Family Breaks Clare
Clare is a county that has been ingrained in my brain as a place of fun, sea, sand and holidays as we were brought to this beautiful county time and time again as a child. I still love to make a trip here when I can as I always feel the minute you go over the border cars slow down and the relaxed way of life embraces you.
When we think “Family Breaks Clare“, the first thing that usually comes to mind is surfing in Lahinch, Aillwee Caves and The Cliffs of Mohar but if that was not enough there is so much more in this county such as:
- Irish Seaweed Safari – The Irish Seaweed Safari is an experience not to be missed! Join the 4th generation Seaweed Foragers and enjoy the spectacular shore walk from the rugged coastline of Caherush meandering along the shoreline enjoying nostalgic views looking out on Spanish Point Bay along with the spectacular Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.
- Trip to Aran Islands -Sail to the Aran Islands or Cruise under the Cliffs of Moher ! Daily sailings to the Aran Islands from Doolin. Visit the spectacular Dún Aengus fort on Inis Mor, get away from it all on Inis Meain or take a quick trip to the smallest one – the beautiful island of Inis Oirr. Or take a Cruise under the Cliffs of Moher. Admire the scale and majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher on a 1 hour voyage of discovery.
- Bunratty Castle – Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is a must on your itinerary to Ireland. This is your chance to experience a window on Ireland’s past and explore the acclaimed 15th century Bunratty Castle and the 19th century Bunratty Folk Park.
- Explore the Burren – The Burren National Park is located in the southeastern corner of the Burren and is approximately 1500 hectares in size. The Park land was bought by the Government for nature conservation and public access. It contains examples of all the major habitats within the Burren: Limestone Pavement, Calcareous grassland, Hazel scrub, Ash/hazel woodland, Turloughs, Lakes, Petrifying springs, cliffs and Fen
- Cliff Coastal Walk – Beyond the grounds of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience you can now explore a new 20km coastal walking trail in Clare which will bring you along one of the most outstanding landscapes of Ireland. From LIscannor and Hags Head in the south, along by the majestic Cliffs of Moher and to Doolin in the North, with views over Aill Na Searrach, the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. The trail follows the line of the cliffs and passes through the grounds of the visitor centre. The trail starts on road from Liscannor where you will witness theamazing views of the Cliffs, the famous Aran Islands, Kerry mountains, Galway Bay, O’Briens Tower and the thousands of seabirds make the Cliffs a magical place. Talking telescopes are dotted along the paths as you go.
- Caving – Doolin Cave is home to the Great Stalactite. At 7.3 metres (23feet) it is the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. The Great Stalactite, suspended from the ceiling like a chandelier, is truly astounding. Visitors can hardly believe that it was formed from a single drop of water over thousands of years. Extend the adventure from underground to over ground following a charming Farmland Nature Trail that takes a looped walk around the cave setting.
- Dolphin Watching – On the western seaboard of Ireland there are places where the distinction between land and sea is blurred. The west Clare peninsula in County Clare, guarding the northern shore of the Shannon estuary is one such place. The Shannon estuary is home to Ireland’s only resident group of bottlenose dolphins. Over 100 dolphins have been identified using the estuary at different times; calves are born each year and are usually encountered.
- Rock Climbing – The Burren climbing area is beautiful, with amazing cliffs and spectacular views and climbing instruction for all levels. With a large number of indoor climbing walls developing around the country, there is an increasing interest in trying it out on the real thing.
I think we all know Clare can boost of her nature credentials and stunning beauty but it is also a place rich in culture as around every corner there is a trad festival or trad music nights to enjoy. It is a place where you can bring children to enjoy these fabulous sounds and events often with live music during the day. While my children don’t normally see the inside of a pub from one end of the year to the next I love to bring them in to see a session and Clare is the perfect spot to do so. Some of the great pubs renowned for their sessions would be:
- Gus O’Connors Pub, Doolin
- The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna
- Brogan’s Bar, Ennis
- Vaaughan’s Pub, Kilfernora
The most famous Trad festival in Clare has to be Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy taking place every year on the first year of July. It is a week-long summer school of Irish traditional music, song and dance, incorporating tuition, lectures, recitals, concerts and céilithe. Thousands decend on the small town of Milltown Malbay every year and it is a mecca of traditional players from across the globe.
