Archive for the ‘tourism’ Category

West Cork Literary Festival – 4th – 10th July Bantry

May 1, 2010

The annual West Cork Literary Festival will take place in Bantry from 4th to 10th July.  Some of the well known names who will appear will include fay Weldon, Michael Palin, Margaret Drabble and John Boyne.

The festival is supported by RTE Lyric fm and is organised by West Cork Music in partnership with the Cork County Library and is fund by the Arts Council and Failte Ireland.  There will be master classes in travel writing and fiction, seminars on the art of editing and research methodology, workshops on various topics such as songwriting, writing for women, freelance journalism, poetry and many other events.

More information is available at www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie

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The Towers, Ballysaggartmore near Lismore

April 24, 2010
The towers at Ballysaggartmore

The towers at ballysaggartmore

What a magical hidden gem!  The towers at Ballysaggartmore near Lismore are in an amazing woodland situated on the main road between Ballyduff and Lismore.  Take the path to the left from the car park which winds up through the woodland to the towers.  You can walk around in a loop lasting no more than 15-20 minutes.  Both sides of the path are packed with dense shrubbery and mature trees.  There is a picnic area next to the river flowing under the tower bridge.

The towers were built in the mid 1800s by Arthur Kiely Ussher who had planned to build a grand house but this never happened.  All that now remain are imposing gothic ruins in a wonderful setting.

Tourists over 66 get free train travel in Ireland

March 20, 2010

A new scheme  has been introduced allowing visitors to Ireland over the age of 66 to avail of free train travel throughout the Irish Republic.  It’s called the Golden Trekker.  Tickets can be purchased in blocks of four days depending on the length of stay.  A four day unlimited ticket would normally be worth euro 100 so it is great value.

You don’t need to book online though you can on the Failte Ireland Tourist Board website www.discoverireland.com.    You can apply for up to three warrants per individual within the year.  If you don’t book online, you need to visit a tourist office on arrival in the country and ask about the Golden Trekker facility.

St Colmans Cathedral Cobh Carillon Bells

February 7, 2010

2010 will be the 83rd year of the hour long recitals on the Carillon at St Colmans Cathedral in Cobh.  For any tourists planning to visit Cobh in the summer (any time between May and September) on a Sunday, be sure to be there at 4.30pm to listen to the bells sounding out over the town.

The 49 bell Carillon is the only such instrument in the country and is the largest in Britain and Ireland.   You can even watch the carillonneur playing on a close circuit tv inside the cathedral at the base of the tower.

To check out what the bells sound like, Adrian Gebruer has his own website: http://homepage.eircom.net/%257Eadriangebruers/index.html

Irish Hotel Tax Incentive Schemes and their downfall

August 14, 2009

Irish hotels have benefitted from a myriad of tax incentive schemes which are now seriously affecting the tourism industry as a whole.  The tax breaks were exploited to such an extent that not only were too many rooms added creating massive over-capacity but many hotels were built in ridiculous locations.  Tax break hotels were often built by developers rather than hoteliers and all they cared about was a 7 year tax freebie.  They couldn’t have given a jot about the guest.

The sting in the tail of the tax break is that if a hotel that has benefitted from these tax breaks does not stay open for seven years after the development, the investor will have to repay the tax breaks against their personal tax bills.  What we have now is a situation where unprofitable hotels remain open, reducing rates to ridiculous levels thus seriously damaging those operations that are viable.  The Irish Hotels Federation has calculated that there are 21,000 hotel rooms that fall short of the 7 year requirement (out of a total number of about 60,000 hotel beds in the country).  Another scary figure is that the average occupancy rate over all hotels in Ireland is just 53pct and overseas visitors to Ireland this year have declined by nearly 19pct.

A visit to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in Kent

July 5, 2009
Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Another garden gem, Sissinghurst Castle Gardens were created in the 1930s by the poet and novelist Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold Nicolson.  The National Trust now owns the estate.  This is a very popular destination and it was extremely busy during my visit last week.

There are ten separate gardens which are all very different.  If you climb up into the tower you get a superb view of the layout.  Enjoy some of the photos which I took during my visit.

