10 of Ireland’s fittest holiday breaks

As the weather gets finer, Esther N McCarthy rounds up ten top adventure activities in some of Ireland’s most beautiful locations.

Ironman

Where: Youghal, Co Cork

When: June 23

What does it involve? The course features a 3.8km sea swim from Claycastle beach in Youghal, a 180km bike course along coastal roads, ending in a fast and flat 42.2km run through the historic town of Youghal.

While you’re there: Following the ultimate endurance test, why not take in the heritage of your surroundings on Youghal Heritage Trail. For more information, see the Top 10 Things To Do here

The TransAtlantic Way

Where: Wild Atlantic Way

When: Starting on June 6

What does it involve? The TransAtlanticWay is a road bike ride in two parts: from Dublin to Derry city, and then from Derry to Kinsale, Co Cork, along the Wild Atlantic Way.

As well as the 2,100km route, participants can choose a shorter route of approximately 1,500km. With the pounding swell of the Atlantic as your constant companion, you follow the blue zig-zag signposts through seven of Ireland’s westernmost counties and are treated to many of Ireland’s scenic showstoppers, welcoming towns and villages, heritage sites, and plenty of unexpected thrills.

While you’re there: While you have the outdoor activities bug, why not take a trip to the outdoor education centre in Kinsale and discover sailing lessons, kayaking, body surfing, canoeing, sail chartering courses, and powerboating.

For information, see www.transatlanticway.com/

Dingle Adventure Race

Where: Dingle Peninsula, Co Kerry

When: June 8

What does it involve? Cycle, run, and kayak through one of the most beautiful corners of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way as you take on this one-day, multi-sport adventure race. This gruelling physical test covers a total distance of 30 miles with 4,910ft of climbing along the way. Visit www.dingleadventurerace.com

While you’re there: After putting your body through its physical paces, indulge in one of Dingle’s Out of the Blue Seafood. For more information, visit www.outoftheblue.ie

Hell & Back

Where: Killruddery Estate, Bray, Co Wicklow

When: June 15-16

What does it involve? One of Ireland’s most popular adventure races, it consists of a 10-15km run over hills and mountains and through rivers, lakes and swamps with some torturous obstacles to overcome along the way. Also, why not get the kids involved with the Hell& Back junior challenge. There is a 1km course for kids aged 5 to 7. The longer 3.5/5km course is for kids aged 8 to 12 years.

While you’re there: Take a trip to Powerscourt House and Gardens and view Ireland’s highest waterfall and some exotic gardens. For more information, visit: www.powerscourt.com/

Tough Mudder

Where: Loughcrew, Co Meath

When: July 20 -21

What does it involve? Wearing your best white shirt to Tough Mudder wouldn’t be advisable, because not only will you be shattered from the physical exertion, you’re also going to get fairly mucky while you take part in this 10-12-mile obstacle course.

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While you’re there: After changing out of those muddy clothes and having a well-deserved rest, continue your weekend in Co Meath with a trip to view Loughcrew Megalithic Centre and enjoy the Celtic Boyne Valley Tour that takes you through 5,000 years of history including stops at Hill of Tara, Trim Castle, Loughcrew, and Uisneach. This is the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East.

For more information, visit www.loughcrewmegalithiccentre.com/

Ring of Kerry Cycle

Where: Killarney, Co Kerry

When: July 6

What does it involve? The ring of Kerry cycle is a one-day cycling event that brings together communities to participate, raise funds, and enjoy a unique experience of the scenery. The 175km

kilometer route passes through some of Kerry’s most beautiful towns including Kenmare, Killarney, and Caherciveen, and arrives home to a spectacular welcome and celebration.

While you’re there: Give yourself a treat and visit the Skellig Chocolate Factory. Witness the journey of how the chocolate is made and enjoy some mouth-watering tasters along the way. skelligschocolate.com/

QUEST 12/24

Where: Co Kerry, South West, Wild Atlantic Way

When: August 31

What does it involve? Quest 12/24 is a one-day, individual race that traverses Ireland’s highest mountains and toughest cycle routes along the Wild Atlantic Way — all in the name of adventure. For those who wish to test their physical and mental strength, the 12-hour option is a 146km route that involves running, cycling, and kayaking over mountains, rivers, and lakes.

While you’re there: Take it all in at the Kerry’s Dark Sky Reserve: there are very few things as awe-inspiring as a night sky full of stars on the Wild Atlantic Way.

For more information, visit www.kerrydarksky.com

Quest Adventure Series

Where: Lough Derg, on the Clare/Tipperary border

When: September 14

What does it involve? Race around some of Ireland’s most iconic waterways in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, kayak on Lough Derg, and run along the banks of the mighty Shannon. Choose from three challenging, exciting routes; the 22km Challenge, the 57km Sport, or the 69km Expert.

While you’re there: Indulge in a tasty feast in Brocka on the Water, a family-run restaurant with great hospitality, an organic garden, and an idyllic setting.

For information, visit facebook.com/BrockaOTW/

The Great Fjord Swim

Where: Killary Fjord, Connemara

When: October 12

What does it involve? Wetsuits at the ready for this open-water swim amidst the natural border between counties Mayo and Galway. Killary Fjord may just be one of the most spectacular places to wild swim in Ireland. Competitors can choose from three courses — the gentler 750m option, a 2k course, or the full 3.9km Ironman distance — which sees them swim between the peaks of Mayo and Connemara.

While you’re there: Take a boat trip to Inishbofin to experience island life, from traditional music to adventure walks. www.inishbofin.com/

Seaside adventures

Where: Inchydoney, Co Cork

When: Booking from today

What does it involve? The Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa are collaborating with local adventure companies to package all that West Cork has to off the outdoors holidaymaker. Try a Starlight Kayak break in Castle haven Harbour, take to the waves on Ireland’s Best Beach for a surf lesson with Inchydoney Surf School or go with Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours to spot Common Dolphins, Harbour Porpoises, Minke Whales or you might be lucky enough to spot the family groups of Fin Whales that arrive in the summer months. For more info, see https://inchydoneyisland.com

  • Info from Ireland’s Ancient East, Dublin, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Wild Atlantic Way
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