Ireland's Hot 100 is here! With travel restrictions lifted, we bring you the ultimate guide to the best things to do, see, and eat around Ireland this summer...
It's your big bucket (and spade) list. This is the summer of the staycation, so we asked our top travel and food writers to compile a Hot 100 list for your precious weeks of freedom...
Surf schools experienced an unexpected wipe-out when Covid-19 barrelled across the country, but many are now starting to re-open. Try the Sligo Surf Experience in Strandhill, or, in nearby in Donegal, Fin McCool Surf School is located only footsteps from Rossnowlagh Beach. All levels of surfer are catered for, from first-timers to the more experienced surfer. from €35/25; sligosurfexperience.com; finmccoolsurfschool.com — KD & PÓC
While you’re at it: Lahinch is a well-known surf spot, but did you know there’s a surf school based on the fab Fanore beach, too? surfschool.ie
Because good fish and chips eaten — with salt and a LOT of vinegar — sitting by the sea are wonderful. Eunice Power’s And Chips in Dungarvan (Facebook: @Andchips_) is one of the new breed of chippers responsible for elevating the classic experience in Ireland. We’ll have scampi (€13.50) or the calamari and seafood medley (€13) and eat it on the quay. Thanks for asking. — KMcG
While you’re at it: In Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, the fish and chips at The Little Saltee (Facebook: @thelittlesaltee) are as good as they come.
A few years back, Barbara and Michele Veterano were working in offices in Italy 10 hours a day. “We really, really wanted to change our lives,” he says. Today, they run the Flying Alpaca, an interactive farm on Loop Head. Visits, including walking with alpacas, start from €15pp. You can also book a handmade soap workshop or an Italian cookery class. flyingalpaca.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: The eco-farm also has two rooms for an Airbnb farm stay, from €60 B&B.
“Nature is proving the best lockdown medicine,” says Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea-Kayaking, which is back up and running with its West Cork outings. Half-day safaris depart from Reen Pier, Castlehaven Bay, with shorter trips are available for families. A night-time “moonlight/starlight” experience takes paddlers from dusk into darkness… From €50pp; atlanticseakayaking.com — PÓC
Between Drumkeeran and Tarmon, Spencer Harbour is a peaceful little dock on Lough Allen, with a big field behind that’s great for picnics. There are occasionally people fishing, and the odd boat passes by, but it’s a great spot for a bit of wild swimming. As with any lake, follow the rules from Water Safety Ireland (watersafety.ie) before you take a dip. leitrimtourism.com — NB
While you’re at it: Enjoy one of the looped walks on Sliabh an Iarainn nearby.
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Got horse-mad kids in the family? The Association of Irish Riding Establishments (AIRE) has 184 approved centres around the country, all with Covid-19 health-and-safety measures in place. Depending on where you holiday, you could organise beach treks, mountain outings, basic lessons or even therapeutic riding. And need we mention pony camps? Prices vary; gohorseridinginireland.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: Visit the Irish National Stud in Co Kildare. It’s been open since June 8, but visits must be pre-booked. €13/€7.50; irishnationalstud.ie
A bracing dash into the waves at Blackrock is a surefire cure for the post-lockdown blues. There’s such a sense of retro charm to the ever-popular Galway spot, with the outdoor changing room and dogs leaping in to join their owners. Head down the stairs and don’t give yourself a second to change your mind once the water hits your toes — there’s no room for hesitation. — NB
While you’re at it: Scoot up to Mr Waffle, which did Trojan work feeding Ireland’s healthcare heroes during lockdown, for a post-swim treat. mrwaffle.ie
A secret cove close to Brittas Bay, Magheramore Beach is a wild Wicklow wonder. Calmer and quieter than neighbouring Brittas Bay, this hidden arc of golden sand is accessed by foot through a leafy laneway. Secluded and safe, there are shallow rock pools, cliffs and rocky outcrops to explore. A real beauty spot, it’s an ideal choice for children learning to bodyboard or surf. Don't park along the road, where vehicles can be towed, but in the field with the 'car park' sign opposite the new Wicklow Hospice (€5). — JB
While you’re at it: Ten minutes away, in Wicklow Town, you’ll find several well-equipped playgrounds, including Ballynerrin and Murrough, overlooking the sea.
Yes, it’s cold. But the age of the Lidl wetsuit has opened up all kinds of water possibilities for Ireland, and snorkelling is one of the most underrated. On the right day (and you will need to pay attention to weather, as well as water safety advice), places like Achill Island’s Keem Bay, Connemara’s Glassilaun beach or Clahane in Co Clare offer up clear water teeming with little gobies and wrasse… a whole micro-universe awaiting exploration. — PÓC
While you’re at it: Dublin has a tradition of outdoors swimming… skip the busy Forty Foot for a dip at The Vico. Or try one of three beaches in Greystones, Co Wicklow.
