Dublin is a fantastic city for a family breaks because like many cities there is so much to do but Dublin City is unique in that it offers a lot for families in a small geographically area. Our children love the hustle and bustle of this busy capital and look forward to a trip every so often. We have not been in a couple of years so with the opening of the new and exciting Explorium, National Sports and Science Centre, we decided to head off.
I have previously stayed in The Castleknock Hotel amongst others and decided to return here for a number of reasons, namely location, service, facilities and most importantly the family rooms. The hotel is located in Castleknock just off the M50 and very easy to find following google maps. We prefer a hotel on the fringes of the city centre for parking and it is easier to find your way around. The rooms sizes and prices are also always more favourable. It’s not as if we need to be close to the nightlife these days so The Castleknock is more convenient for our needs as a family. It’s location in relation to some of Dublin’s main family attractions is perfect. Go back onto the M50 and go north to Tayto Park (approx 25 mins) or head south the Imaginosity (approx 20 mins), Explorium (approx 25 mins) and Dundrum Shopping Centre (approx 25 mins). Fort Lucan is only a 7 minute drive while Dublin Zoo is only a 10 minute drive as Castleknock is situated just behind Phoenix’s Park. You will actually enter the back of the Phoenix Park thus avoiding the city centre.
In fact Phoenix Park is so close that we took a walk here on our first evening to stretch the legs and the kids were excited to spot Mr. D’s pad. We found a gorgeous restaurant/pub called Hole in The Wall just outside one of the side gates (Blackhorse Avenue Gate). It has such charming decor, outside seating and plenty of space for families. The children’s options were excellent. Saoirse got the kid’s chicken curry and rice and I was sorry I did not get it myself even though my salmon dish was divine. Thomas got battered fish and chip which was a half portion of the adults option and Craig was very pleased with his steak. It is a very relaxed place for kids and very reasonable as the kids got a drink and dessert all for €10.
When we returned to The Castleknock Hotel we were not surprised to see quite and few families around the lobby area having a drink or some food as it really is one of Dublin’s top child friendly hotels. You can see evidence of how they pride themselves on being family friendly throughout the hotel. From the table at reception with directions to all the top family attractions, offers of board games for the rooms, to the table with sun cream and hand wipes at the door to the outdoor area. However, it is the facilities such as the swimming pool and the playground which make you feel really welcome as a family. The pool area is beautiful and there are two little pools for the small ones but best of all it was a very warm pool so much so that you would notice it.
There is a large seating area just off the bar and restaurant and the playground sits adjacent to it. This was perfect for dining as the kids could play while we were waiting for our food and after dinner we squeezed in a little glass of wine while they were busy playing. It’s a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee after breakfast in the morning also!
With any family break I always feel that the room size is most important as if it’s too small you can get somewhat claustrophobic. The Castleknock Hotel prides themselves on their family rooms and their rooms have recently undergone a refurbishment. They are an excellent size and they have options for up to 5 in one room very comfortably or interconnecting rooms which we had. The decor is very stylish, there is no scrimping on luxury for size.
The kids received goodie bags on arrival so they felt extra special and in that were our passes to Dublin Zoo as they were included in the package we were booked under. They also have a summer package including Tayto park passes. The goodie bags are handy for taking with you on your day out as they included little treats and water.
We were very excited to check out Explorium and were not disappointed. The National Science and Sports centre contains more than 300 exhibits spanning 110,000 sq ft near Sandyford. Our top favourites were the G-force anti-gravity loop where Craig was harnessed into a bicycle and rotated 360 degrees on a circular track, the lightning room where we learned how it is made and saw a lightning show and Movie world where Saoirse got to try out to try out the different tricks and techniques that can be used to craft a piece of video content. In the Senses exhibit, visitors will be able to test their sensory abilities compared to animals with extraordinary abilities, exploring bio-electricity, magneto-reception and thermos-reception. In the sports area you can try scaling dizzy heights with climbing, caving in Ireland’s longest indoor cave, experience a formula one race and so much more. They even had a section for little ones with dress up area, make and do, sensory area, climbing, outdoor play area and again many exhibits where they learn through play. There is something for everyone but a day is not enough as they are wrecked after a few hours and our two were keen to get back to the pool in The Castleknock Hotel. I have promised them I will bring them back soon as there is more they want to try out. A family ticket for two adults and two children is €70 for the science centre and well worth it. The climbing or caving is €15 but I would keep this for another day as there is so much to do in the science centre alone.
While we have been to Dublin Zoo a couple times already, the kids were insisting on going again as they love Dublin Zoo even though we go to Fota Wildlife Park regularly. There is always something new to see here and the animals never disappoint especially the Sea Lions and Gorillas. This time around we planned our day in accordance with the talks as our older two are of an age where they learning about conservation and love to ask questions making for a very interesting day. All the zoo keepers gave interesting age appropriate talks and answered every questions with great patience.
As coeliacs we are limited in options for dining in Dublin Zoo and we were in the mood for something more substantial so we had our lunch in The Phoenix Park Cafe just around the corner from the zoo. The Phoenix Park Cafe is really a hidden gem for families. I love it. Here you will find an array of healthy and vibrant salads, freshly baked quiches gorgeous organic coffee roasted in Wicklow. Cakes and slices are baked fresh everyday, and there are plenty of freshly made gluten free options too. What a treat! The outdoor seating area is the courtyard of what seems to be the renovated farm buildings of Ashford Castle and now the visitor centre. It is truly unique.
Right next door is one of Dublin’s largest and in my opinion best playgrounds as well as the old walled Victorian gardens. You could even make a second day in Phoenix Park by renting bikes at the front gate of the park, cycling around and discovering Farmleigh, Áras an Uachtaráin, the resident deer and this area (Ashtown Castle visitor centre).
