Travel News and Reviews

Gift Vouchers from Select Hotels of Ireland – The Ultimate Christmas Gift

Select Hotels Gift Box

Give the gift of travel this Christmas. With a choice of over 20 hotels to choose from, in superb locations throughout Ireland, gift vouchers from Select Hotels of Ireland are the ultimate gift this Christmas. 

Christmas gift vouchers from Select Hotels of Ireland are back! I am delighted once again to work with Select Hotels of Ireland to showcase their Christmas gift vouchers this year. They have been a huge success for the past number of years, particularly the Christmas gift boxes which include a voucher towards a hotel stay and four handmade Irish gifts.

Select Hotels of Ireland Christmas gift boxes

Select Hotels are all independently owned, and they are renowned for their great service and quality food. We stayed in two of Select Hotels of Ireland hotels last year, Breaffy House Resort in Mayo, and The Falls Hotel in Clare. You can expect a warm Irish welcome and a full Irish breakfast too – which we duly received during both visits!


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There are many household names in the group, like Actons of Kinsale and Celtic Ross Hotel in Cork, the Dingle Skellig and Kenmare Bay Hotel and Resort in Kerry, and the Clifden Station House and Ardilaun in Galway. There are many more hidden gems across various counties in the island of Ireland.

See all Select Hotels of Ireland here.


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There is something special about giving the gift of travel at Christmas time – after all, you are giving the gift of an experience. I think we all enjoyed discovering of our home country over the last two years, but we know there is lots more to explore. I’m sure anyone would love to receive a hotel voucher under the tree this Christmas – myself included.


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However, it is not always easy knowing which hotel to choose. That’s what I love about Select Hotels of Ireland – when you purchase one of their gift vouchers, you can choose to stay in ANY of their hotels in Ireland. You have the choice of giving a cash vouchers from as little as €50, or their popular Christmas gift boxes.

Actons Hotel, one of the hotels available with staycation vouchers from Select Hotels of Ireland

Select Hotels of Ireland Christmas gift boxes are a great way to support small Irish businesses. They include a Select Hotel gift voucher ( you can select the amount of your choice from €100 to €500), as well as four handmade Irish gifts.. This has proven to be a huge success over the last few years, with Christmas gift boxes selling out in record time. 

Christmas gift boxes from Select Hotels of Ireland

All Select Hotels of Ireland Gift Boxes include:


    • A beautiful scented candle from A&S Aromas in Sligo. These candles are hand poured using 100% soy wax and high quality fragrances. 


    • A Christmas tree bauble from The Irish Handmade Glass Company in Waterford. This bauble is mouth blown and hand cut, and the use of colour and cutting makes every piece unique.


    • Two delicious chocolate swirl sticks from Chez Emily, who combine the freshest local ingredients with the highest quality Belgian chocolate in their hand-made chocolates.


    • A red robin Christmas Mug from Shannonbridge Pottery. Their designs are in collaboration with both local and international artists who come up with original artworks.



Gift boxes are delivered by courier to your chosen address within 3-5 working days, and postage and packaging on the Island of Ireland is included! 


Buy here



Cash gift vouchers

If you prefer to give a cash gift voucher instead, they are available from €50 to €1000, and may be used as payment, or part payment, or for a stay, or meal, in any of Select Hotels of Ireland.

staycation gift voucher

You can choose an eVoucher for instant delivery, or postal voucher delivered in a beautifully presented gift folder along with a copy of the Select Hotels of Ireland hotel directory. Cash gift vouchers are valid for 5 years from date of issue. 

Buy here


So, go on, give the gift of a staycation. Gift vouchers from Select Hotels of Ireland are a gift that anyone would be delighted to find under the tree this Christmas! This post was sponsored by Select Hotels of Ireland, but all views, as always, are my own.



How to Claim Money Back On Your Next Staycation With The Stay and Spend Scheme

Keem Bay, Achill

Take advantage of our governments new Stay and Spend scheme and claim up to €125 back on your next staycation.


If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we all need a holiday! We may not be able to travel abroad at present, but we can certainly enjoy short breaks or holidays in Ireland. Anything that will encourage us to take more staycations is welcome, including the new Stay and Spend scheme that was introduced by government and comes into effect on October 1st 2020. 


The new Stay and Spend scheme is aimed at boosting the tourism and hospitality sector during the low season, from 1st October – 30th April. Families will be glad to hear that this also covers the busy periods of the October mid term break, Christmas and Easter holidays.

family staycations over october mid term break can avail of the stay and spend scheme


The new scheme offers taxpayers the opportunity to claim back 20% of the amount spent in restaurants, pubs, hotels and other qualifying businesses during this time, subject to a maximum spend of €625 per person.

If you choose to spend €625, this will equate to a saving, or tax credit, of €125 per person. Perhaps now is the time to splash out and treat yourself to a well deserved break?


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My review of Monart

My review of Mount Juliet

Best hotels in Ireland for luxury and romance

It is important to note that the Stay and Spend scheme is only available to taxpayers. You will need to have an income tax or USC liability which the tax credit can be offset against.



How do I claim money back on the Stay and Spend scheme ?

It would be easier and more inclusive for the consumer if the 20% savings were made directly on your hotel or restaurant bill, however, claiming your tax credit is actually quite easy.


You simply download the Revenue Receipts Tracker app on the App Store or Google Play Store. You will need a PPS number to register, but I downloaded the app today and found it very straight forward. I was also surprised to learn that you can use this app to submit health and other expenses too!

revenue app for stay and spend scheme

To submit your claim, take a photograph of your receipt on your mobile phone and upload this through the app. There is a minimum spend of €25 per transaction, but you can upload as many receipts as you like, up to a maximum spend of €625.

Revenue will provide an income tax credit of up to €125 (or 20% of entire spend) per taxpayer, or €250 for a married couple who are jointly assessed. 

Download from Google Play Store here
Download from App Store here



Are all hospitality businesses included in the Stay and Spend scheme?

Businesses need to register with Revenue to participate in the scheme. They need to be VAT registered, have a current tax clearance certificate, and be registered with an official body such as Fáilte Ireland, HSE etc.


It is important to check in advance of booking if the establishment you wish to visit has registered for the stay and spend scheme. Details of the businesses registered for the scheme will be available on, and 1600 businesses have registered already.

stay and spend scheme



Are there any exceptions?

While you can claim relief on accommodation, food and soft drinks, alcohol or take-away food is not included. There is also a minimum spend of €25 per person at any one time. As previously mentioned the Stay and Spend scheme is only available to taxpayers – this means many people including pensioners and carers who don’t pay tax, will not be eligible for the scheme.
restaurants during covid-19


Now that you know how to claim money back via the Stay and Spend scheme, why not book a nice staycation over the next few months? Some of my latest posts might be of interest and I have lots more holidays in Ireland on my website.

Read: Staycation tips for holidaying in Ireland during Covid-19

10 Cosy cottages to rent on Airbnb

Best hotels in Ireland for luxury and romance

Family staycations over October mid term break

10 family hotel deals between Christmas & New Year

20 Irish hotel deals for New Year’s eve


holidays in Ireland

The Travel Expert




Holidays in Ireland

10 Reasons To Choose Breaffy House Resort in Mayo For Your Next Staycation

Breaffy House Hotel

Looking for inspiration for your next staycation? From family friendly activities to soothing spa treatments, I’ve got 10 reasons why you should choose Breaffy House Resort in Mayo.


We spent three wonderful nights as guests of Breaffy House Resort. The staff were so friendly, the facilities top class, but most of all, there was a genuine holiday atmosphere throughout the hotel. Breaffy is aptly named a ‘resort’ hotel, and from the moment we arrived we were in holiday mode. There are outside tables overlooking the gardens, the perfect place to unwind with a pre or post dinner drink. We enjoyed listening to live music while the kids played happily – isn’t that what holidays are all about? 

Breaffy House Hotel

Breaffy House was built in Victorian style in 1890 and you can not help but admire its recessed facades, turrets, and extensive grounds. There are many reasons to choose Breaffy House Resort for your next staycation – here are my top ten.



1. There are two hotels to choose from, with a wide selection of hotel rooms, suites and apartments.

A member of Select Hotels of Ireland, Breaffy House Resort consists of two hotels on a 101-acre estate. The 4-Star Breaffy House Hotel and the 3-star Breaffy Woods Hotel are located just minutes from each other. You are welcome to use the facilities in both hotels, regardless of which hotel or room type you are staying in.

breaffy house hotel family rooms

The Breaffy House Hotel has 106 bedrooms including luxury suites and large family rooms that sleep six. The Breaffy Woods Hotel was built in 2006, along with a sports and events area. This was designed with events and families in mind and has large family rooms and interconnecting family suites, as well as six spacious self-catering apartments – one of which we stayed in. You can see a full tour of our apartment on my Instagram highlights.




2. Breaffy House Resort is situated on 101 acres and there are delightful looped walks to enjoy.

Breaffy House grounds

Breaffy House Resort is beautifully set in 101 acres of wide-open space. There are forest trails as well as 2km, 3km and 5km looped walks. You can download maps that outline the routes and highlight 13 points of interest along the way. These include the remnants of the Walled Garden, Breaffy’s own beehives, as well as a delightful fairy trail beside the lake. We enjoyed a leisurely walk along the 5km trail, it is a lovely walk to start the day, before or after breakfast.



3. There is a Leisure Centre with swimming pool, gym, fitness classes and health suite.

swimming pool at Breaffy House Resort

I was really impressed with the 20 metre indoor swimming pool and kids pool in the Breaffy House Hotel. Pool slots needed to be pre-booked in advance, but this is standard practice during Covid-19. The numbers were restricted in the pool, so there was plenty of space. Bath robes are provided in your room so you can get dressed into your swimwear before you arrive at the pool – this avoids having to use the changing facilities.


The fully equipped gym and health suite with sauna, steam room and jacuzzi were closed during our visit, but they are expected to re-open later in the year. The Leisure Centre also run aqua aerobics and fitness classes – these are also expected to return, but please confirm availability with Breaffy directly before booking.

The Breaffy Club has held the White Flag Award since the club was established over 10 years ago. The White Flag Award is the quality mark that is endorsed by Fáilte Ireland and the Irish Hotels Federation. It is the only industry quality standard for sports/leisure centres, gyms, health/fitness clubs, swimming pools & Spas.



4. Breaffy House Resort has four dining options and a Scandinavian BBQ Hut!

There are plenty of dining options available in Breaffy House Resort. We were delighted to learn that the breakfast buffet was still available! Breaffy have managed to follow Covid-19 guidelines by having staff serve food from the buffet stations without guests having to touch any food or utensils. So if you like a full Irish breakfast and plenty of buffet options, you will find it in Breaffy House Hotel. We also had a delicious lunch in Healy Mac’s Bar, and a relaxing dinner in the Mulberry Restaurant which overlooks the beautiful gardens. 

Goats cheese salad starter

Legends Bistro and Woods Bar are the dining options in Breaffy Woods Hotel, and although I didn’t personally get a chance to try them, we did enjoy some authentic Italian pizza from their in-house Pizzeria. If you are looking for something a little more unique, you can even host your own private BBQ in their new Scandinavian BBQ Hut!

Breaffy House Hotel BBQ Hut



5. There is a Spa with a choice of treatments available.

Breaffy Spa at Breaffy House Resort

I visited Breaffy Spa before I checked out – this was a massive mistake! I had booked badly needed pedicure, (which was great by the way),  however, what I should have booked was one of Breaffy Spa’s signature treatments. There are 12 treatment rooms, including two Dry Floatation therapy beds, a hydrotherapy bath, and what looked like a must-do if you are visiting Breaffy House Resort – their signature Rasul Mud Chamber.

You begin the treatment by applying a traditional eastern cleansing mud to your whole body, and then sit back and relax while the herbal steam soothes away all your stresses. This Rasul Mud Chamber sits up to 4 people so it is ideal for couples or friends, however you can also go it alone and prices are very reasonable. Price for four is €100, three is €85, two is €60 and solo is only €30.

The hydrotherapy bath has 252 powerful jets and I’m told 30 minutes on the the dry floatation bed is equivalent to eight hours bed rest – I’m sorry to say I didn’t try this either…



6. Breaffy House Resort is very family friendly.

grounds with playground at Breaffy House Hotel

From the minute we checked-in, we could see how family friendly Breaffy House Resort was. There is super playground and mini-golf course right in front of the restaurant and bar area. We were able to enjoy some al fresco drinks while the kids played happily in the gardens.

The Leisure Centre’s 20 metre swimming pool is 1.2 meters deep all the way around, which is ideal for family swimming, and there is a kids pool for younger children. The kids club was not open during our stay due to Covid-19 restrictions, but this normally runs during school holidays. There is also a fairy trail on the grounds, as well as another play area at Breaffy Woods Hotel.

Fairy Trail at Breaffy House Resort

The fact that the hotel has so many family rooms that can sleep up to six, as well as interconnecting rooms and apartments, also separates Breaffy House Resort from many of its competitors. 



7. There is a cool wine cellar.

wine cellar at Breaffy House Hotel

If you are a wine lover – don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a bottle of Bordeaux in the Breaffy wine cellar. This cellar opened in 2018 and was a labour of love for Wilson Bird, the General Manager of Breaffy House Resort. Wilson’s passion for wine shone through as he showed us wines from the Bordeaux region, the Loire Valley as well as a selection of new world wines. We enjoyed a wonderful wine tasting experience (well a little more than a tasting if truth be told) in the wine cellar. This is something I can highly recommend. Top Tip: Breaffy’s House wine is great too! 



8. It has Ireland’s only Healy Mac’s Bar – voted the best Irish bar in the world!

lunch at Healy Macs bar

I was lucky to visit Healy Mac’s bar in Kuala Lumpur, which The Irish Times and Diageo voted it the best Irish Bar in the World! But you no longer have to travel overseas to visit the multi-award-winning bar, because it has arrived at Breaffy House Resort. We enjoyed a delicious lunch there, food is served from 1230pm – 9.30pm daily and the bar is open from morning until night.



9. There are luxury champagne & spa packages available.

Breaffy House Resort suite

While Breaffy House Resort is very much suited to families during school holidays, it is an ideal hotel for couples or groups during the autumn or winter periods. Breaffy House Hotel also offers excellent value in their suites with dedicated Moet & Chandon spa breaks available. The junior suites are modernly furnished with free-standing baths and are the perfect choice for a romantic getaway. Prices for a two-night stay in a junior suite are from €250pp and include:

  • Bottle of Moet & Chandon – served chilled in your room on arrival, or on the south terrace during your stay.
  • 5 course evening meal on the night of your choice in the Mulberry Restaurant
  • Full Irish Breakfast each morning in the Mulberry Restaurant
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • His & Hers Elemis gift sets
  • €50pp spa credit
  • Late check out 2pm

There are various packages available, and if you travel from October – April you can claim a 20% tax rebate (up to a maximum of €125pp) with the ‘Spend and Save’ staycation incentive from the government. 

See more here



10.  Breaffy House Resort is close to Mayo’s top attractions and stunning beaches.

I am very much aware that during our short visit to Mayo that we only scratched the surface. The vibrant coastal town of Westport is only 20 minutes drive from Breaffy House Resort and the Great Western Greenway stretches all the way from Westport to Achill. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to cycle it – hopefully next time. The award-winning Ceide Fields is also in Mayo, along with Ballycroy National Park, the locals favourite Lough Lannagh, and if you are feeling up to to the climb, Croagh Patrick is only a 35 minute drive away.


However, we did get to visit Dún Briste at Downpatrick Head, Ireland’s most impressive sea stack. Located in North Mayo, its location on the Atlantic coast is really impressive. There are no barriers, crowds or visitors centres, it is still relatively unspoilt – sshhh…. It is also home to a WWII lookout post and the EIRE 64 sign, which let WWII pilots know that they were flying over a neutral country.


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I am convinced that some of Ireland’s best beaches are in Mayo, it is home to eleven Blue Flag beaches. We missed out on visiting most of them, but the three we did visit were spectacular.

Achill’s Keem beach has the wow factor and is definitely a contender for Ireland’s best beach. The sheltered cove has white sand and crystal clear water – it felt like a beach from the Caribbean, rather than the west of Ireland. Make sure you take the 40-minute hike behind the beach to catch one of Ireland’s best Instagram locations. 


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Keel Beach is also worth visiting, it stretches for 4km and is one of the most popular sandy beaches on Achill Island. It is a haven for water sports such as kitesurfing, surfing, windsurfing and of course swimming.

Silver Strand Beach is another stunning secluded beach, and although remote and unspoilt, it is only 15km from Louisburgh. It is surrounded by green headlands, high sand dunes, and blessed with crystal clear waters. 


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Read: 3 beaches in Mayo you have to visit

Read: My top 10 things to do in Mayo



For booking and information visit

** Note: We were guests of Breaffy House Resort, but all views, as always, are my own.


holidays in Ireland



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery




Holidays in Ireland

The Best Adventure Holidays in Ireland

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Whether you want to captain your own cruiser on the River Shannon, or climb Ireland’s tallest sea stacks in Donegal, I’ve got 20 great adventure holidays in Ireland to suit all tastes and budgets.


Did you know you can actually climb ‘Dun Briste’, the sea stack in Down Patrick Head? I didn’t either when I visited it last week! Fancy yourself as another Bear Grylls? You can book a bushcraft skills course in Cork, where you will overnight in the wild, in a shelter that you have built… Perhaps you are looking for a digital detox  – why not enjoy a three-day canoe and wild camping holiday in Kilkenny, for just €120? There are so many great adventure holidays in Ireland that I was not aware of – I can’t wait to get out and try some of them myself. 


Being cooped up at home for so long has given us all a new found appreciation for outdoor activities. I have never seen so many people take up cycling or sea swimming, and wetsuits and SUP boards are like hens teeth! Staycations have never been so popular and I have had many requests from people looking for adventure holidays in Ireland – here are my top 20.



1. Climb Ireland’s tallest mountain – Carrauntoohil, Co. Kerry


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And then I woke up

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Standing at 1,039 metres in the middle of the MacGillycuddy Reeks lies Ireland’s tallest mountain. I still can’t believe I actually climbed this many years ago. I’m not sure so I would be able to do it now, but I would certainly like to give it another try. The climb should take between 6-7 hours round trip, depending on your fitness levels, but the views from the top are definitely worth it. 

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Read: Top Airbnb Glamping sites in Ireland



2. Go Skydiving in Edenderry, Co. Offaly

adventure holidays in Ireland - skydiving

Release your inner action hero and try a skydive this year! are a non-profit organisation that offer full training from beginner level to advanced. You can go solo, take a tandem dive, you can even complete an Assistant Free Fall course. Many choose to skydive for charity, but you can also choose to skydive for fun, prices from €199.

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3. Drive the Causeway Coastal Route, Co. Antrim


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As well as boasting a stunning coastline, the Causeway Coast is a great destination for adventure holidays in Ireland. You can visit the Giants Causeway, walk across the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, try a sea safari with Aquaholics or if you really want to up the adrenaline, try coasteering – a combination of rock climbing and jumping into the sea.


Although currently closed, the Gobbins cliff path walk is one of Europe’s most unique cliff walks – hopefully this will re-open again soon. The best way to unwind after a day’s outdoor pursuits is to indulge in a seaweed bath at Sea Haven therapy in Ballycastle or enjoy a whiskey tour at Bushmills Old Whiskey distillery.

Read: A magical few days on the Causeway Coast

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4. Go Sea Stack climbing in Donegal

Sea Stack climbing is probably the most adventurous activity available in Ireland. I was amazed to learn that you can actually climb Dun Briste, the sea stack I visited recently at Down Patrick Head. “will take you to places that have been visited fewer times than the moon” – now thats a pretty cool claim to fame. You don’t need any previous climbing experience, in fact 80% of people that Iain Miller, (the world’s only professional sea stack climber), takes out have never rock climbed before. They also offer a host of other outdoor adventure sports including abseiling and coasteering. Voted Tripadvisor’s top outdoor activity in Donegal, if you are looking for adventure holidays in Ireland – look no further. 

