Breaks for the bank holiday

With not one but two bank holidays to look forward to, it’s time to get your diaries out and your plans made. We’ve rounded up a little something for the weekends


Cuckoos and mussels in Galway
If you’re looking for the raw ingredients for a great May bank holiday break, the Radisson Blu Hotel in Galway is offering a sushi master class with Japanese native Hisashi Kumagai, head chef o

f the hotel’s sushi restaurant RAW. A class for two people, plus overnight accommodation for two nights, including breakfast, costs €213pps. Stick with a foodie theme and combine it with a visit to the Connemara Mussel Festival (May 3rd-5th) on the Renvyle Peninsula, listen out for the trad music sessions of the Cuckoo Festival in Kinvara (May 3rd-6th) or stay in the city and watch the currach racing at An Tóstal Salthill (May 5th).,,,

Fish and farmers in Meath
Celebrate the Mayfly with a fly fishing package from Rosnaree House, Slane, Co Meath. The country house hotel has nearly five kilometres of private fishing on both banks of the stately River Boyne. It’s fly fishing deal includes two nights’ B&B with one dinner and either a packed lunch or a barbecue on the river bank, plus a two-day fishing permit. The package costs from €335pps, with the option of a ghillie for instruction from €30 per person per day. After you’ve had your fill of fishing, Macra na Feirme’s Blue Jean Country Queen Festival (May 31st-June 3rd) in Athboy can offer some light relief.,

Tower houses and
roots in Kilkenny
Give Fido a break too. For a pet-friendly option, check out Clomantagh Castle, an Irish Landmark Trust property which, at the time of writing, had availability for the May bank holiday. In fact, take a posse. The castle, which is in Freshford and surrounded by a working farm, sleeps 10. Just eight kilometres from Kilkenny city (and one kilometre from the local pub), it’s the perfect base from which to explore the medieval city. It’s a good weekend to go too, with the annual Kilkenny Roots Festival (May 3rd-6th) taking place. A three-night stay over the bank holiday weekend is €1,036.,

Set your heart racing in Kildare
Have a great day out and help support the Irish Injured Jockeys’ Fund at the Newbridge Parishes’ Race Day at the Curragh Racecourse on May 6th. Stay at Martinstown House, a fairytale place on 140 acres just off the Curragh. One night’s B&B plus five-course evening meal and pre-race drink is €145pps. Management will drop you to the races and collect you afterwards. If you don’t fancy the nags, the same deal is offered to those visiting Mondello.,,
Rev it up in Kerry
Hit your stride in Kerry at the Cuckoo Walking Festival (May 4th-5th) in Tarbert or dance the days – and nights – away at the Hooley in the Hills (May 3rd-6th) in the village of Lyreacrompane.

Alternatively, rev things up a little at the Rally of the Lakes in May (May 3rd-5th) for which the Gleneagle Hotel is offering two night breaks from €110pps.

Visit the Kingdom for the June bank holiday too to see Bike Fest Killarney (May 31st-June 3rd).

Stay over at the Aghadoe Heights hotel in the town. The Height of Family Fun package is three nights’ B&B plus a free family pass to either a local pet farm, pitch-and-putt course, aquarium or the Aquadome in Tralee, from €285 per family room, per night.,

Food and phrases in Cork
Wine expert Mary Dowey, food writer Claudia Roden and chef Rachel Allen are among a packed line up of chefs, critics, kitchen gardeners, foragers and wine experts taking part in the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Wine and Food (May 3rd-6th). Combining food and books, it’s the perfect recipe for foodies.

The Walter Raleigh hotel in Youghal has a three-night accommodation package during the festival, which includes sea-view room, breakfast, complimentary bottle in your room on arrival, plus an evening meal for two at the hotel, from €160pps.,

Fjord-side fun in Leenane
Stretch your legs and clear your head in one of the most scenic parts of the country at the Leenane Walking Festival (May 3rd-6th) on Killary fjord.

The festival offers something for walkers of all levels, including guided walks through the beautiful Inagh Valley, a chance to meet local farmers – so you can finally ask how they get the sheep down – and archaeologist Michael Gibbons, plus enjoy local arts and craft exhibitions, sailing races and barbecues.

Stay at Delphi Mountain Resort for the festival for two nights’ B&B plus dinner from €189pps.,

Experience the good
old days in Sligo
Step back in time at the annual Vintage & Family Day at Sligo Folk Park (June 1st) in Riverstown, with all kinds of curiosities such as steam engines, vintage cars and tractors as well as threshing, woodturning and buttermaking displays. It’ll be an eye-opener for the kids.

Stay over at Markree Castle, the stately home of the Cooper family since 1640 but bang up to date with free wifi so they can stay connected to modernity too. Two nights costs from €145pps.,

Surf and stay in Clare
Summer will be here by the time the June bank holiday rolls around. So mark the event by taking to the sea.

Lahinch Surf School has a two-day surf package which will see you hanging ten – or at least finding out what that means – in no time. Run in conjunction with Lahinch Golf & Leisure Resort (which has a swimming pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi in which to loosen out those muscles) it gets you two surf coaching sessions and two nights’ B&B accommodation for €145.

Stick with the sea theme and head into Galway when you’ve dried off for the first ever Galway Sea Festival (May 31st-June 3rd) with loads of maritime fun, street theatre and a parade of sail.

Cars, ceol and castles in Kildare
Make sorties up and down the east coast for your bank holiday break from a base at Barberstown Castle in Straffan, Co Kildare.

It is offering three-night mini-breaks including B&B, one evening meal, plus a guided tour of either Castletown House or Russborough House, entry to the Irish National Stud and a discount voucher (10 per cent) off purchases at Kildare Village, the shopping outlet, for €279pps.

That’s a busy break, even without making time for bank holiday events in the vicinity such as TradAthy (May 2nd-6th), the traditional music festival in Athy, or the Gordon Bennett Classic Car Run (May 31st-June 2nd), which tours through Kildare, Carlow and Laois.,