Many Halloween events that would normally go ahead will likely not happen or be curtailed due to the pandemic so why not take charge now and make a plan for a Halloween party at home this year. It could be a great opportunity to have some real fun quality time with the kids. Make Halloween bigger and better this year by doing something different, more personable and most of all making memories of real family time. With this in mind we have put together some easy to play, fun and spooky and fun Halloween Party Games ideas to keep everyone entertained.
The mid-term break may be quieter this year so many of the games below require some arts and crafts to be made before the event, keeping them busy all week and making the preparations for the party for fun family effort. The supplies are simple and easy to source in the discount stores and you don’t need to be a wiz at crafts to do these. Games and craft combined as one, Love it!
Many of you will be avoiding treat or treating so there are also some fab alternatives to gathering treats in the comfort of your own home. I have already picked up a skeleton and eyeballs in dealz that glow in the dark as we are going to do the skeleton and eyeball hunt when it gets dark using the torches which I know will go down a treat. I have also found a gluten free recipe for the donut eating race which the kids will make that morning. I have picked up some plastic spiders in dealz for the ice cubes and and as toppings on rice crispy buns. Mummy wrap and catch the ghost will be definitely on our games list and for trick or treating we will do the treasure hunt around the house with a treat at each station. For a big treat they will have to knock at the back and font door for and do a trick or party piece. I will buy an extra big sweet treat for this. Oh and we are all dressing up but I have not told Dad yet……..Can’t wait!
Halloween Party Games
Monster Dance Freeze
Put on some Halloween tunes and have the kids boogie until the music stops when they have to freeze. Children are eliminated for not freezing and the last monster standing is the winner. Look up a playlist of youtube or spotify.
Make ghosts using paper and throw them around. Each player runs around catching as many ghosts as possible. To catch a ghost they have to suck it up using the straw and keeping sucking in order to keep the ghost affixed to the end of the straw until they can safely deposit the ghost in their bowl. The player with the most ghosts at the end wins this Halloween Party Game. More…
Plastic Mini Spiders
Halloween party and chill…literally. Take a pack of mini spiders and freeze them in any ice cube tray for a creepy crawly addition to any drink. Keep beverages cold while also keeping the creepy theme on point.
In this Halloween party game, teams are competing to be the first to wrap one team member up as a mummy. Generally the smallest on the team volunteers to be the mummy (as this will be quicker and uses less toilet paper). The rest of the team wrap the mummy around with toilet paper and team that finishes their roll of toilet paper first, wins!
Mummy Sack Race
Combine the mummy wrap game with a mummy sack race. However, this is a sack race with a twist. Wrap up every ones legs with white crepe paper. The first one to the finish line with no rips in the paper wins.
Donut Eating Race
I think this is self explainatory but a great twist on snap apple. You may need to test the donuts first yourself…
Save your cans and either paint them or cover them with Halloween themed paper. I’m not sure which is more fun, the actual bowling or decorating the cans! This Halloween Game is budget-friendly and can be enjoyed by even the youngest party goer. If you really want to go all out with the Halloween theme use a pumpkin as the bowling ball!
After lockdown, you may be able to Sacrifice a few toilet paper rolls to convert into ghoulish bowling pins. Cut the stem off a pumpkin and you’re all set with the perfect festive ball.
Poke a Pumpkin Halloween Game
This game is great fun but you will need to put some of your arts and craft skills to use beforehand. This game can be played two ways either using Balloons or paper cups but personally I prefer the papers cups as the noise from popping balloons is not very welcome in my house. More…
Pumkin Chukin’ Halloween Game
(Halloween themed bean bag throwing games)
Great for toddlers, this budget friendly DIY game is easy to put together and you can use whatever Halloween theme you like. The most popular are pumpkins and SPIDERS. The bean bags are made up of toilet parer wrapped in felt and you can get as crafty as you like. This may even be an activity for mid-term break. Find an old basket or pick up a Halloween bowl in the discount stores.
Pin the Tail in The Witch Cat
Pin the tail type games can be used for all occasions but for Halloween we have decided to use a Cat. May be ask one of the older children do prepare this as a craft project for the younger ones to enjoy on Halloween night.
Another adaptation is pin the bow on the Skeleton or the spider on the web. I have also found some an option to buy a ready make pin the bow on the skeleton if it is easier than making one. The link is here!
Bingo is always a big hit and another game that can be themed for every occasion. You can find tons of free printables online but I have also added on here. However, if you do not want to go to the hassle of printing of cards you can buy it here on amazon. More…
A piñata could be an excellent alternative to trick or treating and there is nothing like breaking a piñata with sweets flowing out to get the excitement going.
I have found a tutorial to make you own here from Martha Stewart and again this could make a fab arts and crafts project for older ones during the mid-term break. Or alternatively you can buy one on amazon here.
This is a must and can be so much fun if you put an adult and child on a team together. You can’t have halloween without pumpkins so this is a perfect activity for every party. You can use paint, stickers (foam ones in dealz are great) or just plain auld carve the pumpkin. I always go online and print out some carving templates. Here is a link to a fab website with free templates.
