So this year as a family we holidayed at home in Ireland. No flight or ferry anywhere this time. Just the car packed upto the rafters and all men squashed in. We went west to Achill, sunny south east to Wexford and lastly south to Cork. What a summer. One thing is for sure, when you decide on a holiday at home, weather isn’t one of the deciding or inviting factors. In fact, you pack clothes for all weathers as anyone living in or knowing Ireland well, knows that all seasons can happen in a day. So therefore, if the sun makes an appearance it is an unexpected bonus. Otherwise, wrap up and get out there!
We have used Air BnB a few times now, so we decided to use them for Achill and Wexford. Both being a success yet again. It has to be said you can find some incredible accommodation options through Air BnB in the most beautiful locations. We have always gone with taking the whole house option as opposed to room or sharing as that is what suits us best. Also pretty sure unless extended family, you would want a screw loose to WANT to share with us voluntarily. However, there are options that meet many different needs. What I do love about the Air BnB experience is that the communication between the owners and ourselves has been lovely. Lots of information about the surrounding areas and a genuine interest that you enjoy their home while you are there. And that in itself is the difference. It really is a home away from home.
Our stay in Achill was in a place called Achill Shore View. A beautiful 5 bedroom dormer bungalow at Achill Shore. With only 2 other houses on the lane, it was so private and remote which worked wonderfully for our roudy boys. A short 100m from the house led us to the shore for paddling and a welcome chat with the resident donkey nicknamed by middle child – ‘Butterfly’? I am sure the poor thing doesn’t know what he is called, with no doubt all the holiday goers referring to him as something new each time. But he was lovely and friendly and the braying was plentiful as we came and went. The view from the house was stunning, giving the boys a daily lesson about tides. “The rock is there””It’s gone” “It’s there” “It’s gone”!! Little hares inhabited the spacious garden and the warm deck was ideal for morning coffees. The house itself was a great layout for children. All that floor space downstairs for them to run about on and play games.
The boys had the attic room and the excitement was mighty. A very thoughtful breakfast package on arrival was very much welcomed especially after a long drive as the boys were quite peckish straight away. No surprises there. Always helpful when you haven’t gotten that first food shop done yet. All in all the house was perfect, the utility room being my favourite! Total Mom moment! But genuinely it was fantastic to be able wash and dry all the clothes having so much space. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great while we stayed there so therefore lots of wet mucky clothes. But sure isn’t that what it is all about. We visited many places but the most beautiful had to have been Keem Beach. And what a deserving spot after such a treacherous cliff drive to it. Handy little mobile coffee shack too to warm the cold hands and bodies on a wet and windy day.
The aquarium is a lovely little find for the younger ones. Although small, it kept our boys entertained and the staff couldn’t have been more patient and kind to our lot, explaining all about the different fish in residence…even Dory and Nemo!
Another spot I loved with the boys, was the Woodland Faerie Trail in Valley House Hostel. It’s not your normal fairy trail but has lots of little woodland games thrown in. Gorgeous little snug bar in the Valley House too. Achill is a place we can’t wait to return to, and Achill Shore View most definitely where we will stay.
Our next Air BnB stop was Tara Hill, Wexford. A mansion of a property right at the top of Tara Hill. Views both day and night, just simply wonderful. The host Jo is such a friendly lady, one who I looked forward to meeting long before our stay following such funny pleasant communications. We stayed here with my sister and her family so it was a busy house with lots of young lively boys.
The layout of the house allowed for space. Meaning too, that at night time, most noisy night wakings were blocked out. The most luxurious living room for after hours enjoyment, this was so nice for to wind down once the children were gone to bed. Lovely large kitchen lounge area which gave the boys tonnes of space to play during the day. Grounds and gardens plentiful surrounded the house with the path to Tara Hill just outside the door through a secret hedge exit. We had a fantastic time here with family. If you are tempted to visit the sunny south east with a gang of family or friends this is the house to stay in. We stayed about 10 days or so before we took up residence for our stint in the family mobile home in Wexford. A very special place I will touch on again.
Our last adventure of the summer was to be Cork. An unexpected trip to Castlemartyr, but wow what a place. I have visited and had the pleasure of staying here as a wedding guest before, but never as a family. Who would have thought that as parents we could enjoy a luxurious hotel WITH our children in tow!!! Well we could and we did. We took one of the hotel self catering lodges. A beautifully designed 2 bedroom lodge on the stunning hotel grounds. A large green area runs behind all the lodges which allowed for endless hours of play for the boys and their new found friends from the other lodges. We used the hotel babysitting service for 2 of the nights which I couldn’t fault, as the lady that arrived was so lovely and I was put at ease straight away. I also celebrated my birthday while there with a sweet little party thrown by my boys and 2 near heart attacks when, while having dinner in the hotel restaurant, not one but two birthday cakes came out for no joke the 2 tables next to me…what are the chances…note my heart was having palpitations TWICE fearing they were for me. The pool had child specific hours which worked out well as you weren’t self conscious with the screaming or the splashing. Eating options for us were mainly in the lodge but we did use the golf club a few times with the children and it was lovely. We dined in the hotel ourselves and food was delicious. We also enjoyed a yummy meal in The Hunted Hog in Castlemartyr village. The staff here were so so lovely, even with an incredibly busy pub inundated with Day 2 wedding guests and a heavy day of football matches. Although we didn’t use it on this occasion, there is also what sounds like a great kids club twice a day from 4years up. Our 5year old, no way he would go without the 3.5yr old sidekick, however if the 3.5yr old had half the chance he’d be gone solo, no love lost there!! Maybe next year!
While in Cork we visited Kinsale, Garrettstown beach, a fantastic recommendation, Ballycotton, Fota Park and a few other places. I have always loved Cork but it was my first time bringing my family and to say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves would be an understatement. The few days we spent in Castlemartyr were truly pure quality family time and worth every penny. Most people we spoke to have been returning year after year. So they have it right. I would never have believed it was possible to stay somewhere like that with my 3. That was the biggest surprise of the summer. It is possible to have luxury and loud boys on holiday.
Our staycation summer was a success. Although we are talking of going abroad next year somewhere warm, as it has been a few years since we crossed the water to warmer climates, I genuinely love holidaying in Ireland. There is so much still to see and discover about this gorgeous country.