The long, mild afternoons at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy are devoted to lectures on the various aspects of Irish traditional music heritage and its connections with mainland Europe and North America. There are recitals each evening showcasing the instruments taught at the school, performances in traditional song and dance, and céilithe nightly. The serious work of tuition is complemented by the festival atmosphere in hotels, pubs and on the streets, as students, locals and visitors celebrate Irish traditional music. It’s simply perfect for lovers of music, history, and the craic agus ceol. If you enjoy trad music and are looking for something different look not further than this as one of the top family breaks Clare.
When looking for places to stay you will have plenty of choice for the family in the following hotels never mind all the camp sites available:
So when you are thinking about your next break away there is something for everyone in Clare and that’s I would consider family breaks Clare to one of the best.
Top Ten Hotels with Large Family Rooms in Ireland
Top Ten Hotels with Large Family Rooms in Ireland
Time and time again parents are asking us what hotels can cater for large families and when I say cater they don’t mean how many can be squeezed into a family room but rather have the space for a large family to enjoy their family break comfortably. Here are my top ten hotels with large family rooms in Ireland:
- Breaffy House Resort – Castlebar, Co. Mayo – At the Woods there’s a pool, an outdoor playground, astro pitch for footie, an indoor games room and a breakfast train which picks kids up from your room to meet up with other buddies in the kids’ clubs, so Mum and Dad can lie on. If you fancy going off-campus, pack up your giant minivan and decamp to the Museum of Country Life just up the road. It’s perfect for larger families, not just because of the contents but because it’s free – admission tickets add up fast when there’s half a dozen of you. While their family rooms consist of 1 double bed & 4 single beds, accommodating up to 2 adults and 4 children they also offer family suites consisting of 2 bedrooms, with 2 bathrooms. Room 1 consist of 1 double bed & 1 single bed, Room 2 consists of 1 double bed & 1 single bed. Internal door connecting both rooms, accommodating up to 2 adults and 4 children. Click here for their family offers!
- Maritime Hotel – Bantry, Co. Cork – One and Two Bedroom Family Suites offer all the comforts of home, but with the luxury of a hotel stay in West Cork. Most importantly, the suites are spacious, making them ideal hotel accommodation for all families – and perfect for extended stays. One bedroom suites sleep up to 2 adults and 2 children and consist of one double bedroom and a separate living area with the option to pull-out the double sofa bed for up to 2 children under 12. Two bedroom suites sleep up to 2 adults and 4 children and consist of one double bedroom, one double or twin bedroom and a separate living area with the option to pull-out the double sofa bed for up to 2 children under 12. As you would expect of a luxury West Cork hotel 24-hour room service compliments the many in-room features which include Kitchenette with Refrigerator, Microwave, Sink and Toaster. For family offers click here!
- Castle Durrow Hotel – Durrow, Co. Laois – Stately old houses are often synonymous with pokey rooms. Not so Castle Durrow in Co Laois. This elegant hotel has a variety of family options, including family suites with a king-sized and a single bed in one room and a set of bunks with a single, plus space for a cot, in another. One of Ireland’s most luxurious Country House Hotels located one hour from Dublin, adjoining the quaint village of Durrow,Co Laois. Click here for more info!
- Osprey Hotel– Naas, Co. Kildare – A family duplex room (split level) consists of a king size double bed downstairs with a single bed in a large spacious room with plenty space for a cot. Upstairs (entry level) there is a large fold out sofa bed with a balcony that overs downstairs. Click here to see more!
- Amber Springs Hotel – Co. Wexford – With 30 Specially designed family rooms and and 2 Executive family Suites (which benefit from having 1 double and 2 single beds), the Amber Springs Hotel & Health Spa is minutes away from miles of sandy beaches and within walking distance from the bustling traditional trading town of Gorey. Family Suites consist of a double bed & 2 single beds with an option to include an extra cot or camp bed for the larger family. Executive Family Rooms offer a double bed & 2 single beds with again the option to include a camp bed or cot, spacious seating area, Jacuzzi bath and walk in shower. They also have coolers and bed rails available on request. For more info click here!
