In Ocober 2019, Journalists & Outdoor Photographers Paolo Meitre Libertini and Magherita Valcanover were invited by Tourism Ireland & Failte Ireland for a Trail Running few days around Ireland. Their journey started in Glendalough in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains. They then made their way to Connemara, Achill and Donegal. From their trip, they brought back some stunning photos and an article that featured on the newspaper L’Eco Di Bergamo.
Translated from Italian by Francesco Di Domenico
Ireland is one of those few countries in the world that makes you feel like you have already been there at least once, with its epic landscapes, steep cliffs overlooking the sea and ruins of castles with a lost-in-time allure. Endless peat bogs and grazing sheeps, the only living things in those empty moors that give a scale to the surrounding landscape. Ireland is well known through its most famous pictures, but how can we turn these pictures into a more intimate experience that goes beyond what is already known to everyone?
Nothing like outdoors activities can give the discovery of a new place some additional feelings, perceptions and emotions. All of these find an even more important space in Ireland, thanks to its nature that is both powerful and delicate at the same time. Cycling holidays and horseback riding would require a dedicated trip, because of their extremely well developed and signalled webs. Nevertheless, one of the most beautiful and still not very explored activities to practice in Ireland is running, trail running or, even more simply, hiking. Ireland is a land to run, it seems like it was made for it, a runner’s opinion!
Certainly variable, and famous for this, Irish weather is not an easy one to describe. Never too cold, and also never too hot, it’s ideal for aerobic activities. Winters and summers are mild, with the temperatures ranging around 5-8°C in the colder months and rarely going over 20-22°Cin the warmer months. Snow is a rare event and it doesn’t obstruct outdoors activities. When it rains, it usually doesn’t last long and the variability of weather conditions gives playful light conditions and an everchanging, iridescent atmosphere. Rain won’t last long, but if it should do so, every little village has their own cultural treasures to discover. The wind that sweeps the famous Irish clouds blows lively, but if well equipped, it isn’t a great inconvenience.
The terrain where to run is one of the peculiar aspects of running-based activities: road, dirt track, trails, there are plenty of choices for every taste and need. Disentangling one’s way out of the infinite peat bogs may look a difficult task, but with an accurate search, the multitude of trails will come out, considering how many there are, especially in the great National Parks – a true hidden pearl in Ireland. Established in 1969 by the Irish Government, they are six in total and are a real landscape show of all Ireland. The ideal start when visiting them would be the Visitor Center (there is one in every Park), that will help you orient among the trails and the many local beauties and natural treasures.
The Wicklow Mountains are a good example: set in Eastern Ireland, they are the biggest mountain range of the island and within them there are a multitude of trails perfect for trail running. These trails untie on the mountain ridges, mountainsides or also in coves with opalescent blue lakes, looking almost like fjords. Another example is the Connemara Park, with its peat expances that make Diamond Hill stand out, one of the most famous peaks where you can appreciate one of the most moving sunsets in the whole West coast.
But in the end, all that it takes are just a good pair of running shoes to make your running easy anywhere in Ireland, along its endless, non-busy roads leading to pure white beaches, nestled among rocks or protruding on the roaring ocean. Along the indented side of its cliffs you reach the great North, to which the lonely runner aims. The slow experiences of outdoor activities give unique memories, corroborated by the local dishes and drinks of Irish cooking.
All photos Copyright Paolo Meitre Libertini