Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

20.31 16 Oct 2020


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With people being asked to stay in their county and household visits banned, many be looking for outdoor activities to keep them busy this weekend.

On today's Hard Shoulder, Michelle Jackson - The Novel Traveller - walked Kieran through places to go in all counties in the Republic.

Outdoor places to visit in your own county this weekend

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Here are 25 of her tips, plus one from Kieran himself:

Leinster

Dublin - I'm trying to encourage all the southsiders to come northside. We've got the fabulous Burrow Beach in Sutton, and Dollymount Strand in Clontarf. Last weekend there were a range of fabulous kite surfers and paddle-boarders - it really was a sight to behold.

Wicklow - There are fabulous walks in Wicklow - I really recommend everybody check the VisitWicklow.ie website, as they've got all the top trails, including top ones like Djouce and the Sugarloaf.

Louth - They have a magic road in Co Louth. You'll find a place known as Magic Hill - a section of the road goes downhill, but as you stop the car at the bottom and release the brakes the car will roll backwards up the hill. It's around the area where the Last Leprechauns of Ireland are.

Meath - I was a great fan of Braveheart. People will know Trim Castle - they've probably driven past it several time. But go in and enjoy the grounds. There's free entry, and outside there's picnic seating.

Wexford - My dad's from Fort Mountain, and they've started lovely new views and trail walks from there. The Irish National Heritage Park is also open, because it's all outdoors - for €30 you can go for two adults and up to three children. It's well worth going to.

Laois - The Rock of Dunamaise is a beautiful spot with fabulous views. Abbyleix boardwalk have got fabulous two loop tours, and they're 8km long. The Manor Hotel has got a food truck outside for people walking.

Kilkenny (as a Kilkenny man, Kieran himself offered up his tips) - Go to Woodstock Gardens, which is beautiful with autumn colours. Or walk along the River Nore further back into town, from Bennett's Bridge into town. Get a coffee in the Design Centre or in the new Butler Gallery - outdoor coffees are allowed.

Carlow - The Bahana forest trail is meant to be absolutely beautiful. There's a looped forest walk there, and you walk along the Barrow River - you get to see birds, otters and squirrels. There's also a lovely café at St Mullins which is doing takeaways.

Kildare - We've got Pollardstown Fen - beautiful marshlands, absolutely stunning. I haven't been there myself, but talking to a native it's the place to go to. Plus Kildare Farm Foods have fabulous picnic areas. You get to see the animals, it's a shop and a wonderful set-up.

Offaly - Everybody knows about Lough Barra Park. But do they know they can hire a bike for €5 for an adult for an hour and €3 for kids? They'll even cut a deal for you if you're taking it for longer.

Longford - The Royal Canal Greenway is super for biking and walking. It's where the old railway line has been developed as a beautiful walkway.

Westmeath - Moydrum forest park I've been told is the place to go to for great wildlife. Portlick is beautiful for walks as well. Thank you Mike from Viking Tours for the tips.

Munster

Loop Head The Loop Head peninsula with its high cliffs seen in County Clare, Ireland, 03 June 2017 · Photo: Jens Kalaene/dpa-Zentralbild/ZB

Clare - I was chatting to a lovely man - Martin Haugh - who has set up lovely walking tours from Loop Head. He has a little hotel - the Stella Marris in Kilkee - where you can stay over in a B&B for two nights, have two evening meals and two walks. It's really like going on a holiday!

Cork - Why not check out Mallow Castle, which has beautiful walks along the Blackwater? Or go to Doneraile park, which is open - beautiful, short looped walk. They have a café doing takeaways, and a fantastic playground.

Kerry - If you haven't done it yet... Carrauntoohil. It's a real challenge, but it's the tallest mountain in Ireland it's on your doorstep. KerryClimbing.ie are a fabulous group, and they're experts in how to prepare and climb safely.

Tipperary - The Suir Blueway was only launched last year. You can walk or cycle its 21 kilometres from Clonmel to Carrick-on-Suir, and it's well-worth checking out.

Limerick - I had no idea how beautiful the Ballyhoura mountains were. Head there this weekend and enjoy it. They've got the most stunning walks and trails, and there's even adventure biking. I also went for a bit of horse riding at Ballyhoura Horse Trekking, and it was a wonderful adventure.

Waterford - I'm ashamed to say it was my first time in Lismore town there this summer, and oh boy what a beautiful town. There's Lismore Castle, and there's a great Sunday farmers' market. They also have lovely picnic areas within the walls, and a fantastic takeaway café called The Vault.

Connacht

Glencar Waterfall Glencar Waterfall; County Leitrim, Ireland (Credit Image: © Peter Zoeller/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire)

Galway - Moycullen Horse Riding is over beautiful Lough Corrib, and they will do a one hour countryside trek for €30 for a child and €35 for an adult. There is so much fabulous horse riding in Galway - really it's something worth doing.

Leitrim - I'm very much in love with Leitrim. Glencar Waterfall is just stunning. It is a complete gem - you could be anywhere tropical when you go to see it.

Mayo - Croagh Patrick is a bucket list walk. If you're in Mayo and you haven't done it yet, maybe this is the weekend to do it. Or there's the Céide Fields up in Ballycastle - where Ireland's first farmers settled, and there's fantastic prehistoric remains.

Roscommon - The Castlerea trail I believe is beautiful. It's an hour and a half long, and it's one of the shorter loop walks on the Suck Valley Way. It's meant to be stunningly beautiful - a mixture of history and scenery.

Sligo - There's so much to do. I'm recommending Knocknarea as my top walk, as this is where Queen Maeve was buried. At low-tide I believe you can walk to Coney Island. There's also an oyster farm there, and you can go on an oyster farm tour.

Cavan - Dun a Ri Forest Park is absolutely beautiful. It's part of what was formerly the Cabra Castle estate.

Donegal - There's so much to do in Donegal, but I asked a friend of mine... and he said his favourite beach in all of Donegal is the Murder Hole Beach, also known as Boyeeghter. It's not great for swimming, but lovely for views and great walks.

Monaghan - I'm a big Patrick Kavanagh fan... but this summer the Patrick Kavanagh Centre was opened. It's absolutely gorgeous. There's a Patrick Kavanagh Trail as part of it - it brings you from the centre in Inniskeen.

***

To get a list of all Michelle's suggestions, you can visit her website.

Main image: File photo of the Sugarloaf Mountain in County Wicklow. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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