Being a travel agent, I love nothing more than jetting off to a hot climate and a sandy beach.
I do like small breaks away in Ireland too or ‘mini breaks’ as my kids call them. They let you have a few days away without breaking the bank and without too much effort packing and planning! We decided to try ‘glamping‘. I felt that I should at least experience what so many other families were talking about and see if it really was different to traditional camping that we did as kids.
When I started my research I noticed that the word ‘glamping’ or glamorous camping which is the literal translation can really mean anything from a fancy tent with a mattress to a log cabin in the woods with flat screen TVs. There are also traditional style camp sites with lots of facilities for kids, boating, playgrounds, even swimming pools that are categorised as glamping sites because they have facilities that regular camp sites don’t have. My first piece of advice is to find out what exactly you want from your glamping experience. Do you want kids facilities? Or comfortable log cabins? Maybe you fancy a luxury tent in peaceful surroundings? Do you want to cook on an open fire and feel at one with nature? All good questions! I choose the latter. To me a log cabin with a tv is not camping and I really didn’t fancy hundreds of people squashed together in one of those glamping sites with slides, zip lines and go karts.
I chose Grove Lane in Killarney, a small glamping site with only five bell tents and where they limit the number of families to two, so that its never over run with kids. It’s actually quite romantic and attracts a lot of couples too. There are some friendly resident horses and cats and plenty of things to keep the kids amused. The tents come with a comfortable double bed, camp beds for the kids and a hot stove which seems to heat up instantly so you never feel the cold. They also supply lots of board games, cards and toys that we played with as kids! ! There is an individual kitchen behind each tent complete with BBQ and plenty of utensils. The toilet facilities are only 10 meters from your tent, there is plenty of hot water and showers with good pressure which was a pleasant surprise.
Killarney itself is a safe bet with so much to do for adults and kids alike. We took a private boat trip over to Inishfallen Island, a steal at €25 for the four of us. The kids enjoyed exploring the Island, watching the deer as the guide waited in the boat to bring us back. There is also the world renowned Muckross House and gardens and Torc Waterfall, suffice to say their are numerous attractions in Killarney to keep everyone amused. And if you choose to eat out there you will be spoilt for choice with typical Irish pubs in abundance, all of which have great menus and plenty of ‘craic’. I couldn’t resist Las Ramblas though, a lovely tapas restaurant just off the Main Street. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced. The kids loved the pasta with meatballs and we chose a selection of tapas which were all delicious.
Although I enjoyed dining out, one of the highlights of the weekend was the fire pit in the woods. We cooked delicious steak on the bbq and toasted marshmallows (also provided) over the fire pit. I really felt I was experiencing camping and with creature comforts. Huddled around the fire, we even found ourselves doing a spot of star gazing and telling ghost stories to the kids, it’s something that you would never imagine doing on a typical summer holiday. I must point out though that although I buy into the slogan ‘there is no place like Ireland when you get the weather’, Im not so sure I would have had the same experience in the rain! I would suggest booking in the summer months where you have the best possible chance of good weather, or alternatively leave it late to book so you can gauge the weather forecast.
Linda and Mike the owners, couldn’t be more friendly, it’s a very personal experience for them and you get the feeling that they really care about your time there. They want to be sure that you really make the most of it and are always available if you have any queries.
There is no Xbox! There is no wifi! It’s board games and playing cards, its really back to nature albeit with a touch of glamour! We really felt that we were away from the hustle and bustle of every day life. When I asked my seven year old son what he enjoyed the most from the weekend he said ‘everything’ and I couldnt sum it up any better myself, its an experience that I would recommend to all families.