luxury hotels in ireland

Holidays in Ireland

12 Luxury Hotels and Unique Stays in Ireland This Summer

Dunloe Hotel pool (2)

I’ve collated some of the best luxury hotels and unique stays in Ireland to inspire your next break away.

By the time the summer rolls in, many of us will have not travelled or splashed out on a hotel or travel experience for two years. Can you believe it? There is a pent up demand for travel, and most of us are missing overseas travel experiences. However, there are so many luxury hotels and unique stays in Ireland, and this might be the year to discover them. I have chosen twelve below for the travel slot on TodayFM, but I have many more options in my own personal Irish bucket list here:

Read: My Irish bucket list – 20 luxury hotels in Ireland

 

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Note not all facilities may be operating as listed, it is important to check if there are any restrictions in place in these luxury hotels or unique stays in Ireland. Some of the links below contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.
 

 

 

Luxury Hotels in Ireland: 

1. Ashford Castle, Mayo

Hideaway Cottage at Ashford Castle is one of the most luxurious unique stays in Ireland.

Ashford castle is undoubtedly one of the best luxury hotels in Ireland, it was recently included in 2021 Forbes Five-Star honours list – the only Irish hotel to be included. As well as traditional guest rooms and suites, there is an exclusive Hideaway cottage on the grounds. as well as the popular four-star hotel, the Lodge at Ashford.

Read: Best hotels in Ireland for luxury and romance

Prices:

The Lodge at Ashford: €252 per room per night B&B; €405 per room per night including dinner  – 20% off current rates.

Ashford Castle: €775 for the Gourmet Getaway which includes an overnight stay for two with breakfast, 5-course dinner at George V Dining Room and complimentary round of golf.  

See Ashford Castle here

 

See The Lodge here
 

 

 

2. Adare Manor, Limerick

Adare Manor is one of the best hotels in Ireland.

After a two-year long refurbishment, Adare Manor opened to rave reviews and has already won numerous awards. It is considered one of the best resorts in Europe. Be prepared to be astonished by the 840 acres of pristine parkland, the lavish interiors, the award-winning spa, and the Michelin star restaurant, The Oak Room. 

Prices: €925 per couple for an overnight stay with breakfast and Michelin star dinner in the Oak Room.

See more here
 

 

 

3. Cliff House Hotel and Beach House, Waterford

Cliff House Hotel Beach Cottage.

Many of you will know the five-star Cliff House Hotel in Waterford, but you may not be aware of its luxury self-catering houses. The 3-bedroom Cliff Cottage or 6-bedroom Beach House are great options for a special family occasion or a luxurious getaway with friends.

Prices: Cliff House Hotel: €485 for an overnight stay for two with breakfast 

Cliff Cottage: €575 per night, available in September, minimum two-night stay.

See more here
 

 

 

4. Dunloe Hotel, Kerry  

Dunloe Hotel is one of the best luxury hotels in Ireland for families

The Dunloe Hotel is a great choice for couples looking for a luxury stay in Kerry. However, it also prides itself on its family friendly facilities, something that is often lacking in five-star hotels. As well as 64 acres to explore, there is a wonderful outdoor adventure playground on the hotel grounds. Families can also enjoy kayaking on the river that flows through the estate, as well as complimentary pony trekking, tennis and fishing. If you are lucky to catch something, the kitchen will be pleased to prepare and cook your catch for dinner that evening.

During the summer two popular movies are shown each night, suitable for children of all ages. Popcorn & drinks are provided. This hotel is pet-friendly too.
 

 

 
The hotel has large family rooms that can accommodate two adults and three children, which consists of a double room with balcony and a separate room for children via an internal interconnecting door – this can not be reached from the hotel corridor.

Read: 50 hotels with large family rooms in Ireland

Prices: €600 per couple for 2-night stay with breakfast and dinner on one evening.

Price: €840 for family of 4 with breakfast and dinner on one evening, €80 for additional child.
 
See more here
 

 

 

5. Harveys Point, Donegal

Harveys Point has been voted Ireland's best hotel.

Although only a four-star hotel, Harvey’s Point always manages to receive five-star reviews from its guests – it has been named the best hotel in Ireland for many years from Tripadvisor. Guests love the spacious bedrooms, friendly staff and award-winning cuisine, as well as its beautiful setting on the shores of Lough Eske, overlooking the Blue Stack Mountains. I’m visiting Donegal this summer and plan to spend my last two nights here.

Price: €578 per couple for a two night stay with breakfast and dinner on one evening.

See more here 
 

 

 

6. Mount Juliet Estate, Kilkenny

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There are two hotels in Mount Juliet Estate, and although both five star, Hunters Yard offers more modern and reasonably priced rooms. You have access to all the resort’s facilities regardless of which hotel you stay in. There are many outdoor experiences available – falconry, horse riding, fishing etc. We enjoyed a family stay in Mount Juliet last summer and loved it.

Read: My review of Mount Juliet

Prices: Overnight escape for two in Hunters Yard – €215.  Family stay (2ad & 2ch) €305 B&B

Prices based on 25th July. Other dates / durations available.

See more here
 

 

 

Unique stays in Ireland:

 

7. Finn Lough Premium Bubble Domes, Fermanagh

Finn lough bubble domes - unique stays in Ireland.

These Bubble Domes are one of Ireland’s unique accommodation experiences. While not necessarily 5-star, you will feel immersed in nature, from within two heated glass domes surrounded by forest. Premium domes feature a four-poster bed, free-standing stone bath, Nespresso coffee machine, bath robes and complimentary breakfast. There is also a spa and restaurant on site. Bubble domes are adult-only.  

Price £375 for an overnight stay for two with breakfast

See more here
 

 

 

8. Lighthouse Keepers, Youghal, Cork – Home of the Year Finalist

luxury Airbnbs in Ireland

Featured as RTE’s Home of the Year, when it comes to unique Airbnbs in Ireland, it doesn’t get much better than this. A 200 year old building, this house was the home of every lighthouse keeper that manned Youghal lighthouse since the 1800’s. The owners spent two years renovating it and it is now a modern masterpiece, but still manages to hold on to its character and heritage. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, underfloor heating, and a conservatory complete with a hanging chair. 

