kenmare

Holidays in Ireland

My Family Holiday in Killarney

Aghadoe

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.

family holiday in Killarney

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…

Family Holiday in Killarney

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!

family holiday in Killarney

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.

family holiday in Killarney

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.

family holiday in Killarney

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.

family holiday in Killarney

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.

family holiday in Killarney

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!

 

Like holidays in Ireland? Read more here.

 

Sarah

Holidays in Ireland

West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Eyeries_opt

Whilst I do love a trip abroad, there is also something special about a ‘staycation’ in Ireland. When Chill Insurance asked me to write about my favourite #HiddenDrive, it was an easy task. From West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula is, in my opinion, one of Ireland’s best road trips.

 

After a recent stay in Bantry, county Cork, we decided to do a little exploring with the kids.  My husband and I had not taken a road trip from Bantry to Kenmare since before we were married, so it was about time we returned to one of Ireland’s best #HiddenDrives.

Taking the N71 from Bantry for a twenty minute spin will see you into Glengarriff, right in the heart of west Cork. Glengariff is known by locals as ‘the Natural Meeting Place’. On the Beara peninsula, a town of approximately 800 inhabitants, it can get very crowded in peak season. The popular Eccles hotel is a magnet for tourists, it is a great place for lunch with sea views. We took the short ferry ride to Garnish Island which I would highly recommend. Renowned for its beautiful gardens, it also boasts a Martello Tower which offers stunning views of the bay from the top. The kids loved it too.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Once back on the road, we left Glengarriff, turning onto the R572 and drove south west along the Beara Peninsula. An hour (and about 50 kilometres) later we reached the fishing village and sailors favourite, Castletown Berehaven. Also known as Castletownbere, it is the principle town along the Beara Peninsula, two and half hours from Cork city. A little known fact, Castletownbere is the second largest natural safe harbour in the world. If you have the time, you must visit MacCarthy’s Bar. Genuine and original with groceries on sale in the front of the premises and a bar to the rear. It also won Irish pub of the year in 2016, so that’s as good an excuse as any to pay a visit! Much to my husbands dismay, we did not stop and kept driving. We were only about seven kilometres from Allihies, Co. Cork. Pulling into Allihies, we were now as far away by road from home as we could be! Allihies is 394kms from Dublin making it the furthest village in Ireland from the capital. Just some more trivia for you! 🙂

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

It was time for lunch and we chose O’Neills Bar in Allihies, famous for its ‘warm atmosphere and delicious local food’. Once inside, you feel instantly welcome with an open fire, piano and old photographs, creating a homely atmosphere. The sun had decided to make an appearance so we ordered food and opted to sit outside. You are pretty much on the roadside as you sit on the wooden benches. We had soup and toasted sandwiches, crab salads and the kids tucked into fish and chips. If you have time, try the restaurant upstairs too. They will never admit to it but O’Neills is possibly one of the most iconic bars along the Wild Atlantic Way and has featured on posters worldwide promoting Ireland as a holiday destination.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Next stop Eyeries, a village renowned for the bright pastel paintwork of its terraced houses and the sweeping views of the Beara Peninsula. Eyeries is one of those places that demands you to stop, grab a camera and walk for a while. Overlooking Coulagh Bay and the Atlantic ocean beyond, Eyeries is a place where you can let the sound and smell of the ocean take your thoughts. Here we walked the beach and did a little beachcombing before the final push to Kenmare and our next overnight stop.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

Most people might take the direct route from Eyeries to Kenmare along the R571 but we knew better. Driving north out of Eyeries, past the post office, take the coastal road to Kilcatherine for the most breathtaking scenery. You will drive through Ballycrovane. This small fishing harbour also offers spectacular views of Coulagh Bay. Continuing on the road you will arrive at Kilcatherine and then head back towards the R571 to Kenmare. As you drive, look left out to sea were you will see the world heritage and monastic site of Skellig Michael and Little Skellig Rock in the distance. Perhaps more famous of late for being the reclusive home of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

 

Leaving the Kilcatherine coastal road behind us we rejoined the R571 and made our way to Kenmare in Co Kerry, crossing the county border between Cork and Kerry, just north of Ardgroom. The road is mostly along the coast and can be precarious in places but breathtaking at the same time. It was only about 40 kilometers to Kenmare but the last leg of our Beara Peninsula adventure took a little over an hour to complete before we made it to our hotel.

Road Trip from West Cork to Kerry along the Beara Peninsula

The total journey from Bantry to Kenmare via this amazing drive is about 175 kilometers and should only take you about three and half hours to do without stopping. However in my opinion, you will need a full day to do it properly. Stop for coffee, stop for lunch, tour the villages, listen to the ocean and give your head peace.

So there you have it, my favourite #HiddenDrive is from west Cork into south Kerry along the Beara Peninsula. Whatever you do, don’t rush it, take your time and Chill.ie. 😉

 

This post was sponsored by Chill Insurance.

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.

 

Sarah.

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

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