There are so many wonderful things to see and do near Spellcast Cottage. We’ll start with where to eat locally, and then show you our favourite places to visit…
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Restaurants & takeaways nearby
In Ferns (15 minute drive). If you’re looking for tasty takeaway chinese food then this, in our opinion, is the best. I prefer to pick up the order myself but they do deliver. The easiest place to park is in the petrol station across the road. They don’t have a website so call 053 936 7572 to order. Google maps
Located just outside Enniscorthy (10 minute drive), Monart Spa is “a little piece of heaven” and has been named Ireland’s Best Spa for 2022.
Go for afternoon tea, a full dining experience, or just to pamper yourself.
Enniscorthy, Ferns & Bunclody
The closest town to the cottage (10 minute drive), Enniscorthy is located on the picturesque River Slaney.
As you enter the town from the north, we recommend parking in the Dunnes car park on the right.
Located in the heart of the town (10 minute drive from the cottage), Enniscorthy Castle was originally built in the 13th century, and has been home to Norman knights, English armies, Irish rebels and prisoners, and local merchant families.
Nearby is the historic Ferns Castle (15 minute drive from the cottage).
Pre-covid the free tour took you inside the castle and up to the roof, but now there are outside tours run by the amazing Larry who is a font of knowledge and is so friendly. The tours usually last 10 mins.
The visitor centre has an amazing tapestry woven by local people depicting the historic events at the castle.
Just to the north is the beautiful town of Bunclody (15 minute drive from the cottage). It has a tiny river running through the main street and onto the Blackstairs Mountains where there are lots of hiking trails. Google maps
Located just outside Bunclody (25 minute drive from the cottage).
The views from Mount Leinster are stunning. The gated walk on the left of the car park coming up from Bunclody is very, very steep but the right hand hill is perfect for families.
Bring a picnic and a jacket as it gets very windy but the views are beautiful. Be careful of the steep windy road. There are spots to pull over and allow cars to pass. Google maps
Through Bunclody towards Carlow is Altamont Gardens (25 minute drive from the cottage).
It’s highly recommended and one of our favourite places to visit.
Spend a few hours wandering through beautiful formal gardens and wild woods that lead down to the river and then up 100 stone steps set in the hill… or take the winding easy route back up.
Nine Stones Cycling Loop
A total of 118 km of signposted cycle route across some of the most breathtaking scenery in Ireland.
Cyclists will encounter 1,600 metres of climbing but will be rewarded with some fabulous scenery and stunning views, most notably Sliabh Bhuí and the Nine Stones at the summit of Mount Leinster.
The cycle trail is on public roads and there are several villages along the way where you can take a well-earned break. Website
Wexford & Rosslare
Irish National Heritage Park
Located just off the main road to Wexford town (25 minute drive from the cottage).
Set on forty acres of magical woodland, the Heritage Park is a stroll through 9,000 years of Irish history.
Explore historic buildings and settlements and see how Ireland’s earliest settlers lived, worked and fought.
Get involved in some family activities for an unforgettable Irish history experience. Forage like a pre-historic farmer, meet the birds of prey and complete the Trials of Tuan. Book online | Google maps
A 30 minute drive from the cottage, Wexford town is rich in history. The walking tour reveals the town’s Viking roots, Norman period, Cromwell, the 1798 rebellion and its long running Maritime history.
You’ll also find plenty of shops, cafes and boutiques. The Red Kettle is our favourite place to stop for a coffee and sandwich.
Parking in the town can be tricky. Our favourite place is a car park on the quay. It’s not labelled but you’ll find it here on Google maps.
If it’s full, the underground car park of Clayton Whites Hotel usually has spaces and you’ll be able to walk straight out onto the main street: Google maps
Located on the outskirts of Wexford town (30 minute drive from the cottage).
Playzone is a purpose built indoor playground for children. It comprises a multistorey play and slide area, divided into sections for all ages.
Located just outside Wexford town (30 minute drive from the cottage).
Take a stroll in the stunning gardens, lake walks and woodlands or enjoy the woodland play area.
Watch the peacocks strut by at the castle lakeside with its Gothic towers, waterfall and statues. You can also book a tour inside Johnstown Castle itself which has been lovingly restored and includes a unique 86 metre long servants tunnel.
