Family Activities on the Island of Ireland

Family Activities on the Island of Ireland

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Posted Mon 2 Jan 2023 4:32 PM
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Island of Ireland
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Coming to the island of Ireland with (young) children and looking for fun things to do? I found that our green isle had plenty of family-friendly activities and places to visit. This way!

Dublin and Ireland’s Ancient East

For those who love the great outdoors and history, Glendalough in Co. Wicklow ticks all the boxes. Children usually love playing hide and seek in the monastic site or strolling around the twin lakes. In the city, the Dublinia Museum brings you on a journey into the city’s medieval and Viking roots.

Wildlife enthusiasts will love Phoenix Park for its wild deer or a train trip to Howth to say hello to its most famous residents, the seals. For more animals, Dublin zoo, the Irish National Stud in Kildare and Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Wexford are three other great spots.

Finally, indoor aqua parks such as Aquazone (Blanchardstown) or Funtasia (Drogheda) can be the occasion to relax while the kids have some serious fun. Since it’s indoors, you don’t have to worry about the water temperature.

Wild Atlantic Way

The longest coastal route in Ireland is a gigantic playground.  First of all, it has countless beaches for the entire family. Some of my favorites are Coumeenoole in Dingle, Dog’s Bay (Roundstone, Connemara), Keem Beach (Achill Island) and Strandhill (Co. Sligo)

The west coast of Ireland is the place to spot dolphins or embark on Whale Watch Tour. For rainy days, the Flying Boat Maritime museum in Co.Limerick or Galway’s Atlantaquaria (Ireland’s biggest aquarium) can certainly please everybody. Another obvious option is to visit a sheep farm, such as the Killary Sheep Farm

If you didn’t get to learn about Ireland’s Ancient East Vikings, maybe Clew Bay’s Pirates would be a fun stop on your itinerary. Westport House and the Pirate Adventure Park makes is for a fun family day and to learn more about Grace O’Malley, the Queen of Pirates.

The Wild Atlantic Way is also the best place to learn to catch a wave. Two places I’d recommend for surf classes of all levels are Bundoran (Co. Donegal) and Enniscrone Beach (Co. Sligo) Finally, the Wild Atlantic Way has countless campsites, which is a fun and affordable accommodation for the entire family. Most can be found on the Camping Ireland website.

Causeway Coastal Route

To begin with, Titanic Belfast is totally suitable for families with its interactive exhibitions. If you have young adults into the hit series Game of Thrones, look no further: here lies the real-life Westeros, from Winterfell to the Iron Islands. W5 Belfast is a fun and interactive science museum for the entire family.

For some outdoor and water fun, look no further than Hydro: the resort offers summer activities such as kayaking and wakeboarding, an aqua park, and more. In the winter, you’ll find exclusive Christmas activities and a cinema drive-in

Jungle NI is an outdoor adventure centre nestled in the heart of Northern Ireland, along the Sperrins Mountains. Exciting activities (archery, quad bike, paintball), local food accommodation options make it a perfect family getaway!

Further along the coast, the Giant’s Causeway needs no introduction. According to the legend, two giants built a stone path between Ireland and Scotland, which was eventually destroyed to form this geological marvel.

A few more tips of mine

The Family Fun website is a wealth of information for more family-friendly activities. You can filter by events, place, and county.

When it comes to pubs, it’s fine to bring the kids for a meal or to enjoy a trad session, but they will have to leave the premises before 9 pm (or 10 pm in the summertime). While the music usually starts later, more and more pubs have earlier weekend sessions to accommodate families and minors.

For toddlers and newborn babies, hotels and B&B usually don’t charge below the age of 2. The B&B Ireland website even has to option to filter hosts who provide a cot for free.

What are your must-do activities and tips for families on the island of Ireland?

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Posted Fri 27 Jan 2023 8:43 AM
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Here are some other suggestions and tips for visiting the island of Ireland with small children:

Dublin:

One of the most popular places to visit is the Dublin Botanical Gardens. This attraction is a great place to take children for a walk, and it's easy to navigate with a pram. The gardens are filled with beautiful flowers and trees, and there are plenty of areas for children to play and explore.

Another great family-friendly attraction is Dublin Castle. This historic castle offers guided tours for families, and is pram accessible. Visitors can learn about the history of the castle and see the impressive architecture and artifacts on display.

