Wineport Lodge Hotel, Ireland

Welcome to the Midlands  of Ireland which for me, like many visitors, was a place to stop over en route to somewhere else. Until I discovered Wineport Lodge Hotel. This luxury cedar-clad boutique hotel is a heavenly port of pampering, where each of the 29 rooms, all named after a wine or spirit, look out onto the shores of Lough Ree. As I settled into my room, poured a glass of chilled and complimentary Chablis, I knew instantly that one night was not going to be enough. 

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Seamus Heaney Homeplace, Bellaghy, Northern Ireland

Words fail me right now as I visit the newly opened Seamus Heaney Homeplace in his homeland of Bellaghy, Northern Ireland. A moving experience that captures not only the great Irish poet’s work, but also his extraordinary life as a family man. Here is his daughter, Catherine Heaney, talking about how she feels about its opening, the details of which were run by the family meticulously and with great sensitivity. And it shows. If you love poetry, and Heaney, don’t come to Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland without coming here.

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Dear Old Inishowen – the most memorable of adventure holidays in Donegal, Ireland

Coasteering in Donegal

The audience cheered at the end of Jimmy McLaughlin’s rendition of ‘Dear Old Inishowen’, not only because of his fine a cappella accomplishment but also because he was singing it in McGrory’s front bar in Culdaff, the heart of his dear old Inishowen. He was here because his family was the subject of an Irish television series called Dúshlán 1881 – Living the Eviction, about famine evictions from the nearby village of Carrowmenagh, and they were having a screening in the hotel to celebrate. I was there to explore the wilderness that remains all around this northernmost point of Ireland, travelling with one of a handful of companies offering adventure holidays in Donegal. Right now, however, in this cocoon of Culdaff, my cultural immersion was like an unexpected and delicious appetiser.

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Walking and talking the Seven Heads of Clonakilty, West Cork – one of the best kept secret walking trails in Ireland

Wild swimming in Ireland West Cork

‘He’s a really good head’ is something you will often hear in Ireland. It’s a colloquialism for a person who is truly decent. So when I decided to take on the Seven Heads Walk around the coastline between West Cork’s Timoleague and Clonakilty, I set myself the task to also try and meet seven ‘good heads’ along the way. I put out a request on Twitter and it was quite easy to see that the same good heads kept being recommended and that I wasn’t going to be short of companions on this, one of the best kept secret walking trails in Ireland. Before I knew it I had gathered fellow walkers, dates in pubs, tea in a gardening writer’s kitchen, picnic pals and a swimming soul mate for a dip in the Atlantic. Tune into my quick chats with them by clicking on the links attached to each of my ‘heads’ below.

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