Saddle up and cycle alongside the leafy Royal Canal from North Strand as far as your legs will carry you. Pass under Croke Park, past Glasnevin’s round tower and enjoy the wide, smooth and safe pathways, with only a handful of junctions to cross. Castleknock is a good destination, 10km from the first lock, with the promise of a good lunch at the waterside Twelfth Lock. the12thlock.ie — JB
While you’re at it: Collect take-out from Drumcondra’s EatYard at The Bernard Shaw and park up along the way for a picnic. the-eartyard.com
Located on the western shores of the deep inlet of Lough Swilly, Ballymastocker Bay has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (it has a Blue Flag, too). The perfect golden sand here stretches for over a mile towards the little harbour town of Portsalon, so plenty of space for everyone. — KD
While you’re at it: Check out Portsalon Luxury Camping nearby, which rents out five yurts with luxurious king-sized beds, lovely cosy interiors and fabulous wood burning stoves. donegalglamping.com
If you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure on the Ring of Kerry this summer, head to Sea Synergy, a marine awareness and activity centre in Waterville. The centre hosts a bunch of beachside activities from SUP adventures to seashore safaris which explore the shores and rock pools of the Kerry coast! €12; seasynergy.org — TB
While you’re at it: Take the kids (or yourself!) to the Skelligs Chocolate Factory and savour the dairy delights of the Kingdom. skelligschocolate.com
Well run, great fun and guaranteeing instant holiday vibes, give the kids a day of adrenaline-soaked antics at Splash Valley Aqua Park in Rathdrum. The giant inflatable course, with 30-obstacles floating in a man-made lake by the Avonmore river, is suitable for anyone aged over seven. Wetsuits and life jackets are supplied for an hour-long session of slides, bouncing platforms, climbing frames and a swing. New Covid-19 safety measures are in place. From €20/17; hiddenvalley.ie — JB
While you’re at it: Wicklow’s Greenan Farm Museum and Maze is a fun day out, with its dizzying maze, nature walk, farm animals and café. €8/7.50; greenanmaze.com
This remote patch of the Munster Vales has reimagined itself as an outdoor playground in recent years. But it also makes a surprise backdrop for another pursuit: yoga walking tours. The guided tours awaken your six senses in a hike, before pausing for a yoga and mindfulness session, which includes a special Celtic ceremony. ‘There’s no Wi-Fi in the woods, but we promise you a better connection,” they say. From €20; visitballyhoura.com — TB
While you’re at it: Avail of Ballyhoura’s famous mountain bike trails — the largest network in Ireland. Bike hire can be booked with trailriders.ie
Castle Archdale Boat Hire & Water Sports on Lough Erne is home to Ireland’s first hydro-bikes (don’t worry, we’d never heard of them either). The gizmos provide “a gentle, low-impact aerobic total body workout; but it all depends on how fast you pedal”, they say. You can mix it up between a leisurely ride or “fast cardio session”. castlearchdaleboathire.com; £20pp — PÓC
While you’re at it: Stay nearby at Castle Archdale Camping and Caravan Park. castlearchdale.com/stay/camping
Did you know you can take a foodie tour of Derry City, involving a two-hour bike ride? As well as sampling great food, you will pass through the heart of the ancient walled city. Tour operator Far and Wild also do a two-hour paddle board tour in Derry as well as a moonlight paddle down the River Foyle. From £40; farandwild.org — KD
Climb the 300-odd steps up the side of this mountain outside Dromahair and you’ll be rewarded with unbeatable views of Lough Gill, the Sleeping Giant and, on a clear day, out to Sligo Bay. You can also try to find the old dancing platform, to throw a few moves while you’re up there. — NB
While you’re at it: Parke’s Castle is closed for now, but it’s worth pulling up if only for its gorgeous views out over the lake. heritageireland.ie
“Despite everything, I’m hanging in there,” says Charlie Horan of Go with the Flow River Adventures. Charlie runs river canoe trails on the Barrow, taking three or four people at a time, with a half-day paddling trip from €25pp. You can book up to three days on the river,
with wild camping along the banks en route. “Things are looking a lot brighter now with booking coming in for canoe hire and guided trips throughout the summer,” he says. gowiththeflow.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: There’s some super walking along the Barrow towpaths, between Robertstown and St Mullins. Check these, and more, trails on sportireland.ie.
We all need to let off a bit of steam. And you can do just that at the Lilliput Adventure Centre near Mullingar, Co Westmeath. You can hire kayaks or have a game of outdoor laser tag, and all the equipment is sanitised between uses too. They even have a ‘2 Metre Peter’ penguin to help kids with social distancing. Laser tag is priced from €15pp; lilliputadventure.com. — NB
While you’re at it: Pop around to Belvedere House for a stroll in the gardens. belvedere-house.ie
There’s nothing quite like the romance of a traditional wooden canoe. Head out on one of the Canadian canoes provided by Adventure Gently, and you’ll feel your cares melt away as you drift past the riverbanks and native songbirds. Just make sure you share your canoe with someone who knows their right from their left, or all those cares will come crashing back upon you (I speak from personal experience). Half day tours cost from €32.50pp; adventuregentlyireland.com. — NB
While you’re at it: Take a walk around the ruins of Creevelea Friary in nearby Dromahair.
Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands do just what they say on the tin. Not least when you’re kayaking (or indeed pedalling) along the Suir Blueway in South Tipperary. Though launched last year, the 56km route feels barely trundled and makes an idyllic spot to soak in the zen of our inlands waterways. Heritage-rich market towns like Cahir make for great pit-stops, too. — TB
While you’re at it: If you prefer lakes to rivers, Tipp’s Lough Derg shores also host a blueway with a number of adventure outfitters. tipperary.com
You don’t have to go to Bali to find an Insta-friendly swing, you know. Fermanagh’s Corralea Centre has introduced a new ‘Lough Swing’ for those much-missed photo ops (you can’t have travel without influencers, apparently!), but it’s got much more, too. The activity centre offers self-catering in cottages, a new eco-spa debuts this summer, there’s a waterpark, archery, climbing, mountain biking and more. Prices vary; corralea.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: Ard Nahoo in Co Leitrim has three cool eco-cabins for rental — book one, or all three for a socially-distanced reunion. ardnahoo.com
“The kids can’t bounce off the walls if you take the walls away!” So say the good folk at Squirrel’s Scramble, the tree adventure park in Kilruddery, Co Wicklow. The circuit is open (and open-air), with groups of up to 15 able to zip line, swing, surf, climb and crawl again in the beech and oak forest. It’s suitable for ages 5 to 99, they say — though those who don’t want to take part can enjoy the estate walks and farmers’ market. From €16; squirrelsscramble.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: There are 15km of new bike and walking trails at nearby Belmont Demesne, with pizza and treats at Arthur’s Barn. belmontdemesne.ie
You’ve seen them on TV, but have you ever witnessed a real sheepdog in action? Away To Me is a working sheep farm where you can see demos on Donegal’s Slieve League Peninsula, while further south in Co Clare, John Davoren shows off the skills of his Border collies at Caherconnell Fort in the Burren. “The dogs can complete tasks in half the time it would take several people,” they say. Take that, cats! €12/5; awaytome.ie; caherconnell.com — PÓC
Nowadays our self-care routines could all do with a little help. And kelp. Sólás Na Mara located in the Déise’s scenic Gaeltacht is a seaweed bathhouse offering affordable pampering with that fresh jolt of sea air. €30 buys a one hour bath and steam treatment while afterwards you can relax in their on-site café. solasnamara.ie — TB
While you’re at it: Strandhill, Co Sligo is home to Voya — enjoy a seaweed bath with the ocean a stone’s throw away. From June 22, by appointment. voyaseaweedbaths.com
Mountain bikers can head for the hills to Glencullen Adventure Park, aka The GAP. The brilliant new facility is a ‘gravity bike park’ with graded bike trails through dense forest. Suitable for riders of intermediate ability up to elite, you can rent bikes or take your own. A pedal-up pass costs €5 with uplift van options too. Pre-booking is essential. thegap.ie — JB
While you’re at it: Non-cyclists can hike from Glencullen to Fairy Castle, for super views and the promise of a toastie, wood-fired pizza or cake afterwards at Tibradden’s lovely Hazel House café. the-hazel-house.ie
It was a form of torture to watch the Streedagh scenes in Normal People while in lockdown. What I wouldn’t have given to walk that stretch of windswept sand… Well, soon enough, we’ll be able to follow in Marianne and Connell’s footsteps, so grab your GAA shorts and enjoy one of the prettiest beaches in the North West. — NB
While you’re at it: Grab a bite to eat in nearby Lang’s of Grange. langs.ie
Based close to the Mourne Mountains in Downpatrick, Falcon Outdoors offers local day hikes and multi-day treks adapted to your fitness level and ability. Run by Rob Hill, you can learn bushcraft and essential survivor skills in stunning surroundings. falconoutdoors.co.uk — KD
While you’re at it: Not far away you can check out the boat tours of Strangford Lough. clearsky-adventure.com
Crowds are something we’re all looking to avoid this summer. And where better to do that than a secret beach? Kinnagoe Bay in Inishowen is one stunning option. It was here that the Spanish Armada ship, La Trinidad Valencera, sank in 1588. And it doesn’t stop there. Walk to what you think is the end of the beach, cross some rocks and you’ll find a secret second beach where territorial terns nest on the rocks. — KD
While you’re at it: Get the Google Maps going and seek out Sandscove in West Cork (above), Mweenish in Connemara or White Rocks in Co Antrim.