The Little Museum of Dublin is another great option for families with children. This small museum is dedicated to the history of Dublin and is a fun and interactive way to learn about the city's past. The museum is packed with interesting exhibits and artifacts, and is sure to be a hit with children of all ages.

Finally, a unique way to experience the city from a different perspective is to hire a paddle boat for a ride along the Grand Canal. Just head to the Grand Canal Portobello harbour for a lovely way of enjoying the sights and sounds of Dublin from the water. It's a fun activity for children and adults alike, and is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Other destinations:

If you're looking for some family-friendly activities outside of Dublin, there are plenty of options to choose from, depending on where you're located.

Starting in the west, the Cliffs of Moher are a must-see destination for any family. Not only do they offer breathtaking views, but they also have pram-accessible paths, making them a great option for a family walk.

Moving north, Belfast is home to the W5 interactive science and technology centre. This is a great option for families with children who are curious about the world around them, as it has a range of hands-on exhibits and activities. Just outside of Derry~Londonderry, the Wild Ireland Wildlife Park is a great spot for families, especially for kids who love woodland animals such as bears, wolves and lynx. There are different family-friendly activities on site, making it a fun-filled day out for the whole family.

Heading south, the Muckross House and Gardens is a 19th century mansion that is perfect for families. The gardens are pram-accessible and there are children's activities available to keep everyone entertained.

For families with children interested in history, the Titanic Belfast is a must-visit destination. The museum offers a great opportunity to learn about the ship and its tragic history.

The Fermanagh Lakelands are another great option for families looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the island. This area offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking and boating.

If you're in Kilkenny, the National Reptile Zoo is a great option. It offers a chance to see a wide variety of reptiles and learn more about them.

Lastly, Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park is a great place to spend time with children. It includes a variety of activities, as well as a petting zoo, making it a fun-filled day out for the whole family.

Travelling tips:

Clothing: Pack for the weather as it can be a little unpredictable at times. It’s important to pack warm clothing and rain gear for children. 

Getting around: Renting a car can give you more flexibility and freedom to travel around the island, although other options are perfectly possible too. Buses are generally equipped with ramps for wheelchair access and designated spaces for prams, but this can vary depending on the bus company and the specific bus. Train travel is also a great option, with most trains having designated spaces for strollers. Taxis are generally accessible for passengers with strollers and prams, but it's always best to confirm with the driver before getting in the taxi. The DART trains, a great way of exploring Dublin's coastal villages and sights, have designated spaces for strollers, and most stations are accessible with ramps or elevators, Just beware of rush hour as places might be more limited.

Allow for extra time: When travelling with small children, it's important to allow for extra time to get ready and to deal with any unexpected events.

Accommodation: Think of the sort of accommodation that would most suit your needs. Family-friendly accommodation options, such as apartments or hotels with kitchen facilities can prove to be more useful.

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Posted Mon 27 Nov 2023 5:36 PM
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Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, nestled in the heart of County Clare, offers a delightful and family-friendly experience that transports visitors back in time. It's a place where I would have spent many very exciting Sundays as a kid! The atmosphere is unmatched when it comes to intriguing the little ones! 

 Here's an idea of the many activities you can do at this historic site:

1. Explore the Castle: Step into the medieval world as you explore the well-preserved Bunratty Castle. Wander through its impressive rooms, climb spiral staircases, and imagine the tales of knights and nobility that echo within its walls!

2. Immerse Yourself in the Folk Park: Venture into the adjacent Folk Park, a living history museum that recreates a 19th-century Irish village. Stroll through charming streets lined with traditional thatched cottages, a schoolhouse, and a mill, providing a vivid snapshot of rural life from bygone days. A favourite for many of the kids will be the pet farm that you'll find there full of all kinds of interesting animals! 

3. Experience Traditional Crafts: Watch skilled artisans at work, showcasing traditional Irish crafts. From pottery and weaving to woodworking, the demonstrations offer a hands-on and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

4. Children's Playground: The Folk Park features a dedicated children's playground, allowing the younger members of the family to burn off some energy while parents relax amidst the picturesque surroundings

5. Gardens and Wildlife: Explore the beautifully manicured gardens surrounding the castle, and keep an eye out for the resident swans and other wildlife that inhabit the grounds.

