Get into the Swing for Summer Holidays on Newstalk

It’s time to get into the swing of travel again!

And it’s good to be back on The Hard Shoulder. Today is all about what has opened up this week and what we can look forward to in the coming months around Ireland now that we know hospitality is opening on June 2nd. I’ve lots for golfers on the show and some lovely family friendly activities.

Swing Golf Ireland

The absence of Americans so far they year means that there is greater availability and better value. I got on to the who represent some of the finest golf courses in the south west of the country. Something I didn’t realise as we have one third of all the golf links in the world – those set beside the sea using the natural terrain of dunes etc.

SWING – South West Ireland Golf  (SWING Golf Ireland) Company is 33 years old – first commercial golf company in Ireland

Member Clubs:

Lahinch, Dromoland, Ballybunion, Tralee, Dingle, Dooks, Killarney and Waterville

Associate Clubs:

Adare, Doonbeg, Cork, Old Head and Ring of Kerry

The courses are offering Irish Golf a Golf Ireland rate which is many cases represents 50% discount to normal rates. This summer they hope to give Irish golfers a chance to enjoy a staycation while also playing some of the worlds top links courses at very affordable prices

Example of package available throughout 2021 is:

Golf Ireland is a new organisation that replaced the original Golfing Union of Irleand (GUI) and Ladies Golf Union of Ireland (ILGU) The organisation looks after amateur golf in in the island of Ireland and the running of national interclub tournaments such as Senior Cup, Jimmy Bruen, Pierce Purcell. Reduced rates are given to golfers who are members of Irish Clubs. We now call that Golf Ireland rates.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is opening up hotels on May 24th so they should be ready with some packages and set up for when our intercounty travel opens up. Galgorm Resort and Spa is one of the loveliest places that I’ve stayed. 4* Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, Co. Antrim

Northern Ireland’s premier luxury Resort and Spa, situated only 30 minutes from Belfast, has it all- luxurious guestrooms, Thermal Spa Village (first of its kind in Ireland), array of restaurants and bars, golf course and various pursuits on site. It’s also only 40 minutes from Portrush Golf Club with has held the Open.

Set within 163 acres of lush parkland, with the spectacular River Maine flowing through the estate, Galgorm Resort has a truly unique setting. At Galgorm, they believe connecting with nature and taking in clean fresh air is a key part of your health & wellbeing. Set within the grounds is the all weather tennis court, for the exclusive use of hotel guests on a first come, first-served basis. Court hire only £10/ Lessons £30pp.


Castlegrove House is on the banks of Lough Swilly close to Letterkenny and they have 20 courses not too far away. It’s a beautiful old Georgian Country house and part of Ireland’s Blue Book so even if you’re not a golfer it’s in a great location to explore the top of the Wild Atlantic Aay and fanad peninsula….see

The gardens were originally designed by the revered English landscape architect, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, commonly referred to as ‘England’s greatest gardener’. Brown designed over 170 of the most spectacular estates in Britain, including the world-famous Hampton Court and Blenheim Palace gardens. He also designed the grounds of Highclere Castle, recently featured as the setting for the popular period drama, Downtown Abbey.

Castlegrove is also nestled beside the calming shores of Lough Swilly, a magnificent sea inlet stretching 40km into County Donegal from the Atlantic Ocean. The lough is famous for its association with wildlife conservation and popular among birdwatchers, while divers are regularly drawn to explore several fascinating shipwrecks.

Bed and Breakfast is €155 based on two people sharing.


Another lovely blue book property is Rathsallagh house in Wicklow – not just for golfers as the cuisine is really special. Prices start at €95 pp sharing on a B&B basis. The Rathsallagh Golf Club is separate but close to the hotel.

Winners of numerous awards including the Gold Medal Award for Country House of the Year the Irish Breakfast Awards a record 4 times, Rathsallagh is a large country house with 35 rooms which was converted from Queen Anne stables in 1798. Although it is located just one hour south of Dublin airport, Rathsallagh is set in a peaceful oasis of 260 acres of parkland

 Rathsallagh House has been owned and run by the O’Flynn family for over 30 years, it has a happy and relaxed atmosphere with log and turf fires in the bar and drawing rooms. The food at Rathsallagh is country house cooking at its best, Game in season and fresh fish are specialities. Breakfast in Rathsallagh is an experience in itself and has won the National Breakfast Awards a record four times.

