Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

Irish Locations Visited By St Patrick

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
Pin It

It’s fair to say that St Patrick is one of the world’s most popular saints, with millions of people celebrating his feast day every year on March 17th. In today’s blog we are paying homage to Ireland’s patron saint by taking a photo tour of some of the areas St Patrick is said to have visited during his lifetime.

Lough Derg, County Donegal

Landscape image of a blue lake amongst green hills and a cloudy blue sky

Image of Lough Derg by chrispod1975CC 2.0

Lough Derg is featured in two stories relating to St Patrick; the first sees him chasing the last of the snakes from Ireland here, before turning the lake red with its blood and the second story is about Christ revealing the entrance to hell inside a cave nearby.

Saul Church, County Down

Historic church set in a green field with cloudy blue sky.

Image of Saul Church by michael kooimanCC 2.0

St Patrick spent his time in Ireland converting pagans to Christianity, one of these converts then donated a barn to St Patrick so he could hold his services there. This small barn is now known as Saul Church and it is where St Patrick spent the last years leading up to his death in 461AD.

Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

Tall mountains with clouds rolling across the  peeks

Image of Croagh Patrick by Nicolas RaymondCC 2.0

St Patrick is said to have made a pilgrimage to the top of this sacred mountain 40 days before Easter in 441AD, once at the top St Patrick spent 40 days there fasting and praying. Now, on the last Sunday of July, also known as Reek Sunday, over 3,000 people make the pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick barefoot!

The Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

Historic castle set on a hill side with steep cliffs covered in grass under

Image of The Rock of Cashel by rosario fiore – CC 2.0

The Rock of Cashel is where St Patrick supposedly baptised the mighty king of Munster, Aenghus. It is also said that during the baptism, St Patrick accidentally stabbed Kind Aenghus in the foot with a crozier.

Hill of Slane, County Meath

Vivid blue sky with white clouds and a beautiful historic building in front

Image of the Hill of Slane by Anna & MichalCC 2.0

It is said that St Patrick lit a huge fire on the Hill of Slane in protest of a pagan feast. The high king was not impressed but St Patrick convinced him that the Christian God was far more powerful than his old gods by performing miracles and using the tree-leafed shamrock as an example of Christianity.

St Patrick’s Well, County Tipperary

Grassy bank with over hanging trees, stone bridge over a reflective pond

Image of St Patrick’s Well by Gerard AhernCC 2.0

During his travels across Ireland, St Patrick is said to have stopped here to bath and baptise the local people before continuing on his journey.

Slemish Mountain, County Antrim

Green fields full of sheep and a tall green mountain in the distance.

Image of Slemish Mountain by Albert BridgeCC 2.0

When St Patrick was just a boy, he was captured by pirates and brought from his home in Wales to Ireland, where he worked as a slave herding sheep on Slemish Mountain. Although St Patrick spent a tough six years on this mountain, it was also where he found consolation in God.

Pin It
Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.

Itinerary For The Ring Of Kerry

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
Pin It

If you’re looking to discover Ireland then you can’t go wrong with a trip around the Ring of Kerry. This iconic section of the Wild Atlantic Way is simply breath-taking; with beautiful scenery and historic attractions, it allows visitors to experience the real Ireland first hand. If you feel like exploring the Ring of Kerry on your next Irish vacation then keep reading as we suggest a variety of attractions to include in your itinerary.

Visit the Kerry Bog Village

Visit the Kerry Bog Village and travel back in time to experience what life was like for the people who lived and worked in the area between the 18th and 19th century. This fantastic experience is the only one of its kind in Europe and currently, County Kerry’s leading tourist attraction. The village not only contains historic artefacts, furniture and machinery but it is also home to the Kerry Bog Ponies and Ireland’s most iconic large dogs, the Irish Wolf Hound.

Explore Ross Castle

Ross Castle is an excellent example of an Irish stronghold from the Middle Ages and provides visitors with a wonderful insight into Ireland’s past. The castle is thought to date back to the 15th century when it would have been built by one of the O’Donoghue Ross chieftains. Visit the castle today and you will find an exciting display of furniture from the 16th and 17th century, spectacular views of the countryside and Lough Leane, as well as plenty of picturesque locations for a family picnic.

Journey through the Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass located between MacGillycuddy’s Peek and Purple Mountain. This beautiful area of Ireland has proven extremely popular with tourists and because of this, now has a number of tours dedicated to taking visitors through the gap. The Gap of Dunloe Tours is one of the best providers in the area and offer a tour that not only takes visitors on a pony trek through the gap, but also includes a trip to Kate’s Cottage and a traditional boat tour of the three lakes of Killarney in the same package!

