Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Top 5 Scenic Drives in Ireland

Sunday, October 19th, 2014
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Ireland is well known for its stunning scenery; the Emerald Isle’s dramatic landscapes, lush green countryside, remote beaches and breath-taking cliffs are high on most people’s must-see list. One of the best ways to see as much of this beautiful country as you can, in all its glory, is to drive. There are many roads in Ireland – away from the main motorways – that reveal the most spectacular views to those who visit them, so we’ve listed our pick of the best Irish drives below.

1. Wild Atlantic Way

Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

Via Flickr

The Wild Atlantic Way requires a tad more commitment than the rest of our drives; this newly unveiled touring route has been hailed as not only one of the longest coastal routes in the world but also one of the most beautiful! This 1,553 mile route stretches from the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal, down the west coast of Ireland, to Kinsale, Co. Cork. Along the way, you’ll encounter some of the highest sea-cliffs in Europe, the most picturesque beaches in Ireland and maybe even catch a glimpse of some friendly bottlenose dolphins! If you don’t fancy driving the Wild Atlantic Way, you can see our guide to walking short sections of it, here.

2. Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Via Flickr

The unspoilt, rugged beauty of the Ring of Kerry means it has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland, behind Dublin. This 115 mile tourist trail follows the N70, N71 and R562 around the Iveragh Peninsula, taking in a wealth of breathtaking sights including the spectacular views from Ladies View (named after Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting who fell in love with the scenery) and Bog Village, a unique village made up of 6 properties which have been restored to their original setting, including thatched roofing.

3. Causeway Coastal Route

The Causeway Coastal Route spans 120 miles between Northern Ireland’s most vibrant cities, Belfast and Londonderry, tracing the winding curves of the spectacular coastline in-between. The route takes in sprawling coastline, picturesque seaside villages and forest highlands. Make sure to stop off and experience wonders unique to this part of the world along the way, including the extraordinary Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (not for the faint hearted!) and the breath-taking UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway.

4. Dublin-Wicklow

Wicklow Mountains

Via Flickr

Escape the bustle of the Irish capital by heading south to the natural beauty of the Wicklow Mountains, known as the Garden of Ireland. Take the Military Road to get the best views; it can be a little windy and bumpy but the view is worth it. By taking Military Road, you’ll cross over the mountains and drive through the extensive heath-clad moors and bogs of the surrounding area. Turn east at the small village of Laragh to experience the delights of Glendalough Valley, home to Ireland’s oldest monastery settlement and picturesque teal corrie lakes.

5. Cooley Peninsula

Cooley Peninsula

Via Flickr

The Cooley Peninsula in County Louth provides an alternative to some of the more well-known scenic drives in the country. This beautiful but remote peninsula was awarded a European Destination of excellence award for its “intangible heritage” and is well worth a visit. Take a drive on the R173 which circles around Cooley Peninsula, and discover the sweeping Mourne Mountains, mysterious Carlingford Lough and the medieval town of Carlingford which is brimming with rich historical heritage.

If you fancy getting in your car and heading to the Emerald Isle, make sure you check out our fantastic selection of self-catering cottages in Ireland. With over 750 properties across the country, we’d be more than happy to help you find somewhere nice to stay along the way!

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Top 10 Taverns You Must Visit in Ireland

Thursday, October 16th, 2014
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The Irish like their drink. They wouldn’t contest this. Since humans could lift a glass and pour a pint, the Irish have done just that. And where do they do this drinking? Down the pub of course.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Like the UK, Irish pubs are in peril. Over the past twenty-or-so years, 1,000s of boozers have closed their doors, lay slain by the cheap liquor on sale in offies and supermarkets across the Emerald Isle. To top it off – and contrary to belief – the beer served in Irish pubs is crap, steering many-a-thirsty Paddy into the alcohol aisle of the nearest convenience store.

Thanks to a surge in microbreweries supplying pubs with better beer, the future of Ireland’s taverns looks bright. But where should you go to sample the craic on a trip across the Irish Sea? Here’s a shortlist of taverns you should – nay, must – visit during your holiday in Ireland.

Matt Malloys, Westport, Co. Mayo

Matt Malloy's – Via Flickr

Matt Malloy’s – Via Flickr

Owned by Chieftain flutist Matt Malloy, this intimate Westport boozer hosts traditional live music seven nights a week. The ale poured in this Mayo inn are as authentic as the tunes, and the welcome as a warm as the punters squeezing in to listen to them. Visit as soon as possible.

