and surrounding county has been building a reputation for its fine food and vibrant music scene and it’s perfect for anyone looking for a mix of city culture, coastal beauty and majestic mountains. The Maiden City’s 400 year old walls are unique to the island of Ireland and mark the boundaries of the old town, built many centuries after St Columba opened a monastery there in the 6th century. Walk along the walls and see Roaring Meg and the other 23 canon which helped defend Derry during the great siege of

Paddle boarding at Limavady 1689. The Tower Museum, within the walls, has permanent exhibits covering The Story of Derry and an Armada Shipwreck – La Trinidad Valencera, which sank off Donegal in 1588. Go before January 21, 2018 to see an exhibition about Inishowen archaeologist Mabel Colhoun. Nearby is the Guildhall – pop in for a cuppa in the restaurant, to admire the stained glass windows and to see the contents of a time capsule which was buried under its foundations in 1887. The city’s oldest building is the historically important St. Columb’s Cathedral with its Chapter House Museum where you’ll find the keys of the four original gates of the city walls. The old part of the city is where the arts action is, with The Verbal Arts Centre, Nerve Centre, the Millennium Forum, Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin and The Playhouse Theatre all there. Go from the old city by foot or bike across the Peace Bridge to Ebrington Square, transformed from a military complex to a venue for public events. Among its many attractions is the Walled City Brewery which has a restaurant attached. Away from the city, County Londonderry is a rural idyll. As soon as you cross the Bann from Co. Antrim you are into Co. London-


22 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide derry and its lively towns like Maghera and Magherafelt. Stop off at Ballyronan Marina on the shores of Lough Neagh for a paddle and a picnic or head for nearby Bellaghy and spend a while at Seamus Heaney Homeplace – see www.seamusheaneyhome.com for a packed programme of talks. Further into the county and The Sperrin Mountains, which

Binevenagh Mountain, near Downhill and Benone also fall into Co. Tyrone, are ranked among the world’s top 101 scenic drives by National Geographic, which praised their “wild beauty, ideal trails and dreamy villages”. Take a left along the Glenshane Pass to experience the mountain beauty and see the highest peak, Sawel Mountain. Or head further north for the Roe Valley Country Park, near Limavady, for anything from a gentle stroll to a spot of fishing or rock climbing. Travel on a little for some of the county’s most spectacular Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Binevenagh Mountain with its lake and cliffs looming over Downhill, Castlerock and Benone beach. Keep going north and you’re at Castlerock and Portstewart, voted the UK’s best Blue Flag beach last year. What’s on: Across the county, the local bars, hotels and community centres are a hive of entertainment activity and Derry City has a vibrant arts and entertainments scene with regular major events including the Foyle Maritime Festival and the major Halloween events. Next up are New Horizon christian festival at the Ulster University at Coleraine on August 5–11, the Maiden City Festival on August 5–12 and the Stendhal Festival of Art at Limavady on August 9–11. See www. visitderry.com for many more listings and places of interest.

Brent geese over Strangford Lough

Down

County Down is the garden of Northern Ireland with its rich soil and beautiful, undulating landscape, towering mountains, unspoilt beaches, craggy coastline and abundant wildlife. It’s also the most populous of the six counties with part of Belfast falling within its borders. Newry, Lisburn, Bangor, Newcastle and Downpatrick spring to mind when you think of its main cities and towns but in fact the county has about 80 towns and villages in total – that’s a lot of places to shop, eat, play and stay. There’s plenty of variety to be found, from Dundonald and Castlereagh on the outskirts of Belfast to the busy commuter towns of Holywood, Bangor and Ards to fishing villages like Ardglass and Kilkeel. Northern Ireland’s history is woven into the fabric of the county and is celebrated at superb museums from the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to Bagenal’s Castle, Newry. Some of Ulster’s greatest legendary

