Getting away from it all can be liberating rather than lonely, and Ireland offers lots of options for solo breaks, writes SANDRA O'CONNELL
Nothing says “I want to be alone” louder than locking yourself into a lighthouse. Other than shimmying up a round tower and pulling the ladder up behind you, it’s about as solitary an option as exists.
The Irish Landmark Trust ( irishlandmark.com) has a number of lighthouses on its books, including Blackhead on Belfast Lough, Galley Head in Cork and Loop Head in Clare. One of the most architecturally attractive is the 18th century octagonal lighthouse on Wicklow Head, accessed via a long lane off the main road.
Out on a promontory surrounded on three sides by water, your only neighbours here are seals, fish and, depending on the time of year, a colony of kittiwakes.
A two-night stay costs from €350 and the lighthouse sleeps four, not that you’ll be wanting company, obviously.
Despite the fact that the Garden County is less than an hour from Dublin, there are plenty of holiday options that feel a world away.
At Aughavannagh Cottage ( holidaywicklow.com) near Aughrim in south Wicklow, just two roads separate you from the capital – the Wicklow Gap and the Sally Gap – yet you might as well be on the moon.
Seclusion is a huge part of its appeal, agrees owner Dave Deighan, who charges €600 a week for the property.
“It feels like it is miles from anywhere. People can come and turn up the music as loud as they like, there are no neighbours to upset,” he says.
Situated beside a forest and close to the Wicklow Way, it’s particularly popular with walkers, many of whom – up until relatively recently – might have sniffed at Wicklow as not being remote enough.
“In the last year or so we have had an increased number of bookings from Dubliners who said they chose it because it doesn’t cost too much in petrol to get here and yet is every bit as much a wilderness as places they would normally go in Kerry or Galway,” says Deighan.
The Boat House at Ballynatray estate ( ballynatray.com) in Cork is a serene and soothing studio perched above the river Blackwater.
Contemplate the drifting waters from a rolltop bath in the corner or open the double doors at the foot of your bed and sit out on the veranda. Either way, you won’t be disturbed. Prices from €195 a night in high season.
Iskeroon ( iskeroon.com) near Caherdaniel in Kerry is a more rugged option. It’s well worth checking out because if there’s one thing TV travel show makers know about, it’s scenic locations and the owner here is TV travel and cookery show maker David Hare.
Situated on the tip end of the Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry, Iskeroon offers self catering accommodation with four-and-a-half acres of semi-tropical gardens running down to the sea and a private pier.
A week’s stay at a studio apartment costs from €450. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until next year to get it. “All the things we think are so fantastic about staying here, such as the gardens and boat trip to the Skelligs, aren’t viable in winter so we don’t open,” explains Hare.
If it’s splendid isolation you’re after but with someone else to do the cooking, check out Clifftop House ( gormans-clifftophouse.com) on the neighbouring Dingle Peninsula. A boutique hotel masquerading as a four-star guesthouse, it is situated on the Slea Head Drive, 8km from Dingle.
From their base on the foothills of Mount Brandon and overlooking the sea, owners Síle and Vincent Gorman, who run a restaurant here too, have detected a pattern to bookings in the three decades since they started out.
“We get a lot of young couples here for the peace and quiet. Then, when they have kids, they go to the Skelligs Hotel in Dingle for the pool.
“When the kids grow up the couples come back to us. That’s how it seems to go,” says Síle. She knows why too: “We are the most westerly guesthouse in Europe bar Inis Meain. It’s totally remote – but with Dingle just up the road if you fancy it.”