Rathsallagh also has a Spa room, billiard room, and tennis court and is surrounded by the magnificant Rathsallagh Golf Club. Rathsallagh is the ideal base to explore Ireland’s Ancient East  including Glendalough and the Wicklow National Park, The Irish National Stud and Japanese Gardens, the Curragh Racecourse home of the Irish Classics, Punchestown home of the 2017 Punchestonw National Hunt FestivalRussborough House – described as the most beautiful stately home in Ireland Kilkenny Castle For some retail therapy, The Kildare Retail Village and Waterford Crystal are 30 minutes and an hour away respectively and yet Rathsallagh itself is less then 1 hour from Dublin International Airport.  Rathsallagh House accepts Ireland’s Blue Book Vouchers. 

Bringing your dog to Rathsallagh


The Riverside Park Hotel in Enniscorthy is in the sunniest county in Ireland and I can really recommend it. Set on the River Slaney it is close to several courses but this golf package is tremendous value and includes the following

  • Overnight luxury accommodation
  • A round of golf per person at Enniscorthy Golf Club
  • Evening meal (3 Courses plus Tea/coffee)*
  • Full Irish breakfast
All for the overnight price of €213 for two people. Riverside Park Hotel



Kildare boasts many fabulous hotels with on site golf courses and the K Club being one of the best known in the country has offers of €250 pps including a round of golf and a 50 minute Spa treatment. Around the rest of the county deals include the newly refurbished Carton House bed and breakfast with a round of golf on the O’Meara Course from €410 for two adults. Check out the website for more information.

Zoos and Pet Farms

Some counties have more facilities than others with this most notably Fota wildlife in Cork and  Dublin Zoo but my word of warning is to book soon. Most venues require online pre booking to restrict numbers and coordinate time slots.

Tickets are released two weeks in advance and a family ticket is €50.50 for a family of 4. Outdoor eating isn’t open yet and the indoor houses are closed but apart from that all is well.

Fota in Cork has been back since Monday and it is €49.50 for a family of four. Set on Fota Island it is a reasonably sized zoo and has red pandas and eauropean bison, all the plains animals and of course a cheetah.


Nore Valley Park has a pet farm that is open now and a family ticket is €29 for 2 adults and 2 children. Set against the beautiful backdrop of this scenic valley, with acres of parkland and woodlands to explore, Nore Valley Park provides hours of amusement for the family. Walk the 3km nature trail to the scenic town of Bennettsbridge or test your skills on their giant chess board ‘en route’!

Anyone thinking of camping would need to book soon because they are busy and availability will be limited so it’s really important to call soon. Website

There’s lots to do in Kilkenny so check out their website

Newpark Hotel Kilkenny

The Newpark Hotel Kilkenny has been named Family Friendly Hotel of the year for 2020 at the Georgina Campbell Irish Food & Hospitality Awards. The 4-star family run establishment takes great pride in providing the perfect destination for family getaways this summer.  Located on the edge of Kilkenny City, the hotel rests on 40 acres of lush, green parkland. The Newpark Hotel Kilkenny has outdoor facilities that offer activities for all ages. From an animal farm for the kids to Al Fresco dining in an urban setting for the parents.

The newly renovated terrace is described by staff and customers as an outdoor oasis, offering dining in a contemporary, atmospheric and relaxed setting. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy some outdoor dining this summer.



Clonfert Pet Farm isn’t too far from Dublin and it’s less than 20km from lucan and leixlip so I would recommend it for a family day out family tickets are €25 for two adults and 3 children…..

Established in 2009, Clonfert Pet Farm started out as a small open farm with approx 10 different types of animals and an outdoor play area. Since 2009, we have continually worked hard to improve the facilities and have increased our animal family to over 60 different types of wonderful and exotic animals. They have added a coffee shop, walk ways, picnic areas, an additional outdoor play area, an indoor soft play area and mini-golf for your enjoyment. Over the years the farm has grown from strength to strength and continues to thrive as a successful local family business that is committed to providing an affordable and fun day out for you and your family.

I believe Kildare farm foods was packed last weekend – entry is free and they have excellent range of farm produce in their market.


I want to give you a sample of what is out there for families this summer and Fitzgerald Woodland House Hotel is Adare Co Limerick has its own pet farm on site and a family can stay for €200 per night. That includes use of all facilities including the farm, spa and woodies kids club which runs during holidays but must be booked well in advance. For more see Offers Fitzgerald Woodlands House Hotel

If you are looking for places to stay then is a great site to pick up value.

Heritage Sites opened as well on Monday this week.

Although the indoor element is still closed it is worth mentioning that some key sites were open through level 5 such as Doneraile house near Mallow Co Cork and the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. But the grounds are all open now in most OPW sites and you can find out more on the website with all you need to know.

For all information relating to visiting the museums of Ireland including the National Museum and Natural History Museum see pre-booking is essential.

I’ve a podcast which has been keeping spirits up on the goloudnow platform

I have been doing a bit of reminiscing with my guests and chats with people in the travel industry and I will be posting suggestions and offers of course can be found on my website