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017 heroes are linked to Down, not least Cú Chulainn and Finn McCool. St. Patrick is believed to be buried at Downpatrick while the famous celtic saints such as Comgall and Columbanus impacted the world from Bangor. The Vikings invaded this coastline and their bones lie under the land to this day. In later centuries, the English came and castles such as magnificent Killyleagh and Hillsborough form an enduring link with today’s royal family. Stately homes abound in County Down and are now a treasured part of the landscape and must-see places for visitors. Over in Ballywalter, on the Ards Peninsula, you can even have Afternoon Tea with Lord Dunleath while Mount Stewart House and Gardens is a magnet for music lovers who pack a picnic for jazz in the gardens during the summer months. It’s a great county to visit, with its wealth of attractions and range of things to do. Plumb the depths of maritime treasures at Exploris, flutter among the butterflies at Seaforde Gardens and Tropical Butterfly House or feed the animals at the open farms at Dundonald, Castlewellan or Newtownards. Take to the water for the chance to spot a humpback whale or dolphin off the coast or head for Strangford Lough in autumn to see almost the entire world population of light-bellied Brent Geese arrive from northern Canada. When it comes to attractions and things to do, few places can match Down for variety. You can abseil down mountains, climb towers, play golf on a championship course, go paddle-boarding, mountain bike through a forest and even hunt leprechauns across the border into Carlingford! Water sport options abound from diving to sea kayaking, from paddle-boarding to sailBouldering at ing. Go faster with Bloody Bridge, kart racing or can- Newcastle ter across one of the many beaches on horseback. Alternatively, slow the pace, pause and drink in the views from Slieve Binnian or Strangford, Dundrum or Donaghadee and let the freshest of air blow your stress away. What’s on: Open House Festival sees hundreds of events across the Bangor area throughout August while Lough Lively brings music to Portico, a restored church turned arts venue, in Portaferry. The Festival of Flight will see the Red Arrows flying over Newcastle on August 4-5 and on August 2021, Warrenpoint’s Wake the Giant festival includes a ‘clamour glamour’ parade and laser light show. Hilden Beer & Music Festival returns to the Hilden Brewery, Lisburn, for the August Bank Holiday Weekend on August 25-27. A new Festival, City of Merchants will take place from September 30–October 1 and aims to celebrate the maritime and industrial heritage of Newry. See www.newrymournedown.org for lots more information about mid and south Down and the Mournes. See www.visitardsandnorthdown.com for details about the north of the county.

Fermanagh

Natural beauty is Fermanagh’s greatest calling card, however, the county has its fair share of visitor attractions and activities – including stately homes, museums, ancient sites, Lough Erne cruises, guided pottery tour and subterranean caves. Discover historic Fermanagh with a visit to Enniskillen Castle

with its newly refurbished Visitor Centre and museums. The area from the Lakeland Forum to the castle and beyond has been landscaped and there is now a beautiful walk along the waterside with picnic tables so you can stop and enjoy the views. Enniskillen town has a good selection of shops and restaurants and at the Buttermarket, in the centre of town, you can watch crafters and artists at work and buy their wares in the shop and cafe. The county has some excellent guided tours of key heritage sites such as the Boa Island with its historic Janus Figure or 4,000 year old Drumskinny Stone Circle near Ederney.

Enniskillen Castle Take a tour of Belleek Pottery and see for yourself the craft and attention to detail that goes into every piece produced. The county is home to three National Trust properties – Florence Court, Crom and Castle Coole. You can take a guided tour of Florence Court house and have a cuppa in the tea room while the Crom estate is perfect for spotting wildlife and you can walk around the castle ruins. Guided tours of Castle Coole include not only the lavish interiors where the Lowry-Corry family lived, but also the servants’ quarters. The BBC Proms on the Park 2017 is taking place at Castle Coole on September 9 – not to be missed. Enniskillen is home to the unique Headhunters Railway Museum, where you can explore the golden age of steam travel and visit the barber at the same time. There are several outdoor activity centres in Fermanagh, one of the main being Share Discovery Village where patrons can try their hand at orienteering; canoeing, archery and climbing. For many people, though, the best way to see the county is to get lost in it as there are beautiful views to be had wherever you go. While the new trails along Cuilcagh Mountain are now topping many people’s bucket list, there are many oth- Walking at Lower Lough Erne er routes to explore. Head from Enniskillen to Tempo and look out for signs for Topped Mountain. It’s a short climb to the top but the views are breath-taking. Even more spectacular views are to be had from Lough Navar Forest Park, near Derrygonnelly. It’s part of the Marble Arch Geopark and you can climb alongside the Blackslee Waterfall and revel in the views of Lower Lough Erne from the Magho Cliff walk. The Marble Arch Caves are also a must on a visit to Co. Fermanagh. What’s on: There’s a variety of entertainment in the lakeland county with major arts events such The Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival on August 31–September 3 and on a different tack, the Harvest country music festival at Enniskillen Airport on August 26-27. Festival Lough Erne celebrates the county’s great food offering, especially its fish, and is based around Enniskillen Castle, on September 23-24. For more information visit www.fermanaghlakelands. com.

