It is my Mum’s 90th birthday this year so I thought it would be nice to take her away for a few days. She was born in Kerry, and Killarney is one of her favourite places so I booked a family holiday in Killarney during the Easter holidays.
I wanted a large hotel suite or apartment as well as some entertainment and pool for the kids, in case it rained – well it is Ireland! The Castlerosse Hotel ticked all the boxes so we booked one of their 2 bedroom cottages. The first thing that struck me, in fact all of us was the size of the cottages. The main room is enormous and they could easily have added a third bedroom. Both bedrooms have a double and single bed and there are two bathrooms and a large kitchen. Décor is a little dated but overall I was really impressed. They are located 100 meters from the hotel and all of the hotel facilities were available to us.
Speaking of facilities, my children loved the kids club. There were so many kids for them to play with and there are outdoor games as well as indoor. The X Factor talent show went down a treat, as did the late night movies from 9 – 11pm. There are also tennis courts, a football court, putting green and an outdoor playground. They organise kids meals so children can eat with their friends in the kids club from 6 – 7 pm and then join the activities and movie night afterwards. We didn’t avail of this but I spoke to some parents who didn’t see their kids from 6pm – 11pm, leaving them time for a romantic meal for two – with drinks in the bar afterwards! The kids club also organised group activities in the pool. The large 20 metre heated pool has a separate children’s area and also a jacuzzi , sauna and steam room. There are also regular water aerobics classes and a fully equipped gym, not that I had the pleasure…
The setting is perfect. The Castlerosse hotel overlooks their own 9 hole golf course, the Killarney Lakes and the Magillicuddy Reeks. They even have their own resident deer on the grounds – how cool is that! I really enjoyed the 2km walk through the National Park to Killarney town. There are two options, one with mountainous terrain but stunning lake views and the other a surfaced pathway with a cycle track if you fancy renting the hotel bikes. The views from the hotel restaurant and bar are stunning and the packages that include breakfast and evening meal are extremely good value. The food was very good in the main restaurant both for breakfast and dinner and the in house pizza oven allows you to have pizza in the bar or in your cottage.
Needless to say we had some rainy days and that’s why the hotel facilities were so handy. We did however manage to see quite a lot of Killarney while we were there. We visited Torc Waterfall, which is only 200 meters from the roadside, which makes it easily accessible. Take the steps up to the top to get some amazing views over the lakes. Another great spot to catch the best views is Aghadoe and no steep steps necessary!
We played the tourists and took a jaunting cart around Muckross House and Gardens. I used by mother’s age as the excuse why we couldn’t walk too far but actually it was a really great way to see it. It is in the heart of Killarney National Park and well worth a visit. My mum took the hour long guided tour and loved it and we explored Muckross Abbey and Muckross Lake with the kids.
We also took a day out to drive the ring of Kerry, something my Mum really wanted to see again. We stopped at the famous Rossbeigh beach. It must be one of Ireland’s best, six miles of golden sandy beach, so we parked right beside it and went for a stroll while the kids played happily.
We visited Valentia Island, where the Skellig Experience visitor’s centre is located. You can access the island by bridge or car ferry. We decided to do both so we arrived by bridge to Portmagee and picked up the car ferry on the other side of the island at Knightstown. There are regular boat trips to Skellig Michael where you can get up close, see the famous bird sanctuary and probably spot some seals and dolphins on the way. In order to climb on to the rock you need to pre book well in advance.
We took the opportunity to visit Kells Bay House and Gardens, where Ireland’s longest rope bridge has just opened. It is forty-five minutes from Killarney but I would highly recommend it for a family day out. The gardens were full of exotic flowers and the kids were blown away by ‘Ireland’s Jurassic Park’. Following a storm the enterprising owner decided to carve dinosaur sculptures from fallen trees. They are throughout the gardens and my children used the map to find them. It is a simple idea but a really effective one.
The rope bridge is bound to attract new visitors to the gardens and so it should. It is one of those things that looks easier than it actually is. I recently walked the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge in Antrim so thought this would be easy. How wrong I was! The rope is much harder to manoeuvre than Carrick-a-Rede and the fact that it is much longer doesn’t help. Definitely not for the faint hearted! There is a nice coffee shop and a Thai restaurant on site, they even offer country house accommodation too.
After our long day we stopped in PF Mc Carthy’s bar for some delicious pub grub in Kenmare! The perfect end to a perfect day around the ring of Kerry. Our family holiday in Killarney was a great success. There are so many things to do in Killarney and we only managed a sample of them. A boat trip on Killarney Lakes, a hike through the Gap of Dunloe and being on the Ring of Kerry you are close to so many other options. If you haven’t already discovered Killarney’s magnificent lakes and mountains, waterfalls and woodlands – make sure you do!