There are plenty of annual festive walks to enjoy in Laois this Christmas supporting many great causes.
On Christmas morning, work up an appetite for the big dinner with a choice of two Goal Mile walks.
In Portarlington it starts at 11am from the GAA centre on Canal Road, ending at 11.30 with a big group photo.
The second Goal Mile in Laois is in the scenic Oakvale Woods, Stradbally, running from 10am to 12 noon. They are among 100 Goal Miles around Ireland on Christmas Day. No registration, just turn up, walk or run a mile and make your donation to the Irish charity which supports communities in the developing world.
The Santa hat might get a bit soggy but swimmers are encouraged to wear them for another great annual event in Portarlington this Christmas morning.
The Christmas Day Swim is in Portarlington Leisure Centre from 11.30am to 1.30pm. All proceeds go to Portarlington Meals on Wheels.
St Stephen’s Day has a plethora of action planned around the county.
In Clonaslee nearly 1,000 walkers and runners will take to the Slieve Bloom Mountains for the 27th annual Laois Hospice walk.
The 10 mile /16km hike starts at 12 noon, follow the red signposts, with hot soup en route. A three mile walk around scenic Brittas Lake at 1pm is family friendly, follow blue signposts. All advised to start no later than 1pm.
Based at Clonaslee community centre, with refreshments afterwards. Donations welcome, sponsor cards also available from Sheila at 087 6339540. Keep dogs on a lead.
Portlaoise Athletic Club will hold a family fun run at 10.30am. Donations to Cuisle Centre. Meet at St Fintan’s carparkon the Dublin road in Portlaoise and run or walk one or two loops of the church block. Among their members is European Silver medalist Mary Mulhare so keep the eyes peeled.
BallyroanAbbey GAA club will hold a 5k fun run on the same morning. Register from 10am in Ballyroan Community hall, with run starting at 11. All proceeds for the GAA field development and community walkway.
A festive favourite in Abbeyleix on St Stephen’s Day is the Laois Hunt meet which sets off from the Main Street at 12 noon, a spectacle of riders, horses and hounds.
The Christmas Convoy annual Tom Kinsella Memorial Christmas Road Run in aid of Laois Specialist Palliative Care Team also takes place this St Stephen's Day. Registrationwill be at 11am departing at 12pm sharp from Ballyroan GAA grounds. Tractors, trucks and cars welcome.
Raffle tickets are available from all members of Ballyroan Vintage Club. Hamper for the best Santa driving. Soup and sambos after the run in Whelans. The draw takes place after the run in Whelan's. 1st prize €500, 2nd prize €250. Various spot prizes.
Finally on St Stephen's Day, join the annual Leafy Loop in Durrow. This walk starts at 11am from the Castle Arms Hotel. Registration there from 10.30am. The 10km walk raises money for Laois Hospice.
In Portarlington on December 27, join the Portarlington Trail Walking Group for their annual Christmas Walk in scenic Derryounce (left turn off Edenderry Road at rail track) at 11am. Registration at 10.45 at Derryvilla. No charge, refreshments afterwards.
On New Year’s Day shake off 2019 and the Christmas pudding with the 18th annual walk in Timahoe, launched by ace Laois hurler Mark Kavanagh. Proceeds are shared between the Irish Wheelchair Association’s centre in Portlaoise and the local Fatima Invalid fund. Sponsorship cards from Maura O’Brien and Johnny Dalton, or donate on the day.
There are two treks of 10kms and six kms, both starting in the village green at 1pm. The finish line is the Community Centre, where refreshments will await.
Also on New Year’s Day is Ballacolla Off the Beaten Track, bringing together walkers, cyclists and tractors both modern and vintage over several routes.
The event starts at 2pm in Ballacolla village with registration from 1.15pm. The modern tractor run goes through Cullohill and Durrow. Stop at David Lalor's Farm in Ballygague for Christmas cheer. Further refreshments and raffle at the finish in St Patricks Hall. Proceeds to the local community. Call 087 2395357.
All year round Slieve Bloom Walking Club organises mountain walks and on Sunday December 29 they will hold a 12km walk around Brittas lake and woodlands, starting from Clonaslee Community Centre at 11am. All of their walks are guided by experts, the fee is €5 per walk or annual membership of €20 (single) or €30 (family). See slievebloom.ie
Two more festive events take place on the Laois Kilkenny border. Gathabawn Rural Development Group host their annual St Stephens Day walk at 12 noon. Proceeds to The Family Support Service with a clothes collection for the homeless.
It starts from Mackey’s Bar, Gathabawn, choose between 12km or 7km walks up Gathabawn Loop. Refreshments afterwards.
Then on New Year’s Eve is the North Kilkenny truck and tractor run called Light up the Night. It assembles in Ballyragget from noon. The bright spectacle highlights suicide supports and attracts up to 400 drivers.
Fancy having a run out in your tractor on Sunday, January 5? Well the Stradbally Tractor Run will get back in the driving seat after Christmas. Starting at Stradbally Town & Country with registration there at 1pm and starting at 1.30pm. Thanks to Brian Oxley, Ger Leonard, James Gerard McHenry and John Oxley along with school BOM member Damien McArdle for running this pitch development fundraiser for St Colmans NS. The fee is €20 per tractor.
A final charity walk before hanging up your Santa hat takes place in Mountmellick on Sunday January 5. The Ben and Jake Connolly Trust 5km Santa Dash was a pre Christmas event but was rescheduled due to bad weather. Set off from the MDA centre in Irishtown at 10.30am and enjoy live music, hot drinks and a big raffle after, all for the locally based Trust. Adults €10, families €15.
A happy and healthy Christmas to all our readers!