Hey mum, let's see where the wind takes us

The last time I took the kids on holiday to Ireland, our cottage nearly got blown away, with us inside it. The kids found it quite exciting (they'd just seen The Wizard of Oz), but the gale over the bruised Atlantic had me battening down the hatches in fear of our lives.

I suppose we had been asking for trouble - our cottage was perched on top of a cliff on the country's most westerly point - and it was deepest October. There was no let-up from the wind and rain for the whole week we were there; roofs, trees, sheep, and even my children were blown away on a regular basis, and we all got very wet.

But this hasn't put us off Ireland one little bit.

Luckily, we've been there enough times to know that when the weather actually allows you to venture outside, nowhere in the world can beat it. Despite all that rain, there's something about Ireland that has us all wanting to go back for more. It doesn't take much to set me off; I only need to hear a few notes of diddly-dee music, or the mere hint of an Irish lilt on the telly (yes, even Terry Wogan) and I'm shedding a tear into my Guinness, yearning for the Old Country. And I'm not even Irish.

My boys are just as bad, although at least they have an excuse - they have Irish relatives galore, many of them still living there. It means that I'm for ever trawling around to find new places to stay for our next venture. We've found some great ones, so I've picked out the kids' favourites.

Top of the list comes a restored 18th-century lighthouse, the Wicklow Head, where you can play at being brave, Famous Five-style, without annoying the neighbours. (There aren't any.) It keeps you fit, too, because apparently there are 109 steps to the kitchen.

If that's too tiring, perhaps a 15th-century castle might suit us better. Clomantagh Castle in County Kilkenny is set in the middle of a working farm, so you get to share your garden with the sheep - a dream come true for my younger son. (But why?) Both of these properties belong to the Irish Landmark Trust (00 353 1 670 4733; irishlandmark.com/properties).

As well as hanging around lighthouses and castles, we also quite fancy messing about on a boat or two. It's possible to hire a luxury cruiser for a week and sail up the River Shannon, which even lazy people like me might enjoy, because there are only six locks to operate on the whole river; the rest are operated electronically (0800 096 9438; irishtourism. com/boating).

As for the five-star treatment, we're spoilt for choice. New luxury hotels are springing up as if they're going out of fashion. Last week saw the opening of the brand new Fota Island Golf Resort and Spa (00 352 1467 3000; sheraton.com/ cork), which is great for a family weekend getaway, because it's set in the grounds of Ireland's only wildlife park (fotawildlife.ie). The hotel is offering some good short-break deals over the summer holidays.

So there you have it: this year's Irish wish list.

We're hoping to get over there soon, but until then, I suppose I'll just have to rely on a little diddly-dee music and a dose of Wogan for my fix.

Katy's top tip

Take the Kids: Ireland by Amy Corzine (Cadogan, £12.99) is a good reference point for families with children of all ages, from babies to teenagers, with quizzes and Irish fairytales too.

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