Warm rain, cool surfers and fast horses in Ireland this July

While for many, summer in Ireland is when the rain is warm, for sports fans at least, things are hotting up.

Cricket anyone? It may not be Ireland’s most popular pastimes but it is more popular since Ireland’s epic run into the Super8 of the 2007 Cricket World Cup since when it  developed a new fan base and onto through to the heady days of 2011 when Ireland recorded a historic victory over rivals England in the World Cup. In July they face Afghanistan three times as part of the World Cricket League and the ICC Intercontinental Cup in the Clontarf Cricket Club and the Leinster Cricket Club respectively.

There is nowhere to hide from GAA in Ireland in July. As the biggest and most popular sport (dating back to the ancient Tailteann games which took place right up until the Middle Ages), the provincial finals of the Leinster, Connacht, Munster and Ulster Senior Football and Hurling championships take place with every one of the 32 counties competing to be provincial kingpins. No shortage of venues wherever you are, Croke Park in Dublin, Fitzgerald Stadium in the Kingdom, St. Tiernan’s Park right up there in Clones or a host of other venues. “Nothing beats being there” is the old championship slogan, so you too can witness the silverware of the world’s oldest field games being lifted at a venue near you.  And for the idealists amongst you, savour the thought that all this passion and emotion is played out by amateurs, the most professional ones of course. Managers and players are in it for the glory, accolades, sense of competition, to win, all values considered higher than money in a most professional sport.

Even with the ongoing European Soccer Championships, the domestic soccer season will continue in earnest in July. Whether you want to check out a match in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick or many other towns across the country, the League of Ireland will have a game for you. Witness the history and tradition of Shamrock Rovers, Shelbourne and Athlone Town battle it out in the country’s domestic leagues this summer in a ground near you.

With a long and distinguished equine tradition, both home and abroad, there are a number of exciting horse racing festivals in July, with the Curragh in Kildare an ever popular venue. Having played host to some of the biggest races in the world in the past, the Curragh will come alive this July as the Irish Oaks racing comes to town for a weekend. Bellewstown, Meath and Killarney, Kerry also play host to some stunning horse racing events during the month.

And the biggest racing festival of them all is of course, the Galway races.  Held on the last Monday of July annually, it is the longest of the race meets in the country. Believed to have started in 1869 and while they haven’t been going 24/7 since they do last for seven days. Ladies day is the most stylish and busiest day of the week, and over 150,000 people are expected to attend the festival. So put on a nice frock or top hat and check out the fillies, fabulous fashion and have a flutter in Galway this summer.

Still on the four-legged theme and if the gee gees aren’t enough, you could always just go to the dogs, at some of Ireland’s most historic tracks that is. Enjoy a fun packed night at Shelbourne Park, Youghal, Harold’s Cross and Galway, all of which provide great hospitality with restaurants and bars for you to relax, socialise in and flutter away that hard earned cash.

Shhhh…..surfing is one of Ireland’s best kept secrets with the wild waves lashing the west making this sport increasingly popular. So while for the rest of us armchair anoraks, high waves and strong winds spell high stools, for the hardy surf dudes, it’s a perfect combo. Ireland’s Atlantic coast is home to some of the best surfing destinations in Europe, with Achill in Mayo and Lahinch in Clare right up there while Bundoran has long been known as the Irish Mecca of surfing. So this July don’t miss out on Sea Sessions Surf & Music Festival, an event which allows surfers of all levels enjoy the choppy waters off the rugged North-West coast, regardless of the weather.

Mondello Park in Kildare is Ireland’s only international motorsport venue. During July it offers a range of events sure to keep racing junkies entertained. Motorcycles, cars. Mondello has it all. On the first day of the month, the Time-Attack Championship Pro Car Racing kicks off on the National Track. Speedily followed by the Irish National Motorcycle Racing Championship a week later and sure to excite motorcycle fans. The Irish Touring Car Championship arrives in Mondello near the end of the month for its Rounds 9 and 10.

And if you do manage to haul yourself away from the telly-feast of European soccer, rest assured there are a number of running and cycling events happening in July. Test yourself against other like minded competitors in the Triathlons of Belfast and Killarney and the Pheonix Park or the Kilkenny Half-Marathon. The Ring of Kerry cycle takes place annually on the Inveragh Penninsula, passing through the unspoilt Kingdom. So you can have fun and do good both for you and the good causes which benefit, without causing any impact on the environment.

The finale of the Volvo Ocean Race lands sails into Galway this July, with crowds of over 200,000 expected after last year’s success. The longest professional sports event in the world, the race consists of a nine-month sailing marathon that takes it through four oceans and five continents. To witness the world’s best sailors racing for the finish line and enjoy a carnival atmosphere on land to welcome them, be sure to make the Volvo Ocean Race final your priority as it enthrals the city of the tribes for a week this July.