Thursday 23 March 2017

10 Best: Shamrock shindigs

Daffodil Week, Delta Sensory Gardens, Co Carlow
Daffodil Week, Delta Sensory Gardens, Co Carlow
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

National Leprechaun Hunt, Carlingford, Co Louth

Carlingford takes its Little People seriously. So seriously, in fact, that we're told Slieve Foy is protected under the EU Habitats Directive as "the habitat of leprechauns".

Do we detect a spot of paddy-whackery?

Whatever your take, you can search for the elusive creatures (albeit, of the ceramic variety) yourself when the National Leprechaun Hunt sets off from Carlingford village.

The "original" clothes of the last captured leprechaun will be displayed on the day, and there are prizes for any captures.

Details: The National Leprechaun Hunt (042 937 3033; discover ireland.ie) takes place on March 28 between 2pm and 4pm. The hunt costs €5 per person.

Daffodil Week, Delta Sensory Gardens, Co Carlow

Your Paddy's Day plans may not include wandering lonely as a cloud, but if a host of golden daffodils takes your fancy, check out Carlow's Delta Sensory Gardens.

Daffodil Week sees 10,000 of the yellow beauties on display, offering green-fingered enthusiasts the excuse to escape into this curious tapestry of interconnecting gardens.

Splashing fountains, perfumed plants and colourful shrubs are all designed to indulge the senses, and are regularly enjoyed by people with disabilities.

Details: Daffodil Week at The Delta Sensory Gardens (059 914 3527; deltacentre.org) runs until March 15. Admission costs €5/€4.

Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail Walking Festival, Co Mayo

St Patrick spent 40 days and nights on this 2,500ft reek, soaking up inclement weather. Thousands of pilgrims follow in his footsteps every March 17, many of them barefoot.

But there is an alternative to all the martyrdom, namely the three-day Croagh Patrick Walking Festival.

Norman castles, Neolithic tombs, modern sculptures and ancient villages are all highlights of the handsome 61km heritage trail, and the craic is promised to continue into the evening. Get yer boots on.

Details: The Croagh Patrick Walking Festival (094 936 6709; croaghpatrickheritage trail.com) takes place from March 19-21. There is a daily registration fee of €10.

Shamrocks in Shannon, Bunratty, Co Limerick

Roll up, roll up! The snakes are back in Ireland for one afternoon only, courtesy of a visit to Bunratty by the man who banished them in the first place.

St Patrick will have live snakes on show at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, we're told, but there's plenty else besides -- including Irish language classes, a 19th-century schoolhouse, live trad music, a kids' disco and even 'foot-tapping events'. It's all scheduled for March 17.

Our feet are tapping at the very thought.

Details: St Patrick's Day activities at Bunratty Folk Park (061 360 788; shannonheritage.com) run from 1pm-5pm. Entry is €15.75/ €9.45, with cheaper rates available online.

SÓ Sligo 2010

Is your Irish stew so damn delicious your friends would crawl over you for the recipe?

If so, get yourself to SÓ Sligo, a food and culture festival combining cookery demos (with Neven Maguire, pictured above, and Prannie Rhatigan), artisan markets, street carnivals, a junior Master Chef contest and good old-fashioned Sligo scenery.

Your stew recipe will come in useful on March 19, by the way, at what sounds like a mouth-watering cook-off -- the World Irish Stew Championships.

Details: SÓ Sligo 2010 (sosligo.com) runs from March 19-21. All events are free, except the cookery demonstrations, which cost €10.



Rith 2010, Belfast-Galway

A brand new national festival based on a 1,600km relay race? Yes folks, that's the pitch for Rith, one of the backbone events of Seachtain na Gaeilge.

Having kicked off in Belfast, the rollicking relay is currently making its way through 250 towns and 17 counties, and is scheduled to finish in Galway on Paddy's Day. Anyone can sign up to run, and the baton carries a hidden message written by President Mary McAleese.

What if it rains? They keep running. We are celebrating Irishness, after all.

Details: Rith 2010 (01-475 7401; www.rith.ie) finishes in Galway on March 17. The race aims to raise money for the promotion of the Irish language, so donations are welcome.

St Paddy's Day Dip, Ballintoy Harbour, Co Antrim

Some people wear novelty hats on St Patrick's Day. Others scramble up cliffs, fling themselves from heights of up to 20 feet and body-surf the breaking waves.

It's called coasteering, you see, and it involves hopping, jumping, swimming and sometimes even crawling along the coastline.

This St Paddy's Day, the Adventure Team has a special coasteering event in Ballintoy Harbour -- and don't worry, the helmets, wetsuits and buoyancy aids are provided.

You'll need those.

Details: St Paddy's Day Dip (0044 288 164 8390; theadventureteam. co.uk) takes place from 12pm-2.30pm on March 17. It costs £25/€28.50 per person and is suitable for kids aged eight and older.

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

Yes, we do cappuccinos now. And yes, we can tell our Burgundies from our Bordeaux.

But the quintessential measure of Irishness is still a pint.

If you're in doubt, head to the Guinness Storehouse this Paddy's Day where live music and complimentary bread and salmon are on offer.

Anyone named Patrick, Paddy or Patricia gets a VIP (Very

Important Patrick) pass waiving the entry fee.

Everyone else will have to make do with a free drink in the 360-degree Gravity Bar.

Details: The Guinness Storehouse (01-408 4800; www.guinness-storehouse.com) is open daily from 9.30am-5pm .

Admission costs €15/€5.

Walk Killarney & Kerry

Killarney boasts some of the finest scenery Ireland has to offer, so why not spend a few days walking all over it?

'Walk Killarney and Kerry' is an annual three-day event covering several stretches of the Kerry Way, among other routes. The outings vary in terrain from relatively easy Category C stretches to calf-busting Category As.

All participants are encouraged to dress appropriately and ensure they are not -- how to put this kindly? -- overestimating their abilities.

Details: 'Walk Kerry & Killarney' (1850 566 466; killarney.ie/walk killarney) is priced at €25 for the Kerry Way walks, with shorter routes costing €10. Book at least 24 hours in advance.

Annual Potato Day, Co Leitrim

There's nowt more Irish than the humble spud, and this day-long festival at Rossinver's Organic Centre celebrates that. Of course, our passion for potatoes has evolved over the years, with post-Celtic Tiger gourmands tucking into dauphinoise and truffle oil mash as much as good-old fashioned boilers. The fact is reflected in some 150 species on display, with lots of garden tours and planting tips on offer to boot. If you like what you see, you can buy seeds to take home.

Details: Annual Potato Day takes place tomorrow at the Organic Centre (071 985 4338; theorganiccentre.ie) in Rossinver, Co Leitrim. Entry costs €5.

Irish Independent

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