Read: Luxury Airbnbs in Ireland near the beach

This is fully booked in July & August but various dates in September are available. A minimum stay of two nights is required, priced at €512 per night

See more here
 

 

 

9. 15th Century Tubrid Castle, Kilkenny

Tubbrid Castle Kilkenny - one the most luxurious unique stays in Ireland.

Tubbrid Castle has been restored to its former glory retaining many original features, such as the grand oak banqueting table and four-poster bed, but you can also expect some modern luxury, like a powerful rainforest shower. Located just 20 minutes from Kilkenny City, with three bedrooms, it is suitable for a stay with friends or a romantic getaway. Children under 12 are not accepted. 

Read: The best Airbnbs in Ireland for couples

Price: €860 per night, minimum two-night stay.

See more here
 

 

 

10. Portsalon Luxury Glamping, Donegal

glamping in donegal ireland

This glamping site is quite popular with families usually, but due to Covid restrictions they are only selling their yurts for couples this summer. There are five yurts on the site which have king sized beds, wood burning stoves and carpeted floors. The outdoor decking comes with a hammock, firepit and barbecue area as well as stunning sea views. 

Read: Top picks for glamping in Ireland

Price €250 for a two-night stay per couple.

See more here
 

 

 

11. The Hideaway at Dromquinna Manor, Kerry

Dromquinna Manor - luxury unique stays in Ireland.

For couples looking for Ireland’s most luxurious camping experience – look no further than the Hideaway. You will be staying in a custom made African safari tent, overlooking the lake on the grounds of Dromquinna Manor. The world ‘tent’ doesn’t adequately describe your accommodation – complete with a luxurious en-suite bedroom and private veranda, it is camping, but not as you know it.
 

 

 
There is a separate entrance to the Hideaway via a private gated garden ensuring absolute privacy. A delicious breakfast basket will be delivered to your tent every morning and you can enjoy dinner in The Boathouse in the evening.

Price: €600 two-night stay per couple, additional nights €250. Minimum two-night stay and availability is limited: 

At the time of publication the following nights were available: 26 June 2 nights, 1st July, 3 nights, 16th August 2 nights and various dates in September.

See more here
 

 

 

12. Monart – Ireland’s only destination spa hotel

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you are looking for a luxury spa break in Ireland, then Monart should be on your list. When you arrive you can slip on your robe and never don clothes again until you leave – yes many people even dine in their bath robes! Many Irish hotels have spas but there is only one destination Spa hotel in Ireland – Monart.
 

 

 
Rooms are not as luxurious as some of the other hotels listed here, but then you are not going to book at stay in Monart because of the hotel rooms. However, if your budget allows, there are two luxurious suites with four poster beds, a free standing bath, and a separate spa-style shower with garden views. 

Read: My review of Monart

Price: from €129 per person sharing B&B

See more here
 

 

 
I hope this post on luxury hotels and unique stays in Ireland will inspire a luxury break away soon. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed may not be operating to full capacity – please check with individual hotels and holiday home owners for clarification. I always recommend booking a hotel or Airbnb with free cancellation in case there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you.
 

 

 
These hotels and homes were researched independently. Some have links direct to the hotels websites, while others have my affiliate links attached to third party websites where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you. Note as I am an Airbnb Associate, I will receive a small commission if a booking is made via Airbnb, but at no additional cost to you. Read more in my privacy policy.

 

 

Like this post? You might like:

My Irish bucket list – 20 luxury hotels in Ireland

Best hotels in Ireland for luxury and romance

 

Sarah

Holidays in Ireland

My Review of Mount Juliet – Serenity and Style in Ireland’s Ancient East

sarah and alex horse riding

Five-star modern luxury combined with ancient traditions in 500 acres of woodlands, parks and gardens – Mount Juliet is an oasis in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East.

 

I hadn’t been away for six months, which seemed like a lifetime to me. I couldn’t wait to have food served up to me again, to feel luxurious crisp cotton sheets against my skin, and to try new experiences – something I always try to do when I go away. As soon as travel restrictions were lifted within Ireland, and hotels were officially allowed to re-open, I booked my first staycation. Kilkenny was an obvious choice. It is close to my home town of Dublin, and being a city, I figured most shops, restaurants and attractions should be open. I had also never had a family holiday in Kilkenny before, and was looking forward to trying some of the many things to do in Kilkenny with kids.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There are plenty of family friendly hotels in Kilkenny, but I wanted to stay somewhere special. Perhaps I wanted to make up for all the overseas trips I had to cancel, or perhaps I just felt like I needed some spoiling, but there was never a doubt in my mind, I had wanted to stay in Mount Juliet for years. My sister is a regular visitor and it is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s best hotels, and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself. 

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Driving into Mount Juliet Estate set the tone for the weekend. The winding road led us past the Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, the sun was shining and we could see golfers playing on the immaculate fairways. When we arrived at the creeper-clad 18th century Georgian House, we immediately felt the wow factor. 

Mount Juliet Estate - Manor House
 

 

 
Ireland has many fine Manor House hotels, but there was something special about Mount Juliet. The fact that a couple cantered past us on horse back just as we were about to enter the hotel certainly added to the ambiance. Even the name sounds romantic – I guess one automatically thinks of Romeo and Juliet. However, Mount Juliet Estate has a love story of its own. It was built by the first Earl of Carrick and it was named after his beloved wife, Lady Julianna Butler who made it their home in 1750. Its setting is stunning too. It is built on a ridge overlooking the River Nore with 500 acres of woodlands, parks and gardens. 

horse riding in mount juliet

It was great to see that Mount Juliet had excellent Covid protocols in place. There was a one-way system in and out of the hotel, with temperature checks on arrival. All of the staff had face shields and we immediately felt very much at ease.
 

