48 Hours in Clare – Staycations in Clare

Staycations in Clare

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.

Clare is home to many, many campsites and you find out more in the link here!

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. 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 centre is 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 Dock in 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.

Downsides

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

48 Hours in Co. Clare

Many of you who have visited this beautiful county will agree that it 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!

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.

Clare is home to many, many campsites and you find out more in the link here!

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. 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 centre is 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.

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 Dock in 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.

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.

Downsides

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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.

Places to stay in Cork for families

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.

Cork for Families.

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.

free day out kinsale

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 park overlooking the harbour.

Things to do in Kinsale for Families

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.

Dock Beach Kinsale

Another great family day out is Fota Wildlife Park which is only a 20 minutes’ drive from the Cork International Hotel and the historic town of Cobh is only about 5 minutes further with The Titanic Museum and Spike Island tours, two popular family attractions.

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 Goal and 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.

Cork International Hotel Blog

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.

Downsides

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.

best places to stay in cork for families

Final Thoughts

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.

Click Here for more information on The Cork International Hotel and their special offers!

 

Top Ten Campsites Near The Beach

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.

Top Ten Campsites Near The Beach

  1. RENVYLE BEACH

Co. Galway

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.

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  1. SALTHILL CARAVAN PARK

Co. Galway

Salthill Caravan Park is boarded on 3 side by breath taking views of Galway Bay. There is also access to the strand at the end of the park just 20 meters away.

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  1. MORRISCASTLE

Co. Wexford

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.

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  1. GREENACRES

Co. Clare

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.

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  1. DUNMORE EAST

Co. Waterford

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’.

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  1. KEEL SANDYBANKS CARAVAN & CAMPING PARK

Co. Mayo

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.

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  1. ROSSES POINT CARAVAN PARK

Co. Sligo

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.

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  1. GLENROSS CARAVAN & CAMPING PARK

Co. Kerry

5 Star Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2015, Glenross Caravan Park is one of the many campsites on the Ring of Kerry overlooking Rossbeigh Beach and the Dingle Mountains.

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  1. WAVE CREST CARAVAN PARK

Co. Kerry

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!

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  1. BARLEYCOVE HOLIDAY PARK

Co. Cork

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.

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Our Top Pick!!

CLIFDEN ECO BEACH CAMPING & CARAVANNING PARK

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.

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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.

ASD Friendly Accommodation at the Clonakilty Park Hotel

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.

Clonakilty Park

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.

ASD Friendly

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.

Click Here for more information on the Clonakilty Park Hotel

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.

asd hotel rooms

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.

Click here for more information on the Radisson Blu Hotel

Cork International Hotel

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.

autism friendly

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.

Click here for more information on The Cork International Hotel

Hotels with Sensory Play Rooms

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.

Click here for more information

Clayton Hotel Sligo

Yeats Country Hotel

Roe Park Resort

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.

Lockdown

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.

Click here for the link to Primary age appropriate tasks, activities and approaches!

Click here for full listings of resources for adults as well as kids.

Lockdown Ideas – Improvisations

Lock down Ideas – Improvisation Plays

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!

Keep an eye out here for more lock down ideas!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Revolting Rhymes

“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.

revolting rhymes the everyman

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!

The Adventure of the Phantom Ship!

where is the ghost ship in BallycottonWho needs jungle gyms, pet farms or an endless list of mid-term break activities to occupy the kids this week, when you have a ghost ship washed up on the Cork Coastline. This bizarre story of a phantom ship coming ashore as a result of a great storm is the stuff of legends and has captured the imaginations of my kids. The tale of the ghost ship has made headlines throughout the world and how lucky are we that it is on our door step just in time for mid-term break. So this morning, while Craig was having a heated debate with the kids about heading outside and away from screens, he had an idea, bundled the kids into the cars with hiking boots and jackets and headed off in search of the ghost ship.

So where is the ghost ship in Ballycotton?

