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Home & Away with Robert Walshe A new survey has revealed that Dublin and Belfast were the top choices for vacation goers in Ireland during the first half of 2012.The survey carried out by Hotels.com showed that Dublin is the most popular destination for overseas travelers, while Belfast takes second place. The Northern Irish city profited from a particularly busy first six months of the year with the opening of the new Titanic Exhibition Centre in April and a large scale campaign by Tourism Ireland helping to boost visitor numbers. Cultural hot spot Galway is in third place while Cork is fourth on the chart of home-grown destinations.

Weekend Hotspot

www.castlemartyrresort.ie

Nestled in the Irish countryside in East Cork, is the magnificent Castlemartyr Resort. Originally constructed in 1210, and belonging to the Knights Templar, this hotel blends old world style and charm with contemporary luxury. Following a rebellion in 1578, the Earl of Desmond, James Fitzgerald had his estates forfeited to the Crown and awarded to Sir Walter Raleigh. Prior to Sir Walter Raleigh’s departure from nearby Youghal on historic voyage to South America. Richard

Boyle, the first Earl of Cork acquired Raleigh’s Estates. To this day the tomb of the third Earl of Cork can be found on the estate as a reminder of its historical significance. In more recent decades the property was used as a boarding college by the Carmelite order and as a Midleton native I recall visiting as a child for local garden fetes & gymkhanas. The manor since then was magnificently restored and elegantly enhanced, and in 2007, opened as a 5 star luxury hotel and golf resort. It comprises 103 deluxe rooms & suites with wonderfully welcoming and impeccably styled interiors, all on the impressive and tranquil setting of a 220 acre estate. The main part of the hotel is a Georgian mansion, which is adjoined by a dilapidated thirteenth century castle on one side for effect, and a sympathetically proportioned contemporary wing on the other, housing guest rooms and a luxury spa, pool and fitness centre. The buildings blend in beautifully, and are set in front of a stunning meadow flanked by a large meandering river a perfect backdrop for an afternoon picnic. The surrounding wooded parkland offers cycling, walking, and golf, and if the weather puts a

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dampener on your outdoor activities, there’s plenty to do inside. The 24,400-squarefoot spa boasts a fabulous glass-enclosed indoor pool, full gym, and essential oil massages. Castlemartyr Golf Club on the resort offers an 18 hole, inland links championship course designed by Ron Kirby. The Club provides an unforgettable experience through its first-class service, Club House, Pro-Shop and practice facilities. The course is available for residents to play from May through to September. The food in both the formal Bell Tower & Knights Bar was faultless with a sizeable breakfast buffet on offer. Formal dinner on the Friday night of our arrival was a triumph and I was not surprised to hear that executive chef Kevin Burke was recently awarded 2 AA Rosettes in recognition of his culinary team’s excellent skill and service. The long-established Rosette scheme recognises successful cooking at different levels across the country judged by unannounced visits carried out by an AA Hotel & Restaurant Inspector. At Castlemartyr, Kevin is inspired by simple, honest food that draws influence from its local surroundings. Where possible, his menus will reflect local and in-season ingredients drawn from the wonderful and bountiful

supply of fresh local food in East Cork, a region renowned for its exceptional quality of food and drink. Also it’s important to mention that each of the guest rooms offer the most modern of indulgences - from marble-finished rain showers to flat-panel televisions and wireless internet. Castlemartyr Resort is ideally situated as a base for touring East Cork’s many attractions and activities The history of the village can be traced back as far as the Bronze Age, with notable monuments of all periods of history still visible on the landscape from Ring Forts known locally as Fairee Forts which are steeped in legend, to more recent history such as The War of Independence in the 1920’s. It is only a short drive to Ballymaloe Cookery School and the blue flag beaches of Garryvoe. Local activities include other golfing activities at Fota & Waterock, fishing, horse riding, and guided

The number of holidaymakers who took a cruise last year exceeded 20 million for the first time. The figure – 20.6 million – represents an increase of 1.9 million, or nearly 10 per cent, on the previous year. It includes 1.7 million British holidaymakers, up slightly from 1.62 million in 2010, around 4.5 million from the rest of Europe, 11.5 million North Americans, and 2.9 million from

with Kathleen Murray

by, until one day it all becomes to much and it has a heart attack or the stress causes it to run in front of a car etc. Fear has to be tackled. It doesn’t go away by itself. All animals react one way or another to noise, If the animal reacts badly then bring it indoors (house or shed) if you can and give it a small space to stay in. If it is in the house then it can go under a table, into a cage or into a small toilet area where it can feed safe. Put some noise on like a tv or radio so that there is something else happening and all the concentration is not on the fireworks. The animal will still hear the fireworks but the other noise will take away form the intensity of the expe-

Weekly Best Buy

To celebrate the opening of the Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre last month, the 4-star Bridge House Hotel in Tul-

lamore, Co. Offaly is offering a special ‘Grand Opening’ offer of two nights B&B in one of the hotel’s luxurious bedrooms, a four course dinner on the evening of your choice, a tour of the new Tullamore D.E.W. Visitor Centre and a whiskey tasting for just €125 per person sharing midweek or €149 per person sharing at weekends. Located less than 90 minutes from Dublin, Galway and Limerick, the renowned Bridge House Hotel in has 70 luxurious guest rooms including Bridal, Executive and Presidential Suites, many with Jacuzzi and balconies. www.bridgehouse.com Robert Walshe is a freelance contributor / broadcaster and Travel Editor for River Media newspaper titles across the island of Ireland. www.robertwalshe.com

Home and Away Extra

Happy Hallowe’en – or is it for pets? It’s here again. What can we do to make things more comfortable for animals? If you have just gotten a new animal then you don’t know how it will react yet to the noise, so the best thing to do for it is to watch it and see how it handles noises in general for a start. If it is nervous or jumpy or gets startled easily then it will have a problem with the fireworks. Starting off with a nervous pup is not as difficult as trying to rehabilitate a dog that has already had a few years practice at being half scared to death by fireworks. It is really important that you tackle the problem if it is there because the more a dog gets to practice being nervous the more stressed it becomes as the years go

walking. My favourite dining options in the area include Ahearn’s Seafood Youghal and in Midleton at the Farmgate which is also home to the Jameson Heritage Distillery offering guided daily tours. Cobh Cathedral and Titanic trail along with Fota House, Arboretum and Wildlife Park are also close by and a must see. Visit Castlemartyr Resort and enjoy the two AA Rosette experience with the ‘Unwind & Dine’ package. Enjoy dinner for two in the Bell Tower Restaurant and an overnight stay with breakfast the following morning from €225 (Sun – Thurs) or €255 (Fri & Sat) for two people sharing. www.castlemartyrresort.ie

rience. If you have the animal in the living room with you then just act as normal. Shaking or hiding under something is it’s way of dealing with the feelings it is having. Don’t keep looking at it or saying “Don’t worry, it’ll be ok”. This will only upset the animal. Just go about your business or watch tv or whatever and let the animal react to your calmness not your anxiety. If you are nervous or anxious the animal will pick it up straight away. You can’t fool an animal. They can read you like a book… so relax and don’t keep thinking about how it’s going. Just enjoy the evening and let the animal see it as something fun and not something to be scared of. Have a great Halloween.

the rest of the world. Bookings stalled following the Costa Concordia disaster in January, but have returned to normal levels, according to travel agents. A recent survey by the website Travelzoo suggested that 96 per cent of people considering booking a cruise had not been put off by the tragedy, although 20 per cent said they would avoid a voyage with Costa Cruises


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