Killashee House Hotel – Naas, Co. Kildare – Killashee has many children’s activities for families with a kids camp, movie nights, children’s high tea, fairy forest walks, family swim in the Killashee Leisure centre from 3pm-4pm, children’s pool & outdoor playground with zipline. The family rooms are extra spacious to give everyone plenty of room to relax. Each room boasts two generous double beds and a cosy single bed.
- Galway Bay Hotel– Salthill, Galway – With spacious and comfortable family rooms, 2 bedroom family suites large enough for 5 people and interconnecting rooms large enough for 8 people, at Galway Bay Hotel you’ll find space to really relax and enjoy yourselves. At the Galway Bay Hotel, you’re set for a fab family holiday with a fun-filled kids club to entertain whatever the weather, a pool for a splashing time inside, and Salthill beach for the same outside. Everything from the Galway Aquarium to Leisureland to watersports is right on your doorstep.To find out more click here!
- Westport Woods Hotel – Westport, Co. Mayo – Situated on part of the Westport House demesne, Westport Woods Hotel is proud to be Ireland’s greenest hotel. For families with two children or more they have a limited number of larger rooms which provide a more spacious environment. These rooms have a double & single bed with a pull out sofa bed or an extra single bed. Their triple rooms consist of either three single beds or a double and two single beds. For their family offers click here!
- The Clayton Hotel Sligo– For roominess, the Clayton Hotel in Sligo is hard to beat, with enough space in its family rooms to sleep a family of sic in comfort (if not more) – plus the additional luxury of a sitting area and kitchenette with microwave and fridge, so you can save a little money and eat in. Their Large Two Bedroom Family Suites consist of a king size bed & single bed in one room with open plan second rooms containing 2 single beds and kitchenette facilities including tea/coffee making facilities and a refrigerator. Check out their family offers here!
Delphi Resort– Connemara, Co. Galway – Enjoy short family breaks in Connemara County Galway at Ireland’s Leading Adventure & Spa Resort in a standard family room. Perfect for 2 adults and 2 children, the family rooms have 1 full-size double bed, and a set of bunk beds for the children (up to 1 more bed can be added for families with up to 4 children). They also have exceptionally large 2-bedroom suite with 2 king-size beds (or twins), this stunning space is great for families (2 adults and up to 4 children). This split level suite has 2 large en suite bedrooms, one upstairs and one downstairs. Check out their latest family packages by clicking here!
So what are you waiting for? Take some time out from the usual hustle and bustle of school, homework, activities, matches on the weekend and escape away to one our top ten hotels with large family rooms in Ireland. It is only when you are away and all staying in one space that you truly spend quality down time together.
Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas
Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas
When looking for inspiration for Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas you simply make clues about ordinary indoor objects. Since your home may have more than one of some of these objects, the kids may have to check out more than one location before they find the next clue. That makes the game last longer, gives them more exercise and adds to the fun. We have prepared some ready made clues for you or use as inspiration to create your own.
- I have four legs, but I don’t have feet.
I come in handy when it’s time to eat. – Kitchen or dining table
- My job is to put an end to sleep,
Which I do with music, a buzz or a beep. – Alarm clock
- For fast heating or cooking, I am tops.
And, oh, that good smell when my popcorn pops! – Microwave
- Flour and sugar and coffee and tea,
I keep these handy but hard to see. – Kitchen canisters
- I can take you to places you’ve never seen,
But first type your password in on my screen. – Computer
- I’m loaded and unloaded, but I’m not a truck.
Having a helper like me is a great piece of luck. – Dishwasher
- I rain on you when you need a scrub.
I’m very much like my friend the tub. – Shower
- I make it possible to have fresh food.
Everyone agrees, I’m one cool dude. – Fridge
- Watching your favorites is lots of fun.
But don’t watch too much! Kids need to run. – TV
- I never get angry but I do get hot.
I’m the perfect place for a pan or a pot. – Cooker
- It’s my job to give all your clothes a tumble,
Which I do while making a bit of a rumble. – Tumble Dryer
- I have a handle and also a lock.
Visitors and delivery men may give me a knock. – Front Door
- I’m one part chair and one part bed.
Up with your feet and down with your head. – Recliner
- I take your clothes for quite a spin.
But first they get wet. That’s how I begin. – Washing Machine
- I’m filled with feathers or other soft fluff.
To sleep without me can be quite tough. – Pillow
- Turn me on and I’ll give you a light.