The estate also contains the Irish Agricultural Museum which displays one of the most comprehensive exhibits of farming and rural life in Ireland, as well as an exhibit detailing the great famine. Book online | Google maps
This beach is next to a typical seaside resort called Rosslare Strand (40 minute drive from the cottage).
Parking is limited so we advise getting there early. It’s a sandy beach with dunes and an easy walk to local shops and cafes. Google maps
Curracloe beach (30 minute drive from the cottage) is beautiful, very long and we go there to swim and surf. A previous winner, Curracloe has again been named Ireland’s best beach for 2022.
The Winning Post is the only shop/takeaway/arcade at the beach and at the side is The Surf Shack, see below for details. Or why not go swimming at dawn and watch the sunrise?
Curracloe is also famous for being the location of the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan by Stephen Spielberg. Google maps
The Surf Shack
At Curracloe beach. Suitable for all levels of experience, especially first time surfers! Ages 6 and up.
Call them or book online as the time slots fill up very quickly. Get there 20 mins beforehand and the staff will help you with picking a wet suit and shoes, which are all disinfected and cleaned. You are put into groups with 2 or 3 staff and head down to the beach.
After being taught the correct way to stand and move on the board, you take to the water and the fun begins. I cannot stress enough how great the staff are with everyone, of all ages and abilities.
They encourage you and push the boards, so you can get up and running. Sessions are 2 and a half hours. If the sea is flat we go sand boarding down the large sand dune or stand-up paddleboarding.
Raven Wood Nature Reserve
At the southern end of Curracloe beach is Raven Wood Nature Reserve.
It’s a beautiful spot for a walk or picnic. The reserve is spiked with Corsican pine, home to red squirrels, pine martins and wintering geese, and seals can sometimes be spotted offshore, too.
The full walk (loop) is 9km, taking about two and a half hours, but there are shorter loops too.
Vine Cottage Bar
Just a 15 minute walk from Tintern Abbey, Vine Cottage Bar is a traditional Irish pub that has been in the same family for over four generations. It opens for lunch during the Summer months of June, July and August.
Soak up the atmosphere, relax and enjoy the hospitality. Built on the sunny banks of Bannow Bay, the pub also has a spacious beer garden with a dedicated enclosed child safe area.
Clonmine Horse & Pony Trekking
A lovely way to spend time. There is a forest walk and a beach ride (50 minute drive from the cottage).
If you have children who are inexperienced, the trainer will take the horse on a lead rein and teach them the basics. They’re very nice and professional.
The Irish Experience
Located on the Hook peninsula (1 hour drive from the cottage).
Let them take you on a journey hiking to the summits of stunning mountains, kayaking down through the picturesque valleys on beautiful yet exciting rivers, or even into the recesses of incredible sea caves.
Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience
In New Ross (35 minute drive from the cottage).
The Dunbrody is an authentic reproduction of an 1840s sailing ship. It is an educational living museum of Irish history that will tell you everything you need to know about life for emigrants during the Irish famine.
Located just south of New Ross (40 minute drive from the cottage).
This huge 252 hectare park contains thousands of varieties of trees and shrubs and is dedicated to the memory of President John F. Kennedy, whose great grandfather Patrick was born in the nearby village of Dunganstown.
Just a ten minute drive from the arboretum is the The Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F. Kennedy’s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy.
The homestead celebrates the story of the five generations of the Kennedy dynasty and is still today farmed by his descendants.
Gorey & Courtown
Movies @ Gorey
Great movie selection for everyone (25 minute drive from the cottage). Family tickets of 2 adults, 2 children are around €28.
They have free parking and offer a great combo of ticket, popcorn, drink and sweet tray for €10 per person.
Kia-ora Mini Farm
In Gorey, just three minutes away from the cinema (25 minute drive from the cottage).
Kia-ora is an open farm where children get to interact with, hold and feed animals of the usual farmyard variety, plus some exotic ones such as llamas, emus, alpacas, pot bellied pigs, chinchillas and parrots.
The farm is a safe place for children to roam and learn about the animals and for adults to relax.
There’s an onsite coffee shop with home-baking but picnics are also welcome.
