A selection of new cottages at Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare, Co Kerry, are due for completion this June. Marianne's Cottage and the Bay Villas will offer self catering accommodation in a tranquil environment and guests can also benefit from the Health and Spa facilities at the main five star Lodge. The first stage of the Sheen Falls Lodge Country Club will also be complete in August, offering a collection of self-catering townhouses. Of particular appeal to families, these two and three bedroom houses will be available for three, five and seven day rentals. (www.sheenfallslodge.ie).
In the coming weeks SÃMAS and the Park Hotel Kenmare will host a range of Lifestyle Retreats bringing some of the world's most acclaimed teachers and gurus to Kenmare. Retreats include pilates, yoga, golf enhancement, fitness and walking (www.parkkenmare.com).
The Derry Visitor and Convention Bureau have launched a new Heritage Trail Brochure. An essential travel companion for anyone visiting the Walled City and surrounding area, the guide provides invaluable information for those interested in the wealth of heritage sites attributed to this historic city. The guide is now available for online viewing at www.derryvisitor.com, or available from the Tourist Information Centre in Londonderry.
Belleek Pottery, Ireland's oldest pottery and one of the island's top five visitor attractions, celebrates its 150 anniversary this year with a 12 month programme of visitor and collector events. The Belleek Pottery Visitor Centre offers visitors guided tours around this working pottery studio with and the opportunity to meet and talk to the craftspeople themselves (www.belleek.ie).
A number of new spas are opening up across Ireland in the coming months. These include the Marine Spa at Inishbofin House, Connemara (www.dayshotel.ie) which will feature six treatment rooms, a thermal suite, dry flotation tank and aromatherapy baths enclosed by an infinity pool and a secluded beach all offer a hidden oasis of pampering. Also opening are spas at Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan (due to open 13 May – www.castleleslie.com); Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoighre, Co. Dublin (opening April – www.royalmarine.ie) and the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow (opening May – www.ritzcarlton.com).
A series of themed tours have been launched by Essence of Ireland. Food lovers should check out the week long break on offer at Ballymaloe House near Cork, which includes dinner and breakfast at the Ballymaloe, then a visit to the nearby English Market and lunch in CafÃ© Paradiso. Spend time with farmer and restaurateur Otto Kuntz before heading to Dunworley House where Otto will prepare dinner using the amazing variety of organic produce he grows in their kitchen garden along with cheese and meat from local speciality producers and locally caught fish. Visits to Ummera, Gubeen cheese and Skibbereen Farmers' Market are all included in this package, which is devoted entirely to the best food and wine in West Cork. If food's not your thing, breaks to suit golfers, gardeners and even drivers are also available (www.essenceofireland.com).
29 March "“ 1 April, Walled City Continental Market (www.marketplaceeurope.co.uk)
Savour a flavour of the continent in Londonderry this month, as food producers from all over Europe descend upon the Walled City. Sample Bratwurst sausages from Germany, rich biscuits and cakes from Brittany, and even Kangaroo or Ostrich!
8-11 April, Fairyhouse, Co Meath (www.fairyhouseracecourse.ie or www.hri.ie) and 24-27 April, Irish National Hunt Festival, Punchestown, Co Kildare (www.punchestown.com or www.hri.ie)
April is a great time to go to the races in Ireland! Enjoy three days of top class national hunt racing at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, featuring Powers Whiskey Grand National, or head to the National Hunt Festival in Co Kildare.
7-14 April, Titanic Made in Belfast Festival Week, Belfast (www.gotobelfast.com or www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events)
The sixth annual 'Titanic Made in Belfast' festival is a celebration of the ship, her city and the artisan skills of the people who created her. Taking the theme of 'Titanic – Past, Present and Future', the 2007 event will feature a host of new events, talks and attractions across Belfast, including an exhibition at the City Hall which takes visitors on a journey through three stages of the Titanic's life. There also will be an opportunity to sample life as it might have been for the passengers of Titanic as well as sharing living history re-enactments from Titanic characters. On Sunday 15 April "“ the 95th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic "“ the Belfast Titanic Society will hold the annual ceremony commemorating all those that lost their lives.
24-29 April, Cuirt International Festival of Literature (www.galwayartscentre.ie)
Ireland's premier reading event this year welcomes a cross section of writing from cult classics to contemporary new talent. Writers from around the globe will travel to Galway to share their work in person, with a week of readings, launches, drama and discussions. A full is programme available on the website.
28-30 April, Apple Blossom Festival, Co Armagh (www.armagh.gov.uk)
Celebrate the beautiful apple blossom season in the Orchard County, including an outdoor music concert, guided tours of the Apple Orchard Region and a speciality food market.
1-7 May, Dingle Peninsula Arts Festival, Co Kerry (www.feilenabealtaine.ie)
Celebrated as the largest arts festival on the Dingle Peninsula, this festival celebrates the arrival of summer with the traditional arts of storytelling, song, music and dance as well as contemporary visual arts and literature. The theme of this years festival is Santiago de Compostela and Spain.
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