 

 

Rooms at Mount Juliet Estate

Kilkenny Tourism very kindly booked us two rooms in the 32 roomed Manor House. We had two adjoining rooms on the ground floor which led out on to our own private garden, we couldn’t have asked for better. We were able to enjoy pre dinner drinks outside, while the kids played happily in the garden. There are three rooms that share this garden, so they are an ideal choice if you are travelling with friends or extended family.  

mount juliet garden rooms

The rooms were extremely spacious and elegantly furnished. Traditionally they would have more soft furnishings like cushions and throws, but with Covid-19 restrictions, these have been temporarily removed. Mount Juliet are also limiting the amount of contact that staff have in their hotel rooms, so the traditional turndown service was temporarily paused. Arriving back to our room to see our bed not made was an unfortunate consequence of the ‘new normal’. However, if you want your bed made and fresh towels delivered, you can ask at reception for this. (Please note: Mount Juliet had just re-opened and was adapting correctly to the new Covid-19 guidelines. Some of these guidelines may change, so it is important to check what protocols are in place when booking.)

 
 
 
 
 
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Mount Juliet Estate is also home to Hunters Yard, a 93 roomed hotel which was originally the estate’s stables and outbuildings. It wasn’t open during our visit but I did manage to get a sneak peak. This relatively new hotel offers a more contemporary and relaxed style, but still retains the five-star rating. There are more family rooms available there, as well as a swimming pool and spa. I’m told the Hound Restaurant is popular too, and the courtyard is the perfect place to enjoy a drink during the summer months. The banqueting hall where weddings are held is also located at Hunters Yard.
 

 

 
Walking around the magnificent grounds I could see why Mount Juliet is such a popular wedding venue. Woodland trails and river view walks are plentiful, but it was the old walled garden that I found the most captivating. I was told that this ornamental garden is usually manicured, but as the hotel had only just re-opened, the garden had a wilder more natural feel – I loved it.
 

 

 
It is also home to Mount Juliet’s famous Moon Gate. Traditionally found in the gardens of Chinese nobles, there is something almost spiritual about it. It was designed to perfectly frame the setting sun, and I imagine many newly weds celebrated the start of their new lives together there. You are welcome to stroll around the grounds and discover all its delights yourself, or alternatively ask the concierge to advise you on walking trails that might suit your personal taste.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Children’s activities at Mount Juliet Estate

Mount Juliet can also arrange treasure hunts in the gardens for children, and I was surprised at how much children’s activities are available in Mount Juliet. There is a large playground with a zip line, as well as a fairy trail located in the gardens. Extensive kids clubs operate during school holidays, (extra charge applies), so parents can enjoy a round of golf or spa treatment while the kids avail of the supervised activities.
 

 

 
There are two kids clubs, one from age 5-12 and the other 12+. Activities range from archery, equestrian and meet the owls, to baking, golf and arts and crafts. It is important to check activities in advance with Mount Juliet as some activities may change. There are also evening activities such as a talent show and movie nights, and children can dine with their new pals giving parents the opportunity to have a date night.  

childrens playground in mount juliet
 

 

 

Dining at Mount Juliet Estate

Speaking of date nights, the Michelin-starred Lady Helen restaurant is the perfect place to have one. The dining room is calm and inviting and offers stunning views of the grounds through massive Georgian windows. Unfortunately as Mount Juliet had just re-opened, they had to abide by the latest government protocols for dining. With allotted times for dinner, the traditional Michelin star menu had to be replaced with a more brasserie-style offering. (This is another temporary measure).
 

 

 
I enjoyed whipped Knockdrina goats cheese with pickled beets, followed by steak-frites with onion rings and bearnaise sauce. There was a separate children’s menu, although Luke was unable to resist the steak-frites on the adults menu, and managed to clear his plate, despite the extremely large portion. As expected from a restaurant of this standard the food was delicious, however I felt the menu was quite limited. It was unfortunate that we didn’t get to experience the true Lady Helen Michelin star experience, but it has given me a good excuse to go back…

Dining at Mount Juliet

Breakfast is served in the same dining room and I can safely say that I didn’t miss the buffet in the least – we enjoyed a terrific feast on both mornings. Cold foods that would traditionally be included in the buffet, such as cereals, fruit and breads were on the menu, as well as a choice of hot dishes made to order by the chef.

I tried traditional porridge with a shot of Baileys the first morning, and a full Irish breakfast the next. My husband, Cormac, enjoyed the boxty cake and the eggs benedict. The kids were also delighted to be able to pick and choose what they wanted from the extensive menu. They enjoyed a variety of dishes including pancakes, and traditional full Irish breakfasts. 

Breakfast at Mount Juliet

I should point out that if Michelin star restaurants are not your thing, there are plenty of other dining options available. The Hound Restaurant in Hunters Yard and Jack’s Bar at the Clubhouse offer extensive but more casual dining, while Major’s Bar offers afternoon tea and light snacks throughout the day.
 

 

 

Experiences at Mount Juliet Estate

Trying new outdoor experiences is part and parcel of a stay in Mount Juliet. Falconry is available on the grounds with the charming John Duggan of Hawkeye Falconry. We had the pleasure of trying falconry with John previously, and I can highly recommend it. With golf, horse riding, falconry, archery and fishing all available, this is the perfect opportunity to try something new in stunning surroundings. 

falconry

On our last morning we decided to try something synonymous with Mount Juliet – horse riding. The Mount Juliet Equestrian Centre is one of the most impressive centres in Ireland. From experienced riders to complete beginners like myself, they have horses and trails to suit everyone. I decided it was time for some mother and daughter time, so myself and Alex (aged 9) left the boys in the rooms as we trotted off to the equestrian centre. 

Alex was immediately taken her horse Rodger, and I was impressed at how well groomed and spotless the horses were, even the stables were immaculate. Within minutes myself and Alex were ‘saddled up’, and we were led off on a trail around Mount Juliet Estate. It was my first time to ride a horse, and I couldn’t have imagined a more idyllic location.
 

 

 
Alex was carefully supervised by our instructor and felt at ease the whole time. We rode through a beautiful woodland trail, past the golf course, before arriving at the Manor House. It was almost like a show experience, the type you see on a promotional video but don’t expect to actually experience the same thing – but we did! The experience costs €70 per adult and €50 per child and officially lasts one hour, but it was almost 90 minutes before we got back to the equestrian centre. I felt this was good value for such a unique experience.

horse riding past the manor house in mount juliet
 

 

 
Whether you choose to stay in the elegant Manor House or the chic Hunters Yard, you will enjoy top class facilities, service and surroundings in one of Ireland’s best hotels. However, Mount Juliet offers something more than that. There are no new fads here, but traditional experiences that offer a sense of serenity to your stay.

