There’s a great deal happening in Ireland to see and do this year. So why would you want to have your holiday anywhere else? Here’s a look at some of the biggest events happening across the Irish Sea in 2012 which might be well worth a look if you planning a holiday any time soon.
VOLVO OCEAN RACE, GALWAY
June 30-July 8
Last time this maritime event hit the West of Ireland in 2009, it attracted more than half a million visitors to the city to see the boats taking part in this round-the-world race during a two-week stopover in Ireland.
This time around it promises to be an even bigger affair as the race is scheduled to actually finish in Galway in July. As you're reading this, some of the world's most elite sailors are already out there at sea battling against the elements and the waves after starting out on their journey last October from Alicante in Spain. On their trip, they will take in Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya and Auckland before heading on to Brazil, around Cape Horn and on to Miami, Lisbon and the Bay of Biscay.
But is lucky Galway that has the grand finale to this fine exhibition of ocean going sailing. And with global television audience of some 1.3 billion tuning to see which boat actually crosses the finishing line first, then Galway city is definitely the place to be this summer, if you can make it.
For all the details, go to: www.galwayvolvooceanrace.com.
OLYMPIC TORCH, DUBLIN
OK, we know the torch will be making it way all around Britain this year before arriving at the Olympic Stadium in East London for the start of the London 2012 Games in August, but why not celebrate the fact that it is passing through a bit of Dublin on its journey. You may even get a sense of the atmosphere and building occasion that is affecting many in the UK capital and around Britain just now as we brace ourselves to Let The Games Begin.
The torch is due to spend seven days being carried around the North of Ireland, but thanks to a special dispensation, it is being allowed to make a quick diversion south in the name of peace. The only rule is that no Irish politicians will be allowed to grab hold of the torch as some of vote-grabbing statement – so something of a relief there!
Once the torch arrives in Dublin, the relay is expected to begin at the Garden of Remembrance in the city before heading down O'Connell Street, into Sheriff Street before crossing over the River Liffey via the Samuel Beckett bridge, pass the Irish parliament buildings and on towards Harold's Cross. Then it doubles back towards St Stephen's Green and finally arrives at Merrion Square.
For all the details, go to: www.olympicsport.ie.
NOTRE DAME -v- NAVY, DUBLIN
Two of the biggest names in American college football, Notre Dame (known as the Fighting Irish) and the US Naval Academy will be slugging it out in the Irish capital. The two teams are known for their sporting rivalry and this years marks the second occasion that they have taken their game to Ireland.
The last time the event happened was 16 years ago and on that occasion they played in Croke Park. Then the Fighting Irish, helped by a good crown behind them, won 54 to 27.
The stage is now set for another influx of fans of the game – American and from everywhere else in the world – as the two teams meet for the 84th consecutive year. This time the game takes place in the city's Aviva Stadium.
For all the details, go to: www.visitdublin.com.
TITANIC CENTENARY, COBH
Running throughout 2012
This year mark's 100th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the ill-fated ship and Cobh – at the time of the launch known as Queenstown – was its last port of call before heading out across the Atlantic and hitting the iceberg. To commemorate the anniversary, Cobh will play host to a series of events, including a commemorative ball at which dishes from the early 20th century will be served, music and entertainment; an exhibition in Cobh Museum; a national tribute on April 11 with a Irish Naval Service fleet review and a flypast by the Irish Air Corps; a vintage fair, a regatta as well as a series of concerts on Spike Island.
There will also be church services to commemorate the event and a two-day series of lectures is also being planned, as well as other events linked to the liner, including a Titanic-themed short film competition.
For all the details, go to: www.titanic100.ie.
CITY OF SCIENCE, DUBLIN
Ireland and its capital city has been chosen to host the prestigious EuroScience Open Forum 2012 this year. It's the world's largest science conference and takes place at Dublin's Convention Centre. More than 5,000 delegates from around the world are expected and that number will more than double if you take into account their husbands, wives and partners.
An extensive “Science in the City” programme has been planned to run alongside the formal conference schedule, allowing the public to interact with some of the visiting scientists. A particular emphasis will be placed on the young, so it's worth looking out for, if you've got inquisitive kids in tow and are in Dublin during the summer.