You’ve explored Dublin by foot. Maybe even by bike. But what about kayak? In normal times, 85pc of City Kayaking’s business comes from overseas, it says, but as we all know, these are not normal times. Now, the company is offering kayak rentals… so you can see Dublin’s iconic bridges and famous landmarks from a whole new angle. The kayaks are of the stable, sit-on-top they say suits any level of experience or ability. Prices from €19pp; citykayaking.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: Take a rafting adventure in the Liffey Valley with rafting.ie
Sometimes you just want a short scoot on the bike, instead of a long, drawn-out cycle. The Bonaveen Cycling Trail in Portumna Forest Park is perfect at just 10km long, and weaves through the forest and along the lakeshore. coillte.ie — NB
While you’re at it: Visit the walled kitchen gardens at nearby Portumna Castle. heritageireland.ie
Catch it on a calm day and the waters of Lough Gill are like a giant mirror, with reflections of the bordering forests and mountains shimmering off the water’s surface. It makes for a gorgeous drive, but it’s even better on two wheels — the 40km loop is tough enough in parts, but boy, is the pay off worth it. sligotourism.ie — NB
While you’re at it: Stop off for a little picnic at Slish Wood.
“Sometimes I think we forget that what we have on our doorstep is actually the best in the world.” So says Irish Olympic hero Annalise Murphy — referring not to sailing, but to cycling. Annalise is one fan of a new Irish-run website Let’s Cycle Ireland, which provides cyclists with a free resource of the best long-distance cycles in Ireland, together with providers like hotels, cafés and restaurants. Not a moment too soon! letscycleireland.ie — PÓC
Looking to escape the madding crowds? First, head for Ireland’s Wild West… Connemara. Next, take a hike up the 250m Mauméan, a little-known (to outsiders anyway) pass linking Maum and the Inagh valleys through the Maumturks. In times past, this was an important Celtic shrine, but later became a mass rock and shrine to St Patrick. A souvenir-sized chapel marks the spot (Mám Éan means ‘pass of the birds’). maamvalley.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: When the islands open back up, take a trip to Inishbofin… a stunner, whatever the weather.
Strategically timed around low tide, a family coastal walk from Skerries can be a thrilling adventure. When the tide’s out, taking due care, you can walk out to Shenick Island, in St Patrick’s Bay, with its Napoleonic Martello Tower standing sentinel over the deserted island. Look out for basking seals before returning to shore. — JB
While you’re at it: Serving some of Dublin’s best chicken wings, check if The Blue Bar is open for lunch. bluebar.ie
Road-trips are only as good as their pit stops, and Moher Cottage in Liscannor in Co Clare makes a perfect pause along the Wild Atlantic Way. Caitriona Considine’s gorgeous café-gift-store fusion offers great coffee, home-baked treats and curated Irish crafts (it’s been shortlisted for Ireland’s Best Welcome in our Reader Travel Awards, too). Try the homemade fudge and sit by the big picture-frame window, or outdoor terrace to soak in those vistas. mohercottage.com — TB
While you’re at it: St Bridget’s Well just across the road will grant your wish if you spot an illustrious eel!
You’ve a few spots to choose from, but the little stretch of the Shannon Blueway in Battlebridge, Co Roscommon, is a beaut, with a wide path meandering alongside the peaceful river. Alternatively, stroll the jazzy floating boardwalk at Drumshanbo in Leitrim. bluewaysireland.org — TB
While you’re at it: Treat yourself to an al fresco pint in Beirne’s of Battlebridge when it’s open – there’s a great little playground, too. battlebridgecaravanandcamping.ie
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Did you know B314 Flying Boats once whisked passengers like JFK and Humphrey Bogart to and from Foynes on the Shannon estuary? The Foynes Flying Boat Museum brings the era to life through details both small (model planes, label pins) and big (a replica B314 complete with its own ‘honeymoon suite’). Another attraction is a remarkable collection of Maureen O’Hara memorabilia, including her Oscar. €12/6; flyingboatmuseum.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: For celeb clothes worn Audrey Hepburn Princess Diana and more, visit the Newbridge Museum of Style Icons in Co Kildare. free; visitnewbridgesilverware.com
It began as an ancient burial site dating from around 1700BC to the time of the Tuatha de Danann. The stone fort of Grianán of Aileach still stands in its windy and exposed place as a silent witness to the history of Inishowen. The present structure, dating from the 6th century, sits 250m above sea level. From here the views of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly are breathtaking. — KD
While you’re at it: A good coffee stop is at GAP coffee company in nearby Bridgend, while the 3-star An Grianán Hotel is a handy base. angriananhotel.com
Discover the heart of Dublin Bay, by walking from Sandymount through Irishtown Nature Reserve along the Poolbeg Peninsula. The Great South Wall stretches into Dublin Bay, a coastal defence built in the 1700s that still delivers dramatic widescreen panoramics. On a clear day you can see Howth, Dun Laoghaire and the Wicklow mountains from the foot of the ruby red Poolbeg Lighthouse. — JB
While you’re at it: A perfect spot for a family nature walk, kids can gather beach treasure here and colourful wildflowers from the nature reserve. visitdublin.ie
Street art has revitalised Limerick’s streetscapes in recent years, with self-guided art tours becoming a destination attraction in their own right. Take in the famous Dolores O’Riordan mural by artist Aches as well as works from the Stanza campaign, known as poetry in 3D. drawout.ie - TB
While you’re at it: Head to the Déise to enjoy the Waterford Walls festival (from July 13). waterfordwalls.ie
Ballydehob in West Cork seems to boast a higher density of quirky, local businesses than London’s Shoreditch — and Levi’s Corner House is the poster child. The historic bar, music and spoken-word venue moonlights as a pop-up market every Wednesday, making it a colourful spot to stock up on road-trip staples before venturing south on a Mizen Head escapade. leviscornerhouse.com — TB
While you’re at it: Check-out Michelin Star restaurant The Chestnut (just next door) for its gourmet picnics and Bridie’s West Cork craft shop in the village post office.