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And you might find some cool places to stay here:

Read: 20 luxurious Airbnbs in Ireland near the beach



5. Captain your own cruiser on the River Shannon

A river cruise is a more relaxed way to explore Ireland’s towns and villages, but you also get a great sense of achievement by captaining your very own boat. You don’t need a license to rent a cruiser, and you can enjoy the freedom of deciding where or when to stop. Self-drive River Shannon cruisers range from 2-10 persons and can be hired in Carrick-on-Shannon, Athlone, Lough Ree and Banagher, Portumna and Whitegate on Lough Derg. 


You can also enjoy the lakes around Lough Erne, in Co. Fermanagh. They tend to be quieter than the Shannon, so you really get the feeling you are exploring on your own. Cruisers can be hired from bases in Tully Bay, Aghinver, Enniskillen, Killadeas, Carrybridge and Belturbet. Day trip rentals are also available.

See more here 



6.  Surf, Cycle & Climb in Mayo 


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We are just back after a fabulous few days in Mayo and I was blown away by the stunning beaches and the amount of outdoor activities available. It seemed everyone was either surfing, SUPing or biking! The Great Western Greenway is in Mayo and stretches 42km from Westport to Achill – you can also decide to cycle part of the way.


If you like hiking, why not climb Croagh Patrick while you are there. It takes about four hours round trip, so it is something that even older children can enjoy too.

Mayo is also home to 11 Blue Flag beaches, there are five in Achill. Achill is Ireland’s largest island, and it’s one of the best places to enjoy watersports. Check out who run various courses and one off surf lessons. They also have a lodge where you can stay, and I’m told their pizza is the best in Mayo too! 

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7. Hike Ireland’s highest sea cliffs in Co. Donegal

Slieve League Cliffs Donegal
Image by Holzauge222 from Pixabay

Donegal’s Slieve League Cliffs (or Sliabh Liag) are three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, yet many people I speak to haven’t even heard of them. I should point out that they are actually the highest cliffs on the mainland of Ireland, the Croaghaun Cliffs on Achill Island are slightly higher, but who’s counting!  There are many walking / hiking trails to choose from, and there is even a car park near the top if you are not feeling the urge to climb. You can read more about the the various trails and viewing points here.

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8. Visit Skellig Michael, Co. Kerry

One of Ireland’s oldest sites is now one of our top tourist attractions. Skellig Michael is one of only three UNESCO world heritage sites in Ireland, and is one of the famous locations in Star Wars, The Last Jedi. However it is not the easiest place to get to, visitor numbers are restricted and the boats only visit the island if there are calm seas.


The boat trip is 45 minutes long and sea-sickness is common, so be prepared! You also won’t find any toilet facilities on the island and the terrain is rough, so bring comfortable shoes. You need to pre-book your experience by phoning one of the local boatmen. However, if you are unable to step on to Skellig Michael, Portmagee or Valentia Island offer superb views of the islands too.

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9. Drive the Beara Peninsula & take a cable car to Dursey Island, Co. Cork

I love driving the Beara Peninsula. The colourful towns of Allihies, Eyeries and lively Castletownbere are just some of the reasons. But did you know that the Beara Peninsula is also home to Ireland’s only cable car? It connects the mainland to the tiny island of Dursey. Catch stunning views of Ireland’s south coast 30 meters below, before rambling around the unspoilt island of Dursey. You may even see some whales or dolphins who often frequent these shores.

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10. Go scuba diving along the Wild Atlantic Way 

adventure holidays in Ireland
Photo Sebastian Pena Lambarri, Unsplash

Unfortunately we don’t have the warm temperatures of the Indian Ocean on our doorstep, but we do have surprisingly good dive sites. Baltimore in Cork is not only a gorgeous port town, but it is also home to the MV Kowloon Bridge which sank here in 1986. The wreck is home to an abundance of flora and fauna, as well as a variety of marine life.


Brandon Bay in Kerry has a Gulf Stream that keeps the water relatively warm. Divers are often seen swimming with dolphins and basking sharks, and whales are also a common sight here.

County Clare is home to two of Europe’s top 10 dive sites, Fanore, and Diamond Rocks in Kilkee. Diamond Rocks gets its name from the quartz crystals that glisten when the sun shines on the rocks.


Donegal’s Tory Island is renowned for its excellent visibility and the wreck of HMS Wasp, while Killary Harbour between Mayo and Galway is a natural fjord and is a unique place to dive. There are many other dive sites in Galway, check out who are based in Connemara. 

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11. Take the Stairway to Heaven Walk, Co. Fermanagh


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The Cuilcagh Boardwalk trail, a.k.a the Stairway to Heaven walk, is located in Co. Fermanagh. The boardwalk was originally built to preserve the area’s blanket bogs, but it was soon adopted by hill walkers and now attracts 20,000 visitors every year. The walk can take 3-4 hours, depending on your fitness level, and there are steps to reach the viewing platform at the top – but it’s worth it for the ‘Gram… Why not combine that with a luxury stay in the 5-star Lough Erne Resort afterwards?

lough erne resort

Read: Living it up at Lough Erne Resort

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12. Try coasteering or canyoning

Coasteering is a combination of climbing, jumping and swimming along the coast. It is an extreme sport that has gathered huge momentum over the last few years. It wasn’t until I visited the Causeway Coast a few years ago that I heard about coasteering. CoasteeringNI offer a wonderful setting in Ballintoy, which also happens to be one of the Game of Thrones filming locations. Nevsail in Kilkee Co. Clare also offer coasteering, as well as kayaking / coasteering packages.


Gorge Walking or Canyoning is an adventure sport that will see you hiking through streams, sliding down gorges and doing whatever is necessary to reach the bottom. Eclipse Ireland in Kenmare, Co. Kerry have a combined coasteering and canyoning activity that lasts 3-4 hours, price from €65, while Epic Ireland in Galway offer one or five day adventure tours including coasteering and canyoning.

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13. Enjoy white water adventures or canoe camping in Kilkenny


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Award-winning company Go with the Flow offer white-water adventures, eco safaris and lots more in Kilkenny and Carlow. The White Water Thrills & Spills activity will see you negotiate weirs and rapids in their Canadian Canoes. Prices from €40 per adult and €30 per child. You can also rent canoes for two or three days and wild camp along the River Barrow. A three-day Canoe Trail and Wild Camping costs just €120 and you will be supplied with a tent, canoe, paddles, buoyancy jacket and storage barrel – is this not the perfect digital detox?  See more here.

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14. Take a Bushcraft Skills course and be self sufficient in the wild, Co Cork

adventure holidays in Ireland - camping
Photo by John Salzarulo on Unsplash

You will feel like Bear Grylls after completing this two-day Bushcraft Skills course in West Cork with OutdoorsIreland. You will learn how to forage, fish, and cook your own food, how to build a fire, and you will overnight in the wild in a shelter that you have built. Cost from €250 per person and beginners are welcome. Killary Adventure Company also run a bushcraft and survival skills day time activity which is suitable for children age 8+ and costs just €52 per person.

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15. Go mountain biking and wake boarding in Ballyhoura, Co Limerick & Co Cork

mountain biking one of the adventure holidays in Ireland

It seems that everyone in Ireland is cycling these days, so why not go a step further and try mountain biking instead? The Ballyhoura Mountain range has the largest mountain biking trails in Ireland. Trailriders Bike Rental/Shop is based at the trailhead of the 92km Ballyhoura Bike Trails in Co. Limerick, and Co. Cork. There are trails for beginners as well as serious bikers.  


Pay a visit to nearby Ballyhass Lakes too, it is home to Ireland’s largest wake boarding facility and offers ziplining, ringo rides, axe throwing and lots more. We visited Ballyhass last year during our trip around the Munster Vales. 

Read: Top things to do in the Munster Vales

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16. Learn to surf in Lahinch, Co. Clare


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Whether you are a beginner or want to improve your surfing techniques, you can book a three-day weekend surf course with Lahinch Surf School. Lessons are held in waist deep water so you don’t need to be an amazing swimmer, and each lesson lasts two hours. Prices from €90 for three lessons.

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17. Go cycling and sea kayaking in Co. Waterford


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The Waterford Greenway is our most famous cycle way, it is 46km long and stretches from Waterford City to Dungarvan. We cycled a small portion of it last year (from Durrow to Dungarvan) and loved it. We booked with Garvan Cummins, aka TheGreenwayMan. Garvan campaigned at length for The Waterford Greenway and provides information and insights that you may not find elsewhere.


We stayed in the coastal town of Dungarvan. It has a great food scene and is close to one of Ireland’s lesser known scenic areas – the Copper Coast. Home to the UNESCO Global Geopark, this coastline stretches from Dungarvan to Tramore and can be explored by car or bicycle.

Pure Adventure offers sea kayaking trips along the Copper Coast which offer the opportunity to get up close marine life and encounter sea stacks, caves, blow holes and lots more. 

Read: Top things to do in the Munster Vales

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18. Go Off Road driving and lots more at Todds Leap, Co. Tyrone


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There are over 20 action-packed activities available at Todds Leap Adventure Centre, including Off Road Driving, Clay Pigeon Shooting, a 500m ZipLine, a Giant Swing and a Free Fall Drop Zone. There are glamping snooze boxes and log cabins on site, which makes it ideal for families and groups, but if you fancy a more luxurious place to rest your head, Castle Leslie Estate is less than a half-hour drive away.

Read: Captivated by Castle Leslie

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19. Learn to kitesurf on Duncannon Beach, Co. Wexford

kite surfing - adventure holidays in Ireland

HookedKitesurfing offer a wide range of kitesurfing lessons from three hours to three days. The water in Duncannon is shallow so it’s ideal for beginners. The Zero to Hero private course consists of three hour lessons, done over two or three days, depending on the wind. All equipment is provided, with prices from €380.


Duncannon beach is located on the Hook Peninsula, so make sure you pay a visit to Hook Lighthouse, the world’s oldest working lighthouse, and if you are looking for a great place to stay nearby, I can recommend Dunbrody House Hotel. 

Read: My review of Dunbrody House

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20. Combine adventure with a spa break in Delphi Resort, Co. Galway

delphi adventure resort in Ireland

Delphi Resort is one of Ireland’s best known adventure resorts. You can take part in over 20 different outdoor adventure sports, with the added advantage of staying in a four-star hotel. Kayak the Killary Fjord, surf the Wild Atlantic Way, or brave the Zip’n’Trek aerial course. Surrounded by 200 acres of forest, Delphi Resort is a nature lovers paradise, and their thermal suite is the ideal place to heal any aches and pains at the end of the day. 

Search accommodation here


I hope this post on adventure holidays in Ireland will help you plan your next break away. Note this post was published on 30th July 2020. While every effort is made to ensure that facilities and costs are accurate, please check with the individual company before making any holiday plans.

Like this post? You might also like:

20 luxurious Airbnbs in Ireland near the beach

Top Airbnb Glamping sites in Ireland

holidays in Ireland



The Travel Expert



10 Staycation Tips For Holidaying in Ireland During Covid-19

Sarah Mount Juliet Garden Room (1)

Holidaying in Ireland during Covid-19? Check out my top staycation tips to help you make the most of your break away.

I was fortunate to enjoy many staycations in Ireland over the past two years, and I was really surprised at how easy is is to adapt to holidaying in Ireland during Covid-19.  In no time I was enjoying fantastic experiences, delicious food and luxurious crisp cotton sheets – I was on my holidays! 


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I enjoyed great holiday experiences, although it was interesting to see that most hotels had different Covid policies.  I learned lots of staycation tips and tricks along the way and thought I would share them with you.





1. Check the hotels Covid-19 policy


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Before you book any hotel, apartment or Airbnb, check their Covid-19 policy. You should find this on their website, but if not, call the hotel to confirm. You should be able to find out if the hotel is operating all of their usual facilities, or if there are restrictions in place. Some spa treatments, kids clubs and live music shows may not be available, but there may be substitutions put in place.


If you are concerned about social distancing you can find out if the hotel bar / restaurant has 1 or 2 metre social distancing in place, and if they have restrictions on meal times. The Failte Ireland guidelines for re-opening of hotels are guidelines only, so policies will vary depending on the hotel’s size and space availability. 



2. Book a room with free cancellation

Marlfield House

Luckily most hotels have relaxed their cancellation policies, and non-refundable rooms are not as prevalent as they were before Covid-19 emerged. It may transpire that some facilities that you were looking forward to, have to be withdrawn at the last minute, or perhaps you have to cancel for personal reasons, either way having a free or small cancellation fee can give peace of mind.



3. Don’t forget Ireland’s hidden heartlands and Ireland Ancient East

The Vee Drive Munster Vales

Ireland’s coastal towns are without a doubt the top choice for staycations this summer. However, not only is availability hard to come by, but prices are much higher in popular beach towns than they are in the Midlands.

When we think of summer holidays we tend to think of the sea and of course water sports, but remember we have plenty of great lakes where you can enjoy a swim, SUPing or kayaking. Towns like Athlone, Boyle and Drumshanbo provide great water-based activities at a fraction of the cost of our beach towns. Another bonus – SUPing or kayaking is a lot easier on a lake than in the sea…. 


I published a recent post for Discover Boyne Valley and was amazed at the variety of activities available. From cycling to the camino, boat trips to Brú na Bóinne – you will be spoilt for choice.

Read: 5 family activity breaks less than an hour from Dublin


Tipperary and Kilkenny should not be overlooked either. The Suir Blueway in Tipperary is a 53km kayaking and canoe trail and a 21km walking and cycling trail along the River Suir. You can also visit places like Cahir Castle and Swiss Cottage (below).


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Read: Top things to do in the Munster Vales

Kilkenny is another favourite city of mine. It is packed with experiences for everyone to enjoy and has a great food scene. You can go SUPing in Graiguenamanagh, get lost in the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, try falconry in one of its luxury 5-star hotels, or feel the buzz as you go down the longest zip line in Ireland.

Read: My review of Mount Juliet, Kilkenny

Read: Top things to do in Kilkenny with kids


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4. Contact the hotel 48 hours before arrival 

Lough Erne Resort

Most hotels will contact you by email 48 hours before arrival, listing their Covid-19 policies. This may include advice on pre-booking breakfast, swimming pool slots and spa treatments, as well as some staycation tips. This correspondence should also tell you about their turndown service and housekeeping policies.


However, if you have booked through an intermediary, such as or Trivago, they may not have passed on your contact details and therefore you may not receive an email. I suggest calling the hotel 48 hours before arrival if you haven’t received any correspondence, so you can be fully informed before arrival.



5. Prebook everything and plan for early nights!


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It is vital to pre-book evening meals and top attractions in advance. Most have restricted numbers, so if you are staying in a busy town or city you may find it difficult to get a booking. It is also important to pre-book breakfast times, swimming pool slots and spa treatments, as numbers will likely be restricted in hotels too.


I recommend booking a late sitting for dinner. Hopefully you wont be asked to leave after 105 minutes, assuming the hotel has the correct social distancing in place. I also recommend booking off-peak times for breakfast if you are in any way nervous about being in a busy dining room. 9am – 10am is usually the busiest time, so why not pre-book 830 or 845am instead?


You may find that bars will close earlier than usual, or that you will be restricted to the 105 time limit – this means you may be back in your hotel room earlier than anticipated. Bring cards, board games, a good book, or download movies from Netflix before you leave home.

Check out local restaurants that offer delivery service too. Many top restaurants are offering take away or delivery service now (not just pizza or Chinese). It might be nice to enjoy a relaxing night in with a bottle of wine during your staycation.



6. Ask at check-in about room cleaning and fresh towels

staycation tips - ask if you want your bed made
Trident Hotel, Kinsale

Most hotels have a policy of limiting the amount of time staff will spend in your room. This means that unless you ask for fresh towels or your bed to be made, it probably won’t happen. This should be listed in the hotel email that you receive before arrival, however this is something that you should confirm at check-in too. If you would like your bed made and fresh towels every day – just ask.



7. Visit top attractions and beaches during off peak times


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We are living in a country where it rains most of the year, so you can assume if the weather is good the beaches will be busy – especially the best beaches! I suggest getting up early and going to the beach first thing in the morning. We did this when we visited Achill recently and it worked a treat. We got a parking spot right beside Keem beach and had no issues with traffic.

Our hotel Manager told us that if we left an hour later the journey would have taken us twice as long, and we would have to park about a twenty minute walk away from the beach. 

The same rule applies to top attractions – go early before 10am, or late in the afternoon, after 4pm. There will be less crowds, you will have much more enjoyable experience – and get much better photos!



8. Be prepared for an Irish summer

staycation tips - bring your own wetsuit for outdoor activities

Unfortunately you will have to swap the Mediterranean Sea for the Irish Sea this year, but as the old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weatheronly unsuitable clothing.” ― Alfred Wainwright.”  These are not just staycation tips, they are advised for any road trip in Ireland: Put towels, rain jackets and a spare change of clothes and shoes in the boot of the car – and don’t forget your umbrella!


Buy wetsuits and surf shoes before you travel. Most outdoor adventure companies will have wetsuits for rent, but it is more practical (and better value) to bring your own, especially if you are swimming in the sea and not partaking in any of the paid activities.

Kayaks, SUP boards, bikes, bike racks and tents are also part and parcel of holidaying in Ireland now. So why not invest in some outdoorsy equipment before you take off on your staycation? 

Read: 10 Staycation essentials that you should be buying now



9. Use Google Maps – for more than just directions

staycation tips

Do you have the old Google Map app on your phone? Did you know that the Google Maps Food and Transit app can help you find secret scenic spots recommended by local guides, or find out where to enjoy the best views over lunch? You can even find out what the most popular dish is in a restaurant! I love that you can create and share lists with friends of top places you want to visit, and how you can add your favourite attractions or restaurants individually.


If you are planning a staycation, it is vital you install the latest Google Maps app on your phone. You can also download maps offline before you travel so you don’t need to use your data, or worry about poor network coverage in Ireland’s country villages. Google Maps will even find out where you parked your car!

Read: 7 Google Maps tips to help you plan the perfect staycation.



10. Relax and enjoy it!


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There is no doubt that staycations during Covid-19 will be slightly different to what we are used to. However, we have adapted remarkably to the changes that Covid-19 has brought, and holidaying in Ireland will be no different.


Remember, travelling, be it in Ireland or abroad, isn’t just about discovering new places. Travelling is also about switching off work, enjoying family time, and doing things you don’t do at home. Try not to fixate on the new restrictions, you will be surprised at how quickly you will adapt to holiday time! You will also find a new found love for our own country, I know I certainly did.


holidays in Ireland


I hope this post on staycation tips will help you plan your next break away. Note this post was published on 30th July 2020, travel advice and updates are changing on a daily basis. It is important to check with the hotel you are booking for individual policies. 



The Travel Expert


10 Last Minute Family Hotel Deals in Ireland – 3 Night Stays from €329

Ireland family holiday

Looking for a quick getaway? These last minute family hotel deals in Ireland might do the trick.

I understand that last minute family hotel deals in Ireland are hard to come by in July and August, so I’ve done all the hard work for you! I searched the web and found 10 great family deals departing in August. All deals are based on a three-night stay for a family of four, but some hotel rooms will sleep up to five.

Dates and durations can be changed, simply click on the links below and edit the search dates to suit your requirements. The links below are affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.




It is important to note that some facilities may not be operating as usual during this time, I recommend booking a room with free cancellation incase there are any changes to facilities that may not suit you.  



1. Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, Classic Room: €526

family hotel deals in Kilkenny

The Kilkenny Ormonde is practically a landmark in Kilkenny City, and is located just minutes away from the Medieval Mile. Its brasserie and lively bar attract locals as well as visitors, and it is the only city hotel in Kilkenny that has a leisure centre and spa. I’m just back from a fabulous few days in Kilkenny and found it a great city for a family staycation.

Read: Things to do in Kilkenny with kids

View offer here   

2. Montenotte Hotel, Cork, 2 bedroom Apartment: €833

Montenotte Hotel in Cork has self catering apartments on site
I have heard so many great things about the Montenotte Hotel, which has been recently refurbished and and offers stunning views of  Cork city. With a state of the art leisure centre, an in-house cinema and this cosy outdoor terrace, it is one of the most popular places to stay in Cork. There are various room types available but this price is based on a 2 bedroom apartment that sleeps up to four. 

View offer here



3. Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge, Dublin, Deluxe Family Room B&B: €329

family hotel deals in Dublin, Ireland

Ideally located in the upmarket suburb of Ballsbridge, the Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge has the advantage of being very close the city of Dublin without the corresponding crowds. Originally a 19th century Masonic School, it offers the perfect blend of tradition with contemporary decor, and is a great base to explore the capital with kids.




4. Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Limerick, Family Room: €384

The Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa has the advantage of being located on the borders of Limerick and Clare, so it is ideally situated if you want to explore Ireland’s scenic west coast. As well as a choice of dining options, it boasts a leisure centre, spa and even an outdoor hot tub! Kids will love the outdoor play area, swimming pool, and extensive grounds with a fairy garden.

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5. Parkavon Hotel Killarney, Family Room: €492


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The Parkavon Hotel is ideally perfectly located within walking distance of Killarney town centre and Killarney National Park. It also boasts a leisure centre which should keep the kids happy. This is great value for a family stay in Killarney.

View offer here



6. Bayview Hotel, Killybegs, Donegal, Family Room B&B Sleeps 5, €447  

The popular Bayview Hotel is located in the pretty fishing town of Killybegs in Donegal. With the Wild Atlantic Way on your doorstep, this is an ideal base to explore Donegal’s stunning coastline.

View offer here



7. Hotel Curracloe, Wexford, Quad Room B&B, €447 

Curracloe Beach

The Hotel Curracloe is a small hotel with just 29 rooms, and is located just minutes from the famous Curracloe Beach in County Wexford. Wexford Town is just a five minute drive away, and one of my favourite family attractions in Ireland,  The Irish National Heritage Park is also close by.

Read: 5 Things to do in Wexford with kids

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8. Maldron Hotel Sandy Road, Galway, Family Room, sleeps 5 B&B, €426  

best self catering breaks in Ireland

Located within walking distance of Galway City and with a kids club on site, this is a great choice for family staycation in Galway this summer. 

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9. Maldron Hotel, Wexford, Family Room €498

A family friendly hotel, the Maldron Hotel Wexford boasts an indoor pool, two outdoor playgrounds, a mini-golf course and family friendly activities during school holidays. It is also close to Wexford’s top attractions including the Irish National Heritage Park,  Johnstown Castle and Gardens, and Wexford’s beautiful beaches.

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10. Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel, Adare, Limerick, Family Room B&B €603

family breaks in ireland

Located in the pretty village  of Adare, this family owned, award winning hotel boasts three restaurants, a spa and leisure centre. With the Cliffs of Moher and Clare’s beaches just a short drive away, this is an ideal location to explore the Wild Atlantic Way.

View offer here


I hope this post on family hotel deals in Ireland will help you get away this summer.  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. 

These deals were researched across various hotel booking sites. When you make a booking you do so via a third party website. Prices are correct at the time of publishing but may change. 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.


Like this post? You might like:

The best beach hotels in Ireland – my top 20 picks

Top picks for glamping in Ireland

20 Hotels with lodges in Ireland



The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery



10 Self Catering Breaks in Ireland, 3-Night Stays in August, from €450

family holidays in Ireland

From Dublin to Donegal, Limerick to Leitrim, I’ve got 10 self catering breaks in Ireland this summer.

Self catering breaks in Ireland were extremely popular last year, and I can see that demand is already high for this summer. Whether you fancy a family break, or a catch up with friends, I’ve got 10 self catering breaks  in August to suit you. All have received good reviews from previous guests, and have flexible booking options. 


I have priced these self catering breaks in Ireland for three-night stays in August, but dates and durations can be changed to suit your requirements, simply click on the links below and edit the search dates accordingly.


Please note that some facilities may not be available and are subject to change, so it is best to check with the hotel or apartment if there is any facility you are particularly interested in. Note some of the links listed are affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.



1. Park Place Apartments, Killarney, Kerry: 2-bedroom Apartment from €800

Park Place Apartments Killarney - self catering breaks in Ireland

Located in the centre of Killarney town centre, these bright, modern apartments are just 500 meters from the Killarney National Park. With the Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way on  your doorstep, the possibilities for day trips is endless.

View offer here  



2. Carrick Plaza Suites, Carrick On Shannon, Leitrim: 2-bedroom apartment €597

Lough Key forest park

Located in the heart of Carrick-On-Shannon, these modern two-bedroomed apartments sleep up to six, and three-bedroomed apartments sleep up to eight. Both boast panoramic views over the River Shannon. Take a cruise along the river, or enjoy a family day out at Lough Key Forest Park.


Note: When you click on the link below you will see quad rooms, but once you click through to see availability you will see two-bedroom apartments available.

View offer here  



3. The Helm 3-Bedroom Apartment, Westport, Mayo, 2 Night stay €585

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If you have been following me for a while you will know I fell in love with Mayo’s stunning coastline a few years ago, and this two-bedroom apartment is ideally located to explore it.


Located right in the heart of Westport, The Helm overlooks the harbour and has a restaurant and bar, with complimentary breakfast included in your stay. This is great value for self-catering breaks in Ireland in one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s most vibrant towns.

Read: Top 10 things to do in Mayo

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4. Jamestown Court 2-bedroom apartment, Salthill, Galway: €1030

self catering breaks in Ireland - Galway apartments

With a superb beachfront location in Salthill, these modern apartments offer stunning sea views and are beautifully furnished. With Galway city, Connemara and the Wild Atlantic Way on your doorstep, these will surely be one of the most popular options for self catering breaks in Ireland.
View offer here



5. St Anglea’s 3-bedroom apartment, Sligo: 2-bedroom apartment €545

Photo by Andreas Brunn, Unsplash.

If you want to explore the Wild Atlantic Way on a budget, then look no further! Anglea’s apartment boasts free WiFi, an onsite gym and views of the Isle of Innisfree. Located just five miles from Sligo town, with Strandhill beach and Rosses Point close by, this is a great value option for self catering breaks in Ireland.


Note: When you click on the link below you will see one bedroom apartments, but once you click through to see availability you will see two-bedroom apartments available.

View offer here 



6. Glamping Under The Stars, Laois, Hobbit House, €599

glamping in ireland

As well as offering six different glamping accommodations, the name, ‘Glamping Under the Stars’ has already got me thinking that I want to stay there.

Located just an hour from Dublin, this award-winning glamping site has bell tents, wood lodges and a shepherd’s hut, all equipped with proper beds, a private decking area and sockets for charging phones.  


The hobbit-style Houses sleep up to six and have private bathrooms. Prices for a three-night family stay are €599 on various dates in August.  

Read: 20 Top picks for glamping in Ireland
Check prices here



7. Benbulben Court, Sligo: 2 bedroom apartment: €448

A selection of one and two-bedroom apartments close to Sligo town centre and Ireland’s most distinctive mountain, Benbulben,  these apartments are a great value choice for families looking to explore the Wild Atlantic Way.
There is an onsite reception opened daily should you need anything during of your stay, and guests can enjoy discounted swimming pool and gym rates in the Clayton Sligo Hotel which is next door.  The reviews from previous guests are excellent, and the opportunities for day trips are endless.


Note: When you click on the link below you may see one bedroom apartments available , but once you click through to see availability you will see two-bedroom apartments available. 

View offer here  



8. Assaroe Falls, Donegal: 2-bedroom apartment: €600

Assaroe Falls is located just over 2km from the Lakeside Centre and just over 5km from the gorgeous beach at Rossnowlagh. It features river views, free WiFi and free private parking. 

See more here  



9. Berehaven Pods, Castletownbere, Cork: 15th August, €450

self catering holidays in Ireland

The Beara Peninsula is one of my favourite parts of Ireland and these glamping pods are in the perfect location to explore it. Each pod has a kitchenette, bathroom with shower, and patio and seating area. There is a private beach area on site too and with Killarney, Kenmare and West Cork all within easy reach, the possibilities for day trips are endless.

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10. Castle Oaks House Hotel, 2-bedroom Courtyard Apartment with pool access, Limerick: €900

hotels with self catering in Ireland

Set in 26 acres of grounds, and beautifully situated on the banks of the River Shannon, this Georgian Manor House Hotel is a great choice for self catering breaks in Ireland.


The Courtyard Suites are located just a one minute walk from the reception area. There are two double bedrooms with a spacious living area and kitchenette. Guests can enjoy access to the hotel facilities including breakfast in the hotel restaurant for a small supplement, as well as access to the River Leisure Club and pool. 

Note: Cheaper family rooms may show initially, but if you click on ‘see availability’ you will see all room types listed.

Read: Top Things to do in the Munster Vales

View offer here  


I hope this post on self catering breaks in Ireland will help you plan a staycation this summer. 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, or a small deposit, incase there are any changes to the listed facilities that may not suit you.


These deals were researched across various hotel booking sites. When you make a booking you do so via a third party website. Prices are correct at the time of publishing but may change. 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.