Bubbling Witches Cauldron
If you have any small witches at home you could go all out and create a bubbling wotches cauldron. Here is a link to a tutorial and if you have older scientists in the house may be they could prepare the cauldron under supervision of course. Link…
Prepare a few heaping bowls of spaghetti and have brave blindfolded souls get hands-on in the mushy mess while searching for hidden eyeballs, spiders and skeleton bones. You could also mix it up with bowls of mushy peas and spaghetti hoops!
Spider Walking Game
Put both their balance and problem-solving skills to the test. This Halloween game requires your little one to collect all the spiders or ghosts around the makeshift “web” without stepping off the lines. Game on! Use masking tape or coloured tape to make out a web.
For the little ones at the party, this simple creepy-crawly race will be a treat. All you need is a few paper straws and plastic spiders. Race them across the table, along the floor or in a make shift race track.
Roll a Frankenstein Board Game
This game is easy to make and so much fun. Best of all it will keep them entertained for a while. Click here for a free printable of the game. Each player rolls the dice in order to build their own frankenstein. Game and craft rolled into one easy activity. More…
Outdoor Things to do in Cork
Outdoor Adventure Things to do in Cork in Cork
Even though we may give out about the weather in Ireland a lot, thanks to our mild climate and stunning landscapes, Ireland’s outdoors are always in season. Coupled with the fact that we are trying to play our part with social distancing at the moment and seek outdoor adventure we tried out some of Cork’s best loved outdoor activities for families over the last few weeks. As a Cork native, I am asked very regularly what are my top favourite family activities or things to do in Cork and I and delighted to say they are all outdoors. Also, these activities would make great communion and birthday party alternatives or even gift ideas!
Zipit is a fantastic outdoor adventure centre not far from Cork city where you can climb high into the treetops, swing into cargo nets, surf with a difference or try cycling over a treetop bridge before zipping down one of our many ziplines. As most of you will have learnt by now Tree Climbing is our national family pastime.
I have been meaning to try out Zipit for some time but I did not appreciate what was in store until I saw it for myself. Once harnessed, you are given a short instruction, followed by a practice circuit, then away you go, into the trees as you ascend higher with each circuit, secure in the knowledge that qualified instructors are around if you need them, to offer guidance, encouragement or get you back down to the ground. There are 5 circuits ranging from 1 – 20 metres high and you have 3 hours to complete the circuits or if you like you can do the first few circuits more than once. From beginners to adrenaline junkies, there are circuits for all abilities. The minimum age is 7 and this is a perfect family activity as many adults will enjoy discovering their inner child with this one.
It is quite an exhilarating and energetic activity both mentally and physically so three hours is plenty and in fact we called it a day just before our time was up as our crew were wrecked at this stage. However, they absolutely loved it and we will be going again in the next few months. Rain would not put me off this activity either as the tree canopy would provide some shelter and it is meant to be more fun in the rain as the zip wires move more freely.
Farran woods is home to many walking trails with beautiful views of Iniscarra lake, a children’s playground (just next to Zipit), deer enclosure and duck pond, so there is plenty to entertain everyone in the family and make a day of it with a picnic. It is the perfect destination for a kid’s birthday party and you could bring a picnic (ham sandwiches) or bag of treats each to eat at the playground after before heading on a walk around the duck pond. For the winter months Zipit opens on weekends only and pre-booking is essential so click here to find out more about Zipit in Farran Woods.
Cork Harbour Boat Hire offer the perfect solution to social distancing outdoor fun with their self-drive boat tours of Cork Harbour for families looking for fun things to do in Cork. There is one family unit in each boat and the tour guide is in his own boat leading the group around Spike Island, the old monastic settlement and prison which resides in the middle of Cork Harbour. The boats are really easy to drive and there was full training before we were let loose out on the water. We had great fun spotting all the activity on the harbour including Haulbowline (the Irish Naval base), the canons of spike Island, St.Colman’s Cathedral, and much more. We were told some days you may spot cruise liners or ships along the route.
The highlight of the trip was when the kids sat on Craig’s lap taking turns of steering the boat. They all loved it even the little one so much so that we have treated our granddad to a trip for his birthday in the next few weeks. It would make the perfect birthday present for children or adults. There is a max of 5 per boat with no more than 4 adults and the one hour tour costs €50 in total. Click here for more information on Cork Harbour Boat Hire.
My final activity probably deserves a blog post all on its own as there is so much to do here and offers great family quality time when it comes to things to do in Cork. Ballyhass lakes is a 40 acre site and home to 20 activities across land, water and height. However, for quality family time I would recommend the adventure day pass or aqua park as it is fantastic value for money and an unforgettable family day out for all the family.
Ballyhass lakes is not only home to Ireland’s largest cable wakeboard facility but it also offers a large yet manageable inflatable waterpark for all ages. What makes this waterpark unique to any other one we have visited is that the water was crystal clear with water temperature a perfect level being an inland lake. The temperature has been known to hit 15 degrees. While the inflatable park is large, it is well laid out so it is easy to get around and you are not really queuing for anything.
The Adventure Day Pass is only €30 per person or €100 for four and with this you can enjoy a land, water and height activity. You would want to leave a day for this and leave some time in your day to have lunch and a rest. For lunch you can bring a picnic or there is a hot food option on site with chips and burgers etc.