They walked along the cliff walk from Ballyandreen Beach and viewed the ship from afar. The kids were so excited on their little adventure that they walk along hilly terrain without complaint. Viewing the ship from afar they were mesmerised by the site of this old battered ship on the rocks bringing the legend to life. Once back on the beach they were too excited to go home and splashed and played about the rock pools on this cold February morning as if it was a balmy July afternoon.

ghost shipWhile it is too dangerous to get anywhere close to the vessel, the fact that is marooned in this position out of reach only serves to romanticise the mystery that shrouds it further. So please do not go anywhere near the vessel or put you and your family in harm’s way, leaving it be the bit harmless fun it is. However, that said, if you are looking for something to do with the kids this mid-term. I can highly recommend the hike if the weather is fine just put on wellies and old clothes as it is mucky and beware it can be windy. It is not suitable for buggies or toddlers on foot. It is completely free and how likely are they every going to encounter a phantom ship again. We have had such great discussions about the latter over the last few days that I know this will be a memory that they will recall forever.

Children’s Afternoon Tea for a Special Celebration

Children’s Afternoon Tea Cork

My first baby turned 12 last weekend and we wanted to mark this special occasion with a few close friends so we were delighted to take Vienna Woods up on their offer of their Children’s Afternoon Tea. Twelve is a difficult age to find an activity that they will enjoy with a group and it was only while there that I realised how perfect this activity was for both Saoirse and I. So we got all dressed up in our glad rags and headed off to Vienna Woods on Saturday evening to enjoy this much raved about Children’s Afternoon Tea in Cork. We were pleasantly surprised to enter our own little private area dressed beautifully for afternoon tea with balloons and all. We were greeted by a most enthusiastic and friendly waiter who could not do enough for us. He had great banter with the children so much his character added to the whole experience.

Children's Afternoon Tea Cork

The hot chocolate was served in beautiful china to the children’s delight and when their afternoon tea platters were served they were too excited to know where to start. The wonderful thing about afternoon tea is you have plenty of time to eat, chat, take a break and eat again. While the ham sandwiches were lovely it was the nutella sandwiches that went down a treat as this is something they never get a home. For Saoirse and I, as coeliac, we were really spoilt for choice with gorgeous sandwiches on fresh bread, scones and plenty of sweet treats (not just your usual brownie selection….)

It was a wonderful opportunity just to relax, chill out and enjoy the chat around the table. We left or little threenager at home and had a real girlie evening (bar Thomas, who by the way enjoyed it as much as the girls) with some friends. As Saoirse moves into a new chapter in her life it made me realise that this is not a time for mourning my little baby but a new and exciting era where we can both enjoy such evenings together as opposed to me watching her from the table of a jungle gym or standing under a tree as she climbs.

afternoon tea in cork

The only phone in the room was mine and it quickly disappeared so I could join in the giggles and sample all the delicious treats. Now that is saying alot for an activity for this age. We all had such fun and after I explained the history of afternoon tea in the luxurious surroundings they felt very grand indeed! I had mentioned afternoon tea to Saoirse before and she was not too bother but now she wants to know when we can go again.

Afternoon Tea is really more an experience than just a meal and Vienna Woods have all the ingredients for a really sumptuous and special day out and I would say tops my list for Children’s Afternoon Tea in Cork.

Children’s Afternoon Tea in Cork

Price (at the time of writing):

Afternoon Tea: €28 per person

Afternoon Tea including Prosecco: €32 per person

Afternoon Tea for Kids: €12 per person

To find our more Click Here!

Cork On Ice

Cork on Ice is one of our favourite family Christmas traditions and while we normally go on 27th December this year we went a little later just after new year and I must say it was much more enjoyable as the crowd was smaller and it was more relaxed. In particular the beginner area was much quieter which is very important if you are nervous with the smallies like me.

This year was Lonán’s first time taking to the ice and as Frozen mega fan she was all excited. They had cute little skates for her age (aged 3) which were very safe and allowed her to walk as normal on the ice. While she had fun, she only lasted about half an hour before giving up for the all important hot chocolate and tempting crepes.

The older ones (10,11) loved flying around the larger rink and it’s amazing to see how confident they are on the ice after the annual visit over the last few years. The time slot was 50 mins which is a perfect amount of time as they were just getting tired. The new location of centre park road is very central and the parking is excellent. All in all a most enjoyable experience and we are hoping to return for saoirse’s birthday in a couple of weeks.

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