In Courtown (30 minute drive from the cottage). Pirates Cove is a great family day out with fun for all ages.
Enjoy the sub-tropical gardens as you challenge your crew to a game of 18 hole mini golf. Venture through the giant caves, cascading waterfall, and full-sized shipwreck of a treasure-laden galleon.
Play at night with low level lighting for a magical experience with a truly exotic feel.
Also recommended are the bumper boats and paddle boats which are safely contained within an inflatable pond.
Active Tribe Adventure & Leisure Centre
In Courtown (30 minute drive from the cottage).
Active Tribe is a state of the art swimming, gym, studio, outdoor activity fitness and wellness facility.
You can also explore the walking trails through 50 acres of mature woodland that are open to the public.
Other adventures & places to visit
A trip to the Saltee Islands is a popular day out (ferry leaves from Kilmore Quay, a 50 minute drive from the cottage).
It’s advisable to book your place on the ferry well in advance, especially during the peak summer months of July and August.
The Saltee Islands are one of the most recognizable landmarks of the south Wexford coastline. The islands are home to an array of seabirds, as well as many other species of wildlife.
The Waterford greenway is a scenic cycling route following a historic railway line that operated from 1878 to the late 1970s. It runs from Waterford city to Dungarvan.
The Waterford Greenway is 46km in total, with six stages. We decided to cycle stages 4 to 6, Kilmacthomas (1 hour drive from the cottage) to Dungarvan, a total of about 22km.
We chose a hybrid and two electric bikes and picked them up from Kilmacthomas. If you give them a time of arrival, your bike will be waiting for you.
The electric bikes are great fun. Ours were set to 3 and I cycled happily while being assisted. When I felt I needed more help, I pushed the button to 4 or 5.
We only went one way to Dungarvan but it took about 2 hours, as we took our time, stopping for a roll and coffee at Signal Box takeout cafe, with picnic benches. We cycled down to the pier to Dungarvan Castle and walked the bikes into and around the yard.
Blackwater Open Farm
Located near the pretty village of Blackwater (30 minute drive from the cottage).
This open farm is a great day out for the kids. They’ll meet animals of all shapes and sizes, pet rabbits and guinea pigs on their laps, and bottle feed the kid goats.
There’s lots more to do too, including a playground, giant bouncy castle, go karts and zip line.
Go with the Flow River Adventures
We just tried the Clashganny to Graiguenamanagh canoe trip at Go with the Flow (30 minute drive from the cottage).
It was €30 per person. We booked for 10.30am for 3 hours, for 3 people in a 3 seater canoe. Don’t worry if there’s no-one there when you arrive as it’s just the car park and he will arrive at the very last minute. There are toilets and changing rooms.
We wore our wetsuits but long leggings and long sleeve t-shirts and old runners would be fine. I wore a helmet as I had a Go Pro mounted on it but there’s no need for one. Be sure to wear bug spray and take some with you to spray around the canoe.
There is a canal lock about 10 mins in. You have to get out at the wooden deck and lift the canoe out with the rope and carry the canoe around the lock and back into the water but it’s not too heavy and you can rest and take your time.
Going downriver was fun and took about 50 minutes. Follow the arrows to ensure you don’t go on the weir. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and arrived to Graiguenamanagh village. It’s very picturesque.
We tied up our canoe to the rail at the stone steps and walked down to the cafe to sit outside and have a drink. They are used to wet suits there!
Then we returned to start back upriver. This was harder but satisfying. There’s no rush though and when we arrived back we lifted the canoe out and left it on the grass.
Squirrel’s Scramble in Bray (1 hour drive from the cottage) is a great place for aerial climbs and zip lines through the trees.
It’s in the grounds of Kilruddery House where the Netflix series Winx Saga and Ireland’s Fittest Family are filmed.
You get geared up, taught how to use the safety clips and off you go. It starts off low and gets higher and higher, but you can take a break. It takes about 2 and a half hours.
Afterwards, when we’re out of our gear, we get a pizza delivered from Four Star Pizza, also in Bray. We sit and eat in the covered areas inside or on one of the picnic benches outside.
Let Susan and her team of experienced and qualified kayak instructors guide you on a scenic kayak tour of the River Slaney (15 minute drive from the cottage).
