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You’ve seen cas­tle get­aways in all the travel books and ho­tel guides, but they won’t have been any­thing like Clare’s Ballyportr­y Cas­tle, a strik­ing 15th cen­tury tower house which you can have all to your­self. Mod­ern fur­nish­ings con­trast wildly with its stone walls and arched door­ways, giv­ing it a charm­ing rus­tic­ity, while lux­ury touches like roar­ing turf fires and the mas­ter bed­room’s stone bath­tub pro­vide guests with a taste of ancient Ir­ish roy­alty. Ballyportr­y Cas­tle sleeps be­tween four and eight guests.


A lux­u­ri­ous Ge­or­gian Manor House on the Wild At­lantic Way, Bar­row House is set on two acres of its own pri­vate beach. With eight en­suite bed­rooms, many of them with views of Bar­row Bay or the Slieve Mish Moun­tains, it is the per­fect set­ting for fam­ily gath­er­ings or small wed­dings. Sit­u­ated in Tralee, Co. Kerry, you might even be able to squeeze in a trip to the Ring of Kerry and the Kil­lar­ney Na­tional Park – if you’re not too busy with surf lessons, fish­ing, yoga or bird-watch­ing.


If you’re an open-minded per­son, you won’t be able to re­sist Cullintra House, a cosy choco­late box 19th-cen­tury home in the Kilkenny her­itage vil­lage of Inis­tioge. Host Pa­tri­cia Cant­lon’s charm­ing, 250-year-old farm­house features scenic walks, his­tor­i­cal sites and cus­tomer ser­vice par ex­cel­lence in a place renowned for its breakfasts till mid­day and late-night can­dlelit din­ners. There’s also an an­i­mal and bird sanc­tu­ary, and dog ken­nels for your own beloved pets, so that they can en­joy the lap of lux­ury too!


Dubbed “the most ex­tra­or­di­nary build­ing in Ire­land”, Castle­bald­win’s Gyreum is an all-out eco­log­i­cal mar­vel: a gi­nor­mous camou aged tem­ple pow­ered by a wind tur­bine, heated by geo­ther­mal en­ergy and wa­tered by tanks of col­lected rain. Reg­u­larly used for ex­hi­bi­tions, par­ties and yoga re­treats, it also op­er­ates as an en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly hos­tel, of­fer­ing pri­vate and dor­mi­tory ac­com­mo­da­tion to na­ture buffs and his­tory-lovers alike, with Car­rowkeel’s pas­sage tombs and Strand­hill beach both within walk­ing dis­tance.


In the ex­tra­or­di­nary set­ting of Clew Bay in County Mayo, over­look­ing ancient Croagh Pa­trick, lies Inish Turk Beg, a lux­ury re­treat de­vel­oped from scratch on a de­serted is­land. The in­fra­struc­ture was de­vel­oped by Nadim Sadek, an Ir­ish-Egyp­tian mar­ket­ing en­tre­pre­neur, who later sold the is­land – giv­ing you the chance to live out all your pri­vate is­land fan­tasies and es­cape from the stresses of mod­ern life.


Want the fun of camp­ing with­out all that work and dirt? Look no fur­ther than ‘glamp­ing’, or glam­ourous camp­ing! Whether you’re an ex­pe­ri­enced ‘glam­per’ or ‘pod­der’ or you’re brand new to it, you should know about one of Ire­land’s best-kept se­crets: the town of Por­tumna in South East Gal­way. Among its at­trac­tions are the cas­tle, abbey, his­toric work­house and for­est park, the River Shan­non and Lough Derg. And, of course, Pod Umna – a unique Pod vil­lage that’s one of the most in­no­va­tive and cre­ative glamp­ing sites in the coun­try. Of­fer­ing stan­dard, fam­ily and mega pods, it makes for a fan­tas­tic and unique hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence in a gor­geous area of Ire­land.


There’s plenty of unique places to get some shut-eye at Mar­kethill’s Te­pee Val­ley Camp­site. Boast­ing ex­cep­tional views over farm­ing coun­try­side, down to the Cusher River and across to Slieve Gul­lion in the dis­tance, the site is home to tents, teepees, yurts, cab­ins and even a ge­o­desic dome. How­ever, noth­ing will bring out your ro­man­tic side quite like Rosie Lee, a gyp­systyle car­a­van straight out of the movies. It sleeps two adults and two chil­dren and costs €140 to €160 for a two-night break.


If it’s jaw-drop­ping views you’re af­ter, you can’t go wrong with your very own 18th cen­tury light­house – the Wick­low Head Light­house on Wick­low’s Dun­bur Head to be ex­act, which looks out onto the Ir­ish Sea. A stay in the stylish two-bed­room light­house, which has safe­guarded the scenic Wick­low coast­line since 1781, is the ul­ti­mate novelty. A 109-step climb takes you through six floors to the kitchen at the top, where you’ll have a stun­ning view of the area’s spec­tac­u­lar scenery. The Wick­low Head Light­house sleeps four (and a dog!) and prices start from € 624 for a week­end.

Bar­row House

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