Things to Do and See
We have picked out a number of things for visitors to do and see. Our selection, listed in no particular order, aims to give people an opportunity to scratch beneath the surface and get a good feel for life and leisure in Portumna and the general area.
When not visit PORTUMNA CASTLE & GARDENS. The Castle at one end of the town was the seat of the powerful de Burgo family, landlords of the area. In stands in stark contrast to the Workhouse at the other end of town, the last resort of the destitute poor. Tel: 090-9741658 www.heritageireland.ie e-mail: email@example.com
A CRUISE ON THE SHANNON
Relax and enjoy a two hour cruise on the River Shannon or Lough Derg, the largest lake on the Shannon. Lunch served. Groups up to 12 people catered for. Excellent value and very enjoyable. Available all year.
A WALK IN THE PARK (OR A LONG HIKE, OR BRING/HIRE A BIKE)
Portumna Forest Park is one of eleven national forest parks. Situated on the shores of Lough Derg, it covers almost 450 hectares and once formed part of the Clanricarde estate. Today it is managed by Coillte, a state owned forestry company. Facilities in the park include picnic areas, car park and toilets. There are 4 looped trails ranging from one of 1km length that is suitable for all visitors, including wheelchair users, to a long trail of over 10kms for walkers and cyclists. The walks are colour coded, so just follow the coloured markers. Maps and more information are available free of charge on www.coillteoutdoors.ie
Directions: The Park entrance is located on the R352 heading towards Woodford/Mountshannon. The entrance is 1km from the town on the left hand side. The starting point for the trails is located in the car-park which is 1 km inside the park gates. Pedestrians can also access the Park from the Castle and Marina.
GO FOR A CYCLE
Hire some bikes and go for a cycle in the Forest Park or along country roads. Adult and children’s bicycles for hire. Helmets included and child seats also available. Will deliver & collect bikes. Bike Hire at Murray’s B&B, Derryhiney, Portumna, Co. Galway
Tel: 090 – 9759596 or 087-3121595 www.murraysireland.com e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVENTURE TIME! PALLAS KARTING & PAINTBALL
Pallas Karting, located just 15 minutes drive from Portumna, is Europe’s largest karting track, It’s fast and exhilarating. Whatever the weather, at Pallas Karting you can experience the thrill of real motor racing first hand. 500m Beginners Track, minimum age 10 years old & over, 4ft 6″ in height. Advanced 1500m Track, 16 years old and over. Open all year round. Tynagh, Loughrea, Co.Galway
Tel: 090-9745147 www.pallaskarting.com
Directions: Take the R352 heading towards Woodford for just a little bit. Then turn to the right, signposted Tynagh. Pallas Karting & Paintball is approx. a 12 mins drive from Portumna.
Watermark Ski Club, Portumna/Terryglass
Portumna is a prime coarse angling centre renowned for its quality angling with specialist operators who are geared to cater for angling tourists. Shannon Regional Fisheries Board has an excellent website for anglers – www.shannon-fishery-board.ie
For Boat Hire, Guided Angling and Angling Lessons contact:
Mike: Tel: 090-9759596 087-3121595
Dave Harris: tel. 087-2348038 e-mail: email@example.com
Carp & Tench Fishing: Angle Grove, Woodford, Loughrea. This is a catch and release fishery.
Tel: Roman 090-9749360 or 086-2411433
A GAME OF GOLF
Also Visitors Welcome at:
Portumna Golf Club – tel: 090-9741059 www.portumnagolfclub.ie
Curra West Golf – tel: 090-9745121 www.currawest.com
WANT TO SEE THE COUNTRYSIDE FROM HORSE BACK?
There are a number of centres that provide horse riding in the area with horses suitable for absolute beginners and more experienced riders. Advance booking required.
