I always thought I was a little allergic to clubs. There is something about the idea that involves committees and bubbling resentments among the members. But we live and learn, and the clubs are having a well-deserved time. Great for dipping a toe into something new, clubs are all about learning new things about the things you are passionate about, meeting like-minded people, and most importantly, making sure you don’t give up on a hobby that can become a passion for life.
GAA hardly needs to be introduced. Ditto for golf and tennis clubs. While golf and tennis courts can be extremely expensive, with on-demand-only prices and long waiting lists, for every K Club or Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club there will be a local location with affordable membership and you won’t need crisp white to get a swing. Tennis can also be a very social sport, with many clubs having round robin tournaments during the summer, where you can play games with others at your level, from beginner to higher. Find your local tennis club at tennisireland.ie, and the same for golf at golfireland.ie. If you’ve never tried GAA, you can find a social, non-competitive game of hurling or soccer in your area with the “Dads and Lads” and “Mothers and Others” games, intended for beginners and inexperienced adult players. . Check with your local GAA club for details, see gaa.ie
Learn the difference between a birder and a twitcher and never miss another rare corncrake sighting again. Birdwatch Ireland has clubs all over the country, where you can go to conferences, take walks, and talk to other feather enthusiasts. Membership starts at € 30, with details of local clubs on birdwatchireland.ie. Also find links to avian sites in Ireland and around the world at irishbirding.com, where you will quickly find yourself clicking link after link as you are distracted by lapwings, caught by cuckoos and amazed by Audubons. You don’t need any special equipment other than a rain hat, possibly binoculars, and the ability to stay quiet at the right time. Oh and since you asked: a twitcher ticks the birds – much like a trainpotter (with apologies to both parties), while a bird watcher likes to take his time.
Much like owning a boat, buying a horse is the cheapest part of owning a horse, but you can have a lot of pony fun without owning an animal. Start at your local stables and work your way up from there to the full gallop. Then you can start having fun with clubs like the Riding Club and Polocrosse. A group lesson for an adult costs around € 30-40 an hour (€ 35 at Feeney Equestrian Center in Galway, feeneysequestriancentre.com) and when your local center is sure you know where you are at, a lot will allow you to hire a horse for club outings and polocrosse tournaments (the Carrickmines equestrian center charges around € 30 per hour, carrickminesequestrian.ie).
Polocrosse is brilliant pleasure. Essentially in horse lacrosse, you can zoom in while hitting objects with sticks. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, join the Irish Polocrosse Association (polocrosseireland.com) to compete in tournaments in Ireland all summer long. Or try Riding Club (airc.ie) for competitions, social outings, hikes, workouts and more. Membership around € 100. Riding helmet and safety boots a must have, but you don’t need the rest of the fancy gear until you really have mastered it.
Have a ball
It seems like there is no end to what you can achieve with a net and a ball. Roundnet (also known in the United States as Spikeball) isn’t the latest craze, it’s been around since the late 1980s, but is experiencing a revival. Two teams of two use their hands to strike a ball into a round ankle-high net, with just three passes allowed between team members before hitting the net and changing possession. It is easy to understand and there are many ways to score extra points. A basic starter kit costs € 59.95. Buy and register at roundnetireland.com to connect with a community and find tournaments and events on fields and beaches across the country in July and August, ahead of the National Championships in Dublin on September 4.