Tyrone

The biggest county in Northern Ireland, Tyrone’s unspoilt natural beauty and plethora of things to do makes it well worth discovering, Explore the Sperrins from Tyrone starting at Gortin Glen forest park, near Omagh. Ulster American There are marked Folk Park, Omagh trails through the forest and around the lakesas well as a picnic area and wooden play sculpture. Alternatively, take a guided or self-guided Far and Wild Sperrins cycle tour and choose the route that best suits your energy levels. You can also explore some of the county’s beauty spots on horseback, with treks run from stables in Fivemiletown and Castlederg. The main towns in Tyrone are Dungannon, Omagh and Cookstown, each with a lively mix of shops, restaurants, hotels and bars, many of which host live music. The Ulster American Folk Park, outside Omagh, brings the story of Irish emigration to life, and includes a full scale emigrant sailing ship and American Frontier cabins. Those historic links between Tyrone and the USA include two American presidents with links to the county. Ulysses S. Grant’s maternal family came from the Ballygawley area and visitors to the family homestead can find out about the 18th President who rose to prominence after being hailed a hero of the American Civil War. The cottage has been restored, admission is free and there is a picnic area and playground on the site. Woodrow Wilson was President from 1913-1921 and his family hailed from Dergalt, near Strabane. Fire damaged the homestead almost 10 years ago, however, it was restored and the Wilson Ancestral Home is open for guided tours during July and August. History buffs never fail to be impressed by the 400 year old Lissan House, near Cookstown. It was the home of the Staples family from about 1620 until 2006 when it was gifted to the community. Another popular spot is the Baronscourt Estate in Newtownstewart. A magnet for country sports fans, it offers great salmon and pike fishing as well as a choice of rough or woodcock shooting. For active fun, head for Todd’s Leap activity centre, near Ballygawley, while the pace is more leisurely at Blessingbourne Country Estate near Fivemiletown where families enjoy getting close to the animals on the farm and there are great mountain biking trails to explore. Tyrone is forever associated with the O’Neill dynasty, the kings of Ulster and the Hill of the O’Neill at Dungannon gives a view of the nine counties of Ulster with background in- Overlooking Gortin formation available lakes from the neighbouring Ranfurly House visitor centre. A few miles away is Tullyhogue Fort where the kings were inaugurated which is also worth a visit. Travel back a few thousand years to ancient Ireland through a visit to the Bronze Age site at An Creagán in Omagh. What’s on: Country music is king in Tyrone, however, one of the biggest events each year is the annual Appalachian & Bluegrass Music Festival at the Ulster American Folk Park. Some of the biggest names in bluegrass from Ireland, the USA and Canada perform over three days at the start of September. For more ideas of places to visit in County Tyrone, visit www.flavouroftyrone.com.


24 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Get the best out of Belfast

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EOPLE come from all over Northern Ireland for a day’s shopping or a night out in Belfast. But there’s much more to Northern Ireland’s capital than simply its admittedly great shops, restaurants, hotels and bars. Make a break of it and explore the best of the old attractions and the new developments that have led Belfast to become an award-winning player on the world stage. Recent gongs include the Best UK City at the 2016 Guardian and Observer Travel Awards and a listing among the top 10 cities to live and work in the 2015 Good Growth for Cities index. Furthermore, Titanic Belfast was named the World’s Best Tourist Attraction in December 2016 and the city was recently branded a Top City for Foodies by Time Out. It has seen the rise and fall of the industrial era, been bombed in WWII, endured the troubles and today is happily embracing a 21st century renaissance with new developments springing up almost daily, with the area around the Lagan and the docks leading the way. Festivals are the order of the day with everything from Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival and Culture Night in September to Belfast International Arts Festival in October, right through to the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in spring. Apart from shopping and eating, dancing and drinking, there are thousands of things to do in and around Belfast. Here are our Super 8:

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HEAD FOR THE HILLS

Climb Cave Hill, Black Mountain, Carnmoney or Divis and suck in as much pure fresh air as your lungs will take while feasting your eyes on the most beautiful scenery, taking in everywhere from the Ards Peninsula to Scotland, from The Mournes to Lough Neagh. The Hills

are alive with the sounds of history too, with archaeological digs and lots of historic facts to discover, not least Cave Hill’s connection to Gulliver’s Travels.