Walk from Glencar to Glenbeigh

It’s easy to drive around the Ring of Kerry but why not take some time to explore the area by foot? The route between Glencar and Glenbeigh is just 11 miles long and one of the shortest sections of the original 137 mile route. The walk is pretty straight forward, simply start at The Climbers Inn and follow the marked route to Glenbeigh. On your way you’ll pass through amazing mixed forestry, moorland and the famous windy gap.

Eat at Tom Crean Fish and Wine

Tom Crean Fish and Wine offer a truly unique dining experience and is the only restaurant in the world where your dinner is cooked by Tom Crean’s own granddaughter. The restaurant’s delicious menu features some of the area’s best locally sourced organic produce and their succulent mussels have become something of a local legend! As well as the unbeatable food, visitors to Tom Crean Fish and Wine will also find rooms full of pictures and information about Ireland’s most famous Antarctic explorer.

Now that you’ve seen exactly what the Ring of Kerry has to offer, why not book a cottage and explore the area for yourself? We have a fantastic selection of Kerry cottages to choose from so whether you’re travelling as part of a group or just as a couple, we’re sure to have a cottage to suit your style and budget.

Pin It
Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.

Some Great Irish Dishes

Saturday, November 21st, 2015
Pin It

Today on the Sykes Cottages we’re taking a trip over the Irish Sea to have a look at some of the best dishes that the Emerald Isle has to offer. With a warming winter stew, an old favourite and the obligatory dash of Guinness, it’s the perfect menu for a proper Irish meal. Why don’t you have a look and see which you fancy making?

Irish Stew

We’re going to start off with a hearty Irish stew. Full of flavour and nice and warming, it’s the perfect dish for those chilly winter nights and serving 6 people it’s great for a family meal. Recipe via – BBC Good Food

Time to make: 1 hour (plus 2hrs 30 minutes to make the stock)


For the stew

  • 3 middle necks of lamb (you’ll want this filleted and boned)
  • 650g of floury potatoes and the same of waxy potatoes
  • 1kg of carrots
  • 2 medium onions

For the Stock

  • lamb bones
  • 1 quartered carrot
  • 1 quartered onion
  • half a stick of celery
  • 1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs of thyme, a sprig of parsley
  • 3 litres of water


  1. First off you’ll want to make the stock. Put the lamb bones, carrot, onion, celery and herbs in a large pot and simmer for a couple of hours. Then strain it through a sieve and return to the pot. Bring back to the boil and reduce until there’s just over a litre of water left.
  2. To prep for making the stew, you should cut the lamb into large chunks, peel the potatoes and cut into similar sizes as the lamb – but keep the two varieties separate. Peel the carrots and slice into smaller pieces and cut the onions into large rings.
  3. Put the lamb in a fresh saucepan, add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the meat for 10 minutes, skimming off any impurities that might appear.
  4. Then add in the floury potatoes, carrots and onions and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  5. Finally add the waxy potatoes and season generously. Simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the meat is tender.


Then we’ve got a good old Irish favourite – Colcannon! The ultimate comfort food and a great accompaniment to any main, Colcannon is a medley of creamy mashed potato and tasty cabbage. The below recipe will give you enough for six hearty portions and you can find the original recipe here – BBC Good Food.

Time to make: 35 minutes


  • 1kg of scrubbed potatoes.
  • 100g of butter
  • 140g of back bacon
  • half of a small savoy cabbage
  • 150 ml of double cream


  1. Take your potatoes, cutting any large ones in half, and put them in a pan full of water. Bring the water to the boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, this should take around 20 minutes.
  2. Whilst the potatoes are simmering, add 25g of the butter to a saucepan along with the bacon (finely diced) and the half of the cabbage (finely shredded). and fry over a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the boiled potatoes and mash. Then heat the cream with the rest of the butter and beat into the potato. Mix in the bacon and the cabbage and serve.

Chocolate Guinness Cake

And finally we’ve got a sweet treat that’s sure to round off any meal perfectly. Making enough cake for 12 slices, you should have plenty of leftovers unless anyone heads back for seconds! If you want the original recipe you can find it here on Nigella Lawson’s website.

Time to make: 1 hour and 15 minutes


  • 250ml of Guinness
  • 250g of butter (unsalted)
  • 75g of cocoa powder
  • 400g of caster sugar
  • 140ml of sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbsp of vanilla extract
  • 275g of plain flour
  • 2 and a half tsps of bicarbonate of soda
  • 300g of cream cheese
  • 150g of icing sugar
  • 125ml of double cream


  1. Preheat your oven to around 140°c (gas mark 4). Butter and line a 9 inch tin.
  2. Heat your Guinness in a large saucepan and add in the butter. When the butter is melted, whisk in your caster sugar and cocoa powder.
  3. Separately, beat together your sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract then add into your Guinness pan. Finally, whisk your flour and bicarbonate of soda into the mixture.
  4. Pour the batter into your tin and bake for between 45 minutes and an hour. Once cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack.
  5. Then you’ll want to make the icing. Whip your cream cheese until it’s nice and smooth and sieve in your icing sugar before beating them together. Then add in the cream and beat again until you’ve got a good spreadable icing that you can spread over your cake.