CS Lewis is said to have dreamed up his mythical kingdom of Narnia after being inspired by Kilbroney Park. And it’s easy to believe that magical creatures live in this beautiful place near Rostrevor, Co Down. In neighbouring Co Armagh, you can visit Slieve Gullion National Park and learn how the mountain played a key part in the life of legendary figure Cú Chulainn. ringofgullion.org — KD
While you’re at it: A CS Lewis trail in Belfast (where the author was born) takes in seven Narnia-inspired sculptures. discovernorthernireland.com
A coastal walk from Rush to Loughshinny in Co Dublin promises the lure of buried treasure at Smugglers’ Cave. Start on Rush’s North Beach, and follow the clifftop path north to Loughshinny’s picturesque beach and harbour. Look out for a Martello tower, the famous Folding Cliffs, and, at low tide, Smugglers Cave on the seashore. A hotbed for smuggling in the 1700s, this deep cave was a favourite spot for stashing ill-gotten gains. — JB
While you’re at it: Find out about Baldongan Castle, an imposing 13th century Knight’s Templar fortress. The ruin is just 3km away.
Big city museums sometimes get all the attention, but this National Museum outpost in Mayo is a fantastic spot. You can tour the exhibits in the modernist structure or explore the beautiful Victorian gardens. Kids love the little wattle and daub cottage on the grounds, too. museum.ie — NB
While you’re at it: Grab your bikes and cycle the easy 7km Greenway into Castlebar — the museum is on its path.
Well, an extinct one. Did you know Croghan Hill is actually the remains of an extinct volcano rising from the Bog of Allen? Though only 232m high, the summit offers extensive views of the midlands, with the village of the same name nestled on the southern slopes. The mound at the summit is thought to be a bronze age burial place, and you may recognise the name — Old Croghan Man, a bog body found nearby, died between 362 and 175BC. visitoffaly.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: The new Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails have begun with a 20km phase with great views of Kinnitty Castle. slievebloom.ie
Dublin Castle weaves a powerful spell. Dating back to the 13th century, it served as fortress, prison, treasury and seat of English rule for 700 years. Beloved by tourists but often forgotten by locals, history buffs and architecture fiends can enjoy a guided tour in the very heart of Dubh Linn, taking in the state apartments, medieval section and spectacular Gothic revival Chapel Royal. It reopens June 29. Self-guided tours from €8/4; Dublincastle.ie — JB
While you’re at it: Make time for The Chester Beatty Library’s cultural artefacts and treasures. chesterbeatty.ie
If you want to go off the tourist trail, Monaghan is one underrated option — a new ‘Secret Spots’ campaign will soon share more, with a highlight in the revamped Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Iniskeen. Open from July 20, it’s been transformed into a ‘mini-museum’ telling the story of the poet — whose childhood stomping grounds inspired much of his poetry. Expect lots of touchscreens, memory boxes, a death mask, and you can try old-school printing too. monaghantourism.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: Spot Billy Brennan’s Barn on the local Kavanagh Trail. patrickavanaghcountry.com
Think of Lough Derg, and bare-footed pilgrims come to mind. But there is another Holy Island (Inis Cealtra) in another Lough Derg (on the River Shannon), which makes for a fascinating day trip. A round tower, six church ruins, and a bargaining stone await intrepid explorers. Local operator Gerard Madden hopes to be back doing boat trips from Mountshannon this summer.
While you’re at it: Take a genteel cruise from Killaloe/Ballina with James Whelan’s ‘Spirit of Killaloe’; bar facilities available. €14/7.50; killaloerivercruises.com
Step back in time at the fairytale estate of Tullynally Castle, where 18th-century parkland, manicured gardens, woodland walks and ornamental lakes wrap around this impressive castle. A magical setting for a day’s exploration, there’s an atmospheric tea room, plenty of wildlife (including llamas!), a children’s discovery trail and acres of space. Tullynallycastle.ie; €18 for a family ticket — JB
While you’re at it: Another impressive estate with pedigree, Belvedere House near Mullingar offers history, heritage, playgrounds, a café and a brilliantly ridiculous ‘Jealous Wall’. €6.40/€3.20; belvedere-house.ie
Donegal’s mythical Maghera Caves are located beneath Slievetooey Mountain and some are accessible at low tides from Maghera Strand. To get there you pass the Assaranca Waterfall, an 8km drive from Ardara. But check tides locally before you set out for these truly magnificent caves, which can ideally be visited by kayak. — KD
While you’re at it: If you’re heading back through Ardara, check out Ramblers Bar at the Nesbitt Arms for food and stop at Eddie Doherty’s traditional hand weaver’s studio. handwoventweed.com; nesbittarms.com
Dalkey Castle reopens July 1, with Deilg Inis Living History actors ready to bring its stories to life. See an archer demonstrate a longbow, climb the battlements for coastal views and learn about local writers like Bono, Beckett and Maeve Binchy. Free tours at 10am and 4.30pm weekdays; 11am/4.30pm on weekends. dalkeycastle.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: King John’s Castle in Limerick reopens June 29. €11.70/€8.55; kingjohnscastle.com
Celebrating the life and work of Seamus Heaney, HomePlace, located just 45 minutes from Derry City, is a beautiful and ambitious centre set in the small village of Bellaghy, where the poet grew up. Crammed with artefacts, memorabilia as well as testimonies from well-known people about the life and work of Heaney, this is a place where visitors will have their curiosity sparked. — KD
While you’re at it: You can dine at Dawson’s Restaurant in Castledawson, five minutes away. seamusheaneyhome.com
Eco-tourism has gone from niche player to a vital conservation industry in recent years, and Whale Watch West Cork keep both the region’s biodiversity and community at heart. Tours operate out of Baltimore with skipper and marine expert Nic Slocum offering a trawl of knowledge. Fingers crossed for dolphins and minke whales on your journey. whalewatchwestcork.com; €55 — TB
While you’re at it: Further along the coast, Bantry Bay Charters offer bespoke wildlife tours. bantrybaycharters.ie
For the ultimate nature walk, head to Turvey Nature Reserve, a glorious North Dublin domain where wildlife is king. Overlooking tranquil Rogerstown Estuary, the park offers fantastic walking and cycling opportunities through woodland, parkland, farmland and wetland. Nature lovers will be thrilled by the birdlife and there’s even a hide for some fun bird watching. — JB
While you’re at it: The Shoreline Hotel at Donabate Beach has a great beer garden overlooking the beach, perfect for a bite while watching the kids play. shorelinehotel.ie
Reconnected with nature in lockdown? Cool Planet is an interactive interlude on a day out at the Powerscourt Estate. Taking visitors on an immersive hour-long experience, it uses high-tech displays, games and competitions to reveal what climate change is all about. Kids will love learning about how simple, everyday choices can collectively make a difference. By appointment for now. €10.50/€7; coolplanetexperience.org — PÓC
While you’re at it: There’s a new Dark Sky Observatory in Co Tyrone’s Davagh Forest… in the heart of the Sperrins Mountain range. midulstercouncil.org
As entertaining as they are educational, herbalist Lisa Guinan’s guided walks through the boreens and byroads of the Burren offer a nostalgia-rich masterclass on the botanics behind traditional Irish remedies. Tours cost from €15 for adults (kids free). irishherbalroots.ie — TB
While you’re at it: For an intimate West Clare ceol fix, pull up a pew at Doolin Music House and Secret Garden hosted by Christy Barry & Sheila Quinn.