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TAKE A TOUR

Choose from one of the many guided bus tours to a walking tour and find out lots of fascinating facts about Belfast. Pick a sunny day and take an open top bus tour for a view of the city you haven’t seen before. Choose an area you’re interested in for a hop on-hop off tour or why not see the city under the direction of a tour guide on foot, or by boat, taxi, pedal-powered Wee Toast Tour, bike or Segway? Themes include everything from the city’s architecture to its maritime history and from the troubles to famous sons such as CS Lewis and Van Morrison. Check out Taste and Tour (www.tasteandtour.co.uk) for the multi-award winning Belfast Food Tour, Belfast

Gin Jaunt, Belfast Whiskey Walk, Belfast Bites, Brewery Tour and Belfast Bar Tour.

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PICK A PARK

The city is well supplied with parks, from Botanic Gardens, spectacular on a sunny day, to Victoria Park, in the east of the city, to Ormeau Park and the grounds of the Stormont Estate. Many of these, as well as smaller local parks, are well equipped with children’s play areas. On the outskirts of the city you can happily spend a day exploring Belvoir Forest Park or Barnett Demesne while Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park is home to beautiful walks, a playground, and the City of Belfast International Rose Garden.

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TRACK BACK IN TIME

Visit one of the city’s superb historic centres such as the Ulster Museum, whose current

exhibitions include the must-see winners of the BP Portrait Award 2015, or the Titanic Centre where you can immerse yourself in the Titanic experience. The Linenhall Library, meanwhile, is a treasure in the city’s heart which offers themed tours based on everything from political history to Literary Belfast as well as genealogy workshops. Less well known are the War Memorial Museum at Talbot Street, near St Anne’s Cathedral, which charts the impact of the blitz on the city and Crumlin Road Gaol, whose stones don’t need to be able to talk for tales of what went on within its walls to ring out.

5

GET ACTIVE

Hire a Belfast Bike and take off up one of the safer routes such as the Comber Greenway, make for Shaw’s Bridge and hook up with Mobile Team Adventure for some kayaking up the Lagan, bring a skateboard down to T13


Your Hotel and Tour Guide | 25

2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Summer Tours of Clifton House

in the Titanic Quarter or go along and watch the youngsters practise their stunts, try your hand at wakeboarding at Cable and Wake at the Titanic Slipway, go climbing at Clip n Climb and follow it up with ice skating, also at Dundonald Ice Bowl. For those who like to take things at a more leisurely pace, there are lots of leisure centres in the city where you can go for a swim, golf courses where you can play a round and bowling alleys.

House and the MAC, the Waterfront, the Ulster Hall and local bars and restaurants, Belfast is well equipped with great venues. There are lots of cinemas throughout the city, including the art deco Strand Cinema in east Belfast and the QFT, beside Queen’s, which shows an eclectic mix of movies for aficianados. The Belfast Tattoo returns to the SSE Arena on August 31–September 2 and is just one of many major events for the venue.

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TREAT THE KIDS

Belfast is brilliant for children with excellent facilities such as W5 providing entertainment for all the family. If the weather is decent you could visit Belvoir Zoo and drop in at Belfast Castle for a while too. Out towards Dundonald, Streamvale Open Farm is hugely popular with little ones who love to get close to the animals. Over in the west of the city, Colin Glen Forest Park is home to SkyTrek high and low ropes course.

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TAKE IN A SHOW

Between the Lyric Theatre, the Grand Opera

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SPORTING FIXTURES

Northern Ireland is hosting the UEFA Women’s U19 European Championships from August 8-20 with many of the matches taking place at the NI national stadium at Windsor Park. Over the same period, from August 9-26, the Women’s Rugby World Cup will be staged mainly at the home of Ulster Rugby, the Kingspan Stadium, Queen’s University Sport, and University College Dublin. Ulster Rugby will host English Premiership side Wasps at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season game of the 2017-18 calendar on August 17 and Northern Ireland have their 2018 World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic at

Windsor Park on September 4. Apart from international events, there’s a broad mix of sporting events across the city all year round, from marathons and half marathons to the Pretty Muddy 5k at Ormeau Park on September 22, to motocross, wrestling, boxing and horse racing. For something different, why not catch a Belfast Giants Ice Hockey match – it’s great fun for sports fans and those who don’t know a puck from a ruck.

