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Wet and Wild in Western Ireland

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What is it? A Holiday Rentals property, “Bliss Beckons”, a contemporary family home, with fantastic views

Where? Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, on the Atlantic coast of Ireland

Description: [WINDSWEPT_ON_BALLINSKELLIGS_BEACH.JPG] When the owner said to me “November? Are you sure? There’ll be nothing open, you know!”, I knew we’d picked the right one. “Sounds perfect,” I replied.

To get away from it all and spend some time together

Within a five-minute walk of a small, sandy and pebbly cove, a garden with outdoor toys for pre-schoolers, and not forgetting, there’s a whole coastline to explore if you fancy a bit of driving

You make your own on a self-catering holiday like this. In the house, there are plenty of games, toys and videos to choose from for the kids, CDs and books for the adults, and lots of restaurants within a five mile radius, from a typical Chinese, to a traditional Irish pub.

Nothing provided, but there are so many toys & games that this makes for an ideal place to spend some time as a family.

Hmm – candles around the bath? Nothing in the local area, I’m afraid. Probably some facilities at Killarney or Tralee.

Local activities: A massive array of things to do. You can hire bikes, go horse riding, there’s hill walking galore, and in the summer months there are boat trips to islands such as the Skelligs and Valentia, where you may even spot dolphins. Further afield there are lots of towns to explore, but don’t expect to find anything right on your doorstep. It’s not Tenerife!

Wish we had known: That we rely on motorways to drive any major distance around Britain, so we forget how much longer it takes to get anywhere when you’re travelling on much narrower and slower roads.

Our top tip: Take a camera everywhere you go – there are amazing views around every corner.

Kids say: The bedrooms are downstairs – this house is upside down! [Luke, aged (nearly) three]

Getting There: We booked with www.holiday-rentals.co.uk. This property is Number 6012 and costs L268-L503 for the property per week. We flew to Cork International Airport with RyanAir which is around two hours away by car. Kerry airport is closer, but the flights are less frequent.

About our stay: Looking back at this holiday I think what I remember the most are the vivid colours and the fantastic views. In the UK we live in a fairly rural and beautiful part of the country, on the edge of the Pennines, and we’ve holidayed on some idyllic islands, in places like the Med and the Aegean, many times in the past. But the colours and the views are nothing compared to those in Ireland. The greens are greeners, the blues are bluer and the air just seems crisper. Gregg and I had been to County Kerry BL (before Luke!) and since then I’ve always thought it has to be one of the most picturesque places in the world, but your memory fades over time, and the stunning views around every corner still took my breath away repeatedly. And of course, the Irish people themselves have many other enchanting characteristics that you can always guarantee a welcome that is quite unique. [VIEW_OF_THE_SUNRISE_FROM_OUR_LIVING_ROOM.JPG] Despite it being very much off-season, this area welcomes tourists all year round, and in any event, is populated with a fairly large resident Irish community, some of which have lived in the area for generations and generations. On the first morning, taking advantage of a spot of winter sunshine, we explored the local beach and discovered a ruined abbey with a graveyard proving just that point to us. And also that many of these former residents lived until their 90s as well – must be something about the way of life! We picked up a hire car at the airport (it’s the only way to get to your accommodation really, especially if you have children with you), and so most of our holiday was spent travelling up and down the Atlantic coastline, taking in the views on the outskirts of the Ring of Kerry, a mountain range which includes towns such as Killarney and Kenmare. Ballinskelligs is a small village, a few miles off the main road between the small towns of Sneem and Cahersiveen, which winds right down to the coast. The property we stayed in, ‘Bliss Beckons’, was right on a peninsular, so we had amazing views across the bay all around us, even in November, as you can see from the photograph – and those are mountains by the way! [THE_PINK_PUB_IN_SNEEM.JPG] I have a rule when we’re on a self-catering holiday, that the only meal I’ll cook is breakfast (toast, anyone?)! So we ate out at every other occasion during our three-day stay. That included at a typical Chinese restaurant in Cahersiveen on our first evening, in an Italian for lunch in Kenmare and the pink pub in Sneem attracted us because the place looked just like Balamory with its houses painted red, green, yellow and blue! Children are welcome before 9pm in most pubs in Ireland, and because they’re all totally non-smoking nowadays, they’re much more pleasant to take them than in Britain. No culinary awards were won where we ate, but it was always good, plentiful and had a friendly atmosphere. A day in Tralee, further inland and north, included a stop off at a soft play area to allow Luke to stretch his legs and expend some energy, then a cultural drop in to the Kerry County Museum, which, whilst it looked like it was a fascinating place to visit, just didn’t cater for your average toddler. So on we went to the local swimming pool in Tralee with its waterslides, wave machines and rapids. We had a smashing couple of hours there, and it was a bit more special for Luke than a trip to our usual swimming pool. The weather was pretty wet most of the time, but we hardly expected anything else, so we didn’t let that spoil our fun. The only disappointment from the weather came after we’d eventually found The Donkey Sanctuary in Mallow, County Cork (yes, quite a long drive away!) and were told the donkeys weren’t out in the field because it was too wet. We did manage to have a look at a dozen or so of them in their dry stable, but it was a much shorter visit than I’d originally envisaged, and this caused Luke to get a bit grumpy having to sit in his car seat for so long. Lots of singing, make-believe games and book reading got us over the worst! The owners of the house have children themselves, and it really shows! Every possible thing you could want was there. Even a potty, a step stool in the bathroom, bath toys and also in the kitchen, where I amazed to find various cooking condiments and oils. A beautiful house, stylishly decorated, in a stunning location. Now remind me someone, why did I come home? [Kirsty McGregor, CEO of entertainthekids.com, lives in Halifax, West Yorkshire, with her husband Gregg and their three-year-old son, Luke]

Created: 2007-01-07 21:54:20.390

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