O’Loclainn’s, Ballyvaughn, Co. Clare

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Image courtesy of The Irish Whiskey Trail

Down an unassuming alley in Ballyvaughn is O’Loclainn’s, perhaps the best pub in Ireland. With the feel of someone’s stove-lit front room and an overwhelming whisky selection, this tavern will warm your cockles on a bracing winter’s night. Musicians often set up shop within, so it can be a pleasantly tight squeeze.

Geoff’s, Waterford, Co. Waterford

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Whoever Geoff is, he’s the proprietor of a bloomin’ good pub. Reading reviews of the place, you’d think it was a classy joint; all speak of the atmosphere, the delicious food, the tasty stout and the good-natured cliental, but in reality, Geoff’s is a down-to-earth pub that’s the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon.

Sin é, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sin é, Irish for “That’s it”, refers to the funeral parlour next door. As macabre as this sounds, there’s nothing otherworldly about this Cork public house. Candlelit and convivial, Sin e’ is the home of traditional Irish music in Cork city, and has kept dry patrons in drink for over 50 years.

The Corner House, Ardara, Co. Donegal

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

Via Google Images – Labelled for reuse

There are several reasons you should endure the long drive to Co. Donegal, and The Corner House is one of them. Tiny, cosy, and family run, The Corner House features an open fire that’s stoked during the winter months. Plus there’s regular live music. See you there.

Hargadon Bros, Sligo, Co. Sligo

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Old pub, modern grub. That about sums up Hargadon Bros, a gem of a boozer in Sligo town. Did I mention their wine cellar, packed to the rafters with speciality vinos? Or their excellent range of local and international ales? Or their staff, who are described as “friendly” more times than I can count on Tripadvisor? No? Must have missed those bits.

The Dame Tavern, Dublin, Co. Dublin

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Fancy a sing-along in a proper pub with proper pints? Get yourself down to The Dame Tavern, a Dublin watering hole whose clientele are welcoming to tourists. Located on a historic byway where Google Street View couldn’t tread, you’ll feel at the heart of the Irish capital in this atmospheric wee pub.

Morrisey’s Pub, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

Morrisey’s Pub is essentially a museum. From the ancient bric-a-brac to the aged clientele, you feel you owe an admission fee before entering the saloon. For the cost of a pint, you can sit and drink amid years of Irish heritage and tradition – what could be better than that?

The Crane Bar, Galway, Co. Galway

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

The Crane Bar: a foot-stomping, violin thrashing, joy of an establishment. From the moment you set foot in this rustic alehouse, you’re encouraged to join in the craic. With top beer, two floors and a good local to tourist ratio, it won’t take long to get in the swing of things.

The Mutton Lane Inn, Cork City, Co. Cork

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Sheep used to sleep in this pub. And, JFK and Johnny Cash drank here. Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss this admired Cork public house. Candles stuffed in wine necks, torn upholstery, and dire loos add to the charm of this lovable dive. Ask for Sky Sports and you’ll likely find yourself on the pavement.

Has this list left you thirsty or muttering “you feckin’ idiots”? Which pubs would you choose? Let us know your favourite Irish boozer on Twitter or Facebook.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

A Whirlwind Tour of the Irish Coast

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
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Today we’ll be taking you on a whistle-stop tour of the Irish Coast, from Donegal in the north down to County Cork in the south, stopping off in some of our favourite places along the way.  We’ve taken it upon ourselves to list some of the best spots of the Irish coastline with awards going to our favourite beach, seaside town and, of course, the best spot to soak up some scenery. As you can imagine, this was no mean feat; after all, the Irish coast is one of the most spectacular going.

Best Beach

via Flickr

via Flickr

We decided to jump in at the deep end and pick our favourite beach first. Now you should know there’s over 1,000 miles of Irish coastline and a whopping 76 blue flag beaches, so this was never going to be an easy choice. However, we decided on a beautiful spot on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. Dingle itself was once labelled as the most beautiful place on Earth by National Geographic, so it must have something going for it. This becomes apparent when you head to Inch Beach, a three mile stretch of golden sand perfect for a stroll in the sun, some surfing or even a touch of sunbathing. A worthy winner of Ireland’s best beach!