AVE you ever wondered what lies behind the façade of Clifton House? This imposing Georgian building has seen its fair share of war, famine and plague, but few know the real story and this summer you can find out more. In visiting the House you’ll see and hear the personal stories of those who petitioned the Society both inside and outside the confines of Poor House. Their stories, at times difficult, at times uplifting continue beyond the Poor House through employment, emigration and even in death with many buried in the Society’s Clifton Street Graveyard. The development of Belfast is fundamentally linked to the development of the Belfast Charitable Society. The Society became responsible for services such as water supply, medical provisions, street lighting and philanthropy within the town. All of this was over 150 years before Belfast City Hall was even built! Tours will be held Monday - Friday at 3pm. Each Friday will include a tour of Clifton Street Cemetery. To book a tour, please contact us 028 90997022 or email info@ cliftonbelfast.org.uk.


26 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

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Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Best paw forward

OG lovers don’t need to book their furry friend into kennels if they are heading off for a few days’ pampering. Many hotels with self-catering lodges have long welcomed pets and lately, some have risen to the canine challenge and are now accommodating guests with VIPs (Very Important Pooches) within the hotel itself. Of course, the onus is on dog owners to be responsible, keep paws on the floor and on a lead in dining areas. Once everyone understands the rules, a good time can be had by all. As a nation of dog lovers, we have been lagging behind Great Britain when it comes to extending hospitality to patrons’ pets, however many bars and restaurants with gardens or outdoor dining areas now welcome dogs and will keep water bowls topped up. As you

might expect, established holidaymakers’ havens such as the Fermanagh Lakelands and the Causeway Coast are tops for trips with a four-legged friend with the Inn on the Coast one of handful of restaurants welcoming dogs indoors. Many towns have bars serving great pub grub where you can relax outside with your pet after a good walk. For younger hounds, a good run along a beach or up a mountain trail is the perfect way to burn off boundless energy while older dogs might prefer easier terrain. It’s wise to do a spot of research before you make a booking. Many popular beaches have restrictions over the summer months whereby dogs must be kept on a lead during certain hours and Blue Flag beaches are particularly careful about protecting their status. However, with our expansive coastline there is generally a dog

friendly beach where your pet can swim to his heart’s content and chase after balls within a stone’s throw of the main strand. There are other issues to consider, especially if you are looking ahead to a spring break... If the area you’re considering is in a rural heartland, be aware that dogs need to be kept well under control during lambing season. Some beauty spots are also set aside as bird reservations and it’s particularly important to use a lead during the nesting season. If you are trying to sniff out suitable accommodation where every member of the family can feel pampered, it’s best to check with the accommodation provider directly before booking. Also check whether there’s an additional charge for cleaning. For up to date and useful information, Facebook is the best bet – check Dog Lovers NI and Dog Friendly Ireland.

Dogs welcome at the Inn on the Coast

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HE Inn on the Coast, Portrush, is situated on the Causeway Coastal Route between the beautiful harbour towns of Portrush and Portstewart. This 30 bedroom, pet-friendly hotel is close to many beautiful beaches, world class golf courses and also some of Northern Ireland’s top tourist attractions such as the

Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Our pub restaurant overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, with views towards the Inishowen Peninsula, and includes a designated pet friendly section where you and your four-legged friends are welcome to come in for a bite to eat or enjoy a wee drink.


Your Hotel and Tour Guide | 27

2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

You’ll want to go back to Ballybofey

When you’re free to go where the wind blows...

