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Ireland hosts numerous sport festivals every year. Here's a list of some of the best.

Slieve Bloom Walking Festival

Kinnitty, Co. Offaly

May 1-4, 2009

Slieve Bloom is full of hidden, magic places for walking, especially perhaps along the streams and rivers that radiate from the hills in all directions. The Annual Slieve Bloom Walking Festival takes place in the land of Fionn Mac Cumhaill where thousands of years of magic and mystery are interwoven across unspoiled land. The walks are off the beaten track, places you will discover as your guide takes you into remote and wilderness areas of the Slieve Blooms, which are only accessible on foot and rarely frequented by hill walkers. This years’ festival provides you with a total of ten walks, from a range of easy 5k (3 miles) walks to more challenging 15k(8 miles) walks.

Web site: www.slievebloom.ie

The 3 Irish Open

Baltray in County Louth.

May 14-17

The biggest golf tournament in the country moves to Baltry this year. Links golf, famous in Ireland and Britain, offers the golfer a unique challenge, and this Nick Faldo-designed course is no exception. Padraig Harrington will be there this year trying to win his third Irish Open in a row on his way to attempting to win a third British Open. As he says himself: “Playing The Irish Open on a links course will, in a way, naturally start my preparations for The Open because so many of the conditions will be similar.”

www.3irishopen.ie

Galway Races Summer Festival Meeting

Galway City, Co. Galway

July 27-August 2, 2009

Galway Races Summer Festival Meeting has grown from strength to strength each year, and now has an attendance of approximately 200,000 people over the course of the seven-day festival. With a mixture of flat and national hunt racing, Galway Races attracts folks from all walks of life from the enthusiastic race-goer to the ordinary guy to experience this unique sporting event. You can book your tickets for the Galway Races online.

Web site: www.galwayraces.com

Cycling Tour of Ireland

August 19-23, 2009

If there’s an event to get those thighs pumping, it has to be this magnificent five-day event, which will see 126 riders compete across the South, West and Midlands of Ireland. Around 126 top professional cyclists from Europe and the US will compete in this adrenaline-pumping tour around much of the South, West and Midlands of Ireland. Kicking off at Kilkenny Castle, riders will pedal their way through Cork, Kerry, Clare, Limerick and Galway on this grueling trek, which promises to test the stamina of the sports people as well as offering unrivalled glimpses of some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland.

Web site: www.tourofireland.ie

Listowel Races

Listowel, Co. Kerry

September 13-19, 2009

One of the best ways to end the summer, if the weather was so compliant in Ireland that one could actually call it a summer, is to head down to Kerry for a week of racing in Listowel. The races date back to 1858 in Listowel, and for one week the world descends on the Kingdom to cheer on the runners and down a few pints at the same time.  Not to be missed.

Website: www.listowelraces.ie