We choose to do the aqua park and the zip wire which I would highly recommend. The zip wire goes over land and water and there are two lanes one of which takes you through the tree tops before coming out over the water. The team here are very encouraging and patient with anyone who is nervous but I must say I did not see one child holding back…..(only a few adults…..)
We ended our day with Archery but at this stage we were starting to tire so if you feel that three activities may be enough you could do tow activities for €25 per person or just the aqua park for €15. There was no extra charge for wetsuits which I thought was very fair and the social distancing measures were really impressive even though we were outdoors. Entry to the inflatables were staggered and the numbers on these reduced.
I must say it would make the perfect day out for small communions or birthday parties and best of all it is outdoors. We adored our day here and will be regular visitors as we all had such a laugh and it was a great way to take a break from every day life! For more information on Ballyhass lakes Click Here!
Mini Breaks for the Gal Pals or Your Other Half
While we love our summer holidays with the family, now that they are settled back into the school routine it may be nice to take a short mini breaks, let our hair down and give yourselves a nice pat in the back. There is nothing like booking into a nice hotel for a well-overdue weekend break and leaving all the stresses and strains of daily life behind. So grab a couple of girlfriends or your better half (if you have not killed them during the lockdown and restrictions) and enjoy a well-overdue catch-up over facials, sumptuous afternoon tea and a few glasses of something sparkly?
Luckily, we are spoiled for choice in Ireland with the range of gorgeous hotels to choose from and there are some fantastic deals around now that the peak season is over. So, put your feet up and browse through some of our favourite hotel breaks which we have handpicked to suit all tastes and budgets.
Druids Glen Resort, Wicklow
One of my personal favourites is this five star resort in the most stunning location and they are offering an amazing deal of €260.00 in total for 2 people sharing. Dining Delight not only includes bed and breakfast but also a four course meal in Hugo’s Restaurant. Wow is all that comes to mind!
The Metropole is the perfect spot, ideally located in the Victorian Quarter in Cork, which has many restaurants and tapas places to choose from. It’s 5 minutes form the train and bus station and near to all local city tourist attractions. Well known for their delectable cocktails, curated by their mixology team and their fab Tea Rooms, open from Thursday to Sunday, where you can enjoy afternoon tea for two with Prosecco and cocktails.
They have some amazing packages for couples and gal pals looking to escape for a mini holiday:
1 NIGHT B&B WITH DINNER -Enjoy a luxury getaway with an award-winning breakfast, 2 course dinner in The MET Restaurant on the night of stay and free city centre car parking for the duration of your stay. From only €179 per night.
3 NIGHT prosecco afternoon tea stay – This package includes 3 nights bed & breakfast.Prosecco Afternoon Tea for two in the Tea Room, 2 course dinner on one evening from €159 per night.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the charming shops and gourmet delights of Kenmare Town is The Kenmare Bay Hotel. We have been raving about their latest offer all over social media as this Autumn you can avail of the Staycation Tax incentive and relax and unwind with an overnight stay at the Kenmare Bay Hotel & Resort from only €37.50pps per night B&B and €59.50pps including a 3 course meal. Kids under 12 share free including breakfast ONLY.
If anyone wants to take me away this is the one for me…..Located between only 20 mins from the luxury shopping destination of Kildare Village, the Heritage Hotel enjoys the benefit of a superb parkland setting which overlooks the renowned Seve Ballesteros Championship Golf Course. While they have a fabulous Wine and Dine offer at the moment from only €85 pps and including B&B and a three course meal (yes you read it right €85pps). It is the Suite Retreat Package and All the Frills that really caught our eye!
Suite Retreat Package (1B&B, Dinner, Wine & Treats all delivered to your Suite)
This package is idea for those who want some pampering and luxury without having to move too far. The package is tailored so that everything you need comes to you in your spacious suite, featuring private living space and balcony.
All the Frills (1B&B, Sparkling Afternoon Tea -Afternoon Tea with a glass of Prosecco, CHAUFFEUR driven to Kildare Village, 10% off at Kildare Village & Newbridge Silverware, Hands Free Shopping and Tea & Coffee at Kildare Village, 2 Hour access to The Spa Thermal Suite , Access to the Leisure Centre & Pool, Espa Gift in your room on arrival) FROM €159.00 total stay! – I will just leave that here!
Over the last few months we have all missed opportunities to celebrate special occasions so now is the time to claim those moments back with the Missed Moments offer from The Connacht Hotel. The offer includes an overnight Stay with Breakfast in Bed, Prosecco and chocolates in the room on arrival and a three course dinner in the newly refurbished Reubens Restaurant from only €179.00. The Connacht Hotel is located on the Old Dublin Road as you enter Galway City, easily accessible to the M6 Motorway and just a 5 minutes drive time/ or taxi from Eyre Square so perfect if you want to head into town!
From €254.00 for 2 adults for two nights you can stay at Anner Hotel in Co. Tipperay. This is the place to get away from it all to relax and unwind by walking the gorgeous countryside and this offer not only includes breaks, a two course meal but also access to their leisure facilities including sauna and Jacuzzi. Best of all it’s a steal at this price for two nights in a luxurious four star hotel.