So there you go, three fantastic Irish dishes. We hope that you enjoy them and who knows, maybe they’ll tempt you into taking a trip over to the Emerald Isle? If they do you’ll want to make sure that you take a look at our selection of Irish cottages so that you have a home away from home in which you can rustle up the meals.

Pin It
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.

Spotlight On: Luxury Cottages In Ireland

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015
Pin It

For an extra special getaway in the Emerald Isle, make sure you take a look at our stunning collection of luxury holiday cottages in Ireland. Whether you’re after a grand property with opulent décor, or a five-star romantic retreat, we will find the perfect holiday home in Ireland to suit you. For a bit of inspiration, check out the three fantastic luxury cottages below.

Whispering Willows, County Donegal

This idyllic thatched cottage is a picture-perfect luxury retreat for couples, nestled in a tranquil part of Donegal just outside Carndonagh. Whispering Willows is utterly charming with its traditional features, cosy woodburner to curl up in front of, and a roll top bath perfect for sipping champagne amongst the bubbles. The pretty town of Carndonagh with its restaurants, bars and pubs is just a mile from the cottage and if you fancy a romantic evening stroll, the stunning beach Malin Head is also within easy reach.

Lough Arrow View, County Sligo

If you’re looking for a large luxury cottage where all your family and friends can convene, Lough Arrow View is ideal. Sleeping 12, this bright and contemporary holiday home is located close to Castlebaldwin in County Sligo and boasts panoramic views across Lough Arrow from its windows. There’s a large open plan living area where the whole group can relax and chat together, as well as a modern kitchen and dining area, four bathrooms and five bedrooms- plenty of space for the whole party to enjoy.

River Mountain View, County Cork

This beautiful country cottage is set next to a working livestock farm in the heart of Cork’s countryside. There are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large contemporary kitchen with dining area, and a lavish living area with sumptuous, comfy sofas and an open fire. However, the real jewel in the crown of River Mountain View is its outlook; from the garden, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Boggeragh Mountains out to the Owentaraglin River.

To browse our full range of luxury cottages in Ireland, please visit our website. We’ve opulent holiday cottages to suit everyone, whether you’re looking for an indulgent romantic getaway or a lavish holiday with the family!

Pin It
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.

Sykes’ Guide to Irish Beaches

Thursday, August 6th, 2015
Pin It

With over 3,000 kilometres of coastline, Ireland is a fantastic location for a beach holiday but with many of us opting to visit the Cornish coast or Welsh beaches instead, Ireland can often be overlooked. To help convince you to try something new this year, we have put together a guide filled with fabulous Irish beaches, so take a look and start planning your Irish adventure today!

Curracloe Bay, Co. Wexford

Best Beach for Families

Famed for its use in the iconic movie, Saving Private Ryan, Curracloe Bay is also a well-known family friendly beach with beautiful scenery, extensive sand dunes and safe waters. As well as the extensive system of walking trails through the dunes, visitors to Curracloe can also visit Wexford’s first and only surf school, where both children and adults can learn to surf on both sand and wave.

Rossbeigh Beach, Co. Kerry

Best Beach for Couples

Located along the Ring of Kerry, the beautiful sandy shores and spectacular scenery at Rossbeigh Beach make this stretch of coast perfect for a romantic weekend away. For a truly unforgettable date, we suggest treating your other half to a sunset stroll along the beach where they can marvel at Ireland’s natural beauty before visiting one of the many local restaurants for a candlelit meal for two.

Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow

Best Beach for Dogs

It’s no secret that dogs love the beach; running along the shore, feeling the sand under their paws and the cold spray of the ocean is all the holiday your pooch requires. If you’re thinking of taking your four-legged friend to an Irish beach then we would highly suggest Brittas Bay, with 5 kilometres of white sands there is plenty of room for your dog to explore.

Bundoran, Co. Donegal

Best Beach for Water Sports

Bundoran Beach is known as the home of Irish surfing and with its beautiful golden sands, fantastic amenities and killer waves, it’s not hard to see why. If you’re new to surfing we would suggest taking a few lessons at one of the area’s many surf schools, where they’re not only surf experts but also provide classes on other sports including sand surfing, body boarding and canoeing.

Rent a Cottage in Ireland with Sykes Cottages

Now that you’ve seen just what Ireland has to offer, why not hop on a ferry and visit for yourself? Whether you’re looking for a seaside retreat with views across the ocean or a character cottage along the harbour, with over 850 Irish Cottages to choose from we’re sure to find a property to suit your personality and budget.

Pin It
Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

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 husband.