I’m used some in the daytime but mostly at night. – Light Switch
- A story, they say, can take you away,
But a book still needs a place to stay. – Book Shelf
- I have drawers and also a nice flat top.
For homework I’m helpful — Keep working. Don’t stop! – Desk
- I’m hungry! I’m hungry! Please feed me a slice.
I’ll spit it back out all brown and nice. – Toaster
- I’m not a selfie, but I do show faces.
Find me in bathrooms and a few other places. – Mirror
- Adults like it when they first wake
And at other times when they need a break. – kettle/Coffee Machine
- Most every day, you step on me.
All I require is a bend of your knee. – Stairs
- I’m paper, but I’m not used for writing a letter.
The spot by your potty suits me much better! – Toilet Paper
- I have hands but no arms and also a face.
And my hands always move at the same steady pace. – Clock
- The more I dry, the wetter I get.
A little one can be used for soaking up sweat. – Towel
- I’m never wicked, but I do have a wick.
I come in all sizes, from skinny to thick. – Candle
Make one set of clues for every player, each clue leading to the next one and, finally, to the treasure. Seal them in envelopes marked with a clue number (i.e., 2/7, or “two of seven”); this will help the treasure hunters keep track. Whoever solves the clues first and finds the treasure is the winner. You don’t have to go mad with a prize, simply an IOU for a movie(another of the rainy day activities for kids), maybe a cache of coins (regular or chocolate) or my favourite, no chores today/free pass for dishwasher duties are all cause for more fun in your home. You could also have your kids play as a team to solve the clues—and uncover the treasure—together. This works better when you have younger ones or if they have been fighting earlier…..
Indoor Treasure Hunt Ideas for Younger Kids
If you kids are too young to read you can create another type of treasure hunt by taking pictures of odd nooks and crannies or objects as above in your home. Print out the pictures and place them as you would any other clues.
Camping in Waterford
Clonea in Co. Waterford is home to one of the many fantastic blue flag beaches of the sunny south East with brilliant watersport activities available all summer and if that’s not enough it recently became a gateway to the Deise Greenway. Casey’s Caravan & Camping Park has always been know as a very well run family park overlooking the beach so we made it our mission to check it out this Summer and see why Camping in Waterford is so popular!
There was plenty to do onsite for the kids with a games room, toddler play area (spotlessly clean), outdoor toddler play area, crazy golf, daily kids club, large and well equipped playground and plenty of other children to have fun with. However, our kids only visited the games room and kids club once as they were having too much fun selling their homemade crafts, baking and anything else they could get their hands on at the Marrakech style market stalls outside the playground. This seems to be a yearly phenomenon synonymous with Casey’s Caravan & Camping Park and a cause for great excitement among the younger folk. Many children arrive with their crafts ready to set up their stall before the tent is even unpacked and I loved the spirit of entrepreneurship as well as the maths lesson it gave them!
Camping in Waterford
Now the one thing I noticed since I last visited Dungarvan and Clonea was that every second person seems to be walking with a bike or cycling one and that is a result of the completion of The Deise Greenway. There is a 4 Km route that will take you into the bustling town of Dungarvan and a brilliant playground or why not head the other way towards Waterford. The Greenway offers fantastic little distractions as you enjoy the picturesque countryside namely a little playground, bridges, tunnels and road crossings!! Most days we went for a cycle if we could drag everyone away from the park. Bikes are allowed onsite also so from early morning the kids were outdoors and cycling which seems to be the second favourite thing to do on site, second only to the wheeling and dealing!!!
The facilities were just as fantastic as the atmosphere on site and were spotlessly clean. I even commented to a friend one day that I walked in on the toilets been cleaned three times in one day! There were more than enough showers, toilets, wash basins and best of all a room with a baby bath and changing facilities. There were no dark corners hiding creepy crawlies or wet muddy cold floors in the showers and you could see your reflection in the tiles!!!
The camper’s kitchen was not to be scoffed at either with its washing facilities and two large chest freezers to avail of and all in immaculate condition. Next door was the laundry room with irons, washing machines and dryers. All in all you will find it hard to beat these facilities and we were informed that next year they are adding two family shower rooms to make it easier for families to wash together. It is easy to see that this park is run by a family who are very conscious of parents’ needs and with a passion for camping themselves!
