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06/08/2017

Staying at Garretstown House, Co Cork

I had a rough plan. Just as well it was flexible and I didn't book anywhere as the plan changed as the holiday went on. What should have happened was that I went to Kinsale, spent two days then went North along the Wild Atlantic Way, calling in to Mannix Point in Caherciveen, then Co Clare, Connemara, Achill Island and finally the south Sligo coastline. What happened was that my car played silly buggers on the 6 hour journey south from Northern Ireland to Cork, on day it 2 went into a garage, and for days 3, 4 and 5 stayed in the garage while a 'fuel pressure gauge' was ordered, delivered and fitted. In that time the weather went pear shaped too, and so when I got my car back I went East instead of North. 

The Coach House in the background
I stayed in a campsite called Garretstown House near the village of Ballinaspittle which is a few miles outside Kinsale. It is a holiday park with mobile homes, touring sites and facilities set amongst the remains of a beautiful and ruined Georgian House. There are two historic buildings, one facing the other and with identical facades. The one that was a residence, is ruined, missing it's roof and too dangerous to go into therefore it is closed off. The other is an old Coach House which has been partially restored and has a large useful space indoors for group activities. There is also an Orangery which is being utilised as a sitting room for adults only. The courtyard houses facilities such as a campers kitchen, playrooms for different age groups and a takeaway. The campsite is placed on what would have been a croquet lawn, and has a magnificent view of the sea in the distance from steps leading down to it. It is a fantastic place, I really would recommend it for a family friendly campsite. The youngsters will love it as there are kids discos and kids movies being shown in the coach house on alternate nights. There is quite a steep hill going up through the holiday park from the main road, which is worth noting for those towing a caravan. You can walk to the beach, which is a 15 to 20 minute walk away, and is downhill all the way but uphill all the way back. The campsite is run by a family, Dennis Mawe is the main person but in my time there I met his sister and his brother and they are all active in the running of the site. The family are really friendly, this is the second generation running the site. They were so helpful when my car broke down and helped me find someone to fix the car. When the car was ready they brought me to the mechanic to pick my car up. When I had no car they were concerned and asking about my welfare. I have to say I enjoyed my chats with the family and felt like I was being looked after very well. 

panoramic photograph

The ruinous main residence


The Courtyard

My little Orange tent on the former Croquet Lawn 

view from the steps


Garretstown Beach 

Garretstown Beach is 0.8 miles from the campsites, although there is really two beaches side by side with a hill in between. I noticed plenty of icecream vans, food stalls and even a massage parlour! 

On my visit to Garretstown House I visited the historic town of Kinsale, which is a harbour town flanked by two forts. One of the forts is in great condition and can be visited. Unfortunately, because I had a dog with me I wasn't allowed into the inner courtyard, however I could visit the perimeter. Luckily this included a coastal path that quite honestly I probably wouldn't have bothered looking for if I hadn't been turned away at the ticket booth. 

Charles Fort 

Charles Fort

Charles Fort 

In Kinsale I visited the harbour, the historic narrow streets, and some outlying areas such as 'Summer Cove'. I found Kinsale to be a really pretty place, however very busy and parking is a problem. There is mostly paid parking spaces however Dennis from the campsite told me where the few free parking spaces where and I got lucky both times I visited Kinsale and got a free parking space. Kinsale puts me in mind Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast where I visited last year. Lots of cobblestown streets, narrow and very old. There's plenty of notices around giving the various histories of places and people which is a great touch. 

Kinsale



Desmond Castle which houses a wine museum
Scilly 





Summer Cove

Summer Cove



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