10.01.2019 Family Article
Looking for more ideas for family days out in Ireland? We know figuring out where to go is half the battle. Let us do some of the work for you with 15 free days out all over the country. All you need to do is pack a picnic, get the kids into the car and hit the road!
1. Ardgillan Castle
Located between Balbriggan and Skerries, Ardgillan Castle offers acres of rolling parklands to explore and beautiful views across the Irish Sea to the Mourne Mountains. Don’t miss the new Fairy Tree Trail where you can explore a fairy village (if you are really quiet you might glimpse a fairy!) and learn about the trees growing in the park. What draws most families to Ardgillan is the gigantic adventure playground complete with a castle and ship for hours of entertainment.
Easily accessible, just off the M50, Corkeagh Park has plenty to offer a family looking for a fun day. There’s a big playground and fairy woods but the highlight for most families who visit, is the free petting zoo complete with a talking parrot! It’s also worth bringing some duck friendly food (bread is bad for them) like oats, rice or birdseed, to feed the many ducks who call the fishing lake home.
If you are looking for something indoors, a visit to the Chester Beatty Library is a treat in the heart of Dublin city. The library contains a huge collection of manuscripts and books from around the world dating from 2700BC to this century. It is a really family friendly place to visit, offering activity packs for children and drawing packs for teens. There’s also a huge range of free events and workshops that take place at weekends and over school holidays that are definitely worth checking out!
Check out some beautiful scenery on this drive around the sunny south east. Stop regularly to explore the various ruins of castles and monasteries along the way. Pack games to play and maybe a kite to fly on the small private beach on the loop!
5. Lough Boora
Located in the heart of the mid-lands Lough Boora offers lots to do as a family on a fun day out. Bring bikes, binoculars and fishing rods because you can use them all here. There’s 9km of paved cycle paths, over 130 species of birds to spot from one of two hides, and a fishing lake filled with Trout, Carp and Bream for anglers of all ages!
A true hidden gem, just off the N7, especially if your children dream of being King of the Castle! The ruins of Dunamase are the perfect place to run around, explore and let their imaginations run away with them.
7. The Shannon Dolphin Trail
If you are ready and raring to go, then this is the day out for your family. Only opened last year, the dolphin trail is an energetic walk starting at the town square in Kilrush. From there, your family will follow the ‘fin trail’ along the shores of the estuary to a spot where you have a chance of seeing one of the 170 bottle nosed dolphins who live in the estuary. An Irish wildlife family day out not to be missed!
The mixture of interactivity and hands on experiences make the Copper Coast Geopark a wonderful family day out for a curious family. A trip to the visitor centre will give you an overview of how volcanos shaped the land in the area, the wildlife that occupies the coast, and the history of mining in Waterford.
9. Fairy Trails
If your little ones have fairy doors in their bedrooms or around the house, they will love a family day out to these Fairy Trails in the Kingdom. There’s a variety of tiny homes and dwellings to explore through the scenic woods. Even if the Irish weather doesn’t do you any favours, the trees along the fairy trail make it a sheltered place to visit, even on a rainy day!
Read more: 10 family friendly walks in Galway
10. The Greenway
Pack up your bikes and spend a family day out cycling along one of Ireland’s safest and most scenic cycle paths through the stunning Mayo countryside. If the entire42km seems a bit much for your family, consider the more manageable 11km stretch from Westport to Newport with refreshments available in each town (and a lift back can be arranged if needed!)!
No matter what your family feel like doing, the stunning Connemara National Park offers everything you could want! If you want to relax, there are indoor and outdoor picnic areas dotted around the park. If you are feeling a little more active there are nature trails or the Diamond Hill walk if you are in the mood for something more adventurous!
12. Jackie Clarke Collection
As the most significant private collection on public display in Ireland, the Jackie Clarke museum is a wonderful place to visit with curious youngsters. The period museum includes artefacts from the last 400 years. The museum is of particular interest to your children if their school was part of the commemorations of the 1916 rising last year as it contains personal items from some of the leaders of the rising. Perfect for a rainy day!
Described as heaven on earth by this year’s Lonely Planet guide book, Glenveagh National Park is one of the most stunning places in the country to spend a day. The park as a whole is vast, so it is worth planning your trip. There’s a self-guided walk through the castle gardens (family game of hide and seek in the walled garden anyone?) or there is a selection of longer walks to suit every fitness level. Just make sure you pack sturdy shoes and waterproofs. There is plenty of open space for picnics and games too!
We know the cliffs of Moher get much of the glory when it comes to high rise coastline in Ireland, but the Slieve League Cliffs are higher and every ounce as dramatic. They are well worth a family day out – there are walks to suit all ages. From the top of the cliffs on a clear day you can look out over Leitrim, Sligo (who’s the first to see Benbulbin?) and Mayo. There are also the remains of an early Christian monastic site near the top, including ruins of the beehive huts they called home.
15. Gruffalo Trail
Tired of reading the book to your little ones? Why not live it with a visit to the Gruffalo trail at Colin Glen Forest? A 20-minute toddle through the forest meeting many of the characters you know from the book will take you to an amazing 8 foot tall Gruffalo complete with knobbly knees and turned out toes!
We know we have only tipped the iceberg when it comes to free things to do around Ireland, but we hope we have inspired you and your family to make the most of family time with a fun day out in Ireland! If you feel inspired by these ideas, why not share them with your friends on Facebook?
Family time is valuable, let us help you make the most of yours. If going out isn’t an option, we have lots of suggestions on things to do with your family at home too.