Ireland Guide
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Ireland’s Leading Independent Food & Hospitality Guide

FAMILY HOLIDAYS

You can’t beat a traditional family holiday and there’s no better place for it than Ireland, as the range of great places to stay right across (and around) the country is fantastic. From the charm of West Cork to the dignity of the Giant’s Causeway, from the long golden beaches of Sunny South-East to the gloriously uncrowded north-west tip of Donegal, and from rugged Connemara to the lush riverlands of East Cork, there’s a wonderful base waiting there for you – and great value is to be had too. We suggest a few of our favourite hotels, country houses, guesthouses and B&Bs below, and many of them would offer self-catering nearby too. You really don’t have to spend time hanging around airports with children in tow when heading for your perfect family holiday destination.

Kelly's Resort Hotel
Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford

Kellys Hotel - Rosslare County Wexford IrelandSUNNY SOUTH-EAST

For many regular visitors the Kelly family’s renowned beachside hotel sums up all that is best about the sunny South-East. Perhaps it’s because its history in the same family spans three centuries, so there’s not a lot they don’t know about keeping guests happy - quite simply, this hotel has everything, for both families and individuals. Whether you want a quiet reading room, a snooker room or a supervised crèche (the number of children is limited at any one time, to prevent creating an imbalance), there’s something to suit all ages. Leisure facilities include two indoor swimming pools, a well-being centre ‘SeaSpa’, indoor tennis, and - a bit of fun for Francophiles – boules; everything imaginable is provided for children, including delicious food, while adults appreciate the Kelly family’s outstanding art collection, the excellent dining choices provided by two distinguished head chefs at the opulent Beaches restaurant or more informal La Marine bistro – and, of course, the hotel’s famous wine cellar. 


Shandon Hotel & Spa
Marble Hill Strand, Port-na-Blagh, Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal

Shandon Hotel - Spa and Wellness - County Donegal irelandUNCROWDED NORTH-WEST

Donegal is renowned for family holidays and (although it’s a bit of a climb up the hill on the way home), this large, privately-owned and recently refurbished hotel overlooking Sheephaven Bay on the Wild Atlantic Way is within walking distance of the famous Blue Flag beach that makes it such a special destination. Friendly hands-on management and open fires make for a relaxed atmosphere and, as well as family rooms, excellent facilities for families include a kids pool in the leisure centre. And, with good food, treatments at the Spa and golf, horseriding and walking nearby, there’s something for all age groups. Bedrooms vary in size according to their position in the building (the suites are especially desirable), but all are comfortably furnished and have sea views. Lots to do in the area too, including visits to Glenveagh National Park and Lurgy Brack Fun Farm. Just the spot for a great traditional holiday.


Ballyvolane House
Castlelyons, Fermoy, Co Cork

Ballyvolane House - Fermoy County Cork IrelandLUSH EAST CORK

The Green family’s lovely 18th century house near Fermoy (Georgina Campbell Country House of the Year 2009) is a very relaxed family-friendly place. Justin and Jenny Green offer special ‘Little People’ breaks on selected weekends throughout the year for a few days of family fun. Ballyvolane is ideal for little people, with vast grounds to get lost in, a tree house to play in, woods to explore, hens to feed, eggs to collect, donkeys to pet and lots more entertainment nearby, such as Fota Wildlife Park, Blarney Castle and Leahy's Open Farm. Each child is given a storybook and a jar of cookies on arrival, and Farmer Justin (!) takes all the kids on a tractor and trailer ride around the estate after breakfast; then each evening at 5.30pm, Justin and Jenny's kids Toby, Jamie and Fleur host a High Tea party. Children are free if sharing with their parents (minimum stay 3 nights).


Parknasilla Resort & Spa
Sneem, Co. Kerry

Parknasilla Resort & SpaSTUNNING RING OF KERRY

The Ring of Kerry is a magical holiday destination and this classic Victorian hotel is blessed with one of the most beautiful locations in Ireland. Set in 500 acres of sub-tropical parkland, overlooking Kenmare Bay, it was originally one of the great old railway hotels, the Parknasilla Great Southern, and its unique combination of amenities and services - plus all that gorgeous outdoor space - makes it a perfect destination for multi-generational holidays. Open fires and plenty of comfortable lounging furniture in the bar, and in several gracious drawing rooms, emphasise that this is a place where people come to relax and there’s a good range of room types to suit varying requirements. Extensive family activities (some just in the summer holidays) include an outdoor playground, nature and fairy trails, fishing expeditions and a special mini golf course - and there’s plenty indoors too including a swimming pool, classes, supervised movie time and a Playzone with areas for varying age groups. Self-catering accommodation also offered in the grounds.


Killiane Castle
Drinagh, Wexford, Co Wexford

Killiane Castle - Drinagh County Wexford IrelandSUNNY SOUTH-EAST

You can’t beat the excitement and mystery of a castle for kids, and this is a real one: home to the Mernagh family - Jack and Kathleen and their son Paul are the very welcoming hosts - the farmhouse and Towerhouse are 17th century and some of the 13th century Norman Castle still stands. Inside the house is spacious and comfortable, with an open fire in the residents’ sitting-room, a TV room and, up the 17th century staircase to the second and third floors, bedrooms with great views over the countryside; there are two family rooms, and a cot is available without charge - your kids will be in heaven. Children always love a working farm too - here visitors can see a modern dairy in action - and their own hens supply the eggs for the delicious breakfasts that Kathleen Mernagh serves buffet-style in a warm, cosy dining-room. In the evening, simple dinners are offered in the summer months, otherwise Kathleen and Paul advise guests on the best local choices for dinner – the restaurants of Wexford are very near. Self-catering also available.


Quality Hotel & Leisure Centre Clonakilty
Clogheen, Clonakilty, Co Cork

Quality Hotel & Leisure Centre Clonakilty - County Cork IrelandWEST CORK

If you’re worried about the weather when deciding whether to holiday in Ireland, this exceptionally family-friendly hotel on the edge of Clonakilty town is just the kind of place to head for with kids. There’s masses to do and visit nearby, including the West Cork Model Railway Village which has an old-style train that picks people up at the hotel en route to explore Clonakilty and nearby Inchydoney (with blue flag beach). And the hotel’s fantastic on-site facilities incliude a Jungle Gym area (over 2 levels, with a toddler area and one for 4-12 year olds) and also a Teen Zone (with Xboxes, Playstations, air hockey etc). In summer and all mid-term breaks a Kids Kamp offers masses of activities for 5-14 year-olds, mainly held outdoors if possible. Fun for kids and relaxing for parents – accommodation is reularly refurbished and Clonakilty’s on the doorstep for evenings too.

Maddybenny Farmhouse
Loguestown Road, Portrush, Coleraine, Co Antrim BT52 2PT

Maddybenny Farmhouse - Portrush County Antrim Northern IrelandGIANT’S CAUSEWAY COAST

County Antrim – and especially the seaside resort of Portrush – is Northern Ireland’s most popular traditional family holiday destination and, while the town may not be for everyone, anyone lucky enough to have stayed at the White family’s farm will definitely be a fan of the area. Just two miles from Portrush, Madddybenny is a very comfortable and exceptionally hospitable place to stay, where children of all ages (and their parents) are thoughtfully catered for, with snooker, a games room and quiet sitting places for reading, as well as a garden and an area for outdoor games. Bedrooms have all sorts of useful extras (electric blankets, a comfortable armchair, a torch and alarm clock beside the bed…) and a family-run Livery Yard offers stabling for guests’ own horses, and professional instruction. Golf, fishing, tennis and pitch & putt are all nearby too – and, of course, the area’s famous sandy beaches. No evening meals, but the breakfasts are legendary. Self-catering also available.


Renvyle House Hotel
Renvyle Co Galway

Renvyle House Hotel - Renvyle County Galway IrelandRUGGED CONNEMARA

This very special place is our Family Friendly Hotel of the Year 2009 and, for anyone travelling with children and/or pets, this remote Connemara haven should be heaven. There’s loads to do on site – heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis, trout fishing, golf (9 hole), croquet - and numerous activities nearby, including archaeological expeditions, horse riding, hill walking, scuba diving and sea fishing; or you can simply savour the surrounding rugged beauty in comfort from an armchair beside a turf fire. Family facilities include family rooms and suites, children’s tea, a playground and a heated outdoor swimming pool - and there’s loads to do in the area. Dinner is served in a formal restaurant (complete with grand piano), cleverly designed so that parents can see their children in the supervised playroom next door while enjoying Tim O’Sullivan’s renowned cooking – and with General Manager Ronnie Counihan always on hand to chat with guests. Self-catering also available.


Glendine Country House
Arthurstown, New Ross, Co Wexford

Glendine Country House - Arthurstown New Ross County Wexford IrelandSUNNY SOUTH-EAST

With a safe, enclosed playground for children on site and sandy beaches nearby, Ann and Tom Crosbie’s large nineteenth century farmhouse at Arthurstown makes a very hospitable base for a traditional family holiday. Children love the highland cows, Jacob sheep and horses kept in paddocks around the house beside the house, and they are allowed to feed the animals (using food provided). All of the comfortable rooms have sea views, and the Crosbies take pride in giving guests advice on local amenities - and sending everyone off well-fed for the day after a really good breakfast; it’s a far cry from the kind of B&B where you’re expected to be ‘out for the day’, though, as you can pop back any time for a light meal. There are great restaurants in the area too, including the famous Dunbrody Country House (within walking distance). Self-catering cottages also available.


Hotel Westport
Westport Co Mayo 

Hotel WestportUNCROWDED NORTH-WEST

Just a short stroll from Westport town centre, this well-managed and very friendly modern hotel is legendary for the wide-ranging short breaks offered - and it has become a favoured destination for family holidays, due to its convenient location, great facilities and can-do attitude. The location merits special mention, as the hotel is quietly located in a corner of the Westport House demesne (recently purchased by the hotel’s owners), yet close to the town centre which is accessible along a riverside path, allowing young families to enjoy exploring the town without having to take the car out. Extensive leisure facilities include the white flag standard Ocean Spirit Leisure & Spa - a major attraction for families, who also a appreciate the Panda Club, for children 4-12 years old, which operates in the Irish school holidays (summer and other main holidays, and mid term breaks). A very pleasant place for families to stay.

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