Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Plane Sailing in Enniscrone ~ One Man & His Quirky Glamping Plan ~ One Mam & Her Mammy Van!

If you’ve been listening to Today FM’s Anton Savage Show over the last few weeks you’d have heard all about David McGowan, an Undertaker in Enniscrone, Co Sligo and his madcap plan to bring a Boeing 767 he’d bought, from Shannon Airport to Enniscrone to use as accommodation in his Quirky Glamping Village. It definitely wasn’t all “plane sailing” for David and his massive team of volunteers. 

This mammoth task was met with obstacles and mountains of red tape from the very get go but from the moment I heard him on the radio I was hooked and wanted to follow this story through to the end. David captured the hearts and minds of the nation; everyday we’d tune in with eager anticipation of an update from Enniscrone. I was delighted when a planned date of landing in Enniscrone was announced as the children were on midterm from school. That only meant one thing, we were headed west. I packed my Mammy van with all we’d need for few days away and my 5 children and I hit the road.

Where to stay

Due to such short notice most of the hotels and B&B’s in the area were booked out, I wracked my brain and finally remembered Airbnb. I’d never used them before but Sue used them for her last trip to New York where she had a great experience with them. I got her to send me a referral link so both of us would each receive a €31 credit by me signing up (using THIS link*) and making my first booking.

The first two houses I tried to book were already booked, third time lucky though as I found a reasonably priced house that was still available. I booked “Enniscrone Holiday Home - Surfs Up” for two nights for €217 but the €31 credit brought my final total down to €186. Not bad at all for a spotless house that sleeps 8 in a great location, just 5 minutes walk from the beach. 

Sinéad our host was fantastic, while I didn’t get to meet her she text me a few times to make sure I was ok and I had everything I needed and even gave me lots of tips on places to bring the children to keep them entertained while we were in Enniscrone.

The planned arrival of the Boeing 767 was slightly delayed due to the tide so we had to book accommodation for the Friday night, this proved very difficult in the Enniscrone area. I eventually booked a night in Hotel Ballina through Supervalu Getaway Breaks, 1 night B&B for 2 adults and 3 children cost €100.

Things to do

The Céide Fields of Co Mayo are otherworldly 

While in Enniscrone there are a few things to do with children like go swimming in Waterpoint, unfortunately I couldn’t do this as I was on my own with 5 children under 9 years old. Surf lessons, my smaller children were too young for this instead we chose a walk on the beach and to spend a couple of hours in the huge enclosed playground with go karts. It costs €3 per child for the day; if you wish to leave and come back later they’ll stamp your child’s hand so they can gain free readmission. They also have crazy golf costing €3 per child.

Ballina is only a 15 minute drive from Enniscrone where you’ll find a host of other things to do including a free large playground by the river, when my little ones saw this we had to pop in. Belleek woods is wonderful for a family stroll, Belleek Castle also have guided tours of the Castle everyday at 2pm, we didn’t do this as to be honest I felt €30 was a bit steep for a family ticket. Easkey is a lovely little village a short drive in the opposite direction from Enniscrone; here we saw the ruins of Roslee Castle dating from 1207. 

We visited the town of Killala on the opposite side of the bay from Enniscrone to see their round tower. Killala was the site of the first and the last battle of the 1798 rebellion, the whole area is steeped in history. Just under an hour drive from Enniscrone brings you to the Céide Fields in County Mayo; the largest Neolithic site in the world. I had never been to the Céide Fields but it was somewhere I’d always wanted to visit since learning about it in school. 

The design of the interpretive centre is really something to see, constructed from sandstone, oak and glass it sits beautifully on the landscape. While there are steps making some outside areas of the site inaccessible to buggies/wheelchairs there’s a large part that has no steps so we still got to explore and learn all about the Stone Age heritage site. The views from the cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean around the Céide Fields are unparalleled.

Where to eat

As we arrived late in the evening on Wednesday I chose the easy option and ordered Apache Pizza to take back to our house but they do have a dining in area; it’s just that my 5 were tired after a 3 hour drive. The Pilot Bar serves tasty wholesome food at a good price so we dined there four times over the course of our stay in Enniscrone. 

Children’s meals start at just €4 for a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, that and the children’s fish and chunky chips (€6) were firm favourites with my little ones. I really liked the garlic chicken wrap served with salad and coleslaw €7.50. When we went out to the Céide Fields I packed a picnic for us and we sat at a picnic table on the way to Ballycastle for our first al fresco meal of the year. 

Easkey is pretty easy on the eye too
Unfortunately when we visited Easkey we had only had breakfast otherwise we’d have visited Pudding Row, I’ve since heard great things about this restaurant, so we’ll have to go back.

David McGowan and his Boeing 767

David McGowan is a man with a plan and come hell or (hopefully) high water he was getting that Boeing 767 into his Glamping Village! Throughout our stay in Enniscrone the buzz and excitement around the town was palpable. Everywhere we went we overheard conversations about the “Big Yoke” friendly locals were passing on titbits of information to the droves of tourists. The party atmosphere in the town hit fever pitch on Friday evening as the MTS Statum barge and tugboat rounded the corner into Killala Bay. 

As David had planned he anchored for the night just off the pier hoping that the extra four inches of water he needed to land the barge on the beach would come in with the tide the following morning. Thousands of people lined the beach and every vantage point around Killala Bay to get a photo of the Big Yoke bobbing in the bay. We left just before 9pm as I wanted to get the children to bed, as we were driving out of Enniscrone there were huge tailbacks of people still flocking to the area to get a glimpse of history in the making.

Saturday morning brought rain and dashed hopes to Enniscrone as the conditions weren’t favourable, landing the barge would have to be deferred to the next high tide later that evening. I tried everything to get a room for Saturday night in Enniscrone but one couldn’t be found for love nor money. It was with a heavy heart that I loaded the children into Mammy van for the trip home. I was delighted though to be part of the thousands of people who turned out to wish David well and that he got to see his dream come to fruition in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Breathtaking unfiltered sunset in Enniscrone 

We’d visited Enniscrone before and we most definitely will again especially now that Quirky Glamping Village will be open in the near future. The only decision is where to sleep? Will it be on a train, a plane or in an automobile? One thing I do know for sure is that we’ll be having tea in a colossal teapot! If you're ever hesitant about taking a trip with your little ones, please take my advice and just do it. If I can start up the Mammy van and drive to the coast with five little ones in tow, you best believe you can do it with your little one(s) too.

Did you visit Enniscrone over the weekend? Will you be booking a night in Quirky Glamping Village?

We'll be taking to the road once more this weekend, fancy a trip to Cork with us? Add us on Snapchat HERE & you can do just that!

*That's an AirBnB affiliate link, 
if you sign up & book a trip, you
will get €18 off your hollier & Sue 
& I will get a matching €18 into 
our Travel kitty (you bloody legend) x

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