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Here is a list of the 20 best things to do in Ireland in September that are worth checking out.
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1. The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, Sept. 1st – 30th (date to be confirmed)
This iconic matchmaking event has been a tradition in the small town of Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, for at least 150 years, and today, it draws at least 40,000 people looking for love or maybe just a bit of Irish “craic.”
Back in the day, it was difficult for farmers to meet the right woman and so a local matchmaker decided to step in and create an opportunity for them.
Willie Daly is the town’s resident third-generation matchmaker following in the steps of his father and grandfather.
You’ll find him making suitable matches in the town’s Matchmaker Bar.
The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is considered Europe’s largest singles event, with music in all the local pubs every weekend during the month.
2. The Clifden Community Arts Festival, Sept. 14th – 24th (2024 dates not yet released)
If you’re looking for an excuse to explore the beautiful Connemara region of County Galway from Sept. 14th through the 24th, why not check out this enjoyable community arts festival that takes place in Clifden, the most western part of the county?
Now in its 47th year, the festival includes a great selection of events that cover theater, dance, poetry, music, and art.
This year's schedule of events has not yet been revealed, but if it's anything like last year's festival, be prepared to experience a high-quality artistic program that includes creative writing, music, theatre and film workshops and performances taking place throughout the town.
3. Walk the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail in County Fermanagh
Also known as “The Stairway to Heaven,” this invigorating 4-mile/6-km trek in County Fermanagh is the perfect adventure to take in September when the days are still long and the weather is mild.
The walking route will take you first through a beautiful limestone landscape and then you'll notice the environment changing to a blanket bog, with the Cuilcagh Mountains in the distance.
You'll be walking on a gravel path for the first 3 miles or so and then on a boardwalk in the latter stages.
Be prepared for the steep climb over a series of steps that leads to a viewing platform and fabulous views of the surrounding countryside.
4. The Armagh Food and Cider Weekend, Sept. 7th – 10th (Dates for 2024 to be announced)
County Armagh is known as Orchard County and so it’s no surprise that one of its most popular events is The Armagh Food and Cider Weekend.
But it’s not just about apples and cider. There’s also a range of food-related events to enjoy over what promises to be a fun weekend.
Some of the cool events that took place in 2023 included a Foodie Film Night at Crannagael House countryside; a woodland supper that was held on the edge of Gosford Forest Park, a Murder Mystery Dinner at the Armagh Cider Company, and a food and cider walking tour that began at the Charlemont Arms Hotel in Armagh City.
Find a B&B in County Armagh
5. Galway International Oyster Festival, Sept. 27th – 29th
Seafood is the central focus of this popular event, but you don’t have to be an oyster lover to enjoy the Galway International Oyster Festival.
The main event is the National Oyster Opening Championship, which takes place on opening night.
That’s when competitors vie for the chance to win the Irish Oyster Opening Cup by becoming the fastest person to open 30 oysters and present them to the judges.
The winner qualifies for a spot in the world competition, which takes place the next day.
The Mardi Gras Gala is another popular highlight of the festival, as is the free Féile Bia Na Mara bash on Sunday, Sept. 24th, where you can enjoy cooking demos, live music, and free tastings.
6. Waterford Harvest Festival, Sept. 8th – 10th (2024 dates to be announced)
Local food is at the heart of the Waterford Harvest Festival, including the traditional Waterford blaas, an authentic Irish roll recipe that is unique to this part of Ireland.
But there’s a lot more on offer at this fun food festival, including cooking demos, harvest suppers, and more.
So, be sure to check it out if you're visiting Ireland's sunny southeast.
7. Dublin Fringe Festival, Sept. 7th – 22nd
The Dublin Fringe Festival attracts up to 30,000 people each year and this year, over 400 artists are set to entertain audiences for 16 days in various venues across Dublin, including entertainment in the form of dance, theater, live art, visual art, and music.
Check out all of the various performers on the festival website.
8. Inishbofin Tidings Storytelling Festival, Sept. 8th – 10th (2024 dates not yet released)
Inishbofin isn’t as familiar to visitors as its neighbor, the Aran Islands, but it is just as beautiful and this year, the island is playing host to the first Inishbofin Tidings Storytelling Festival.
Over two days, you can enjoy a program that includes storytelling-related events, workshops, and theater that is suitable for both adults and children.
Details of this year's festival are not currently on the festival website, but check back often for updates.
If you plan on being in Inishbofin later in September, you won't want to miss the Bia Bó Finne Food Festival, which is making a comeback after a 4-year absence. It will take place from Sept. 22nd through the 24th.
Events include cookery demonstrations, wine and whiskey tasting workshops, food trails, and more. The cost is €55 per person.
9. Take a Hike and See Some Awesome Scenery from The Caves of Kesh
September is still a great month in Ireland for hiking and this hike, in particular, is well worth the effort.
Archaeologists say that the Caves of Kesh in County Sligo are older than the Egyptian pyramids based on research that was conducted in the early 20th century when animal bones were found dating from the Ice Age.
The caves overlook the village of Keash, not far from the town of Ballymote.
If you want to explore this area on your own, you can park your car at the bottom and then make your way up to the caves, some of which are pretty deep. Be sure to wear the proper footwear.
You can also take a tour from the visitor center at The Fox's Den in Keash.
Guided tours are offered twice a day from April through September and once a day for the rest of the year, weather permitting.
Once you get there, be sure to take plenty of Instagrammable-worthy photos from this spectacular spot.
10. See Rare First-Edition Books in this Wicklow Restaurant
While most restaurants are simply places to relax and have a bite, there’s one really cool eatery tucked away in the heart of the County Wicklow countryside that holds a surprising collection of books.