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here’s fun to be had for over 50s and holidays are a whole new ballgame once you don’t have to factor children into them. You can go where you please and do whatever takes your fancy. Make the most of the free time to get out and explore the country, visit places you’ve never been and do things you might not have felt free to do when life was full of responsibility and you had to always lead by example. The Baby Boomer generation is better placed than most to expand their horizons, with many becoming mortgage free and with a disposable income to live life to the full. The flexibility of being able to go away during school term times means there’s a world of options to explore. There’s no need to cash in your pension pot and go on a world cruise, however, as many hotels and holiday providers know exactly what older holidaymakers want and are only to happy to provide it at decent prices. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Go public: Use that Senior Smartpass to conquer the roads or rail lines. Head off for a series of day trips or stay longer. Bring your hiking boots or bike and get out into the countryside with a few friends, then enjoy a fine meal with as much wine as you like! Join a tour: If you can’t think of anyone to go away with, why not sign up for a coach

T Braving the breakers tour? You’ll find a warm and friendly welcome and as well as discovering new places, the chances are you’ll go home with new friendships and plans for the next outing.

Pick a theme: Indulge yourself in your

favourite hobby with a themed holiday, whether that’s bridge, golf or line dancing, gardening, historic homes or art. You’re certain to meet like minded people if you don’t already know some.

Get pampered: Book into a luxury hotel

and allow yourself to be spoilt rotten with soothing massages and long leisurely swims in the pool. Bring a book to the spa and while away the hours breathing in the beautiful aromas and sipping complementary drinks. Wherever you go, take at least one guided tour to get an entertaining insight into your destination. Make sure you take plenty of photos to show the family - get a selfie stick and beat the younger generation at their own game.

HE Gallen Family, owners of the Villa Rose Hotel & Spa in Ballybofey have recently added the popular Jackson’s Hotel to their offering. With two 4 Star hotels located in the heart of Ballybofey, it serves as an ideal base from which to experience all that Donegal has to offer. With beautifully appointed bedrooms and executive suites and large spacious family rooms the emphasis is on luxury, comfort and relaxation. The hotels boast a state of the art wellness spa and a 22 metre pool and gym between them. Both hotels specialise in Active Breaks for the Over 50s as well as Dancing for Pleasure Holidays with the next dancing break set to run from October 22-26 with Jim & Joan Murphy. If indoor Bowls is your hobby then the Bowls Break taking place at Jackson’s Hotel from September 24-29 with Eric Hamilton will be the ideal break for you. If you would like more information please contact either hotel to request a brochure today.

Let us take care of all the arrangements with tailor made Group Active Breaks to suit you and your group including daily activities and nightly entertainment in an atmosphere of hospitality and friendliness that is second to none. Indulge in some retail therapy with our Exclusive 20% Shopping discount vouchers for their neighbouring McElhinney’s Department Store in the heart of Ballybofey. Breaks from €45pps per night including breakfast, dinner, activities & entertainment. For more details or to organise your group’s own personalised trip contact Leona McGee, their dedicated Over 50s Breaks co-ordinator, today. If you are planning a last minute summer break then why not choose Jackson’s Hotel with Dine & Stay from €149 per couple or 2 B&B + 1 Dinner for €198 per couple, valid Sunday to Thursday with Midweek entertainment for your enjoyment, full leisure access and an ideal base for touring County Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way.


28 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Dream holidays at dreamy prices

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or a vast range of quality holiday options at home and overseas, look no farther than the Belfast Telegraph Travel Shop. You can follow the crowds or go off the beaten track and choose from innovative itineraries with amazing excursions. Whether you are looking for a luxury escape, a cruise or perhaps a faraway adventure, you will find a holiday to suit you there. From bustling city breaks to wonderful breaks closer to home, the Belfast Telegraph Travel Shop staff aim to offer readers a one-stop shop for all their holiday needs, and all trips are fully ATOL protected. Fully escorted holidays include Western Canada & the Rockies, the Splendours of India, Highlights of Cuba, Deep South USA, South Africa’s Capetown, Garden Route and Kruger Park, Highlights of Burma and many more. With Belfast Telegraph Travel you have the option to explore less commercial places, as well as established favourites such as Tenerife, the Costa Brava and Sicily. Done Italy? Why not look at Undiscovered Italy, which includes a tour of Rossini’s birthplace, Pesaro and the republic of San Marino. Or how about Lake Como, the Swiss Alps and Milan for one fully escorted tour or Lake Garda, Venice and Verona for another. Always wanted to do the Camino de Santiago or learn to ski? Both are within the great range of holiday offers available through

