Our Irish staycation summer: ‘We had little change from €1,000 for the two days’

For some it’s perfect, for others too pricey. Irish Times readers share their Irish holiday experiences

A Co Wexford staycation: ‘There’s just no value to be had here and the weather is too unpredictable.’ Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

A Co Wexford staycation: ‘There’s just no value to be had here and the weather is too unpredictable.’ Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Kenneth Devitt: ‘There’s just no value here’

Holidayed in Co Wexford
Spent two nights in [a hotel in Co Wexford] – needed a break with the kids. The place was fine, kids were kept active, but we had little change from €1,000 for the two days. Weather wasn’t fantastic either, so we were restricted to the hotel’s amenities, which was okay for two days but would have been a nightmare for any longer than that.

Covid-19 requirements meant having to book breakfast in advance – we were up with the birds one morning, and close to it becoming brunch on the second day. Looking to book 10 nights in the Canaries for Easter. There’s just no value to be had here, and the weather is too unpredictable.

Aisling Lydon: ‘Nicer than everywhere abroad’

Holidayed in Leenane and Bray

Aisling Lydon: ‘One bright side of the pandemic is that I feel that Irish people have gained a new appreciation for how beautiful our country is.’
Aisling Lydon: ‘Prices in Ireland are generally much higher than abroad.’

One bright side of the pandemic, I feel, is that Irish people, including myself, have gained a new appreciation for how beautiful our country is. I have gone on several holidays in Ireland this year that in “normal” times I wouldn’t even have considered, as I would just have travelled abroad. I was lucky that my college placement was paid, as this gave me some extra cash to staycation.

I quickly discovered this was very needed, as prices in Ireland are generally much higher than abroad. One exception was Killary Adventure Centre, in Co Galway. I went with a group of college friends, and we thought it was fairly priced considering the three-day-weekend package included accommodation, meals and a full day of activities. We stayed from July 16th to July 18th. We were lucky that we went during the heatwave, which made it an incredible weekend.

In the sun, Killary fjord was nicer than everywhere I have been abroad. As the activities were outdoors, Covid-19 did not cramp our style much. We were blown away by how nice the food was for all meals. We booked two months in advance so had no trouble booking. I would highly recommend this trip to all ages. The Misunderstood Heron food truck, around the corner, was a bonus.

I also went on a weekend to Bray, in Co Wicklow, the following weekend. While I really enjoyed the weekend, the prices did sting slightly as I knew that we could have gotten a few days abroad for cheaper. It was a little bit difficult finding accommodation, but we ended up being very happy with the Royal Hotel in Bray. We really enjoyed dinner from Box Burger and the Martello – even though I considered them pricey.

As a relatively Covid-conscious bunch, we chose not to eat indoors in the hotel and just in outdoor places, but as the weather was fabulous this did not inconvenience us at all. A trip to the Disenchanted set in Enniskerry was a nice bonus to the weekend. Overall, I really enjoyed travelling in Ireland and I hope to go on another trip before returning to college in September.

Brian Moran: ‘Food was generally terrible’

Holidayed in Co Clare
Lovely beach, well done Clare County Council keeping the place clean, but food was generally terrible. Every menu (with the exception of Vaughan’s in Liscannor) has reverted to a dull mix of truck-stop fried food with chips. That’s assuming you can get in. Vaccine cert or no cert, it doesn’t matter. The local bars and hotels simply don’t have enough space.

Standing outside for one hour to wait for an outdoor table in one outlet doesn’t cut it ... One bar gave us a table but it was in the smoking area. I’m no prude but there were two lads literally sitting beside my 13-year-old daughter drinking and chain-smoking. The bar staff would not give us a table indoors because they were closed off for Covid.

Most of the bars and restaurants don’t have enough experienced staff. One pub owner I was talking to had to close for three nights as he had no staff and was relying on his sister’s two kids who had never worked in a bar before (heroes).

