This week on Travel Tuesday we are looking at Day Trips on our Doorstep in Ireland. No matter where you live on this lovely island there is always somewhere new to explore and something new to see. I started hiking this year and have had the best experiences seeing the countryside with new eyes while getting fit and saving money.
Day Trip North
Only an hour from Dublin up the M1 are the beautiful Mourne Mountains. Those of us on the east coast see them on most clear days but the view from them is spectacular. I recently crossed a highest peak challenge off my bucket list when I climbed Slieve Donard 850m above sea level, but I took expert guidance with Martin McMullan from outdoor activity specialists One Great Adventure. His company is based at Castlewellan https://www.onegreatadventure.com/ and they offer all sorts of activities from coasteering, to Kayaking to mountain biking. He encouraged us gently up the hike and informed us of the local history along the way. The Slieve Donard walk is well maintained with great parking below the town of Newcastle and it took less than two hours from Dublin.
Here’s a taste of our day
We stayed at the lovely Killeavy Castle which is a new boutique hotel only a few minutes south of Newry in South Armagh. https://www.killeavycastle.com/
This gorgeous hotel has a luxurious spa and hot tub with delicious farm to fork dining. We spotted the chef running out to pull salad from the walled garden in the lovely cafe which services hikers to Slieve Gullion. This mountain is another lovely stop off for a day trip and home to Ireland’s highest Passage Grave.
Also up north and very accessible for a day trip is Hillsborough Castle. A guided tour is a great way to getting an overview of the history of the house but during the summer there will be special activities for all the family.
Horrible Histories: Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians Live On Stage this August at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Saturday 10 August – Wednesday 14 August 2019
This summer visit Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, County Down and travel back in time to the world of the Gorgeous Georgians and Vile Victorians, with a live stage production from the world-renowned Horrible Histories.
Set within the Castle’s stunning gardens, this outrageously entertaining outdoor show presented by The Birmingham Stage Company, promises to uncover centuries of grisly history and is the perfect tonic for families with a thirst for all things awful and amusing.
It’s 1714 and Queen Anne, the last of the Stuarts has just died – now who’s going to succeed her? Why the gorgeous Georgians of course – join in the Hanover Handover from King George I, all the way to the II, III and IV! Help cure mad King George III and meet other well-known characters from the period, including the Duke Wellington who wants to give someone the boot!
Once you’ve had your fill of the Georgians, fast forward to the Victorian era as sewage fills the streets of Soho London. Put your wits to the test as you try to solve a deadly outbreak of cholera with Dr John Snow and discover what happened when Florence Nightingale, the Lady of the Lamp, faced the gruesome hospital conditions of the Crimean War – where it’s fifty men to every toilet!
This show is ideal for families with children aged between 7 and 14 years but can be enjoyed by all ages. Running twice a day, performances last for one hour and visitors are encouraged to bring a blanket and soak up the festival atmosphere with a dedicated food pop-up serving a range of goodies, from mouth-watering hot dogs to scrumptious salads sourced from Hillsborough Castle’s very own Georgian Walled Garden.
Horrible Histories is included in gardens admission tickets and family tickets are available. Free for Historic Royal Palaces members.
To book tickets and for more information on Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, visit hrp.org.uk/hillsborough-castle
Day Trip South
The Munster Vale has lots to offer and now a website to check all that is on offer in the counties of Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Tipperary https://munstervales.com/
Newly opened this summer is the refurbished St Leger mansion at Doneraile.
Admission Fees to Doneraile House for a 30 minute guided tour are as follows (managed by the OPW):
Adult – €8.00
Senior/Group – €6.00
Child (12-17)/Student – €4.00
Child Under 12 – Free
Family – €20.00
There is free entry into the Park itself and free parking
Facilities: Car park, playground, Picnic areas, toilets, wildlife (swans, deer, ducks) Tearooms on site and beautiful cafes in the town
There are various events held in the Park and house ranging from musical performances to the arts, more info can be found here http://doneraileestate.ie/calendar/
You also won’t want to miss the Elemental Limerick Arts Festival which will be taking place in Limerick City over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Taking place citywide in cafes, shops, galleries, open spaces and historical buildings, the festival is a rich mix of street art, theatre, film, workshops, music, street performance, visual art and lots more. https://elementalartsandculture.wordpress.com/
You can then continue your cycle along the Suir Blueway from Carrick on Suir to Clonmel before a visit to Mitchelstown Caves near Burncourt in Tipperary. The cave is one of the largest and most complex cave systems in Ireland. Follow the ancient passageways as you are guided through half a mile of this world famous cave. (Prices: Adult: €9, Child: €3.50 (up to 12 years old), Family: €20.)
I’m hoping to cross another mountain off my bucket list in August in the Kingdom of Kerry. Kerry Climbing have daily events and hikes that you can join by going on their website check out their price list here https://www.kerryclimbing.ie/price-list/
I’ll be reporting on how I get on in August
Kerry Climbing is a family run business by Piaras & Catherine Kelly and their team of (the absolute best!!!) guides, instructors and staff.
Lead mountain guide, Piaras can’t wait to meet you and show you the stunning delights of the mountains he knows and loves so much. He has extensive knowledge of all of Munster’s mountains, but particularly the wild remote mountains of Kerry and the South West.
He is a Qualified Mountain Leader, a Qualified Rock-Climbing Instructor as well as a Multi-pitch climbing award holder and has been climbing these mountains for over 20 years with some notable winter first ascents to his name. A highly experienced mountaineer and climber, he spent many years as an instructor with a cliff and coastal rescue unit of the Irish Coastguard and is currently a member and the Training Officer with the volunteer Kerry Mountain Rescue team. He is a longstanding member of Mountaineering Ireland (M.I)>>, Mountain Training Association (M.T.A)>>, and the Association of Mountaineering Instructors (A.M.I)>>.
Day Trip East
The Wicklow Way really has it all and wonderful hiking for every level. I started hiking earlier this year with a day trip on The Spinc in Glendalough. It has some of the most spectacular views of Wicklow
If you’d like to get started on hiking, a great way to start is to check out Hill Top Treks or join a walking club on social media. You’ll find lots of information on www.visitwicklow.ie and also www.wicklowway.com where you will get online maps.
A great day out to exhaust the kids is at Clara Lara Fun park https://www.claralara.ie/
Admission is €12.50 for adults and children and under 4s go free
For an extra €10 per day the wearer gets a gold bracelet allowing them on extra activities including Junior shuttle, mini golf, junior go- carts and rowing boats