Back at our hotel we were also very well taken care of in terms of dining as both coeliacs and a family. There are two restaurants, Earth & Vine, their signature restaurant and 22 Bar & Restaurant for casual dining. The Lobby is the hotel patisserie while the Lime Tree Bar is the main bar. We choose the Earth & Vine Restaurant which has been recently refurbished and awarded ‘Best Place to Eat’ for two consecutive years at the Fingal Dublin Business Excellence Awards. The surroundings were very sumptuous and the food only divine. They even had gluten free pizzas for the kids. There is no questioning their credentials as Dublin’s top child friendly hotels with the pancake machine at breakfast causing great excitement in our party and each morning they cooked a gluten free Irish breakfast for Saoirse and I so there was no cross contamination and with gluten free sausages and puddings we were truly spoilt!!
After all that fun we were sad to leave our room at The Castleknock Hotel and Dublin because as usual there was so much more we could have done but we are looking forward to returning sometime soon. I could not fault it as the service was excellent and the welcome we received as a family was very genuine which is why I feel it is one Dublin’s top child friendly hotels. Click the above names to find out more!
Killarney as a base to explore the world famous Co. Kerry!!
As a big fan of the mobile home holidays, this year we choose to stay in Beech Groove Caravan Park so we could explore probably our most famous county, Kerry!! Killarney is a fantastic base for exploring Kerry as it is in easy reach of most of the major towns and tourist hotspots of Kerry. There are many Family Fun Things to do in Killarney and we wanted to check these out!!
Family Accommodation in Killarney
Beech Groove Caravan Park is situated in Fossa which is just a few short miles outside Killarney and on the main road to Killorglin and Dingle. It has fantastic views of the Mc Gilly Cuddy Reeks and is a quiet haven to the hustle and bustle of Killarney town.
It is easy to know that Beech Groove Caravan Park is a family-run caravan as you will regularly meet Joan, Tony and their family as they ensure the caravan park is well run and everyone is happy. They cater for touring caravans, dorm mobiles, motor homes and tents. We stayed in one of the 8 static luxury mobile homes for hire.
Our mobile home had three bedrooms, two with two singles and one double. There was a separate shower and toilet as well as a large open plan kitchen, dining and sitting area. It was very bright and most importantly spotless clean. Often I would give the mobile home a quick clean before we unpack but on this occasion I was pleasantly impressed as there was not a speck of dust in site! The mobile homes were not only modern but well-kept and what I loved the most is they offered plenty in the way of storage for all our paraphernalia.
Next door our friends stayed in another mobile home which was slightly bigger but with a similar layout. We had all we needed for cooking and in the larger mobile home there was a separate fridge and freezer, perfect for this type of holiday as we came armed with some dinners we made at home so we reduced our workload while away! Most evenings we were enticed to eat outdoors as we were provided with outside table and chairs and even though it was not the warmest part of our summer the holiday feel onsite would encourage you outdoors! Just to note though that bed linen is not always provided but can be at an extra charge.
Facilities at Beech Grove Caravan Park
The park has all the usual facilities such as a Shower/Toilet block, large camper’s kitchen with kettle, toaster, microwave, fridge/freezer etc. and finally a shop next door to the TV Room with a pool table and other games also. Wi-Fi is free onsite and there are plenty of barbeques as well as outdoor table and chairs to enjoy. There was a small playground in front of the camping area and next door to the kitchen.
The Park is a 10 min drive from Killarney town center. If you wanted to walk, there is a beautiful walk through the Fossa way, which links with the National Park. A five minute walk from the park is a pub and restaurant while just next door on the other side is a new public playground with a mini gym for adults.
It’s best feature by far was the view and if you were camping I would suggest requesting a spot on the upper level which is more private but the views are gorgeous! To find out more about Beechgrove Caravan Park Click Here!
Family Fun Things to do in Killarney and Surrounds
Killarney is famous as a tourist hotspot for a reason, there is an abundance of fun to be had at every turn. We visited some of the many Family Fun Things to do in Killarney and around the area to discover our favourite family attractions.
This was our first visit to Kennedy’s Pet Farm even though I had passed their sign on the Cork road many times. Kennedy’s Farm stands out from all the others in that when you first enter you are greeted by the local resident committee made up of calves, sheep and goats rambling around and beware they are not shy about checking your hands for any treats you may have picked up for them at the gate. All the children loved this and proceeded to play and cuddle these very friendly animals. However, Lonán, as a toddler, was mesmerised and if she had got her way we would have spent the whole day here and ventured no further.
There is very little farm machinery but plenty of animals to pet including cuddly kittens, puppies and rabbits. For us fairy fans the fairy walk through the wood was a treat and the outdoor play area has something for every age and child with plenty of seating for us to enjoy the views while they play. However, the indoor areas were superb especially for a wet day. There was an indoor wooden maze with play areas to discover as well as an indoor sand pit area which is another word for paradise for our children so we had to beg, drag and bribe them out of here. There were plenty of showers that day so this place is perfect for a wet day also. They even brought some pets indoors for petting when it rained! To find out more about Kennedy’s Pet Farm Click Here!
Just make sure you bring a packed lunch and plenty of snacks as we got caught out here and we could have stayed the whole day if we had more food. There is a coffee shop onsite but it only offers light snacks and beverages. The charge is €8 each for adults and children with a family ticket (2 adults & 3 Children) costing €35 and under 2’s are free.
Next on our list is The Playdium in Tralee as it rained for few days we were there and this was another excellent thing to do on a rainy day. This was my second time at the Playdium play centre in Tralee and I was looking forward to returning. One of the first things that will strike you is the cleanliness of this place and at all times you will see someone cleaning! The staff are very helpful and even took time to play with Lonán on a number of occasions in the baby play area. If you arrive in flip flops like us they have a variety of socks in all colours and sizes for just €1. While this play centre is here for quite a number of years it is as fresh and modern as the day they opened. It is easy to see that one of the owners are on site at all times, paying great attention to detail. A child’s entry costs €8. The playdium is located is a large retail park which is also home to Debenhams, Next and many more house hold names if you want to get some shopping in too!