Flower Hill Equestrian Centre, Flowerhill House, Killimor, Ballinasloe, Co.Galway
Tel: 090-96 76112 or 087-2570221 www.flowerhill.net
Slieve Aughty Centre – Kylebrack West, Loughrea, Co. Galway
Tel: 090 97 45246 www.riding-centre.com
Dartfield Horse Museum and Equestrian Park, Dartfield, Kilrickle, Loughrea, Co. Galway
Tel: 091-843968 www.dartfieldhorsemuseum.com
A VISIT TO WOODFORD – TRACING YOUR FAMILY ROOTS
Woodford is a picturesque rural village, set amongst some lovely wooded countryside with the Slieve Aughty Mountains as a backdrop. The village is situated 15 km west of Portumna, taking the R352. Among the earlier inhabitants of the village were many Welsh settlers who came to work in the Iron Foundry, circa 1680. At this time, there were three iron mills in operation due to the presence of ore in the neighbouring mountains and the abundance of oak forests which were cut down to supply charcoal for the furnaces. It is from this industry that the village developed its name “Graig na Muilte Iarainn” which translated means “Village of the Iron Mills”.
If your ancestors are from East Galway and you are interested in tracing your family tree, you can avail of the ancestry-tracing service at Woodford Heritage Centre, which houses census records, land records, state records from 1864 to 1900 and pre-1910 church records for the East Galway area.
Directions: Take the R352 to Woodford about 15 minutes drive from Portumna.
Suitable from age 14+. All equipment supplied. Groups catered for. About 15 minutes from Portumna. To book contact: Gerry Hoban tel: 087-6859481
A BOAT TRIP TO HOLY ISLAND
Holy Island at the mouth of Scariff Bay on Lough Derg, is one of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland. Its many attractions include a well preserved Round Tower, the ruins of six churches and a cell like structure which is one of the most extraordinary buildings in Ireland. From Mountshannon Harbour, take a boat trip to Holy Island with local historian, Ger Madden. From April to September. Tel: 061 921615 or 086-8749710 www.eastclareheritage.com
Directions: Follow the R352 signposted Scariff/Woodford. Keep on the R352. Mountshannon is about 45 minutes from Portumna.
VISIT BIRR CASTLE DEMESNE
Visit the Gardens, the Science Centre and the Great Telescope. Birr Castle Demesne offers something for everyone to enjoy and is especially interesting and educational for families. Ireland’s Historic Science Centre is housed in the old stable block. There are 50 hectares of park land, magnificent formal gardens and terraces and Birr’s world famous engineering and astronomical wonder – the Great Telescope. Birr castle demesne is open all year.
Tel: 057-9120340 www.birrcastle.com
Directions: From Portumna, drive over the Bridge and take the R489 to Birr, about 25 minutes drive.
TUROE PET FARM & LEISURE PARK
Outdoor and indoor activities for all the family. Open all year. Bullaun, Loughrea, Co. Galway. Tel: 091-841580 www.turoepetfarm.com
Directions: N65 to main Galway/Dublin road (N6). Turn left towards Galway. At first roundabout take 2nd exit (signposted Galway). At 2nd roundabout take 4th exit (signposted Bullaun) R350. About 45 minutes drive from Portumna.
THE CLONFERT CATHEDRALS
FOR PEOPLE WITH ANY INTEREST IN ECCLESTICAL HERITAGE, THESE TWO CATHEDRALS ARE TREASURES THAT MUST BE VISITED
Clonfert Cathedral is a cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Clonfert, Co. Galway. The original monastery was founded here by Saint Brendan in 563. The monastery at Clonfert became one of Ireland’s foremost monastic schools, and the launching point of great missionary endeavour throughout Europe. At one time, it had as many as 3,000 brothers and endured until the 16th century. The earliest part of the church dates back to around 1180. Its doorway is the crowning achievement of Hiberno- Romanesque style.
Directions: About 30 minutes drive time. Go on N65 signposted for Loughrea, take first turn right, sign posted Ballinasloe, R355, continue and take right onto R356 for Eyrecourt. Clonfert is signposted from here.
Loughrea Cathedral. Built some 800 years later, the second Clonfert Cathedral is Roman Catholic and is also dedicated to St Brendan, the Navigator. This building is in neo-gothic style, its exterior being typical of churches of this time. It is however its interior which sets it apart. The Cathedral was the first church in Ireland to be decorated by the artistic arm of the Celtic Revival period, the budding Arts and Crafts movement of the early twentieth century. With its 26 stained glass windows, stone and wood carvings and metal work, it is considered to be the greatest monument Ireland has to the revival of Celtic Art.
