Travel

I start by making some calculations to soothe myself. Using the Rail & Sail combo route from London via Holyhead to Dublin takes nine or so hours; to fly between the two cities takes 50 minutes – but a few hours have to be added on for the to-ing, fro-ing and faffing at airports. A one-way rail/sail ticket costs about 30 quid all in – a flight is double that, unless you're very organised or lucky. Even if you're very disorganised, the rail/sail option can be bought just before you travel at no extra cost.

England v Republic of Ireland: Past meetings

England take on the Republic of Ireland for the 15th time tomorrow.

Delon Armitage, left, and Jonny Wilkinson, right, lift the Heineken Cup

Jonny Wilkinson keeps a door open to late call-up to the British and Irish Lions

Flawless display of kicking from England legend leads Toulon to maiden Heineken Cup

In Dublin, Jonny Wilkinson's presence was punctuated by his ability to split the posts as his four kicks delivered a perfect 100 per cent return

Heineken Cup final: Jonny Wilkinson alive and still kicking for Toulon

It came close to topping the drama of Sydney 10 years ago, and the margins were just as thin as Jonny Wilkinson held up his end of the bargain by winning a first Heineken Cup for both himself and Toulon.

Brian O’Driscoll will miss tonight’s Amlin Cup final having failed to recover from a back injury

Brian O'Driscoll out of Amlin Cup final but signs up for one more year with Leinster

Brian O'Driscoll will miss tomorrow night's Amlin Cup final having failed to recover from a back injury but Ireland's talismanic centre is far from finished. O'Driscoll signed a new one-year deal to play on for Leinster and his country after this summer's fourth tour with the British and Irish Lions.

The martyrdom of St Bono

A new biography denounces the U2 singer's anti-poverty campaigning, and his personal tax arrangements. But his starry chums – such as Bill Clinton – are fighting back

Route des Princes yacht race unveiled in artichoke country

It is not often that the sports public is asked to celebrate artichokes, but that was one of the sub-plots of the unveiling of the Route des Princes yacht race in the former host city of the America’s Cup.

Matt o’Connor, the Leicester backs coach, is taking over at European champions Leinster

Leinster choose Matt O'Connor to replace coach Joe Schmidt

O'Connor has big shoes to fill in Dublin

Ardal O'Hanlon in The Weir by Conor McPherson, directed by Josie Rourke for the Donmar Warehouse

Theatre review: The Weir, Donmar Warehouse, London

Conor McPherson's The Weir established itself as an instant classic when it opened at the Royal Court in 1997.

Con Martin: Highly versatile Irish footballer

Con Martin was a leviathan of Irish football in the middle years of the 20th century, enjoying the type of colourful career usually confined to the pages of old-fashioned schoolboy comics.

J T McNamara at Cheltenham before his serious fall from Galaxy Rock

Jockey JT McNamara 'positive' despite paralysis injury after Cheltenham fall

JT McNamara is reported to be in a “very positive” frame of mind despite suffering a serious neck injury at the Cheltenham Festival which his family has revealed resulted in paralysis.

Ireland player Jonathan Walters looks dejected at the end of Ireland's 2-2 draw with Austria

Giovanni Trapattoni insists Republic of Ireland are still in hunt for 2014 World Cup qualification

Austria scored a late equaliser last night to dent their chances

J T McNamara at Cheltenham before his serious fall from Galaxy Rock

McNamara out of coma and ready for move nearer home

With the domestic sport’s downtime between the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals exacerbated by cancellations, postponements and congealingly cold weather, there was at least one piece of warming news today. It concerned the improved condition of J T McNamara, the Irish amateur who fractured two neck vertebrae in a fall at Cheltenham 12 days ago.

Foreign Minister William Hague speaks to the media as he departs the GYMNICH, an Informal Meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers at Dublin Castle

EU flounders as Syrian death toll mounts

European foreign ministers meeting in Dublin fail to agree over lifting the arms ban for rebels fighting the Assad regime

John Walsh: For Roth, Newark is the home of the archetypal American life

William Faulkner wrote several works about the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Steinbeck mined the possibilities of his native California in the “Dustbowl” years of the Depression. But we have to look back to James Joyce and his love-hate relationship with Dublin to find an equivalent of Philip’s Roth attitude to his birthplace, Newark.

The Leinster centre will miss three crucial games for his club

Brian O'Driscoll escapes with three-week ban for stamp

If Brian O'Driscoll did not exactly have the book thrown at him by an independent Six Nations disciplinary panel – his bid for a fourth consecutive British and Irish Lions trip to the southern hemisphere remains wholly intact – the three-week ban he received for stamping on the Italian flanker Simone Favaro in Rome last week may have serious ramifications for those around him.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
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Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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Autism-friendly theatre

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