Like this post? You might like:

The best family hotels in Ireland for all tastes and budgets

35 Hotels with lodges in Ireland

The best beach hotels in Ireland – my top 20 picks

Top picks for glamping in Ireland


TravelTravel Deals in IrelandTrending Travel Deals

12 Family Breaks in Ireland Over St Patricks Weekend – 2 Night Stays From €382

waterford family

With St Patricks Day falling on a Friday this year, why not plan a staycation? I’ve got 12 family breaks in Ireland to tempt you. 

Whether you want hotels or holiday homes, this post has family breaks in Ireland to suit all tastes and budgets. All hotels listed are family friendly and all are recommended on TripAdvisor. I have priced these family breaks in Ireland for two-night stays over Patrick’s Weekend, but dates and durations can be changed, simply click on the links below, and edit the dates to suit your requirements.


If you are looking for break away without kids – check out my adult breaks here:

Read: 10 hotel deals over St Patrick’s weekend, 2 night stays from €129pp

Most of these family breaks in Ireland include my affiliate links – where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.



1. Garryvoe Beach Homes, Cork : 1 & 3 bedroom Homes from €466

Garryvoe beach homes

The Garryvoe Beach Homes are newly built homes with modern interiors, stunning views and a private garden to take advantage of them.

As the name suggests they are situated just two minutes walk from the Blue Flag Garryvoe Beach, however you can also avail of the leisure centre and swimming pool at the nearby Garryvoe Hotel, for a nominal daily charge. 

View offer here



2. Lahinch Coast Hotel & Suites, Clare: 2 bedroom suite €628


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Close to Lahinch beach, with the Cliffs of Moher just a 10-minute drive away, this is a great choice if you want to  explore Clare’s gorgeous coastline, without breaking the bank. 


There is a Leisure Centre on-site too, with 17 metre pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi – the perfect place to relax after exploring the Wild Atlantic Way. 

View offer here  




3. Talbot Suites at Stonebridge, Wexford, 2-bedroom €480

irish hotel deals for families in wexford

The luxurious Talbot Suites at Stonebridge is a super choice for families looking for large apartments in the heart of Wexford Town. There are 69 apartments on-site with fully equipped kitchen, balcony or patio and TV’s in all living areas and bedrooms. Three-bedroom apartments also boast floor-to-ceiling windows.


Guests have access to the swimming pool and Talbot Quay Leisure Centre and the bar and restaurant at the Talbot Hotel which is just 100 metres away.

Read: Top 10 things to do in Wexford with kids

View offer here


4. Westlodge Hotel & Leisure Centre, Cork: Deluxe Family Room €358

mizen head, cork.
Mizen Head

Set in 30 acres of gardens, yet close to Bantry town, The Westlodge Hotel is a super choice for families wishing to explore West Cork and the Wild Atlantic Way. The leisure centre, games room and pitch and putt course are a big hit with families, and they also larger deluxe family suites that can accommodate a family of five.  

View offer here



5. Kenmare Bay Hotel, Kerry: 2 bedroom lodge, €598

kenmare bay hotel deals for families

The Kenmare Bay holiday homes are always highly sought after, not only because of their ideal location, but they offer free access to the Leisure Centre and hotel facilities. They have availability over St Patrick’s weekend in two-bedroom lodges that sleep up to five.

View offer here



6. Breaffy House Hotel, Mayo: Family Rooms €530, or €622 for (6)


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We stayed in Breaffy House Hotel on a few occasions, and love it family atmosphere and superb facilities. It is situated on 101 acres and there is a spa and swimming pool on site. It is also a great base to discover to some of Mayo’s top attractions, including Westport, Achill, Croagh Patrick and DownPatrick Head.


I fell in love with Mayo’s beaches, and if you fancy cycling, the Great Western Greenway is only a 30 minute drive away. 

Read: Top 10 things to do in Mayo

View offer here




7. Clifden Station House, Galway: 2 bedroom apartment, €475

hotels with lodges in connemara

This unique hotel was once an old railway station. It has been beautifully restored and manages to combine the old brick and native oak with modern furnishings. Its location in the upmarket town of Clifden is ideal for anyone who wants shops, bars and restaurants close by, but also wants to get out and about and explore the rugged coastline of Connemara.


The two and three-bedroom apartments are a great choice for groups or families as guests get full use of the hotel facilities including the swimming pool and leisure facilities. The Railway Kids Club usually operates during holiday periods. 

View offer here



8. Clayton Hotel & Leisure Club Sligo, Two-bedroom Family Room: €518

Photo by Andreas Brunn, Unsplash.

Set on beautiful grounds overlooking Benbulben Mountain, yet within walking distance of Sligo Town centre, the 4-star Clayton Sligo ticks all boxes for a family holiday in Ireland. The leisure centre has a separate kids pool, and two bedroom family suites sleep two adults and three children.

View offer here



9. Connemara Sands Hotel, Galway: 2 bedroom house, €680

Connemara Sands Hotel is one of Irelands best beach hotels

With private access to the Blue Flag Mannin Bay beach, the Connemara Sands Hotel is one of the best beach hotels in Ireland. A stay here offers the best of both worlds, as you have the benefits of its hotel facilities, including the Spa and Wellness centre, as well as self catering facilities in a holiday home. This super deal includes breakfast too!

View offer here



10. Park Hotel Dungarvan, Waterford: Family Room B&B, €382


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The Park Hotels’s superb location combined with a leisure centre on site, make it a great option for a family break in Ireland. Dungarvan is a pretty town and has some great restaurants, and it is the gateway for the Waterford Greenway.  

Read: Top things to do in the Munster Vales

View offer here



11. The Lodges at Kilkea Castle, Kildare: B&B, €590

geat value hotel breaks in Ireland at Kilkea castle

The self catering lodges at the luxurious Kilkea Castle are the perfect solution for families looking for hotel breaks in Ireland with self catering facilities. You will have full access to the resorts facilities including the spa, golf and 180-acre grounds.

View offer here


12. Mill Park Hotel, Donegal: Family Room B&B, €430

swimming pool at the Millpark Hotel Donegal.

Located close to Donegal town, with some of Ireland’s best beaches and the Wild Atlantic Way on your doorstep, this is of the top rated hotels for family breaks in Ireland. There is a swimming pool, children’s pool, sauna, and state-of-the-art gym onsite, as well as a choice of dining options. 

Read: Top 10 things to do in Inishowen, Donegal

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I hope this post on family breaks in Ireland will help you plan a family getaway over Patricks weekend. These family breaks in Ireland 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.


The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery

ContributorsTravel News and Reviews

Finding Dublin’s Hidden Gems


City Staycation: Finding Dublin’s Hidden Gems


If you visit on the weekend, Dublin is teeming with overseas tourists looking for a good time. They queue outside the Guinness Storehouse (and rightly so, it’s a fascinating experience), they fill the pubs in Temple Bar, and then leave on a Monday morning, having had a great weekend of revelry in Ireland’s capital. This leaves the rest of the week free for locals to discover, and those of us who can take a midweek trip to explore Dublin’s hidden gems. From dawn to dusk, here’s your local guide of what to do in Dublin.


With a big day ahead of you, you’ll want to find somewhere to start your day with a cup of tea. Whilst Dublin’s artisan coffee shops are seemingly growing faster than any other business in the city, there’s nothing like an auld cup of Rosie Lee to start the day. Head to the Queen of Tarts for a cosy, quaint cuppa and a slice of cake for a little sustenance, before heading to the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art). The tourists tend to head for the National Gallery, but the IMMA is home to some incredible pieces of contemporary art.


With lots of choice for lunch in Dublin, you’ll soon feel quite overwhelmed as you try to pick where to eat. In keeping with this local list of little gems, try the Beshoff Bros for Fish and Chips. Opened in 1939 and having gained a reputation for being the best chip shop in Dublin, Beshoff Bros serve up fresh Atlantic haddock, north Atlantic cod, smoked haddock and scrumptious scampi, handing you be the sustenance you need before you head out again for the afternoon. Lovers of quality, the fish is all caught in clean water, and the potatoes are farmed organically. There is even the option of gluten free batter, so even the coeliacs don’t have to miss out!

The Afternoon

You’ll probably want to walk off the fish and chips, and afternoons were designed for lazy meandering. There is plenty of space to do this in Iveagh Gardens. The gardens were designed in the mid 1800s but have a history dating back more than 300 years. Originally designed as a garden for a modest Earl in the 1860s, they were redesigned to boast the many features you see now. Get lost in the yew maze or take a wander around the rosary garden for a lazy afternoon. If the weather isn’t in your favour, duck into the Long Library at Trinity College where you can marvel at the high ceilings and take a wander around the library’s literary exhibitions.

The Evening

To truly round off a day packed with culture, you’ll have to take a visit to The Gate Theatre. The historic building is home to some of Ireland’s finest creative talent, and regularly hosts touring theatre and ballet. The Gate’s smaller performance, the Gate Studio is an experimental space which hosts artists championed by the gate and often shows unique cross-disciplinary work. Settle into a cushioned seat as you reflect on your day of culture in the capital.

There’s so much more to be seen in Dublin than Temple Bar, and there are plenty of alternative ways to spend your trip. Head out and get lost a little bit, and you might just surprise yourself.


Like holidays in Ireland, see more here.



The Travel Expert


Holidays in Ireland

6 Fun Things To Do In Monaghan


Take a stroll around Lake Muckno, cycle around secret Drumlin trails and have afternoon tea in Castle Leslie! Here are six fun things to do in Monaghan!

I have visited many counties in Ireland but until recently, Monaghan had escaped me. It wasn’t a place that was on my bucket list, in fact it wasn’t really on my radar at all. However after spending a few days there with my family, my eyes were opened, and I was surprised at the variety of things to do in Monaghan. The cliché ‘hidden gem’ sprang to mind on numerous occasions during my visit. 

The towns of Monaghan and Castleblaney are full of life and have a wide variety of dining options. In fact, Monaghan finished in the top 10 of Irish foodie destinations, run by the Restaurants Association of Ireland. Known as the land of drumlins, Monaghan’s rolling hills enhance the dramatic landscape and its proximity to the border with Northern Ireland ensures locals have some great stories to tell. We found lots of fun things to do in Monaghan during our quick visit, check them out below.