Nothing says summer like Wexford strawberries. The Wheelock family has been growing fruit in Enniscorthy since the 1950s, and they’ve adapted their farm shop to provide the best local produce. You can take everything from breakfast rolls to strawberries and ice cream to the courtyard outside. “On a fine day, people love it, and there’s lots of space between tables,” says Cyril Wheelock. You’ll be able to pick your own fruit later in summer, too — “as soon as we feel it’s safe”. thevillageatwheelocks.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: Check out the fab Facebook videos Cyril has made of local businesses during lockdown. facebook.com/WheelockfruitsEnniscorthy
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Any Fermanagh local will recommend the seven-mile drive through Navar Forest. The view from the car park at the top of the cliff looks over Lough Erne from Enniskillen to Donegal and the Atlantic Ocean. While you’re there, check out the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark, which straddles the uplands and the gentle rolling lowlands of counties Fermanagh and Cavan. marblearchcavesgeopark.com — KD
While you’re at it: If you overnight in Enniskillen, check out the Killhevlin Lakeside Hotel. killyhevlin.com
Ireland’s offshore islands may reopen a little later than the rest of the mainland, Achill will be welcoming visitors from June 29 (you can thank the bridge for that). Make the most of the island with a big old walk — the Currane Loop is a great one, and it’s always nice to stroll around the deserted village. You may even see basking shark in Keem Bay. achilltourism.com. — NB
While you’re at it: Pick up a takeout pizza from kite-surfing hub Pure Magic. puremagic.ie
Clara Bog is a gorgeous protected bogland teeming with wildlife, from delicate bog flowers and scattered pine to butterflies and lizards. A 1km stretch of timber boardwalk means you can explore the bog without damaging it, and you can take a peaceful amble while trying to spot frogs and dragonflies. clarabognaturereserve.ie — NB
While you’re at it: The Dún Na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park is only 15 minutes away. dunnasi.ie
Kilkenny is easily accessible from all over, with loads of outdoorsy things to do — think of Nore Valley Park, Castlecomer Discovery Park for starters. Near the pretty village of Inistoge, you’ll find the wonderful Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum. Features include a walled garden, recreated Turner Conservatory, rare and exotic trees and lovely walks. It’s the kind of place pottering and picnics were made for. woodstock.ie; visitkilkenny.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: Kilfane Glen is a rugged but beautiful garden with a 30-foot waterfall. €7; kilfane.com
Nine glens make up the awesome Antrim Glens, each with its own scenic drive, with lyrical names such as Glencloy, Glentaisie and Glenballyemon. Don’t miss Glenariff Forest Park, set in the ‘Queen of the Glens’, with bracing walks and beautiful waterfalls. Stop off in pretty towns and villages such as Glenarm, Carnlough and Cushendall. discovernorthernireland.com — KD
While you’re at it: Scenic paths winds through the village of Cushednun, where Mary McBride’s Bar does a famous steak and Guinness pie. mcbridescushendun.com
While it was already taking root, the Grow it Yourself trend has really flourished during lockdown — so the HQ of the Irish movement makes a great spot to visit this summer. The Waterford centre features a top-notch café, inspiring gardens plus a gift shop to fuel your future harvests with everything from crop of seeds and grow-boxes. giy.ie — TB
While you’re at it: Take a spin to Seagull Bakery in Tramore for home-inspired patisserie delights.