If log fires, seaside walks and cosy dinners spell romance for you and your special someone, then enjoy a Romantic Getaway at the 4 star Connemara Coast Hotel, Furbo, Galway. Enjoy the rugged landscape, unrivaled scenery and gourmet food which combined will spoil you with the ultimate relaxing romantic escape from only €258.00 for two nights B&B including a three course dinner.
Tip: Pencil in some time to enjoy their gorgeous hot tub with views overlooking Galway Bay!
This hotel provides a real luxury retreat away from the stresses of everyday life and is perfectly located for exploring south-east Ireland. Seafield Hotel & Spa Resort is nestled in the midst of 160 acres of wooded park lands where you can stroll the private riverside walk to the white sands of Ballymoney Beach with the dramatic backdrop of Tara Hill. However it is in the exquisite award-winning Oceo Spa that will surpass your every expectation. From only €300 for a double room you can enjoy B&B and a one hour spa each.
From only €99 per room per night B&B you can enjoy majestic yet rugged Co. Mayo. Spend your days trekking Mayo where you will find beautiful beaches and mountain ranges and relax in the leisure centre of the Mc William Park Hotel in the evening!
Many of you who have visited this beautiful county will agree that Clare is a place of plentiful breath taking views with the scenery ranging from rolling countryside, craggy Atlantic coastlines and rocky wildernesses. It cannot seem to make it up its mind so you will never be bored driving the coastal route or bi-roads in Clare. This is the place for amazing beaches, giant surfing waves and the most unique and adventurous wild swimming spots in Ireland so here is our guide for staycations in Clare!
I try to make a trip to Clare every year or so as I am fond of it and for me it is the home of traditional Irish music and while on my most recent trip I did miss the music I discovered the joys of the great the Atlantic Ocean and the kids popping in and out of the sea at a whim in all weathers now that there are a little older and more confident swimmers.
Family Friendly Accommodation
We stayed in Green Acres campsite in Kilkee. It is a quite site about ten minutes from Kilkee town by car and while it does not have a playground, it does have its own private shingle beach and that was our playground! We recanted a mobile home but alternatively you can pitch a tent or roll up in a touring caravan.
If campsites are not your thing, The Inn at Dromoland is one of Clare’s best loved family hotels as it has an indoor playcentre, swimming pool, foot golf, tennis courts and crazy golf. They have a fab selection of large family rooms. Best of all you can take a short walk through the grounds to Dromoland Castle, if you want to treat yourself!
Family Friendly Activities
Our nearest beach was Kilkee and the traditional horseshoe sandy beach is what this town is famous for. In fact the town itself is a Victorian seaside town created just over 200 years ago for trips to the seaside. It is a typical seaside town with a bustling yet safe beach. On one end you have the harbour and the other Nevsail Watersports run their sea activities.
From here you can join an evening Kayak daily at 4.30 pm for approx. 1.5 hours for €25 pp which will take you on a sightseeing tour, explore caves and coves, kayak around inlets, headlands and cliffs around Kilkee Bay depending on the weather. Thomas and Craig (my other half) were in a joint canoe while Saoirse went in a single. However, the winds were strong that day so she had to be towed at one point so I would suggest a double or a triple. They just loved this activity and I was sorry we had not made time for more. They also do surfing and coasteering from here and offer daily and weekly water camps. We are hopefully going to try the coasteering the next time we are in town!
Just a short walk from the beach are The Pollock Holes, a famous bathing spot in Kilkee. The three large, natural rock pools offer safe and sheltered swimming, in which the sea water is refreshed with every tide. This was the highlight of the trip for us would you believe. The kids would often jump in here at the end of a day touring on our way home no matter what the weather. They never watched or took notice of the tide times so much! While the older two were splashing about, I took Lonán (my four year old) crab fishing and foraging. You will see plenty of families doing this and can even buy buckets for this activity alone in the local shops. There was so much life in the little pools and holes that we had plenty of excitement and often a bit apprehension of the crab discoveries.
From here you can head along the coastal route of Loophead and all along the way, there are walks, viewing points and hidden swimming spots so take some time here. We saw many families cycling this route as it is quite a safe road. Martin Haugh of Loop Head Walking Tours has some fantastic ideas for walks along here.
The Loophead Lighthouse is closed at the moment for tours but you can still walk up to it and there is a lovely 1 hour walk out around the lighthouse and the head of the peninsula. At the tip of the peninsula is the word ‘EIRE‘ in large, whitewashed letters. One of the 83 such signs along the Irish coast, alerting pilots that they were entering neutral airspace in the years of world war two. You are probably better to drive here as it is a long cycle from Kilkee. On the way here you may look out for the bridges of ross is a natural sea arch and one of the points on the wild Atlantic way. They are a short walk from the carpark and again a spectacular setting.
West Coast Waterpark in based in Kilrush and here you can bounce, slide and jump around the obstacle course made up of 5 islands including a swing. We have done a few of these but by far this is the best one we have come across to date. My two absolutely loved it and even though Craig was wiped out after he had a ball. The course is protected from choppy currents and strong winds as it is actually in the Shannon river just in from the sea so I think that is why the kids found it easier to move on and off themselves. There have a fab offer at the moment with a ticket for a family of 4 for €69 and a family of five for €79.