Direction the hills
If the idea of mountaineering reminds you of that track at the start of Mission Impossible 2, where Tom Cruise is hanging off the side of a large chunk of rock, think again. Yes, you might end up taking the challenge and meeting other sharp people if you are already at that level, but in Mountaineering Ireland you will also find beginner’s events, as well as some great walking, hiking and trekking clubs. pleasant. Membership fees starting at € 35 per year cover your insurance, while individual clubs have their own membership fees on top of that – usually less than € 50 per year, and weekly meetings will certainly keep you going. . Some say the best is the sandwiches (or the drinks afterwards), and you’ll need good boots and pants. Beginner’s mistake? Wear jeans. Apparently they are dangerous when wet. alpinisme.fr
Men’s sheds are great if (a) you’re a man and (b) don’t know what you want to turn your hand or foot to but want to do something about it. From walking to music sessions to installing birdhouses, membership fees vary from club to club, but since their philosophy is not to cost too much and they try not to refuse. nobody, you have to fight your way. Find your local, or information on how to settle down on menssheds.ie
Judging by the clusters of dry coats at every aquatic crossroads and roadside in Ireland, swimming would be the hottest thing if it wasn’t a bit chilly there. Swim Ireland has a handy map of local clubs (swimireland.ie), from the Sandycove Island Masters in Kinsale to the Athlone Waterpolo Club, from the Kilkenny Swimmers to the Splashworld Sharks in Tramore. Don’t let that put you off, these serious faces aren’t hostile, they’re just gearing up to take the plunge. Some clubs are very competitive, some are great for finding safe places to swim, while others will take children out of the waterwings, safely. It all depends on local enthusiasm and geography. Membership fees vary (from € 5), as does the status of individual club websites. Fees include membership in Swim Ireland. Also check out outdoorwimming.ie for blogs on where to swim safely, although the best places are usually well-kept secrets.
On the water not in the water
There are many ways to glide across the water, from the gentle grace of a SUP (stand-up paddle) to the more elaborate thrills of dashing through whiter waters by kayak or canoe. (By the way, you kneel in a canoe and sit in a kayak.) Canoeing Ireland (canoe.ie) has a map with information on local clubs, but no live links – but, for example, l Membership in the Galway Kayak club costs € 145 and includes membership in Canoeing Ireland. Once registered, you will be able to practice whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking and even kayaking polo, galwaykayakclub.com. Clubs vary, but beginners can usually borrow gear until they’re hooked. You will tend to need a wetsuit, safety hat, life jacket, and maybe a boat of your own, possibly.
Once you’ve got over your shyness, painting outdoors (or outdoors) is fun. You have to be prepared for people to come and look over your shoulder as you handle your brush, which is why it is much more enjoyable to do this in a group. The Dublin Plein Air Painting Festival takes place July 19-21, including workshops and craic competitions, register for € 65 on dublinpleinair.ie, or there is Wexford’s Art in the Open from July 30 to August 1, 40 €. Find him, and other local clubs at pleinire.ning.com
Here’s one for the pub quiz or crossword clue: caving. That means studying or exploring caves, so if dark enclosed spaces with the eerie, mysterious drip aren’t your thing, look away now. Ireland is full of shining caves and to help you explore, membership in the Caving Union of Ireland costs € 29 basic, or € 112.50 including individual accident insurance. Find them on caving.ie, where you’ll also find local club details, including some fascinating add-ons – such as yoga for cavers, via the Dublin Caving Group (on Facebook).
The folks at Astronomy Ireland must be wonderful optimists, pitting their stargazing skills against Ireland’s unpredictable weather, but what a joy to learn your Mars from your Saturn and your Rigel from your Betelgeuse. Join Astronomy Ireland from € 60 on astronomy.ie. The Armagh Planetarium is also a great place for stargazing, and you can search for astral events month by month on armagh.space. Or set off on the darkest nights of Ireland’s Starry Sky Parks, low light spots in Mayo (mayodarkskypark.ie), Kerry (kerrydarkskytourism.com) and Omagh (omdarksky.com). All websites have events and local club memberships.
Astronomy in Ireland has a rich pedigree, the Great Birr Castle Telescope being the largest in the world when the Third Earl of Rosse designed and built it in the 1840s. Little known fact: Mary Rosse, Countess of Rosse was an accomplished blacksmith and made many pieces of metal for her construction. See the telescope on birrcastle.com and go solo with an app like Sky Guide (iPhone only for $ 2.99) where you can even lie in your bed and identify the stars you would have seen without the roof.
For every seemingly random passion, there will be other people eager to try it out. Meet Up is your mecca for finding groups in everything from mushroom hunting and Argentine tango to urban gardening. Find them all at meetup.com, where you can also start your own sessions. Pro tip: Simply add / ie at the end of the web address for each category you find to narrow your results to Ireland.