Tralee was approx. 30 mins from our campsite so we also paid a visit to The Aqua Dome. You would want to give yourself a full day here and if the swimming pool with all the slides and play areas was not enough they have now added Aqua Golf outside. So the aqua dome is much more than your typical swimming pool as it boosts a lazy river, high fume slide, river rapids, waves, outdoor falling rapids, toddler slides and general play areas with a pirate theme. For lunch we just wrapped some towels around the kids and popped into the coffee shop before we went back to it. They loved it so much they stayed until they were too exhausted to do any more so I would definitely recommend a day here.
Adult day passes are €16 while children are €13 and under than 2 are free. Family Tickets start at €52.20 for 2 adults and 2 children but what I loved the most is that they offer weekly passes for those holidaying in the area and can tailor a pass depending on the length of the stay. This is perfect if you are camping locally and wanted a daily swim. The weekly family pass was €150 and I am sure you would get your money’s worth.
The Aqua Golf is beautifully landscaped with water features, a cave, fountains, ponds full of leaping trout and a 40 foot high water fountain. It is a very new feature with a very modern look and feel and offers a good challenge for those families that like a bit of competition. A family ticket will set you back €15.00.
Cragg Cavewas the biggest surprise of the week. Only 30 mins drive from our caravan park and in the Castleisland direction. Cragg Cave is one of those hidden gems that I love to discover. Cragg Cave is not only a 1 million years old cave wonderland of stalagmites and stalactites but it is also home to a large fun filled play centre with separate toddlers play area, a climbing wall and rodeo bull ride. It has a gorgeous gift shop and the restaurants draws locals as well as the tourist from far and wide. You can get a combined ticket to both the play centre and cave for just €11 a child and this also includes the climbing wall and rodeo bull when they are open. However, Cragg cave also offer a holiday membership from €30 for three months over April, May and June if you were staying again for a length of time in the area.
What made the cave visit so unique is that is very much geared towards the young audience and our guide had amazing patience to answer the avalanche of questions she was asked (sometimes twice) throughout the tour. But to top it all off when we emerged out of the cave at the end of the tour she offered the children some “samples of bone fragments, gem stones, diamonds and rock that had been discovered in the cave” from her pocket to take home and they were not only thrilled but amazed……. Needless to say this selection process went on for as long as the tour!!!!
Back inside we were hard pushed to fit in the rodeo bull, climbing wall, back to the play centre and all before we even enjoyed the outdoor play ground. Believe me there is another full day here so come early and bring a book to enjoy!! Click here to find out about Crag Cave!
Not many people know about our next find, The Kerry Bog Village Museum just a 25 mins drive from our caravan park beyond the town of Killorglin. An adult ticket is €6.50 while children are €4.00. The village is made up of a selection of period thatched cottages, fully furnished with authentic antiques, complete with sound effects and figurines. Outdoors, there were displays of rural farm equipment, used by turf cutters and farmers of the time period. Thomas had great fun trying to guess what they were.
The village is also home to some friendly Kerry bog ponies and two large but very friendly Irish wolf hounds. I would suggest you bring a picnic as it is small and compact so you could take a seat and enjoy a picnic while the children wander and explore at their own pace for an hour or two. There is a very well-known pub with excellent bar food next door, The Red Fox Inn if you want something more substantial.
Killarney’s National Park is famous the world over and the best way for families to enjoy it I think is by bike. You can join the bike trail just about 400 yards from the caravan park and the first stop would have to be the Knockreer Playground or the little tea rooms not too far from this before heading down to Ross Castle 3 km from the tea-rooms. The children will not notice the km go by as they will be distracted by the many jaunting cars on the route along with the spectacular surroundings. There is a charge to enter the castle itself but I think a cycle around is plenty for the kids!
We also discovered a little hidden gem in The Blue Pool Walk that is left just after The Blue Pool Art Gallery on the road to Muckross House, apporx 10 mins drive from Killarney. It is a gentle loop walk for children that takes around an hour and the main attraction is the most unusual blue pool of water surrounded in the most magnificent array of trees and scenery. It is very easy to miss from the road so look out for Cloghereen Woods and you are in the right spot just after The Muckross Park Hotel.
Knockreer Playground is a 6 minute drive from Beechgrove Caravan Park on the road into Killarney and is one of my firm favourites as playgrounds go for many years. It is situated in to lush surroundings of the national park and has plenty to offer in the way of fun from climbing frames to little wooden trains! For more information on Knockreer Playground Click Here!
Beech Groove Caravan Park is beside the main road to Killorglin and some of the mobile homes are situated along the front by the road which can be noisy at night. If you have children that need peace and quiet to sleep or may make a dash to hop the wall for the main road I would suggest that you book one of the mobile homes higher up the park and away from the road.
We head off for a week with friends every year so we can catch up, the kids are occupied and we have company in the evenings as our other halves often head to work mid-week. It is very relaxing staying in a caravan park as the kids will play together on the bikes, trot up and down to the playground and explore more freely than at home. As you know once they are happy, we are happy and can relax. The mobile home is even easier to manage especially if we are on our own mid-week. The location of the campsite was great with the national park and local playground on its doorstep as well while Killarney and many of the attractions were easy and quick to access. Killarney surprised with all there was to do for families and we even had plenty of choice on the wet days!
What the Kids said about Killarney
The highlight for the kids was the playground next door to the caravan park and our day at The Dome in Tralee; they certainly feel they did not have enough time here!!
Explore the Birthplace of Ancient Ireland – Co. Meath – Family Holiday in Ireland
For our Easter Family Holiday in Ireland this year we decided to explore County Meath as Saoirse has been learning all about Newgrange this year and was eager to make a visit. We had planned a five days break but ended up spending six days in Meath as we were trying to fit in so much.