Spend a day at Lough Muckno.

I would drive to Monaghan again just to visit Lough Muckno. It should be top of your list if visiting Monaghan. 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. This is a leisurely 2km walk that is suitable for all the family. My kids loved the forest trails with fairy doors and being able to walk along the waters edge was an added bonus. Wilbert’s adventure playground is located here too which is packed with ziplines and large slides.

Visit Castle Leslie and Glaslough Village

We were fortunate to stay at Castle Leslie’s Village Cottages which are situated in the picturesque village of Glaslough. Take time to pay a visit to Castle Leslie and you will see why Paul Mc Cartney and so many other celebrities chose to get married here. You can dine at the Lodge or have Afternoon Tea in the Castle but if you fancy eating in the town, Ambledown Cottages is a unique find. Read my blog on my stay at Castle Leslie for more details.

fun things to do in Monaghan

Have lunch in Dinkins

After spending the morning playing pitch and putt we worked up a healthy appetite for lunch!  We visited the family run restaurant, Dinkins, which is located in the heart of Monaghan town. Traditionally a bakery, it is also home to a full delicatessen and a restaurant.

The passion and pride in which our host April described the menu was incredible. “There isnt a cake downstairs that I wouldn’t eat myself” – April’s enthusiasm was a pleasure to watch and I knew immediately we were in for a treat. We enjoyed a marvellous selection of sandwiches, paninis and salads and there were clean plates all round. Of course we simply had to try some of their delicious cakes too. Check out my son’s happy face below, that says it all!

Visit Monaghan Museum

Although I wouldn’t necessarily class this as a fun thing to do in Monaghan, the Monaghan County Museum is definitely worth a visit, and you may have some fun along the way too! Located in the centre of Monaghan Town this award winning museum has been open for 40 years. Although not particularly a children’s paradise, there are plenty of interesting artefacts from the Stone and Ice age that kept them amused.

Local man, Irish rugby international and all around nice guy Tommy Bowe, has kindly donated his various rugby jerseys to the Museum and they were a big hit with my son too.

There are numerous exhibitions on throughout the year and we were fortunate to see ‘The Watchman’, which tells the story of 200 years of policing, crime and punishment in Ireland. The kids enjoyed trying on the jail scrubs and pretending to get arrested! The latest exhibition ‘The Monaghan Spitfire’ centres around the remains of a WWII Spitfire that was excavated last Summer as well as an original set of nazi invasion plans for Ireland. 

fun things to do in Monaghan

Have dinner in Monaghan Spice

As previously mentioned Monaghan is becoming widely known as one of Ireland’s food destinations. There is a wide selection of dining options and Monaghan even has its own Taste of Monaghan, food festival at the end of September.

We ate in Monaghan Spice, an Indian restaurant that has recently been named as one of Ireland’s top 50 World Restaurants. Both the service and quality of the food was impeccable. The menu is extensive with plenty of options for adults and children alike, from mild to spicy dishes. Portions are large so if opting to share you should take that into account. The kids loved the sharing platter that we had for starters which came with chicken tikka, tandoori chicken and kebabs. For main course I opted for one of the house specialities, prawn chingri chaloo and it didn’t disappoint. For more details click here.

fun things to do in Monaghan

Rent a bike and ride through the drumlin townlands

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try this myself, but it is something to plan for my next trip!, has trails and bikes to suit all ages and fitness levels. Choose a short 6km trail, or if you are feeling adventurous, try the a 57km Carleton/Kavanagh trail. Visit viking forts, monastic settlements and the pretty town of Glaslough. Prices from €15 per day for a regular bike or €35 per day for an electric bike.

Click here for more details:


Although I have only listed 6 fun things to do in Monaghan, trust me there are lots more! Our visit was a quick one, we only stayed for two nights so I would definitely recommend you stay longer. I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit but I have no doubt that it won’t be long before I’m back 🙂


Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.



The Travel Expert



Holidays in Ireland

My Family Holiday in Killarney


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.



In The Media

Staycations as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM – 9th April 2017


Looking for a last minute Easter break or want some inspiration for Summer holidays? Check out some of my favourite staycations as seen on TV3’s Sunday AM.


Causeway Coast

I’m just back from a magical trip to the Causeway Coast. Before I went I thought the main highlight was the Giant’s Causeway, however there is so much more to see. What’s great about this coastline is that all the main attractions are so close together. The Giants Causeway, the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges are all within a 20 minute drive from each other. The coastal drive is as good if not better than I have seen on the Wild Atlantic Way and the dining options are excellent. For more information on my trip, read my blog post on the Causeway Coast. We stayed in a beautiful 3 story 3 bedroom house in Ballycastle, a great option for families, and is available through Airbnb. The Bushmills Inn is a great choice for couples, a multi award-winning boutique hotel and restaurant, ranked in the top 25 hotels on tripadvisor in the UK.

Bushmills Inn Hotel

Price for 2 nights B&B with cocktail, 4 course meal on first evening, entrance to Giants Causeway. £255 per person midweek over Easter holidays. Summer time £258 per person 1 night B&B, £50 a la carte credit, entrance to Giants Causeway. 

Click here for more details: 

Staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday AM - Causeway Coast

Beachview House, Ballycastle ( Airnbnb)

Price per night from €130 – €150 per night during the summer months. There is limited availability at Easter from Wednesday 19th April for two nights €189 per night including cleaning and Airbnb service fee.  If you haven’t tried Airbnb before sign up here and save €20 off your first stay.

Click here for more details:

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday Am - Ballycastle


Castlerosse Hotel, Killarney

There is so much to do in Killarney that you really need a minimum of four days, but more if you have it! The Killarney National Park, Mucross Abbey, Torc Waterfall, the ring of Kerry are just some of the highlights. The Castlerosse Hotel is a great choice, particularly for families as they have self catering cottages on site that have access to the hotels facilities. The hotel has a 20 metre swimming pool, kids club and lots of sports activities as well having an idyllic location overlooking the lakes of Killarney.

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday AM - Killarney

There is limited availability during Easter holidays. Prices from €490 for 3 nights BB & Dinner each day, for 2 adults & 2children. Summer prices in July & August €590 for B&B & Dinner each day for 2 adults & 2 children.

Click here for more details:


Harvey’s Point, Donegal.

Voted best hotel in Ireland and 25th best in the world by tripadvisor, if you are looking for a staycation, this has to be on your list. Its only 6km from Donegal Town but miles apart at the same time as it is situated on the shores of Lough Eske and the foot of the Blue Stack mountains. Harvey’s Point offers award winning cuisine and is definitely one for the romantics, as suites come with a bath tub for two!

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday Am - Harveys Point

Price for a two night break in a suite with breakfast, one evening meal is €238 pp midweek and €299pp weekend until the 21st of June. There is availability over Easter holidays, not Easter Saturday but before or afterwards.

Click here for more details:


Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, Galway.

Situated in Connemara, this luxury castle overlooks the Ballynahinch river in an idyllic location. This is perfect for a romantic getaway or a family break. Enjoy guided adventure walks through the woods or some fishing on the lake. Children will love the farm animals on site and the art competitions run by the hotel. The cultural village of Roundstone is only 15 minutes drive away and Leenane, the village made famous by the movie, The Field, is a 40 minute drive.

staycations as seen on TV3's Sunday Am - Ballynahinch Castle

They have availability at Easter time. Price for a two night stay is €580 based on 2 adults and 2 children, including breakfast each day.

Click here for more details:


Like Staycations? Read some of my favourite staycations here.



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Holidays in Ireland

10 Photos That Will Make You Want To Visit the Causeway Coast Right Now!

causeway coast

Despite living close to Antrim, I only visited the Causeway Coast for the first time this year. We had rain for the first two days but that didn’t matter. In fact I think it made some of the images more dramatic! Here are 10 photos that will make you want to visit the Causeway Coast.


1. The Giants Causeway

I felt like I was at the edge of the world at the Giants Causeway. You will be surprised at how people step aside, so it is possible to get the perfect photo!

Causeway Coast

2. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is a must do when on the Causeway Coast. The turquoise sea and the stunning views are incredible, regardless of weather!

3. Dunluce Castle

This 14th century  Dunluce castle was the inspiration for the castle in C.S. Lewis tale of Narnia – need I say more?

Causeway Coast

4. A ‘wee’ Ulster Fry

Take the morning Ballycastle Food Tour and enjoy the perfect start with the perfect breakfast – ‘A Wee Ulster Fry’ – at the Bay Cafe, Ballycastle.

causeaway coast

5. Fair Head Drive

Just a few miles from Ballycastle – the Fair Head drive is perfect for a road trip. Steep hills, winding roads and perfect sea-views.

Causeway coast

6. Typical Irish Images.

This one was taken along the Fair Head drive but images like this are all over the Causeway Coast!

Causeway coast

7. Bushmills is here!

The Causeway coast is home to the town of Bushmills. Take the whiskey tour in the Old Bushmills Distillery, have lunch or overnight in the cosy Bushmills Inn and have a delicious dinner at Tartine Restaurant, in the Distillers Arms.

causeway coast

8. Aerial view of Ballycastle

Voted the best place to live in Northern Ireland for the past two years, this coastal town is the perfect base to enjoy the Causeway Coast. Enjoy the sandy beach, cliff walks and many great restaurants.

9. The Best Seafood Chowder you will ever taste!

After a mornings outdoor pursuits pop in to the Central Wine Bar, Ballycastle for some amazing seafood chowder!

causeway coast

10. The Dark Hedges

No visit would be complete to ‘Game of Thrones’ country without a visit to the Kings Road.

causeway coast

For visitors information visit  the Causeway Coast and Glens or


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The Travel Expert Sarah Slattery


Feather Down Loop Head, Glamping At It’s Finest!


It is safe to say that camping is not one of my favourite activities. Even when the camping is upgraded to ‘glamping’, it is still going to take something extraordinary to tear me away from a nice luxury hotel.

