Special Reports
A special report is content that is edited and produced by the special reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report but do not have editorial control.

Ireland in summer is incomparable

Not everyone wants to be on a beach in a hot country. Some people prefer the lush greenness that you get with our climate

Sometimes the most relaxing holiday is the one that takes least effort to get to. With home holidays, a proper break is right here waiting for you. And let’s be honest, is there anywhere more beautiful in summer than Ireland?

Not really, reckons Bernadette Coffey, sales and marketing manager at Sligo Park Hotel.

“I think there is much greater appreciation of the outdoors now, whether it’s the seaside, or the coolness of the forest, our just getting out in nature. It’s one of the only positive outcomes of Covid,” she says.

The hotel is a firm favourite with families, as well as being popular with couples and friend groups. One of the biggest trends she has seen among all of them this summer is a desire to stay longer.


Part of this is because the property has invested heavily in recent years in additional amenities, including a new pergola dining area, which is sheltered yet out in the open, a nod to our newly found penchant for the outdoors.

“I think as a nation we’ve got much better at using our outdoor space. Our new pergola has an automatic retractable roof so you can be outside but protected from the weather too,” she explains.

With a home holiday you don’t have to forego one type of holiday to enjoy another. Just as we say that if the weather isn’t good, you only have to wait five minutes for it to change, so too if you tire of one kind of activity, another great one is typically only a short drive away. From city break to country escape, the right hotel property will encompass both.

“At the Sligo Park we have the best of both worlds. We have the town and all its activities and attractions, and we have the beach nearby. And, because you do need to have a fallback plan in relation to the weather, a hotel with leisure facilities is important too,” says Coffey.

Sligo is a terrific activity destination too, whether it’s surfing and kiteboarding, visiting the outdoor adventure centres just up the road in Bundoran or taking the opportunity to visit Queen Maeve’s grave, at the summit of nearby Knocknarea.

Arigna mines is another must see. It’s a community initiative that offers tours that are both entertaining and informative, and which give kids the chance to “detonate” a stick of dynamite, or at least think they have.

With a home holiday you might not be able to depend on the sun, but you’re never too far from fun things to do in the rain either.

“Not everyone wants to roast on a beach in any case. Some people prefer the lush greenness that you get with our climate,” says Coffey.

People are conscious of the increased cost of living this year but at Sligo Park the aim is to add value at every turn, from the giant play inflatables in the pool to the complimentary ice cream – from its very own ice cream parlour – that you get on arrival, to the hot chocolate for its kids movie nights.

As part of the hotel’s reinvestment programme it has added to its outside facilities, introducing football goals and basketball facilities to its long-standing tennis courts. It also has a fairy trail and seven acres of gardens to play in.

“It’s all about experiences. Families are busy these days and holidays are very special because they are all about making memories,” adds Coffey.

“After all, those few years fly by very fast. It’s not what you gave your child but the time you spent with them that they remember.”

Kilkenny is another wonderful part of the country for a summer break, with the city to explore, the beautiful Barrow tow path to walk just down the road in Carlow, and the beauty of the arboretum at Woodstock in Inistioge an easy drive away.

“Ireland is such a beautiful country so it’s amazing to get the opportunity to experience what it has to offer,” says Orla O’Keeffe, sales and events executive at Lyrath Estate, just outside Kilkenny city.

“From visiting some of the oldest castles and towers in the world in Ireland’s Ancient East, to touring the Wild Atlantic Way, there are activities for all demographics to enjoy, from coast to coast.”

This year the property has seen the return of transatlantic guests to pre-Covid levels, while the home holiday market has remained strong throughout, from couples to families to multigenerational gatherings.

That’s because it sits in the heart of the Sunny South East, on 170 acres of lush parkland, yet is just five minutes away from the centre of Kilkenny.

Its location means you don’t have to go far to enjoy a huge variety of things to do, from 12th century Kilkenny Castle to the medieval gardens at Rothe House and the prehistoric dinosaur fossils at Castlecomer Discovery Park, just 30 minutes away.

“Kilkenny offers something to do for everyone, from walking tours to hurling tours, incredible shops and restaurants, you’ll never be short of something to do,” says O’Keeffe.

One of Lyrath’s most popular activities is its hawk walk. But of course, sometimes all you want from a break is a chance to do nothing and you can do that in style here, whether being pampered at its new Oasis Spa, or relaxing in its Thermal Suite. One of its newest massage experiences is called the Gift of Sleep. Now that would be a holiday.

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell is a contributor to The Irish Times