Tourism Ireland describes Meath as the “Birthplace of Ancient Ireland”. I was anticipating plenty of heritage sites to explore on our family break, from the Hill of Tara, Newgrange, The Battle of the Boyne and Slane Castle, and I wasn’t disappointed. What’s more, as a family holiday destination, county Meath has also so much more to enjoy.
Family Accommodation in Co. Meath
On this trip we choose self-catering Family Accommodation in Co. Meath. We stayed in Decoy Country Cottages, a short 10 minutes from Navan town. The cottages themselves are situated around a courtyard within the old stable and farm buildings of the country house nearby.
When we arrived, I was really pleased to see how luxurious and spacious our cottage was inside, and picturesque and quaint from outside.
The cottage provided all the usual mod cons and so much more. In fact, it was almost better equipped than my own kitchen at home, which made family breakfast and dinner time so easy. The holiday got off to a great start when I saw our beautiful welcome pack of locally sourced eggs, bread, chocolates and more. Most of the normal kitchen condiments were provided as well; olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper etc. This just takes the hassle out of holidays, making more time for spending quality time with my family.
The cottages were extremely spacious with a large kitchen and sitting room downstairs as well as two large ensuite rooms upstairs but most importantly the interior was fresh and elegant throughout.
What I loved the most was the eco-friendly policy, which is evident from the solar panels to the eco-friendly detergents provided. I particularly loved the Voya spa products in the bathrooms which I was determined to enjoy (and I did!). They also added a touch of pampering to the already luxurious feel of the cottages.
The area outside was very secure, as there is a ‘no car’ policy in the courtyard and the front gate required a code for access. I felt comfortable letting Lonan, my two-year-old daughter, ramble around herself. One of the cottages is a dedicated children’s’ den which was equipped for all ages, from small babies, tweens to teens, with a play station, toy kitchen, blackboard, board games, air hockey, snooker table and much more. There is a gym next door to the children’s’ den, open to over 16s.
Every morning, the children would excitedly open the cottage door to greet their new four-legged friends, Milo the dog and three friendly cats. Instead of trying to get the kids to put their tablets away, we had to convince them that their new pets had enough petting so we could go and explore the area.
There was so much to do outside and it felt so safe and secure, I often had to search for the kids and encourage them in when it rained. The playground was modern and clean and had a brilliant sand pit with toys, for major excavation work. Ducks, geese and hens proved to be an enormous source of entertainment for Lonάn, but the kids were most excited about the tree house which was straight from a movie set, built in the amongst the trees in the garden of the main house. Let’s just say when we ventured out for day trips and it was time to go home, they were always happy to oblige so that they could play some more back at base.
The most amazing aspect of this place was the location. On the Bank Holiday Monday, we drove into Heuston train station in Dublin city and it only took us 37 minutes door to door. There is also a train in the nearby town of Dunboyne that will take you into the city. Imaginosity was another day trip, only a 40-minute drive along the M50. Newgrange was ten minutes away, while The Hill of Tara was ten minutes in the other direction. The Battle of the Boyne was about a 15 minute drive. You do need to book in advance for Newgrange and if you are making a trip to the Hill of Tara, Maguire’s café is a must.
There is so much more to do in this region, such as Tayto Park, Waterpark Funtasia, Rathbeggan Lakes and Slane Castle. To be honest, if you had a week you would not cover it all, and there really is something for everyone. Belfast would also make for a fun day trip, approx. 1 hour away.
Navan town has plenty in the way of retail therapy and gorgeous options for eating out so if you don’t want to travel too much, then you don’t have far to go to find everything you need!
Places to Eat in Meath and Surrounds
There are many restaurants to choose from in the nearby village of Johnstown or even the town of Navan but our top picks for the area are Room 8 Cafe and Restaurant which is located on the high street. The food here is exceptional, decor is only divine and most of all the service was superb. They had lovely kids options and overall it was reasonably priced. So if you want a five star meal in a family friendly hotel this is for you.
Another favourite for an evening meal would have to be Crave Restaurant just minutes from the main street. The food here was divine and we had excellent choice. What I loved the most was they brought carrot, cucumber and celery sticks with a dip for the kids, while we waited for the food. I never saw them eat so much veggies! The presentation was so attractive the kids gobbled all this healthy food up. Extremely family friendly and the fact that they were busy on a Tuesday night at 7pm shows the locals are major fans too!
For lunch we took a recommendation from the locals and were not disappointed. Maguires Cafe is located at the entrance to The Hill of Tara and locals travel far and wide to this spot – so be prepared for a small queue. However, it is truly worth the wait. The kids got a toastie, chips and hot chocolate all for €5 and we were amazed with our main courses of a goats cheese salad and burger. It was more like an evening meal than lunch. I could see why the locals love this place and why the car park was full on a Wednesday at 2pm. Best of all, you can take in the Hill of Tara from here.
It is hard to come up with a negative. The only thing I could think of was the Wi-Fi – not the strongest during our stay but there was work underway while we were there to rectify that.
County Meath gets our thumbs up. I would recommend to visit it now before it gets discovered! It is certainly a hidden gem right now. Since I have come home, I am recommending this location for families wanting to visit Dublin city, as you have all the convenience of brilliant travel links without the cost or inconvenience of staying in the city with kids. All in all, if you wanted a holiday taking in the attractions of the City, exploring Ireland’s Ancient East and stay in a relaxing and luxurious accommodation, then you would look no further.
What the Kids Said about Decoy Country Cottages
Saoirse, “I loved it because it was really fun and you never got bored.”
To Find out more about Decoy Country Cottages click here!
Family Breaks Clare
Clare is a county that has been ingrained in my brain as a place of fun, sea, sand and holidays as we were brought to this beautiful county time and time again as a child. I still love to make a trip here when I can as I always feel the minute you go over the border cars slow down and the relaxed way of life embraces you.
