An Englishwoman, Irishman and Scot walk into a bar, with the intention of planning an adventure holiday abroad. Inca trails in Micha Pichu, shark cages in South Australia and mountain climbing in Nepal all get a fair hearing over a few pints, but distance and cost ultimately write them off. ‘How about some pulse racing, adrenaline a touch chasing closer to home?’ suggests the Irishman. The others laugh, ‘that’s just not possible’, but there’s no punchline here.
Ireland is, in fact, an amazing, cost effective choice for those hungry for a holiday of extreme exploits and hair raising fun who don’t want to spend more time on the plane than in the grip of excitement. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL Irish adventure holiday ideas for adrenaline junkies.
SKYDIVE OVER OFFALY
The county of Offaly is just a 90 minute drive inland from Dublin. Most visitors head here for three reasons; to visit the 6th century monastic site of Clonmacnoise National Monument, to peer in to the Great Telescope (once the world’s largest) at Birr Castle and most importantly for us, to skydive. Starting at Clonbullogue Airfield in the town of Edenderry, parachute clubs offer onsite, pre-jump training, equipment, and even a tandem skydive option, perfect for a stag or hen party, or even an office team building exercise.
RAFTING ON THE RIVER LIFFEY
What better way to experience Ireland’s famous river Liffey than at first hand, with paddle and raft? Negotiating the seemingly tranquil river isn’t at first glance the most fast paced adventure activity available in the country, but it’s an eye opening look at Dublin at close quarters. It actually provides some pretty hairy, hair raising moments along the way, too, particularly along the four artificial weirs which make up most routes, where the drops are sharp and the risk of a headfirst plunge into cold water pretty high if you don’t have your wits (and oar skills) about you. There’s also the chance for a bit of wildlife spotting, although the likelihood of seeing another dolphin, such as happened at the tail end of last year, is slim.
CLIMB THE BURREN & WALK THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
Ireland boasts some truly stunning scenery; sheer, remote and unspoilt by the modern world’s heavy hand. This makes it a great destination for climbing and hiking, its rugged terrain and jaw dropping views best experienced from a vantage point only available to the daring and courageous. If you’ve ever fancied seeing the Cliffs of Moher, and love the thrill and challenge of the ascent, then combine the two; the nearby Burren is one of Ireland’s premier climbing spots and the Cliffs offer plenty of trails for a good old fashioned hike, the most popular being from Doolin to Hag’s Head.
ZIPLINE IN KILKENNY
Kilkenny, specifically Castlecomer Discovery Park, is home to Ireland’s longest zipline. At 300m long and 35m above ground (at its highest), zipping over two lakes, vast expanses of woodland and even a hand restored bridge from the 17th century, it’s a real thrill ride. What’s more, the park is run on a not-for-profit basis, so any money spent goes instead to promoting rural tourism and straight back into this majestic, one of a kind park.
MOUNTAIN BIKE IN BALLYHOURA
Finally, we’re heading south east, to the Ballyhoura mountains, which straddle Country Limerick and County Cork. Mountain Biking here is big news, with 98km of trails making it the biggest of its kind in Ireland. If you’re seeking real endurance, then it’s got to be the Castlepook loop, a full 50km of struggle and strain, including 1100 of climb, and long, sweeping descents. Oh yes.