Carlingford Lough Ferry has launched a new cruise service designed for those seeking “a safe and socially distanced cruise” on the lough. The cross-border ferry, which usually operates between Greenore and Greencastle, will resume later this summer. Until then, you can hop on board for a trip coming within 400m of the historic Haulbowline Lighthouse. Passenger numbers will be at 50pc of capacity. €17.50/€10; activitour.io/ferry-sailing — PÓC
While you’re at it: On Yer Bike is open for rides on the 7km Carlingford to Omeath Greenway. onyerbike.ie
Open since June 22, with the café following on Monday, this “open-air museum” near Rosscahill has 11 acres to explore, with the beautiful Celtic Gardens at the heart of it all, set among the native woodland and wildflower meadows. There’s a fairy fort, nature trail, thatched roundhouse and crannóg, as well as the largest sundial in Ireland. a new Earth Quest trail provides a fun way to learn about nature and energy. €8/5; brigitsgarden.ie — PÓC & NB
While you’re at it: Take a boat trip to the tropical gardens on Garnish Island. garnishisland.com
Around 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain cover an unspoilt wilderness in Co Mayo. A few years ago, adventure writer David Flanagan sought to find Ireland’s most remote place, by identifying and visiting the most distant point from a public road. He found it in the Nephin Beg mountain range here. You don’t have to go that far — there’s a visitor centre and some short looped trails to enjoy. wildnephinnationalpark.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: Mayo is also home to an International Dark Sky Park. Stargazing, anyone? mayodarkskypark.ie
Walking Clogherhead, Co Louth this afternoon... looking south towards the Boyne estuary and Skerries. You donât have to go west for views, you know 😉 #BoyneValley #IrelandsAncientEast pic.twitter.com/V4QUMp10tw— @poloconghaile (@poloconghaile) October 17, 2018
You don’t have to head west for stunning sea views. The short walk around Clogherhead, Co Louth, takes you to the only high, rocky headland between Dublin and the Mourne Mountains. Aside from the views, you’ll find brilliant bird life, and you can replace any lost calories with a warm bowl of chowder from the little stove bubbling away in Fisherman’s Catch in Port Oriel. — PÓC
Next up: Head north to The Glyde Inn and its restaurant, Linn Duachaill. theglydeinn.ie
The brilliantly-named Mungo Murphy runs a coastal foraging walk in Rossaveal, where you can explore the Wild Atlantic Way while learning about (and tasting) edible sea plants along the way. Afterwards, pop into the boutique abalone farm for a tour and tastings on Galway Bay. €50pp; mungomurphyseaweed.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: In Cork, the Montenotte Hotel has a ‘Green Fingers Getaway’ that includes a garden tour from €189 for two. themontenottehotel.com
After three solid months of quality family time, there’s no shame in craving a break from the kids, not to mention the dinner, laundry, home-schooling and… well, you know the deal. Why not escape to a destination country house that will deliver exceptional food, luxurious accommodation and a good night’s sleep? Within a short drive of Dublin, our romance radars are tuned to Leinster favourites Roundwood House, Co Laois, Viewmount House, Co Longford and Marlfield House, Co Wexford for starters. Roundwoodhouse.com; viewmounthouse.com; marlfieldhouse.com — JB
While you’re at it: Book an overnight break somewhere with your best pals. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
If you’ve been missing out on your fix of briny bivalves, now is the time to make up for it. While native oysters are off the menu until September, you can eat the farmed variety all year round. Tartare in Galway always has a few different types on the menu — from Dooncastle, Flaggy Shore and Kelly’s — garnished with sea lettuce and trout roe, buttermilk and wild garlic oil, or cucumber, gin and wood sorrel. tartaregalway.ie — KMcG
While you’re at it: There’s no date yet for the re-opening of the Sligo Oyster Experience tours, but if you fancy your chances as a shucker, you can order a dozen for delivery all over Ireland from €12. sligooysterexperience.ie
With social distancing the order of the summer, several hotels have come up with picnic-based packages. They include the four-star Heritage in Co Laois (bundling B&B, a hamper, blanket and glass of Prosecco from €145), and the Doolin Inn, which has two nights with an artisan picnic for two on the Cliffs of Moher from €283 for two). theheritage.com; doolininn.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: Kilkenny’s Langton House Hotel has a midweek offer including B&B, bike hire and a picnic from €175 for two. langtons.ie
Can’t take a night away? Loyal regulars at Dublin favourite Grogan’s will be hoping that two old-school ham sandwiches (or a couple of the famous toasties) with Kit Kat for dessert will qualify as a substantial meal to go alongside a few epic and long-awaited pints. groganspub.ie — KMcG
While you’re at it: If you prefer wine, pick up a bottle to go from the great range of mainly natural and biodynamic wines stocked at Loose Canon on nearby Drury Street (it does great cheese and charcuterie, too). loosecanon.i
Embark on a chilled-out date in one of Dublin’s prettiest suburbs, starting at Dún Laoghaire seafront and following the coast past Sandycove to Bullock Harbour. Follow Harbour Road to Coliemore Road and loop back along Sorrento Road through Dalkey Village and Glasthule. Finish up with the promise of pavement dining in Glasthule, or coffee and cake at Fallon & Byrne in Dún Laoghaire’s People’s Park. — JB
While you’re at it: Glasnevin’s Botanic Gardens to Clontarf via leafy Griffith Avenue makes for a great northside version of this walking date.
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You’ve heard of drive-in movies, but what about drive-in dráma? Connemara’s Fíbín Theatre Company’s latest production, Fiach, promises “live entertainment in a Covid-safe environment” — a multi-media production rolling live theatre, film and a radio play into one (August 12-22). Philip Doherty’s show takes place in the car park of the Fíbín offices in Baile na hAbhann, and will tell the story of a rebel Garda chasing a local hoodlum into the Underworld. Consider us intrigued... fibin.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: Make a short break of it. Fíbín is co-ordinating with Spiddal Mobile Home Park and local B&Bs on discounted stays.
One of the most inviting hotel packages in Ireland, Helen and Brian Heaton’s award-winning Castlewood House in Dingle is offering a glorious Blasket Basket package this summer. Along with two nights B&B in a deluxe bay view room, guests enjoy a day trip to the iconic Blasket Islands where you can enjoy the heritage, view and a pretty hedonistic picnic hamper created by Dingle’s Little Cheese Shop. €297.50pps; castlewooddingle.com — TB
While you’re at it: Castlewood’s sister hotel, Heatons, has a Ryan’s Daughter package with a vintage car excursion and gourmet picnic from €365pp. heatonsdingle.com
‘Plein air painting’ is the art of painting outdoors… and it’s more timely than ever in the middle of a pandemic. Art in the Open is one of Europe’s biggest Plein Air painting festivals, and this year, two of the paint-out days take place in Wexford town (August 2/3). You’ll need to book ahead to be there, with registration costing €20 per paint-out, but it’s a great opportunity to see quality outdoor painters at work, and browse their work. artintheopen.org — PÓC
While you’re at it: A note for the diary: Wexford’s famous Opera Festival has been rescheduled for 2021, but a “reimagined” online festival, Waiting for Shakespeare… The Festival in the Air, is coming in October. wexfordopera.com
A summer picnic should be a simple pleasure, but all too often it ends up being about soggy quiche, crushed crisps and slimy strawberries that were perfect when packed (we swear). Better to hand over responsibility to the experts. On Howth, Mamo’s gorgeous lunch hamper costs €22pp and is worth every cent — it might feature Tartine bread and nduja butter, olives, smoked almonds, treacle-cured pollock with soy and orange, McNallys’ piccalilli, Higgins’ smoked pork rillette, white bean panzanella, scotch egg with brown sauce and rhubarb and Howth honey posset. Yum! mamorestaurant.ie — KMcG
While you’re at it: Work up an appetite with a cliff walk or a swim — be warned, the path down to the water is steep and tricky for small children. If you’re with kids, try one of the sandy beaches at Skerries or Portmarnock.