You can’t go to Clare without taking the coastal route up along Lahinch towards Liscannor and The Cliffs of Mohar.There is no better time to visit the cliffs as the crowds are much smaller than normal. We have been a few times and my kids and I are still in awe of their sheer beauty and scale. On this visit there was a friendly steward at the door to O’Brien’s tower who gave us a fantastic insight to the tower and most importantly the cave that features in Harry Potter and the half blood prince. The exhibition is open also and it is worth a wonder through as there is an interactive kids section and mine loved the video. Continue the road up towards the pretty village of Doolin and Gus O’Connors is a great stop off for food.
The Aillwee Caves & Birds of Prey centreis always a must for us when in these parts as they never tire of the birds of prey centre with different birds featuring every time we are there. You would want to pencil in a good day here as there is so much to do. Start with the birds of prey at the bottom. Take the woodland walk to the top and a tour of the cave. Then come out and take in those views before finding a picnic spot in this area or in the woods. The cave tour takes approx. 30 mins and it was really well organized. Social distancing was kept at all times on the tour with designated spots signposted at each viewing area. The tour itself is excellent and I always find their guides so engaging with the children and their constant questions. Click here for more information.
Finally coming from Cork we never get tired of breaking the journey at Bunratty Castle. Again, the crowds are a little less at the moment so we found it very enjoyable. Only one family unit was allowed in each house at any one time but you were only every waiting a few minutes. I do love Bunratty and even though it has changed so much since I was a kid with the playgrounds, woodland walks and animals, I find it quite nostalgic. The houses themselves seem to fascinate my older two and they find it hard to imagine they were once real life. The castle was open with limited access and capacity but it was still very enjoyable and quite safe in the current climate as a one way system was in place.
Where to Eat
The Long Dockin Carrigaholt is amazing, with many awards lining the walls as a result. We ate here quite a few times over the week as they did great gluten free options, were quite reasonably priced and very roomey. More info!
Nolan’s on the main street of Kilkee do an excellent fish and chips which you order from a hatch outside. They also have gluten free options.
If you are in the Lahinch/Liscannor region, there is a fab mobile fish and chip van park in the grounds of Mohar Cottage. It is only about 10 mins from The Cliffs of Mohar and here they are famous for the fish and chips (lobster in particular) and the have been awarded best coffee in Ireland. The views are pretty amazing too.
Gus O’Connors in Doolin is also a particular favourite of ours not only for the atmosphere but the food speaks for itself.
Around Loophead and Kilkee the weather was not the kindest to us as while you had the heat some days there was all too often a mist coming in from the sea. I did find that North Clare and towards Ennis seemed to have a more favourable climate.
Loophead has one of the most unforgiving yet stunning coastlines I have ever come across and even the children will be blown away so it is well worth a trip for this alone!
What the kids said about Clare
I want to go back again to swim in the Pollock Holes; it was the best thing we did this summer!
in the Pollock Holes; it was the best thing we did this summer!
48 Hours in the People’s Republic of Cork
I may biased but I do believe Cork is an amazing county in so many ways. While earning a reputation as Ireland’s food capital it can satisfy the needs of almost any visitor with its abundance of activities and attractions to explore. As Corkconians we decided to make a little staycation in our home county and see it with tourist eyes. Here is our 24 hours in Cork for Families.
Family Friendly Accommodation
We stayed in The Cork International Hotel as it is the perfect base to explore the city and county. Located right next to Cork Airport, only a 10 minutes’ drive from Cork City Centre and 20 minutes from top Cork attractions such as Fota Wildlife Park and Blarney Castle. It is also at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way and is the nearest Cork City hotel to Kinsale.
I could only describe the décor as funky yet contempory. The family rooms are huge and very clean. They have excellent family facilities with the playroom, games area and Cinema Room. However, the pièce de résistance of this hotel was their very helpful team of staff. Even before you arrive their family concierge team made contact with us to see if we needed any advice or help with planning our trip. As a family they made us feel very welcome and could not do enough for us during our stay.
In the reception area there is a convenient little shop for all the little bits and pieces you may forget to pack and some treats too. With the current climate, I felt very safe, as many new procedures were in place to accommodate the social distancing and sanitizing measures.
Family Friendly Activities
The first port of call that I can recommend is Charles Fort which is only a 15 mins drive from The Cork International Hotel. It’s the finest surviving example of a ‘star fort’ in Ireland and there is plenty of scope for climbing and exploring. The guides dotted throughout the fort as always very happy to chat about the fort and at a child’s level. There are some stunning views of Kinsale harbour from the fort itself and juts outside is the perfect spot for a picnic.
The Scilly Walk from Charles Fort along the coast to Summercove and on to Kinsale Harbour has incredible sea views towards the Old Head of Kinsale. It is very suitable for even smaller children and is the perfect trek for a fine day. Once in Kinsale make sure you walk around and explore this gorgeous town as it really is picturesque and will even capture the imagination of the children. While walking up to Desmond Castle, the kids discovered the Giant’s Cottage and Mansion House which gave them a little giggle. There are plenty of ice-cream shops and crepe makers for a little treat and there is a large size playground and parkoverlooking the harbour.
