Uncommonly good: unique Irish getaways
Fed up with run-of-the-mill self-catering holiday accommodation? Fear not: yurts, pods, barns, lighthouses and other offbeat breaks are within easy reach
The Benedictine monastery at Glenstal Abbey, Murroe, Co Limerick, has two new “God pods”. These small self-catering wooden dwellings, about a kilometre from the Abbey Church, cost €80 per night for one or two nights and €45 per night for a week (glenstal.org, 061-621005).
The 18th-century Wicklow Head Lighthouse, managed by the Irish Landmark Trust, is probably the only restored lighthouse in Ireland available for holiday letting. It accommodates four people in six octagonal rooms, carefully constructed in the tower overlooking the Irish Sea.
If you are looking for a remote, stunning holiday location, look no further than Loop Head Lightkeeper’s House in Kilbaha, Co Clare. The house, a landmark on the northern shore of the Shannon, facing the Atlantic Ocean, accommodates five.
The Galley Head Lightkeepers’ Houses near Clonakilty, Co Cork, are perched on dramatic cliffs about 130ft above sea level. Both houses have incredible views. And, finally the Blackhead Lightkeeper’s Houses at Whitehead, Co Antrim, are also spectacular. All Irish Landmark Trust properties have been meticulously restored following conservation methods and have period furniture and fittings. irishlandmark.com.
Boating holidays on the Shannon are a well established summer vacation but have you considered holidaying on a barge? Barges can be hired from Riversdale Barge Holidays (riversdalebargeholidays.com, 071-9644122), which rents three different styles from its base in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim. The barges – modified traditional narrowboats – range from two to eight berths and cost €1,265-€1,540 per week in high season. While the 16 locks on the Shannon-Erne Waterway are now automatic and operated by smart cards, the Riversdale team will show potential holidaymakers the workings of the boat and offer a trial run through a lock.
Restored barns are not as popular in Ireland as in France and Italy. Perhaps we don’t have as romantic a view of farming, as many are still only a generation away from rural life. That said, there are a few of interest. Swallow Barn in Kilbridge, Dunganstown, near Wicklow town, is a 200-year-old stone barn with half doors overlooking the farmyard. It sleeps five and includes a large shared garden with swings and jungle ropes on apple trees. The Granary, a former grain barn, sleeps five and has a private patio with views over the Wicklow valleys. Both barns cost €490 per week in July and August. ballardfarmholidays.com, 0404-48113.