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Bargain Breaks - Spring Breaks

Friday, 9 April 2010

With a Spring in our step and the days getting longer we are all beginning to look for a nice getaway from our humdrum routines! But you don't have to look much father than our own little island to find something that will cater for all needs! Pól Ó Conghaile gives us the lowdown on all the best breaks in Ireland that won't break the bank!!

Pól O Conghaile

He is an award-winning journalist and author. He has written for Conde Nast, Observer/Guardian, all major Irish broadsheets, Cara Magazine and The Globe and Mail, amongst other publications. Pól specialises in travel and features, contributes widely to national radio and TV, and was voted Irish Travel Journalist of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
Pól is the author of That's My Baby! (Poolbeg; €12.99) and Bar Secrets Dublin (Shopping Secrets; €7.99). In 2009, he was the updating writer on's Dublin guide, and worked on the 'Day in the Life' series with the Irish Independent. In 2005, he co-founded and edited the online travel magazine,

As well as his published work, Pól is a regular contributor to shows on RTE Radio One, Today FM, 2FM, Newstalk FM and TV3. With travel experience that has taken him from Emo to Ethiopia, he also works with several high-profile public and private clients, and is available as a commentator, consultant and copywriter.

In 2008, Pól travelled to Mozambique with photographer and filmaker Kim Haughton. Their short film, 'The Stolen Generation', documents the lives of a family who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS, and won Best Documentary at the inaugral Corona Fastnet Short Film Festival.

Travel: Spring Breaks

We're looking at value for money holidays around the 32 counties of Ireland!

These breaks come under the headings: Adventure, Family & Couples.

An Adventure Holiday: Connemara


Diamond Hill, the focal point of Connemara National Park (095 41054) in Letterfrack, is a quartzite ridge taking its name from the stones local kids once offered tourists as Irish diamonds. It's a fab climb - about 2.5 to 3 hours for the total loop, culminating in views of the Atlantic Ocean, Kylemore Abbey and the Twelve Bens. It's a breath of fresh air, and its free. A longer walk is the Connemara Way.

Where to stay:

Throughout April, Delphi Mountain Resort has a B&B special at €69. 2B&B +1D for €179pp.

4-star Ballynahinch Castle has 2B&B +1D from €160pps (€145 midweek).

Self-catering Clifden Cottages from €250pw, booked through (sleeps 5).

A Family Break: Explore Cavan / Fermanagh


Cavan Canoeing (087 290-5752; has rates from €30 for a half-day for two - a great way to get out paddling around Cavan's lakes. Need to double check rates.

The Kingfisher Cycle Trail runs through several counties, including these two, and you can dip in and out of its 300 mile route. Bicycles are available for hire from local hire stores.

The Marble Arch Caves are a natural marvel. stalagmites, subterranean lakes and rivers can be seen; a boat trip underground (£8/£5) is the highlight of the guided tour here.

Enjoy a walk, for free, in the little-known Cavan Burren ( Ancient hut sites, karstic limestone and weathered rock art are all scattered about, as are several tombs.

Where to Stay:

Slieve Russell Hotel (049 952-6444; has 2B&B +1D from 149pp midweek.

Killyhelvin Hotel in Enniskillen has an April special of 2B&B +1D (midweek) from €89.50pps. It also includes a complimentary 1 hour cruise on Lough Erne.

Trident Holiday Homes has a self-catering holiday home, sleeping 6, for €250 for the weekend of April 16-18. It's in Belturbet, on the shore of the river Erne. has B&Bs in Fermanagh from €70pp for 2 nights (April 16-18).

A Couples Getaway: Kilkenny


Local historian Pat Tynan (087 265-1745; €6) does walking tours of the city. Rothe House, Smithwick's Brewery, the old city wall and Butter Slip lane are just some of the stops on an exploration of the city's medieval and ecclesiastical heritage.

Speaking of crafts, the Kilkenny Craft Trail ( features nine studios and workshops throughout the county, ranging from candlemakers and potters to Chesneau Leather in Bennettsbridge and the glass studio at Jerpoint. The trail is free...
Where to Stay:

The River Court Hotel (056 772-3388; has 2B&B +1D (midweek) from €99pps, or €130pps at weekends.

Spring Events & Deals:

It's been a long winter and we've finally gotten to the other end after rain, hail and snow, so what great Spring deals can we indulge in without paying indulgent prices?!

Spring Days Out

Waterford Festival of Food

Food, glorious food. That's pretty much the menu at Waterford's annual festival of culinary events, music and film. Staged this year around a medieval theme, the festival sees Derry Clarke, Neven Maguire and Catherine Fulvio joining local foodie legends in demonstrations at Dungarvan Town Hall. Other highlights include a fun-and-buns workshop, a Crude Food trail in Colligan Wood, and a seaweed seminar at Clonlea Beach.

Details: The Waterford Festival of Food (058 21104; runs from April 16th to 18th. Tickets vary per event, but many events are free.

In Handel's Day, Dublin

Handel's Messiah premiered in Temple Bar in 1742 - a pretty good excuse for a knees-up. After last year's 250th celebrations (of Handel's death), this year sees a tighter, day-long programme geared towards connecting the people and places of Handel's time. Expect talks, workshops and walking tours with the inimitable Pat Liddy, as well as the usual choral gymnastics - courtesy of the Our Lady's Choral Society, who will serenade Fishamble Street with the Hallelujah chorus at 1pm.

Details: In Handel's Day (01 677-2255; takes place on April 13th. All events are free, though some require advance booking.

Patrick Kavanagh Annual Poetry Weekend

"They said / That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges / Of the little farm and did not know the world," wrote Patrick Kavanagh. "But I knew that love's doorway to life / Is the same doorway everywhere." The Monaghan man's memory dominates the landscape around Inniskeen, and this annual festival celebrates that, nudging participants towards solid drafts of new poems. After a hard day's writing, evenings are reserved for the wink-and-elbow language of delight.

Details: The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Weekend (042 937-8560; runs from April 17-18th. The course, which includes three workshops, costs €100.

All Equipment was kindly lent to us by: The Great Outdoors, Chatham Street Tel:01 - 6794293