With virtually zero overseas guests booked in the coming months, this could be the time to experience Ireland’s finest five-stars and luxury hotels at affordable rates. Take The Merrion’s ‘Five Star Steal’ package in Dublin, for example. Don the luxurious robes, order room service and have a delicious dinner from The Garden Restaurant or Cellar Bar brought to your room without having to worry about social distancing, taxis or being home in time for the babysitter. A €175pp price tag includes a bottle of Henriot house champagne, too. merrionhotel.com — KMcG
While you’re at it: Number 31 is a boutique bolthole hidden away on Leeson Close in Dublin. It has a ‘3-for-2’ offer giving a free night for every two booked, with breakfast each morning and a glass of Prosecco on arrival. Prices from €340 for the total stay. number31.ie
Missing your cinema outings? Thinking creatively, several hotels have come up with movie packages. Galway’s Twelve Hotel has a two-night getaway including dinner, a €60 food credit and a movie night set-up with room service, including a cocktail and popcorn machine, for example, from €480. In Dublin, the Shelbourne has a ‘City Escape’ package from €299, and you can add a movie pack with treats, hot dishes and a bottle of wine to the room for €40. thetwelvehotel.ie; theshelbourne.com — PÓC
While you’re at it: Have to bring the kids? Cliff at Lyons has a two-night family break including a picnic hamper and a movie night dinner from €640. cliffatlyons.ie
As you climb the loop walk over Inishowen Head, spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean open out and you pass by the spot at Portkill, where St Columba took his last glance back at his beloved Derry before sailing into exile. On fine days the west of Scotland is visible. Bring a picnic and sturdy walking shoes to appreciate the wild and rugged beauty along this trail that goes through rough ground and bog roads. Wild romance at its best! — KD
While you’re at it: Stop and refuel in Rosato’s bar and restaurant in nearby Moville. facebook.com/rosatos.bar
What’s better than a socially distanced family day out? A socially distanced family day out with ice cream, of course. Co Meath’s Causey Farm, famous for its Halloween experiences, has a new ice cream trail where you can meet your favourite farm animals, solve puzzles, play games and enjoy a scoop of farm ice cream to boot. It runs July 1 to August 30. €11pp; causey.ie — PÓC
While you’re at it: You know football. You’ve tried golf. Next up? Footgolf at Navan Adventure Centre, naturally. navanadventurecentre.ie
After months of home baking and banana bread, book into a cookery class with a master baker and learn the pro tricks that your sourdough or sponges may have been lacking. Cooks Academy in Dublin, Riot Rye in Tipperary and Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co Cork are all offering specialist baking courses this summer. cooksacademy.com; ruitrye.ie; cookingisfun.ie — JB
While you’re at it: Follow Firehouse Bakery on social media to learn when its new bread school in Newtownmountkennedy starts its classes. thefirehouse.ie
Tipp’s Golden Vale is prime foodie turf and an ideal destination for a meet-the-makers road-trip. Idyllic stop-offs include the Cashel Blue visitor experience for cheese-lovers, Crossogue Preserves for artisan jam or a visit to Brookfield Farm for flower meadow walks, beekeeping talks and a delicious honey tasting. tipperaryfoodproducers.ie — TB
While you’re at it: Pick up some Tipperary pastrami at Ballycastle Farm, a biodiversity-focused beef farm that hasn’t trimmed its hedgerows for 10 years!
We’re all sick of cooking and want to eat tasty food prepared by someone else, but not everyone’s ready to venture back into restaurants. In Dingle, Solas Tapas is offering a variety of different tapas bento boxes available for click and collect — staff drop it out to the boot of your car. We like the sound of the seafood box featuring salted cod and squid sausage rolls, crisp pollock, crab and garden peas, popcorn squid and prawn and Russian salad with seaweed. (€22.50), but there are meat and veggie versions available too. solastapas.com — KMcG
While you’re at it: Try La Cocina Cuevas for drive-through tacos in The Naul in north Co Dublin. lacocinacuevas.com
Ireland’s restaurants have come up trumps with their takeout game, and The Driftwood in Rosses Point in Sligo is no exception. At this cute restaurant right on the water, you’ll find local lobster brought in fresh off the boat, served whole with smoked garlic butter and perfect chips, or in a buttery brioche bun with apple, chive and lemon mayo. Get it to go, or eat on one of the al fresco tables. thedriftwood.ie — NB
While you’re at it: Book one of the bedrooms upstairs (from €89) for a dreamy getaway — be sure to get one with a gorgeous roll top bath.
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Kinsale was quick off the mark to announce that it would be offering free parking all summer and pedestrianising a number of streets to allow restaurants add space for outdoor eating. With an abundance of good restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Bastion, Martin Shanahan’s Fishy Fishy and the Black Pig Wine Bar, it’s now doubly attractive as a summer dining destination. Expect other staycation destinations to follow suit. kinsale.ie —KMcG
While you’re at it: Every Sunday will be a Family Fun Day this summer, in another creative Kinsale idea.
Bring your cooking to new levels on a guided foraging trail with Wicklow Wild Foods. Wicklow native Geraldine Kavanagh leads private foraging tours every Saturday, revealing local edibles and wild-food treats, sharing her knowledge around commonly found flowers, fruits, nuts, wild leaves and mushrooms, depending on the season. wicklowwildfoods.com; €40pp — JB
While you’re at it: Geraldine is also the botanical forager for Glendalough Gin. If you haven’t tried a glass, you’ll find it on the menu of many fine hostelries.
Take your mum, grandparents, sister, or best pals to one of the country’s finest hotels for lavish afternoon tea with all of its pomp and ceremony. Sit back, feel pampered and enjoy exceptional pastries and the daintiest confections. Favourites include The Merrion Hotel, Dromoland Castle and Adare Manor. Be sure to book ahead, and expect rates to start from around €50pp, which sounds pricey, but is far cheaper than a night away at the five-stars! — JB
While you’re at it: Order a box of sublime handmade pastries and cakes from Le Patissier in Dublin. The makings of afternoon tea delivered! lepatissier.ie
Cloud Picker’s lunchbox — created by new chef Andrew Kelly, who trained at Ballymaloe and has a stage at Noma on his CV — is available to book online for collection the next day. One recent version — the menu changes weekly — included fried chicken in a light, home-made potato bun, with chive mayo on the side, delicious carrot “tagliatelle” with fermented chilli mayo, a pot of funky-but-not-too-funky kimchi and a morsel of buckwheat cake with coffee caramel. Add homemade raspberry kombucha and bottled cold-brew coffee for good measure. Yours for €13, with a veggie option for €12. cloudpickercoffee.ie — KMcG
While you’re at it: Bring your picnic to Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock, sit by the water and admire the sculpture installation by Martha Schwartz.
