We may moan about the weather and the damp but Ireland is getting a lot of positive tourism-press these days. The latest highlights our 'wild' side in the new Lonely Planet's Atlas of Adventure.
The focus is on our relatively new love of adventure racing and endurance sports, and the travel guide says that Ireland is a "…top destination for coastal adventures, testing endurance events and multi-day walks".
Reason for our new found love of tough sporting challenges? I would have said it that we’re of brave stock and like a challenge but this is the Lonely Planet’s angle: "It’s been suggested that Ireland’s embrace of adventure racing, ultra-running and other punishing outdoor challenges combines a celebration of a mythic warrior past with self-inflicted penance for the excesses of the country’s recent boom-and-bust". Ok then.
Check out the video by three-time World Champion, Australian-Irish Mick Fanning, filmed in Ireland.
Then, of course, there’s the added reward of "end-of-the-day pints and pub music".
"Ireland is defined by the sea. Huge waves, towering cliffs and long beaches attract elite surfers, sea paddlers, climbers, kiters and open-water swimmers."
The Forty Foot
The Forty Foot made headlines a couple of months ago after appearing in the New York times Irish swim spots and it features here too:
"Ireland has a long tradition and a contemporary enthusiasm for open-water swimming."
"The Forty Foot on the edge of Dublin Bay is mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses and still attracts sea swimmers year-round, while each August the capital’s Liffey River hosts the world’s second-oldest continuously swum open race".
One example, that a lot of people may never even have heard of before now is…"The Race is run across the wilds of Donegal and, to ensure dreadful weather, held in March.
"The challenge includes a 15km kayak, 166km of cycling, 5km of mountain running and 64km of road and trail-running. All to be completed in 24 hours."
Wild Atlantic Way
No list would be complete without the Wild Atlantic Way getting a mention: "In a country, less than 500km long, the Irish have conjured up the innovative 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way, which follows the coast-hugging roads and boreens of the west coast to string together adventure-activity outfitters, spell-binding seascapes, and welcoming bars".
Surfers should be flocking here after all of this praise: "Ireland has Europe’s biggest, best and most varied surf, and with a warm wetsuit you could spend a lifetime exploring its wild, rocky coastline.
"From Donegal in the north, all the way down the west coast, past Co Cork to Wexford, this indented, swell-battered coastline delivers waves to suit everyone from wild-eyed grommets to charging big-wave riders".
"The ‘perfect’ big wave is Aileen’s, a 12m monster off the colossal Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare, named after nearby headland Aill na Searrach by the local surfer John McCarthy who first rode it."
"You’ll be sharing the seas with a safari park of big marine wildlife, including humpback, fin and minke whales, seals and basking sharks".
The Midlands are not left out either: "Don’t overlook the interior, where winding rivers, wending trails, wild terrain, wind-whipped peaks and warm pubs combine to offer a thousand welcomes to the wandering adventurer, whether they’re exploring on water, wheels or in rugged heels."
Kayaking and Canoeing
We’re also listed as offering world-class kayaking and canoeing opportunities: "Ireland’s two longest rivers, the broad majestic Shannon and the beautiful Barrow, both invite DIY canoeing and camping adventures."
And it also urged tourists to look beyond the Wild Atlantic Way to the centre of the island.
"Don’t overlook the interior, where winding rivers, wending trails, wild terrain, wind-whipped peaks and warm pubs combine to offer a thousand welcomes to the wandering adventurer, whether they’re exploring on water, wheels or in rugged heels."
Climbing, cycling and hiking are included as among the adventure sports on offer, but the country’s ultimate challenge is circling the island on a boat.
"The world’s 20th largest island presents paddlers with a satisfying circumnavigation challenge of 1,500km. Tom Daly made the first solo circuit in 1979. Since then more than 50 paddlers have gone around.
"In 2015, Mick O’Meara set the 238-day record."
I think we need to get back out there folks before the invasion, as welcome 'n' all as it is.