Aisling Bonner gives us her guide on where to visit in Ireland this holiday season!

While in theory, summer screams sun, shorts, sandals and *ahem* Netflix binges, in practice it can also signal holiday stress. 

It has come to the point where the question of ‘What are you doing for the summer?’ can be harder to answer than any MCQ or essay question you’ve spent the last few weeks revising for. 

With droves of students off to America on J1s and as many trekking across Europe with rucksacks big enough to clothe a small army, the pressure to plan an extravagant trip abroad can be as overwhelming on the brain as it is on the pocket. 

But what if the answer is not a Ryanair deal away? I’m no Yank, but there’s a lot to be said for the Emerald Isle and its summer potential, even in the least likely of counties.
 

Waterford
All due credit going to the Vikings back in the 10th century, Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city. Alongside historical attractions such as The Viking Triangle, Waterford Treasures Medieval Museum and Reginald’s Tower, the famous Waterford Crystal factory welcomes visitors of all interests. Moving outside the city, popular seaside town, Tramore, comes alive every summer with amusements, bars, casinos and arcades to rid your pockets of the faintest jingle.

A bag of chips from the popular Dooly’s chipper and a walk down the 5km sandy beach is enough to quench any sense of wanderlust. For a more low-key vibe, take a trip over to the fishing village of Dunmore East and enjoy the fabulous views and great food.
 

Wexford
Commonly known as the Dub’s holiday hotspot, the sunny south-east boasts some of the east coast’s most popular beaches, so much so that the Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan was filmed on Wexford’s Curracloe beach. If it’s good enough for Spielberg it’s good enough for us, ay? 

But it’s not all campervans and coastlines. The Hook Lighthouse, the world’s oldest operational lighthouse is accessible by ferry providing incredible viewing points. 

The Irish National Heritage Park with its crannóg and ringfort replicas allow visitors go back in time to ancient Ireland. 35 acres of woodland provide many interesting walks and trails for all ages and abilities.
 

Clare
One of Ireland’s most scenic counties, Clare is a must-go for many tourists in Ireland, so it must be doing something right.

The Cliffs of Moher have featured in many’s a Facebook cover photo, but can only be fully appreciated in the flesh. Rain, hail or shine they’ll take your breath away.

While discovering the Burren, take a trip to the Ailwee Caves, the underworld of the Burren, and the Burren Perfumery. If you’re lucky you might pass Father Ted’s famous Parochial House en route and stop in for afternoon tea.

Perfect for water sport fanatics, Lahinch is a popular surfing spot, and nearby village, Ballyvaughan offers an Atlantic kayaking experience along the coast.

 

Galway
Searching for a city break with the best craic and culture Ireland has to offer? Galway City is calling.

From the cobbles of bustling Shop Street to the chilled-out vibes of the Spanish Arch, Galway caters for all needs.

A superb choice of food, especially along Quay Street and lively bars such as the Quays and the Roisín Dubh, ensure constant night time entertainment.

The Galway Arts Festival (taking place 11th-24th July) provides an abundance of events for all ages.

Similarly, the Galway Races (25th-31st July) draw thousands into the city every year, heightening the atmosphere. 

A short tour bus away takes you to the rural countryside of Connemara at the heart of the Gaeltacht.

Indoor attractions such as Pure Skill and Leisureland also help to beat Galway’s infamous rain.

 

Kildare
All the shopping potential of Dublin and Cork, minus the crowds, Kildare is any shopaholics dream. 

From popular boutiques in Naas, to the designer outlets at Kildare Village, the choices are endless. The outlet’s American-style outdoor layout is perfect for a summer browse. I dare you to leave empty-handed.

 In nearby Newbridge, Whitewater Shopping Centre, the largest regional shopping centre in the country accounts for a broad selection of high street shops.

Nip across the road for a cake and a free look in the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons for looks at artefacts from stars such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. 

Budding jockeys and horse-owners will surely want a look in the National Stud and neighbouring Japanese Gardens and perhaps a trip to the races at Naas, Punchestown or the Curragh depending on the weekend.

 

Donegal
Started from the bottom now we’re here. 

Donegal tops off the Emerald Isle with a perfect summer blend of festivals, activities and landscape. 

Kicking off the summer, Ireland’s only surf music festival, Sea Sessions takes place in Buncrana 24th-26th June attracting many young people to the area. 

Follow the Wild Atlantic Way route to catch some of Donegal’s finest beaches including Carrickfinn, Culdaff, Mullaghdearg and Maghera. Witness the stunning views from Malin Head and Slieve League, and for adventurous climbers, atop Mount Errigal. 

Glenveagh National Park offers scenic walks and the opportunity to visit Glenveagh Castle. 

Donegal’s great musical heritage also mustn’t be forgotten and a visit to the home of Clannad at Leo’s Tavern won’t be regretted.