Top Family Days Out in Ireland
The summer holidays are over, meaning it can be a challenge to find ways of entertaining all members of the family at the weekend.
Dealing with variables such as the Irish weather, teenager mood-swings and toddler tantrums can be trying, so we've pulled together some suggestions that should keep everyone happy.
Skywalk Rope Bridge, Kells Bay House and Gardens, Ring of Kerry
Not for the fainthearted, the Skywalk Rope Bridge at the Kells Bay House and Gardens estate stretches 11 metres across the River Delligeenagh and is surrounded by stunning sub-tropical woodland.
The rope bridge was constructed when a storm in 2010 damaged the existing concrete bridge. Visitors can also explore the award-winning gardens that are filled with a variety of rare sub-tropical plants. These include The Ladies Walled Garden, The Primeval Forest, The River Ramble and The Bamboo Glade. Fallen trees on the estate have been artfully carved to resemble an armchair and dinosaurs.
Refreshments are available at the Café and if you can’t bear to tear yourself away, accommodation is also available. The spectacular estate is located between Cahirsiveen and Glenbeigh.
For more information, visit: http://www.kellsbay.ie/visit-the-gardens
Bantry House and Garden, Co Cork
Bantry House and Garden is a stately home overlooking Bantry Bay in the Co. Cork, located just over an hour from Kinsale.
Originally the seat of the Earls of Bantry (1690), the 18th-century mansion and magnificent gardens has belonged to the White family since about 1765. History lovers will delight in browsing the display of antique furniture, tapestries and other rare works of art. The estate’s exquisite formal garden provides a perfect backdrop to spectacular views of Bantry Bay. The White family is still in residence on the estate and are currently restoring parts of the estate that has fallen into disrepair.
Tea, guided tours and B&B are available but check the website for seasonal opening hours.
For more information, visit: https://www.bantryhouse.com/
Knights & Conquests, Granard, Co Longford
Experience Medieval Ireland in picturesque Granard village as you take an interactive journey back in time beside Ireland’s Tallest Norman Motte.
Standing at 544 feet high, the Motte was built in 1199 by Lord Chief Justice of Ireland Richard de Tuite. Children can truly immerse themselves in the experience by dressing up in Norman clothes and receiving their Norman name and duties for their visit. The experience promises to be fun and educational as you come face-to-face with famous characters of the period, including Henry II, King Rory O’Connor and Pope Adrian IV. You can also visit a created Norman home or dig for artefacts in the Norman CSI room.
For more information, visit: https://www.knightsandconquests.ie/
The Shannon Blueway, Co Leitrim
If your family has energy to burn, then head to the Shannon Blueway where you can choose from canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, walkers and cyclists can follow the Blueway’s trails and soak up the scenery from there. A variety of local activity providers will help you on your way and when you've worked up an appetite, head to The Barge in nearby Leitrm Village for a hearty meal. Alternatively, if the sun is shining, bring a picnic to make the most of it!
For more information, visit: https://www.bluewaysireland.org/destinations/shannon
Ben Bulben, Co. Sligo
With its distinctive flat-topped shape, Ben Bulben stands at 526m above sea level and is magnificent to behold.
For those who wish to climb to the summit, Ben Bulben can be accessed 8 km north of Sligo Town on the N15. The mountain trail, which takes approximately 1 ½ hours to complete, begins in a secluded forest, home to wildlife and unusual plants. As you continue along the trail, it opens up to provide an unrivalled view of Ben Bulben Head. The summit of Ben Bulben provides panoramic views of Donegal Bay and the surrounding countryside. Climbers are advised to climb from the south side and to dress appropriately.
Be sure to visit the nearby Glencar Waterfall too, which is a perfect spot for a picnic!
Lough Key Forest & Activity Park
This unique adventure park with outstanding natural and historical features is located between Carrick-On-Shannon, Co. Leitrim and Boyle, Co. Roscommon.
The estate dates back to the 17th century when the King Family was granted it under the Comwellian settlement. This area of outstanding natural beauty is home to many species of wildlife and you might even come across such delights as ringforts, a Wishing Chair, Fairy Bridge, Estate Chapel and Stables. There is a host of activities available for all ages, including Adventure Play Kingdom, Orienteering and Wheel-O (for those with limited mobility), Woodland Segway, Zipit, Electric Bike Trails, Boda Borg, Woodland Safari, walking and cycling routes, and more. If you prefer to just wander around the estate that’s also acceptable.
On-site facilities include a caravan park, marina, visitor centre and Lakeside Café. Check out their opening hours before you get there.
For more information, visit: https://loughkey.ie/useful-information/opening-times/
Birr Castle Gardens, Birr, Co Offaly
Ireland’s largest tree house, a hobbit hut, a playground, beautiful walking trails and a Science Centre that houses a telescope designed in the early 1840’s can all be found on the grounds of Birr Castle Gardens.
Entry into the castle itself is restricted to children over 12 years old but there is enough outside to keep everyone entertained. The Treehouse Adventure Area also includes sand pits, climbing frames, slides, picnic area and more.
For more information, visit: https://birrcastle.com/kids/
Lahinch Surf School, Lahinch, Co. Clare
If you didn’t get your fill of the sea air over the summer, book a family lesson with Lahinch Surf School and you’ll be riding the waves in no time!
The school was established in 2002 by Former Irish Surf Champion John McCarthy and offers a variety of lessons to suit all ages. These include Family, Adult, Teens, Kids (9-12yrs) and Grom (6-8yrs) groups. All the instructors are Irish Surfing Association Qualified Surf Coaches and IWS/RLSI Lifeguards and aim to make the lessons as fun as possible. So, if you're looking for a family day out with a difference and a lot of laughs, book a lesson! The surf school is located 50 metres from the Lifeguard’s Tower on Lahinch Beach.
For more information, visit: https://lahinchsurfschool.com/surf-lessons/
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We never promised they would be easy, but our suggestions are bound to get your blood pumping and there is bound to be lots of laughs! Avoid cabin fever this Autumn and take your family out in nature to make some memories. Who knows, maybe even the grumpiest member of the family will enjoy it!
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