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January 20, 2012

Top 5 Activity Holidays in Ireland

by Julianne Mooney

I have to admit that my New Year’s resolution to return to yoga has failed miserably. This is not due to my own laziness, you understand, but due to the fact that I pulled something in my back the first class I did. My poor body couldn’t cope with the stretching and pulling. I guess it became too accustomed to the horizontal position on the couch, with the only stretching being to reach to the top shelf in the kitchen, where I tried to hide all the boxes of chocolates.

Hand to mouth movement. There’s been lots of that. However, when you see yourself on television looking like you just ate the presenter it’s enough incentive to return to said New Year’s resolution. As I type this, I have a bowl of maltesers resting beside my keyboard. I am not one to diet and I console myself with the fact that the camera puts on 10lbs. So instead I will return to yoga next week, do several vinyasas a day and plan an activity holiday.

While travelling around Ireland I was amazed at the number of places offering activities, even in the midst of winter. Walking groups, yoga workshops, kite-surfing and plenty more. It would be a very, very long post if I were to list all the cool places to go and things to do (go buy Time Out Ireland for that) but I will tell you five things/places I will add to my list to do this Spring.

I’ve tried surfing, but I think my legs and arms are too long to master the board. So SUP is the next best thing apparently. Stand Up Surfing, is where you paddle about on a surf board and have lots of fun while toning your arms and abs. If all else fails, I’ll throw myself on a board in Strand Hill, Co. Sligo for an hour, simply because I really like Perfect Day Surf School and know they won’t lose me in the waves. Then I’ll rest my broken body in a seaweed bath in Voya afterwards. One word. Divine.

Next up is a trek through the Mourne Mountains, Co. Down. If you’re looking for quiet mountainside paths, incredible views and some challenging treks then you won’t be disappointed. It was the dramatic peaks and sweeping valleys of the Mournes that  inspired CS Lewis’s descriptions of Narnia. And there is no wonder. For those on a day trip, find the trail outside Newcastle, past the Bloody Bridge. Magical. The tourist office in Newcastle is a great place to pick up maps and information on trails. After all that walking, you’ll deserve the delicious fish and chips afterwards.

If you’ve not been to the Glen of Aherlow, Co. Tipperary I suggest you add it to your ‘To Visit’ list. Lush, green mountains, deep valleys, rivers and deserted pathways. For the lazy, you can simply drive through the breathtaking glen, but for those determined not to look like they swallowed a baby hippopotamus, you will not find a better place for walking or cycling.

When I arrived in Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal one cold, wet September day I stumbled into a surf shop, simply to ask directions. However, when I got talking to one of the owners of Narosa Life, I realised they had created a little activity hub in this tiny town at the top of Ireland. Combined yoga and surf holidays, walking tours, fitness classes, you name it, they do it and do it well. I vowed to go back when the sun was shining and the sea warm, and perhaps perfectly timed with the Jazz Festival!

I should have said top six, but as I said, I can’t cover everywhere in one post. However, because the weather was bad when we visited and all I saw was fog, I’d like to return to do the Sheep’s Head Way in Co. Cork. Quiet trails through moors and along rugged coastal pathways with unsurpassed ocean views.

I leave you now to put on the kettle and restock my bowl with more maltesers. I will then dream of a beach, where I lay still and soak up the heat like a lizard.

NEW: GAELFORCE 2012 EVENTS

I thought I’d add to this post as Gaelforce have announced their 2012 events and let’s face it, we all need a challenge. Kayak through Killary Fjord, cycle along the Connemara coastline, run through Glenveagh Valley, or simply turn up at the pub to buy a congratulatory drink for the brave and hardy who made it back in one piece.

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