Ed Leahy says the next two months are busy. Here's his rundown of what's happening around the country.

March
St Patrick's Festival (March 16-19)

Celebrations will be taking place throughout the country, and the world, to celebrate Ireland's national holiday. In Dublin, the main festival parade will immerse the city centre in a carnival atmosphere, with music, dancers and lots more family friendly entertainment. Events taking place around the country include parades in most of the main towns and cities, while the St Patrick's Day Pipe Band Parade in Achill Island is one of the highlights of this year's celebrations. www.stpatricksfestival.ie

Runamuck, Johnstown Bridge, Kildare (March 3)
A cross-country running event over a wet and muddy course with various manmade and natural obstacles designed to test your mental and physical strength, and to leave you with a super sense of achievement and a big grin on your face. Bring a change of clothes as this year's course will leave its mark on everyone. www.runamuckchallenge.com

Connemara Four Seasons Walking Festival (March 6-18)
Explore the Connemara landscape with great walking and great guides who provide a fantastic insight into the unique cultural, archaeological and historic heritage of the area. The walking route is specially designed and chosen to suit the particular time of year to showcase the beauty of the surrounding scenery. www.discoverireland.ie/connemara

Cork French Film Festival (March 4-11)
A feast of French cinema is guaranteed at this year's Cork French Film Festival. This year's festival will include feature films, documentaries and shorts along with Irish premieres, cine-concerts and installations. Masterclasses, workshops and Question & Answer sessions will also take place throughout the duration of the festival. www.corkfrenchfilmfestival.com

Ennis Book Club Festival, Clare (March 2-4)
A unique literary and social gathering for book clubs and book lovers. Share reading passions, meet favourite writers and enjoy the varied programme featuring readings from renowned authors, lectures, workshops, tips on approaching new reading material and more. www.ennisbookclubfestival.com

April
Titanic 100 Belfast, Cobh, Mayo (9-15 April and all year long)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ill-fated ship's sinking. In Belfast, the Titanic Belfast project (opening in March) will allow you to visit the birthplace of the Titanic and experience the story. The festival in Cobh will commemorate Titanic and the 132 passengers who boarded at Cobh, the ship's last port of call, with a remembrance service, flagship concerts and a tribute featuring the Irish Navy, Air Corps and the Irish Coast Guard. In Mayo each year a commemorative ceremony is held in memory of all the emigrants from the west of Ireland who perished. 2012 sees a number of events take place to commemorate the story of the ship and the connection with Ireland. http://titanicbelfast.com, www.titanic100.ie, www.mayo-titanic.com

Connemarathon, Connemara, Galway (April 1)
Described as "the most scenic half-marathon" in the world, this year's course meanders past bogs, hills, lakes, and the Twelve Pin mountains rising up over the great expanse of Killary Lough, through the quiet village of Leenane, around the Maam Turk Mountains and all the way back up to Maam Cross. The event encompasses Ultra (39.3 miles), Full (26.2 miles), and Half (13.1 miles) distances. Walkers and runners are welcome. www.connemarathon.com

Horse racing festivals - Fairyhouse (April 8-10) and Punchestown (April 24-28)
April is a great month for Irish horseracing events with the Irish Grand National taking place at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday. Plus two cracking festivals bring a fusion of sport, entertainment, and fashion to massive crowds. Fairyhouse Easter Festival features the Powers Gold Cup, the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National and the Novice Hurdle, while the Punchestown Festival features 11 Grade 1 Races. www.fairyhouseracecourse.ie or www.punchestown.com

Waterford Festival of Food, Dungarvan (April 12-15)
A meeting point for Michelin star chefs, artisan food producers and visitors of all ages. Seaweed seminars, food foraging trails, baking courses, restaurant trails, cookery demonstrations, picnics, 'Bus Bia' tours, BBQs and much more including a Farmers' Market Extravaganza. www.waterfordfestivaloffood.com

Dublin Bay Prawn Festival, Howth (April 27-29)
A food festival packed with food stalls, tasting sessions, top quality seafood, local restaurants, artisan food, cookery demonstrations, wine-tasting and prawn shelling competitions. Soak up the atmosphere with street entertainment, walks, talks and enjoy Howth's pubs and restaurants after the sun goes down. www.fingaldublin.ie

North Leitrim Glens Walking Festival, Manorhamilton (April 7-8)
A two-day walking festival featuring a long (5-6 hour) and a medium (4-5 hour) guided hill walk on both days. Those who prefer flatter terrain can take part in a short, guided ramble around local places of interest. Meet up and enjoy the company of other walkers at a meal and get-together on Saturday evening. http://sites.google.com/site/hshillwalkers

For more information on these events, visit: www.discoverireland.ie.

Ed Leahy

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