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19th Jul 2019

Nine scenic Irish spots where you can refresh your mind this summer

Leslie Ann Horgan

Stop right now, thank you very much.

When you think of stop signs, chances are you think of rush hours, traffic jams and road rage. When you’re in the zone of that frantic daily commute (does anyone else try to turn traffic lights green with the power of their mind?) every impediment to the progress of your journey can add to your stress levels.

A new initiative from Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, however, has turned the stop sign on its head. Instead of a red road safety message, these special green signs ask you to stand still, take a deep breath, look around and drink in the view.

‘Stop, look, listen and enjoy’ is the message on each of the nine signs which Fáilte Ireland have popped up at especially scenic spots in the Hidden Heartlands area this week. The message of mindfulness is not a new one, but when you think about it how often do you actually allow yourself to pause and really look around?

Even when we’re on holidays, many of us don’t actually take the time to switch off – if we’re not answering ‘just this one’ email from work, we’re so use trying to get the perfect photo for Instagram that we don’t actually take in what’s before us.

Below is a list of where you’ll find the stop signs – and some natural Irish wonders that will stop you in your tracks.

1. At Killykeen Forest Park, on the shores of the gorgeous Lough Oughter in Co. Cavan.

2. On the pier at Carrick-on-Shannon in Co. Leitrim, where you can watch the boats go by.

3. At Clondra Harbour in Co. Longford, the end of The Royal Canal Way – a 140km walking and cycling corridor between Dublin and Longford.

4. By the Athlone Moorings in Co. Westmeath, beside the river Shannon and near to the town’s historic castle.

5. In Lough Key Forest Park in Co. Roscommon, which is home to a picturesque lake and a fun adventure centre.

6. On Ballycuggaran beach in Co. Clare, near to Killaloe and the scenic Ballycuggaran Loop walking trail

7. At the 17th Century Portumna Castle in Co. Galway, where you can step back in time at the exhibition about the building and the de Burgo family who lived there for 200 years.

8. In the peaceful waterside village of Garrykennedy in Co. Tipperary, which has lots of picnic spots.

9. At the old harbour in Banagher, Co. Offaly, near to the Slieve Bloom mountains.

For more information on these locations, visit the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands website.