Family Activities on Ireland's Lakelands and Waterways brought to you by Discover Ireland


May 27, 2012

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The Lakelands region is perfect for a summer getaway. Discover a world of water, fun and adventure in a region packed with sublime waterside restaurants, great shopping, enthralling family attractions, exciting activities and vibrant cultural life. 

Captain your own cruiser along the Shannon and Lough Erne, Europe’s longest inland waterway;  make a splash and go kayaking, power boating, wind surfing and pedal boating; or relax on one of the many passenger boats at the Shannon marinas.

Conquer Ireland’s Lakelands with your family this summer!

Lough Erne

Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark
The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is located in the rugged mountains and the rolling valleys of Co. Cavan and Co. Fermanagh, boasting some of Ireland’s finest natural landscapes and offering a window into its 650 million year past.

Enjoy a variety of interests and attractions including archaeology, folklore and wildlife, waterfalls, old abbeys, megalithic tombs and amazing show caves. Also, there’s an on-going events programme providing creepy crawly days, heritage trails, fossil fun days, guided walks and scavenger hunts fun for the whole family.

Bear Essentials and Silver Bear Centre
Located beside Brackley Lake in Co. Cavan, Bear Essentials is original and creative company designing limited edition teddy bears.

Besides the teddy bear hospital that restores any teddy bears, the Silver Bear Centre offers all year round craft and nature workshops and events are suitable for all ages. Children can enjoy overnight craft packages or enrol them into one of their summer schools.

Out Door and Dirty (ODD)
Located in Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan, Out Doors and Dirty (a.k.a. ODD) has five unique and adrenaline pumping events. You can choose one family fun activity or a combination from

  • hovercrafting;
  • Ferrari off-road buggy racing on a purpose-built track with all the ramps, sweepers and jumps kids could hope for;
  • woodland laser combat with fox holes, bridges, bunkers, mines and traps;
  • powerturn twin drive dragsters; and
  • clay pigeon laser shooting.

Lough Allen and Lough Key

Lough Key Forest and Activity Park
Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in Co. Roscommon is one of the many great adventures attractions in the Lakelands region.

It comprises 350 hectares of woodland, one of Ireland’s most beautiful lakes and number a number of spectacular islands.

Included in the Park’s visitor facilities are nature walks, a nine-meter high tree-top canopy walk, an adventure play kingdom for kids, a bog garden, an observation tower, underground tunnels and the ‘Boda Borg’ Challenge.

Kids and adults can have great fun at The Zipit Forest Adventure Aerial Trail – an adrenaline-filled journey for anyone aged 7 up. It’s a unique mix of zip lines, ropes bridges, Tarzan swings and climbing walls with a few extra challenges thrown in for good measure.

Lough Allen Adventure
Located on the shores of Lough Allen in an area of outstanding beauty in Co. Leitrim, these shores are surrounded by the Slieve Anerin mountain range and the Arigna hills.

Archery and kayaking, windsurfing, rafting and jumping off pontoons is sure to work up a healthy appetite! The family can end the day grilling burgers over a massive campfire.

Cavan and Leitrim Railway
This magnificently restored narrow gauge railway in Dromod, Co. Leitrim offers the visitor a chance to experience the age of steam transport. The railway brings you back through time to an era when our ancestors travelled through the unspoiled landscapes of Leitrim. 

An extensive and nostalgic collection of steam, diesel trains, rolling stock and vintage buses allow you to trace the history of the Irish narrow gauge railway system with Diesel and rail cars run on the weekends.

Arigna Mining Experience
This is Ireland's first coal mining museum of first and last coal mines in the country in the picturesque valley and unspoiled landscape of Arigna, Co. Roscommon.  Mining was carried out in Arigna for 400 years until 1990 when the last mines closed. 

The miners work was exhausting and often hazardous. Experience this first-hand by walking underground through the last working mine and see how the coal was dug out.

Lough Ree and Mid-Shannon

Baysports Activity Centre
Bay Sports is an accredited ISA boat training and watersports centre located on the shores of Lough Ree in Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Activities include kayaking, rowing, pedal boating, sailing, watertrampolining, raft building and more.

This is a great way for families to learn something new together even if you can't swim! For families looking for other options for their kids, Bay Sports offer activity camps that will keep kids occupied and allow to them to meet new friends and while enjoying an activity.

Belvedere House and Gardens
Belvedere House and Gardens in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath is a magnificent parkland estate on the shores of Lough Ennel in the Irish Midlands.

The house, originally built as a hunting and fishing lodge, is set in the midst of 160 acres of parkland on the lake shore.

This summer enjoy all the fun of the fair at the new Belvedere Family Carnival event offering unlimited rides at the Fun Fair for adults and children for a single entry price!

Glendeer Open Pet Farm
Enjoy an interactive experience in Athlone, Co. Westmeath where you can feed, pet and hold some of the animals including deer, llamas, emu, donkeys, sheep and lots more as well as the new arrivals – monkeys, wallabies and tortoises.

Glendeer is suitable for any weather because of its indoor and outdoor picnic and play areas, along with a large section of the animals undercover. Relax in the coffee shop with fresh coffee/tea and homemade treats.

Lough Derg

Spirit of Killaloe
Killaloe was the ancient capital of Ireland, home to King Brian Boru. Spirit of Killaloe is a luxury 50 seater passenger boat with a choice of two decks, the upper deck is ideally suited for the family to take in the sun and enjoy the spectacular views of the forested hills surrounding Co. Clare between May and September, a commentary is provided on all interesting sites as you cruise by.

While on board, discover for yourself where Ireland's 40 shades of green can be seen and where the River Shannon's wildlife calls their home.

Portumna Castle and Gardens
Built before 1618, the ground house of is now open to the public. Walk along The Willow Maze which incorporates several different willow varieties and its central path is lined with espalier fruit trees. 

To the north of the house are formal, geometrically laid out gardens which include the wonderfully restored 17th century walled kitchen garden.

Following its original plan the garden has been organically planted with fruit trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables, all combining to make it a treat to the senses. The garden offers the visitor an ideal opportunity for the family to see and experience gardening layout and techniques of long ago.

Thomond Park Stadium and Tour
This newly revamped stadium in Limerick City is the iconic home ground of Munster rugby. The full tour takes you to the VIP places including visits to pitch side, the Munster dugout, the home and away dressing rooms and the post-match interview area.

The interactive museum showcases the proud history of Munster rugby with an impressive range of memorabilia, fantastic interactive displays and a specially commissioned film portraying its proud heritage.

The Hunt Museum
This is one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of art and antiquities, dating from the Neolithic to the 20th century in Co. Limerick.

During a visit to the museum you can choose to explore the collection by yourself or take one of the regular guided tours at no extra charge.

The Hunt Museum develops and provides many activities, such as tours around the museum, arts and crafts classes, kids activities, camps and lectures. The members will help you to create great family days or to learn more through our guided tours.

For other fun ideas on things to do around Ireland visit

If you have a favourite family activity in the Lakelands region, do let us know in the comments box below.

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Published On: May 27th, 2012 / Categories: Things To Do / Last Updated: June 17th, 2019 / Tags: , , , , , , /

About the Author: admin

This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.

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