Explore the Great Outdoors on Newstalk’s The Hard Shoulder


Newstalk Great Outdoors  Monday 12th April

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The long overdue reopening of our counties is arriving in good time with longer and sunnier days to see what’s on offer and consider a few spots we might not have visited for a while. It’s also important to note that if you live near a border you can travel up to 20km into your neighbouring county

I’m starting off in Ireland’s Ancient East which of course includes Dublin. https://www.discoverireland.ie/irelands-ancient-east


Dublin www.visitdublin.com

It’s time for the Northsiders to go south and the Southsiders to get their passports stamped – at this point they may both need visas!

For Northsiders go to the hell fire club – how many have actually been? This is a very popular site for Dubliners and offers a variety of short forest walks, the site is located on Montpelier Hill, overlooking Dublin city.
At the top of the hill sits the foreboding ruin of a hunting lodge as a backdrop to breathtaking views over the Dublin Bay, this is a great place to take pictures or selfies with the house or Dublin in the background.
There are many legends associated with this place showing the Hellfire house as an object of occult activities and brief appearances of the Devil. The building was, in fact, erected by R.H. Connolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Parliament, as a shooting lodge, about the year 1725. Tradition tells of its occupation by a club of “wild young gentlemen” who used a tavern in Cork Hill (by Dublin Castle) as their meeting place, but were dismissed for bad behaviour hence the name “Hellfire Club”.

For Southsiders take time to go to Portmarnock Strand.

Stop off for a beautiful coffee at the velvet café – actually make pastais de nata the Portuguese pastry fresh as are all their cakes….Portmarnock – The Velvet Strand is a wide strand of sandy beach located in Portmarnock, North Dublin. It is five miles long and stretches all the way to Baldoyle and adjoins Malahide Beach. It has a lovely view of the Dublin Mountains and Howth Harbour. https://www.velvetcafe.ie/

Along the beach there is a path which leads to Malahide and it is used by many people each day. It is a great way of exercising, whether walking, cycling or even roller blading. Toilets are on site, dogs are allowed on a lead. Lifeguards and refreshments available in the summer months.

Discover boyne valley


Covering counties Meath and Louth there is so much to do


The Boyne Greenway

Running 1.9km from Dominic’s Park on the south bank of the River Boyne near the Bridge of Peace in Drogheda, the Boyne Greenway  takes you along the river close to the Mary McAleese Cable Bridge and then along the Boyne Canal to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre at Oldbridge.

The Royal Canal Greenway

The enchanting Royal Canal Greenway is 130km of level towpath, ideal for walkers, runners and cyclists of all ages and stages. The Meath section spans 22km passing through Enfield, Longwood and Hill of Down. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of the countryside as you ramble along this fantastic trail.

Trim castle great for a picnic! Pick up tasty sandwiches and treats at https://www.harvesthomebakery.com/

or you can find some lovely treats at The Barista cafe at Trim Castle https://www.trimcastlehotel.com/barista-cafe.html


Sunny south east

Kieran is spoilt for choice as there are so many beauty spots in Kilkenny and check out visitkilkenny.ie  For all you need to know

Bridies Tea Rooms(at Langtons) offer an amazing Take Out Afternoon Tea and even have a kids option. – picnic boxes are €16 pp and €10 for kids.

Why not take your picnic to this wonderful setting at Woodstock Gardens in Inistioge where you can spend hours wandering through the gardens and Tree Lines Fur Avenue. There is even a playground for the Kids

For him I’ve chosen Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum https://www.woodstock.ie/

But did you know Mount Juliet are doing take away picnics too for €45 per person and encouraging visitors to enjoy on the grounds… What finer way to enjoy this wonderful estate than a private lunch outdoors. Down beside the River Nore behind the main manor house, by the fishing lakes, along one of the many marked walking trails, or even in the old walled rose garden, with its mixture of modern and old-fashioned roses, each picnic possibility is more picturesque than the next.

They will assemble a bespoke gourmet hamper that meets your requirements and dietary needs, which you can share with your loved one, creating new memories here at Mount Juliet Estate.

From €45 per person.



www.visitwexford.ie has beauty spots in abundance and do explore the new walks around Tintern Abbey they have a new series of walking trails in the counties highest parts – so maybe instead of heading to Curracloe or Kilmore Quay check out the listed walking trails Mountain https://www.visitwexford.ie/directory-category/wexford-walking-trail/

Tintern Abbey

The Tintern Abbey trails are popular among walkers in South Wexford. There are four trails in the area varying from a very doable kilometre-long trail to just over 7km. The Gardener’s Trail is the shortest and takes walkers past Colclough Walled Gardens. Pop in on your way past and see the beautiful gardens bursting with colour. The Tintern Demesne Trail and the Foxboro Trail both run alongside the Tintern River and wind through the woodlands where you can really immerse yourself in nature.