Tourist attractions are not cheap either, in my opinion. For example, the Cliffs of Moher visitors’ centre costs from €7 for an adult, €7 for an elderly person, €7 for a student, €7 for a child over 12 (I know, it got me too). [Prices are higher for afternoon and evening bookings.]

Judy Buckley: ‘Food fab, service excellent’

Holidayed on Inis Mór

Image from Judy Buckley’s trip to Inis Mór
Image from Judy Buckley’s trip to Inis Mór

We stayed on Inis Mór, two adults and three teenagers in the Aran Islands Hotel in two of their chalets during the heatwave, [from] July 19th for two nights. It was amazing, food fab, service excellent (no sign of staff shortage or lack of experience), chalets very comfy, perfect during Covid as we didn’t have to queue and ate there for every meal as the food was so nice and the setting was perfect. We booked in March, so no problem, but couldn’t get the family chalet so we had to rent two side by side. It was a perfect short staycation, but the weather made it. Not sure how great it would have been if it was wet and windy. But 10/10 for the hotel.

Artur Oliveira: Prices are ‘unacceptable’

Holidayed in Cos Galway and Donegal
Lovely days in Aran Islands, Connemara National Park, Donegal and Glenveagh National Park. We had very good weather in some days (lucky) and bad ones in a few days, which is not a big deal since we know how Ireland works. However, €75 for a guest accommodation in Galway and €100 for a small two-star hotel next to the Border in Donegal is abusive and unacceptable. [For that] we can easily go to a four- or maybe five-star hotel in Spain. I am not saying the prices should be the same, but it is insane that they are triple here in Ireland.

Julie Hogan: ‘Welcome was second to none’

Holidayed in the southeast
A glorious weekend discovering sights I had only heard of. Weather was amazing at 28 degrees, and on the weekend that new indoor dining/drinking laws were about to change. Fantastic to see this area of the country at last, which was beautiful. The local businesses really have customer service nailed here, and the welcome was second to none.

However, it was marred somewhat by droves of 18-30s street drinking under the window of our hotel until 2.30am every morning, something I’ve seen across the country at various locations, from Dunmore East, to Wexford, Waterford and the remotest towns and villages of Ireland. I know it’s been a long lockdown, and young people need to get out, to mix and mingle, but [there was an issue with] the noise and persistence, with nobody telling them to move on or asking them to keep it down.

Some of the costs of what was an otherwise reasonably priced holiday were also questionable. The most memorable was the price of a mini mixer bottle, which brought the price of two vodka and tonics to €18, and [the prices of] most main courses ranging from €18 to €28. The most unexplained one was a spaghetti dish, with about eight prawns and a carbonara sauce, for €24 in a pretty average hotel restaurant.

Anne Grogan: ‘The barge was perfect’

Holidayed on the Royal Canal
I took a barge on the Royal Canal for a week through Jennifer’s Travels. I started at Monasterevin, in Co Kildare, and made my way [along the canal] with my husband. It was booked in February, when we were in the depths of lockdown and really needed something to look forward to, with only a staycation as an option then.

I figured I’d book something Covid-friendly that would be stress-free (no other people or virus to dodge). The barge was perfect in that respect, as we were perfectly isolated. The weather was patchy but didn’t mar the experience, and we were prepared. We pottered our way [along] and stopped off at a few wharfs along the way. Fortunately we had brought lots of back-up things to eat, and a few ready-meals and drinks. This worked out really well, as we found no restaurants open along the way, or the pubs only served drinks outdoors with a packet of crisps as the food option.

This had the added benefit of us only spending €70 the entire week (in two pubs) and managing on the supplies we thought we’d overbought. The experience in Covid times was terrific: there were no coronavirus worries or exposures. We loved every minute, and it was so relaxing.

It was a reminder that there are so many more things to do in Ireland now that we might not have thought of before. I would definitely consider Ireland in favour of other locations in the future; I’m not cured of travel abroad, but it’s made me think of Ireland more as a location.

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