East Cork seems to have more trendy food trucks than celebrity chefs these days. Mapping out a tour of the area based around the road-side eateries is a popular local pursuit; highlights include both Rooskagh and Cush for coffee and treats, the Lobster Pot and newly-opened Fry Guys for local seafood, while at Ballymaloe Cookery School, the stationary airstream caravan is a dreamy spot for tacos. — TB
While you’re at it: Take in the still-unspoiled cliff walk at Knockadoon to savour the sights of East Cork’s most remote fringe. Find more Cork ideas at purecork.ie.
A platter of freshly-cooked seafood is one of the joys of the Irish summer — and eaten within sight of the sea it tastes even better. One of the best-loved is the Hot and Cold — pan-fried hake, with fresh crabmeat, salmon and shrimp, served with salad and soda bread (€15.95) — at O’Neill’s The Point, Renard Point, Cahirsiveen, overlooking Valentia Harbour. The views are free. oneillsthepoint.ie — KMcG
While you’re at it: Cooking up a storm in your self-catering or home holiday rental? You can order great fish and seafood online for delivery all over the country from eatmorefish.ie and sustainableseafood.ie
If ever there was a year that necessitated a trip to a chocolate factory, it’s 2020. So blow away the cobwebs with a trip to Hazel Mountain Chocolate in the heart of the Burren. You can tour the factory and learn how its chocolate is made, then have a slab of cake and some truffles in the café, and a good stomp around the Burren afterwards. hazelmountainchocolate.com. — NB
While you’re at it: Pop into the Burren Perfumery, a short drive away. burrenperfumery.com
The new Toons Bridge shop on South Great George’s Street in Dublin is a wonderful Mediterranean-inspired deli and food store full of Irish and local produce along with excellent artisan imports. The shop carries everything that you’ll find at the Toons Bridge Real Olive Company stall in the English Market in Cork, including Toons Bridge’s own terrific cheeses. Put together a grazing platter of delicious charcuterie, cheese and olives and bring it to Iveagh Gardens on a fine day (or even just a dry one). toonsbridgedairy.com — KMcG
While you’re at it: In Cork, hop on a Cork Bike and bring your bounty to Fitzgerald Park on the banks of the Lee, or the newly-pedestrianised marina, and work off lunch with a walk either up or down river.
Ahmet Dede was chef at the Michelin-starred Mews in Baltimore, now sadly closed. At his new restaurant, one of Ireland’s most eagerly-awaited new openings, Ahmet will serve a seasonal menu inspired by his Turkish roots using exceptional local ingredients. A three-course set menu will be available on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (priced at €50, with two sittings), with a new charcoal barbecue on the other nights. customhousebaltimore.com — KMcG
While you’re at it: Drop into the Dede deli and stock up on great bread and pantry staples for your holiday rental.
Husband and wife team Peter Hogan and Jumoke Akintola (he’s front of house, she’s the chef) had only opened their new restaurant in Tramore, Co Waterford, a few days before lockdown happened and they were forced to close again. They will be back up and running this week, serving a menu that fans of the much-missed Dublin 7 Fish Shop on Queen Street (and the thankfully still-going Fish Shop on Benburb Street) will love. Akintola’s simple, confident way with fish lets great ingredients speak for themselves. beachhousetramore.ie — KMcG
While you’re at it: An hour’s drive from Tramore, in Fethard on Sea, another young couple, Dee Kelly and Matteo Griscti, signed the lease on their Grálinn cafe just before lockdown. Instagram: @_Gralinn_
Wilde’s is a tiny chocolate factory that bills itself as having the widest range of chocolate bars in Ireland! Located in Tuamgraney, on the shores of Lough Derg, the factory’s open-plan production allows visitors to watch owner Patricia Farrell and co creating their delicious artisan treats. And at the current count there’s over 80 bars, from dark chocolate seaweed and lime splash to dairy free chilli lime kisses. wildeirishchocolates.com — TB
While you’re at it: Visit the charming McKernan Woollen Mills down the street to see traditional Irish designs being crafted. scarves.ie
Not everyone wants to cater on a self-catering holiday. Pizza kits are one of the positives of lockdown. Dough Bros is a Galway institution, and kits are now available for collection at designated pick-up spots in Athenry, Gort, Castlebar, Tuam, Swinford and Ennis — and the team hopes to have nationwide delivery available soon, so you can order for your holiday rental and make like an Italian pizzaiola. The Dough-luxe kit makes four pizzas and costs €50. thedoughbros.ie — KMcG
While you’re at it: If you’re staycationing in Wicklow, check out the click and collect pizza kit from Platform Pizza in Bray. From €34.99; platformpizzabar.ie
Having mastered its craft over 130 years, Barron’s Bakery in Cappoquin knows how to make a good pan, cob and grinder. But you’ll find most visitors travel here for their iconic blaas, Waterford’s very own Déise treasure, made fresh in its scotch brick ovens daily. Delicious! barronsbakery.ie — TB
While you’re at it: Venture up the Blackwater and enjoy Lady Louisa’s Walk, an impressive riverside trail leading towards sumptuous Lismore Castle.
No, it’s not the name of a trendy new Dublin diner. We think people who have been separated from their mammies during lockdown will be travelling the length and breadth of the country for a taste of home cooking as soon as restrictions are lifted. Forget your fancy restaurants, they say, what we really want is a good roast dinner with lots of shpuds. — KMcG
While you’re at it: Be sure to bring mammy a nice bottle of wine or two to thank her for her efforts in the kitchen!
NB: Listed prices are starting rates; most activities without pricing are free. All prices, opening dates and details subject to change and public health guidelines. Due to Covid-19 restrictions and safety measures, book ahead wherever possible before visiting this summer.
It’s strawberries and southeastern sun. It’s opera and hurling with heart; a storied lighthouse and sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. It’s rolling farmland, ghost stories on the Hook Peninsula, and wolfing down chips at Kilmore Quay.
I’ve explored a lost town in Kilkenny. I shot one of my favourite Irish photos there. I’ve eaten Michelin-star meals in two different restaurants, and walked into the earth to find one of Ireland’s darkest places. Each time, I could have been home in time for tea.