| 8.6°C Dublin

STAYCATION Kildare to be brave?

Steven Moore and his family enjoy an adventure-packed weekend in Kildare. From archery, good food to driving a Porsche 911 - planning trips post-Vaccine is just the tonic

Close

Steve and his family gear up for a round of Splatmaster

Steve and his family gear up for a round of Splatmaster

Steve and his family gear up for a round of Splatmaster

With a vaccine on the way it's time to think about giving your weekend plans a much needed injection of excitement -while keeping things local.

Last autumn we gave Co Kildare the once over for the weekend and found a treasure trove of fun activities - all magnificently Covid-prepared.

Close

Anna gets close to nature

Anna gets close to nature

Birthday girl Cara

Birthday girl Cara

/

Anna gets close to nature

With Covid regulations in the Republic changing faster than the Agriculture Minister we made sure we aimed for outdoor activities which would offer some family fun.

From the thrill of steering your way around a racetrack in a snazzy Porsche to action-packed adventure parks - or even something more sedate like a lazy barge trip up the canal - Kildare has plenty to offer.

And then there's the food. We sampled some of the county's finest dining experiences and discovered the pride that local chefs get in using the best locally sourced produce.

Travelling from Belfast it took us just slightly over two hours to get to the four-star Killashee Hotel in Naas - our impressive base for our 48-hour visit.

The large Victorian building has been splendidly renovated inside and there are acres of grounds outside.

The kids probably would have been happy not to the leave the hotel at all as it has a butterfly garden walk, a fairy trail treasure trove and a well-kitted-out adventure park complete with the "best zip-line ever", according to Anna, our eight-year-old park expert!

And that's before you even mention the teddy bears' picnic house and the sparkling clean indoor swimming pool.

Killashee is a large hotel with long and wide corridors and a cavernous bar area and restaurant which make it perfect for socially-distanced dining in these surreal times.

We also had plenty of friendly staff looking after us and we were lucky enough to get to enjoy some live music for the first time in 10 months with a fabulous local singer knocking out some great covers of Christy Moore, David Gray and George Ezra.

But we - a family of five, with kids ranging from the ages of eight to 14 - were here for some action and that's certainly what we got!

Starting with Redhills Adventure Park we tried out the junior paintball game - Splatmaster - and discovered our ten-year-old daughter is destined for a career in the special forces.

Redhills have cleverly adapted to all the Covid requirements and have found themselves popular with families who were forced to cancel holidays. A family unit can have some tremendous fun running round 'shooting' each other, as we discovered.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

We played boys versus girls and Chucky, our Redhills marshal, was great at coming up with different games including one where you had to plant a 'bomb'.

Splatmaster is a great entry-level into full-blown paintball and airsoft which Redhills also has for the bigger kids and adults.

Close

Steve getting bested at the archery lesson

Steve getting bested at the archery lesson

Steve getting bested at the archery lesson

There's also the opportunity for an archery lesson, in which I was bested by my eight-year-old, and a challenging assault course. Check out redhillsadventure.ie.

For a change of pace we headed to the Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park - aptly advertised as 'an oasis of calm in the bog' as it's set in The Bog of Allen, Ireland's most famous peat bog, apparently.

After a relaxing train journey round the peat bog we visited the petting farm which has pigs, goats, miniature horses and a family of deer - complete with a Bambi-like fawn.

It's amazing how seemingly tired kids can suddenly rediscover their energy when they spot a play park and they also loved the 18-hole crazy-golf course, particularly the last hole which is a lot of fun.

Close

Rory goes crazy for golf at Lullymore Heritage Park

Rory goes crazy for golf at Lullymore Heritage Park

Rory goes crazy for golf at Lullymore Heritage Park

The 60 acres of woodland and peatland trails make Lullymore a place where you could spend most of the day but we crammed all we could into a few hours in the afternoon. Check out what they have to offer at lullymoreheritagepark.com.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a fabulous meal of heart-warming chowder and grilled salmon while the kids feasted on burgers and chicken with chips.

The next morning while the rest of the family relaxed in the large pool - make sure you book in advance - I was packed off to something slightly more adrenalin-fuelled, though almost as wet in the end given the near hurricane conditions.

The Supercar Experience at Mondello Park - just 15 minutes from the Killashee Hotel - awaited me.

Basically you get to race round the home of Irish motorsport in three increasingly faster cars, finishing with the Porsche 911 Carrera with a driving instructor shouting at you to floor it as hard as you can.

Now, I'm a cowardly man when it comes to thrill rides. I'm no petrol head. I drive a boring family car with a roof-box so I've got to be honest and say I was somewhat petrified at this prospect.

I had Kevin, a former Formula 4 champion, instructing me and by instructing me I mean being confounded by my inability to follow simple instructions.

Still this was one of the best experiences and if hair-raising motor racing is your thing then this is certainly for you so go ahead and check out mondellopark.ie.

When the racing is over you might want to consider a stunning barge trip up the canal, starting in Sallins and taking in some of the prettiest Kildare countryside.

The barge is fully covered in case of bad weather and is scrupulously cleaned after each private party has left. It also brings you back to Sallins where you'll find the fabulous Two Cooks restaurant with views over the Grand Canal.

We were treated to a Sunday family-sharing feast of mussels cooked in white wine with chorizo and then a stunning platter of Cote de Boeuf which comes with parsnips, mash and cauliflower gratin.

The Two Cooks makes a point of showcasing the best of local produce, presented with the mussels starter in the form of a beetroot and broccoli salad and Asian-style coleslaw.

In fact, there's no shortage of great places to eat in the region and the award-winning Trellis restaurant at the Cliff at Lyons Hotel in Celbridge is possibly the standout. Here the Lamb Shoulder Beignet and the seafood cocktail starters along with the Annagassan Cod main course were the stars of the show.

It's also a pleasant walk along the canal to get to the Cliff at Lyons complex and there are a raft of bars and restaurants to try out in beautiful courtyard surroundings.

Close

Birthday girl Cara

Birthday girl Cara

Birthday girl Cara

All in all Co Kildare is alive and kicking and everything we visited is around 30 minutes from Dublin so easily accessible once the regulations allow us to travel again.

• Steve was a guest of Fáilte Ireland and travelled late last year in between lockdowns. It was part of their brilliant 'Make A Break For It' campaign to encourage Irish people to explore their own country. See discoverireland.ie

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy