Last Minute Deals & Staycations
Marian is joined by Sarah Slattery from thetravelexpert.ie and Monchán Magan who is a broadcaster and documentary maker.
Spain, Portugal & Sicily
Sunway Holidays in particular have lots of availability in July and August and because they are a package holiday company, they have paid for accommodation in advance and are able to offer package deals at low prices. Next weekend, the 15th of July you can go to the Canary Islands and Sicily for €399 for 1 week, including checked baggage and transfers. When you think that a checked bag to the Canary Islands is normally €110, it is exceptional value to have everything included in the price. They have some great family prices too. A 4 star week in the Algarve is €1576 on the 15th of July and you can go to the family island of Menorca from €1676 on the 23rd of July, both based on 2 adults and 2 children and include transfers and baggage.
Click&Go are also promoting last minute deals and are offering families the chance to pay 50% now and the remainder 2-4 weeks before departure. Usually with last minute holidays, you have to pay the full amount at the time of booking so this will help families looking to go in August who can pay half now and half when they get paid at the end of July. They are offering deals to Salou in July and August, one of this years top family destinations. Prices for 2 adults and 2 children is €2338 in the popular four star Regina Gran hotel including breakfast and evening meal. This departs the 21st of July and includes flights and transfers. They also have an all-inclusive deal in the Villamarina Club from €2554 on the 4th of August, based on 2 adults and 2 children.
There is a new UK Travel agent selling here for the first time...
Some of the UK travel giants have joined the Irish market this year. In particular Teletext holidays, who have been selling holidays for over 25 years. Their prices are very competitive and they have a wide selection of accommodation available so their website is definitely worth checking out. I found a great deal to the Algarve departing the 20th of July. Price for 2 adults and 2 children is €1516 including flights and accommodation in the Eirasol apartments, Albufeira. You can add on transfers and checked baggage if required
Corfu and Croatia
Donabate travel is offering a week in one of the most sought after family apartments in Corfu, the Loulas Village. Price for flights, transfers and a seven night stay on the 4th of August is only €1695, based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing.
Croatia: For families looking for something a little different, I found a 2 bedroom apartment near Dubrovnik, Croatia, departing the 19th of July. I stayed near here with my kids and we loved it. Price for 2 adults and 2 children for seven nights is €2520.
If you fancy going further afield – Cancun...
Fancy going further afield? The five star Moon Palace all-inclusive resort is only €1519 per person on the 28th August. Price includes flights, transfers, baggage and a massive $1500 resort credit! You can dine in any of their fifteen restaurants, have cocktails in any of their twelve bars or if you want a night a nightcap on your balcony – you can have a drink from your well-stocked minibar. All of these are included in the price of your stay. All rooms come with a private balcony with a hammock and a double Jacuzzi in the bathroom!
For anyone looking for a quick getaway, Click&Go have some great 5* city break available. Choose Prague on the 15th of August for €333 or Lisbon for €370 on the 29th of August. Both prices include flights and a five star hotel on a B&B basis for three nights. Click here for more details on Lisbon or here for more details on Prague.
All offers are for July 24th to 30th for 2 adults and 2 children.
MIDLANDS - Mullingar Park Hotel €1,112, Tullamore Court Hotel: €902
Hudson Bay Hotel, Athlone €1380, Radission Blue, Athlone €1080, Mount Druid Glamping
Athlone. Major renovation to its mighty 13th Century castle rising up on limestone bastions. Interactive displays by the company behind Belfast’s Titanic Museum and props by Windsor Workshop who worked on the Harry Potter & Star Wars bring the castle to visceral life. The Upper Keep uses 360-degree projection & 4D sound layering to evoke the bloody Siege of Athlone in 1690 by Cromwell's New Model Army. Luan Gallery showing exhibitions of local and international art, some on loan from IMMA.
Old Rail Trail 1st part of Dublin–Galway Greenway; from Mullingar for 40km via Castletown Geoghegan, Streamstown and Moate to Athlone. Locomotion signals, station houses and cut-stone limestone bridge like an apparition from steam-engine era. A profusion of cowslips, primroses and birds-foot trefoil. Hire bikes in Mullingar or Athlone.
Lough Boora Discovery Park, offers 5000 acres of otherworldly moorland that includes a sculpture park of 26 installations created using old locomotives, rail tracks, sleepers and stone. There’s Fairy Avenue, and a bike hiring venue to help you explore the 22km of off-road trails through a wildlife reserve for 130 species, inc. Grey Partridge.
Royal Canal: Following this mercurial strip of silver, silky water that runs from Dublin through Kildare and Westmeath to Longford is like stepping back into Ireland of 200 years ago. 144km. A tranquil linear haven with perfect relics of C18th industrial architecture.