So when the nice people at Feather Down asked me if I would like to try out their latest offering in Clare, I was somewhat hesitant, but nevertheless off I went. My husband was excited to go, presumably thinking that he was ‘Man The Hunter’ and the idea of living off the land appealed to him. My children were excited at the thought of crab hunting, torches, and a lighthouse. Me? Excited? Not so much……! So Friday evening rolled around, perhaps quicker than I would have liked. We loaded more luggage than necessary into the car and like Ossie and Tayto with kids in tow, we headed “Into The West”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Kevin and Trea are the owners of Pure Camping, a very well equipped, award winning and evidently popular campsite in the small village of Querrin, 7 kilometers from Kilkee in County Clare. If I said that Querrin is on the south side of Loop Head, that might give you a better idea of its location. Pure Camping is a terrific retreat and combines rest and relaxation with a ‘getting away from it all’ kind of feel. Also, Trea is a qualified yoga instructor and offers classes on site, so if thats your thing……

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

The Feather Down Farm ethos of providing space for people and a departure from their hectic lives is commonly known around Europe, but this is their first site in Ireland. They provide space for families and friends to take part in activities that don’t involve a screen in front of your face! It is somewhere people can give each other full attention without distractions, this is also in keeping with the Pure Camping ethos. So out of this coming together, came two ‘Frills’ tents from Feather Down located in the ‘Orchard’ on the Pure Camping land. Being the only two in Ireland, they are aptly titled “Feather Down, Loop Head”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

As we left the motorway behind us, we drove onto gradually smaller, narrower roads and eventually arrived about three hours later at Pure Camping, our home for the next two nights. Kevin met us at the bottom of the laneway and gave us a brief chat about the highlights of the area. From the local pier and crab-hunting, to the dolphin watching which left daily from Carrigaholt, which is “just out the road”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Then, led by candlelight, our enthusiastic host showed us to our tent. As I type the word tent, I realise this does not adequately describe what we were led to. Real beds, a couch, a six-seater table, a small stove, running water and most importantly, an INDOOR TOILET. Kevin’s enthusiasm for the place was absolutely contagious. All he kept saying was, “Wait ’til ye see it lads!” about every aspect of the so called “tent”. Meanwhile I was having my own Meryl Streep/Out of Africa moment. It wasn’t camping, it wasn’t ‘glamping’. All it needed was Robert Redford and I was set! We even had an outdoor shower with unlimited hot water! This was camping in style, comfort and warmth, and not a sniff of damp in the air.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After being shown around by Kevin, my husband and daughter made their way down to the local pub/shop/restaurant/undertaker/mechanic to get some supplies. It is about 5 kilometres away at the crossroads where you turn for Pure Camping, so best get your own supplies on the way in. Although I think my husband had a sneaky pint with my five year old whilst there! Anyway, we lit the fire/stove and twenty minutes later we were cooking by candlelight.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After a great nights sleep in very comfortable beds, the kids took off exploring. There were lots of other children to play with, who were staying in tents on the Purecamping grounds. The facilities on site are excellent. There is a large indoor playhouse and plenty of open fields for kids to play and kick ball. They have a pizza oven where kids ( and adults) are encouraged to make their own pizzas. This is a good way to meet your fellow campers too!

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

At night time everyone gathered around the large campfire, some cooking fish that they had caught that day, others toasting marshmallows. There was plenty of beer and wine, starry skies and best of all – plenty of chat.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

There is lots to do around Loop Head. The highlight for the kids being a visit to the Loop Head lighthouse, were we got to climb the seventy metres to the top. On a clear day, you can see the Blasket Islands in Kerry we were told. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favour when we visited, with low cloud and fog rolling in off the Atlantic. When you walk west out from the lighthouse to the cliff edge, you will be standing on the most westerly point of the country or in other words, the nearest point of Ireland to the United States of America, 6,000 plus kilometers away.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After the lighthouse, we made our way to Keatings Bar and Restaurant for some lunch. Billed as the last pub before New York, they serve great seafood and pubgrub, so well worth a stop. After lunch it was back in the car for the short drive to the Bridges of Ross, a naturally formed sea arch near the village of Kilbaha. There used to be three but two have since succumbed to the force of the sea. Still worth a visit though and you’ll get some scenic and rugged pictures whilst you are there. It is the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, after all….

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After a good walk and getting a little wind blown, it was back to the car and back to Feather Down Loop Head. We got some more supplies in Kilrush and made another meal on our stove. There is a BBQ on site too and a large picnic table outside your tent so depending on the weather, you can eat inside or out. It’s amazing what you can cook with a frying pan and a hot stove!

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Next morning, whilst the kids were playing outside, we packed up our belongings, loaded the car and said our goodbyes to our hosts, Trea and Kevin. Sad that we could not have stayed the third night, but we had to get back to Dublin. En route we passed  Trump Doonbeg, we simply had to pay a visit. I am not a fan of the man, but this luxury beach hotel in Doonbeg is fabulous. We had lunch in the golf club which was not only substantial but affordable too. You need to be a hotel guest if you wish to eat in the hotel though. After a brief wander around the grounds, we were on the long road home.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

The luxury Doonbeg hotel and the Pure Camping campsite are worlds apart in their offerings but both unique in their own ways. The Feather Down tent reminded me of time we spent in Tanzania before our children were born. Tanzania is still one of my favourite holidays and anything that reminds me of it comes out ‘Trumps‘ for me. Sorry Donald, Feather Down wins this election!

For more information, visit the Feather Down website.



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In The Media

Family Holidays – As Seen on TV3’s Sunday AM – 1st May 2016


For those of you who are still looking for family holidays this summer, check out my top picks below, along with some top travel tips to help you on your way.

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Algarve, 4* Estrela do Vau, 13th August, 2ad & 2ch , 1 week €1870

This is fantastic value for a four star property in the Algarve during school holidays. The complex is located close to one of the best beaches on the Algarve and it is family orientated with two swimming pools. You are close to the quiet village of Alvor and the larger resorts of Praia da Rocha and Portimao so it offers the best of both worlds. The Algarve also offers theme parks and water parks and plenty of options for family fun days out.

Click here for more details:

A Family deal to the Algarve by The Travel Expert


Rhodes, Pefki Islands Resort, 10th August, 2ad & 2ch, 1 week €1969

This is an excellent family property that is highly rated on tripadvisor and was awarded a certificate of excellence. It is situated beside the beach, has two swimming pools with swim up bars, as well as some organised evening entertainment. It is very close to the resort centre and within easy access of Lindos and Rhodes town. I also love that the price includes a large 2 bedroomed apartment, transfers and checked baggage!

Click here for more details:

Pefki Islands Resort, Rhodes as discussed for family holidays on TV3


Harry Potter Experience, London. 11th August, 2ad & 2ch , Two nights, €956

If you are looking for a short break away then why not consider London? Visit Warner Bros studios and enjoy the Harry Potter Experience. You will visit the sets where the movies were made and see the famous Hogwarts Express. This trip also includes entrance to the West Midlands Safari Park which has over 165 exotic animals and an adventure theme park. Price of €956 includes a two night stay at the Holiday Inn Express on a bed & breakfast basis, entrance to Warner Bros studio and the West Midlands Safari park, return ferry and coach transfer, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing.

Click here for more details:

Harry Potter Experience London as discussed for family holidays on TV3


4* Oranmore Lodge, Galway. Two night stay BB, 2ad & 2ch €170.

For any of you who thought you might not get away this Summer, this is a great deal that won’t break the bank!. Spend two nights in the Oranmore Lodge Hotel on a bed & breakfast basis from only €170 based on 2 adults & 2 children, throughout the summer months. This family run hotel has a leisure centre, gym and free wifi and is only 7km from Galway city.

 Click here for more details:




Travel Tips for travelling with kids.


 1. Make sure the holiday you are booking offers facilities that suit you.

Different age groups have different priorities. You will find with younger kids a pool or mini disco might be the most important thing, with teenagers it could be free wifi. Remember also to check the season and weather for the destination you are going to, there is a reason why prices to the Algarve are very reasonable in November, you may not get any sun!

Top tips for travelling with kids as discussed for family holidays on TV3

2. Choose your flights wisely

Short flights are handy when kids are crawling or too young to watch tv or play with tablets. Otherwise, I would say don’t let a longer flying time put you off. Kids can watch movies and easily amuse themselves for longer journeys now. Also bear in mind airport transfer times. Northern Majorca or Western Algarve can have two hour airport transfer, Lanzarote for instance might be a longer flight, but the airport transfer time to the main resort, Puerto del Carmen, is only 15 minutes.

If travelling long haul, especially to the USA – pay the extra cost and go direct. Clearing immigration in Ireland will mean when you arrive (tired ) you don’t have to queue to go through customs. You also wont have the stress of missing connections and your bags not arriving, which happened to me twice recently via London. I should have remembered that #smartfliesaerlingus! If there are no direct flights available, give yourself loads of connecting time.

Top tips for travelling with kids as discussed for family holidays on TV3

3. Buy a mediashare – Approx €30.

This was a life saver on our recent family holiday. The Verbatim MEDIA SHARE creates an ad-hoc wifi network of its own so the kids can watch movies at any time on their tablets or phones. Simply put movies on a USB stick or and SD card and plug them in. Install the MediaShare app from the Google Play or Apple App store. Open it, find the Media share device and click on the movie you wish to watch. The device can support up to five devices watching different movies at the one time. You no longer need to bring a portable DVD player and lots of discs. I have used the device in lots of hotel rooms and restaurants when the kids get bored. I will have a full review on this device in my new ‘News & Reviews’ section which will focus on great devices for the twenty first century traveller. Here is a video from the company showing how it all works




4. Bring supplies

Check before you go and if the beach is stoney, bring surf shoes. If you are likely to have mosquitoes, bring bug bands or deet sprays. If the weather is particularly hot, surf tops are ideal to save you worrying about kids getting burnt. If driving, going on a boat or a theme park with rollercoasters, bring seabands. My kids used them for our recent road trip and I found them great.


Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.


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