Ireland Family Vacation - Ballycotton 7 Nights

Day 1: Shannon Airport to Ballycotton

Your closest airport for this family airport will be Cork Airport however this airport is quite small so you may not get an international arrival here. If you do choose another airport we will gladly change your itinerary to suit.  The journey from Shannon will take in the region of two hours and fifteen minutes with plenty to see and do along the way. Foremost a trip to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is recommended for any Ireland family vacation. Bunratty Castle, one of Ireland’s grandest castles was built in the 15th century by the McNamara’s but its most important residents were the O’Brien’s, Earls of Thomond’s who lived there until the 1640’s. The interior looks much the same now as it did at that time. The adjacent Bunratty Folk Park is always popular with kids, here you can meet and chat with various street characters including the Policeman and Schoolteacher who give the site its sparkle during the summer months. The reconstructed streets are complete with post office, school, doctors house, hardware shop, printers and of course the local pub where you amd your family might have a bite to eat.  In Limerick you might decide to stop at the newly renovated King John’s Castle (opening June 2013) where Touch-screen technology will connect you and your family to tales of siege and warfare. The kids will enjoy a dazzling selection of CGI animations and ghostly projections. Visitors will be able to try on historic costumes - eighteenth century dresses or chainmail tunics. 3D representations, discovery drawers and audio visual displays will help your family to delve into the castle’s History. After Limerick a scenic drive through the Limerick and North Cork countryside will take you to Ballycotton where you will check into your accommodation, the Garryvoe Hotel.

Day 2: Exploring East Cork

Directly outside your hotel you will find Ballycotton Bay which and if the weather is fine you may spend a good deal of your time here. The bay offers fantastic views over a boat filled harbour to a steep island crowned by an outstanding lighthouse. There are beautiful cliff walks, and inland you will find an extensive bird sanctuary. Travelling further east you will find the seaside town of Youghal, a historic walled town and thriving fishing port. The striking Clock tower greets you as you enter the town, here we recommend climbing the steep tower steps for a remarkable view of the town and surround. Other sites of interest include Tynte’s Castle, The Red House, the Gothic Church of St. Mary and for the kids Perks Funfair beside Youghal’s beautiful seafront promenade. East of Ballycotton the town of Cobh is well worth a visit. Cobh or Queenstown as it was known was the final port of call for millions of Irish people fleeing to America or Canada for a new life and was most famously the last port of call for the fatal final journey of Titanic. Two museums recall these events, The Titanic Experience and The Queenstown Story, both are great stops for families and we highly recommend a visit. Not far from Cobh, your family will love Fota Wildlife Park.  Home to thousands of animals, Fota Wildlife Park’s primary objective is to provide the utmost possible standard of care, housing and quality of life for all of its animals, both native and exotic.

Day 3: Exploring West Cork

You might start your tour today by visiting the nearby town of Kinsale, a delightful and colourful harbour town which has retained its old-world charm and despite being well developed from a tourism point of view. It has a beautiful waterside location and local attractions include a yacht marina and historic buildings such as Desmond Castle and Market House. Kinsale styles itself as the gourmet capital of Ireland, boasting several excellent restaurants and distinctive traditional pubs. Further west the town of Skibberreen is another family favourite, here we recommend a visit to the heritage centre where an informative exhibition commemorates the tragic period in the 1840s that is known in Irish History as the Great Hunger. Skibbereen, along with many areas of the west, was very badly affected losing up to a third of its population to hunger, disease and emigration. Close by, the town of Baltimore is the gateway to Sherkin Island and Cape Clear. Garnish Island can be reached easily by passenger ferry from Glengarfiff near Bantry. This trip is always loved by kids since the journey across will take your family by seal island where you will have the opportunity to see a wonderful seal colony. The Gardens on the island are comprised of a number of features all of which a nestled within the protection of the woodlands which were planted over 100 years ago. This shelter, combined with the effects of the Gulf Stream and the unique configuration of Glengarriff Harbour results in a unique micro climate in which an amazing range of exotic species flourish.

Day 4: Exploring Cork City & Surround

Your day tour today will help you explore the famous Blarney Castle where you and the kids can kiss the renowned Blarney Stone which is said to grant those who kiss it the ‘gift of the gab’! Your Irish Tourism detailed itinerary will help you then explore Cork City, the second largest city in Ireland. Originally a monastic settlement founded by Saint Finbarre in the 6th century, Cork achieved an urban character between 915 and 922 when Norseman (Viking) settlers founded a trading port. It has been proposed that, like Dublin, Cork was a significant trading centre in the Scandinavian trade network. Attractions that your family may like to visit in the city include Cork City Gaol Museum, The Church of St. Anne Shandon where the kids will enjoy climbing to the top of the tower and ringing the famous ‘Shandon Bells’, St.Finbarre’s Cathedral, The English Market, and Crawford Art Gallery to name but a few.

Day 5: Discovering Waterford

The heritage town of Lismore is a mere 40 minutes’ drive from Ballycotton and here you can find many historic buildings here including Lismore Castle & Gardens and St. Carthages Cathedral or take the Towers Woodland Trail outside the town and view the unusual gate lodge and bridge constructed by landlord Arthur Kiely Ussher to impress his demanding wife. The cost of building the elaborate Gothic entrance proved so great that the planned manor house was never constructed! Your family may enjoy a visit to the nearby seaside towns of Tramore or Dunmore East. Tramore’s long sandy beach has been attracting visitors for years and is always popular with kids due to the Amusement Arcades & Amusement Park that line the promenade. Dunmore East is much smaller than Tramore but quaint and picturesque with a lovely beach and a number of nice places to eat. Waterford City itself has a host of sightseeing options; Waterford Crystal exhibits one of Ireland’s most famous exports. Visit the newly renovated Bishops Palace which illustrates the history of Waterford from 1700 to 1970 or Reginald’s Tower; the oldest urban building in Ireland that is now home to an exhibition of archaeological and historic artefacts that tell the story of Waterford's rich Viking legacy. You may simply decide to explore the shops, bars and cafés of this compact city with your family or take a leisurely boat cruise along the River Suir.

Day 6: Discovering Tipperary & Kilkenny

Your tour today will take in the famous Rock of Cashel, which rears above the plain, dominated the land routes southwards. Kings of Ireland as well as Munster came to this spot and St. Patrick is believed to have preached on the rock and converted the local King, Aenghus, here in the 5th Century. Nearby Cahir Castle was once an significant stronghold of the prevailing Butler family and it retains its imposing keep, tower and much of its original defensive structure. It is one of Ireland’s largest and best-preserved and well known castles.  From Cahir Kilkenny City is a short distance, Kilkenny City is long regarded as Ireland’s Medieval Capital, the city’s roots date back more than 1,500 years. Your stop here is sure to include the grand and imposing Kilkenny Castle with its onsite parklands which stands dramatically on a strategic height and dominates the 'High Town' of Kilkenny City or Saint Canice's Cathedral, the second longest of Ireland's medieval cathedrals which provides a seminal influence on Kilkenny life. Outside, your kids will enjoy the climb to the top of the 9th century round tower, once used by the monks for refuge.

Day 7: Discovering Kerry

Kerry is one of Ireland’s most visited places due to the many beautiful coastlines, remarkable scenery and the great selection of family activities to enjoy. Adjoining the town of Killarney you and your family will discover an expanse of rugged mountainous countryside, including the McGillycuddy Reeks which rise to a height of over 1000 metres, the famous Lakes of Killarney and Killarney National Park. Here you might enjoy a jaunt by traditional horse and cart or hire some bicycles and enjoy biking around the vast parklands. Muckross House, Gardens and Traditional Farms is another family favourite. The house is a nineteenth century Victorian mansion is set against the stunning beauty of Killarney National Park. The farms offer the visitor the Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s complete with three separate working farms, each one having its own animals, poultry and machinery. The farmhouses are furnished in traditional Irish style, complete with dressers, settlebeds and mealbins. There is also a Labourer's Cottage, a Carpenter's Workshop and a Blacksmith's Forge. Should you choose to venture past Killarney, the Ring of Kerry is an unforgettable journey not to be missed and en-route you will appreciate stunning mountain and coastal scenery combined with colourful towns and villages.