An Herbaceous Border at Sissinghurst

An Herbaceous Border at Sissinghurst

Clematis at Sissinghurst

Clematis at Sissinghurst

Sissinghurst - The Moat

Sissinghurst - The Moat

Sissinghurst - A view from the tower

Sissinghurst - A view from the tower

Another view from the tower at Sissinghurst

Another view from the tower at Sissinghurst

Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

July 5, 2009
Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

Lywood House, Ardingly, Sussex

Lywood House in Ardingly, Sussex is the home of Max and Cleone Pengelley who take  Wolsey Lodge guests.  I had the good fortune to stay with them during my recent visit to Sussex.  This was a wonderfully ‘English’ experience.  Just picture a 14th century listed timber framed house with a view of a perennial border packed with vibrant colours, sweeping lawns and paddocks with one horse wrapped up in blankets as a fly deterrent.  Outside the front door was the horse box.

It was a sweltering hot day so Max was quick to produce elderflower cordial and lime squash on my arrival.  Cleone cooked a delicious dinner for myself and two other guests – a green salad with egg and thinly sliced prosciutto, fish with broad beans and spinach from the garden and a delicious mousse-like dessert with a strawberry compote – Yummy.   The other guests mentioned that normally they would go abroad but this year they had decided to explore the South East of England.  They gave me some great tips of places to visit including Hever Castle which I thank them for as it was a treat!

Had I remembered my swim gear, I would have been able to take a dip in the pool.  I highly recommend this accommodation.  Thank you to Max and Cleone for a very enjoyable stay!!  I also compliment Cleone on producing an excellent dinner.  We gave up offering dinners a few years ago as it was such hard work.

Wakehurst Place near Ardingly

July 5, 2009
Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is another gem of a garden located in Ardingly near Haywards Heath It is often referred to as ‘Kew in the country’.  It was created by Gerald Loder who purchased the estate in 1903 and spent 33 years developing the gardens. The estate now belongs to the National Trust and is managed by Kew.  The Millenium Seed Bank project was opened at Wakehurst in 2000 and its aim is to assemble a collection of seeds from more than 10pct of the world’s flora.  You can actually see the scientists at work when you visit the building.  You could easily spend a few hours here roaming through the natural woodlands, down through valleys and past lakes, streams and rivers.  You will find a large number of water and bog plants.  When I visited in early July the irises were in full bloom and quite a sight to behold.

The Loder Valley nature reserve is well worth walking through.  In some parts it felt a bit like being in a tropical jungle particularly as it was extremely hot on the day of my visit.  Wander back through the Himalayan glade and enjoy the superb views from the top of the glade.  By all accounts Loder was fascinated with Rhododendrons and these must be an amazing sight in the spring.

Take a look inside the mansion as several of the rooms are open.

A view of the Garden at Wakehurst

A view of the Garden at Wakehurst

Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst

Himalayan Glade at Wakehurst

A lake at Wakehurst

A lake at Wakehurst

Wisley – A garden lovers dream

July 5, 2009
The New Glass House at Wisley

The New Glass House at Wisley

I had the good fortune to visit Wisley on 1st July.  Sprawling over 240 acres, it is just 30 minutes drive from Heathrow and an absolute ‘must go and see’ for garden lovers.  It surpassed all my expectations in what it had to offer.  Just make sure that you allot several hours for your visit.

The gardens encompasses everything from trials fields, a vegetable garden, fruit field, model gardens, wild gardens, walled gardens, lily ponds and arboretum and a recently opened glass house.  There are a number of excellent cafes and restaurants as well as a plant centre.

I was particularly interested in the perennial planting outside the new glass house.  The plants are cleverly grouped together and striking colours such as various types of hemerocallis, blue salvias, campanulas, heleniums, verbascums, geraniums, scabies and euphoria are all used in abundance.  I had no idea there were so many varieties of some of these plants.

Take a look at some of my photos to whet your appetite!

Wisley Annual Display

Wisley Annual Display

The Lilly Pond at Wisley

The Lilly Pond at Wisley

The Trial Garden at Wisley

The Trial Garden at Wisley

Innishannon Steam Rally

May 14, 2009

Each year the Innishannon Steam and Vintage Rally raises substantial funds for the Irish Cancer Society, a really worthy cause (in 2008 euro 125,000 was raised).  The rally is now in its 12th successful year and takes place over the bank holiday weekend on Sunday, 31st May, 2009 and Monday, 1st June.  If you are anywhere nearby, be sure to visit as it is a great day out.

Steam Engine

Steam Engine

One of the steam engines which will feature in the rally is kept close to Kilbrogan House.  Its owners had it out on the streets last weekend and its in tip top working order so well done to the Lordans!!

This post is by Catherine FitzMaurice of Kilbrogan House Guest Accommodation