Family Holiday in Cork – Part One

Last year, after a couple of holidays abroad and lots of hassle at the different airports, we decided we’re going to do Irish holidays this year. The first one we had scheduled for early May and it was actually perfect timing as I just finished work a week before our holiday. So after my first week at home with the kids, we packed our bags and headed down to West Cork. I had only been to Cork once and that was a quick trip to perform at an event in Fota Island, so I didn’t really see much else than the hotel! But my goodness what a beautiful country we have here, the wilderness in rural Ireland is quite different to what you see in the cities, and especially in Dublin. The views to the sea, sheep grazing on the mountainside, a lonely pub in the middle of nowhere – and I know this sounds very touristy – is something that seems very Irish to me… Maybe it’s the picture portrayed outside Ireland through art, literature, and media, and I know my husband, with his cynical trait, sees this as something sold to the American tourists. Nevertheless, I found it very charming and certainly different to what you find it Dublin’s inner city!

We rented a holiday home in Ardnagashel Woods in Ballylickey. The kids got great fun out of the name…

“Where are we, guys?” 
“In Ballylickey, -lickey, -lickey” with bright voices in unison from the backseat followed by a fit of giggles.

Ardnagashel Woods, Ballylickey, Co. Cork

It was a bit of a trek down from Dublin, but with a nap time approaching and a DVD player for the second half of the trip we got there in just over 4 hours with a lunch break in Fermoy and no frustrated kids (or adults) in the car. The drive down is not too bad either as you have motorway all the way down to Cork and a bit past. The road was fine until we turned off the N22 towards Bantry. From there on it was bumpy country roads with crazy speed limits that even the most experienced rally drivers can’t manage on those roads!

There is so much to see around that part of the island. We ended up driving another 300+ miles over six days so the DVD player was definitely needed. Our two are still too young to master the art of admiring stunning views! The first couple of days were a bit overcast and showery, so we drove around to the nearby villages and hopped out whenever it wasn’t raining.


Ballylickey is a small little village beside Bantry with nothing much to see! However, they do have a marvellous gourmet food shop, deli, and cafe called Mannings Emporium. The cafe part is tiny, but there are more spaces outside under a shade. The selection of food and wine was impressive and the coffee was lovely, just what I needed that morning. The kiddies scoffed their scones too so they must have been tasty!

Mannings Emporium, coffees and scones
Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay

Bantry House was a bit of a disappointment to be honest. Granted, the views to Bantry Bay were spectacular, but the gardens didn’t seem to be anything special. A family ticket at €26 seemed like a bit of a rip off for what you get and the €3.50 scones in the tearooms were like the icing on the cake…On the otherhand, we might not have felt this way, had we not been to the Killarney National Park the day before… (Will be featured in part two!)

Overlooking Bantry Bay
Mr Messer was delighted at least!
Bantry House
Missy Messer in charge
On a warm and sunny day I might just about to be able to justify the €3.50 scones sitting here…
A sneak peek into the gardens


Glengarriff is a lovely village located just at the Kerry border. The name is derived from the Irish Gleann Gairbh which means the rough or rugged glen. There are a number of cafes, restaurants, and shops full of Irish handmade knits, pottery, cosmetics, and kids clothes and toys. There is also a nature reserve just outside the village consisting of the woods opening out into Glengarriff Harbour, and the Caha Mountains rising above the woods with their layers and layers of sheer rock.

Heading to Lady Bantry’s Lookout in Glengarriff Nature Reserve, 600m it said…
…it didn’t say it was 600m of a climb!
Well, it definitely was worth the sore legs it gave me!

I will let the picture speak for themselves… Bendy, narrow roads on a mountainside heading out to the Atlantic. Sheep everywhere, you can even adopt one out there!

The sheep I might have mentioned before…
Looking to the right is the most Southern Point of Ireland


Schull is the principal village of Mizen Peninsula, located approx. 60 miles from Cork City between Bantry and Skibbereen. The day we visited Schull was quite showery (again!) so we didn’t get to do as many things as you could do as there is everything available from water sports to pony trekking to visiting a planetarium (of course that one was closed…)! Instead, we had lunch in The Waterside Restaurant and Cafe on Main Street and visited the playground overlooking the harbour between the showers.

Not a bad view from the swings!
Schull Harbour
“Hey mummy, there’s a pirate ship!”
Schull is a lively little village and I would imagine it to be very busy during the summer season. There seems to be a lot of activity during the summer with different markets and festivals. If you are heading that way, check


The holiday home was lovely, plenty of space for all of us and lovely surroundings for evening walks. The location was also ideal for all our day trips. Thinking about it afterwards though, I would probably try to find somewhere that is a walking distance to a village. You end up doing so much driving out there anyway, it would be nice to be able to walk to a cafe, or even to a shop if you forgot to buy milk…

Regarding what we brought with us, I would have left the buggy home. I think we took it out once! We borrowed a toddler carrier from a friend and that was the best thing ever as you can’t bring the buggy to most places anyway, there are too many steps and hills and what not…

And because our family loves cafes, here is our Top 3:

1. Jim’s Coffee House in Glengarriff

Comfy sofas and yummy coffee, what else do you need?!

2. Box of Frogs in Bantry

Found on the wall of Box of Frogs, good humour and tasty scones, cheesecakes, cupcakes…

3. Mannings Emporium in Ballylickey

Lots of yummy food and wine… and that coffee for morning time!
Part two coming up and then we’ll be visiting Killarney National Park and Garnish Island.
Where are you heading this summer?

2 thoughts on “Family Holiday in Cork – Part One

  1. Pingback: Family Holiday in Cork – Part Two | Little Messers' House

  2. Pingback: Sea, Sand & Blaas | Little Messers' House

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