For the past four months our whole world has been turned upside down due to the pandemic, but one thing that we have enjoyed is our new found love for nature and traditional pastimes. It seemed really fitting that our first staycation was to a place that was in keeping with these values. Mount Juliet offers five-star luxury in beautiful surroundings with an emphasis on top class outdoor experiences. Make sure to pay a visit soon. 

For more information visit Mount Juliet.ie

  
Note: Kilkenny Tourism organised my stay in Mount Juliet, but all views, as always, are my own. 

 

Like this post? You might like:

Things to do in Kilkenny with kids

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

 

Holidays in Ireland

What it’s like to stay in Monart, Ireland’s Only Destination Spa Hotel.

monart

Many Irish hotels have spas but there is only one destination Spa hotel in Ireland – Monart.

 

It was only when I was booking Monart that I realised the difference between the two. The only reason people go to Monart is for the spa experience, it’s not like there is an entertainment programme or a golf course on site. They don’t even allow kids! I think this is what makes Monart special. They are not trying to be all things to all men and cater for the masses. They are an adults-only luxury destination spa hotel and what you see is what you get.

monart

I travelled with my sister and my mother, a gift to my Mum for her 91st birthday. Let me start by saying none of us are big Spa fans, but we wanted a luxury hotel for a ‘girly night’. I asked a few people where they would recommend and Monart cropped up time and time again. It was important for us to find somewhere that my Mum could relax, without the need to go sightseeing in the local area. We wanted to check-in and stay put for 24 hours, which is exactly what we did.

monart

After a short 90 minute drive from Dublin, we arrived at an 18th century house which looked like a stately home. Initially, I thought we were in the wrong place. That notion quickly passed when we were greeted by a gentleman in a tailored suit, ‘Welcome to Monart – shall I park your car for you?’ – a nice first impression. The main Georgian house has two reception rooms decorated in traditional style. We later found out that this is where you go to read the complimentary newspapers or use the WiFi – but a digital detox is encouraged in the main hotel. We walked straight through the glass corridor into the reception area. A strong aroma of essential oils filled the air and I immediately liked the décor, it was classic but with a modern twist. The floor to ceiling glass offered stunning views of the grounds, but the spiral staircase with the massive bog oak tree, stole the show.

We arrived in time for lunch in the Garden Lounge. This restaurant / bar serves food throughout the day until 7.30pm. The first thing that struck me was everyone was dressed in their white towelling robes, even in the restaurant! Our room wasn’t ready until 3pm, so much to my Mum’s relief,  we had to dine in our clothes! We had a tasty lunch, washed down by a nice Sauvignon Blanc, which was recommended by our friendly waitress. We shared a smoked salmon starter which was particularly good, as was my sister Anne’s pulled beef BBQ brisket sandwich. However, I expected more flavour from my dressed pink prawn bruschetta with tomato tapenade, gem lettuce and toasted sourdough… Overall it was a lovely experience, in a pleasant room overlooking the grounds of the hotel. The extensive menu also has some vegan dishes if you fancy combining your visit with some lighter food options. The bill came to €100 for the three of us, which was quite reasonable considering we were in a luxury five star hotel.

monart

After lunch our rooms were ready so we checked-in and got ready for our spa treatments. The rooms are bright and very spacious, with nice views overlooking the gardens. We donned our robes and made our way to the Spa. Anne and I booked the hour long Cellulite Smoothing Green Coffee Wrap (€100), hoping against hope that we would look a half stone lighter afterwards, just in time for Summer holidays! My Mum clearly wouldn’t have the same desires so she opted for the prescriptive facial, (€90) also an hour in length. This facial is tailored to the needs of your skin so it was the perfect choice for my Mum. She took the first appointment and was extremely impressed with her therapist, Sreeja. She loved every minute of it and happily read her book afterwards  in the relaxation room – there are several!

monart

While Anne and I waited for our treatments we decided to check out the Thermal Suite. There is a 2 hour circuit which we would have liked to complete, but time was against us. I particularly loved the salt grotto, in fact I fell asleep within minutes of going inside. I’m not sure if it was the couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc or the hot steam that made me nod off though, but either way I loved it. This salt and steam treatment room softens the skin and aids circulation; I had to be woken by my sister to tell me it was time to go! We moved on to the Aromatic Steam Room, which had the most divine scent of eucalyptus. This is supposed to cleanse the body of impurities and revitalise the mind. I’m not sure about the latter but my body certainly felt cleansed after it. I also liked the Caldarium, which is like a large dry room, not as hot as a sauna, but very relaxing. In between the heated rooms, I tried the experience showers which have a range of temperatures and pressure. The idea is to mix hot and cold to stimulate your body. We had time for a quick dip in the small hydrotherapy pool but not enough time to enjoy it properly. There are four heated loungers at the top of the pool, which we would have loved to relax on, but as we were only staying one night, we didn’t have enough time to do it all.

monart

After mixing hot and cold temperatures a few times, I decided to go one step further and try the outdoor sauna ritual, something some my Facebook followers had advised me to do. This ritual happens every day at approximately 4pm. Located just outside the Thermal Suite, it practically begs you to try it. I sat in a sauna that had such intense heat I thought I was going to pass out. I was never so relieved to have an ice-cold bucket shower in my life. I then had to rub ice all over my body, before going back into the sauna to start all over again. I must confess I cheated half way through the second round and had to escape. I’m not sure if it had the relaxation effect that it mentioned in the description, but I certainly felt invigorated after it! The time went by so fast and suddenly it was time to de-robe and go for my body wrap.

monart

I was greeted by my therapist Sreeja, who explained the treatment and what I should expect. Following a full body exfoliation and massage I was cocooned in a mountain of towels. The lotion started to tingle on my skin when I was wrapped up, something Sreeja had warned me about. I actually liked the sensation and thought to myself that it must be working. I could smell something that resembled coffee and I had visions of it breaking down my cellulite and eliminating toxins from my body. I hoped my skin would look polished and my physique leaner, as I had packed my white trousers for dinner that night, and hoped that they would fit better than they had the previous time I had worn them! After a while I stopped overthinking and finally relaxed. The combination of the massage, the perfumed oils and being wrapped up in a cocoon of hot towels, gave me a real sense of indulgence. I haven’t had many spa treatments before so I felt I deserved this little piece of heaven, even if it was only for an hour. When it was all over, Sreeja took my slippers and placed them on my newly moisturised feet. The slippers were hot! She had put them in a microwave or some similar heating appliance, before placing them on my feet. It was the perfect ending to my spa treatment experience.

monart

Unfortunately I didn’t stay relaxed for long. After my treatment Sreeja advised me to not to drink alcohol and to wait a while before showering… Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to do either. We had dinner reservations for 8pm and it was 630pm when my treatment ended. It felt a shame to wash my beautifully moisturised skin and I wondered if the creams were still working to eliminate toxins and combat cellulite? I also knew we were going to have wine with dinner and maybe even a cocktail beforehand – we were on a ‘girls’ night away after all. I began to wonder whether I choose the right treatment. Was the whole thing a waste of time? I still loved it, the experience, the feeling of being utterly spoilt, but in hindsight I wished I had chosen this treatment for the following day. TOP TIP It is vital that you plan your visit and book treatments in advance. Think about what time you will arrive, how long you will be staying and plan accordingly. We booked late and were lucky to get availability, although we all had treatments at different times, which meant we couldn’t use the thermal suite together. Perhaps a facial before dinner and a body wrap the following day would have been a better choice for me.

monart

For a brief time I did feel a little slimmer and loved the feel of my freshly polished skin. I also managed to fit comfortably into my white trousers for dinner in the fine dining restaurant. This is the only place where Monart ask you to dress in appropriate clothing. At all other times you are encouraged to wear your robe.

I was really impressed with the food in the main restaurant. From the amuse bouche right through to the dessert, each course was delicious. After a tasty starter of seafood lasagne, I enjoyed the rack of lamb followed by a cheesecake that was perfect and light. However Anne’s choice of ham hock with smoked pudding for starter and the Asian infused hake for main course was the winner! The flavours in both were sublime. We were all amazed at the set menu price tag of €45, it was excellent value for such high quality food. There is an extensive wine list too and contrary to Sreeja’s advice, we couldn’t resist the beautifully balanced L’Amourier…

monart

It was a long time since the three of us were away together so we retired to the bar after dinner for a nightcap. It was great to catch up with our news, without having to rush to work or to collect the kids. I made a mental note to myself that we need to get away together more often!  My only complaint about our stay is we didn’t have long enough. I think you need a two night stay to completely ‘switch off’ from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy complete relaxation.

monart

The following morning we enjoyed a tasty breakfast and went for a short walk around the gardens. The stone bridge, greenery and duck filled pond reminded me of Monet’s ‘Japanese Bridge’ painting. It is not only the Spa that is relaxing, there is something very peaceful about the gardens too. In fact Monart created an atmosphere of pure relaxation from the moment our car was valet parked at the entrance. It’s almost symbolic, like you are handing someone the keys and you are escaping ‘normal life’ for a day or two. Everyone walks around in their white towelling robes, the smell of aromatherapy oils fill the corridors, mobile phones are discouraged (the signal is really poor in the main hotel) and there are countless friendly staff at your beck and call. Now I finally understand the difference between a hotel with a Spa and a destination Spa hotel. There is only one Monart.

 

Prices from €219 mid week and €269 weekend for a two night stay with breakfast and one evening meal. Visit Monart.ie for more details.

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

Family HolidaysFeaturedHolidays in Ireland

5 Luxury Family Hotels In Ireland

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Five Star hotels and kids don’t always go together, but I found five luxury family hotels in Ireland that managed to tick all boxes.

 

With more of us holidaying at home, luxury family hotels in Ireland are in high demand. Sometimes it can be hard for hotels to get the balance right – we might want a five-star experience, but it is also important that hotels are family friendly. I’ve stayed in all of these hotels with my family and can highly recommend them. Some hotels have family rooms or interconnecting rooms, while others have lodges on the grounds of the hotel.

luxury family hotels in Ireland - Mount Juliet

It is important to note that some facilities listed below may have restrictions imposed. I always recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or if you have to change your plans at the last minute. However, if you are booking a non-refundable room, check out staycationinsurance.ie.
 

 

 

1. Fota Island Resort, Co. Cork

One of our favourite luxury family hotels in Ireland, we have visited Fota Island Resort on a many occasions. While the hotel is perhaps not as luxurious as some of the others on this list, the hotel facilities and the on site self catering lodges are superb for families.

 

We stayed in one of the new three bedroom Fushia lodges last year and loved it. Not only were they very spacious, but the modern interiors were some of the best I have seen. The children loved playing in the large back garden and we even had some resident rabbits join us each morning for breakfast! 
 

 

 
Fota Island Resort has a large outdoor playground, an indoor pool and a kids playroom. There are also lots of kids camps to choose from during school holidays. Camp Fota (€10 per session) operates for 4 – 12 year olds with indoor and out door games in their own dedicated kids lodge. There are also golf camps and an adrenaline adventure centre (age 8+ ) with kayaking, bush craft and lots more (€20 per session).

The restaurant has supervised kids buffets at 6.30pm followed by movie nights and quizzes so parents can even have a date night!  However, It is important to check that these camps and facilities are still running when you are booking.
 

 

 
We also stayed in the hotel rooms at Christmas time when we were lucky to see the Fota Beyond Christmas experience. This is one of Ireland’s best Santa Experiences and one I would highly recommend. The dark furnishings in the hotel lend itself perfectly to the festive period. With warm fires and lavish decorations, this is a great time to visit. All children also receive a large teddy bear in their room, Bea, which soon became our new family pet!

Luxury Family Hotel Breaks In Ireland
One of the advantages of staying in Fota Island Resort is its close proximity to Fota Wildlife Park. To witness many animals including kangaroos and lemurs roam free, is something that we all loved. Fota Wildlife Park also runs a Summer camp for children aged 4 and above, that focuses on the importance of animal conservation through five themed days.