Directions: About 30 minutes drive time. Go on the N65 signposted Loughrea.
GO FOR A LONG WALK ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SHANNON
The Hymany Way in South East Galway forms part of the national Beara Breifne Way. This way follows the route of the fourteen-day march, taken by Donal O’Sullivan Beare and one thousand supporters, which they started on New Year’s Eve 1602. This Irish chieftain fled the English forces and marched from what was his main strong hold, Dunboy Castle at Berehaven in Cork to his ally, O’Rourke of Breifne in Leitrim. Local chieftains viewed them as outcasts and attacked them along the way. They crossed the Shannon somewhere near Portumna. The crossing took place during the night to avoid attack and was made with a boat made from horse skins. By the time, O’Sullivan Beare reached Leitrim Castle, out of the original one thousand followers, only thirty five remained.
The Way, the longest in Ireland, runs almost the length of the country and takes the walker to some of its most beautiful and least explored areas. In South East Galway, the Hymany Way takes the walker from Portumna to Aughrim. See www.irishtrails.ie for a map of the entire route, which takes about two days to walk. Here the walk from Portumna to Meelick, which follows the Shannon Banks, is recommended. To find the starting point, walk down the main street (Brendan Street) in Portumna in the direction of the Bridge. On your left, as you near the Shannon River, you will see a map board with details of the walk. Enter the gateway here and off you go. The walk to Meelick is relatively easy and level and will take from three to four hours. It is a linear walk, so having somebody to pick you up at Meelick would be an idea unless you are feeling super fit. Note that there are no restaurants, shops or facilities en route.
GO TO A HURLING MATCH
There are three types of games that are distinctly Irish – Gaelic Football, Handball and Hurling. These are known as Gaelic games and are promoted by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). In Ireland, Gaelic Football and Hurling are most prominent, with some areas having a tradition of football and others a tradition of hurling. In Galway for instance, football is played in the north of the county and hurling in the south and east. There are numerous clubs in each county catering for children, teenagers and adults. Most clubs have excellent facilities and well kept pitches. The club championship is most competitive and it is a great honour to win the County Championship, let alone the All Ireland championship. The Portumna Hurling Team has had many victories in recent times. Each county then has a county team, made up of its best players from the various clubs.
The All Ireland Football and Hurling Championships are held in September, in Ireland’s biggest sports stadium, Croke Park. It should be noted that this is an amateur sport, players are not paid. If you are interested in finding out more about these games, the links below will be of use. When on holiday in Ireland, it would be a real treat to attend a hurling match. This is a fast, tough, very competitive game. Two teams play against each other, with 15 players on each side. The sticks are known as hurls and are made from ash timber. The small, hard ball is known as a sliothar. A point is scored when the ball goes over the bar. A goal, equivalent to three points, is scored when the ball goes under the bar. Women also play hurling and the female version is known as camogie. Ask in the area to see if there are any games on during your stay. Games are usually on at weekends.
A DAY TRIP TO GALWAY CITY & A NIGHT AT THE DOGS
Galway City is just an hour’s drive from Portumna. While there is a new motorway, when travelling from Portumna, it is just as easy to travel to Loughrea and from Loughrea continue on the old road (N6) to Galway. Galway has a population of about 75,000 and is a busy spot, particularly in the summer time. Most things in Galway are within walking distance. There is a great atmosphere on its main street, Shop Street and down Quay Street, with buskers and street entertainers. Galway hosts a number of festivals during the year, with the biggest attractions being the Film Fleadh, the Galway Arts Festival, the Galway Races and the Oyster Festival.
Greyhound racing is a big sport in Ireland and is a very different night out. Racing at Galway Greyhound Stadium takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The first race is at 20.00. Full bar, snack, fast food and restaurant facilities are available. Note that the restaurant must be booked in advance: Tel: 1890269969 Web: www.igb.ie
There are 26 racecourses in Ireland, more per head of population that any other country in the world. Wherever you are in Ireland, you are never far from a racecourse and there is racing most days of the week. Check out www.goracing.ie to see where the nearest fixture is and enjoy an exciting day out. There are a number of racecourses within relatively short driving distance from Portumna (Limerick, Roscommon, Galway).