There’s no doubt Offaly has an abundance of things to do in the great outdoors.
But if you are looking for a more relaxed day out, rather than strenuous activities, then look no further than Offaly. We’ve rounded up some of the top laid-back activities to experience, from walking within the mountains to cruising along the river.
With Offaly being home to the great professional golfer, Shane Lowry, follow in his steps and play a game at Esker Hills Golf Club in Tullamore. It was at Esker Hills that Shane made history, becoming the first amateur golfer to ever win an Irish Open in 2009.
Esker Hills, designed by Christy O’Connor Jnr, is regarded as one of Ireland’s finest golf courses, with sand hills, sweeping valleys, and natural lakes. The course is in superb condition all year round and its natural terrain provides a challenging, but fun, golf experience. You can book your tee times online or by calling 057 93 55999.
Offaly has a number of scenic cycling options, ranging from hill climbs to flatland, depending on your preference. Check out the Grand Canal Way, a historic trail which traverses Leinster from Ringsend in Dublin City to Shannon Harbour in Offaly. Of course, you don’t need to cycle the entire route! The Offaly Grand Canal Way stretches from Edenderry in the east to Shannon Harbour in the west, and you could try the 22km Tullamore to Lough Boora section. This route, which is off-road, links two landmark sites, Tullamore DEW and Lough Boora Discovery Park, with a variety of historic sites to see along the way.
Or, for a family cycling adventure, visit Lough Boora Discovery Park which has a network of cycling routes suitable for all ages. This includes the 9.3km Mesolithic Route which passes fascinating bog sculptures, the Boora Pyramid and natural scenery. There are also a variety of walking trails, including a Fairy Trail, if you prefer to explore by foot!
If you’re searching for a peaceful stroll in beautiful surroundings, then there’s no better place to visit than Offaly. Home to the Slieve Bloom Mountains, there’s a variety of trails to choose from depending on your preference and fitness level. In fact, there’s a total of 17 looped walks, ranging in distance from 4km to 75km! You’ll experience a mixture of forest paths, winding rivers, mountain views, and lush valleys.
Then, combine nature with science, and head to Birr Castle Demesne, which contains Ireland’s largest telescope, as well as 120 acres of parklands and gardens to explore. Grab a coffee at the café on-site and then stroll around the stunning grounds. As Birr Castle Demesne is known for its science feats, there’s also a seven-gallery Science Centre, making a visit to the castle an educational and relaxing day out for all the family. Don’t forget to check out the Treehouse Playground, which is a huge hit with kids!
Another easy-going walking option is Clara Boardwalk. This 1km looped walk along a timber boardwalk takes you around Clara Bog, which is one of the best remaining examples of a raised bog in Ireland. This is a tranquil place for a stroll.
Research has shown that being near, or in water, can provide benefits for your mind and body. This includes lowering stress and increasing an overall sense of wellbeing. An enjoyable activity on the water for family or friends is kayaking. Mid Ireland Adventure based on Banagher on the Shannon has kayaks for rental and it’s an exciting way to explore the majestic River Shannon.
Alternatively, if you want to avoid getting into the water, take a relaxing cruise along the River Shannon. Silverline Cruisers provide cruisers to rent and you discover the many historic towns and sights along the Shannon, including Shannonbridge, a popular destination for angling, and the famous monastic site of Clonmacnoise.
For the bird lover, Offaly provides fantastic bird-watching opportunities. For example, the River Little Brosna Callows on the Offaly-Tipperary border is one of the top 10 places to see wintering waterfowl in Ireland.
Over 130 bird species have been recorded in Lough Boora Discovery Park, including the endangered wild Grey Partridge. There are many bird hides located across the park, all you need to bring is a good pair of binoculars and a camera to capture some shots!