Think summer camps are just for kids? Here are some great ones for adults too

Learn to play Irish music or speak the language, to sail, cook, understand wine – and much more

Bee-keeping class at Seed Savers, Co Clare.  During the summer months courses include gardening for senior citizens, planting an orchard, wild food foraging, herbal medicine and rewilding a garden

Bee-keeping class at Seed Savers, Co Clare. During the summer months courses include gardening for senior citizens, planting an orchard, wild food foraging, herbal medicine and rewilding a garden

 

School’s out for the summer and parents up and down the country have organised (or will be frantically trying to arrange) summer camps for their energetic youngsters to ward off the inevitable bouts of boredom during the long holidays. Whether educational, motivational, physical or simply jam-packed with fun, a stint in at least one summer school has become the norm for Irish kids.

But sometimes the adults need time off from routine too. Here are some of the courses open to grown-ups during the summer months; with everything from wine appreciation to creative writing, there is bound to be something for everyone.

MUSIC

Our traditional music is loved throughout the world, and while most of us are a dab hand at toe tapping in time to the tunes, making beautiful music is a special skill. You can learn the basics, rediscover your love for an instrument of your youth, or show off your vocal chords at the Fleadh Ceoil na hÉireann, which is taking place in Drogheda from August 11th to 16th.

Scoil Éigse is the official summer school organised by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, where students of all ages can register for instrumental music, singing, dancing and Irish language classes.

The team of international tutors are all master performers, and whether students choose to perfect their fiddle playing, learn some sean-nós steps or even relearn the long-forgotten words to a favourite ballad, Co Louth is the place to be this this summer.

Class prices vary. Pre-registration closes on August 8th. See comhaltas.ie

BACK TO NATURE

There is nothing more satisfying that watching something grow; particularly if you have nurtured it from creation to bloom or harvest.

Seed Savers in Co Clare is an extraordinary place which does exactly what the name suggests, by preventing native plant species from extinction. During the summer months, organisers also hold courses for adults on various aspects of country living.

From gardening for senior citizens, to planting an orchard, wild food foraging, herbal medicine or rewilding your garden, there should be something for every green-fingered enthusiast.

Most courses take place from the start of July onwards, and cost from €70. Accommodation is available locally. irishseedsavers.ie

MOTHER TONGUE

A few weeks in the Gaeltacht is a rite of passage for Irish teenagers, but for anyone a little older who is hankering after those heady days at Irish college, there’s the Gael Linn summer course in Gaoth Dobhair in Co Donegal.

There may not be an end-of-course disco, but the seven-day programme offers classes for adult beginners, those who are keen to rekindle a cúpla focal, or others who already have a good grasp and want to perfect their knowledge of our mother tongue.

The course includes language classes, learning support materials and opportunities to speak conversationally in Irish.

Courses cost €250 and will take place in Donegal throughout the month of July, while special programmes may also be provided to cater for the specific needs of organisations. You can keep up the conversation at a weekly night class back in Dublin in the autumn. gael-linn.ie

SAIL AWAY

There is something so liberating about sailing across the water with the wind in your hair and the sun on your back. While many might think that the opportunity to learn how to sail ended in childhood, Sailing Ireland is the country’s leading sailing school for adults.

Based in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, the school offers courses to suit all levels of experience, from full-day introductory classes for beginners to customised programmes to fit around the individual needs and skills of students.

Prices vary depending on duration and course content. Places are limited, so you need to book early. sailingireland.ie

COOKING UP A STORM

We are becoming increasingly aware of the need to eat healthily. Many people cite lack of time and the easy access to convenience food as the reason why they don’t prepare meals “from scratch”, but most of us would still love to be able to impress friends and family with mouth-watering dishes, or simply cook better for ourselves – so a cookery course is just the answer.

With classes ranging from half-day to five weeks, there are a variety of options available throughout the summer and into the autumn months.

Darina Allen and Skye Gyngell at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Photograph: Eric Luke
Darina Allen and Skye Gyngell at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Photograph: Eric Luke

The expert team at Ballymaloe Cookery School, often led by Darina or Rachel Allen, promise that students will leave with a delicious and reliable repertoire of recipes and menus. And after a day in the kitchen, students are encouraged to relax in the grounds of Ballymaloe House, wander around the herbaceous borders, or visit the farm animals and organic crops in the glasshouses.

Course prices vary depending on duration and content – at Ballymaloe, for example, classes start at €50-80 for an afternoon, right up to €5,695 for five weeks. See cookingisfun.ie.

In Co Cavan, award-winning chef Neven Maguire offers a range of full-day and two-day courses beside his restaurant at MacNean House in Blacklion. Classes include family food, 30-minute meals, men in the kitchen, entertaining made easy, and more. Full-day courses cost €295 per person. See nevenmaguire.com

WINE APPRECIATION

There is nothing nicer than a glass of chilled white wine on a hot summer’s day, or a rich red by the fire in the depths of winter. But how many of us know the difference between a Bordeaux and a Beaujolais, or a Sancerre and a Chablis?

Help is at hand in the form of an indepth wine appreciation course. With a relaxed and informal tone, these evening classes are suitable for everyone, from complete beginners to those who want to further their existing knowledge.

Held at Wine Buff venues across the country, times and prices vary according to course and location. To find out more, or to book a course, contact your local store; details can be found at thewinebuff.com.

A painting class on Sandymount Green last year
A painting class on Sandymount Green last year

LEARN TO PAINT

While there are probably only a few of us with exceptional hidden talent for art, most should be able to produce something half decent with a paint brush and some expert tuition. Even if we don’t, it’s a great way to express ourselves while trying.

The Irish School of Landscape Painting offers the perfect opportunity for budding artists to spend a week in the beautiful Galway countryside, with various intensive masterclasses on topics such as Impressionism and Expressionism.

Tutored by Kenneth and Susan Webb, the classes are held in their studio in Ballinaboy and cost €550 per week, or €1,000 for two (including board).

There are also day classes in their Ballsbridge studio in Dublin in July and August, and these cost €80 per day. irishschooloflandscapepainting.com

CREATIVE WRITING

We all have a book in us, or so it is said. If this is true, what could be a better way to launch your writing career than taking an intense course from an experienced author? Covering topics such as feature writing, poetry, character development, writing a novel and much more, there is something for every budding writer at the Irish Writers Centre on Parnell Square in Dublin over the coming months.

The summer course lengths vary from one day to six weeks, with fees from €80. See irishwriterscentre.ie

ONE FOR THE LADIES

Many parents will have spent hours standing on the side of a pitch while their little darlings chase a ball around, but the GAA is now encouraging parents, or to be more precise, mothers, to hone their own traditional sports skills with their Gaelic 4Mothers&Others initiative.

Run by the Ladies GAA, it aims to get more women out on to the field playing football in a fun and non-competitive environment.

While it’s not exclusive to mothers, participants must be over 25. The six-week training courses take place in clubs up and down the country, in all 32 counties. ladiesgaelic.ie

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