The Hill of Uisneach the great ritualistic fire ceremonies of Bealtaine were held until the Church stopped them. It’s a key site of Druidic ritual, and is now accessible again with exhilarating tours. A small visitors centre offering occasional rituals /spoken-word events.
Fore, Co Westmeath feels as though it never entered the 20th century, never mind the 21st. has been catnip to pilgrims for eons because of its "7 Wonders of Fore" that Féichín left as a sign of his (and God’s) omnipotence. Narrow walled causeway across a marsh leads to a 13th century Benedictine priory with a sacred rag tree. Jane’s Coffee Shop.
Clara Bog Nature Reserve, Co Offaly finest raised bog in Western Europe. A boardwalk meanders through ten thousand years of history - skylarks, hares, heathers and rare mosses are a treat, just don’t stray too far from the boardwalk.
Rindoon, Lough Ree is a 2km-long forgotten Anglo-Norman settlement: church, castle, mill, hospital, harbour and turreted town wall. It thrived as a trading post in C13th until Gaelic chieftains reasserted control and it was abandoned. The town walls still 20ft tall in parts, with covered walkways for sentries and tall slit windows for archers.
Carlow/Kilkenny: Mount Wolsely Hotel, Tullow €762, Ormonde Hotel Kilkenny, €945
Kilkenny House Hotel €643, Old Forge Glamping yurt/cabins €550.
CLONEGAL – is known as "Switzerland of Ireland" perfectly between Blackstairs & Wicklow Mountains, it was strategically important as the only pass from the midlands to Wexford and the sea. Fiodh Doracha, was where Finn MacCumhail slept while chasing Diarmuid & Gráinne. Felled to make barrels in C.17th & replaced with Huntington Castle Estate, which has an avenue of French limes planted in 1680 and an electricity water turbine from 1888. Temple to cult of the Egyptian female deity, Isis, & 700-year-old Yew Walk.
Jerpoint Park, Co Kilkenny is a deserted 12th-century Medieval town of the Cistercian Abbey. A court house, woollen mill, a tannery, a brewery, 14 taverns and the site of two water wheels on the little Arrigle River where the monks of Jerpoint used to fish and which now feeds the fish ponds of Goatsbridge Trout Farm. Just downstream from Mount Juliet Estate, with 2km of great salmon & brown trout fishing. Knockdrinna farm shop stocks local cheese, cured meats, smoked fish, salads, coffees – perfect for picnics.
The Blackstairs Mountains, a Special Area of Conservation with extensive areas of dry heath dominated by bilberry and small amounts of crowberry. Climb to the summit of Mount Leinster, to the RTE transmitter and a 5,000 year-old cairn. Keep an eye out for the Cailín Slipes, two tracks made by the feet of a giant’s daughter sliding down the side of the mountain. They are raised, peat-covered tumbled-down remnants of Stone Age walls. Blackstairs EcoTrails in Borris offer guided tours of the area.
Canoe the Barrow: 5-days along the idyllic Barrow river from Monasterevin through Carlow to New Ross. This sweeping, chocolate-coloured river is as wild and untrammelled as the Orinoco or the Volga in parts, with only a kingfisher flashing by or an otter hunting salmon. (€109 per person for 5-days camping, or €299 per person staying in B&Bs, (includes two-seat canoe, dry bags, buoyancy jackets, a Kelly kettle and tent -if required).
Cavan – Killyliss Country House, Ballybay, €599, Wild Flower Camping/Glamping: a barrow-topped wagon/ large canvas tent €550
A lost aqueous world of waterfowl and aquatint reedy meadows: pristine lakes, dense forest, moorlands and richly-wooded islands scattered with ecclesiastical antiquities.
Cavan Burren Park is a newly discovered wonderland of megalithic tombs, prehistoric fields and Neolithic homes in an upland forest of limestone karst landscape. There’s also coral fossils from tropical seas of 350 million years ago in glacial erratics from the ice age.
Cavan Canoe Centre on Lough Oughter where you enter into the lake system of the Erne River waterway. Start by paddling to the C.12 Clough Oughter castle on a man-made island, then row on to Killykeen Forest Park, 240 hectares of spruce, ash, oak and beech. The WWI Trench Experience at Cavan County Museum in Ballyjamesduff. largest outdoor replica trench in Britain & Ireland, using 6,000 sand bags to construct the trenches, field kitchen and sleeping quarters. A haunting, visceral insight into the experiences of the 210,000 Irish men who served in the Great War.
