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Ireland, just a few miles west of the UK, makes a fantastic destination for family holidays. Its proximity means it is generally quite cheap to get there (plenty of low-cost airlines run between the UK and Ireland, and there are also ferry routes for seafarers), it is a largely English-speaking country, and the countryside is just unbelievably beautiful. Whether you're going for a rural retreat out in the countryside, or a city break in Dublin, Cork or Limerick, self-catering accommodation is a must for a successful low cost holiday in Ireland, and luckily there is a huge variety of holiday cottages and rental apartments available at very tempting prices. When planning your visit to the Emerald Isle, you have a completely free choice between exploring the great outdoors and marvellous villages of Ireland, or living it up sampling Dublin's nightlife and entertainment as a world-class capital city.
Ireland has a huge array of places to go and things to see, with just about any activity that you can think of available somewhere on the island. Essential sights include Antrim's famous Giant's Causeway (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Dublin Castle, the Aran Islands off Galway, and the beautiful heathlands of Connemara with the Twelve Bens mountains. Ireland is incredibly diverse, with mountain ranges, forests, heathlands and coastal regions all well worth a visit even if you are only in the country for a short time. And then in the cities, and in particular Dublin, you have the parks and the shopping and the restaurants and the nocturnal entertainment. Dublin's Phoenix Park is well worth a visit in particular, as well as the park itself, you can also visit Dublin Zoo while you're there, and if your timing is good you might catch an open-air concert by a band on the scale of Coldplay or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Older members of the family might also enjoy a tour of the St James's Gate Brewery, where Guinness has been brewed since the eighteenth Century. If you've read James Joyce, you can also try and do a Ulysses tour of some areas of the city!
You don't necessarily need to choose between a rural break and a city stay for your family holiday in Ireland, of course. It's perfectly possible to rent a low cost cottage out in the country for a week, and then travel into the towns for day trips. A cottage is a particularly good money saving option, with many properties suitable for a family of four or five available for £500 a week or less - depending on the location and features. City apartments are a little more expensive, but if you feel you'll be based in a town more than exploring the countryside, it does make sense. Either way, you'll have a private and flexible base from which you can explore the Emerald Isle and get to know the Irish people - it's all very different to Father Ted and O'Neills pubs!