My favourite part of the park was the toddlers play area as it was the perfect place to go with a book as Lonan (15 months) pottered around the play kitchen and all its paraphernalia and I was not a bit bothered about germs. You could clearly see the area was cleaned daily and there was not even a spec of scum never mind dust! This was a perfect indoor activity with little ones when there were rain showers about.
So there is all this fun to be had and we have not even mentioned the gorgeous beach on the doorstep! The beaches in this part of the country are gorgeous and one of the reasons why Camping in Waterford is so popular. The sandy beach of Clonea was the best playground of all and seemed also to be popular with some of our fellow campers for fishing but best of all it’s a watersport haven and you can hire equipment and wetsuits on the beach. Waveworld not only provide many water activities but they also run a kids camp for the month of July and August and you can sign the kids up for as little or many days as you like with offers for a full week. This is a must as children of all skills and abilities are brought together to have fun in the water with the enthusiastic team and believe me all fears and insecurities will quickly disappear while they burn their energy in a most positive way! This activity can be enjoyed in all weathers and there was an excellent variety of beach games, and water activities including kayaking and banana boats. I even noticed some adults hiring kayaks for a relaxing break while the kids were busy at kids camp!!! For more information on Waveworld click here!
We had friends also on site and the common theme amongst us all was the safety of the site. Not only were fellow campers very aware of the children cycling and playing around but the owners have a strict policy of absolute quietness after 11pm and before 8am as well as respecting your neighbours. You have to swipe to get in or out and with security on site we felt very safe and looked after. We were comfortable giving the children scope to roam more freely and this in a way was a great opportunity to teach them responsibilities. Speaking of responsibilities the kids also enjoyed completing the task of collecting water, taking rubbish to the bins and next year they will be promoted to wash up I think!!
Camping is not only great fun for all the family but on a site like this when the kids are having too much fun to do anything else, mums and dads have nothing else to do but sit down, relax, have a chat and most of all chill!!
I could go on about all the activities around the area but really there is no need as you won’t want to venture to far with the beach, Greenway and park itself. To find out more about Casey’s Caravan and Camping Park in Clonea click here!
Exhilarating Adventures at Castlecomer
Our latest adventures took us at last to the renowned Castlecomer Discovery Park in Kilkenny which is set in the former grounds of the Wandesforde Estate, comprising of 80 acres of stunning natural woodland and lakes and among the top 5 attractions in Kilkenny listed on Trip Advisor.
While many visit the park to stroll along the many walking trails throughout, play in the playground or enjoy the beauty we tried our hand at some of their key attractions such as a Tree Top adventure walk, a climbing wall, pedal boats and canadian canoes on the upper lake, woodland play area (Junior Woodland Adventure Course, hand-crafted Bluebell Playhouse and Elf & Fairy Village), the longest over-water zipline in Ireland (300m long and 35m at its highest point), Advanced High Ropes Course and finally archery.
When we arrived we were delighted that we booked our activities in advance as the crowds were building as early as 9.30am. However, we soon discovered that many were just going for a stroll. The tree top adventure walk was our first activity of the day and suited for children aged 7 years plus. Saoirse was our only brave solider to complete the course with confidence and I for one was delighted that I was the one left holding the camera.
Sean was able to take Shanea through most of the obstacles which was great for any small ones with a fear of heights and she was more than thrilled that she had completed such a challenge when she was done.
The team were very friendly and encouraged them to figure out each part from the ground and up in the towers which was a great support. By the time we had finished it the queue was quit long so I would recommend you book this in advance and get there early. This activity alone is enough to travel to Castlecomer for as the children were so excited by it and it was a great boost to their confidence.
The climbing wall is also in this area and once the children had finished their tree-top walk they tried the three different levels of the climbing wall and we were delighted to see how far they each got. Again, the team members here helped them figure out the best moves and encouraged them all the way.
We barely had time to catch our breaths before we were racing after Saoirse and Shanea in search of The Elf and Fairy Village. It was not hard to find and only a short distance into the woodland.
It was the first time we came across a fairy village of this size and it was gorgeous to walk around and see the children play their games among the fairies and around their village. The Canopy Cafe is now open here so this is the perfect spot for a cuppa, chat and some general R&R time in picturesque surroundings.
