Wednesday 22 November 2017

Dingle: Baby on board in the magic Kingdom

Dingle, Co Kerry

The wild Atlantic: Coumeenole beach in Dun Quin, Co Kerry, site of the famous scene from the film Ryan’s Daughter
The wild Atlantic: Coumeenole beach in Dun Quin, Co Kerry, site of the famous scene from the film Ryan’s Daughter
To the cottage born: Liadan Hynes and her daughter Sarah in a friend's cottage near Dun Quin
Map of Ireland

Liadan Hynes takes to the road with her baby, and ends up in an enchanting setting on the Dingle Peninsula.

Liadan Hynes takes her

It was to be the first holiday with the new baby.

In retrospect, travelling across the country with a six week old seems like insanity, although there is something to be said for their portability in those early days - try a six hour car journey with a toddler in tow.

Since having my first child, I have taken every holiday with extended-family members; holidays with children being not exactly the relaxing break of the past, the more on hand babysitters the better.

I also look for as close to a home from home as possible when I go away, things like washing machines, good cooking facilities, lots of space and non adjacency to someone else's sleeping quarters (and the possibility of a baby screaming in the middle of the night ruining some stranger's holiday).

For those travelling long car distances with tiny babies, two things are essential. One, accept that this will take a full day, take your time and bring a packed lunch. The trip to Dingle took us eight hours. Two, research your stops beforehand - changing a nappy roadside on the back seat, no matter how inert and tiny the child, is the stuff of nightmares.

We stopped as early as Kildare Village for comfortable changing surroundings for junior and restorative coffees for the adults. I would also highly recommend the Heritage Centre in Adare, Co Limerick - it may not be the village's most picturesque spot, but the changing facilities are excellent and the staff, no doubt spotting my - by then - wild eyed look (six hours in a car with a baby who pretty much screamed the entire way), kindly stopped closing the restaurant and allowed us to order food.

We have holidayed in the Dingle Peninsula since the brother and I were children. Originally, we stayed around Ballyferriter. In those days, children were allowed in pubs at night so being in the middle of nowhere wasn't an issue. As we've gotten older there's been a push for a more central to Dingle house location, with people preferring to have the ability to stroll down town after dinner. So for the last few years we've stayed in the Trident Dingle Harbour Cottages, just by the roundabout as you exit Dingle towards Ceann Tra. It's a couple of minutes walk to the centre of town, with beautiful views of the bay.

To the cottage born: Liadan Hynes and her daughter Sarah in a friend's cottage near Dun Quin

Liaden and Sarah in Dun Quin

The houses themselves sleep six - a double room upstairs, and a twin, and another twin downstairs, with two bathrooms. As ambitious as you might be on the activities front, a holiday with a new-born will involve a great deal of faffing around the house, so comfortable, roomy living quarters matter.

The Trident homes have generous living-room-cum-kitchens, the dinner table seats eight adults and the living room area is comfortable and spacious.

On arrival, my first tip would be to go straight to Super Valu to stock up on food, once that job is over let the relaxation begin. If you can bear it, on day one get back in the car and do the Sleigh Head drive. Whatever the weather, this brings you around some of the most spectacular views in Ireland; I would venture to say the world. Stop off at Coumeenole beach (the Ryan's Daughter beach), swimming is a bit dangerous here but the scenery is enough to warrant a visit.

Beaches in the Dingle area are famously on the dramatic side - Clogher, further on, is another one that's worth a visit, good for views rather than swimming - but if you fancy a dip, there are plenty of options. The aforementioned Ceann Tra, and Wine Strand and Beal Ban in Ballyferriter.

As children we, or at least the parents, invested in wetsuits which greatly increased the amount of swimming.

Post beach, we like to visit Café Potadoireacht, which combines a pottery shop (children love searching for the cup with their name on it) with a café - the soup is generally good, as is the dessert.

For an easy bite in a child-friendly atmosphere, for dinner continue on to Ballyferriter village. We stopped a couple of times in the Ceann Sibeal Hotel, which served excellent pub grub-style dinners.

Walks with a baby are a different matter. One of my all time holiday high points ever (and I am not a keen activity holiday type) was climbing Carrauntoohil with Con Moriarty as our guide. Obviously, Baby Bjorn or not this is not a goer with little ones, so we limited ourselves to strolls through the town, ending up at Murphy's ice cream shop for homemade sorbets.

Dining out in the evening with a baby seemed potentially stressful so we focused on nice lunches. A favourite was The Wren's Nest on Dykegate street, which has a beautiful natural garden to sit in.

Other must-visit spots in Dingle include Dick Mac's pub/hardware-store, and Adam's bar and restaurant is a nice sunny spot for lunch.

Outside Dingle, on the road to Tralee, Pedlar's Lake, a "secret" glacier lake on the Conor Pass, is a great spot for picnics with kids if the weather allows; even on a grey day they will love scrambling around the perimeter.

Fishing was always a high point of our childhood holidays, and whilst I'm forbidden from revealing our secret spot (a precarious shepherd's path over the side of a cliff in Dun Quin) for fear of lawsuits, the father recommends pier side in Dingle as a safe option for children.

In the ultimate home from home move, we had family to visit one night - cousins and their children who were passing through. Their kids, aged between four and nine, had been massively entertained by pottery making at the Louis Mulcahy studio, and candle making on Valencia Island.

Our house was more than capable of holding the crowd for dinner (handy when holidaying with kids - is it really worth spending on dinner in a restaurant for children?) and we all strolled down to O Flahertys bar, afterwards, which, in the ultimate child friendly holiday move. It even has a cosy snug for privacy for the breast feeding mothers.

Getting there

Liaden stayed with Trident Holiday homes (, which has a range of properties in Dingle, including the Dingle Harbour Cottages, and the Dingle Courtyard Cottages, both with views of Dingle Bay and within a few minutes' walk of Dingle town. The cottages sleep four, six or eight.

From April 11 to May 29 2015, there is a 30pc discount on the Dingle Courtyard Cottages, with prices as follows: Cottage sleeping 4, 1 - 7 nights from €74 pppw. Cottage sleeping 6, 1 - 7 nights from €66 pppw. Cottage sleeping 8, 1 - 7 nights from €66 pppw. Rates quoted exclude booking fee & utilities, and T&Cs apply.


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