Friday 23 February 2018

12 autumn breaks that will make you fall for Ireland all over again

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Ballynahinch Castle in Galway
Ballynahinch Castle in Galway
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Looking for a hotel break this autumn? Pól Ó Conghaile has done the foraging for you... with a seasonal getaway for every budget.

€290pps: ‘Cosy Treats’ at Ballynahinch Castle

There are five different firesides to fight over at Ballynahinch Castle (above)… one of the most beautifully set buildings in Connemara. The Victorian country house and estate has its own stretch of river on the Ballyconeely Peninsula, and a ‘Cosy Treats’ autumn special sees two nights’ B&B bundled with dinner, a guided walk of the estate and a hot whiskey by the fire, draped in your own Magee pashmina. The cashmere and lambs’ wool wrap is inspired by the landscape, they say - and yours to take home.

Details: 095 31006;

€60pp: Whiskey Warmers in Kilkenny

Kilkenny Hibernian Hotel_6323.jpg

The Kilkenny Hibernian hotel is tempting guests to hibernate this autumn with B&B and a Whiskey Tasting Flight in the Hibernian Bar. Afterwards, take a trip on the Kilkenny City Tours road train (you can also avail of discounted tickets to the Walsh Whiskey Distillery Tour & Experience at Royal Oak). The package is based on two sharing from a total price of €120 midweek.

Details: 056 777-1888;

€136pp: Bed down in Belfast

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Titanic Hotel Belfast: Elevation from Queen's Road

Belfast’s new Titanic Hotel opens on September 10, and it’s got B&B plus entry tickets to the nearby Titanic Belfast from £170/€185 per room midweek (the price rises to £200/€217 at weekends). Elsewhere, another new hotel, Bullitt Belfast has an ‘Extend the Weekend’ package with Sunday nights plus dinner from just €136 per room. Check-in is from 3pm on Sundays.


More: First Look: Inside the €32m Titanic Hotel set to open in Belfast

€98.50pp: Glamping at Giltraps, Co. Offaly

Birr Castle

Kinnitty is a 90-minute drive from both Dublin and Galway, and Giltraps’ Pub is calling for visitors to glamp under the stars in a log cabin or Mongolian yurt. The Clendennan family pub is just 15 minutes from Birr Castle, with its award-winning gardens, huge treehouse (above), giant telescope and adventure playground - not to mention fall foliage in the the Slieve Blooms. Couple or family packages start from €199, with day passes to Birr Castle included.

Details: 057 913-7076;

€139pp: Explore outdoors at The Mustard Seed

The Mustard Seed, Ballingarry, Co. Limerick. Picture: Alan Place.

As lush greens morph into reds and golds, spend the day trekking Knockfierna (the ‘Hill of the Fairies’) or explore the Ballyhoura Mountains by foot or bike, before retiring to The Mustard Seed in Ballingarry, Co. Limerick for dinner. After a well-deserved lie-in, mosey downstairs for a slap-up breakfast at the Blue Book country house, with ingredients including free-range eggs from its own clutch of Rhode Island hens.

Details: 069 68508;;

€299pp: 4 days walking in Ballina, Co. Mayo

Chef Stephen Lenehan at Belleek Castle

North Mayo’s Ballina Walking Weekend takes place from September 17-21, and the Great National Hotel has four nights’ B&B along with breakfast, guided walks, packed lunches and dinner each evening from €299pps (Golden Ireland also has a rate for the over-50s). Meanwhile, nearby Blue Book member Belleek Castle (above) has an Indian Summer special bundling B&B and a three-course early-bird dinner from €97.50pp (valid September 4 to October 26).


More: 25 Best Walks in Ireland: No matter what your fitness level!

€152.50pp: Whales walks at the Cliff House Hotel

The Cliff House Hotel at Ardmore, Co Waterford.

November to February is peak season for whale watching in Ireland, and the Cliff House Hotel has B&B in a seaview room, along with a whale walk, from €305 per room during these months. The walks are conducted by Andrew Malcolm, who also does bespoke foraging, whale and birdwatching hikes. Dolphins, fin whales, minke and the occasional humpback can be spotted off the Ardmore cliffs - with binoculars, campstools and flasks of warm drinks provided by the hotel.

Details: 024 87800;

More: Ireland's best hotel revealed: Here's our readers' favourite place to stay

€75pp: Lazy days in Leitrim

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A woodland walk in Leitrim

Leitrim’s Tawnylust Lodge has a self-catering apartment nestled in the North Leitrim Hills, and you can check in for two nights from €150 midweek or €189 at weekends (based on two sharing). The price includes a guided mindfulness walk through one of the hidden woods nearby, where you can immerse yourself in the autumn hues “and take some time to reconnect with nature.”

Details: 087 917-2143;

€495pp: Foraging at the Park Hotel, Kenmare

John Brennan (right), with brother Francis.

Francis and John Brennan’s Park Hotel in Kenmare is marking its 120th anniversary in 2017, and it’s got lots of special offers to celebrate. A foraging weekend from October 20-22 includes two nights’ B&B, a mushrooming experience with Ireland’s premier mycologist, Bill O’Dea, and an evening cooking your finds with head chef James Coffey, before a five-course dinner. The hotel is also offering Blue Book voucher-holders a special rate of €120pp for dinner, bed and breakfast from Sundays through Thursdays (Nov.1 – Dec. 9).

Details: 064 664-1200;

€1,080: Wizard School at Ashford Castle


It may be beyond the means of most Muggles, but those who can wave the wand for this Halloween package will make magic happen. Ashford Castle’s annual Wizard School (Oct. 28 to Nov. 4) includes two nights’ B&B for a family of four (children aged 4-12 only) from €1,080, including dinner on both evenings and activities like a Forbidden Forest Treasure Hunt, Chamber of Art, birds of prey interactions, Harry Potter Movie Evenings and a cookery school. Accio, small fortune!

Details: 094 954-6003;

€99pp: Beautiful Bundoran

Bundoran, County Donegal. Photo: Deposit

Bundoran is running its fifth annual pumpkin-carving festival from 3.30pm to 6pm on October 31. Why not pop on your best fancy dress and tag along (it only costs a fiver). Also in the town, the Great Northern Hotel is offering a midweek special of two nights’ B&B plus one evening meal from €99pps. Autumn family mid-term breaks start from €179 for B&B plus dinner.


€289pp: Glenlo Abbey’s Ultimate Slumber Package

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Pullman Restaurant, Glenlo Abbey

Glenlo Abbey will be setting its log fires for autumn, and it invites you to curl up with a good book and enjoy a four-course meal at the Pullman Restaurant (set in two original carriages from the Orient Express, above) before unwinding with a nightcap and drifting off with a complimentary lavender turndown with L’Occitane Pillow Mist, Hand Cream and fluffy bathrobes and slippers. NB: The Pullman Restaurant is open at weekends only from 1st November to 31st March.

Details: 091 519600;

More: Galway's Orient Express: Inside Ireland's most unusual hotel restaurant

NB: Prices subject to availability.

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