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Getting active on the Emerald Isle Ireland

Getting active on the Emerald Isle

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Every county has enough walks and activities to keep most people happy. Whether it is walking to the top of mountains for breathtaking views, or around city centre parks at a leisurely pace, you won't find it hard finding some way to get active in Ireland.

Day 1  - Day 1 in Dublin


Upon arriving in Dublin, just like when arriving in any other city, once you check into your accommodation go exploring straight away. The centre is compact and very easy to get around, so familiarising yourself with the city is not a problem. North of the River Liffey, the city's two busiest streets are Henry Street and O’Connell Street. The latter is where you find one of Europe’s tallest monuments, known as The Spire which stands proudly in the middle of O'Connell St at 123 metres high.

Apart from a shops and fast food outlets, the northside’s main attractions for tourists are two museums dedicated to the writers and playwrights Dublin is so synonymous with. The first of these is the Dublin Writers Museum (18 Parnell Square, Dublin 1; admission €6.25) which celebrates the works of Dublin’s best known playwrights and poets such as Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett and the other is the James Joyce Centre. Located on North Great Georges Street, it is to the life and times of the world-famous Dublin writer.

A good way to get around the city while getting a lot of exercise is by visiting the various parks and greens. Situated at the top of Grafton Street is St. Stephens Green which gets quite busy due to it proximity to the city centre. During the summer months the park is frequented by many joggers first thing in the morning, and all day also. A path circles the green making it the perfect place for a run if you feel like burning off some calories.

Elsewhere in the city the Iveagh Gardens on Harcourt St, just south of Grafton Street aren’t as well known as the other city centre parks, although they are nice for a brisk walk, rather than a run. While situated just twenty to thirty minutes from the city centre is the Phoenix Park. Covering 1730 acres, it is one of the world’s largest city centre parks, even bigger than New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park. You run all day here! Apart from strolling around the grounds, you can also visit Dublin Zoo or have a look at Áras an Uachtaráin, home to the Irish President.


Day 2  - Hiking around Wicklow and Glendalough


One of Ireland’s most frequently visited attractions is very close to Dublin and presents an excellent excuse to get out of the city. Situated approximately one hours drive south is Wicklow National Park, where you will find Glendalough.

Glendalough is very picturesque with the famous round tower, lakes, and a number of walks. The name itself comes from ‘Glenn Dá Locha’ which is Irish for ‘The valley of the two lakes.’ A visitor’s centre in the town is the perfect place to embark on one of the numerous walks around the area. The visitors centre is where you will also find information on wildlife in the area.

Buses leave Dublin city centre daily from on St. Stephen’s Green at the Eircom building. Elsewhere you can get organised tours from Dublin city centre which visit other attractions in the national park along with the town of Avoca, where Ballykissangel (a famous soap opera based in Wicklow) is filmed.


Day 3  - Getting around Galway


As Galway is only between 2½-4 hours from Dublin (depending on which mode of transport you take) it is the perfect city to visit after Dublin. Once you reach the city, the best place to go for a walk, jog, or even an afternoon’s rollerblading is at Salthill in Galway Bay. A promenade boasting amazing views of neighbouring county Clare is there once the sky is clear. Taking from between 30 to 45 minutes to complete, the promenade is the perfect place to while away an afternoon, stopping every now and then for a breather and a second to appreciate the scenery.

If you want to cover a bit more ground, while getting a bit more active also, Galway city is a good place to rent a bicycle. Salthill is only 5-10 minutes from the centre, while keep travelling west from the seaside resort and you will slowly but surely you will begin to notice the land becoming greener and more like the ‘postcard Ireland’ you know.


Day 4  - Discover Galway


Galway is surrounded by some of the most picturesque and best known parts of the country. The city itself is one of the liveliest in the country. The fact that you only have to travel for the best part of an hour to get some breathtaking walks and scenery just makes it that bit more attractive.

The best way to see all that Galway and its surrounding areas is by hopping on to a guided tour. They visit everywhere of interest to tourists in the area. These include the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and some of Ireland’s better known smaller villages such as Doolin and Lisdoonvarna.

In some areas more than others you have the opportunity to go for a lengthy walk, particularly around the cliffs.


Day 5  - Visit a lake or get out on one


As the tour in Galway arrives back in the city at around 5.30pm, you should be able to make it to Limerick that night. This gives you the chance to utilise this day to the best of your ability, not losing any time.

Lough Gur is a lake on a very significant archaeological site just twenty minutes drive from the city. Inhabited by people from Neolithic times to medieval times, there are a number of ancient sites all around the lake including a 4000-year old Grange Stone Circle, ancient churches, St. Patrick’s Well and the lake itself. It is a great place to spend an afternoon with loads of paths for walking and cycling also.

If you are into watersports, then you should take advantage of your proximity to University of Limerick Activity and Sailing Centre. With pretty much every watersport taking place on the shores of Lough Derg, it may be a little bit outside the city in a place called Killaloe. Everything from canoeing to archery and high-ropes activities can be done here. If you are in the mood for a lot of activity this is the perfect place for you.


Day 6  - More in Limerick


See above – the activity centre in Killaloe just outside Limerick city has an array of activities and you could spend a couple of days there no problem!


Day 7  - Walking or cycling in Cork


From Limerick make Cork, the ‘unofficial capital’ your next port of call. The country’s biggest county has a wonderful city and a whole other side, West Cork, which is basically like another country in itself. Both have lots to do.

Cork is a great city for either walking around or cycling. It’s up to you. If you decide that you would like to embark on a walk a good route to take is down the Old Railway Line from Cork to Passage West. All along this stretch are good views of the harbour. Another is down the quays of the River Lee. Starting from the bus depot, walking down the river passes the Fr. Mathew Statue, Cork Opera House and the city’s arts gallery. Pick up a map in any tourist office (there is one on Grand Parade) and you can map out your own route.

Otherwise, if you want to really get your heart rate going you’re better off renting a bike. Cycle Scene which is on Blarney Street has bikes available for rental daily or longer. Just like with walking, you should be able to map yourself a good route from a map of the city.


Day 8  - Way out west


West Cork is like a separate county to Corkonians. They never refer to different towns within the same county. They will always refer to a certain town in ‘West Cork’. Different parts of the county are more popular with tourists than others, in particular Kinsale with its picturesque harbour.

One activity which has been getting more and more popular along West Cork’s coastline is kayaking. Departing from the village of Casteltownbere, you can either try kayaking out for a full day or even longer, with some tours spanning over the course of a couple of days.


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