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12 great dates in Ireland this summer - leave the kids to share oysters, or enjoy a simple pint!

Need some quality adults-only time together? We’ve come up with some great options if you are leaving the kids at home.

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Bailey Lighthouse, Howth Head, Dublin.

Bailey Lighthouse, Howth Head, Dublin.

A Heritage Parkview room at The Shelbourne

A Heritage Parkview room at The Shelbourne

Get your choc fix at Hazel Mountain Chocolate, Co Clare

Get your choc fix at Hazel Mountain Chocolate, Co Clare

A luxe suite at the Twelve Hotel in Barna, Co Galway

A luxe suite at the Twelve Hotel in Barna, Co Galway

Grown-up getaways: a picnic on the Blasket Island courtesty of Castlewood House in Dingle

Grown-up getaways: a picnic on the Blasket Island courtesty of Castlewood House in Dingle

Tasty bites from Solas Tapas

Tasty bites from Solas Tapas

Firehouse Bakery is opening a new bread school

Firehouse Bakery is opening a new bread school

Ciara O'Halloran and her father Gerry, of Red Bank Food Company - among 21 seafood producers selected as members of the Taste the Atlantic – A Seafood Journey trail, developed by BIM in partnership with Failte Ireland. Picture: Sean Curtin True Media.

Ciara O'Halloran and her father Gerry, of Red Bank Food Company - among 21 seafood producers selected as members of the Taste the Atlantic – A Seafood Journey trail, developed by BIM in partnership with Failte Ireland. Picture: Sean Curtin True Media.

Splash out: Try the fresh lobster at The Driftwood in Rosses Point

Splash out: Try the fresh lobster at The Driftwood in Rosses Point

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Bailey Lighthouse, Howth Head, Dublin.

With travel restrictions lifting on Monday, we bring you the ultimate guide to the best things to do, see, and eat around the country. Here are your adult-only options!

1. Destination escape

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Viewmount House, Co. Longford. Photo: Ireland's Blue Book

Viewmount House, Co. Longford. Photo: Ireland's Blue Book

Viewmount House, Co. Longford. Photo: Ireland's Blue Book

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.

2. A dozen oysters … or maybe more?

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Ciara O'Halloran and her father Gerry, of Red Bank Food Company - among 21 seafood producers selected as members of the Taste the Atlantic – A Seafood Journey trail, developed by BIM in partnership with Failte Ireland. Picture: Sean Curtin True Media.

Ciara O'Halloran and her father Gerry, of Red Bank Food Company - among 21 seafood producers selected as members of the Taste the Atlantic – A Seafood Journey trail, developed by BIM in partnership with Failte Ireland. Picture: Sean Curtin True Media.

Ciara O'Halloran and her father Gerry, of Red Bank Food Company - among 21 seafood producers selected as members of the Taste the Atlantic – A Seafood Journey trail, developed by BIM in partnership with Failte Ireland. Picture: Sean Curtin True Media.

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

3. Pick up a picnic package

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The Heritage, Killenard, Co Laoise

The Heritage, Killenard, Co Laoise

The Heritage, Killenard, Co Laoise

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

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4. Toastie and a pint at Grogan’s

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

5. A 10km walking date

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Group Kayaking at Dalkey Island, Dublin

Group Kayaking at Dalkey Island, Dublin

Group Kayaking at Dalkey Island, Dublin

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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6. Drive-in Dráma

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.

7. A Blasket Basket package

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

8. Art in the open

‘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

9. Mamó’s finest on Howth

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Bailey Lighthouse, Howth Head, Dublin.

Bailey Lighthouse, Howth Head, Dublin.

Bailey Lighthouse, Howth Head, Dublin.

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.

10. An overnight splurge

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

11. Make up for missed movie nights

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A Heritage Parkview room at The Shelbourne

A Heritage Parkview room at The Shelbourne

A Heritage Parkview room at The Shelbourne

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

12. Travel to the ends of the earth

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

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.


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