6. Pop into Mr. O'Regan's cafe for coffee and a treat! 

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park cater to families by offering a perfect blend of history, interactive exhibits, and entertaining activities. Whether you're delving into medieval times or simply enjoying the picturesque surroundings, the experience at Bunratty Castle is sure to create lasting memories for visitors of all ages.
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Posted Sat 9 Dec 2023 11:45 AM
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The Causeway Coast and Glens region is a great place for family holidays, as there are so many things for children and adults alike to experience together.

Dunluce Castle, perched on a rocky cliff fires the imagination with stories of banshees, ghosts, ancient battles and a half a castle kitchen that fell into the sea during a powerful storm in 1639.  Explore the castle and the sea cave below it that was used by smugglers of old to bring their contraband ashore.

The famed hexagonal stones at the Giant's Causeway are there to be climbed over (under adult supervision).  The "Wishing Chair", a unique natural structure can be found among the stones.  It is there to make everyone's childlike dreams come true - as long as you don't tell anyone one what you wished for of course!

Crossing Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge is not for the faint hearted but is an experience that your children will never forget.  The bridge connects the mainland to a tiny island by a 20 metre long rope-bridge, 30 metres above the sea below.

Rathlin Island is only a 25 minute boat journey from Ballycastle and during late spring and early summer the seabirds, including puffins come to breed on the island.  If you are lucky on the boat trip over, you might see a pod of porpoises.  The Puffin Bus operates on Rathlin, however, if you enjoy walking in unspoilt countryside it is a real treat to explore by foot.

Coasteering is popular among older children and adults who like an adrenalin-charged experience.  You will be led by experienced guides, kitted out in wet suits and helmets and go for an adventure scrambling over rocks, jumping into the sea off rocks of various heights and swimming in the open water.  Surfing and paddle boarding are also very popular and there are various companies that will provide the expertise and equipment should it be needed.

For young children there are the seemingly endless golden beaches, with lifeguards patrolling during the summer season. There are also plenty of outdoor and indoor play parks for the kids to expend some energy!

To find out more about the region please look at our web site: https://www.visitcausewaycoastandglens.com 

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So many suggestions already!

I wanted to chime in with some additional rainy day gems for those exploring the Emerald Isle with the little ones. Because let's face it, Irish weather can be a bit unpredictable, and having a backup plan for those drizzly days is always a good idea!

There are dozens of fantastic soft play areas across the island, with multi-level play structures, slides, ball pits and trampolines, without forgetting the much needed cafe space for the adults. This is a great way of letting the kids get their energy out while finding some time to relax for yourself! Popular choices include Kidspace PlayCentre in Dublin, The Ark Puddenhill in Co. Meath, Turoe Pet Farm in Co. Galway (which also includes some fun outdoor activities), Belfast's Roar and Explore, and Kool Kidz Korner in Cork. 

For something a little different, why not head to the contemporary Art Space of RUA RED in Dublin. Various classes and workshops for all ages are proposed year-round, making for a fun and creative day out. 

Wildlife is always a sure way of entertaining the kiddos, and if the weather's being uncooperative, visiting the island's aquariums can both be an entertaining and educational experience. The Achill Experience - which is Co. Mayo's only aquarium is definitely a must-do in the area and a cute and family-friendly spot. Galway Atlantaquaria - often referred to as Ireland's national aquarium is packed-full of amazing underwater creatures, while Dingle's OceanWorld Aquarium will definitely be a family favourite with its kids touch pool! And finally, the Exploris Aquarium in Northern Ireland will steal your heart with its wonderful Seal Sanctuary! 

And to properly escape the drizzle, you can always head underground with a visit deep down into the Marble Arch Caves in County Fermanagh. As one of Europe’s most impressive cave systems, these were formed over 330 million years ago and reach more than 11km in length! 

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Some fantastic suggestions here already. I want to zoom in on County Clare, which is the perfect base for families as there is so much to see and do. Here are some ideas:

Cliffs of Moher Cruise:
No visit to County Clare is complete without seeing the Cliffs of Moher but how about gazing up instead of down to view them from a whole new perspective from sea-level! Children will love sailing past the Harry Potter Cave and the giant sea stack and hearing the cries of thousands of nesting seabirds including everyone’s favourite – the puffin! The entertaining onboard commentary provides lots of interesting facts such as how the Cliffs were formed, where Hags Head got its name and why some seabirds’ eggs are shaped a certain way! 