When we think “Family Breaks Clare“, the first thing that usually comes to mind is surfing in Lahinch, Aillwee Caves and The Cliffs of Mohar but if that was not enough there is so much more in this county such as:
Irish Seaweed Safari – The Irish Seaweed Safari is an experience not to be missed! Join the 4th generation Seaweed Foragers and enjoy the spectacular shore walk from the rugged coastline of Caherush meandering along the shoreline enjoying nostalgic views looking out on Spanish Point Bay along with the spectacular Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands.
Trip to Aran Islands -Sail to the Aran Islands or Cruise under the Cliffs of Moher ! Daily sailings to the Aran Islands from Doolin. Visit the spectacular Dún Aengus fort on Inis Mor, get away from it all on Inis Meain or take a quick trip to the smallest one – the beautiful island of Inis Oirr. Or take a Cruise under the Cliffs of Moher. Admire the scale and majestic beauty of the Cliffs of Moher on a 1 hour voyage of discovery.
Bunratty Castle– Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is a must on your itinerary to Ireland. This is your chance to experience a window on Ireland’s past and explore the acclaimed 15th century Bunratty Castle and the 19th century Bunratty Folk Park.
Explore the Burren– The Burren National Park is located in the southeastern corner of the Burren and is approximately 1500 hectares in size. The Park land was bought by the Government for nature conservation and public access. It contains examples of all the major habitats within the Burren: Limestone Pavement, Calcareous grassland, Hazel scrub, Ash/hazel woodland, Turloughs, Lakes, Petrifying springs, cliffs and Fen
Cliff Coastal Walk – Beyond the grounds of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience you can now explore a new 20km coastal walking trail in Clare which will bring you along one of the most outstanding landscapes of Ireland. From LIscannor and Hags Head in the south, along by the majestic Cliffs of Moher and to Doolin in the North, with views over Aill Na Searrach, the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. The trail follows the line of the cliffs and passes through the grounds of the visitor centre. The trail starts on road from Liscannor where you will witness theamazing views of the Cliffs, the famous Aran Islands, Kerry mountains, Galway Bay, O’Briens Tower and the thousands of seabirds make the Cliffs a magical place. Talking telescopes are dotted along the paths as you go.
Caving – Doolin Cave is home to the Great Stalactite. At 7.3 metres (23feet) it is the longest free-hanging stalactite in the Northern Hemisphere. The Great Stalactite, suspended from the ceiling like a chandelier, is truly astounding. Visitors can hardly believe that it was formed from a single drop of water over thousands of years. Extend the adventure from underground to over ground following a charming Farmland Nature Trail that takes a looped walk around the cave setting.
Dolphin Watching– On the western seaboard of Ireland there are places where the distinction between land and sea is blurred. The west Clare peninsula in County Clare, guarding the northern shore of the Shannon estuary is one such place. The Shannon estuary is home to Ireland’s only resident group of bottlenose dolphins. Over 100 dolphins have been identified using the estuary at different times; calves are born each year and are usually encountered.
Rock Climbing– The Burren climbing area is beautiful, with amazing cliffs and spectacular views and climbing instruction for all levels. With a large number of indoor climbing walls developing around the country, there is an increasing interest in trying it out on the real thing.
I think we all know Clare can boost of her nature credentials and stunning beauty but it is also a place rich in culture as around every corner there is a trad festival or trad music nights to enjoy. It is a place where you can bring children to enjoy these fabulous sounds and events often with live music during the day. While my children don’t normally see the inside of a pub from one end of the year to the next I love to bring them in to see a session and Clare is the perfect spot to do so. Some of the great pubs renowned for their sessions would be:
Gus O’Connors Pub, Doolin
The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna
Brogan’s Bar, Ennis
Vaaughan’s Pub, Kilfernora
The most famous Trad festival in Clare has to be Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy taking place every year on the first year of July. It is a week-long summer school of Irish traditional music, song and dance, incorporating tuition, lectures, recitals, concerts and céilithe. Thousands decend on the small town of Milltown Malbay every year and it is a mecca of traditional players from across the globe.
The long, mild afternoons at Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy are devoted to lectures on the various aspects of Irish traditional music heritage and its connections with mainland Europe and North America. There are recitals each evening showcasing the instruments taught at the school, performances in traditional song and dance, and céilithe nightly. The serious work of tuition is complemented by the festival atmosphere in hotels, pubs and on the streets, as students, locals and visitors celebrate Irish traditional music. It’s simply perfect for lovers of music, history, and the craic agus ceol. If you enjoy trad music and are looking for something different look not further than this as one of the top family breaks Clare.
When looking for places to stay you will have plenty of choice for the family in the following hotels never mind all the camp sites available:
So when you are thinking about your next break away there is something for everyone in Clare and that’s I would consider family breaks Clare to one of the best.
Top Ten Hotels with Large Family Rooms in Ireland
Top Ten Hotels with Large Family Rooms in Ireland
Time and time again parents are asking us what hotels can cater for large families and when I say cater they don’t mean how many can be squeezed into a family room but rather have the space for a large family to enjoy their family break comfortably. Here are my top ten hotels with large family rooms in Ireland:
Breaffy House Resort – Castlebar, Co. Mayo – At the Woods there’s a pool, an outdoor playground, astro pitch for footie, an indoor games room and a breakfast train which picks kids up from your room to meet up with other buddies in the kids’ clubs, so Mum and Dad can lie on. If you fancy going off-campus, pack up your giant minivan and decamp to the Museum of Country Life just up the road. It’s perfect for larger families, not just because of the contents but because it’s free – admission tickets add up fast when there’s half a dozen of you. While their family rooms consist of 1 double bed & 4 single beds, accommodating up to 2 adults and 4 children they also offer family suites consisting of 2 bedrooms, with 2 bathrooms. Room 1 consist of 1 double bed & 1 single bed, Room 2 consists of 1 double bed & 1 single bed. Internal door connecting both rooms, accommodating up to 2 adults and 4 children. Click here for their family offers!