For all the details, go to: www.dublinscience2012.ie.
EUCHARISTIC CONGRESS, DUBLIN
For Roman Catholics, the big event this year is the 50th Eucharistic Congress which takes place at the city's RDS. The whole affair ends with Mass being celebrated on the final day in Croke Park on Sunday June 17.
It was back in 1932 that this event was last held in Ireland when the country was a different place than it is today. At that time, an estimated seven million of the faithful packed into Phoenix Park and church services were held in the open on O'Connell Street.
There's a rumour doing the rounds that Pope Benedict XVI may pay a visit, but at this stage it's only a rumour. However, even with the Pope, the city is expecting around 150,000 visitors to attend the event. They will be there not just for the main events, but also for workshops and cultural events that will be running alongside them. There will also be a dedicated youth programme.
For all the details, go to: www.iec2012.ie.
BAVARIA CITY RACING, DUBLIN
A high octane event aimed perhaps at the petrol heads, this event from Bavarian Breweries will see Formula One cars, Super League Formula, Indy Car, Formula Two and Dakar trucks all converging on the city. Once there, they promise to put on a show that is expected to attract up to a quarter of a million spectators.
The event has been held previously in Rotterdam and in Moscow and has in the past attracted Formula One drivers from teams like Ferrari, McClaren and Renault. Ideal, maybe, for a country like Ireland which doesn't actually have a Formula One race of its own.
The route take sin key landmarks around the Irish capital, passing by the Convention Centre in the Docklands district, Custom House Quay, across Butt Bridge and on to D'Olier Street, College Green, passing by Trinity, Westmoreland Street, across O'Connell Bridge and then back to the Convention Centre.
The added bonus is that almost the whole of the circuit is open to the public. And it's all free!
For all the details, go to: www.bavariacityracing.ie.
CITY OF CULTURE, DERRY
Running throughout 2012
The city doesn't actually get the accolade of City of Culture until the start of 2013, but you can expected a whole host of events to take place in the run-up to the year itself. First, there is a cultural Olympiad which will be staged ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It includes an initiative called Peace One Day and an installation by the artist Deborah Warner.
Derry will also have its own official boat in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race as well, to mark its City of Culture status, and will also be the the official host port where it welcome the 10-string Clipper fleet in July. It is the first time that the North of Ireland has been represented in the race.
For all the details, go to: www.cityofculture2013.com.
ALL-IRELAND FLEADH, CAVAN
It's a hat-trick for Cavan as it hosts this 10-day festival celebrating all aspects of Irish cultural traditions, including music, song and dance. Get you accommodation booked early as the town expects an annual influx of up to 300,000 people from all over the world, most of them youngsters.
The fleadh is estimated to be worth around €40 million to Cavan and its surrounding area, but it's not all about the money. The event promises a terrific atmosphere with loads of family fun and fantastic performances.
For all the details, go to: www.comhaltas.ie.
TITANIC BELFAST, Belfast
The old Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city has been involved in what has been described as Europe's largest regeneration project. The result is the €8 billion Titanic Quarter – a development covering some 185 acres and involving apartments, commercial premises, hostels, restaurants and bars. Described as the “jewel in the crown” however, is the new Titanic Belfast visitor centre which has already been voted a “must see” destination in 2012 by no less than National Geographic magazine.
To mark the event, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Belfast City Council are planning a programme of festival events which are more than worth the effort of going to see. These include a spectacular light show to mark the actual opening of the visitor centre.
Other events planned for this year include a 100th anniversary commemoration of the sinking of the ship in the city's Waterfront Hall and MTV will be back in Belfast once again to host a major event on the Titanic Slipway. Meanwhile, the BBC Proms team are due over also to record a concert to be broadcast in September.
On top of all that, a new play called Titanic, based on testimonies given to the British Wreck Commissioners' inquiry into the sinking of the ship, will be performed at the city's MAC.
For all the details, go to: www.titanicbelfast.com.
Little known tale of generous Turkish aid to the Irish during the Great Hunger