Bear Essentials teddy bear hospital and museum in Bawnboy: make your own fully-jointed mohair bear using centuries-old techniques or just browse the bear museum and shop with has the largest range of rare bears in Ireland. There’s even a zipwire for teddies.
LEITRIM: Courtyard Apartment, Carrick-on-Shannon €1390, Green Apples Glamping (yurts & gypsy wagons €600, Teapot Lane, (Castlegal) Battlebridge Glamping (Carrick),
Arigna Mining Experience – a unique insight into what coal mining life was like in Arigna Valley, since 1700's until closure in 1990. During the underground tour, visitors experience working in some of the narrowest coal seams in the western world. Lighting and sound effects, add atmosphere. An ex-miner gives the tour - dripping of water, the sight of the cramped areas in which the miners lay on their sides in pools of water.
Glenade Lake – has a monster Dobharcu lives in the lake near Manorhamilton. Beast murdered Grainne Ni Conalai there 1722. She went to the lake to wash clothes grave shows a strange beast being stabbed by a dagger.
Shannon BlueWay from Drumshanbo through Battlebridge and Leitrim Village to Carrick-on-Shannon which includes over 16km of canoe trail and 10km of walking route. It allows guided and unguided paddling and walking along the Lough Allen Canal and Shannon River. Also developing a canoe trail along the 63km of the Shannon Erne Waterway.
Great walks through Ox Mountains, formed when Ireland was at Antarctic. Great trails through Leitrim, North Roscommon and Sligo. 3 of Ireland’s National Way-Marked Trails: The Leitrim Way, The Miners Way & The Historical Trail. 120km. Philip James guided walks.
Big day out - Big Day Out,3 different companies provide a 1-hour guided walk, 1.5 hour electric bike trail and 1-hour canoe tour. To Glenfarne forest & Lough MacNean, Dromahair and Lough Gill or Lough Bonet, and Leitrim Village and Acres lake or the canal. Nuala McNulty, Tina Pommer €45. Electric Bike Trails – Kalkov bikes, 140km range. In Leitrm village. Iron Mountain Trail along Leitrim Way, views of Lough Allen, Corry Mountains & Sleibh An Iarainn €75. 65km
The Organic Centre, Rossinver - organic horticulture & sustainable living centre with Grass Roof café. Eco-shop, Orchard, outdoor gardens, ornamental beds and a woodland. Wildflower seeds. Medicinal herbs, foraging, stonewall making. "Good Life course" each summer with lessons on gardening, herbs, making cheese, foraging, preserving, cooking.
LIMERICK: Clayon Hotel, Limerick, €819, George Hotel, Limerick €865, Castle Oaks, House Hotel, Castleconnel €1,300
Foynes Flyingboat Museum captures romantic era of the first transatlantic flights. Lindbergh made first solo flight to Europe in 1927. Pam Am’s first commercial flyingboat the ‘Yankee Clipper’ landed 1939. The 2000 mile journey took 25 hours, compared to the 8-9 days by sea.. The museum recreate romance & prestige of that world, radio & weather room, and a flight simulator. Last flying boat 1945, flown by Maureen O’Hara’s man.
Curraghchase Forest Park is the woodland estate and lakes around 18th C. Curraghchase House, home of poet Aubrey de Vere. 313 hectares of mixed woodland, 8km way-marked trails. 2 playgrounds, picnic & barbeque. Lake haunted by the Lady of the Lake, who can be seen running through the water at various times at night.
Lough Gur, Co Limerick, boasts the largest stone circle in Ireland, right by the roadside between Limerick and Bruff. Its main rock, the 4m-tall Rannach Croim Duibh, is a powerful monolith, but the whole site is pretty magical. A visitors centre helps explain the context, with ancient artefacts and information about the local geology, botany, and archaeology.
The Great Southern Trail 100km route in West Limerick/North Kerry of the Limerick - Tralee/Fenit railway line. Opened 1867, closed 70s. 36km open: Rathkeale to Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale. A bit around Listowel too. At Ardagh Station visit village where Ardagh Chalice was found in 1868.
Ballyhoura Mountains 90km of mountain bike trails undulating over wooded hills across a swathe of south-east Limerick and north-east Cork. Ballyboura Bears Walking Club organise regular hikes. Ballyhoura Horse Trails. Perched on the side of a mountain in Kilfinane is the Ballyhoura hostel which has a sauna and drying room.
Limerick by kayak a revelatory perspective on the city. from the Hunt Museum towards King John’s Castle & the Treaty Stone, Sarsfield Bridge to the heart of medieval Limerick, bringing to life over 800 years of dramatic local history. Passing under the old bridges and landmarks associated with Vikings, Brian Boru and Cromwell is a heady experience.