Sunday 17 December 2017

We have it all -- from surf 'n' turf to fine food

Forget the frustration of air travel and make the most of some great bank holiday breaks at home, says Lucinda O'Sullivan

AFRIEND of mine last month told me she felt the best days of travelling abroad were over, what with airport chaos, baggage charges, frustration and air-rage. Now we have experienced yet another shock with the shutdown of air transport due to the volcanic ash cloud.

Failte Ireland has been quick to get in with an ad which says if you are looking for a destination that is fun, you've found it -- and you are already here . . .

Here I am going to take you on a whistlestop tour of volcanic ash-free zones and bargain breaks around the country for the May bank holiday weekend.

Let us start with Dublin. There is so much to do and see up here, it makes a brilliant weekend away. The Radisson Blu Hotel on Golden Lane have a 2BB1D (two bed & breakfast and one dinner) break from €260 pps (per person sharing). Dinner is in the French brasserie, Verres en Vers. At the famous Shelbourne Hotel on St Stephen's Green, it has a 'Park & Play' rate of €199 per room per night including a bountiful breakfast in the Saddle Room and valet parking. Its early bird dinner is €22 so that keeps things reasonable for a memorable place. It also has a Dublin City Break package of 2BB1D from €458 per room.

In Temple Bar if you want to pub and club, the Morgan Hotel has a €55 pps BB rate including a complimentary cocktail! At its cool sister hotel, The Beacon at Sandyford, it has a 'Dine Out, Stay Out' rate of €140 per couple to include dinner, bed and breakfast, parking, and a late check out until 2pm. At Fitzpatrick's Castle in Killiney, it has 2BB1D from €145pps and you can stay a third night free. You get afternoon tea on arrival and the hotel can arrange a Walkabout Wicklow Day Tour for a €33 supplement. Offer available until May 31.

If you are looking for quiet charm, 'country house' style, in the city, with loads of personal attention, Aberdeen Lodge in the Ballsbridge Embassy belt is offering two nights' B&B, with afternoon tea and a glass of champagne, on one day for €179 pps. The package includes a choice of a city tour or a country tour and if you want to stay a third night, it is free. In the lovely seaside town of Skerries, at Terry McCoy's Red Bank House and Restaurant, you can have 2BB1D for €104pps.

Moving south to Co Wicklow, at the Marriott Druid's Glen Hotel, Newtownmount-kennedy, you can have 2BB1D at €150 pps. The Seafield Hotel in Ballymoney, Co Wexford, has 2BB1D breaks from €199pps. Also in Co Wexford, at the delightful Aldridge Lodge in Duncannon, chef Billy Whitty produces the most divine food, and the Lodge is doing 2BB1D for €115pps all year round. In Dunbrody House, Kevin Dundon has a 2BB1D package at €275pps including a tour of Dunbrody Famine ship or Hook Lighthouse.

In neighbouring Waterford, the gentle, relaxing Foxmount Country House is doing a 3BB rate for two people sharing at €330. Up at Lismore House Hotel, in the shadow of the Duke of Devonshire's magnificent castle, it is doing 2BB1D at a fantastic €89pps. Get in quick. Waterford Castle has a regal 2BB1D rate of €199 pps.

Moving to East Cork, at the Bayview Hotel, where all rooms have views over Ballycotton Harbour and the food is delicious, there is a 2BB1D rate of €155 pps and you can stay the third night free. At the gorgeous Castlemartyr Resort & Spa you can have 2BB with one dinner in the Belltower Restaurant from €290pps with a 15 per cent discount on any future stay. Great spa and golf at Castlemartyr. Moving towards Cork city, Fota Island Resort has 2BB1D for €210 pps. All three hotels are great for visiting Fota Wildlife Park and Cobh Heritage Centre and are close to the sea.

In West Cork at the uber cool Waterfront, on the square in Baltimore, which consists of Youen and Kate Jacob's eponymous guesthouse, Jacob's Bar, La Jolie Brise Pizzeria & Grill and the new Lookout Restaurant with fantastic views out over the bay, you can have 2BB1D in their standard rooms and table d'hote dinner in the Lookout for €120 pps. Not far away at

Kathleen O'Sullivan's elegant French-style Seaview House Hotel at Ballylickey, you can have 2BB1D for €150pps or 3BB1D for €200pps. In fabulous Kinsale, at the Old Bank House, you can have 2BB1D at €180pps or 3BB1D at €220pps.

In Kerry there are just so many great places with great offers. In Kenmare, the boutique-style Brooklane Hotel is doing 2BB1D at €189pps. Dinner is "unlimited" and breakfast is until 11am each day. The hotel provides bikes and walking maps and routes by its walking expert. Lots of restaurants in Kenmare also.