Maritime Hotel – Bantry, Co. Cork – One and Two Bedroom Family Suites offer all the comforts of home, but with the luxury of a hotel stay in West Cork. Most importantly, the suites are spacious, making them ideal hotel accommodation for all families – and perfect for extended stays. One bedroom suites sleep up to 2 adults and 2 children and consist of one double bedroom and a separate living area with the option to pull-out the double sofa bed for up to 2 children under 12. Two bedroom suites sleep up to 2 adults and 4 children and consist of one double bedroom, one double or twin bedroom and a separate living area with the option to pull-out the double sofa bed for up to 2 children under 12. As you would expect of a luxury West Cork hotel 24-hour room service compliments the many in-room features which include Kitchenette with Refrigerator, Microwave, Sink and Toaster. For family offers click here!
Castle Durrow Hotel – Durrow, Co. Laois – Stately old houses are often synonymous with pokey rooms. Not so Castle Durrow in Co Laois. This elegant hotel has a variety of family options, including family suites with a king-sized and a single bed in one room and a set of bunks with a single, plus space for a cot, in another. One of Ireland’s most luxurious Country House Hotels located one hour from Dublin, adjoining the quaint village of Durrow,Co Laois. Click here for more info!
Osprey Hotel– Naas, Co. Kildare – A family duplex room (split level) consists of a king size double bed downstairs with a single bed in a large spacious room with plenty space for a cot. Upstairs (entry level) there is a large fold out sofa bed with a balcony that overs downstairs.
Amber Springs Hotel – Co. Wexford – With 30 Specially designed family rooms and and 2 Executive family Suites (which benefit from having 1 double and 2 single beds), the Amber Springs Hotel & Health Spa is minutes away from miles of sandy beaches and within walking distance from the bustling traditional trading town of Gorey. Family Suites consist of a double bed & 2 single beds with an option to include an extra cot or camp bed for the larger family. Executive Family Rooms offer a double bed & 2 single beds with again the option to include a camp bed or cot, spacious seating area, Jacuzzi bath and walk in shower. They also have coolers and bed rails available on request. For more info click here!
Killashee House Hotel – Naas, Co. Kildare – Killashee has many children’s activities for families with a kids camp, movie nights, children’s high tea, fairy forest walks, family swim in the Killashee Leisure centre from 3pm-4pm, children’s pool & outdoor playground with zipline. The family rooms are extra spacious to give everyone plenty of room to relax. Each room boasts two generous double beds and a cosy single bed.
Galway Bay Hotel– Salthill, Galway – With spacious and comfortable family rooms, 2 bedroom family suites large enough for 5 people and interconnecting rooms large enough for 8 people, at Galway Bay Hotel you’ll find space to really relax and enjoy yourselves. At the Galway Bay Hotel, you’re set for a fab family holiday with a fun-filled kids club to entertain whatever the weather, a pool for a splashing time inside, and Salthill beach for the same outside. Everything from the Galway Aquarium to Leisureland to watersports is right on your doorstep.To find out more click here!
Westport Woods Hotel – Westport, Co. Mayo – Situated on part of the Westport House demesne, Westport Woods Hotel is proud to be Ireland’s greenest hotel. For families with two children or more they have a limited number of larger rooms which provide a more spacious environment. These rooms have a double & single bed with a pull out sofa bed or an extra single bed. Their triple rooms consist of either three single beds or a double and two single beds. For their family offers click here!
The Clayton Hotel Sligo– For roominess, the Clayton Hotel in Sligo is hard to beat, with enough space in its family rooms to sleep a family of sic in comfort (if not more) – plus the additional luxury of a sitting area and kitchenette with microwave and fridge, so you can save a little money and eat in. Their Large Two Bedroom Family Suites consist of a king size bed & single bed in one room with open plan second rooms containing 2 single beds and kitchenette facilities including tea/coffee making facilities and a refrigerator. Check out their family offers here!
Delphi Resort– Connemara, Co. Galway – Enjoy short family breaks in Connemara County Galway at Ireland’s Leading Adventure & Spa Resort in a standard family room. Perfect for 2 adults and 2 children, the family rooms have 1 full-size double bed, and a set of bunk beds for the children (up to 1 more bed can be added for families with up to 4 children). They also have exceptionally large 2-bedroom suite with 2 king-size beds (or twins), this stunning space is great for families (2 adults and up to 4 children). This split level suite has 2 large en suite bedrooms, one upstairs and one downstairs.
So what are you waiting for? Take some time out from the usual hustle and bustle of school, homework, activities, matches on the weekend and escape away to one our top ten hotels with large family rooms in Ireland. It is only when you are away and all staying in one space that you truly spend quality down time together.
Camping in Waterford
Clonea in Co. Waterford is home to one of the many fantastic blue flag beaches of the sunny south East with brilliant watersport activities available all summer and if that’s not enough it recently became a gateway to the Deise Greenway. Casey’s Caravan & Camping Park has always been know as a very well run family park overlooking the beach so we made it our mission to check it out this Summer and see why Camping in Waterford is so popular!
There was plenty to do onsite for the kids with a games room, toddler play area (spotlessly clean), outdoor toddler play area, crazy golf, daily kids club, large and well equipped playground and plenty of other children to have fun with. However, our kids only visited the games room and kids club once as they were having too much fun selling their homemade crafts, baking and anything else they could get their hands on at the Marrakech style market stalls outside the playground. This seems to be a yearly phenomenon synonymous with Casey’s Caravan & Camping Park and a cause for great excitement among the younger folk. Many children arrive with their crafts ready to set up their stall before the tent is even unpacked and I loved the spirit of entrepreneurship as well as the maths lesson it gave them!
Camping in Waterford
Now the one thing I noticed since I last visited Dungarvan and Clonea was that every second person seems to be walking with a bike or cycling one and that is a result of the completion of The Deise Greenway. There is a 4 Km route that will take you into the bustling town of Dungarvan and a brilliant playground or why not head the other way towards Waterford. The Greenway offers fantastic little distractions as you enjoy the picturesque countryside namely a little playground, bridges, tunnels and road crossings!! Most days we went for a cycle if we could drag everyone away from the park. Bikes are allowed onsite also so from early morning the kids were outdoors and cycling which seems to be the second favourite thing to do on site, second only to the wheeling and dealing!!!
