From new foals to fancy castles: Rediscovering Ireland this June

Explore Carlow, visit the National Stud or visit a Sligo castle as the country reopens

Duckett’s Grove

Duckett’s Grove

 

Lord it up

Ireland has a wealth of marvellous castles and, where once they were designed to keep people out, these days they’re very good at welcoming you in. Sligo’s Markree has been a wedding venue, but now you can share the love even if you’re not getting hitched. From €200 per room B&B (€290 with dinner thrown in), you won’t even have to exploit a whole bunch of serfs to pay the bill. Find Markree, plus Ballyseede in Kerry, Bellingham in Louth and Cabra in Cavan at romanticcastlesireland.com.

Markree Castle billiard room
Markree Castle billiard room

Giddy up

There are those in life who know that nothing is more lovely than a foal, and then there are other people. The former will be delighted to know that Co Kildare’s Irish National Stud is open, the foals are grazing in the meadows and all may be well in the world again. Add the new multimillion immersive Irish Racehorse Experience – everything from foals being born and racing tips from Jessica Harrington to a virtual race in a simulator – and it’s quite the day out. Watch how you did on video, while outside, legends including Beef or Salmon and Hurricane Fly are munching in their paddocks. And no, they’re not judging your efforts at all. Age eight to adults, €8/€14, irishnationalstud.ie.

National Stud
National Stud

Cool Carlow

Carlow is stuffed full of hidden gems: boating on the Barrow, hiking in the Blackstairs, following the garden trail through Altamont, Huntington Castle, the Delta Sensory Gardens, exploring Duckett’s Grove – where they have great tearooms. It’s an ideal Irish break. Explore the Oak Forest Park, follow the fascinating Trails of the Saints, or maybe get all contemporary at Visual, Ireland’s largest art gallery. Find all the fun at carlowtourism.com, and stay in a Shepherd’s Hut from €75 with blackstairsecotrails.ie. Or go more glam with lovely Lorum Old Rectory from €130 B&B, lorum.com.

Borris viaduct in Carlow
Borris viaduct in Carlow

Remembering past glories

Reopening Ireland, though not without its anxieties, also brings a string of things you’d forgotten how much you’d missed. One of these is gallery-going, making Dublin the perfect staycation spot. The National Gallery’s exhibition of new things they’ve bought is just brilliant, and is on till August. Book your slot at nationalgallery.ie. Or stay at The Wilder and let them make an itinerary for you. The Dublin Reawakened package includes B&B, a customised Dublin private guided tour and a cocktail at the end of it all for €390 for two, or €169 if you just wanna sleep, thewilder.ie.

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