With our tummies rumbling after all the fresh air and fun we strolled back down to the entrance to find a spot of lunch and in the charmingly restored farm buildings is a splendid restaurant serving most sumptuous food. We did not expect a restaurant with such creative and tasty gourmet. The Jarrow Cafe offers plenty of choice for both parents and children and at very reasonable prices.
Give yourself a little time to digest the food before heading out for more adventures with a wander in the craftyard or even take in The Coal Museum at next to The Jarrow Cafe.We had a busy day ahead though so we headed straight back out into the woodlands and discovered some delightful little animals along the way. Sean and Adam bravely had a go on the Zipwire which is the longest over-water zipline in Ireland! It is 300 metres long and 35 metres over the ground at its highest point. This took some time as it was no easy task and they had to find the courage to take the jump but once done they said it was amazing. I was only glad that someone had to hold the camera again but my pictures do not do justice to the scale of the wire.
The advanced high ropes are also located up with the zipwire but my two boys were still shaking after the zipwire so asking them to try out these could have been pushing it and made a plan to try these on our next visit.
Our last activity for the day was the pedal boats which were great craic after all the early exhilarating challenges. This is such a relaxed activity and all the family had great fun. The boys were on one boat and the girls another so there was nothing for it but a half an hour of boys against the girls as we raced up and down the lake.
You can also canoe on this lake but we had already tried to fit in too much into our day.
The children had to be coaxed back to the car on our backs and with alot of pleading. All in all we had an amazing day and we could return time and time again with so much to keep us occupied as we get braver and braver!! We did not even try out all the activities available or strolled through the woods on the many walkways as we had so much to do. The only fault I had was that there is no Caravan and campsite at the edge of the park as you could have days and days of fun here which is why it deserves to be among the top 5 attractions in Kilkenny. There is nothing for it but Castlecomer we will be back to sample the rest of what you have in store. To find out more about prices and opening times for Castlecomer Discovery Park click here or for more info on our top 5 attractions in Kilkenny click here!
Loulou’s World – Fairy Activites Cork
For all budding fairies looking for exciting and creative fairy activities in Cork, Loulou’s World in Cobh offers an enchanting and playful afternoon of fun! We could not wait to be invited to a party so in true fairy princess style we ( my sister and friends) book a fairy party for no special reason for six children to while away a summer’s afternoon talking fairys and doing art and crafts.
Loulou’s World is as amazing as you can imagine and will capture the children’s imagination instantly as you enter through a retail fairy shop and down into hidden back room like a fairy adventure before discovering a colourful room full of glitter and sparkles!!
Loulou herself was enchanting with all the characteristic of a true fairy and she entertained the children from the moment they arrived. We spent the afternoon making many fairy crafts and she had patience and enthusiasm in abundance. Even Thomas (the only boy fairy in tow) had as much fun as the girls. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon so don’t wait for a party why not gather a group of friends, bring some takeaway coffee as you will enjoy it just as much and book in a group. For a group of six we were charged €15 per child and they came away with fairy doors, washing lines and much more! It is a great place for parties and Loulou does not just offer fairy activities in Cork but also does Jewellery workshops for adults and children so why not discover your creative side or this could make a fun party for an older children or young teenager!
Eggstronauts at Blackrock Castle Observatory
Blackrock Castle Observatory are running a fabulous one day workshop during the Easter holidays to keep young minds well entertained and we went along this morning to try out Eggstronauts as we are great fans of the observatory and all their activities! It is a great place for an afternoon out but keep an eye out for the camps as while they are very educational, they are also great fun!
Today the workshop included learning all about astronauts landing on different planets and in particular the failed Schiaparelli misson on mars last year. So the kids had to design a parachute that would land an egg (astronaut) that would land safely (without breaking) when they dropped if from the tower of Blackrock Castle to the tower below! Saoirse was delighted that her astronaut (aka egg) survived to be boiled for tea!!
I would recommend that kids would be at least 8 as they had to work completely off their own initiative
and design the concepts. They were aided step by step by the friendly team but they were very much encourage to try out and explore their ideas.