The facilities were just as fantastic as the atmosphere on site and were spotlessly clean. I even commented to a friend one day that I walked in on the toilets been cleaned three times in one day! There were more than enough showers, toilets, wash basins and best of all a room with a baby bath and changing facilities. There were no dark corners hiding creepy crawlies or wet muddy cold floors in the showers and you could see your reflection in the tiles!!!
The camper’s kitchen was not to be scoffed at either with its washing facilities and two large chest freezers to avail of and all in immaculate condition. Next door was the laundry room with irons, washing machines and dryers. All in all you will find it hard to beat these facilities and we were informed that next year they are adding two family shower rooms to make it easier for families to wash together. It is easy to see that this park is run by a family who are very conscious of parents’ needs and with a passion for camping themselves!
My favourite part of the park was the toddlers play area as it was the perfect place to go with a book as Lonan (15 months) pottered around the play kitchen and all its paraphernalia and I was not a bit bothered about germs. You could clearly see the area was cleaned daily and there was not even a spec of scum never mind dust! This was a perfect indoor activity with little ones when there were rain showers about.
So there is all this fun to be had and we have not even mentioned the gorgeous beach on the doorstep! The beaches in this part of the country are gorgeous and one of the reasons why Camping in Waterford is so popular. The sandy beach of Clonea was the best playground of all and seemed also to be popular with some of our fellow campers for fishing but best of all it’s a watersport haven and you can hire equipment and wetsuits on the beach. Waveworld not only provide many water activities but they also run a kids camp for the month of July and August and you can sign the kids up for as little or many days as you like with offers for a full week. This is a must as children of all skills and abilities are brought together to have fun in the water with the enthusiastic team and believe me all fears and insecurities will quickly disappear while they burn their energy in a most positive way! This activity can be enjoyed in all weathers and there was an excellent variety of beach games, and water activities including kayaking and banana boats. I even noticed some adults hiring kayaks for a relaxing break while the kids were busy at kids camp!!! For more information on Waveworld click here!
We had friends also on site and the common theme amongst us all was the safety of the site. Not only were fellow campers very aware of the children cycling and playing around but the owners have a strict policy of absolute quietness after 11pm and before 8am as well as respecting your neighbours. You have to swipe to get in or out and with security on site we felt very safe and looked after. We were comfortable giving the children scope to roam more freely and this in a way was a great opportunity to teach them responsibilities. Speaking of responsibilities the kids also enjoyed completing the task of collecting water, taking rubbish to the bins and next year they will be promoted to wash up I think!!
Camping is not only great fun for all the family but on a site like this when the kids are having too much fun to do anything else, mums and dads have nothing else to do but sit down, relax, have a chat and most of all chill!!
I could go on about all the activities around the area but really there is no need as you won’t want to venture to far with the beach, Greenway and park itself. To find out more about Casey’s Caravan and Camping Park in Clonea click here!
Best Family Break Ideas in Ireland
Family vacations are something everyone looks forward to, whether its summer vacations, spring break, or winter holidays. Everyone needs some time off and family breaks are just what they need in order to relax and bond with each other. But sometimes one feels confused about what to do when the holidays start. Here are some great family break ideas that you and your family can enjoy:
Connecting with nature
When it comes to great family break ideas, this one is in the top category. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. You get to be in touch with nature, and spend time with family. Back in the city, you are busy working in the concrete jungle; here you can finally come and unwind in the deep forests and countryside. Hearing the birds and other animals, the tiny ripples of the rivers and lakes will soothe and clear your mind from the clutter piled up from other work related stress. You can go to places like Ardmore farms, Allwee cave, Ards Forest Park
Ballygannon Wood, and so many more to choose from.
One of the best family break ideas is fun in the sun, sand, and surf. Nobody can say no to a beach vacation. You can do all sorts of fun things at the beach, like playing volley ball, building sand castles with the kids, picnics, sunbathing, reading a good book or listening to waves crash, and much more. It is fun for both adults and the young ones.
What better way to know about the heritage sites than by visiting them in person. These places have unique stories to them so it is always interesting to know more about them. Family visits are always fun because everyone has their own perspective and this can encourage discussions. Children in particular have a curious and imaginative mind and will be eager to know more about the castles or caves you visit. You can never go wrong with family break ideas that are both fun and educational.
Stimulate yourself and your family with a sense of adventure by having a camping trip. There are many places for you and your family to go for camping in Ireland where you can rent a caravan and live like a true adventurer. You can have bonfire nights, go fishing, have picnics and much more. There are special parks set up especially for campers and caravans that you can go and stay at. Camping is a unique experience and a great way for you to teach your kids some life skills as well. That is why it’s one of the best family break ideas that you can have.
5 Reasons Why Family Breaks Ireland Should Be a Must
Living in this fast paced world and busy in our professional lives, we tend to forget that we have to spend quality time with our families, whether it’s our parents, spouse, or children.
Research shows that families that take vacations tend to be healthier and happier. Well it’s no rocket science but we had to mention that so that you know that’s it’s a proven fact. Here are 5 reasons why you need to take a vacation and plan your family breaks Ireland.
Quality time with the family
Quality family time includes actually engaging with your family and not sitting in the TV lounge with the news on while your kids and spouse are on their phones and tablets or eating dinner quietly at the table.
A family vacation means that you will be away from the daily grind of life, limited use of TV and since you are going to be on the move, less time on wifi that your kids can use. This is the time a family gets to know more about each other and bond with one another.
Create unforgettable memories
When we grow up, all we have are the memories we had while growing up with our parents. We remember every smell, every feeling and moment we spent on our family vacations. Watching old family photos of trips to the countryside or the amusement park would just create an intense nostalgic feeling. Family breaks in Ireland are always an interesting thing because of so many options available such as the countryside, different festivals, camping and caravanning.