Best Scenery

via Flickr

via Flickr

For the best spot to enjoy scenery on the Irish coast, we’re heading towards the northernmost tip of Ireland. Up there you’ll find the cliffs of Sliabh Liag, some of the highest accessible sea cliffs in Europe. They tower 600 meters above the sea making them almost twice the height of the Eiffel Tower and around three times that of their famous rival, the Cliffs of Moher. With picnic areas at the summit, walking paths all around and of course the various companies running boat trips around the base of cliffs, there’s so much to do, although you’ll probably prefer to just sit and enjoy the view!

Best Coastal Town

via Flickr

via Flickr

Now this really was a tough one. There are so many delightful seaside towns dotted around the Irish coast, but in the end, we plumbed for Kinsale in County Cork as our favourite. One of the jewels of the southern Irish coastline, well known for its winding streets, colourful shops and countless little cafés, you can see why Kinsale is popular with tourists. There’s a multitude of things to do there with an annual Gourmet festival, numerous art galleries and of course the marina where you can hire a boat for the day.

Well hopefully you agree with our choices, but if you’ve got any suggestions of other spots that deserve a mention let us know, either on Facebook or on Twitter! And hopefully reading this blog has got you in the mood for a trip over to Ireland. If so, we’ve got just the thing for you: a page full of Irish coastal cottages, so have a look and see if you can find your dream holiday home.

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Sykes’ Spotlight on New Irish Cottages

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
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Our portfolio of properties is constantly expanding not only here in the UK but across the sea in Ireland too. As we frequently blog about our recently acquired UK cottages, we thought it’s about time we highlighted some of our new Irish holiday homes. From stylish modern properties to cottages filled with character, and idyllic coastal getaways to cosy country retreats, our new cottages offer something to suit all tastes.

Cherrymount Farm

Cherrymount Farm | Youghal, County Cork | Ref:  914203

Cherrymount Farm | Youghal, County Cork | Ref: 914203

Cherrymount Farm is the perfect example of a modern Irish cottage, offering WiFi, underfloor central heating and solar panels. This immaculately presented five bedroom property is located on the border between Waterford and Cork so it’s ideal for exploring both counties and making the most of your holiday.

Coachman’s House

Coachman's House | Lorrha, County Tipperary | Ref: 915464

Coachman’s House | Lorrha, County Tipperary | Ref: 915464

Packed full of character, Coachman’s House in County Tipperary provides everything you need for a traditional Irish break. This stunning stone cottage offers homely accommodation which is ideal for a cosy family holiday or a romantic getaway with an open fire, large grounds and convenient local amenities all adding to its charm.

Watch House Cottage

Watch House Cottage | Valentia Island, County Kerry | Ref: 915397

Watch House Cottage | Valentia Island, County Kerry | Ref: 915397

If you’re looking to explore the Irish coastline in style then this adorable coastal cottage on Valentia Island is the property for you. Step out the front door of Watch House Cottage to find the vibrant Knightstown harbour with its pier and a range of water activities perfect for children or a family dog who just loves the water!

Ard Boula

Ard Boula | Tulla, County Clare | Ref: 912160

Ard Boula | Tulla, County Clare | Ref: 912160

Nestled in the Irish countryside, Ard Boula’s tranquil surroundings and rural setting is sure to encourage lots of rest and relaxation on your next Irish getaway. This property offers plenty of space to accommodate eight people and two well-behaved pets with four bedrooms, two sitting areas and large gardens one of which includes a plot where seasonal produce is grown.

This is just a small selection of the fabulous Irish Cottages we have on offer. If you’re planning a holiday to Ireland then please visit our Irish Cottages page or contact our team for more information.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Quiet Corners of Ireland

Thursday, September 25th, 2014
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Peace and quiet is hard to come by, so it’s important to soak up every minute of it. Luckily, there’s a place offering buckets of tranquillity at no extra cost; Ireland. Here’s a shortlist of the quietest, most peaceful corners of the Emerald Isle.

Glen of Aherlow, Co. Tipperary

Glen of Aherlow- Via Flickr

Glen of Aherlow- Via Flickr

Sixteen glorious miles of countryside await in the Glen of Aherlow, a peaceful valley near the town of Tipperary. Wayfarers young and old will appreciate the unnerving stillness of Aherlow, which has welcomed wanderers for centuries. With a variety of walking trails and a total lack of civilisation, this Irish gully gets a big tick in the box marked ‘secluded’.

