Trabolgan Holiday Village, Whitegate, Midleton, Co. Cork
Midleton in Cork to Patrick and I before our little ones arrived spurred thoughts of the Distillery, and some fine dining restaurants. A place we had visited en route home from staycations in Cork City. Midleton in Cork to Patrick and I as parents, still spurs the aforementioned thoughts (and possible dreams) – now brings a new thought and that is of the family fun-filled staycation we enjoyed at the award-winning Trabolgan Holiday Village.
When the opportunity arose to stay at Trabolgan Holiday Village for a weekend last month, we couldn’t pass it up. As a family we’ve stayed in four and five-star hotels and apart-hotels both at home and abroad but we hadn’t experienced a Holiday Village dedicated to families. And with an unquenchable grá for Cork in its entirety we couldn’t pass the opportunity to explore what East Cork had to offer.
The following is our experience and included lots of photo’s – be sure to click to zoom the smaller images – and I’ve included some tips I’m sure will be of use when you decide to visit.
Where We Stayed
Trabolgan Holiday Village has a range of holiday accommodation to suit every size of family and budget, from apartments to cottages and houses. Each style of home is named after a species of tree from Alpine to Noble Fir. We stayed in one of the Sycamore Houses – a three bedroom, two storey house with a conservatory.
The entrance and hallway that led to two twin rooms, a downstairs bathroom and the kitchen and living room was spacious and bright – perfect for unloading the pram, suitcases and provisions for the weekend ahead. And ideal if your little ones bring their bikes or trikes along for the ride.
Did you know that Trabolgan have their very own TeamStars? Florrie the Fox, Bonnie the Bunny, Wez the Weasel and Billy the Badger made appearances throughout our stay but the first appearances were made in our living room – you can see who Cassidy fell for.
Florrie the Fox, Bonnie the Bunny and Cassidy
Once we were acquainted with the teddy TeamStars it was time to explore the house. We didn’t make use of the twin bedrooms downstairs for sleeping as we felt our little ones were a little too young, so instead we used one of the rooms as a dressing room, which was really handy, and both our boys slept comfortably in travel cots, which were provided, in the master bedroom upstairs with us – which also had a bathroom next door.
The Living Room and a Bedroom
The kitchen had everything you’d expect a kitchen to have to make life a little easier when staying in a self-catering house – a cooker, fridge, microwave, dishwasher and washing machine. All the dishes were supplied and there was a convenience store on site to help stock the cupboards. The bright conservatory acted as a dining room and with the additional high chair we booked, it made for a happy place for snack times throughout our stay.
Kitchen, Upstairs Bathroom with half bath, Conservatory Dining Area
I’m happy to add; that a safety gate was added to the stairs in our house, that each day of our stay apart from the day we checked out – a member of staff called to our house to check if we needed anything, and that there were recycling bins provided for each household.
Where We Dined
There were a number of places to dine under the newly built Plaza roof – Sally O’Hara’s Family Restaurant, Big Al’s Fast Food Restaurant, Costa Coffee and Waves Ice-Cream Parlour.
As we were staying Half-Board, we enjoyed breakfast both in Big Al’s with coffee from Costa, and in Sally O’Hara’s for a special Peppa and George Meet & Greet (more on that later). Dinner was enjoyed at Sally O’Hara’s where we were warmly greeted by the Team Leader each evening of our stay. The staff were great throughout the dining establishments – friendly, polite and very family focused. The food was tasty, there was a good selection to choose from and the portion sizes were generous as you can see for yourself.
Beef Tomato, Beetroot & Goats Cheese Stack and Eton Mess
What We Did Indoors
There were plenty of indoor activities to keep our little ones active and amused – from bowling and games to car rides and the Safari Jungle Gym. We also spent time in Paradise Pool where they have a separate toddler pool for the littlest of water lovers, although Smith wasn’t happy until he experienced the ‘big pool’.
There were ‘meet and greets’ with Peppa and George and the TeamStars – both paid for and free options are available. Ben Elf also makes an appearance but he was off on an adventure of his own with Princess Holly in the Little Kingdom when we were there.
Funnily enough Cassidy was more interested than Smith in meeting and greeting – even though he hasn’t watched a program yet! – you learn something new about your children every day.
Bonnie the Bunny Meet & Greet
And on that note, apart from the toy car rides, and the pool, it was ALL about the outdoors and owls for Smith. Which to me is just the perfect way to be.
What We Did Outdoors
There are lots of outdoor activities to be enjoyed at Trabolgan Holiday Village from go-karting to golf, archery to abseiling, zip wires to Water Walkerz, as well as football, tennis and crazy golf.
Crazy Golf, Football, The Tower and Go-Karting
And even though children do need to be six or over to enjoy most of these (Cassidy was 13 months old and Smith had recently turned three years old when we visited), we still filled each day with something new for Cassidy and Smith to enjoy, and Smith still talks about Trabolgan like it’s some far away magical place that we need to return to soon – how nice it is to say to him that it’s only a drive away.
The Bungee Trampolines were a huge hit with Smith as you can tell from his face. Fearlessly, he soon got the knack of it and we now know for sure that we have a little thrill seeker on our hands – and we know where he gets it from, so we’re proud.
