Fair City Aisling O’Neill’s Wicklow: Travelling with her son, hotels and beaches

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What is your favourite place to visit in Ireland?

I really like Union Hall in West Cork. My aunt has a place on the beach there and she is kind enough to sometimes let us come down and visit. I used to take my son down there when he was a baby, he is not a little boy anymore though, he is 13. I also used to go to Rosscarbery, which is very near Union Hall, so I suppose I have a real grá for that area.

What is the best hotel to stay in?

Hunter’s Hotel in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, is gorgeous. I used to go there with my dad [Chris O’Neill] when I was young because I learned horse riding up the road. Dad was an actor and he got a part as a horse thief in The Irish R.M. so he had to be able to ride a horse and they put him up in Hunter’s Hotel. It is an old inn that is hundreds of years old and I think there are only 11 rooms in the place. It is so quaint and there are beautiful gardens out the back. Now I go there a lot with my mum, whenever we are meeting we have our lunch there. Glenmalure Lodge in Co. Wicklow is also a stunning family-run hotel with really nice food and open fires in a lovely atmosphere. My cousin and I often walk around the area as there are great hikes. And a woman has turned a cabin into a sauna down by the river.

Where is your favourite beach?

I am literally a beach queen! I live in Gorey so I am about five or six minutes away from my nearest beach. I go to Ballymoney most days for a little stroll which is great for the soul. The lovely thing about beaches in Wexford is that a lot of them also have wooded areas that slope down into the sand. They have a lovely natural contrast between the woods and the beach that you don’t get in many places. You have the greenery to your back and the ocean in front of you. Kiltennell, Kilmichael, Kilgorman and Cahore are lovely beaches as well.

Is there anywhere around the country that you would never go back to?

I have to be honest, I am a coastal person and I like to be near the sea.

Where is your go-to place to eat?

I love spending time in The Book Café in Gorey. It has a lovely book shop to the back and I often go in for a really wholesome lunch. It is plain and simple but I enjoy it. I enjoy meeting people in the community and the people who run it are very welcoming.



Picture: Miki Barlok/RSVP Magazine

You sound like you love an activity-based staycation, what else do you like to do?

I am mad about horses, I even had my own horse at one point. I have a friend who runs a horse riding school in Ballycanew and she keeps me going. I don’t get to do it as much as I would like to but it is something that has always made me very happy. Horse riding and the sea are the main things I look for.