Connemara, Co. Galway

Connemara- Via Flickr

Connemara- Via Flickr

It may sound like somewhere from Middle Earth – and look like it too – but believe me, Connemara is as real as it gets. Tucked away on the Emerald Isle’s brooding Atlantic Seaboard, even the boundaries of this scenic beauty spot are elusive. Escape here for a holiday and it’s likely you won’t see another human for the duration – bliss.

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

Glendalough- Via Flickr

Glendalough- Via Flickr

Prettiness embodied; that about sums up Glendalough, a glacial valley in County Wicklow. To elaborate, it’s got a magnificent lake, plenty of trees, and an Early Medieval monastery that English troops nearly did away with at the end of the 14th century. Oh, and though it’s not far from Dublin, it’s surprisingly peaceful, so keep your voice down!

Skellig Isles, Co. Kerry

Skellig Isles- Via Flickr

Skellig Isles- Via Flickr

Perhaps peaceful is the wrong word to describe Skellig, after all, it’s renowned for its battalion of highly verbal seabirds. Plus, you’ll need to take a boat to reach these Atlantic islets, which will of course involve a degree of human interaction. Disembark however, and you’ll feel like you’ve been marooned on your own un-tropical island, complete with 6th century pathways and inspiring views of the Irish coast.

Benbulbin, Co. Sligo

Benbulbin- Via Flickr

Benbulbin- Via Flickr

Is it just me, or does Benbulbin have a bit of an Uluru vibe? (Minus the colouration of course) Regardless, this formidable mountain packs a serious aesthetic punch, it being 200m taller than London’s newly erected Shard. Rising sharply out of ‘Yeat’s County’, Benbulbin – or Ben Bulben if you’re feeling pedantic – is a designated County Geological Site, and offers the perfect backdrop for a peaceful stroll.

Achill Island, Co. Mayo

Achill Island- Via Flickr

Achill Island- Via Flickr

It may be Ireland’s largest island, but thanks to its measly population, it’s still weirdly under-inhabited. You know what that means? There’s plenty of secluded corners in which to enjoy a quiet leg-stretch. Achill is also home to some glorious beaches – including no less than five Blue Flag ones – making it the perfect place to take the kids if the family is ready for some R&R.

Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry

Killarney National Park- Via Flickr

Killarney National Park- Via Flickr

It may look like a typo, but McGillycuddy’s Reeks is actually Ireland’s tallest mountain range, and it’s right here, in the Killarney National Park. At over 1,000 metres, Reeks is an impressive sight to behold, not least when viewed as a reflection in the stunning Lakes of Killarney below. Though the national park is on the well-trod Ring of Kerry, it remains one of South West Ireland’s most peaceful spots.

Blackstairs and Barrow Valley, Co. Carlow

Blackstairs Mountain- Via Flickr

Blackstairs Mountain- Via Flickr

When I read about the Barrow Valley, it was described as having ‘wild silence’, which I thought was rather lovely. Here, beneath the might of Blackstairs Mountain, traffic noise and chaos is replaced by the hullabaloo of nature; of gurgling streams, blustery forests, and the hum of bees as they go about their business. Anyone who travels here will leave with a sense of vigour, and the absolute knowledge that they’ll be returning soon.

Derryveagh Mountains, Co. Donegal

Derryveagh- Via Flickr

Derryveagh- Via Flickr

Just when you think Ireland has nothing left to give – when you’ve reached the northwestern corner, and the Atlantic coast beckons – the Derryveagh Mountains appear on the horizon to take the breath from your lungs once more. As the Emerald Isle’s least populated region, this spectacular wilderness is the perfect destination for a secluded getaway. Simply put, in Donegal, nothing matters but you and the wild.

Loop Head Peninsula, Co. Clare

Loop Head Peninsula- Via Flickr

Loop Head Peninsula- Via Flickr

Want to go really off the beaten path? Head to the Loop Head Peninsula, a lean slither of land branching into the Atlantic. Time seems to have forgotten Loop’s villages, though all offer the usual level of Irish hospitality. Venture forth into the wonderful coastal landscapes – which scooped a European Destination of Excellence award in 2010 – and the long drive will soon seem worth it.

Book an Irish break with Sykes Cottages

Purveyors of peaceful breaks since the 1990s, Sykes will set you up with a secluded getaway in a jiff. Simply browse our range of Irish holiday cottages and pick one as near or far to civilisation as you like.

Are you sitting on a secret Irish beauty spot? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter – it can’t stay a hidden forever!

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.