family getaway
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Family getaway

Thinking of a family getaway in Ireland? Here are our top picks of family-friendly hotels around Ireland.

1. Amber Springs Hotel, Wexford

Amber Springs Hotel & Health Spa in Gorey, Co Wexford is a four-star family friendly hotel with indoor and outdoor children’s play facilities. The hotel also offers children’s facilites with lots of additional extras from a fabulous jungle gym in the indoor playzone to a brand new outdoor complex with a mini petting farm, go karting, crazy golf and train. It also has a full leisure centre and health spa on site and offers free WiFi and parking.

2. The Newpark Hotel, Kilkenny

The four star Newpark Hotel, is set in 40 acres of parkland, yet only a short stroll from Kilkenny. The Newpark Hotel boasts two restaurants, a bar, gymnasium, thermal suite, outdoor infinity pool, indoor 17 metre pool, children’s pool, Aveda Escape Spa with relaxation room. It also features a games room, outdoor playgrounds, the Fen nature trail, Wildlife Farm, WiFi internet access, and ample complimentary car parking.

3. The Kenmare Bay Hotel, Kerry

Tucked into one of the most picturesque corners of the Wild Atlantic Way, the Kenmare Bay Hotel & Resort is the ideal retreat for discovering the gems of the Ring of Kerry and the Beara Peninsula or relaxing with the family. Family friendly facilities include a kids corner in the Bray Restaurant, outdoor playground, playroom, seasonal kids club and teen zone.

4. Castylemartyr Resort, Cork

The Castylemartyr Resort’s approach is to make the hotel as child friendly as possible. It offers a V.I.K’s Check In, a Kids Club, Children’s range of DVDs, a list of ‘what’s on’ in the area for younger guests. Babies are well catered for with high chairs, cots and swimming nappies. The hotel also organises fully qualified and registered baby-sitters.

family getaway

5. Castle Durrow, Co Laois

Castle Durrow is extremely child friendly with a playroom situated on the ground floor fully equipped with teddies, toys, games, TV and DVD player to keep the little ones entertained. Staff can organise babysitters to mind the children in the playroom or indeed in their bedrooms while parents enjoy dinner in Castle Durrow’s restaurant restaurant. The restaurant offers a healthy children’s menu with high chairs on hand. Minerals are provided complimentary for children.

6. The Ice House, Co Mayo

The Ice House is located in a truly iconic building overlooking the spectacular and ever-changing River Moy, at the Quay, Ballina, Co Mayo. The Ice House has a kids program including games room, sweeties buffet, feed the ducks, kids’ bathrobes and slippers, personalised cookies and games and DVDs on check in.

7. Harvey’s Point Country Hotel, Co Donegal

Harvey’s Point Hotel is a welcoming, four-star hotel located on the shores of Lough Eske and just 6km from Donegal Town. The hotel has a variety of accommodation choices, including standard, superior, pet-friendly, family and reduced mobility rooms.

8. The McWilliam Park Hotel, Co Mayo

The McWilliam Park Hotel is ideal for a family break away with spacious family rooms, leisure centre with a children’s pool, Bizzie Bees Kids Club, and a children’s menu at John Grays Restaurant. There is also plenty for grownups to enjoy with a sauna, steam room, water fountain and Jacuzzi.

9. The Yeats Country Hotel, Leisure Centre and Spa, Sligo

This Sligo based hotel is ideally located in Rosses Point seaside village on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. They also have an excellent kids club during the school summer holidays and organise a variety of entertainment and excursions for younger holidaymakers.

family getaway

Don’t forget to pack for baby:

  • Nappies and nappy supplies
  • Changing mat
  • Baby monitors
  • Travel sleeping bags
  • Feeding equipment
  • Snacks
  • Change of outfits
  • Sleeping suits or pyjamas
  • Blankets
  • Favourite toys and books
  • Blackout blinds

More like this:

8 family activities for the summer in Ireland
The truth about family holidays
Beginners guide to cruises


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.