‘We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.’
From Advent by Patrick Kavanagh
With all the giving and getting, spending and consuming, it can be very easy to get a little overwhelmed and frazzled at this time of year. Our solution is to get outdoors into this stunning place we call home and give the best gift you can give to friends, family, those in need; your time.
To give you a little nudge, we have compiled a list of the best adventure things to do in the West over this Christmas and New Year’s period.
Best Christmas & New Year’s Swims
There is NO better way to clear the cobwebs than a teeth-chattering dip in the Atlantic. So get your hip flasks ready and check out our pick of the best Christmas and New Year’s Day swims across the West.
1. Kilkee, Co Clare
Kilkee is a swimmer’s utopia. Its Pollock Holes are natural deep pools that replenish each time the tide recedes. Newfy (or Newfoundout as its officially called), has two diving boards which Richard Harris used to frequent. Kilkee’s annual Christmas Day swim is one of the Kilkee Sub Aqua Club’s fundraising highlights and a great way for people in the community to get involved in a fun activity. Proceeds from the sponsored swim go to Kilkee Sub Aqua Club’s Search & Recovery activities. The annual Christmas Day swim is on Kilkee Beach at 12.30pm in aid of Kilkee Sub Aqua Club’s search-and-recovery activities.
2. Lahinch Christmas Day Swim
Lahinch Christmas Day Swim was set up by PJ Crotty and John Fawl in December 1989, to raise money for local charities in Clare. The Fawl Family and the Crotty Family continue to organise the swim each year. The Lahinch Christmas Day swim last year saw 500 people brave the chilly atlantic waters for charity. The 2017 charity is Cahercalla Hospice. More on their Facebook Page.
3. Inis Mór, Co Galway
The Aran island has a variety of swimming spots, the most famous of which is Pól na bPéist – home to the Red Bull divers in the summer. The island’s population dwindles in winter, there are still plenty of intrepid souls who meet for a post-Mass gathering on December 25th.
4. Blackrock, Galway
Take part in the COPE Galway Christmas Day swim which takes place on Christmas morning from 10am to 1pm at Blackrock, Salthill!
For 28 years the people of Galway have supported the work of COPE Galway by signing up to take in the Christmas Day Swim and raise funds to help vulnerable and isolated men, women and families in Galway. copegalway.ie/swim
6. Mayo Swims: Lough Lannagh, Castlebar, Co Mayo
What else would you be doing on Christmas Day other than working through 20cm of ice with a sledgehammer? When the waters are slightly less than full-baltic, swimmers are joined by swans. One for the very brave to be sure!
7. Sligo Swims
In Sligo, there are annual sea swims on Mullaghmore Beach at noon on Christmas Day and at Rosses Point at noon on Christmas Day and at 1pm on New Year’s Day. More here.
8. Donegal Swims
- There’s a Christmas Day Swim on Main Beach in Bundoran every year. This year’s swim takes place at 12.10pm
- The New Year’s Day swim is Inishowen’s largest, hundreds of people from across Inishowen, Donegal and Derry take the annual plunge at Culdaff beach. This year’s swim kicks off 2.30pm on New Year’s Day.
Other Adventurous Things To Do In the West over Christmas:
9. The Christmas Paddles with Sligo Kayak Tours, Dec 26-31, Sligo.
Sligo Kayak Tours run guided kayak tours of the beautiful coastal estuaries and tranquil inland lakes of Co. Sligo, Ireland. Discover untouched nature and world renowned landmarks from the comfort of your own sea kayak. Join them on Lough Gill from Dec 26 – 31 for The Christmas Paddles. A three hour paddle around Lough Gill with some nice mulled wine. No kayaking experience necessary. More from Sligo Kayak Tours on Facebook here.
10. Westport’s 10th Annual Christmas Walking Festival, 29 Dec – 1 Jan 2018, Westport, Co Mayo.
Round off the year with a magical weekend of walking in the Mountains and trails of Mayo & Connemara. See some of the most beautiful scenery along the Wild Atlantic Way at Westport’s 10th Annual Christmas Walking Festival 2017.
This scenic walk takes in the mountains and trails of Mayo, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see some of the wonders of the West of Ireland. You’ll be awestruck by Connaught’s highest peak, Mweelrea, and thrilled to take in the natural beauty of Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only fjord.
Get on your walking boots and end your year in style by seeing more of Ireland at Westport’s 10th Annual Christmas Walking Festival. More at walkingguideireland.com
11. Fanore Burren Christmas 2017 10k – 5k, Friday 29 December 2017
Get ready for 2018 by burning off the Christmas excess while you enjoy spectacular views over one of Ireland’s national treasures, The Burren, Co Clare.
2017 sees the seventh installment of the race take over Fanore and this year’s theme is based on Biddy Early, Ireland’s famous traditional herbalist – an East Clare legend.
You’ll feel brand new following the race, and with a race medal waiting for every competitor at the finish line, as well as water stations strategically located across the route, the Fanore Burren Christmas 2017 10k and 5k runs make for a day out you won’t forget. More at active.com/fanore-burren-christmas-10k-5k-2017
12. Watch The Last European Sunset of 2017, Achill Island
At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve there is a tradition in many villages on Achill Island in Co Mayo for their pipe bands to welcome in the New Year. A short parade followed by a rally of three or more Achill pipe bands provides a rousing and unforgettable New Year’s celebration for all the family.
For the ‘morning after the night before’ how about a bracing dip in the Atlantic at the traditional New Year’s Day swim at Dugort. achilltourism.com/newyear