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Get a piece of the action this autumn with a staycation of sporting greats

Whether you fancy surfing the waves or strolling through the stadiums, there are endless ways to plan an Irish holiday fit for a sports fanatic, writes Michael Moynihan

For those who’ve decided to spend their holidays at home rather than jetting off to destinations further afield, there’s at least one consolation if the weather doesn’t play its part. Sports fans who are staycationing have no shortage of attractions which are well worth visiting if they’re in the mood for indulging in their favourite pastime.

GAA headquarters is synonymous with titanic battles and nail-biting finishes in All-Ireland finals, but the Skyline offers a different thrill for those with a head for heights.

Those who can make it to the top of the stadium without getting dizzy get to enjoy an unrivalled view of the capital — from the roof of the stands, the location of the Skyline, viewers are at the equivalent of a 17-storey building. This perch means practically all of the features of Dublin are visible on a clear day.

If seeing the green pitch far below sharpens the appetite for Gaelic games action, then it’s quite easy to take in the GAA Museum on the same trip.


Located on the Cusack Stand side of the ground, there are priceless artefacts from the history of the GAA on show, such as the original Sam Maguire and Liam MacCarthy Cups (now replaced after decades of wear and tear). There’s rare footage of games available to watch as well as an array of historic exhibits. If any visitor fancies taking on a skills challenge, then they can try out their football and hurling skills at the interactive section — and leave entitled to make a classic boast, that they scored a goal in Croke Park one time.

Opening times vary, so check ahead on www.bookings.gaamuseum.ie or phone (01) 819 2323. Prices range from €22 for Adults to €20 for Students/Seniors.


It’s a rare Irish rugby fan who doesn’t know the road to Limerick and Thomond Park, where Munster have enthralled the nation time after time with rousing performances, and breathless victories won against all the odds.

There’s no surprise in learning, then, that the International Rugby Experience is just a short spin in the road from Munster’s home venue — and an unforgettable day out for anyone devoted to the oval ball.

The experience is organised around six themes — legendary moments, legendary beginnings, legendary teams, legendary skills, legendary nations, and legendary players.

And yes, under the legendary skills there’s an interactive element if a visitor fancies their chances of dropping a goal under extreme pressure — or indeed taking the whistle as a referee.

The winners aren’t confined to the exhibitions on show within the confines of the experience. The building housing the experience — an eye-catching new build — is a winner in and of itself. In June the International Rugby Experience was voted Ireland’s favourite building in the public choice category at the RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2023, beating 53 other projects. You’ll appreciate its quality as you approach.


Open Monday to Sunday, 9:30am to 6pm (last tour at 4:30pm). Entry for children under 18 is €10, and €15 for adults.

Horse racing

The Irish love affair with horses is one that goes back centuries, and if a holidaymaker wants to combine that equine passion with a day out, there’s an obvious choice for them. The fact that it’s in Kildare, itself prime horse country with its level terrain and wide vistas, comes as no surprise.

The Irish Racehorse Experience at the National Stud takes visitors through the long history and vibrant heritage of the Irish thoroughbred sector, ranging from the very first steeplechase raced — from Buttevant to Doneraile in north Cork — to the staggering success of the modern Irish racehorse industry, which dominate in breeding, training and racing horses.

The experience offers visitors a fascinating interactive element that takes them behind the scenes at a top trainer’s yard, where they can choose unique racing colours before moving to the race track itself to try their hand at race commentary before the off.

On the Croke Park Skywalk, you’ll get to take in not only the iconic venue grounds, but also the entirety of the capital from an unrivalled viewpoint

If some of those in the visiting party are less enthusiastic about the sport of kings, then it’s not all runners and riders on hand. The famous Japanese Gardens nearby offer a soothing alternative, while little racegoers have the kids zone to enjoy.

Visit irishnationalstud.ie/plan-your-visit or phone +353 (0) 45 521 617

General Admission and Irish Racehorse Experience costs €19.00 for adults, €14.00 for seniors/ students, €11.00 for a child. Children 3 years and under go free, with family packages also available.


The history of soccer in Ireland is one with plenty of twists and turns, so why not get two for the price of one and sign up for the Football Walking Tour of Dublin?

An imaginative idea from the Little Museum of Dublin (itself an innovative development well worth a visit in the capital), this traces the history of the beautiful game as well as offering insights into the wider urban history of Dublin.

The tour is run by Gary Cooke, famous for his years with Apres Match, and Aodhán Ó'Ríordáin TD, who bring visitors around the city for ninety minutes — what else? — and share gossip, facts and stories while they trace the history of soccer from the days of the Ban to the glorious reign of Jack Charlton.

It’s an innovative idea, bringing visitors out onto the streets rather than confining their experience to a single location, and provides a manageable stroll with bite-sized morsels of information: a winner.

The one caveat for this experience is that it’s quite limited, though at press time extra dates were being added due to popular demand.

Prices start at €15. Phone:+353 1 6611000 Email: Hello@littlemuseum.ie


It would be easy to say that our last choice doesn’t need a formal structure, which is a fair point, but if those holidaying at home have never surfed before, a little help doesn’t hurt.

The sport can be traced back to the late forties in Louth and is strong in almost all the coastal counties, but Sligo has long been regarded as one of the best spots in Ireland to catch a wave — and to learn how to do so.

With that in mind there’s a natural destination — the National Surf Centre which was officially opened in Strandhill, Sligo, this June.

Built at a cost of almost €3 million, it’s the first facility entirely dedicated to surfing in the country and it’s intended to be a focus for training as well as a base for national and international events in the future.

It’s also home to the Co Sligo Surf Club, along with Sligo Surf Experience, Rebelle Surf and Atlantic Surf School, all of whom are available to provide lessons for locals and visitors from the centre. Along with the teachers, there are modern facilities in the centre — such as showers and changing rooms — which will be welcomed by newcomers to the sport.