8 Things to do in Ireland ...

There are some amazing things to do in Ireland this year – the country has launched a year-long festival to promote everything Irish. The tourist network has released waves of subsidized rooms to help tourists visit Ireland for less, and there’s flights to Ireland from all over the world – so what are you waiting for? It’s an amazing country, and not just because of all the exciting things to do in Ireland!

1. The Gathering…

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The Gathering is the name of Ireland’s 2013 celebration, which will last the whole year. There’s gatherings, exhibitions, sporting events, concerts, music festivals, fireworks and games, and the events are spread around Ireland’s villages and towns. It all kicked off with an amazing firework display on New Year's Eve, and a big rejuvenating family brunch on 1st Jan – and it’s a great way to explore everything Irish. Just check out www.thegatheringireland.com to find great things to do in Ireland while you are here!

2. National Heritage Week…

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Ireland is going all out for National Heritage Week this year. The Irish Walled Towns Event takes place on 17th-18th and 24th-25th August, and involves medieval re-enactments, great markets, jousting and big village meals. There’s a great atmosphere, local beer and plenty of ways to get involved! August also boasts a Craft Festival, Steam Threshing, Livestock Show and Country Fair.

3. Puck Fair…

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It’s the 400th birthday of King Puck, so Ireland is throwing a party! Puck’s birthday has been celebrated every August since 1916 in Ireland, and between 10th and 12th this year, there will be special events too. As well as the usual big festival and local foods, there will be a big parade, and a billy goat competition – the winner will be crowned King Puck. There’s also an Arts Festival in Kilkenny, and plenty of animal fun at Fota Wildlife Park. Epic.

4. Marathons with a Difference…

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Promised yourself you’ll run a marathon this year? Make it Ireland's. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon takes place on August 5th, and involves a half marathon with loud music and live entertainment all the way round. The course is mapped to go through huge Irish landmarks, and show off the country’s unique heritage. Every finisher gets a medal, and the finish line is located close to a variety of pubs and bars for refreshments afterwards. A marathon with a difference!

5. Visit the Town of Sport…

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Athlone has been awarded European Town of Sport for 2013, meaning it’ll be hosting a whole range of activities all year round. From cruising to water and adventure sports, rock climbing to forest breaks and heritage walks, there is a whole variety of sports for every exertion level. Athlone is located in the Midlands, and is surrounded by gorgeous places to stay, too!

6. Do a Quick Tour…

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Highlights of Ireland include kissing the stone at Blarney Castle, exploring the Badger Cave, dungeons and gardens, and visiting the 5th century monastic ruins of Glendalough. Dingle shouldn’t be missed either, being a beautiful town with plenty of medieval history. The “creamy shoreline” is perfect for relaxing and taking life a little slower! If you want to see them all, find a good tour company to give you the highlights of Ireland. Stress free, and oh-so-fun.

7. Dublin Zoo…

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Dublin Zoo shouldn’t be missed – it’s open every day from 9.3oam, and is the perfect place for families to go. The zoo is 28 hectares big and contains hundreds of animals, from tigers to elephants, red pandas to reptiles. Daily talks and feeds take place for the lions, orangutans, reptiles, elephants, chimpanzees, sea lions, penguins, giraffes, rhinos and gorillas, making it an educational and fun visit for the whole family. There’s even great restaurants on site.

8. Go by Horse Back…

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This is one of the things to do in Ireland that I’ve always dreamed about – horse-riding. Ireland is known as the land of the horse, and boasts amazing lands to be explored! There are acres of beach rides, trekking and trail, dressage, show jumping, cross country and post to post riding. You can learn to ride there, or if you’re already experienced, jump straight in on a carefully matched horse of your choice. The views are unbelievable!

Which of these things to do in Ireland would be top of your list?! I’m definitely planning to get away on a horse-riding holiday down there this year, and I’d love to go to some of the festivals, too. It’s a fantastic country – if you’re planning your next city break, let’s meet for coffee in Ireland!

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