Out at the romantic Carrig House at Caragh Lake, on the Ring of Kerry, you can get a special spring offer from €199pps to include 2BB2D, with a third night including breakfast free. In addition, you have a choice of one hour riding on Rossbeigh Beach, a one hour massage or one round of golf at a local club.

Killarney has a plethora of hotels and offers. The Brehon has 2BB1D €190pps. The Gleneagle has 2BB1D €157pps -- the hotel is the HQ for the 2010 Rally of the Lake over the May weekend. The gorgeous Cahernane House Hotel, former home of the Earls of Pembroke, is doing 2BB1D in the Herbert Restaurant at €170pps. Killeen House Hotel & Rozzers Restaurant, which won the 2009 Failte Ireland Award for Best Customer Experience in Irish Hotels, is doing a 2BB1D package at €150pps or 3BB2D at €250pps.

At Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen's swish Muckross Park Hotel, you can have two or three nights in a deluxe room with options of one dinner in their GB's restaurant and one dinner in their Molly Darcy's traditional pub for €250/€330 pps. The rate also includes a massage in the Cloisters Spa. At the plush Randles Court Hotel on the Muckross Road, it has 2BB1D at €159pps and 3BB1D at €179pps. Out towards Sneem at the fabulous Parknasilla Resort & Spa, you can have 2BB1D at €239 pps or 3BB1D at €349 pps.

In Co Clare at Ballinalacken Castle at Doolin you can have 2BB1D at €180pps. Vaughan Lodge at Lahinch is offering 3BB1D at €240pps. An introductory surf lesson at Lahinch is included. In Adare, Co Limerick, if you arrive on Sunday, May 2, you can have 2BB1D from €130pps and a third night BB free. Moving north to Galway, The Twelve Hotel in Bearna has a family break 2BB1D for all in a family suite. Free movies. At Oughterard, the Georgian Ross Lake Hotel is a peaceful spot offering 2BB1D at €175pps or 3BB2D at €275pps. The hip Lisloughrey Lodge at Cong is offering 2BB1D at €175pps and a third night free.

In lovely Westport at the four-star Westport Plaza Hotel you can have 2BB1D at €199pps or 3BB2D at €269pps. At the Castlecourt Hotel, you can have 2BB1D at €199pps or 3BB2D at €245pps. Knockranny House Hotel has 2BB1D with Tasting Menu from chef Seamus Commons at €199pps.

In Donegal at Harvey's Point Hotel on Lough Eske, a grown up destination with accommodation in fabulous suites, the rate is €249pps for 2BB1D. Activities such as guided rambles, a cookery demonstration and a fashion show are organised for guests.

In the midlands, Lough Rynn Castle in Leitrim offers an excellent rate of €140pps for 2BB1D -- French chef, food excellent. In Co Meath at Dunboyne Castle, you can have 2BB1D and complementary use of the thermal suite in the Seoid Spa for €149pps. At the Osprey Hotel in Kildare, it has a 2BB1D rate at €155pps. You can shop til you drop at the Kildare Outlet Village and come back and hit the bubbles -- champagne or bath, or both! In Kilkenny at Hotel Kilkenny you can have 2BB1D at €185pps. Smithwick's Rhythm and Roots Festival will be on and Hotel Kilkenny plays host to two great free gigs over the weekend.

In Birr, Co Offaly, the Georgian Heritage town, the County Arms Hotel has a 'Slieve Bloom Walking Festival' package with 2BB1D plus two packed lunches, walking maps, and inclusive of Walker's Festival Registration (normally €20) at €159pps. Book by Monday 26 and get a third night free. Alternatively it offers 1DBB at €65 pps.

In Tipperary, at Coolbawn Quay Spa, which has gorgeous cottages and suites, you can have 2BB1D at €189pps for groups of two, groups of four are €179pps, groups of six €169pps. On May 1, it hosts its May Ball -- funds raised go to Haiti Connect.

Inch House, near Thurles, is offering 2BB1D for two people, including a bottle of house wine, for €200 per room. At Ashley Park near Nenagh the Bank Holiday Special is €95 pps for bed, breakfast and dinner per night.Bailey's Hotel, Cashel,has a 2BB1D offer at €120pps. At the Horse & Jockey Hotel at Horse & Jockey, it has 'Trip to Tipp' specials for the All Ireland League Final at Semple Stadium on the Sunday evening. The package is €129pps for 2BB1D, transfers to Semple Stadium, 10 per cent discount in its Elemis Spa, and Munster V Biarritz on a big screen in the bar before buses leave for Semple Stadium. Up Tipp!!

And last, but not least, at the d Hotel in Drogheda overlooking the Boyne River you can have a 2BB1D for a fantastic €85pps or one night with same at €65pps. So, fly away, around Ireland!

You will also find special offers from hotels and restaurants on the website

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