Lake Como Belfast Telegraph Travel. If you tend to return from a holiday feeling that you don’t know much more about the place than before you went, an escorted holiday is for you. “Escorted tours are great value for money, you are completely looked after from the moment you arrive at the airport until you come back,” says manager Gillian Galbraith, adding that they get a lot of people returning time and again. “The guides are excellent many people say they make the holiday as they are so informative and great fun. There is also lots of time built into the holidays for you to go and have days to yourself.” Browse and book through the website, www. belfasttelegraphtravel.co.uk or if you have any queries the experienced travel team can be contacted on 028 9026 4003 (Mon-Fri, 9am5pm). You can also find up to date information on the Facebook page or call into the Travel Shop which is still based on Royal Avenue in Belfast city centre, and plan your holiday with the help of one of the travel team. Categories include worldwide tours, European tours, sports tours, walking holidays, cruises, coach tours, beach breaks, city breaks, river cruises, lakes and mountains, Balkan ski holidays, luxury holidays and more. Flights are from Belfast or Dublin.


2 August 2017 | Belfast Telegraph

Welcome to the award winning Glasshouse

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017 will be a year to remember for The Glasshouse in Sligo... the hotel has been winning award after award since the year began. It started with a Gold Award at the Irish Accommodation Services Awards, the second year in a row the hotel scooped gold, then at Catex, the culinary team walked away with five medals. In April the hotel won Best Hotel Restaurant at the Irish Hotel Awards and most recently, The Glasshouse was featured as one of Georgina Campbell’s recommended places to stay! So what makes the hotel so great? Well, they say ‘location, location, location’, and it certainly has that. Perched on the River at Hyde Bridge it is right in the heart of Sligo. With ample underground car parking, you can park your car and explore Sligo on foot

from The Glasshouse. Its 116 bedrooms are really luxurious and if you choose to dine in the award winning Kitchen Restaurant, you will see why it deservedly won Best Restaurant at the Irish Hotel Awards earlier this year. The View Bar on the first floor is a great spot to watch the world go by, Afternoon Tea is a speciality here. At weekends the fun starts from 6pm with the Jazz Lads playing at the View Bar and this is followed by live music from 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Apart from its great location, fine food and facilities, the staff really make The Glasshouse a special place, nothing is too much trouble for them and they clearly enjoy their work. Two night midweek breaks start at €160 per person sharing... why not check it out this summer? For reservations call 00353 71919 4300.

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30 | Your Hotel and Tour Guide

Belfast Telegraph | 2 August 2017

Water, water everywhere...

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low the pace and soak up stunning scenery with a trip along one of the four main lakeland areas on this island. The lakelands span 800km and are packed with treasures to discover whether you opt for Lough Erne or the Upper Lakelands of Cavan and Leitrim, the Shannon and Lough Ree or Lough Derg, ringed by Tipperary, Galway and Clare. The hundreds of lakeland islands are home, not only to world class angling and amazing wildlife but also historic sites that chart Ireland’s past kings, warriors and monks. Base yourself at one of the shoreside towns and enjoy the fishing, cycling, horse-riding or walks or hire a cruiser and see the sights at their best, from the water. Here are our top 3 waterway stop offs for each lakeland...

LOUGH ERNE

1

Tie up at Enniskillen and spend a weekend sampling the delights of this beautiful town. Throughout the summer there is music at the Round O park and the children can have a play and feed the swans. Check out the variety shows at Castle Archdale near Lisnarick and enjoy a walk in the woods. Enjoy a slap up meal at Franco’s Restaurant followed by music and a drink in Blake’s of the Hollow.

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Make a start on your bucket list by climbing Cuilcagh Mountain. Follow that up with a tour of the Marble Arch Caves or a stroll around beautiful Florence Court estate. Round off the day with a leisurely dinner at the Manor House Country Hotel.

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A short climb is rewarded with spectacular views if you make for Topped Mountain, an ancient burial mound just outside Enniskillen. Hop on an Erne Water Taxi and choose from a range of tours of the many beauty spots. Hop off at Lusty Beg Island, a jewel in heart of Lower Lough Erne where you can eat, drink, sleep and have a spa treatment.

UPPER LAKELANDS

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Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill, created in memory of a little girl who passed away, is full of other worldly charm with friendly sprites, pretty fairy houses and lots of surprises. Stop for an unforgettable sandwich at

Beautiful Lough Erne O’Leary’s Delicatessan in Cootehill. Further west, the Cavan Burren is a prehistoric landscape of monuments, megalithic tombs and spectacular geology. A short walk, guided if preferred, and accessible to wheelchairs and buggies, is rewarded with panoramic views. Plan ahead and book into the MacNean bistro for a spot of fine dining afterwards.