This area is not only stunningly beautiful, it has also been recognised as a Special Area of Conservation for its diverse wildlife.
The tour starts just across the river from Edermine House which was built by Sir John Power of Powers Distillery fame and home of a private chapel believed to have been designed by AWN Pugin.
After a quick introduction to the equipment and a brief lesson in how to handle the very stable kayaks, you’ll head north along the river towards Enniscorthy, following the Wexford railway line which was described by Michael Palin as one of the most beautiful short train journeys in Europe.
Once past the remains of Browns Castle, which was almost completely destroyed by Cromwell and his men in 1649, you’ll leave the Slaney crossing under the railway line to meander your way up the little Boro river.
The Boro is just off to the side of a small woodland, many of whom’s trees have found their way into the river over the years after high winds.
Take time to enjoy your surroundings and listen as the song bird’s guide you up the river. On a good day sharp eyed visitors can spot the Kingfisher before he takes off, flying low to the water and resting at his next fishing spot.
There is a huge abundance of wildlife from heron, otters, water hen, ducks and a curious grey seal is often spotted fishing on the high tide.
The whole tour is 4km long and runs at a leisurely pace with plenty of rest stops along the way. They use double kayaks, making it very family friendly where younger children, 6+ can be accompanied by an adult.
Recommended day out
Below is a suggested driving itinerary in a loop from the cottage. All of the places mentioned are taken from the full list above. We do advise booking, where possible…
— From the cottage, take the N30 to New Ross to visit the Dunbrody famine ship, the Kennedy homestead and the JFK park and arboretum.
— Continue on to Hook lighthouse and enjoy the amazing views down the Hook peninsula and the south-east’s furthest point. Park inside or outside. There is a kids pirate climbing frame, games and burger van outside on the lawn.
Inside are a cafe, gift shop, toilets and kids craft activities area. Take the tour up to the top of the lighthouse for fabulous views (ticketed).
You can see Loftus Hall from the viewing platform which is Ireland’s most haunted house, currently being converted into a hotel. Walk left out of the lighthouse gate and walk all the way around to truly appreciate the sea views.
— On to Tintern Abbey which is stunning. Park fore free at the Abbey. There is a walled garden which you have to pay to enter but instead you can take the woodland walk on the right for free.
On return, cross the road and enter the gate on the left through the wood which will bring you out at the bridge.
You can go straight on the Saltmills path which is a 20 min walk to the Vine Cottage pub which has a lovely garden with playground and super pizzas.
Or turning right across the bridge and up the hill will bring you to the ruined church. While across the road there is a path through the woods which will bring you to the road you drove in and follow that left to the car park.
— On to Clonmines pony trekking. You need to book ahead of time but the staff are amazing.
— Next is Johnstown Castle. This, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful castles in Ireland. See the website for prices, but it’s worth it.
There are guided tours of the castle and you can walk through the grounds. The upper path is the most interesting and beautiful and the lake walk takes you to the large kids playground with zipline.
There is a huge cafe you can sit inside or outside in a fenced garden where the kids can run about safely.
— On to Wexford town. Park in the car park next to Benny Sullivan estate agents, 2-4 Commercial quay, Ferrybank South, Wexford.
It’s very central and easy to access. There’s a doorway halfway up on the left leading to the centre of town.
Explore the waterfront and turn up any of the lanes on the right to access the main street with lots of shops and pubs.
— On to Curracloe beach. Park at the Winning post (takeaway, shop and arcade). But if it’s packed, follow the road left at the Winning post and park on the one-way strip where it’s safe.
You can rent boards, wet suits wet boots etc at the Surf Shack at the back of the Winning post.
Book their surf lessons online, they are great with kids. Or simply enjoy the beach made famous by Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan. It’s safe and lifeguard attended between flags.
— Up to Enniscorthy. Park underground at Dunnes Stores and visit the beautiful Enniscorthy Castle (ticketed) and have a look around the small town and shops.
There is a lovely large playground at the Riverside hotel (park underneath hotel). The path alongside the playground leads you down next to the river and up to the road. Turn right to loop back down to the hotel.
Then it’s just a short drive back to the cottage…
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