The best autumn holidays around Ireland
Kids are back in school. Travel prices are plummeting. Check out this selection of seasonal bargains
Ballyvolane, Co Cork Ballyvolane has added a tantalising Bed’n’Bertha package, named for their own very special Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin
Autumn in Ireland is a great foodie time, with the Dingle Food Festival, A Taste of West Cork and the Galway Oyster Festival all tempting travellers. Fáilte Ireland’s Daragh Anglim says that the Ireland’s Ancient East and Wild Atlantic Way initiatives are focussed on driving tourism year-round, and it’s clear that while Irish sunshine is something to be savoured, so too are cosy afternoons by crackling open fires after bracing walks in some of the most gorgeous scenery imaginable.
According to Fáilte Ireland, 60 per cent of trips taken in Ireland in the shoulder season period are holiday trips, and more than two thirds of these are taken by those aged 34 and up. Most of these trips are short breaks, and, again, two thirds of travellers have no dependent children. Top destinations in Ireland at this time of year are Cork and Kerry followed by Dublin.
And what about people coming to Ireland from overseas in September and October? Most are from Europe, plus another third from Britain. Almost all have no dependent children, and Dublin is where they’re most likely to spend their time.
So, whether you’re planning brisk walks in the Irish countryside, explorations of Ireland’s Ancient East, looking for short-haul sun, or more long-distance adventures, start planning, and dreaming your shoulder season adventure here. Terms and conditions will apply to all the offers detailed below, so do check websites.
The Irish Landmark Trust
With properties from lighthouses to castles, gate lodges to mews buildings, The Irish Landmark Trust (irishlandmark.com) also provide a valuable cultural service. It restores historic buildings, bringing them back to vibrant life, then lets them out for all to enjoy. You won’t find TVs, and you may not get wifi, so you are guaranteed relaxation, and something very unique each time. The Fall in Love with Autumn offer gives you discounts at Inchiquinn House, Co Clare (€830, sleeps 10), and Tullymurry House, Co Down (€475, sleeps 8), if booked before September 14th for midweek or weekend breaks up to December 15th.
irishlandmark.com; 01 6704733, email: firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Autumn Special Offer.
Carlow Walking Festival
The Carlow Walking Festival, October 5th-7th, includes graded night time mountain hikes, kids’ trails, and routes for both beginners and advanced walkers. From the Blackstairs and Mount Leinster, to mindfulness walks in Clogrennan Walk, it’s a wonderful way to spend an autumn weekend. Throw in a visit to Carlow’s Visual Arts Centre (where Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrc will be exploring issues of shelter), plus a delicious lunch at Lennon’s, for the full Carlow experience. Stay at the lovely Lorum Old Rectory where two nights, two evening meals and two packed lunches are €240pps (lorum.com). Or try the Step House in Borris (stephousehotel.ie). where the September Blooms package includes an overnight stay, breakfast, a gardening tutorial with Cait Coady, the owner, and a dinner, plus a bottle of rosé on arrival. From €99pps.
While autumn is a great time to escape to the country, there’s also a lot to tempt in the city. Dublin plays host to the Fringe Festival (September 8th-23rd, fringefest.com) followed by the Theatre Festival (September 27th-October 18th dublintheatrefestival.com), with packed programmes to entertain, excite and provoke. The Merrion Hotel has a brilliant and excellent value pre-theatre menu during the Dublin Theatre Festival, where a meal in the delicious Garden Room starts at just €21.95 (thegardenroom.ie). Rooms in the Garden Wing are from €330 (merrionhotel.com). Looking further ahead in the calendar, The Grand Canal Hotel (grandcanalhotel.ie) has theatre packages, including room, pre-show supper, and theatre tickets to your choice of Bord Gáis Energy Theatre event, such as €319 for two for Shrek in October, and €258 for Les Miserables in December.
Autumn and food festivals go hand in hand in Ireland. From A Taste of West Cork (until September 16th, atasteofwestcork.com) to the world famous Galway Oyster Festival (September 28th- 30th, galwayoysterfestival.com) it’s a delicious time to develop new tastes, and rediscover these beautiful parts of the countryside. Explore West Cork from your base at the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa in Clonakilty, where you can also check out their Seaside Sundays package, that gives you overnight accommodation including breakfast, plus fish and chips and a pint of Murphy’s (or a glass of wine) for supper, and spa access for €99pps (inchydoneyisland.com). After your oyster-eating in Galway, head out to Barna where the Twelve Hotel is offering the Gourmet Escape, with two nights’ accommodation, breakfast, plus one dinner, from €200pps (thetwelvehotel.ie).
If there’s one thing we’re not short of in Ireland, it’s big houses. One hundred years ago it may have been more common to burn them down, but we’ve since learned to fall back in love with them again, especially now that a great number have become delicious hotels, where you can live like a lord, at least for a day or two. The Blue Book is a great source of inspiration (irelands-blue-book.ie), with Blue Book special offers for autumn including Limerick’s lovely Mustard Seed, where a two-night break, including breakfast, dinner one night, plus tea and coffee on arrival, and a goodie bag on departure will cost from €199pps. In East Cork, Ballyvolane has added a tantalising Bed’n’Bertha package, named for their own very special Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin. Two nights bed and breakfast, plus one dinner, and a bottle of Bertha’s starts at €520 per room (ballyvolanehouse.ie).
Birds of prey
With a history going back thousands of years, Falconry is an extraordinary experience. Once a way of surviving in the wilderness, it is the origin of many phrases in daily use: such as hoodwinked, under the thumb, and wrapped around your little finger. Today you can discover the magic of these magnificent birds, from their incredible eyesight, to the speed and grace with which they’ll alight on your gloved hand, and an autumn day makes the perfect moment. For the ultimate in luxury, Ballyfin in Co Laois, offers a hawk walk for guests, including a fascinating history of the birds, from €500 for a group, with bed and breakfast rates from €415 per room (ballyfin.com). Also available at Ashford Castle, Co Mayo for €90 per person (ashfordcastle.com/falconry.ie) and Dromoland Castle, Co Limerick for €70 per person (dromoland.ie).