On a scale of one to ten and ten been the best, Saoirse gave it a nine as she deducted one mark because she felt it was to short and would loved a longer day. However, Thomas gave it a resounding 10 out of ten. Blackrock Castle Observatory do some brilliant camps at Easter and Summer and also it would be a novel place for a birthday party. If you have not been make sure you go along some day as it is brilliant facility that Cork should be proud of and offers an a great fun and educational day eye. Ignite their interest in learning!!
The workshops last 1.5 hours and costs €10.00. They still have places but you would want to book in advance to ensure a place and make sure you bring a book as The Castle Cafe is a glorious spot to enjoy brunch, lunch or just a cuppa!!
Fun at Ardmore Open Farm
While Ardmore in Co. Waterford is not only a gorgeous part of the world it is also home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the sunny South East, a fabulous playground just off the beach, a picturesque village with a delicious gourmet fish shop that would give any five star restaurant a run for their money and best of all Ardmore Open Farm with breathtaking views in all directions looking out across not one but three bays! So if you are looking for things to do with the kids in Waterford make sure you include here!
Once we dragged ourselves away from the views and venture inside we were greeted by a very impressive jungle gym and family restaurant with plenty of homemade options for all the family. Here we were welcomed by a very helpful team of staff ready to fill us in on all that was going on that day. Outside we discovered quaint wooden play areas which suited their setting perfectly before embarking on our walk around the park. Now this is no traditional Irish farm as I am certain you would not find half of these animals in the zoo never mind the farm and so it is only fitting that Ardmore Open Farm is now know as Farm and Mini Zoo.
We encountered Racoons, Porcupines, Parrots, Owls, Kookaburra, Emu, Alpaca and much more as well as the usual farm animals of horses, ponies, sheep, cows and more unusually a highland cow! If all that was not enough there were plenty of pit spots for a little play along the way including karting, a maze and my favourite a pitich! Yes you heard me right, a pitch, with picnic benches all around perfectly positioned to take in the views and great zip wire alongside. I imagined that on my return I would be
bringing a picnic and meeting a few friends here on a bright sunny day as I am sure we would have peace and quite to catch up while the kids are well entertained and getting plenty of exercise.
Once you are finished the walk around the farm itself you then enter into an indoor section which is perfect if the weather turns and offers plenty more fun with indoor electric karts, diggers, more animals and best of all a petting area for small animals. There are scheduled petting times and make sure you check these before you start on your journey as it is well worth fitting it into your day. All the children had plenty of time to pet and hold various animals including hens, lizards rabbits and snakes while there were many more small animals to study and enjoy.
Ardmore Open Farm and Mini Zoo is a great day out for all but I would recommend that you wrap up as it can be quite a chilly spot being so high up and so close to the sea! We visited in January and still enjoyed it immensely. Make sure you include enough time to take a spin into the village for a walkabout as it is a beautiful quaint fishing village with lots to do and should certainly be on your list of Things to do with the kids in Waterford!!
Things to do with the kids in Clare – Aillwee Caves
No trip to Co. Clare can be complete without going to see Ireland’s premier show cave, The Aillwee Caves. The caves are renowned as one of the top things to do with the kids in Clare and it is easy to see why. When planning a visit to the caves, be sure to put aside a full day as there is much more than a cave to see here. Your journey starts at the main entrance with the Birds of Prey Centre where you can view a large number of birds and have an in-depth audio guide explaining all about our birds, their conservation and the myths and legends surrounding these magnificent birds in Ireland before enjoying a fantastic birds of prey show. This was a most entertaining show for us as well as the kids and was on for at least a half an hour. The auditorium is a lovely size and the show was quite interactive. After the we went back in to look at the birds armed with the knowledge we had received.
From here we went into the woodlands surrounding the caves to try out some Archery which was only €10.00 for 15 bows and includes a one to one tutorial. The kids loved this part as even though we have tried our hand at archery before, the setting here was magical and it felt like you were really hunting in the woods. The woodlands is also the setting for the popular guided bush craft walks which are only €5 per person but need to be booked in advance. We did not have time for this walk but it sounded fascinating and something I am sure the kids would have enjoyed immensely.
At the entrance to the archery and bush craft walks there is a beautiful stone building housing the farm shop stocking local food and drink produce as well as the world famous Burren Gold Cheese. You cannot walk past here without picking up some tasting delights!!
