Friday 21 October 2016

Christmas gifts with a difference

Published 19/11/2015 | 16:28

Finding those special Christmas presents for friends and family can sometimes be a daunting experience.

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There is no shortage of unique ideas on the Discover Ireland website - everything from horse-drawn caravan holidays to day courses to teach foodies how to forage for and cook seaweed.

Whether it’s adventurous or rejuvenating, educational or purely fun-filled, there are gift ideas for everyone on #thisisLIVING

A unique Burren experience for outdoors lovers

You don’t need to be super-fit to tackle these guided and self-guided cycling tours of the Burren: e-whizz bikes are motorised for those moments when you’ve done enough pedalling. Get on the saddle for €30 a day per adult, or for those who truly want to immerse themselves in this most singular part of the country, six-day breaks are available.

A romantic mini-break on the wonderful Wicklow Way

Starting in Dublin’s Marlay Park and concluding in Clonegal, Co Carlow, the 132km marked way can comfortably be walked in three or four days. Treat a loved one to guesthouse accommodation each night - there is no shortage of places to stay along this most scenic route in the heart of Ireland’s Garden County.

A gift of words for a budding writer

Dublin is globally celebrated for producing generations of writers and budding novelists and poets will have their imagination charged at the Big Smoke Writing Factory in the heart of the city at Coppinger Row. Creative writing for beginners classes are held on Thursdays and cost €240 for a 10-week course.

A culinary discovery for your foodie friends

Seaweed is one of the most nutritious foods there is and it’s in plentiful supply right around the country. Learn which types work best in cooking at courses run by Wild Atlantic Seaweed in Caherdaniel, Co Kerry: learn to prepare six seaweed dishes and enjoy with a glass of elderflower and kelp champagne.

An unforgettable offshore escape

Cape Clear is our most south-westerly island, lying 12km off the Cork coast. A place of rugged, unspoilt beauty, its 100-odd inhabitants are fiercely proud of this special place. There are several accommodation and dining options and the opportunity to speak as Gaeilge. A perfect gift for anyone wishing to ‘disconnect’ from the pressures of daily life.

An eco-farm stay to excite nature lovers

Learn about sustainable living and the value of eating seasonable, locally grown food on Crann Óg eco-farm near Gort, Co Galway. There are yoga retreats, fun-filled classes aimed at kids and, best of all, the opportunity to get really close to nature in wood cabins, yurts and ‘bell tents’. Accommodation starts at just €20 per person per night.

A gift to kickstart a life-long passion

Donegal has long been dubbed Ireland’s capital of surfing. What better place to learn the finer points of one of the most thrilling of water-based pursuits? The Adventure One Surf School in Fanad has instructors to help even the most nervous ride their first board and they have special classes for children as young as eight too.

A magical way to explore the countryside

For a gift bound raise both smiles and spirits, how about a horse-drawn caravan holiday in Co Mayo? You get to explore the countryside at a most leisurely pace with your own horse and traditional covered wagon and then spend each night in specially selected accommodation.

A soporific seaweed treatment in Sligo

Strandhill’s Voya spa is acclaimed near and far for the way it incorporates locally foraged seaweed into its beauty treatments and cosmetic products. Indulge in one of its trademark seaweed baths and let your cares float away. These organic baths not just incredibly relaxing, but Hoya say they help to detoxify too. Seaweed bath followed full body massage, €90. 

A chance to cook up a culinary feast

Dunbrody Cookery School in Arthurstown Co Wexford is among the country’s leading venues in which to brush up on your kitchen skills. All skill levels are catered for: from what the school terms ‘Budding Enthusiasts’ to experienced home cooks wanting to take their talents to a whole new level. One-day courses from €175 per person.

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