A GUIDE TO SHOOTING IN IRELAND
There’s a long and colorful history of shooting as a sport in Ireland, with an abundant stock of migratory wildfowl for upland hunting enthusiasts. If you’re interested in getting out in the country and having an adventure, a shooting vacation could be for you.
This beautiful castle, situated on the shores of the Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, is one of the finest spots for shooting in Northern Ireland. The estate is made up of 1,900 acres of parkland, woodland, lough and islands, with excellent woodcock and snipe shooting.
Best time of year: The season runs from October to the end of January.
Shooting tips: For woodcock, arrive after the full moon in November as this is when they are most plentiful.
Other activities: Tennis, rowing and sailing are available on site. There are also a number of golf courses nearby.
LOUGH CUTRA CASTLE
If you’re interested in a pheasant hunt, we recommend booking a stay at Lough Cutra Castle. This spectacular property in County Galway was built in the late 18th Century, although the land can be traced as far back as 866 AD. There is excellent pheasant shooting – or for beginners, there’s also clay pigeon shooting on site.
Best time of year:
The season tends to run from November until the end of January in Ireland.
Shooting tips: Late hunts can be just as rewarding as early morning hunts. Pheasants start to move out of heavy cover during the last hour of daylight.
Other activities: Lough Cutra Castle is also a great location for horse riding, pike fishing, boating and mountain biking.
The 12th Century Belle Isle estate is another spot in County Fermanagh ideal for woodcock and snipe shooting. Spread across 470 acres with stunning views over Lough Erne, Belle Isle is an exclusive property, sleeping 26 people across 13 double or twin rooms.
Best time of year: From October to the end of January, but with woodcock coming into County Fermanagh in November time during the full moon.
Shooting tips: The European woodcock population is high, but migratory woodcock in Ireland can vary in numbers depending on the weather.
Other activities: Guests staying at Belle Isle can enjoy pike fishing on Lough Erne or salmon fishing on the River Mourne. There are also boat trips available on the estate’s own yacht, and a fantastic Belle Isle Cookery School for foodies.
For challenging game drives, Ballynatray Estate makes a fine choice for your hunting vacation. There’s a range of days available from 100 to 300 birds, and the shoots will test even the most seasoned sportsmen.
Best time of year: The season for pheasants runs from November to January. But this estate offers an extended shooting season, allowing visiting guns to shoot driven pheasants until the end of February.
Shooting tips: Get some shooting practice at the simulated shooting academy. Simulated shoots are ideal for out of season, or if you’re wanting to go shooting for a fraction of the cost.
Other activities: Enjoy a spa-style break with the property’s indoor swimming pool, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and massage room. There’s also a fitness room and snooker room, or outdoor activities such as tennis, croquet, and fishing.