Fota Island Resort is also very close to Cobh where you can take the Titanic experience tour, or take the boat trip to spooky Spike Island, to explore the fortress that once held 2300 prisoners. 

Read: My review of Fota Island Resort

Check prices here

 

 

 

2. Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan

One of my favourite hotels in Ireland, Castle Leslie is not like a traditional hotel. The Leslie family still live here at times during the year and the hotel even closes at Christmas time for a large family get together. The minute you enter the hotel you get the sense that you are visiting someone’s home. Although it is less grand than Ashford or Dromoland Castle, it has a relaxed, cosy atmosphere that is extremely inviting.
 

 

 
The grounds are spectacular with plenty of activities available for guests. It doesn’t have a swimming pool, but it makes up for this by having one of Europe’s finest equestrian centres and one of Ireland’s best preserved lakes for fishing. You can also try kayaking, clay pigeon shooting or even take a hot air balloon ride.
 

 

 
The lodges are located in the village of Glaslough, about five minutes walk from the Lodge at Castle Leslie. These four and five bedroom lodges are more like luxury town houses. All have open fires, nine foot ceilings, are lavishly furnished and cater for 8 – 10 people. They are located only a few minutes walk from the village of Glaslough and the Lodge at Castle Leslie, and about ten minutes from the Castle.
 

 

 
The village of Glaslough is an attraction in itself, with quaint shops and family friendly pub in the centre. Make sure you pop in to Ambledown Cottage for some great pizza in a beautiful, albeit quirky setting. Another must do is a visit to nearby Lake Muckno. Located in Castleblaney, this lake is undoubtedly Monaghan’s finest, with spectacular scenery from all sides. Take the time to do the Black Island walk. Enjoy the forest trails with fairy doors and Wilbert’s adventure playground. We tried kayaking and loved it. The water was so calm, it was even suitable for small children. You can wakeboard, waterski or take a boat out on the lake and prices are very reasonable. 

Read: Captivated my Castle Leslie

See more here
 

 

 

3. Lough Erne Resort, Co. Fermanagh

Luxury Family Hotel Breaks In Ireland

This luxury hotel is situated on a 600 acre peninsula overlooking two championship golf courses and lower Lough Erne lake. The lodges are a huge attraction, with conical roofs that look straight out a fairytale. The food at the hotel is superb and there are are lots of options to choose from, with a fine dining restaurant, a Loughside Bar and Grill, as well as some tasty bar food.

The large indoor pool allows for family swims from 8am – 11am  and 4.30pm-530pm. There is also an unsupervised play room, Ernies Den, with table football, air hockey and lots more. 

Luxury Family Hotel Breaks In Ireland

There are some excellent walks around the hotel golf course with stunning views over the lakes. There are also more arduous walks close by, the famous Stairway to Heaven boardwalk at Culcaigh Mountain, being one of them. This is more suited to older children as it is a 15km round trip with 450 steps. A popular spot for social media enthusiasts, no doubt teenagers will enjoy taking selfies at the top!
 

 

 
Marble Arch Caves and Lough Navar Forest Park are also close by as well as Corralea activity centre. The town of Enniskillen is only 5 minutes drive from Lough Erne if you fancy a change of scene. Make sure you pop into Francos for some good food in family friendly surroundings.

Read: Living it up at Lough Erne Resort

Check prices here
 

 

 

4. Kelly’s Resort Hotel & Spa, Co. Wexford

Kelly's Resort Hotel, Wexford - luxury family hotels in Ireland

Perched on five miles of sandy beach, with award winning cuisine and a host of activities for children, it is no surprise that Kelly’s Resort Hotel is considered one of best luxury family hotels in Ireland. Although officially only a four star hotel, the service and facilities on site deserve five stars. There is non stop entertainment for both adults and children available, with kids clubs, mini-golf and a multi-award winning spa, all on site. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the hotel, (many don’t), there are lots of things to do in Wexford with kids.

The food is superb, with an extensive buffet (probably one of the best I’ve seen) and an a la carte restaurant, where parents are encouraged to dine alone, while the kids enjoy the buffet with their new found friends. There is complimentary child minding from 7-9pm which allows for a romantic dinner for two, a rarity for parents with young children. 

Read :Is Kelly’s is the best family hotel in Ireland?

 

 

 

5. Mount Juliet Estate, Co. Kilkenny

luxury family hotels in Ireland

Mount Juliet is one of Ireland’s finest hotels and is one of the most popular luxury family hotels in Ireland. We stayed here recently and had a fantastic experience. The grounds, the facilities and the choice of dining options are superb. You can choose to stay in the Manor House, as we did, or the more modern Hunters Yard, which I’m told caters extremely well for families, and offers great value too.
 

 

 
I was surprised at how much children’s activities are available in Mount Juliet. There is a large playground with a zip line, as well as a fairy trail located in the gardens. Extensive kids clubs operate during school holidays, (extra charge applies), so parents can enjoy a round of golf or spa treatment while the kids avail of the supervised activities. 
 

 

 
There are two kids clubs, one from age 5-12 and the other 12+. Activities range from archery, equestrian and meet the owls, to baking, golf, treasure hunts and arts and crafts. It is important to check activities in advance with Mount Juliet as some activities may change. There are also evening activities such as a talent show and movie nights, and children can dine with their new pals giving parents the opportunity to have a date night.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
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There is also a leisure centre and equestrian centre which we loved. I tried horse rinding for the first time with my daughter Alex and it was fabulous! We trotted past the Manor House, through the woods and along side the golf course – it was an experience I would highly recommend. 

Read: My review of Mount Juliet Resort

Check prices here
 

 

 
I hope this post on luxury family hotels in Ireland will help you plan a family break soon. It is important to note that some of the facilities / activities listed may not be operating to full capacity – please check with individual hotel for clarification. I always recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you, or you need to cancel due to personal reasons.
 

 

 
Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.  Read more in my privacy policy.

