When we think of Family Break Ideas Ireland, Limerick City is not often the first to come to mind but I can tell you this city is a hidden gem and only waiting for you to explore! Limerick is also a very accessible county from many parts of the country which makes it even better for any parents travelling with a brood.
On our visit we stayed at The Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel on the Ennis Road and I must say it boasts the best location for a hotel in these parts as it sits right on the border of Limerick and Clare offering its guests the best from each county. Limerick city is only about a 10 to 15 min drive away while Co. Clare is only a couple of steps. There is sooo much to do in every direction that you just will not have time to sample it all unless you check in for two weeks at least.
Bunratty castle sits almost on it’s doorstep while if you would like to make a trip to the seaside the beautiful beach of Lahinch is only a mere 35 minute drive away. While there is an excellent playground on the hotel grounds (very conveniently located in front of the outside seating of the hotel bar) you would have to pay a visit to the very famous Cratloe Woods with it’s beautiful natural playground as this is only minutes from the hotel and you would certainly knock of a day here for free with its many walking trails.
As you walk though the trails, you will discover more play adventures along the track which keep the children interested throughout the walk. But if you don’t want to roam to far as I said there is an excellent playground in the hotel grounds, in fact one of the best I have come across as far as hotel playgrounds go! The hotel also sits on 20 acres of verdant parkland and there are walking or running trails to enjoy depending on how much of a break you really want…..
Family Break Ideas Ireland
Limerick City itself offers an abundance of family activities to enjoy so give yourself plenty of time to fit it all in. We started our day in The Milk Market which opens Friday to Sundays. There is an electric atmosphere here and the perfect place for a snack or spot of lunch as there is an open mezzanine floor where you can savour the delights of your purchases while people spotting below.
This is a must for children of all ages as it exposes them to the sounds, smells and delights of the traditional markets.
Next we took a carriage tour with Limerick Carriage Tours through the streets of Limerick which was very enlightening bringing us to our next destination, King John’s Castle. I was only sorry I did not know about the the night tours before we arrived as viewing the city by night is meant to be amazing. The Medieval and Georgian tour interests me also. Limerick City is due to receive The Purple Flag award in the near future which is the international accreditation for town centres in the evening and at night from 5pm to 5am. Like a Blue Flag, centres that achieve the required standards of 30 criteria can fly the flag. Purple Flag destinations distinguish themselves by being Vibrant, safe and Well-Managed.
King’s John Castle is located in the heart of the city and a family would want to give themselves a few hours here. This is a must for any enjoying family breaks Limerick. There is a visitor centre bringing to life over 800 years of dramatic local history with state of the art interpretive activities, exhibitions, 21st century touch screen technology, 3 D models and discovery drawers which are many of the exciting techniques used to connect children to the tales of siege and warfare. Children will love the dazzling array of computer generated animations and ghostly projections as they travel back through time. The Education and Activity Room is bustling with tasks to stimulate curious minds.
Once you have finished this section you will arrive in the busy castle courtyard, to discover a medieval campaign tent, a blacksmiths forge and scenes from a seventeenth century siege. The sights, scenes and sounds of King John’s Castle and its environs all combine to recreate the atmosphere of the era. You can then climb the windy castle stairs to the highest turrets of the castle and enjoy the views across Limerick city and the sacred Thomand Park! While there are many picnic tables dotted around the castle courtyard, the cafe offers some refreshing and tasting options in the glass atrium overlooking this space.
For the more adventurous of you Get West do kayaking on the river Shannon through this amazing city and brings you along the front of the imposing King John’s Castle. You would need to book this activity in advance. No trip to Limerick would be complete without a visit to Thomand Park to enjoy a guided tour, experience the history of Munster Rugby through visual aids & images and test your skills in the interactive game zone. My husband treated this like a pilgrimage to pay homage to the mightly one!!!! I don’t know would I command as much respect as this sacred ground! It is a very easy city to get around and good for shopping if you get a free moment or two.
Now after all that fun in Limerick we were delighted to retreat back to the hotel. The Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel have made it their business to become a haven for families in search of a fun and relaxed family break. Not only do they have the large open spaces and playground outdoors there are also kids activities laid on for the kids in doors. During the peak holiday season a marquee is even erected to accommodate the families that come in their droves time and time again. Now don’t worry it is no Butlins but they have the room to accommodate families alongside other residents with great ease retaining the four star atmosphere.
On the Saturday night when we returned The Global Explorers was running from 5-9 and the children made their own pizzas for their dinner and after dinner had great fun water zorbing in the hotel pool. To be honest I could have been swayed to give up a quite romantic meal for this myself as it looked like enormous fun. The kids club is available both day and evening while the demand requires and not just in peak season. Now not many hotels can offer this so you don’t have to wait till the holidays to enjoy all this hotel has to offer us families. 5-9 is a perfect time for the kids evening activities as once you have dropped off the kids there is plenty of time to get dressed at your leisure, fit in a pre-dinner drink or as we did a cocktail at the cocktail bar before relaxing in the restaurant to enjoy the gourmet delights of the locally sourced cuisine.
We enjoyed the steak which was purchased in O’Connell’s Butchers in Limerick City which is an attraction in itself as we have popped in while walking around the city earlier that day and it is truly a traditional butchers offering a traditional service. It was one of the best steaks we have had to date. The previous night we dined in the bar and not only was it very relaxed but the staff were extremely helpful. There was a wide choice on the menu and plenty to suit all requirements.
There is a small but perfectly formed pool however there are scheduled children’s times so check these out before you head down. There is great availability in these times so don’t worry. Make sure you take advantage of the kids club hours and book into The Rain Spa, it is well worth a visit. The outdoor hot tub, fabulous thermal suite and warm relaxation rooms will refresh you alone. We brought a book and totally rejuvenated both our bodies and mind. I enjoyed the Soothing Hot Toddy Body’ which included a full body buff with lime and lemongrass body salt scrub and a warming cedarwood and frankincense back, neck and shoulder massage followed by a hot toddy drink while unwinding in the relaxation area. Now I am all for spending time and catching up as a family when we are away with the kids but I truly believe in taking a few hours out to yourself to read a book and indulge in the spa making for a relaxed mommy and daddy and thus more quality family time when you catch up afterwards!
The Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel in Limerick can cater for families of all shapes and sizes as it offers an excellent standard in family accommodation and the reception team are very welcoming and accommodating to all your needs. Dining is not a battle either as the standard and choices for the children were excellent. At certain times of the year, kids came make their own smoothies for breakfast which I am sure would be a cause for great excitement! We enjoyed dining at the hotel throughout as it was exceptionally delicious from breakfast through to dinner.
What I loved the most about the Radisson Blu Spa & Hotel in Limerick is that it allowed us to indulge in four star luxury in at relaxed atmosphere with the kids in tow. You are in the centre of so many different types of activities so the daily car trips are short and if you just want to chill the hotel is the perfect spot to do this. While they make a tremendous effort to provide the ultimate family experience they still can combine this with four star luxury, what more can you ask for. Limerick is in our top ten of Family Break Ideas Ireland!