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My Best Road Trip: A kid-friendly drive through Kenmare, Killarney and West Cork

This week, Alison Canavan packs her Honda to the brim with kids and equipment for an Irish staycation.

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MY BEST ROAD trip was an action-packed family jaunt some of the most picturesque spots in Ireland.

Who: Alison Canavan,
Route: Dublin, Kenmare, Killarney and West Cork
Distance: 900km
Time: 3 days
When: August 2016
Vehicle: Honda HR-V

James could barely sleep with the excitement. We were heading off to Kenmare in the morning and the thought of swimming, freedom, fun and adventure was almost too much to take.

I have been travelling the world since I was 15 as a model, but if I’m honest, my most cherished memories are of childhood holidays right here in Ireland.

Alison Canavan Alison Canavan

We used to spend our summers in Spiddal, Co Galway. Rail, hail or shine we would be on the beach and we loved it! This time, we were off to Kenmare and we had a jam-packed schedule of fun ahead.

We were promised rain so the car was full to the brim with wellies, raincoats and some shorts and tees just in case. I also packed lots of snacks and goodies for the journey to keep any hungry bellies at bay.

My friend Izabella and her son Mikey were joining us. After we picked them up, it was just 15 minutes into the trip when James asked the dreaded question… “Are we there yet?”

But we had a couple of surprises up our sleeves to help break up the journey. We stopped off first for some food and then at Adventure Park in Cork for some karting. And let me tell you I had an amazing time here.

I really felt like I let off steam as I went around the track and James loved it too. He left with a medal and was proud as punch.

Alison Canavan Alison Canavan

As we arrived in Kenmare I was once again reminded of what a beautiful country we live in. The views in this part of the world are simply breathtaking.

We decided to stay in The Lodges at The Kenmare Bay Hotel and they did not disappoint. They have two spacious double bedrooms with an en suite and a very large kitchen/dining area. There is also a garden, which is great when you have a soccer-mad son like mine.

Choosing this option I feel gives the best of both worlds for families because you have the hotel’s facilities but your own space as well.

Alison Canavan Alison Canavan

We headed straight to the pool upon arrival and the kids had a ball. I sat in the steam room and then took a nice sauna, which was heaven after a long drive.

After breakfast the next morning, we headed off to Blueberry Hill Farm in Sneem about 35 minutes from the hotel. It’s a family run farm – owners Yvonne and Sigi made us feel right at home and this trip was one of the most authentic farm visits I have ever been on. The kids fed the animals, milked the cows and got up close and personal with the ducks and geese.

Source: Alison Canavan

That done, the kids baked homemade scones in the kitchen with Yvonne. James was so excited to be given the opportunity to churn his very own butter. Then it was off with Sigi to make floating candles while the scones were baking and we all left with full tummies and full hearts after being made feel so welcome.

Alison Canavan Alison Canavan

After the farm, we headed to The Riverside Hotel in Killarney, where we had organised to go jaunting after lunch.

As our horse and cart arrived I could see the excitement building in James. He immediately made friends with Michael our driver and it wasn’t long before he was up the front with him and the horse feeling very important indeed.

We took a trip into Killarney National Park, which is so beautiful and Michael showed James where Shrek lived in the swamp and then the castle where Fiona lives.

The drive around Kerry is magical. The landscape, lakes, mountains and views are just so special and photographs simply don’t do it any justice.

Alison Canavan Alison Canavan

When we got back to the hotel we took advantage of the kids' club and had a rest. James and Mikey loved the kids club - and I always feel it’s important for parents to have some space when away otherwise you risk returning even more exhausted than before you left.

On the last day, we decided to head to Dzogchen Beara. Dzogchen Beara is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

A meditation centre, open to everyone, it’s located on the Beara peninsula in West Cork just outside Castletownbere. Bringing James here was a very special moment for me and we both sat and did some meditation as we looked out at the view from the shrine room.

The sun was shining and at that moment I just took a deep breath and felt so grateful to be sitting beside my son in a place that has allowed me to heal and become the person I am today.

Alison Canavan Alison Canavan

As I’m the ambassador for Honda we were lucky enough to have had a Honda HR-V for the trip. It was a dream to drive and even dreamier on diesel costs - it recently claimed a Guinness World Record for fuel efficiency. The kids had loads of space and James loved the sunroof.

The roads around Kerry can be windy, and tourists and buses keep the place busy - so it's important to drive carefully and keep your speed in check. But one thing's for sure, we’ll be back to create more special memories to hold in our hearts forever.

READ: My best road trip - Morocco

READ: Latest motoring news>

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