Mr Baby shares the second instalment of his Irish Road Trip. Ten things to do in the stunning Killarney, County Kerry and on the way home via Cork and Belfast.
1 – Visit Killarney National Park – it’s 26,000 acres of lakes, woodland and mountains. This sounds vast but it’s exceptionally close to the town of Killarney and it’s nothing short of beautiful with rolling paths that are accessible for all.
2 – Take a famous horse and cart ride (jaunting car) through the town of Killarney and into the park. Older kids will love this and it’s easier than pushing a buggy. It’s the Killarney equivalent of taking a gondola in Venice – a lovely pace at which to see the area.
3 – Hire bicycles for a few euros at the various bike hire centres in Killarney and peddle your baby through the scenery. We chose the rental place near our accommodation so we didn’t shop around for the best prices etc. but went for convenience – getting out the door was achievement enough. Once mobile we headed into the Park – the paths are perfect for bikes and we felt so free – a great way to enjoy the outdoors with a baba.
4 – Visit Muckross House – the nineteenth century victorian mansion set on the banks of Muckross Lake. We threw down a picnic rug in the grounds and had some juice and snacks but it is possible to visit the opulent interior.
5 – Simply push that buggy from town through beautiful scenery to Dinnis Cottage, overlooking Middle Lake in Killarney National Park – a good 1.5 hour walk – but the cottage is home to a coffee shop so there’s the reward of cake at the end of the trek. You can feed yourself, feed your children, change your baby’s nappies and get a breather. Don’t worry, you don’t even have to walk back – look at Number 6.
6 – After coffee, wait at the end of the pier for the boat that takes you back to Muckross House, cutting out most of the return walk. The staff at Dinnis Cottage actually radioed the skipper to request a boat for us – how personal was that. Mr Baby loved the novelty of a wee boat whizzing him back across the lake, with his buggy, to take him home for bed.
7 – Spend time in the town of Killarney itself. Give your baby a taste of the locally renowned ice-cream if you’re feeling generous. Our newly weaned baby was pretty unexposed to sugar so his eyes nearly popped out of his head with sheer delight.
8 – When raining find new ways to entertain yourselves.
It helps if you have homely accommodation to hang out in. We went self catering and I was exceptionally happy with Killarney’s Holiday Village. It was just like being at home, except cleaner and tidier. The outdoor, grassy courtyard area was great for children to play or to eat al fresco (each house had an outdoor dining area) and the location was spot on – right on the doorstep of the National Park and about a ten minute walk into town.
9 Start to head for the ferry home. Stop at The English Market in Cork for lunch on the way back to Larne. It reminds me of the food market in Barcelona, the food is a spectacle in itself. The market is busy so lots of sights and smells for little eyes and noses. The dining area is up on the first floor so we dragged the buggy up the narrow steps but once we got there the staff were fab and we got served hearty, healthy food no bother.
10 – If you have time before the ferry visit the Titanic Centre in Belfast. The iconic ship was built in this fine city and this modern museum helps bring the creation and fateful journey of the Titanic to life.
(And for any Irish readers Mr Baby was compared to a young Jackie Healy-Rae in this outfit – I laughed but had no idea what anyone was talking about.)
Logistics – We caught the P&O ferry from Troon in Scotland to Larne in Northern Ireland.
For Part I, featuring Dublin, Killaloe, Kilkee and Loophead, click here.
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