And you can easily follow their lead and enjoy the craic in Cork and Kerry, writes Claudia Redmond
If you’re trying to decide on a summer holiday destination that will allow you to keep the family happy at a reasonable cost, Southern Ireland is a beautiful spot and with a flying time of just over an hour even the “are we there yet?” cries will be bearable.
We flew from Luton to Kerry on Ryanair. Kerry airport is such a joy after getting lost over the years in the maze of many large airports. This is an airport where you literally step off the plane straight into the baggage hall: No stress, no hassle the perfect start to a trip.
There are many interesting places to explore in Kerry. Killarney is less than half an hour’s drive from the airport and is a bustling town. Queen Victoria stayed in the magnificent Muckross House which is in Killarney National Park, and from there you can explore the building and the surrounding park by taking a jaunting car, from where you can enjoy the stories told by the great Kerry characters that man these vehicles
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Hotels and B&Bs are plentiful in and around Kerry so check with the www.ireland.com for accommodation to suit your needs.
The next stop for us was Cork. This is the next county going east, where a tranquil drive from Killarney takes in some perfect stop off spots on the way. Here we had lunch at The Mills Inn Hotel in Ballyvourney where the staff were very friendly and the menu had something to satisfy everyone’s taste, with dishes varying from chicken liver pate to fish and chips.
Finally we arrive at The River Lee Hotel which is located near the historic University College Cork. This seat of learning was established in 1845 and is worth a stroll around. The hotel is perfect for families with a pool and spa. We treated granny to a facial in the Urban Escape Spa, whilst the kids splashed about in the pool.
General manager Ruairi O’Connor is always on hand greeting guests in the reception area and making sure everyone is comfortable and happy. He is delighted that more British visitors are coming to Cork now and he thinks it has a lot to do with the visit from the Queen back in 2011.
“I think many visitors from the UK were still unsure about visiting Ireland. But when they saw the Queen down here it encouraged them to come, which is fantastic, and we are ready to welcome everyone and show them the hospitality and warmth in Cork”.
He runs a smooth ship with an international staff of very attentive and charming people who welcome you with a smile at breakfast, while the excellent service continues throughout the day.
Head chef Shane ensures the menu at the hotel’s restaurant The Weir Bistro is locally sourced, in order to produce delicious choices that include Castletownbere Crab and Ballycotton Hake.
The hotel is just a short stroll into the city centre where you can explore Ireland’s second city at your leisure. The Cork Opera House, home of the Cork City Ballet, is a must, as is the Triskel Arts Centre where we watched a traditional Irish music show with Irish dancers.
Set in an 18th century church, instead of theatre seats the audience sits on church pews, while the atmosphere is fantastic.
Blackrock Castle is a bus ride out of the city. Built over 400 years ago the building now houses a research observatory, science centre and watch tower. Tours are available with a local guide – we had a wonderful lady who really brought the history of the place to life with very funny stories.
If you are fed up of city life then Crosshaven is recommended as relief. Home of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, which was established in 1720 and still holds the title of the oldest yachting club in the world, Hassett’s Restaurant is just across the road from the club and offers a varied menu while Cronin’s Pub serves delightful pub grub complemented with a great atmosphere.
So if you enjoy good food, beautiful scenery, friendly people and most of all the feeling that you are really being looked after, then Kerry and Cork are the places for you.