The Irish Writers Room at the Wicklow Heather Restaurant & House contains first editions of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (still in its original wrapping), along with an original program from the world premiere of Oscar Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Ernest,” among other treasures.
The restaurant is an easy 5-minute drive from the Glendalough Monastic Site.
There’s also a small bar in the corner of the restaurant that features a wide variety of Irish whiskey brands.
11. Take a Boat Tour of the Sligo and Mayo Coast
Enniscrone native Peter O’Neill’s love of the sea didn’t happen by accident. His late father and grandfather were both fishermen.View this post on Instagram
The local businessman is taking it a step further by offering boat tours that begin in this popular County Sligo seaside resort, bringing visitors across Killala Bay and beyond to sites like the Dun Briste stack at Downpatrick, off the Ceide coastline, as well as other attractions.
September is still a great time to take a boat ride in the waters off the Wild Atlantic Way.
Be sure to check out Enniscrone Boat Tours on Instagram if you want to take an exhilarating, fast-paced boat trip and enjoy all that this part of Ireland has to offer.
12. Spend a Fine September Day at this Outstanding Stone Circle in Cork
While not nearly as large as Stonehenge in England, the Drombeg Stone Circle in County Cork is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland.
It originally consisted of 17 closely spaced stones, but only 13 survive today.
Radiocarbon dating of samples taken near the stones suggests that it was used around 1,100-800 B.C.
Artifacts discovered at the site include a pot that contained the cremated remains of an adolescent wrapped in a thick cloth.
Why not spend a fine day in Ireland in September imagining the sacred rituals that might have taken place in this rural spot, known locally as The Druid’s Altar?
13. Take a Walk Around Moore Hall in County Mayo
In the middle of the County Mayo countryside on the shores of Lough Carra lies the shell of a former grand home.
If you’re visiting Ballintubber Abbey, Moore Hall is a 10-minute drive away.
The house once belonged to George Moore, who made his money abroad in the wine and brandy trade and with his substantial wealth was able to build Moore Hall, which was occupied continuously from 1795 until 1910.
Anti-treaty sympathizers burned the grand house on Feb. 1, 1923, leaving it a ruin.
The gang of IRA men was opposed to the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, which essentially split Ireland into two, the 26 counties now known as The Republic of Ireland, and the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, which pledged allegiance to the Crown and remain part of the U.K.
Moore Hall is a lovely day trip any time of year but in September, the fall colors appear, and you can take a looped walk around the grounds to enjoy nature and the many carvings of forest animals that are on the property.
14. Enjoy the Autumn Colors at Glenariff Forest in Antrim
Glenariff Forest Park, which is in a region known as Glenariff, is one of the famous Glens of Antrim and is actually known as the “Queen of the Glens.”
And rightly so.
This beautiful forest, about a 20-minute drive from Ballymena, is a National Nature Reserve and contains a mix of planted woodlands, recreational spaces, lakes, and waterfalls.
There are several walks that you can take in Glenariff Forest Park. They include the Scenic Trail, the Glenariff Forest Park Waterfall Walk, The Viewpoint Trail, and the Rainbow Trail.
The circular Scenic Trail is the longest at 5.9 miles (9 km) but offers the most spectacular views and it is where you can see Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre on a good day.
While you’re in the neighborhood, you might want to hop on the winding Torr Head Scenic Route, a 45-minute drive that goes between Ballycastle and Cushenden and offers up more fabulous views of the Northern Ireland coastline.
15. Take a Sightseeing Cruise Along the River Corrib from Galway
Today it’s overgrown with vegetation but there’s a dark history to Menlo Castle, a 16th-century structure that lies on the banks of the Corrib River.
The castle belonged to the Blakes, once described as the richest family in Galway. They lived there from 1600 to 1910, at which time a fire engulfed the building and took with it Lord and Lady Blake’s disabled daughter Eleanor and two maids.
While a walk to the deserted castle is doable, taking a boat trip on the Corrib Princess seems like the more enjoyable alternative and on a beautiful September day, it might just be the highlight of your trip to Galway City, a few short miles away.
16. Visit the Home of Ireland’s Last Leprechauns
Whether you believe in leprechauns or not, there’s at least one man in Ireland who certainly does.
Kevin Woods, known in the local Carlingford, County Louth, community as the Leprechaun Whisperer, claims that he has seen three leprechauns in his lifetime.
Why not take a tour and see for yourself?
17. View the Preserved Art Studio of an Erratic Dublin-Born Painter
Visiting Ireland in September doesn’t mean you should spend all your time indoors.
At the excellent Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, which is free to visit, you’ll find a recreation of Francis Bacon’s London studio that was broken down into parts and moved to the Dublin museum in 1998.
Bacon, who was born in the city, is known for his confrontational figurative painting style.
The chaotic nature of this recreated art studio isn’t surprising given the erratic nature of a life that was fueled by violence and alcohol abuse.
Over 7,000 articles were collected and cataloged, including paintbrushes, art supplies, even the dust from his studio.
The ceiling, walls, and narrow staircase were also taken away and reinstalled at the back of the museum, where you will find this interesting display.
Bacon died in Madrid in 1992. His work can be found in art museums around the world.
18. Harvest Time Blues Festival, Monaghan, Sept. 1st – 3rd (2024 dates to be announced)
If you’re a Blues lover, you won’t want to miss this festival, which takes place in the town of Monaghan.
Expect several events to take place at this increasingly popular music event in Ireland, including music in the marquee each night, acoustic sessions in The Market House, as well as a Blues Trail around the town’s pubs, including a program of free gigs.
Keep an eye on the festival’s Facebook page for updates.
Are you planning a visit to Ireland in September? Let me know in the comments below.