With the sun shining and the 21 degree heat being warmly welcomed by all, there’s no time like the present to share my suggestions for exciting summer sports activities to enjoy. Why not get extremely organised (unlike myself) and book your accommodation and tickets in advance.

The summer promises sun, smiling and plenty of fun for everyone – although the sun part can be very hit and miss since it’s Ireland and not Spain we are talking about. But who needs Spain when you have great events to keep you more than occupied throughout the summer months. Here are some sporting events that are slightly off the beaten track that you should get involved in this summer.

Heineken Kinsale Sevens

Wooden Spoon Mens Elite Winners - Photo Credit - John Allen

Wooden Spoon Mens Elite Winners – Photo Credit – John Allen

Where: Kinsale, Co. Cork (surprise, surprise)

When: 1st May to 3rd May 2015

How Much: €15 for a day pass, €25 for a weekend pass

Europe’s premier seven-a-side club rugby event is back for another year. What started in 1988 with 12 teams participating to fund-raise for Kinsale RFC has turned into one of the favoured sporting weekends of the Irish summer calendar. Last year 8,000 players, spectators and locals enjoyed a weekend of fast paced competitive rugby (not to mention the wild antics that took place off the pitches).

For those of you not too fascinated by the beautiful game that is rugby and are perhaps more interested in the social element, this is definitely the event for you with a whole village to cater to your every food and beverage whim. The organisers are well accustomed to the unpredictable Irish climate, which is why they’ve got you ‘covered’ with both the bar and food hall housed indoors for your comfort.

When the festivities end in the rugby club, a regular shuttle bus is on hand to bring you the two miles back to Kinsale town where the party continues into the early hours of the morning, so make sure to stock up on sleep beforehand.

Enjoying the Celebrations - Photo Credit - John Allen

Enjoying the Celebrations – Photo Credit – John Allen

For tickets, accommodation and any other information check out the Heineken Kinsale Sevens website: https://www.kinsale7s.com/

Ireland Bike Fest

Men and their Bikes in Scenic Killarney - Photo Credit - Ireland Bike Fest

Men and their Bikes in Scenic Killarney – Photo Credit – Ireland Bike Fest

Where: Killarney, Co. Kerry

When: 29th May to 1st June 2015

How Much: FREE

The Ireland Bike Fest is an international motorcycle festival that has taken place annually since 2007 in Co. Kerry. It is Ireland’s only free open biker festival and it attracts every make and model of motorbike imaginable to the scenic roads of Killarney. Motorcycle enthusiasts and owners of all ages from an array of countries such as Ireland, France, Germany, Norway, Australia and the United States gather each year to enjoy the festivities.

Concerts, open-air gigs, test rides, and parades are all on offer and it is family friendly too. So if you are a diehard motorbike enthusiast, a wannabe Evel Kneivel or you just want something different for a family trip away, then get revved up with excitement for this great weekend.

Lil' Rider Enjoying the Event - Photo Credit - Ireland Bike Fest

Lil’ Rider Enjoying the Event – Photo Credit – Ireland Bike Fest

For more information about this event check out their website: http://www.irelandbikefest.com/

The Hodson Mile Swim

Ready to Brave the Elements  - Photo Credit - Agnes Timmons

Ready to Brave the Elements – Photo Credit – Agnes Timmons

Where: Athlone, Co. Westmeath

When: 18th July 2015

How Much: €25 to participate

If you are up for the challenge of dipping your feet in the icy cold waters of Lough Ree, located in the geographical centre of Ireland, then this is the event for you. Standing on a tiny island, within view of every swimmer as they complete their challenge, is the famous “Hodson Pillar” – said to be the most central point in Ireland.

Registration for participants is ongoing, but be warned, whether you do the mile swim or opt for the 750 metres, there are said to have been many sightings of sea monsters, so swim quickly!

Race Ya! Photo Credit - Agnes Timmons

Race Ya! Photo Credit – Agnes Timmons

For more information see the website http://www.openwaterswimmer.ie/

Croagh Patrick Climb

Croagh Patrick Summit - Photo Credit - John Finn - flickr

Croagh Patrick Summit – Photo Credit – John Finn – flickr

Where: Westport, Co. Mayo

When: 26th July 2015

How Much: FREE

This is the annual pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick, one of the most ancient practices in Ireland. It is believed there has been an unbroken tradition of climbing Croagh Patrick at the end of the summer for over 5,000 years so why not indulge in a bit of ancient Irish history and take part in this years’ pilgrimage along with an estimated 20,000 other participants. For an extra challenge (as if getting to the top wasn’t enough), it is a tradition that most pilgrims do the climb barefoot, which is no easy feat seeing as the terrain is more rocky than grassy.

While it is associated with Christianity and St. Patrick, people nowadays climb the mountain for their own reasons and not necessarily on the day of the pilgrimage. But regardless of when they climb they don’t usually regret it when they see the view from the top, so why not give it a go. It won’t put a dent in your pocket either.

More information can be found on the website: http://www.croagh-patrick.com/visitorcentre/need-know

All Ireland Poc Fada Championship Finals

An Poc Fada - Photo Credit - Sean Ryan (flickr)

An Poc Fada – Photo Credit – Sean Ryan (flickr)

Where: Annaverna Mountain, Co. Louth

When: 1st August 2015

How Much: FREE

An Poc Fada (long puck) will celebrate its 54th anniversary this August. Now, for those of you not too familiar with what the hell I am talking about, the championships are the only national contests for individual players of both Camogie and Hurling (our national sport). The aim of the contest is that individuals who are nominated by their county try to hit the sliotar (ball) with the hurley along the course. The winner is the person who completes the course using the least amount of pucks or hits.

This is a just for fun event and is a great opportunity for any tourists visiting Ireland or anyone who has an interest in climbing the lovely Annaverna mountain over their August bank holiday weekend (while some are scrambling to finish their dissertation).

To learn more about what this event even is, try their website: http://www.anpocfada.net/

Bulmers Live at Leopardstown 2015

And They're Off! - Photo Credit - ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

And They’re Off! – Photo Credit – ©INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

Where: Leopardstown Racecourse, Co. Dublin

When: Every Thursday from 11th June to 13th August 2015

How Much: €15 (student) or €13.50 if bought online to €30 (top level seat)

What’s better than a great day at the races? How about a great day at the races with equally great live music? If you enjoy both then this ongoing event is right up your street. With very reasonably priced tickets you can save your money for the important things… like betting on the horses of course!

Bulmers Live consists of 8 fun filled Thursday evenings at the races. Starting at 6pm people don’t even have to miss work, so there are no excuses for not going at least once or twice over the summer period. The line-up has been announced and it doesn’t disappoint, with Paddy Casey opening the bill on the first Thursday night they are followed by some seriously talented Irish bands and singers each week such as Delorentos, Hermitage Green and Damien Dempsey with more to be announced closer to the time.

These nights are the ultimate start to any great weekend so get your festival on and head to Leopardstown this summer. For tickets, line ups or general information about these events take a look at the website: http://www.leopardstown.com/Leopardstown/Whats-On/Bulmers-Live-at-Leopardstown/

Rocking Out in Leopardstown - Photo Credit - ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Johnny Marr Rocking Out in Leopardstown – Photo Credit – ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Make the most of your summer and get down to some of these great events, try something different and make new friends along the way.