Ireland's Hidden Gemsby Susan Byron
- Green trails and massive variety characterize Ireland's walking vacations
- Lough Bawn House a hidden gem beautifully catered in mystical Westmeath
- King John's Castle, Limerick City, revamped and ready for action
- Irish jewelry designer creates a contemporary Ring of Kerry
- Barron's Bakery, a family-run, Waterford staple baking the best bread in Ireland for over 125 years
The same evocative line of thought will lure some 500,000 to Waterford this weekend to visit the Tall Ships Festival which will be largest event in Ireland this year. Some 50 ships from all over Europe are taking part in the Tall Ships Race organised by the Sail Training Association of England with predominately youth crews of every nationality with youngsters still being asked to sign up for this leg of the race to Scotland. Oh to be under 25 again, never mind...
I was lucky enough to crew on the Stavros Niarchos once upon a time and it was magical, if hard work ! The first thing you are asked (gently encouraged) to do is go ‘up and over’ the rigging which is nerve wrecking the first time but you are doing it in your sleep (quite literally) by the end of the week. Because, while the ship is crewed by trainees on rotating watches you do have to be available to man the ‘bracing stations’, which can mean a sail change, so up you go.
As is often the case the 'must see sights’ in any country (but most especially in Ireland) are the very ones to avoid? No prudent independent traveller wants to be ripped off or more importantly, waste their precious holiday time on over-rated tourist traps that should have been closed down a long time ago.
With fine weather on the horizon there has never been a better time to expand yours or your childrens by taking a self catering holiday at home. Only an hour from Dublin the lovely Belan Lodge, boyhood playground of the great Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton can be yours too for a week or a weekend. No long bank holiday drive, its a genuine hidden gem of a place, wild out with plenty of nature walks, canal banks and gastro pubs to be explored and whats more its very affordable, child and animal friendly, so what's keeping you?
Originally part of the very large and prestigous Belan House Estate which belonged to the Earls of Aldborough for over 400 years, before unfortunately being abandoned due to bad debts and mismanagement, although the Cornmills attached were always very successful. And they belonged once upon a time to Ebenezer Shackleton, uncle of the famous Irish Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton. The Cornmills had one of the longest and deepest millraces in Ireland at the time which must have been a haven for the young boy with adventure in his veins.
As it was for another young lady, who wrote in the 1830’s of her childhood reminiscences of Belan, being the happiest of her life. “Here, on hot summer's evenings, we used to sit and watch the dragon files. I had never seen dragonflies before, and could not associate them with flies, I could only think of them as tiny winged spirits, whispering messages from afar to the reeds and irises which grew at the water’s edge...