Did you know you can go whale watching, wake boarding, coaststeering and blokarting in Ireland? Amazed and bewildered, I didn't even know what some of these activities were, let alone think that you could do them here at home. That was then, '30 Irish Adventures' later and I'm hoping to do all four and more.
When I first picked up this book I was eager to find out all of the info on offer about adventures in Ireland. I'd uncovered a few over the last couple of years and was eager to uncover more. Within a couple of minutes though that excitement changed to envy as I realised that first-time author Padraic Woods had not only lived the dream but had been paid to do it. Woods travelled the length and breadth of the country in search of 30 unforgettable adventures... all in the name of research.
As with all the best ideas, you wonder why no one thought of it before. Or, more honestly, why you didn't think of it yourself!
'30 Irish Adventures' is a 192-page description of numerous, year-round activities on offer in Ireland. It includes over 100 great pictures, most of which the author-come-amateur photographer took himself.
Whether you're looking for info on climbing the highest mountain in Ireland, kayaking along the most isolated islands, surfing along stunning beaches, mountain boarding or simply like the idea of getting active, this is an ideal guide.
What separates this travel account from the pack which includes Rough Guides, Lonely Planets, Eye Witnesses or Open Roads, is that it's specifically for adventure enthusiasts, both Irish and international. It doesn't target any specific age, nor is it focused on adrenaline junkies.
This handy, straight-up reference guide has activities to cater for every budget, ability and pace. No anecdotes, no messing – it's a good quality guide with information including booking details, advice, accommodation tips, websites and weather pointers.
There are a couple of things that Woods and co can improve on second time around (I think they should, and have a feeling they will, go again): Firstly, there is a distinct lack of maps. There are seven in total and there should be at least one per location or adventure - this is Ireland and until our road signage improves, up to date maps are essential. A little more personality and feedback would go a long way.
Another drawback, which could turn out to be a plus for Woods, is that the book is packed with pricing and accommodation details which will date quickly. Unless... the book morphs into an annual or better still a website.
Originally from Durrow, Co Laois, Woods is based in Norway where he co-owns, funnily enough, a software company so needless to say there's a cracking website to accompany the book (www.30irishadventures.com).
In addition to a wide array of Irish travel books, there is a currently a vast selection of websites on offer but they are very specific, often focusing on one certain event, activity or location. What's missing, and here's where Woods could fill the gap, is an all-encompassing site, where you can research an activity break, book everything and get detailed directions. The more I write, the more I think he either owes me a big commission or this was his plan all along and it’s a good one.
Most of the adventure accounts are written by Woods and the rest were penned by his sister. The Woods style is direct, to the point and without much superfluous text. If it's humorous accounts you're after, then stick to Tony Hawks' 'Round Ireland with a Fridge' but for a one-stop-shop guide to the best action adventures in Ireland, this is it.