Hit the ground running in Ireland this summer - our top picks of the great events


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.

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.

June 8

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.

September 1

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.

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.

July 11-15

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.