For the fourth year running we decided to have a staycation in our beautiful country, there is so much to do and see here that our “to do list” gets larger each year despite constantly tipping away at it !
This year we decided to head to the west of Ireland, Galway in particular. I felt along with Galway city (and even the suburbs) being full of life and packed with things to do it was also a great place to base ourself from and do a few day trips.
The kids slept through lunch on the way up so rather than wake them we continued to drive and headed to The Maldron on arrival which was right across the road from our accommodation and it was superb !
The staff were great and it as as very child friendly in general, the kids were given lovely colouring packs and a great menu to choose from … typically though they still picked the usual sausages and chips and a pizza ! I got a fab green curry and Mr Mmmm got a serious burger that tasted as impressive as it looked.
We ate here twice on our stay and I also noticed they had a superb kids club schedule displayed at the front desk. Obviously I did not see the rooms but having stayed in one The Maldron groups hotels prior I would have no problem recommending this hotel or the hotel group in general.
* My delicious Thai green curry ! *
See more at http://www.maldronhotelsandyroadgalway.com
We usually opt for a hotel as our two water babies like to have the pool at their disposal but with J having his arm in the cast it meant swimming and water parks were out for us this time round so we decided to stay in student apartments and they were good value, comfortable and clean.
We stayed in Cúirt Na Coiribe just outside the city centre and I couldn’t find fault, It was everything we needed and the kitchen was really well stocked with crockery etc I was surprised to even find an eggcup when I looked for one ! The only complaint was there was no real opportunity for my crew to interact with other kids but that’s not really a fault of the accommodation.
It didn’t take a genius to predict how the day was going to turn out when we awoke to the first day of our jollies … yup you guessed it after weeks and weeks of sun it rained on our parade or our holiday if you want to be specific.
Luckily a trip to the aquarium was on my to do list anyway as the only thing I love to check out as much as a zoo when I’m away is an aquarium and it was an experience the whole family enjoyed.
Galway aquarium boasts the fact it is Irelands largest aquarium and not only is there a superb variety of sealife to be seen (even some sea horses, my favourite!) there are lots of other interesting experiences to be had.
The opportunity to get “kisses” from some mullet was a real treat and my two found it hilarious ! They were also in awe at the real fin whale skeleton and loved getting up close with the star fish and spider crab, I would highly recommend organising your trip around the touch pool tour.
There is a great gift shop with something in every price range and plenty of pocket money toys so you are not fleeced !!!! And there is also what seemed like a lovely restaurant attached also which we only saw passing as we opted for icecream instead ! I would highly recommend a trip to the aquarium if you are in the area.
Check out http://www.nationalaquarium.ie for prices (we paid e33 for a family ticket) and touch pool tours/feeding times.
St Brigit’s Garden
Visiting St Brigit’s garden has been on my to do list for almost two years now and my trip didn’t dissapoint.
Each beautiful garden is designed to represent one of the Celtic festivals, Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa that marked the beginning of each season.
* The highlight for me personally was the beautiful wildflowers basic maybe but they lift my soul *
There is something to appeal to everyone from the beautiful wildflower gardens, the herb beds, the stone circles, the fairy trail, a playground/sand play area and much much more.
On entry the kids were given activity sheets that were a little beyond my guys but lovely for school going kids and even helped us adults notice a few things we might not have done without them !
We had brought a picnic for the kids and had said we would grab something for ourselves at the cafe/ creperie and I must say the food there was exquisite, initially when ordering I felt the cafe was a bit pricey but on receiving our food we both agreed it was worth every penny ….
I ordered the goats cheese quiche and Mr Mmmm got a sandwich but in all honesty the sandwich was so much more than two slices of bread with some filling. The food that is served is of superb quality and is just mouth watering and I can assure I’m very fussy about food ! We weren’t hungry enough for cake but there was an amazing selection and the slices were huge !
We spent at least 3 hrs + in this beautiful attraction and another while in the beautiful gift shop.
There was a summer camp taking place the say we chose to visit and it looked like all were having a blast and there are other fun events organised throughout the year.
See http://www.brigitsgarden.ie to see more !
Saturday morning we hoped for the best and headed to silver strand just outside Salthill but it was very windy and the showers were more than sporadic so we got back in the car again and true to form it dried up ! We walked on the Prom in Salthill and in true seaside fashion got chips for lunch followed by an icecream.
At that point it was after turning into a lovely day so we headed for the playground near the aquarium. It’s a super playground that caters for all ages is quite big but is well designed and you never feel like you’ve lost sight of your little ones.
What I really loved about this playground was the metre of grass all around the perimeter, it was lovely to sit down and have a coffee and it meant we had a picnic spot for snacks also.
There was a fantastic array of climbing frames etc and a lovely atmosphere here and along with friends we met up with we almost spent 3 hours here !
The kids enjoyed the playground so much that in the end we didn’t go to the merries ( amusements /funfair for those not from Cork !!!) As planned but they looked fab !
The stops en route home !
One of my favourite things about the west of Ireland is the stone walls everywhere and I was adamant I wasn’t leaving without a picture of the gruesome twosome on one of these walls and I hit the jackpot just outside Kinvara in that not only did we spot some nice looking walls but a round tower too ! We hiked up the field , spoke a little about the history of the round towers and got my snap and I was happy – the simple things huh !!!!
Actually we stopped a few times between Galway and Lehinch to take in old ruins and basic landmarks as it’s something I love to do and the kids love the little things like hearing about “long ago” and playing pretend in an old gatelodge.
* what a peaceful view looking up from inside the roundtower *
We stopped for lunch in Lisdoonvarna in the first pub we saw ( and had a nice lunch ) but there was loads of places to choose from as we drove through.
This was by far the best day weather wise so we decided to stop at the beach in Lehinch which was super but unfortunately the timing was bad and the tide came right in putting a stop to our fun after less than an hour ! This is certainly a place I’ll be returning to as it had a cool vibe and I have my heart set on a surf lesson !
More exciting things to do and see !
Although we did not experience any of the below they either were on my to do list or caught my eye ….
Leisure land in salthill looked fab with 3 pools to choose from a huge slide and an inflatable obstacle course !
See more at http://www.leisureland.ie
Caherconnell Fort Carron, Co Clare also caught my eye . More than one of the best preserved stone forts on the Burren there is also a selection of sheep breeds to be discovered and sheepdog demonstrations also and when you’ve worked up an appetite you can satisfy it in mountain haven cafe.
To find out more see http://www.caherconnell.com
Terra Nova Gardens Killmallock Co Limerick.
Visit the beautiful gardens and feel the magic at the natural fairy fort. Look for the fairies and check out the fairy shop. This is a lovely way to break the journey into the west ( well from the south anyway ) and I was dissapointed not to have the time to stop on our journey home last week that said it’s high up on our to do list.
See more at http://www.terranovagarden.com
Despite being unlucky with the weather we had a great trip up west and four nights was not enough as there was so much more that we hoped to do and didn’t but we will be returning for sure !
If you have any recommendations for our next trip up west do let me know.
As always all my opinions are genuine and my own and are based on our experiences alone.