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“Being active is my thing, I loved it” – Greg O’Shea explores the Slieve Bloom Mountains
Greg O'Shea embraced the outdoors on his trip to the Slieve Bloom Mountains.
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After an unforgettable summer playing rugby for Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics, Greg O’Shea was in search of a relaxing getaway. With peaceful trails, stunning scenery, and incredible food, he couldn't miss an opportunity to visit the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

The friendly welcome made Greg instantly feel at home, “I met some people who lived in the area, and it was like I’d known them for years. It’s a real Irish thing“.

Discover the great outdoors

Posting about his upcoming trip to the Slieve Bloom Mountains on social media, Greg was flooded with recommendations of places to go and things to do in Laois and Offaly.

“Thousands of people recommended places. I was wrecked by the end of the week trying to fit everything in. The local tips were amazing”. 

As an athlete, Greg is drawn to outdoor activities, and after a walk around the Rock of Dunamase, he rented an e-bike from Bloom Eriders to take on the Slieve Bloom mountain biking trails.

Greg O'Shea sitting on ruins at the Rock of Dunamase, Laois
Greg learnt about the history of the region at the Rock of Dunamase.

“It was my first time mountain biking, I’ve been cycling before, but it was my first time out on the trails and it’s a whole other ball game. I’d definitely do it again.

“The e-bikes were amazing and I was thinking they would be brilliant for my parents. They wouldn’t be interested in cycling up the hills, but I could see them using e-bikes as they make the trails accessible for everyone”. 

Invigorated by his time biking, Greg then went horse riding with at the Birr Equestrian Centre.

“I absolutely loved the horse riding. There’s something so raw about sitting on the back of an animal and running across a mountain range. 

“I got such an adrenaline rush from it. I’m thinking about taking up horse riding now. Being active is my thing, so I loved the mountain biking and horse riding and I think any other active person would too”. 

Greg O'Shea surrounded by trees while mountain biking in Offaly
Greg took on the epic mountain bike trails.

Soak up the tranquil scenery

After all the action, Greg slowed things down and enjoyed the tranquillity of the Slieve Blooms with a spot of fishing in Laois. Home to prestigious fishing competitions, the Laois Angling Centre is a fantastic place for beginners to learn how to fish.

“Laois is the place to be for fishing in Ireland. It was such good craic, you get some buzz from pulling a fish out of the water. We released the fish back in afterwards though”.

Greg O'Shea standing outside Laois Angling Centre
Get expert fishing tips in Laois.

Eager to experience more of the beautiful landscape around him, Greg found a walking trail to the picturesque Glenbarrow Waterfall. With two routes to the top, he opted for the 90 minute long blue trail, leaving the longer yellow trail for his next visit.

“By the time I got up to the top I needed to cool off, so I jumped in. It was freezing but so refreshing”. 

Greg O'Shea standing outside The Great Telescope at Birr Castle, Offaly
Greg was in awe of Birr Castle Demesne and The Great Telescope.

Hearing about Birr Castle Demesne, Greg knew that he had to go and check it out for himself. Set on a sprawling demesne of mature woodland and walled gardens, visitors are encouraged to wander around the grounds.

No visit to Birr Castle Demesne is complete without seeing ‘The Great Telescope’, the largest telescope in the world from 1845 to 1917.

“Daniel at Birr Castle Demesne made the visit special, his knowledge about the place was insane. He gave us a fantastic tour and told us all about the telescope – it was the biggest in the world for 70 years”.

Enjoy the finer things in life

Greg stayed at Kinnitty Castle Hotel where the bedrooms feature high ceilings, opulent décor, and rolltop baths. Take inspiration from the Love Island star and live like royalty for a night, soaking up the magic of this characterful castle hotel. 

“If you want a traditional castle experience, Kinnitty Castle Hotel is the place to go, it has a real genuine feel. There’s a lot of history in the area and you’re right in the Slieve Bloom Mountains too. The staff in the castle are brilliant, they actually made the decorations for the nearby fairy trails as well”.

Greg O'Shea standing outside Kinnitty Castle, Offaly
Enjoy the atmosphere at Kinnitty Castle.

Delighted with the breakfast in the hotel, Greg’s foodie journey continued throughout Laois and Offaly.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to The Thatch, it’s a proper Irish pub. There was great food at The Pantry in Portlaoise and The River Restaurant too, the food was a huge part of what made the trip so good”. 

Plan a holiday to the Slieve Blooms

Still buzzing from the charm and beauty of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Greg is delighted that he took the time to explore this hidden pocket of Ireland.

“I’d heard about the Slieve Bloom Mountains plenty of times before, but I’d never been there. I’ve seen the sign going from Limerick to Dublin, and I’m so happy that I finally went. It’s just gorgeous there”.

Head over to our Ireland’s Ancient East page and discover this wonderful part of Ireland, just like Greg. 

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