Equestrianism is one of the country's principal tourist attractions
and facilities for horse riding
are found all over. A full list of stables and riding holidays is
available at the Irish Tourist Board.
The main racecourses are at Leopardstown, Fairyhouse
(Irish Grand National every year), The Curragh
(Irish Sweeps Derby) and Punchestown (an international
cross-country, three-day riding course).
Ireland’s sparsely populated countryside makes it great for
walkers of all levels. The mild climate means that the mountains
are accessible year round. The mountainous areas are towards the
coast, which makes for dramatic seascapes, especially by the Atlantic
Adventurous walkers may want to tackle Ireland’s highest peak,
Carrauntoohil (1041m or 3415ft) in Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, in the far southwest of the country. Other mountains
include Croagh Patrick (765mor
2510ft) near Westport in Co Mayo, a holy mountain and on the last
Sunday in July, a place of pilgrimage. Its conical summit is silhouetted
against the horizon for miles, as if a beacon to pilgrims. St Patrick
supposedly drove all the snakes out of Ireland from this mountain.
The 12 Bens in Connemara has lovely hill walking,
with views over towards the jagged coastline. The scenery of the
Wicklow Mountains is barely an hour’s drive
There are 28 national way marked ways in the country, including
the Beara Way, Kerry Way
and the Wicklow Way.
Custom-made tours with a local guide can be arranged through Walking
Cycling Ireland (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
There are a number of gentle walks for the less energetic. The guidebook,
‘Walking Ireland – The Way marked Ways’, available
for free from the Irish Tourist Board, gives more information.
Although some of Ireland’s coastal parts are mountainous,
the valleys and the gently central plain are excellent for easy
cycling. Roads are well maintained and most are quiet. Inland, the
landscape is lined with small farms, and one is never too far away
from civilisation if one requires it.
There is a high number of pre-celtic monuments in lonely places;
owing to old Irish superstitions, they were not cleared away when
the land was farmed. The Boyne Valley
contains over 300.
Being blessed with miles of streams and rivers and over 5500km or
3500 miles of coastline, Ireland offers excellent fishing. There
is no closed season for freshwater angling,
but the months from March to October are the best suited for bream,
roach, rudd, dace and perch.
For coarse angling, there are
new rules regarding share certificates; further details can be obtained
from the Irish Tourist Board.
Game fishing requires
a licence and a permit. The brown trout season runs usually from
mid February or March until 30 September. Open salmon season is
1 January to 7 September. The sea trout period is best from June
to 30 September or 12 October in some areas. Salmon licence's and
or permits also cover sea trout.
Along the Atlantic coast, sea angling
is possible from rocks, piers, in the surf or during a day’s
boat fishing excursion which can be organised locally.
There are over 350 golf courses run by the Golfing
Union of Ireland, and many come to Ireland specifically for a golfing
holiday, where the course rates are cheaper compared with the UK.
The courses are set both by the sea and inland – two-thirds
of them are 18-hole.
For those in pursuit of culture or to discover their roots, Ireland
has much to offer. There are summer schools
all over where it is possible to learn Gaelic
and to pursue other courses in Irish culture.
Courses include archaeological walks around Celtic sites, traditional
Irish music, courses on literary figures such as Oscar Wilde, W
B Yeats and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and popular culture and storytelling.
A list of courses is available from the Irish Tourist Board.
These courses attract students and participants from all over the
world. Genealogical centres will
help those who come to trace their family history. The Irish Tourist
Board also publishes a free booklet called ‘Tracing
The National Library of Ireland provides a free genealogy advisory
service run by a panel of genealogists and an expert member of staff,
which provides an overview of genealogical records and gives advice
on specific family research. Further information is available (telephone:
(1) 603 0200; fax: (1) 676 6690; email: email@example.com)
Pilgrimages to Ireland are burgeoning and
visits to religious sites such as the Knock Marian Shrine in Co
Mayo are very popular.
The national sports of Ireland are Gaelic football