Now from this point you can drive up the hill to the caves carpark but if it is anyway fine I would suggest walk up the walking trail and enjoy a picnic along the way. You will be up in 15 mins or take your time so you can appreciate your surroundings as there are regular tours of the caves so you wont miss out. If you have not brought a picnic there is a delicious cafe at once you into in the caves centre. Be prepared as you will need to walk through the gift store to get to the tour and there was plenty to spend our money on. We were prepared here and gave them a budget of €5 from their pocket money for here before we went in and you will be glad to know there was plenty for that.
The tour itself was approx 30 mins and was well geared towards the small ones without being too boring for adults, bringing us through the beautiful caverns – over bridged chasms, under weird formations and alongside the thunderous waterfall as well as the frozen waterfall and past the now extinct brown bears bones. It was very safe and not at all steep, we had two kids and a three month old baby in tow in a sling.
We were all tired at this stage but if you have the time and energy you can walk to the top of the mountain which the cave lies under or even try out a Hawk Walk. There really is plenty to do and a must see for families visiting the Clare or Galway area. We got excellent value for our money and if you bring a picnic you will need to spend very little while here. Our car journey back through the Burren brought us past the most stunning vista of this unique and rocky landscape and even a neolithic tomb stone but our crew were almost to exhausted to take this in after their jam packed day!
The Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coast
Inspired by the enchanting folklore and tales of natural beauty, The Giant’s Causeway was one of the reasons why we decided to visit Northern Ireland. Saoirse had learnt about it in school this year and had relayed all to Thomas so when we mentioned The Giant’s causeway their imaginations went into overdrive!
Just about 10 minutes from Carrick-On – Rede Rope Bridge is The Giant’s Causeway, renowned for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, it is the only World Heritage Site in N Ireland. We took a guided tour which to approx 30 minutes from the centre to the stones while we listened to a very friendly and most interesting guide.
Unfortunately it began to rain when we were out on the stones but luckily they have a bus service constantly running from the centre to the stones and back again so we hoped on this. This is a great service also it you have young kids who after the walk and exploring the various paths of interest may be too tired for the walk back to the centre. The Giant’s Causeway is made up of 3 promontories – the Little Causeway (1st feature the walker meets), the Middle Causeway (better known as the ‘Honeycomb’) – which has spectacularly precise hexagonal features, followed by the The Grand Causeway. In this immediate area, evocative place names & features abound – Wishing Chair, Wishing Well & Giant’s Gate (all connected with Finn MacCool folklore).
The visitor centre is an attraction in itself with exhibits of the various times of history associated with the site that was mentioned on our guided tour and you would want to give your self a good 45 minutes to explore around here. I was very impressed with the café as the children’s options were delicious and very very reasonable. Our lot had Irish stew with brown bread. There were microwave facilities for heating up baby dinners and bottle warmers. It is a very busy attraction and I would recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to explore even allowing yourself three to four hours so you are not rushed. A family pass will set you back £22.00.
From here we took the Causeway Route to Belfast and this is definitely one of the most scenic routes in Europe. Many people had recommended this route even though it is longer than the main road to Belfast (1.5 hours). The journey took us approx 2.5 hours through pretty villages, along amazing coastlines and over rugged countryside and if I was doing it again I would take the same route as it was most enjoyable and perfect for a game of eye spy!
It does not feel that long and we were surprised when we got to our destination. There are plenty of places on route that you can stop if you want to play in the local playground or for a brief walk along the beach or just to get back onto the main Belfast road.
If you are travelling this way why not tie in a visit to The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and eexplore thatched cottages, farms, schools and shops as you experience life from over 100 years ago. Chat to costumed visitor guides as they demonstrate traditional crafts and meet farm animals in the beautiful parkland of the Folk Museum. Then step aboard majestic steam locomotives and explore horse drawn carriages, electric trams, boats, motorbikes, fire-engines and vintage cars in the Transport Museum. A museum of international renown, The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum is regarded as being amongst the best of its kind in the world.
As you travel into Belfast from this side you will also see signs for Belfast Zoo which is home to more than 140 species of animal, many of which are in danger in their natural habitat. Belfast Zoo is now one of the leading visitor attractions in Northern Ireland attracting around 250,000 visitors a year. Popular attractions include the Asian elephants, giraffes, sea lions and apes.