Shannon is great for shopping and eating out. Join the locals and have a pint in Sean’s bar, then take a boat across to Killinure Chalets on Lough Ree where you’ll find Walesches Restaurant. Be there before 6pm to have any chance of a table and one of their legendary t-bone steaks. Older kids will love Bay Sports at Hodson Bay, a huge adventure centre.

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Dun A Rí, a huge forest park on the banks of the River Cabra, at Kingscourt, is Cavan’s most popular tourist destination. Legendary Ulster warrior Cuchulain is said to have rested there and it’s teeming with wildlife including hare, red squirrels, otters, and the pigmy shrew. Follow up with a meal at nearby Cabra Castle. No visit to Kingscourt is complete without a Guinness in Gartlan’s bar, famous for its thatched roof.

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Stop at Carrick on Shannon and if you’re travelling by car, take a Moon River cruise. For waterside food, both Cottage and The Oarsman are well worth a visit and you can pick up some souvenirs of your trip at the Market Yard. Lough Key Forest Park is just 15 minutes away by car and is home to everything from a bog garden, an observation tower, ice house, wishing chair and underground tunnels to a tree canopy trail and adventure playground.

LOUGH REE AND MID SHANNON

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Visit Athlone and you’re in the very centre of Ireland. This historic town on the River

Bay Sports at Athlone

Aim for the Shannon next weekend and you’ll be just in time for Castlepalooza, a music and arts festival at Charleville Castle, Tullamore, from August 4-6. Apart from music, there’s a comedy programme and while you’re there, why not take part in a bellydancing workshop? For a change of scene, visit new Tullamore DEW distillery and visitor centre for a lesson in the artisan craft of whiskey making. Follow the Shannon Callows – the floodplains that line the mighty river from Athlone and into Lough Derg. They are home to an amazing range of wildlife, including mink and many species of birds.

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Clonmacnoise is one of the most important historic sites in the heart of the country and draws thousands of visitors each year. As a 6th century monastery it was the burial site for the high kings of Ireland and you can stroll around its ruins which include a round tower and high cross and find out more in the interpretive centre. Keep the historic theme going with a stop off at Lurkers Bar in nearby Shannonbridge. It’s

been immaculately preserved and looks as it must have 300 years ago - enjoy a pint by the blazing turf fire.

LOUGH DERG

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This beautiful lough runs from Portumna to Killaloe and is ringed with mountains. Make for Mountshannon for a Blue Flag beach where a lifeguard keeps an eye on swimmers having a dip in Lough Derg. Pop into Larkins for a bite to eat and a trad music session afterwards. Nature lovers with an interest in organic gardening, can visit Irish Seed Savers at nearby Scariff, Co. Clare. You can tour the organic gardens and buy native and heritage plants which the group is working hard to preserve. Killaloe is a lively town with a deep sense of history, having been Brian Boru’s hometown. Take the heritage trail and explore the town’s 13th-century cathedral, wells, oratories and Victorian streets. You can stroll across the Killaloe bridge into Ballina and you’ll have gone from Co. Clare to Co. Tipperary – not such a long way after all.

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Portumna is home to a striking castle which has a willow maze and beautiful gardens. Portumna Forest Park is another great spot for a walk and has a viewing platform where you can look right across Lough Derg. The Irish Workhouse Centre gives an authentic view of what life was like for the poorest people in society in past years. For something more upbeat, try one of the many activities to be found around and on the lough, with everything from fishing to waterskiing, horse-riding and even sky-diving available in the area.

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Follow the Shannon as it joins the Atlantic Ocean and stay in the newly revitalised Limerick City. Explore the medieval English Town district, St Mary’s Cathedral and the imposing King John’s Castle which seems to rear up from the Shannon waters. Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, was from here and his former school is now the Frank McCourt Museum. Limerick people love their horse-racing and their rugby with pride of place going to Thomond Park Stadium, home to Munster. The city is brimming with places to stop and eat, markets and art galleries and at the start of September you can see it at its liveliest at Elemental, the Limerick Arts Festival.


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