The year of the Staycation: Roadwatchers share their favourite Irish holiday spots

This year, our holiday options have largely narrowed to places reachable by foot or on wheels. Our island may be small, but 2020 has taught us just why this Emerald Isle attracts millions of tourists annually. With social media inundated with Irish holiday snaps, the list of desirable destinations keeps on growing.

At AA Roadwatch HQ, five dedicated traffic and travel investigators recalled some of the best trips they’ve had in Ireland…

Cathal Minogue

Gap of Dunloe. Photograph by Rory Hennessey.

Like many of my fellow country people, Kerry has to be my favourite place to visit in Ireland – particularly Killarney. When I was a young buachaill, my parents had a mobile home on the outskirts of Killarney. I used to love the few weeks spent down there throughout the summer. From the beautiful green landscape of Muckross Park to the tranquillity of Torc Waterfall, Killarney just has it all. Even for an 11 year old boy, there’s something about the beauty of the land that just sticks with you.

Personally, my favourite thing to do was take a trip up the Gap of Dunloe and walk the few kilometres through the mountainous terrain, surrounded by the famous MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. Every so often you would have to stand to the side of the road to let a horse and cart pass, steered by a local Kerry man telling the most colourful stories to a bunch of very attentive American tourists perched on the back with their cameras and paddy hats. I used to love the walk back to the car knowing there would be a pit-stop into Kate Kearney’s Cottage for a plate of nuggets and chips and some fizzy pop. If the weather is on your side, there really is no finer place than County Kerry.

Jonathan Byrne

My favourite Irish holiday growing up was going to Carrigart, a beach village on the north coast of Donegal. We used to stay in a hotel there and the craic was 90. The hotel had a kids’ club where they would play movies to distract us from getting up to any sort of divilment. The pool was filled with salt water from the sea, which took some adjusting to. But between the scenery, the beach, the meals and the hospitality – it was the perfect Irish holiday growing up. I’m not so sure the movies would work so well now…

Aisling Bonner

Curracloe Beach. Photograph by Andreas Franz Borchert

At three months old, I took my first bit of annual leave and stayed a week at Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare, County Wexford. I remember it well. We returned to Kelly’s many times while my brother and I were kids and it was our Disneyland. We’d spend all day at the kids’ club, petting goats, playing tennis and making rice crispie buns. The evenings were spent throwing shapes at the nightly discos. As S Club 7’s Reach for the Stars blasted through the speakers, I would stop and think: ‘life is good, Aisling’.

When I was a teenager, I spent a week with my family in the quiet seaside village of Kilmuckridge, and just this summer I enjoyed a weekend in Curracloe. Wexford’s beaches are some of the best I’ve been to in Ireland. The people are lovely, and when it’s sunny in the south-east, you could be anywhere in the world.

Esther O’Moore Donohoe

One of my favourite childhood holidays was a week in Trabolgan. There was a wave machine, a water slide, a fully loaded playground and a well-stocked sweet shop. What was not to love? Perhaps the reality for the grown-ups was not as mind-blowing but we loved it. We also went on lots of drives in the area when we could be tempted out of the pool. I was a vision in my googles and bright yellow cap.

Anna Cullen

The Seven Arch Bridge in Newport, Mayo. Photograph by Mark Waters.

In June 2019, I visited Newport and Mulranny for a family vacation. The weather was gorgeous, the food was amazing and the views were even better. Newport is located in the west of Ireland, north of Westport. The Black Oak River flows through the town, with walking paths along its side. We rented bikes from the Greenway Bicycle Hire, and cycled the Greenway from there to Mulranny, where we stayed at the beautiful Mulranny Park Hotel. From there, we travelled to Saltlhill in Galway, where we stayed for 2 nights in a beautiful B&B overlooking the sea. I would highly recommend this trip if you are looking to get away from some much needed peace and quiet!

As any Irish holidaymaker knows, some of the best spots are found down the bottom of a winding boreen. With AA Membership, you can take the road less travelled with peace of mind, knowing that our patrols are on hand to assist you 24/7 should anything go wrong with your vehicle. Sign up here from only €10 per month.