Staycationing just got cooler! From a ringfort in Wexford to a lighthouse in Mayo, AA Roadwatch's Anna Cullen takes you through some of the most unique places to stay in Ireland and hopes that one might, just might, tickle your fancy.
Remember that breakdowns can happen on any journey, long or short. AA Members have access to trained mechanics 24/7; so, while you're planning your staycation, why not get AA Membership for peace of mind every time you hop in the car.
Ireland's Most Unique Places To Stay
1. The Ringfort, Wexford
The Ringfort in County Wexford is set in the grounds of the Irish National Heritage Park. Experience life as it would have been for our ancestors in the time of the Druids and St. Patrick, and stay in a Medieval ringfort, common in Ireland 1500 years ago.
Where will you lay your head? The farmer's house within The Ringfort, of course! Accommodating up to 8 people, The Ringfort gives you the chance to live just like a Viking by dressing up in the authentic costumes provided and cooking on an open fire. It's the perfect cosy night in with a twist.
While you're at the park, why not try some of the activities they offer. From archery, axe throwing and Viking shield-making to meeting the birds of prey in the Falconry Centre, you are sure to find something to entertain all. If you're bringing the kids, there’s also an activity scramble and two adventure playgrounds. Plan your trip here.
2. The Castle, Castletownshend, Cork
Maybe a 17th century castle is more your style. Enriched with history, The Castle at Castletownshend is a B&B located in West Cork, which has been run by the Townshend family for 11 generations now. Located past the famous "Two Trees” in the middle of the road, The Castle looks out over Castlehaven harbour.
The village itself grew around a Georgian bolting mill set up by Colonel Richard Townshend in 1650. Each room is uniquely named and decorated, making you feel like true royalty. More details are on their website.
While in Castletownshed, continue to enjoy history by visiting Knockdrum Fort and take in the views. Travel to Skibbereen (14 minute drive) and visit Drombeg Stone Circle and the Heritage Centre. Or why not observe marine wildlife (whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and sea birds) by taking a trip to Cork Whale Watch.
3. Clare Island Lighthouse, Mayo
Ever feel like you need to escape? If so, then you need to head to Clare Island in County Mayo! Located off Ireland's west coast at the entrance to Clew Bay, it's a 10-minute ferry ride from Roonagh. For almost two centuries, the lighthouse has been perched high on the cliffs, looking over Achill, Westport and beyond.
Once a home for sailors, the lighthouse has now been transformed into accommodation to suit those looking to get away for some much needed peace and quiet. There are no televisions, but WiFi is available.
Clare Island suits everyone - it offers the ideal terrain whether you're looking for a casual stroll or a more serious hill walk. Don't fancy a walk? Then rent a bike at the harbour and enjoy cycling on the lovely paths and boreens criss-crossing the landscape - rural Ireland at its best! Take part too in horse riding, fishing, marine activities and wellness pursuits such as yoga and meditation.
Details can be found on the website.
4. Collanmore Island Lodge, Mayo
On a private island in Clew Bay sits Collanmore Island Lodge. About a 10-minute drive from Westport, you'll be collected at Rosmoney Pier by pontoon and shipped off to Collanmore Island. Complete with hot tub, sauna, landscaped gardens, private beach and chill zone with lots of hammocks - the lodge has all you could ever need.
The house, with 4 pod style family rooms, accommodates up to 22 people and has garden and sea views. Ready to have some fun? They offer a range of activities, such as kayaking and paddle boarding. A trad music band, murder mystery and sumo wrestling can also be arranged. Full information can be found on the website here.
While there, travel to Westport for the day and cycle the Western Greenway or even climb Croagh Patrick. If you're bringing the kids, visit the Pirate Adventure Park at Westport house, the skate park or one of the playgrounds.
5. Portsalon Luxury Camping, Donegal
Have you ever wanted to try horse-riding along the beach as the sun goes down, kayaking along the coast or surfing in the Atlantic Ocean? If so, Portsalon Luxury Camping is the place you never knew you needed in your life! Located in north Donegal, you will be treated to views of Lough Swilly, Mulroy Bay, Knockalla Mountain and the Inishowen Peninsula while staying here.
Enjoy luxurious king sized beds, cosy interiors and wood burning stoves. The local village of Portsalon also boasts a 3-mile long Blue Flag beach. Fun fact: county Donegal contains more climbable rock than the rest of Ireland combined. How lucky are you to be based in Portsalon, where there is a huge selection of outstanding rock climbing.
Whether you're an amateur star-gazer or a seasoned astronomer, Donegal has especially dark skies with limited light pollution. It's a fantastic place to view the night sky. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are frequently visible from Fanad Head and from Malin Head in Inishowen.
More information on Portsalon Luxury Camping can be found here.
6. Finn Lough, Fermanagh
Ever wanted to sleep under the stars? If so, Finn Lough is perfect for you. Located in Enniskillen in Fermanagh, the forest domes have 180 degree transparent walls to allow you to truly enjoy nature!
Accommodating two people, the bubble pods are the perfect romantic getaway. Luxuriate in morning yoga and afterwards, relax at the spa while enjoying the views of the lake. Why not go kayaking in the afternoon and in the evening, surround yourself with nature while sitting around the fire-pit.
While you're there, take a trip to the Boatyard Distillery, which is an award-winning distillery located on the banks of Lough Erne in Enniskillen (about a 30-minute drive). This distillery uses only organic ingredients for its products. Their gin 'Sweet Gale' is obtained from the family bog. If this doesn't tickle your fancy, how about a Segway tour of Fermanagh Lakelands? Make sure to look out for the local wildlife, castles and stately homes all while you self-balance!
You can plan your trip to Finn Lough here.
If it's accommodation for the whole family you're after, see our blog on family staycations here; or if a day trip is more your style, why not check out our blogs on Ireland's best beaches and most scenic drives.
Remember that no matter how remote you go, with AA Membership you're covered for breakdown assistance 24/7. Sign up here today.