The longest of the trails is the Bannow Bay Trail which winds around Tintern Abbey, a Cistercian abbey founded back in the 1200s. Many of the structural elements of the abbey are still standing and it is an impressive sight on your walk. Before you set off, why not organise a guided tour and hear the story of the abbey that was occupied for many years until the 1960s?

The Ring of Hook Tour


Hook Peninsula is one of my favourite areas of Wexford County, very lush, green and fertile land on one side and the wild Irish sea on the other! This set tour takes you through an area with narrow and winding country roads and pretty villages with some quite remarkable stories behind them.


My personal favourite is Johnstown Castle and it’s super for a picnic!


Hidden heartlands



The Counties of the Hidden Heartlands

LeitrimRoscommonLongford, East Clare, WestmeathCavanNorth Tipperary, Galway, and Offaly are all nestled among this tranquil stretch of the midlands, boasting scores of unique cultural experiences native to each location.

9 scenic walks in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands


The Cavan Way


At 26km long, the Cavan Way in the western part of the county is a relaxing finale to the epic Beara Breifne Way. Give yourself about five hours to take in the sites on this hike through the gentle Cavan landscape.

This trail almost exclusively consists of rural country roads from where it begins in Dowra before ascending into the heavenly limestone landscapes of the Cuilcagh Mountains, passing through the expanse of the Burren Park before ending in the town of Blacklion. The views along the route – Lough Macnean to the north and Cuilcagh Mountains to the south are tremendous and the paths here are typically quiet – the ultimate draw of this enchanting region..

As your walk ends in Blacklion, County Cavan, soon we hope you will be able to reward yourself for your efforts with a sumptuous dining experience at MacNean House and Restaurant, Nevin Maguire’s award-winning restaurant.

Those considering the route can read about The Cavan Way’s topography to understand how its post-glacial past shaped its limestone present.https://www.thisiscavan.ie/fun/go/walking

The Beara Breifne Way is Ireland’s longest national waymarked trail

The route has been created by local communities in a unique collaboration.

It follows the legendary fourteen-day march taken by Dónal Cam O’Sullivan Beare and his one thousand supporters in 1603, and it visits many of the places and communities shaped by their story.

The Way runs almost the length of the country and takes the walker and cyclist to some of its most beautiful and least explored areas in Ireland.

Journey along the coast of the Beara Peninsula, across six mountain ranges, along the banks of the River Shannon and through the lake regions of Roscommon and Leitrim as you travel the Beara Breifne-Way and collect the stamps to fill the Way’s ‘passport’.


Munster Vales

https://munstervales.com/ covers the mountains of the Ballyhouras, Comeraghs, Galtees, The Nagels and The Knockmealdowns


The Glen of Aherlow: A Walker’s Paradise

This lush valley is a hub for hikers offering 8 looped walks in this beautiful west Tipperary area.

The Galtee Mountains have long been known as a walkers paradise and the Glen of Aherlow has a variety of mapped walking routes across forest tracks and open moorland, visit corrie lakes enjoy mountain scenery and spectacular landscape. The Glen of Aherlow have eight looped walks on Slievenamuck and two linear walks in the Galtee Mountains. There are many trails to suit every level of walk. The Routes and Maps and easily identified, The Glen of Aherlow is an immersive walking experience, Discover for yourself.


There’s lots to do in Waterford and most will know how beautiful Dungarven is and especially those that have missed the sea will be making thier way to the coast. But my great discovery of 2020 was the town of Lismore in Waterford – it’s a gem



Lady Louisa’s Walk is a woodland walk along the banks of the River Blackwater. The  walk begins on the town side of Lismore Bridge; access is through black cast iron gates located on the right just before the bridge. Along the walk one can expect to find plants such as beech, ash, ferns, spindle tree, holly and ivy as well as wood sorrel, golden saxifrage and wild garlic. Make sure to look back along the riverbank as you walk to catch views of Lismore Castle. The path will lead you to a turnstile, turn uphill here and you will emerge by St Carthage’s Cathedral.

Wild Atlantic Way


The Wild Atlantic Way, 1600 miles (2600 km) in length, is one of the longest defined coastal route in the world. It winds its way all along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in the north down to the picturesque town of Kinsale, County Cork, in the south.

Sligo Tourism are on a roll and have a new chairman the chef and entrepreneur Anthony Gray who owns Hooked and Eala Bhan so why not get a takeaway and take it to Streedagh Strand and follow in the steps of Marianne and Connell from the novel Normal People. www.sligotourism.ie

The people of Cork are spoiled with so many places to go

Why not find the closest part of the Beara Breifne Way to do and some exploring…

The Beara Way is approximately 220 km in length, circling the impressive coastal and mountain scenery of the Beara Peninsula before turning inland to Kealkill

Walkers starting the Beara-Breifne Way at Dursey Sound where the cable car sets out for Dursey Island. have a choice of following the Beara Way via Castletownbere on the south side of the peninsula or via Eyeries to the north of the peninsula. Both trails link together at Glengarriff.

Check out https://purecork.ie/

And the official Kerry website https://www.discoverkerry.com/en/


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