Finally, the well-loved Dock Beach is only a five minutes’ drive from Kinsale town and is the perfect sandy beach for kids with views of sea views of Charles fort and you could while away many hours watching the boats go by.
If you are looking for free family days out you are also spoilt for choice with Ballincollig Regional Park (15 mins drive) which is home to many football pitches, basketball courts, one of the largest playgrounds in Cork not to mention the fairy trail. Also, only a ten minute drive away is Fitzgerald’s Park which also has a fabulous playground, Skate Park and the Cork Museum. Make sure to bring their scooters with you for the skate park.
If you are looking for some indoor fun Airtastic, Blackrock Castle,Cork Goaland Chuckies playcentre are only a short drive away. In ten minutes you will be in Cork city centre and it is quite easy to navigate your way around. However, Mahon Point Shopping Centre is less than ten minutes away and can offer free parking, crèche facilities, food court and a large cinema.
Where to Eat
We dined in The New Yorker at The Cork International Hotel and were really pleased with the choices for children. The Tiger Prawns were excellent and it was a lovely relaxed atmosphere for families.
In Kinsale, The Lemon Leaf Café and Jim Edwards are great for kids and both offer outdoor dining which I love as the kids can get up and move around while waiting for their meals or after while we steal a few moments to chat. They both offer a wide variety of gluten free options.
In Cork city I can recommend Scoozies, Luigi Malone’s and Uncle Pete’s as brilliant options for both families and gluten free restaurants.
There is no swimming pool in the Cork International Hotel however, as there is so much to do on the doorstep, I really did not notice. To be honest I welcomed the break from all the organisation of the pool trips and would be worried using it in the current climate. The Cinema offered the perfect outlet for us when we wanted some downtime in the hotel and when it rained.
The games area and playroom on the first floor are well laid out with seating in between so I would recommend bringing a book so you can order a coffee or something stronger and snatch a quite half hour in the day. Finally, make sure to treat yourself and the kids to pancakes and waffles at breakfast by ordering from the restaurant staff in the mornings.
What the kids said about The Cork International Hotel
The beds were so comfy and the best thing was the foosball table and Charles fort.
This year we are seeing a huge trend in families wishing to camp on or near the beaches so I decided to draw up our list of Top Ten Campsites Near The Beach featuring some of the family friendly camping spots with a sea view around Ireland.
The park lies on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean with views of Clare Island, Inishturk, Achill, Mweelrea and Croagh Patrick. It has direct access to its own sandy beach, one of the most beautiful beaches to be found in the heart of Connemara.
This Holiday Park spreads out alongside the natural dunes of the Blue Flag awarded beach at Morriscastle. Over these dunes, 2 minutes from the Park, you’ll find miles of soft sand to ramble on, safe water to swim & splash in and plenty of space for children of all ages to play & build sandcastles.
Fancy your pitch on the shoreline…….Green Acres is situated on the Loophead Peninsula at Doonaha, just outside Kilkee (7 min drive ). Set on the shoreline with direct access to the beach it is a well known spot for family camping Clare.
I stayed here in early August and while there was no playground, there was a great family vibe and the beach is the real playground. A crepe van sets up every Wednesday and Saturday providing delicious crepes including vegan and gluten free.
Perched on the clifftop overlooking the beautiful village of Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, this resort consists of a cliff edge golf course, an open plan village of self-catering holiday homes, a private mobile home park, modern touring and camping park facilities, several playgrounds, a private access trail to the local blue-flag beach and the renowned ‘Lighthouse Bar and Restaurant’ which boasts spectacular views across the Irish ocean and the famous ‘Hook lighthouse’.
With Tramore Strand to the south, Slievemore mountain to the north, the Minaun cliffs to the west and Keel village to the east, the location simply cannot be beaten. The park facilities are always maintained to the highest standards and provide everything you need for your holiday.
Situated in the village of Rosses Point overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Magnificent views of Coney Island, Oyster Island, Blackrock Lighthouse, Benbulben and Knocknarea mountains. Your view depends on where you are pitched, listen to the water lapping on our two bathing beaches.
Wave Crest caravan and camping site is a 4 star, friendly, informal and family-run camp site in Caherdaniel on the Ring of Kerry, Ireland. This picturesque waterfront site with unique panoramic sea views offers the perfect base for a relaxing camping holiday in Ireland with outstanding facilities for families, on-site tourist information, a well stocked shop, Café and deli, a fully equipped play area for children PLUS direct access to the water for launching water sports equipment!
BarleyCove Holiday Park is situated on the magnificent Mizen peninsula in West Cork and is ideal for family holidays. The rugged coastline is dotted with beautiful sandy beaches – Cockle Strand with its lovely view down Crookhaven Harbour, Galley cove looking out on the famous Fastnet Rock, and the beautiful Barleycove beach.
Clifden Eco Beach is a multi-award-winning ecological park and Ireland’s first eco-certified carbon-neutral premises. Nestling among the sand dunes on the shores of Connemara’s Wild Atlantic Way, it boasts breathtaking panoramic seascape views from its secluded private sandy beach.
