Great escape packed with activities in Connemara, Co Galway

Esther N McCarthy relives her youth with a weekend in the Delphi Adventure Resort centre, this time with the family in tow.

IT’S 1993, the bus from Cork unloads teenage me amidst an unruly transition year group into the heart of Connemara. It was a weekend of bunking in the hostel, flirting with the surf instructors, kayaking along the Kilary fjord and looking for something called fauna in The Burren to cover the geography aspect of the trip. Best weekend ever.

2014 (stop doing the maths, I’m old, ok) and I’m returning, married, 2 kids, pregnant. I’m not the only one who’s changed.

The rough and ready hostel vibe I remembered from my innocent(ish) youth has been rebranded as Delphi Adventure Resort centre, with a spa and a conference centre, a 4-star hotel as well as retaining the dorms I stayed in back in the day, now called the Wild Atlantic Hostel.

They have a YouTube video, the first of five, called ‘Be Part of the Adventure’ that showcases couples, families and groups doing everything from mudfighting in the bog challenge, to solitary climbing, and cycling through countryside to kayaking, with songs by the campfire at dusk. (See  and ).

First impressions

It’s worth going there for the drive through the Delphi valley alone: even in dismal weather like we had, there’s something magical and Lord of the Rings-ish about the spectacular setting. And if you do feel you need some bright lights Westport is only 30 minute drive away.

Once we arrived, though, there was no way we wanted to go anywhere.

We arrived in to a warm and welcoming reception, shaking off the clinging mist.

It is to the credit of the professional on reception that when darling son number 2 greeted her with “Hello, poopy head” she refrained from launching over the desk and throttling the precocious little so-and-so. Instead she smiled benignly and checked us into our rather awesome suite.


This was a brilliant space, a split-level suite, with a balcony, a fine-sized living room, huge bedroom for us and a twin room upstairs for the two boyos. Features like a fireplace, a well-stocked book shelf, tea and coffee facilities, an iPod dock all really made it feel like a welcoming relaxing home from home. Only cleaner. Décor was contemporary, cool, oatmeal tones, comfortable, fresh. It was one of the best family suites we ever stayed in. Even better, the wifi didn’t work, which actually made us all switch off and relax even more. It was genuinely a treat not to be checking emails or Facebook statuses.... or YouTube videos about Stampy Longnose and bloody Minecraft.


There is a restaurant there, the Wild Atlantic, but we are realistic folk and with the young fellas we opted to eat at the bar both evenings. Relaxed atmosphere, great food, reasonable prices and really nice staff made both outings a pleasure. The Claire Island Iced Tea may have helped husband relax even more.

They had a kids’ movie on both evenings, in a large room off the main restaurant, which the boysloved. The Lion King was the first offering. They’d never seen it and it kept them enthralled and singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ for the rest of the weekend. The Goonies on evening two scared the bejaysus out of them so we hightailed it about half way through.

Breakfast was easy and tasty, with nice touches like cinnamon in the porridge and fancy poached eggs.


The not-pregnant boys made the most of all the activities on this private 300 acre site at the adventure centre with Mark, George and the crew.

The three of them loved the indoor rock climbing, the two smallies spent an afternoon in the kids’ club with Mick and the big fella went mountain biking, chanced the Zip N’ Trek course and managed to fit in a run through the valley too. We were due to go canoeing but the weather had other plans.

I did my bit by retiring to the Thermal Suite in the spa and spending some quality time with masseuse Barbara and the fabulous honey dew massage.

It’s an impressive spa with seaweed baths, a huge range of treatments and all surrounded by stunning mountain views.


There’s a range of offers at the moment, see ; 095 42208. One of the offers there is the Weekend escape package, 20% off, from €78 per night, breakfast and access to the thermal suite.


Steak night just got zingy.How to make Antoni Porowski’s hanger steak with charred limes, fresh chillies and herbs

Seasonal affective disorder is a lot more complex than just mourning the end of summer and being a bit glum. Liz Connor finds out more.Could your winter blues be something more serious? What to do if you’re worried about SAD

Ideal for a quick mid-week meal, eaten in front of Netflix, of course.How to make Antoni Porowski’s cauliflower steaks with turmeric and crunchy almonds

Lacemakers in Limerick want to preserve their unique craft for future generations and hope to gain UNESCO heritage status, writes Ellie O’Byrne.Made in Munster: Lace-making a labour of love rather than laborious industry

More From The Irish Examiner