At the Playground and in the Park
The playground was a big hit with its ladders, slides, climbing walls, rope bridges and lookouts. A walk along the river to the fairy houses and picnic area provided plenty of fresh air and a refreshing nature walk.
By the Fairy Houses and the River
So too did our walk to take in the sea breeze – to the place where Trabolgan gets its name from; Tra meaning strand or beach and Bolgan meaning bulging or big wave. Unfortunately we didn’t make it up to the top of the golfing green or to the 14th tee – where the remains of a Ring Fort can be found – it’s said that there’s a possibility Trabolgan was actually a ‘holiday centre’ for the Ancient Irish long before it was a monastery or a grand estate – if like me you love history you can read about the Trabolgan Holiday Village here.
We did however make it to the Birds of Prey Educational Centre, where we purchased our tickets and were amazed at Smith’s confident ‘YES’ when we asked him if he’d like to get up close to a gorgeous little owl called Lucy – the same child who shied away from Peppa and George remember! Gotta love our little Eco-Warrior.
The Birds of Prey Education Centre, the owls and shop
The centre was full of information and had a shop with lots of souvenirs but the stars and by all means the main attractions were the beautiful owls who were perched wide-eyed with wonder or sleepy-eyed and snoozing.
Smith getting ready for his close up with Lucy the Little Owl
And although Oscar the Eagle was ready and waiting to have his photo taken, it was Little Owl Lucy who fit perfectly on our little boys arm. I think it was love at first sight. Some lovely photo’s purchased as keepsakes along with a teddy version of Lucy the Little Owl for Smith and Whisper the Barn Owl for Cassidy made our Trabolgan stay complete.
Where We Explored in East Cork
Taking into consideration we only arrived at Trabolgan Holiday Village on a Friday afternoon and checked out on a Sunday morning, I think we did quite a bit of exploring – but there is so much more to do – so we’ll just have to return, and for longer!
White Bay Beach – four minutes away
White Bay Beach, which is only a stones throw from Trabolgan Holiday Village is a small secluded beach with views of Roches Point in the distance. There’s a car park, and a long pathway that teases you with glimpses of the coastline as it takes you down to the sandy beach below. A gorgeous spot for a picnic and a dip in the sea.
Roches Point – six minutes away
Known for its lighthouse, Roches Point was only minutes away from Trabolgan Holiday Village. It offered us benches to sit on as we gazed out to sea, a friendly looking dog sunbathing, who also appeared to be guarding the colourful houses leading up to the lighthouse, so we just let him get on with it, and some friendly cows in the fields leading back to our vacation home.
Gyleen – eight minutes away
Again only minutes away from Trabolgan we came across Gyleen a picturesque seaside village. The houses were pretty and appeared to be built at different levels with their gardens raised and overflowing with greenness.
Inch Beach – 15 mins away
Known as a film location, home to a Surf School and a very pretty looking beach that was evidently popular with those who liked to get out into the fresh air and walk, rain hail or snow – we unfortunately didn’t get to see the beach in all its glory as the weather began to turn. So we’ll just have to return for bluer skies. I don’t think the grass could get any greener though – and I can imagine that the view is always glorious from the windows of the houses that are scattered around this countryside as they look out onto the beach and the sea.
Ballycotton – 30 minutes away
A place we plan to return to, Ballycotton was a short drive from Trabolgan Holiday Village and it offered us a pier with a great view of the village, the lighthouse and Ballycotton Island. It also treated Patrick and me to a delicious bag of salty chips from a little diner that looked out to the sea. But there are lots more reasons to return and explore in and around this village – the beaches, the cliff walk, and the local Cookery School to name but a few.
We really enjoyed our stay at Trabolgan Holiday Village. It was perfect for us because as a family we love getting out, doing new things and seeing new places. It was a great base to explore East Cork, because it was also perfectly fun-filled for our little ones – so basically it was the best of both. On the sunnier days/sunnier times of day – we got out and about doing outdoor activities and visiting local beaches and villages. On the overcast and rainy days/parts of the day we visited the pool, played indoors, visited the birds of prey or went for a drive to see the scenery.
- House Keys aren’t available until after 4pm – but you can use the facilities. My advice is to pack swimwear and towels at the top of your suitcases for easy access and make use of the pool and the other facilities until your accommodation is ready.
- Check in advance which events need to be booked in advance.
- If you plan on visiting the Birds of Prey Education Centre then do so at the beginning of your stay and purchase the gold wrist bands when you do – that way you’ll have unlimited access and can visit as many times as you like.
- Bring a Keep-cup if you are purchasing coffee from Costa or if your breakfast is included because paper cups are used – and every little helps. The same goes for your children’s drinks.
- If you are hiring a cot, remember to bring the linen.
- You should bring your own towels but don’t worry if you forget them because they are available for hire.
- Bring a handful of washing tablets for the dishwasher and if you are staying longer than a weekend, detergent for clothes too.
- Explore local beaches, villages and the countryside.
Thank you to all at Trabolgan Holiday Village for organising our weekend stay and looking after us throughout – we look forward to seeing you again.