If you are not set up for camping why not try hiring a camper van or motorhome giving you the option to hit the road and decide from night to night where you want to stay. There are several hire companies but I have used Cara Motorhomes in the past and found them faultless. Lazy Days, in Co Wicklow, has a fleet of modern VW vans sleeping two to four people. Cara Motorhomes rents two- to six-berth vehicles with showers and toilets and click here to read more.
ASD Freindly Hotels in Ireland
Planning family holidays tend to be a military operation at the best of times, but when you are travelling with autistic children things can get even more complicated. Holidays should be fun and relaxing, but when travelling with a child on the autistic spectrum, it can become a very stressful experience. They can feel anxious about everything, from the general unknown to their new accommodation and enviorment, new food, new people and much more. However in recent year’s we have seen a move within the tourism industry to become more ASD friendly, offering a safe enviorment for children with autism, and it is a potential game-changer for these families.
ASD Freindly Hotels
Last year, AsIAm ran a pilot campaign that saw Clonakilty in Cork, become Ireland’s first “autism-friendly” town. In order to acquire this designation, Clonakilty had to go through a robust accreditation process. The Autism Friendly organisations are accredited “Autism Friendly Champions”. Two accommodation providers in the town, namely The Clonakilty Park and Ballynoe House are accredited champions, working closely with AsIAm to achieve a number of key goals to train staff, develop social stories, become service dog friendly, develop a sensory activity specific to the hotel, the creation of a sensory map and a commitment to working with the Clonakilty Autism Friendly Town Committee.
This relaxed, modern hotel is 1 km from Clonakilty town centre and 6 km from the beach at Inchydoney. Informal family rooms are available along with 2- and 3-bedroom apartments and houses adding living areas, and kitchenettes or kitchens. The Clonakilty Park hotel has made every effort to ensure the hotel is as autism friendly as possible, with the key initiatives outlined below.
They developed a sensory map denoting areas of high and low intensity and where specific “triggers” may be. Aquariums were incorporated into their refurbishment design in the lobby and leisure centre.
Prior to or on arrival, an “All About Me” document is provided which enables the child or their parents to outline their specific needs and communication preferences to all members of the team but in particular kids club. A number of social stories were developed for the hotel complex: staying in the hotel, coming for dinner, attending kids club, going to the pool and staying in the bungalows.
A “Sensory Box” is available allowing autistic guests to moderate their sensory experience, complete with something to smell, touch and squeeze while the Garden room provides a quiet space with no music and reduced light. Ear defenders are also available at reception.
Finally, a sensory screening in the cinema takes place on the first Saturday of every month where lights are up and sound is turned down for the latest kid’s release.
Now, the campaign is expanding to 11 further towns – Clane, Bray, Greystones, Wicklow Town, New Ross, Skerries and Lucan, Castlebar, Mallow, Listowel and Tralee.
Sensory Bedrooms at the Radisson Blu, Sligo
The Radisson Hotel & Spa is located in Rosses Point, Sligo. They have opened Ireland’s First, state of the art, Sensory Bedroom, designed for families with children with additional needs in mind.
Created to benefit children with autism, ADHD and a variety of other disabilities, the sensory bedroom at Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Sligo combines a range of stimuli to help children interact using their senses, with colourful lights, soft fabrics and music helping individuals to engage in an enjoyable and non-stressful way.
The sensory bedroom has a mobile sensory trolley, complete with a colour command interactive panel and waterless rainbow tube, allowing children to navigate through a spectrum of colours and patterns, and a range of massage rollers, ear defenders and puppets to enjoy during their stay. Visual media also feature in the sensory bedroom, including an Aura Projector, which projects a series of tropical fish and bird imagery, while fibrotic lights allow guests to enjoy a starry night indoors.
The room was developed by the Radisson’s innovation team in conjunction with Multisensory Ireland, who specialise in the creation of sensory rooms and soft play spaces. Featuring colourful bean bags, bed linen and lava lamps, the sensory bedroom is a welcome reprieve for families and children with additional needs looking to take a relaxing break away.
The Cork International Hotel is one of Cork’s top family hotels, with spacious family rooms, kid’s playroom, cinema room and conveniently located right next to Cork Airport, 10 minutes’ drive from Cork City Centre. Recently, the team have been making efforts to improve their experience for families with autistic needs by working with their nominated Charity of Choice, the Rainbow Club Cork. Karen, founder of Rainbow Club, has given training to the team members and both reservations and reception teams are trained to recognise and adjust behaviours to meets the needs of families who may have ASD needs.
A welcome box of useful toys and tools for children with ASD, is made available in the room for guests on arrival while online assistance with story cards/visual aids have been created to enhance their experience.
This ongoing project was interrupted due to the hotel closure as a result of Covid-19 but further work is planned to adapt the Children’s room as more ASD friendly and provide set times.