 

You might also like:

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Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

Holidays in Ireland

Captivated by Castle Leslie

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Ambling from room to room in Castle Leslie, I felt a little like Elizabeth Bennett when she was snooping around Pemberley.

 

The atmosphere, the grounds, even the lake bore a striking resemblance to Mr Darcy’s mansion in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, although on a smaller scale. When I was given a tour of Castle Leslie, it didn’t feel like a hotel, it felt like I was looking around someone’s house when they weren’t there. The Leslie family has lived on the estate since 1665 and the hotel is now run by Sammy Leslie. Castle Leslie is closed over Christmas while the family gather together over the holidays. As I gazed at the long antique table, I pictured the family sitting around enjoying Christmas Dinner together.  Yes, Castle Leslie was not like any other hotel I have visited.

The lengths that Sammy Leslie went to to bring the estate back to it’s former glory are remarkable. Without a penny in the bank and the estate in serious disrepair, Sammy started by refurbishing fourteen bedrooms between 1995 and 1997. She organised tours of the house, started tea rooms in the conservatory and dinners were served by candlelight in the dining room. Slowly but surely over the following twenty years, Sammy managed to restore the rest of the estate, added a cookery school and a state of the art equestrian centre. She also helped regenerate the village of Glaslough. This remarkable woman also pushed limits in her private life. After trying 9 different schools she left school at 15 and rode horses for a living. She walked on hot coals, bungee jumped, drove 40ft trucks and even had a job as a mud wrestler at one point! Her story and that of her eccentric Uncle Jack are part of Castle Leslie’s charm. Not only did I love the hotel, I found myself loving the family too.

castle leslie

Castle Leslie is smaller than I imagined. Although it is less grand than Ashford or Dromoland Castle, it has a relaxed, cosy atmosphere that is extremely inviting. It feels more personal, almost homely and I could even imagine living in it. There are family portraits scattered throughout the house, a grand piano that I am sure was involved in many family get togethers; and a cosy bar that no doubt had some great sing songs over the years. Furnishings are in typical classic style but fresh and modern at the same time, with no dark dreary rooms.  The lack of a swimming pool means it is only given a four star rating, but for me Castle Leslie is five star in every other way.

Castle Leslie

We spotted a large room being dressed for a wedding and I could only imagine how romantic it would be to get married here. Surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodland, lakes and stunning gardens, I don’t believe you could take a bad photograph in Castle Leslie. If you are fortunate to get married here (like Sir Paul McCartney and many other celebrities) you take over the whole castle – only you and your guests are allowed to stay. Castle Leslie is often referred to as ‘Europe’s most romantic hotel’, I can see why.

There is a choice of dining options in the Lodge, Conor’s bar, which offers traditional pub grub, and Snaffles, a fine dining restaurant, which also has a children’s menu. We decided however to treat ourselves to ‘Uncle Jacks Great Afternoon Tea’ in the Castle instead. We were placed in the conservatory. I was travelling with my two children, 6 and 9 so I’m not sure if we were put there because we had children or whether they thought it was the best place to admire the garden views…. Whatever the reason, it suited us fine! The price, €25 per person, was reasonable I thought and there was ample food for all. We enjoyed miniature sandwiches of cucumber and chive crème fraiche, ham and wholegrain mustard and smoked salmon and cream cheese. The middle tier consisted of scones, crumpets and custard tartlets while the pièce de résistance was the top lair, with baked cheese cake, macaroons, opera gateau, to name but a few! The staff were very accommodating with the children and provided some extra ham sandwiches (€11). Over all I thought €61 was good value for five of us. Of course we couldn’t have afternoon tea without bubbles….

There are so many outdoor activities available on the Castle Leslie estate. Castle Leslie is home to one of Europe’s finest equestrian centres, has one of Ireland’s best preserved lakes for fishing and you can even trying kayaking, clay pigeon shooting or a hot air balloon ride! Unfortunately time was against us, we were only staying for two nights and with the hotel booked for a wedding on our second day, sadly we were unable to experience them. 

After our brief tour and walk around the grounds it was time to go back to our village cottage. The title ‘cottage’ is a tad misleading, Castle Leslie’s four and five bedroom Village Cottages, are huge!  They are built around a village square and each cottage is styled differently, both inside and out. All have open fires, nine foot ceilings and are lavishly furnished. They cater for 8 to 10 people and are equipped with all mod cons including free WiFi. Located only a few minutes walk from the village of Glaslough and the Lodge at Castle Leslie, and about ten minutes from the Castle, they are a great option for families or a group of friends who are looking for self catering accommodation, beside the hotel. 

Village Cottage

Posted by The Travel Expert on Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 

Glaslough is a pretty little village with lots of character and is the perfect size for a leisurely stroll. We took the 2km self guided heritage trail walk, which is a great way to learn about the connection between the Leslie family and Glaslough village over the last 350 years. The trail takes you to the old train station, St Salvator’s church and into the Castle Leslie estate. Simply download the app and you can have an audio trail for your entire walk, with maps to tell you where to go. This tidy town winner is part of Ireland’s Ancient East which is linked to a network of Irish stories over the past 5000 years.

Castle Leslie

Walking through the village we came across one of the prettiest cottages I have ever seen, Ambletown Cottage, which is only a few minutes walk from Castle Leslie. I started taking pictures of the stone walls and flowers when out pops Jeremy from behind the half-door. He talked to us about the ‘sleepy wee village’ of Glaslough and how he and his family turned this house into a restaurant business. He even offered to let me stay while he went to the local shop, telling me to “just close the door behind you when you are done”! I knew we had to eat there so we made a reservation (you need to) and came back later that evening. Ambledown Cottage is a tea rooms during the day and a pizzeria by night and boy were the pizzas good! It’s not only the food that is good but the setting is totally bizarre, but in a good way! There are several different rooms you can eat in, each with different tables, chairs and strange objects hanging out of the ceiling (a pram being one of them). The dining area is like the front of the cottage, covered in flowers and its quirky, unique style is what attracts people from all over Monaghan to dine there.

