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picnic spots

5 picnic spots around Ireland to seek out by car this summer

From a West Cork forest hideout to Ireland’s only fjord.

THE PROMISE OF a picnic lunch can turn a long drive into something altogether more appealing, especially if there are kids involved.

With the weather picking up, there’s no better time to dine al fresco on your day out, and we’ve handpicked five spots around Ireland that are ideal for an outdoor lunch.

Make up some sandwiches, pack up the car and head for one of these scenic picnic points…

Gougane Barra Forest Park, Cork

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Cork’s River Lee rises in the hills of Gougane Barra, flowing into Cork Harbour some 89km away. The streams, valleys, mountains and lake mean you certainly won’t be short of spots to tuck into a picnic spread.

Getting there: From Cork city, head west toward Macroom (the quickest route is along the N22), and onwards to Ballingeary. Gougane Barra is 7km south-west of Ballingeary, off the R854.

If it rains: Shelter with a cup of tea and a homemade scone from Cronin’s Cafe in the Gougane Barra Hotel on the water’s edge.

Killary Harbour, Galway/Mayo border

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Located in the heart of Connemara, the fjord at Killary Harbour forms a natural border between Galway and Mayo. It’s also an incredible picnicking spot, with views down into the water below.

Getting there: From Galway, take the N59 toward Maam Cross, then follow the road to Leenane – about a 75-minute drive. Follow signs from there for Killary Fjord.

If it rains: Killary Fjord Boat Tours will take you on an hour long cruise round the harbour, and there’s a full bar and restaurant on board. Alternatively you can seek out some shelter under the awning at the Misunderstood Heron food truck on the Derrynsliggaun Road, serving homemade treats to hikers.

Hook Peninsula, Co Wexford

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Picnic on the lush grounds of Dunbrody Abbey just outside New Ross, or pack up your picnic basket and make for Hook Lighthouse.

Getting there: From Dublin, it’s a 2h 20 minute drive to the southernmost tip of Wexford, along the M7 and M9 towards New Ross.

If it rains: Make for the Hook Lighthouse Cafe, or indulge your sweet tooth at Grangeville House Tea Rooms at Fethard-on-sea.

Coumshingaun Glacial Lake, Waterford

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Walkers happy to take a moderate uphill stroll for 30 minutes or so are well rewarded with incredible views over Coumshingaun, known as the ‘jewel of the Comeraghs.’ It’s one of nine glacial lakes in the area, and certainly the most impressive.

Getting there: From Cork or Waterford take the turn-off for Mahon Falls off the N25. Take a right at Mahon Bridge, and you’ll see the Kilclooney Woods car park around 4.5km down the road on your left.

If it rains: There’s not much by way of eateries around Coumshingaun, so find some shelter back at the car park and head for Dungarvan (a 20-minute drive) to dry off and have lunch.

Blessington Lakes/Poulaphouca, Wicklow

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There’s no shortage of picnic spots around Blessington Lakes, the largest reservoir in Ireland at 5,000 acres, formed 50 years ago by the building of Poulaphouca Dam.

Getting there: From Dublin city centre it’s around a 45 minute drive along the N7 and N81.

If it rains: Make for the lakeshore resort and adventure centre at Avon Ri, where you can grab lunch and try anything from ziplining to clay pigeon shooting while the rain passes.

More: 8 European self-drive holidays to try this summer>

More: 6 of the most infuriating traffic junctions in Dublin>

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