In Sligo, the Clayton and Yeats Country Hotel have created sensory playrooms complete with features like calming music, sensory boards, plasma balls, moving lights, aromatherapy diffusers, lava lamps and ball pools. While Limavady’s Roe Park Resort in Northern Ireland, has teamed up with Assistance Dogs NI to open an “autism-friendly room”. Their staff have been trained to improve interactions with guests with autism and other additional needs. They have has also produced a ‘social story’, which families can use to familiarise themselves with the hotel and its layout before they arrive, and facilities for in-room dining.
All this progress to improve the holiday experience for those with additional needs not only benefits the ASD guest but creates an enviorment whereby hotels and holiday providers may be more willing to cater and adapt to individual needs, instilling confidence and extending the all-important welcome to families with ASD or other additional needs.
Families in Lockdown
With one week down many of us have had our lives changed dramatically. Overnight, parents were hurtled into a new world of Lockdown, with no school, extra curriculum activities, playdates and day trips. Home schooling is the new buzz word clogging up our news feed. We are no longer receiving what’s app notifications on match times and training schedules but on links to free curriculum subscriptions and lockdown ideas. The new FOMO is home schooling with parents expected to switch into our new roles seamlessly with no planning or preparation. Never mind the parents who are sharing the kitchen table as a home office.
There seems to be a frantic frenzy to create schedules covering all aspects of the curriculum while children struggle to cope with the sudden halt to their daily routine and been cooped up in their homes without their usual loved ones visiting. I don’t know about you but the amount of arguments and shouting in my house has risen ever so slightly……. Remember learning covers a multitude of disciplines include lego, drawing and imaginative play so we should not feel stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure. Love and supporting our children through these difficult times is our job first and foremost.
Looking back on the last week, I have decided on a routine that suits our family, as I do think it is important to maintain some sort of routine but I also feel it is unique time for us sit back and take stock. Do the things that we are always to too busy to do. Bake a few more cakes, teach the kids how to bake or cook an evening meal. Watch a few more movies, have a few more cuddles and learn how to play cards together. A good friend of mine introduced me to the card game Dobble and charades, the old “play the game version” and not the board game, are firm favourites in my home. Social distancing or stay at home seems to be the most on trend hashtags and while I know it is critical, finding a quite beach or woods for a walk every day or so is vital for our minds and soul. There is a lot of worry in the air and the media are bombarding us with warnings so we need to find ways to keep our homes calm during this lockdown and taking time out or relaxing the schedules seems like a good fit to me. We have also made a few trips to a local pitch and putt course as we have our own clubs and there is no need to interact with anyone else. Craig pops in to pay and the kids wait outside for him so we are keeping our social distance.
Another friend sent me this fantastic link which is a simple yet extremely useful guide for keeping children entertained while learning that has been added to The Everyman Palace resource page. There is something for everyone whatever your school of thought is on entertaining the kids during these crazy times. I love the tip of The Glucksman Art Gallery who are offering daily art activities. Kudos to whoever put this together as it will be my new go to book of tricks in the weeks/months ahead. Just remember we have always been our children’s main educator, so we just need to do what we have always done.
Improvisation is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Improvisation is a very spontaneous performance without specific or scripted preparation. Improvisational plays are a simple activity for kids and one of my favourite lock down ideas to occupy the kids. Just give them an idea and allow them 15 mins to come up with a plan themselves. You can also allow them to create their own props and costumes wit whats available in the cupboard to them.
Improvisational plays are a great tool for teaching children and helping them develop new skills. Through this form of play, children strengthen language and communication skills, learn to use their own initiative, develop creativity and learn about the world around them. That’s not all, they will also learn how to work together, problem-solve, and increase concentration.
Here are a few fun suggestions for short kids plays:
Two friends enter a haunted house and see a ghost.
A waiter trying to train a incompetent new employee.
A movie star at a premier.
A talk show host dealing with a nutty guest.
A kid trying to convince a parent to keep a stray dog.
The power goes out in 2020.
A TV Game Show.
First day at new school.
Two toys come to life after a toy shop closes.
A patient tries to sneak out of a hospital.
Three friends fall into a rabbit hole.
A magician turns a person into a dog by accident.
A protester tries to stop people going into a toy shop.
A court battle over who owns a toy doll found on Grafton Street.
You could also create a whatsapp group between friends and upload your videos. Any child that does not like to act could be the camera person!
“The small girl smiles. One eye flickers,
She whips a pistol from her knickers”
These are the words that brought a packed house down in The Everyman Palace this afternoon as the young audience enjoyed the performance of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. The story of little red riding hood and the three little pigs were brought to life by the Narrator, Chris Schmidt – Martin, who also took on the many personas in a most humours and dramatic way. He was joined on stage by a 11 piece orchestra, not only captivating the audience of young children who would not see an orchestra perform up close that often but also told a story through playful and mischievous music.
I was worried that Lonán (3 year old) would not be entertained by a narrator in a musical setting but when she starting shouting “not by the hair of my chinny chin chin” and “I will huff and puff and blow your house in” I knew I was proven wrong! The highlight for me was when the orchestra sneaked off stage and the children had to remember each instrument and call them back. At the same time it appealed to the older ones with the witty humour and when Thomas (10 years old) said “Is it over already?”it got the seal of approval from me.
It’s a pity it is not running next week as it is an outstanding performance to honour world book day!