A vacation is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to relax and unwind. It gives you and your spouse to take a break from your work and have no pressure about having any deadlines to meet. The kids also enjoy their time because they have no homework, tests or assignments to worry over. So once when you are done with your holiday break, you come back all fresh, energized, and ready to take on anything life throws at you. Family breaks in Ireland should be a regular thing because according to the Irish Examiner, a survey conducted showed that over 60% of Irish people were stressed due to work.
A source of inspiration
Travelling is something that can broaden one’s horizon’s and acts a source of inspiration for many. Many people not only relax on their vacations, but have new experiences that reshape their thinking for the better. They get to meet different and new people, eat new and different food, connect with nature and even get smarter as many scientific studies have proved. Ireland has many picturesque places that are perfect for family breaks like Kerry, Cork and Antrim etc
Food for your mental and physical health
Travelling is really good for a person’s mental and physical health in the sense that not only is it de-stressing but people also tend to walk more and go about in the sun. Exploring different places by walking, rowing boats, climbing hills, and going for a jog in the evening in fresh air just does wonders for the body as well. These are just some of the reasons why family breaks can be beneficial for people in Ireland.
The Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coast
Inspired by the enchanting folklore and tales of natural beauty, The Giant’s Causeway was one of the reasons why we decided to visit Northern Ireland. Saoirse had learnt about it in school this year and had relayed all to Thomas so when we mentioned The Giant’s causeway their imaginations went into overdrive!
Just about 10 minutes from Carrick-On – Rede Rope Bridge is The Giant’s Causeway, renowned for its polygonal columns of layered basalt, it is the only World Heritage Site in N Ireland. We took a guided tour which to approx 30 minutes from the centre to the stones while we listened to a very friendly and most interesting guide.
Unfortunately it began to rain when we were out on the stones but luckily they have a bus service constantly running from the centre to the stones and back again so we hoped on this. This is a great service also it you have young kids who after the walk and exploring the various paths of interest may be too tired for the walk back to the centre. The Giant’s Causeway is made up of 3 promontories – the Little Causeway (1st feature the walker meets), the Middle Causeway (better known as the ‘Honeycomb’) – which has spectacularly precise hexagonal features, followed by the The Grand Causeway. In this immediate area, evocative place names & features abound – Wishing Chair, Wishing Well & Giant’s Gate (all connected with Finn MacCool folklore).
The visitor centre is an attraction in itself with exhibits of the various times of history associated with the site that was mentioned on our guided tour and you would want to give your self a good 45 minutes to explore around here. I was very impressed with the café as the children’s options were delicious and very very reasonable. Our lot had Irish stew with brown bread. There were microwave facilities for heating up baby dinners and bottle warmers. It is a very busy attraction and I would recommend that you give yourself plenty of time to explore even allowing yourself three to four hours so you are not rushed. A family pass will set you back £22.00.
From here we took the Causeway Route to Belfast and this is definitely one of the most scenic routes in Europe. Many people had recommended this route even though it is longer than the main road to Belfast (1.5 hours). The journey took us approx 2.5 hours through pretty villages, along amazing coastlines and over rugged countryside and if I was doing it again I would take the same route as it was most enjoyable and perfect for a game of eye spy!
It does not feel that long and we were surprised when we got to our destination. There are plenty of places on route that you can stop if you want to play in the local playground or for a brief walk along the beach or just to get back onto the main Belfast road.
If you are travelling this way why not tie in a visit to The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and eexplore thatched cottages, farms, schools and shops as you experience life from over 100 years ago. Chat to costumed visitor guides as they demonstrate traditional crafts and meet farm animals in the beautiful parkland of the Folk Museum. Then step aboard majestic steam locomotives and explore horse drawn carriages, electric trams, boats, motorbikes, fire-engines and vintage cars in the Transport Museum. A museum of international renown, The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum is regarded as being amongst the best of its kind in the world.
As you travel into Belfast from this side you will also see signs for Belfast Zoo which is home to more than 140 species of animal, many of which are in danger in their natural habitat. Belfast Zoo is now one of the leading visitor attractions in Northern Ireland attracting around 250,000 visitors a year. Popular attractions include the Asian elephants, giraffes, sea lions and apes.
Nagles Camping & Caravan Park
Doolin has the be one of the most picturesque, friendly and relaxed places in Ireland so we took a short trip for a weekend break and where better to stay than Nagles Camping & Caravan Park looking out across the Atlantic Ocean and the Aran Islands beyond. Nagles, one of the top family friendly camping sites in Clare is located down by the pier and it was lovely to take a walk out every morning to see the hustle and bustle at the pier while the ferries set sail or arrived for The Aran Islands and glimpse across at the Cliffs of Moher in all their splendor.
Once we arrived at the campsite we immediately felt it was a safe and welcoming place for families as you had to go through a barrier each time you went in or out and could only drive very slowly around the site due to plenty of playing children. The site itself is very open and from nearly all directions you can keep an eye on the children playing around on bikes, scooters etc. There is even a superb playground with the soft flooring and excellent play equipment.
The toilet block was top class as were the kitchen and dining facilities. I must say not only were they very clean and fresh but in quite a new state. There was a playroom for older children to keep them well entertained but really you could not go indoors in a place like this as the magnificient surroundings would draw you out. While there is free wifi all around the site they recommend you go into the playroom to get it but even we found it hard here. However we will give them that as with the cliffs as their backdrop and the great ocean view to the front you cannot have it all.
There is a very busy pitch and putt course across the road which is open to locals and tourist alike. You can also rent the clubs so no need to take up space in the car. The shop on site was well stocked and you are only a short walk from local pubs, shops and of course the boats to take in the local trips. We found the owner and staff to be very welcoming and the overall site was very well maintained which is why it is one of our favourite family friendly camping sites in Clare!