Whether it's a rough and tumble adventure or a cosy night by the fire, lifetime memories are waiting to be made in each of these locations
"Are we there yet?"
We're all familiar with them – the family holidays where the most abiding memories are cranky kids in the back seat?
Well here's your chance to do things differently – by replacing impatience and frustration with eager anticipation and adventure. And you don't have to travel too far for a real family holiday with plenty of opportunities for excitement and magic.
Take Limerick, for instance. Not only is it home to Munster rugby – a perk that would be enough for some all on its own – but it's also the ideal base for some great fun exploring one of Ireland's most intriguing locations.
Lough Gur is at the heart of a remarkable archaeological landscape featuring sites that represent every major period of human history in Ireland. Home to Ireland's largest and oldest stone circle, at one point in time it was also home to the largest concentration of Giant Irish Deer in Europe. Lough Gur has stunning scenery along with fairy and tree trails for young and young-at-heart visitors.
More magical fairy trails can be found at your next stop, Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa. This family run hotel is an ideal base for a family break, with a superb range of activities for kids, including their fairy trail, Woody's pet farm, Woody's kids club, and an indoor swimmin pool. Woodlands Hotel is also home to Mary's organic garden, a walking trail, the award winning Revas spa, and of course luxiourious accomodation in an ideal location making it the complete family package.
Locating here gives you options such as going to visit Limerick city's historic St John's Castle – the classic medieval stronghold with battlements and banqueting halls – or head along the coast to Ballybunion, home to some of the best beaches you'll see anywhere on the island of Ireland.
In other words: there's a different adventure for every day.
Onwards to Mayo, where Westport's Clew Bay Hotel a beautifully appointed hotel that offers a genuine welcome – and boasts an enviable location for family holidays, based right in the centre of a bustling town but with access to the wilds of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Spend time together at Westport House, the west coast of Ireland’s number one destination for family fun. While the grown-ups can tour 300 years of Irish heritage in this beautiful manor home and enjoy a myriad of attractions throughout the grounds; children can go wild at the Pirate Adventure Park with rides, slides, bouncy castles and giant swan pedalo boats, or tackle the zip wire, orienteering and archery in our Adventure Activity Centre.
You'll be spoiled for choice with Westport's fantastic selection of restaurants and pubs. Here, the whole family can can listen to top-notch traditional Irish music while the adults enjoy the athmosphere over a creamy pint of Guinness.
If you want to explore a little further afield – and you might as well, for the day is long and you've got time – you're just moments away from the start of the Great Western Greenway, a 42km, off-road cycling route that's flat and manageable for all the family.
Mysteries and legends
Ireland's north west may not rival Limerick when it comes to rugby pedigree, but it makes up for that in spectacle and legend.
Here you'll find the magnificent Ben Bulben, which overlooks the last resting place in Drumcliff of Ireland's most famous poet, WB Yeats. The area is home to many mysteries – including a road that, through a trick of gravity or some other magic, allows drivers to freewheel uphill.
It's also the location for one of the most dramatic episodes of Irish mythology, where hero of the Fianna Diarmuid Ó Duibhne was gored by a boar, and eventually died when Fionn Mac Cumhall refused to save him with his miraculous healing powers. This may have had something to do with the fact that the beautiful princess Gráinne had eloped with Diarmuid despite being betrothed to Fionn.
As you leave Sligo towards Donegal make sure to explore the coast and experience waves like no other at Mullaghmore Head or Rossnowlagh Beach. Take a walk on the beach, build sandcastles or try a surfing lesson before waving goodbye and heading towards Donegal Town.
All of this is within a leisurely drive of your base while in Donegal – the Mill Park Hotel which, with its state-of-the-art leisure club facilities, including an indoor swimming pool, kiddies pool, steam room, jacuzzi and gymnasium, boasts all of the facilities necessary for a modern family holiday.
There's a great deal to see and experience in Donegal – a trip to Gleann Colmcille for the Irish-language Gaeltacht experience is recommended, while no trip to the Slieve League cliffs would be complete without stopping into the ice cream kiosk on the way to the top – and on the way down!
When you head east to Cavan, you're in hilly drumlin country with plenty to do and see. Make your base for further exploration here at the Slieve Russell Hotel, Golf & Country Club, set in a 300-acre estate with a wide range of activities and leisure facilities on site, the Slieve Russell is ideally equipped for that special family holiday.
Among the activities available on site at Slieve Russell Hotel is their highly acclaimed 18 hole golf course, one of only 8 PGA national resorts in the world. You can choose to take a swing at the championship course or you could opt for their 9 hole adventure golf course, an outdoor mini golf course which is perfect for adults and children of all ages.
If your children are younger, why not take them for an outing to Erica's Fairy Forest in Cootehill Co. Cavan, which was created by her parents Natasha and Ciaran to honour five-year-old Erica’s memory and her unshakable belief in fairies and magical kingdoms.
Tell the children to bring with them their letters and pop them in the fairy post box – they may even get a reply.
Memories are lovely keepsakes from family holidays but making those memorable moments which you will want to remember in years from now, they're the juice. Bear this in mind when you're planning your next family holiday.
About Original Irish Hotels
Original Irish Hotels are a collection of unique, owner-run hotels, located in Ireland’s most outstanding destinations. Open the door to the magic of unmissable moments with Ireland’s leading collection of independent hotels.
Our 60 hotels are dotted around the entire island of Ireland in must-see locations, from the Wild Atlantic Way, to Ireland’s Ancient East, the Causeway Coast, Dublin and the treasured heartland of Ireland’s midlands and lakelands.
Irrespective of where our hotels are, Original Irish Hotels pride themselves in hosting a unique and truly memorable experience for our guests, and soon to be friends. The collection is made up of a range of traditional and boutique hotels, castles, manor and country houses, all run by locals, ensuring a unique experience every time.