Aran Islands Adventure:
A short 15-minute ferry ride from Doolin will transport you to Inis Oírr, the smallest and most enchanting of the three islands. Children will love exploring the ancient ruins of O’Brien’s Castle and the iconic lighthouse while the legendary Plassey shipwreck will ignite their imaginations and create lasting memories! A playground, astro turf and beautiful sandy beach offer more opportunities to relax and have fun. Sailings daily from Doolin pier to all 3 of the Aran Islands.

Doolin Cave:
Delve deep underground and discover the wonder of Doolin Cave, home to the largest stalactite in Europe. The guided 1.5 hour tour will bring you up close to the Great Stalactite - formed from ONE continuous drop of water hundreds of thousands of years ago, and the only ONE of its kind in Ireland! 

Aillwee Burren Experience:
Enjoy captivating flying display at Aillwee Birds of Prey Centre where you will get to witness some of Ireland’s and the world’s top predators including eagles, owls, vultures and hawks. Explore the underground with a guided cave tour or embark on a self-guided biodiversity walk through an eight-acre native tree woodland. 

Discover Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Take a captivating journey back in time at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Wander through the fully furnished castle rooms and imagine what life was like in medieval times. Outside, explore the charming Folk Park, featuring traditional thatched cottages, a recreated 19th-century village, and farm animals. Children can participate in interactive activities, like learning traditional crafts or trying their hand at archery, making it an enjoyable and educational day out for all. 

Caherconnell Stone Fort & Sheepdog Demonstrations
For a unique day out, experience the wonders of Caherconnell featuring Clare’s only sheepdog demonstration and a wonderous fort dating back to 10th century. There is also a craft shop on site as well as a lovely café serving delicious food.  

The Flying Alpaca:
Jump into the fields and meet the fluffy alpacas in Loop Head! Feed and cuddle them while the team answer all your questions about the alpacas and tell you some curious facts about these weird and wonderful animals. Book an Alpaca Walk if you want to enjoy a fun time with them, or the Full Alpaca Experience where you will learn everything about them, and their wool, and the beautiful crafted products made from their fleece and yarns. Open all year long, pre-booking is essential. 

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Another fun thing to do - not only on rainy days - is the "Taste the Atlantic - Salmon Experience" at the Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. It's suitable for all ages from school age onward. 

The interactive indoor visitor experience is self-guided. You will be greeted with a shadow play telling the story of the Salmon of Knowledge - very enjoyable not only for smallies! The displays take you through a section with authentic newsreels from decades ago telling the story of salmon fishery and the challenges they encountered. It goes on to show how responsible and environmentally friendly aquaculture is really making a contribution to preserving the Irish wild salmon stocks. You also get to learn about how they smoke their salmon, and of course you'll get a tasting of it.

In their visitor centre and shop next door, you can browse all of their different smoked salmon marinades. They cold and hot smoke their salmon which is coming from the Irish west coast only, and it is entirely organically farmed. The different marinades are all beautiful, but I recommend especially the hot smoked salmon with honey, lemon and dill. Just amazing. 

Another thing to do is to visit the Aran Islands which are a different world to the mainland. Especially Inis Oírr (Inisheer) is suitable for a day-trip, but I really recommend to stay overnight. There is many ways you can immerse yourself in the traditional ways and culture of the island, have a look here and choose between dry stone wall building, music and Aran sweater experience.
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I saw that Dingle Aquarium was mentioned, but I feel compelled to add some alternatives to the aquarium (or additions for a sea themed day out!)

Wave Dingle

On the way into Dingle town you can find Dingle's former fish factory, where Wave is now located: an immersive underwater experience of the Wild Atlantic Way. You walk through the former halls of the fish factory, and learn a bit about the history of the factory, before entering the spacious halls where the huge screens on the walls show you underwater life.

There is also the option to do Dingle Sea Safari - you go from Dingle Bay around the peninsula, and if you are lucky you can spot dolphins, seals, and even basking sharks!



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