Glaslough is also home to one of the best bars in Monaghan the Coach House and Olde Bar, and no visit would be complete without a visit to Glaslough Chocolates shop. Open four years, local lady Trish Murphy-Thom moved back to her home town to set up her own business, making delicious chocolates from her kitchen. We were shown how she mixes the best Belgian chocolate with fresh local ingredients including pure butter and Monaghan cream. They are divine! Apparently if you are staying in Castle Leslie you will be treated to a little favour box on your pillow each night. We decided to buy some to bring home instead!

castle leslie

If you visit Castle Leslie you will be fortunate to experience one of Ireland’s most luxurious hotels in a unique village setting. The combination of the countless facilities at the hotel with various dining and accommodation offerings make it ideal for a family break, or a romantic weekend. As I mentioned earlier, Castle Leslie is not like a typical hotel, it is full of history, character and characters. If the walls had ears, what stories would they tell… I challenge you not to fall in love with the place 💛

For more details visit CastleLeslie.com

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here:

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

 
Holidays in Ireland

My Review of Fota Island Resort

fota

I’m a firm believer that the ultimate family staycation is one that combines a touch of luxury, with activities for children. Fota Island Resort has both in abundance.

 

When I was offered a trip to Fota Island Resort, a five star hotel with a wildlife park next door,  I jumped at the chance! We have enjoyed a Dublin Zoo family pass for many years; we are animal lovers who also happen to be fond of nice hotels, this seemed like the perfect staycation! After a short two and a half hour drive from Dublin we arrived at ‘the island’. I had never really paid much attention to the name before but when we drove into the lavish grounds and arrived at Fota Island Resort, the penny suddenly dropped,  we were in fact on an island! The gardens are superb (more on that later) and first impressions were really good. I couldn’t help but notice the pretty bronzed sculptures throughout the gardens and my daughter Alex was quick to notice them too 😍

We stayed at one of the new Fuchsia lodges, which were outstanding. Just check out my video below and you will see what I mean! The three bedroom lodge (house being more accurate) has a ‘good room’, a massive living area with modern kitchen, and a perfect back garden for the kids to roam around. Upstairs all three bedrooms are ensuite and two have walk in wardrobes! There is also a balcony off the master bedroom with views across the grounds. Rabbits were constantly bouncing around the garden so when the kids weren’t outside chasing them, the balcony was a great viewing point!


I was conscious that there are only six of these available for rent so I made a point of looking at the Courtyard Lodges too. I was really impressed with these also and they also have the advantage of are also beside a great outdoor playground. I was thinking how handy it would be to relax in your lodge while the kids played happily beside you.

fota island resort

The Fota Island Resort hotel  has a warm cosy feel, with dark bog oak furniture in large lounge areas. Personally I preferred the bright modern décor of the lodges, but I couldn’t help but think that it would be fantastic at winter time, especially with the log fire blazing ❤. I also investigated the hotel rooms and found them bright and spacious with modern decor. Fota Island Resort offers great facilities for children including a kids club and an indoor swimming pool. My kids loved the pool, however we didn’t have time to try the kids club on this occasion. During school holidays the Fota Camp operates daily for children aged 4-12 and there is also an adrenaline adventure centre for children aged 8 and over. Children will love the obstacle course and can try kayaking, learn about bush craft and lots more. Budding golfers will love their golf camp – suffice to say there are camps to cater for all children. We enjoyed tasty meals in the bar and Fota Restaurant, although perhaps not five star standard, but they offered an excellent kids menu. I noticed many groups of girls enjoying afternoon tea so I asked how they were getting on. They had booked a spa package which came with this incredible array of food. It seems Fota Island Resort is not just ideal for families!

fota island resort

I mentioned the lavish grounds earlier and thankfully on our last morning I look the opportunity to walk around them. There are numerous walking trails from 2.5km to 7km, each one was better than the next. You can walk through woods, along the golf course (did I mention there is a championship golf course here?) and along the waters edge. I spotted wildlife at every turn, red squirrels, rabbits and exotic birds; along with, I was told, the finest collections of rare trees and shrubs to be found in Ireland. Children will love the new Fota fairy trail, that has over 20 magical Fairy Doors hidden throughout the woods.  You can also choose to walk the 1.7km to the wildlife park, but with two young kids in tow, we decided to drive. After a few short minutes we were at Fota Wildlife Park.

fota island resort

We were only in the park a few minutes when my son spotted a peacock roaming around. This set the tone for the entire day. Everywhere we looked there were animals roaming free, it was so refreshing to see. My son was re christened ‘the spotter’ because he constantly spotted animals hiding in nearby hedges. There were wallabies hopping through the parkland and lemurs scampering up trees. We planned our visit around the Cheetah’s feeding time and seeing them run at an incredible speed was quite special. My son, Luke (9) was mesmerised. After the cheetah ‘show’ we strolled pass the numerous giraffe and bison and arrived at the Asian sanctuary ,where lions and tigers were happy to meet us.

The 100 acre park is very easy to navigate and it wasn’t long before we were at the lakeshore. This was our highlight. We got up close and personal with kangaroos and lemurs as well as the hundreds of friendly birds, ducks and geese. They even have a food dispenser (50cent). The kids loved feeding the birds and geese, the odd peck added to the excitement. The kangaroos are so used to visitors you can easily stand right beside them and get some amazing photographs. After a three hour visit we decided to hop on the train back to the entrance. It only costs a €1 so if you have tired children, this is a Godsend. We all loved the wildlife park, in fact I have already been asked when we are going back.

Fota Island Resort also has the luxury of being only minutes from the pretty Cork town of Cobh. Famous for being the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912, you can’t help but fall in love with this historic town. Take a the Titanic experience tour or have lunch in the Titanic bar. There is also a heritage centre and museum. If you fancy a boat trip, take a trip to Spike Island and explore the fortress that held 2300 prisoners. The town itself is pretty with lots of shops, bars and restaurants and the colourful streets are an instagram favourite.

I would highly recommend Fota Island Resort for a family break away. The proximity to Cobh and the Fota Wildlife park combined with a luxurious family friendly hotel and excellent lodges, make for a truly memorable holiday.

 

For more information visit FotaIsland.ie

Check out Ireland Before You Die for more information on things to do with kids in Cork

 

Like holidays in Ireland? Read more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

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