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May 1st Today Show
Here are 5 fun things for families to do this May Bank Holiday weekend
Fota House and Gardens
Fota House and Gardens in Cork offers visitors a look at how life was lived in the past, whether as a servant or as a member of the gentry. When you tour the house you get to see behind the scenes to the bedrooms and a Victorian nursery. Then you visit the service wing, where you can see the working conditions of all the servants. The nice thing is they have lots of specific tour things for kids to do. For example, Where is Mrs Kevin’s Cat?! is a families tour through the House with a dedicated guide, solving the mystery of where the house keeper’s cat has got to. A great way for children to enjoy learning about the House and the people who lived here.
Or you can go Digging for History in their award winning Victorian Working Garden, with a tour through the glasshouse with fun facts for kids, finishing off with a chance to pot up their own plant to take home and cherish. Both the Mrs Kevin’s Cat tour and Digging for History are suitable from 4 to about 11.
They also have fantastic trails for kids to follow in the gardens they have some really fun ones e.g. Junior Plant Hunters Activity Trail, Little Explorers Trail, and a Tree Trail.
Then you can also enjoy their Victorian Working Garden Tour see the beautiful Victorian glasshouses and the gardens. And after all that fun you can refresh yourselves in the Bakestone Cafe.
Costs: You can get a family combo tour ticket for the House & Victorian Kitchen Garden for €29 for 2 adults + 3 kids and the ticket covers the House and Garden tour. The Mrs Kevin’s Cat tour costs €5 per child including booklet.
The Victorian Working Garden Tour family ticket costs €14 – the ticket covers the Garden tour and you pay €5 per child including plant for the Digging for History option.
Riverfest Limerick 2018
- First of all there’s The Seabreacher Shark, an 18ft shark craft dare-devil ride all the way from New Zealand. It can perform side rolls, doughnuts and travel at speeds of up to 80km per hour and soar 18ft out of the water and goes 5ft underwater as well! I’d say maybe teens might give that a go.
- At the Limerick Strand Hotel there’s going to be a double Zipline over the river so maybe for older kids & teens again. Zipline recommendation does not state an age but riders must be able to fit into a harness comfortably and weight less than 130kgs.
- All weekend at the Riverfestival village in Arthur’s Quay Park there will be street performers, food, workshops, music and more.
- There’s a BBQ Cook Off Competition on May 5th from 12pm to 5pm..
- You can take part in water zorbing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding, boat and sailing tours. Water Zorbing is 5+, Kayaking is 8+ (8-12 will go into a double kayak with an adult)
- Then on Sunday 6th there’s the Bons Secours Great Limerick Run and at 10pm on the 6th there’s also a spectacular fireworks display
All the Riverfest events are free except for the water activities where charges apply.
Russborough House & Parklands
Starting with the House itself, for families with an interest in history and art I would recommend taking a House Tour. Russborough have just announced that after over 100 years some of the British & European Masters and furnishings have returned to Russborough. Some of these works have not been seen by the public for so long and it’s nice that you’ll be able to see them in the rooms for which they were commissioned or purchased by the Earls of Milltown in the 18th & 19th centuries.
Then heading outdoors, there’s a fantastic playground with a picnic area alongside, and they have a fun Maze that kids will love then you take a walk through their woodlands and out to Lady’s Island, that’s their Fairy Walk. Kids can pick up a brochure from reception and learn all about the fairies’ adventures and apparently many of the fairies have made home improvements over the winter so you can see how they look!
They also have a restaurant and gift shop and the National Birds of Prey Experience is also on site at Russborough House for those who want to do a fun extra activity.
The Playground is suitable for ages 2-12, Fairy Walk and Maze are suitable for e.g. 4 up, but even smallies in a buggy can enjoy the Fairy Walk which goes on Lady’s Island. Some of the Birds of Prey Experiences would be for older kids eg 10+
Cost: The Guided House tour is €30 for a family ticket that’s for 2 adults and up to 4 children (u16) which also includes entry to the Maze. Children under 5 years are free of charge. A ticket to visit the Parklands which includes the Maze, Fairy Trail with booklet, Walks & Playground is €15 for a family ticket (2+4) and kids u5 are free. National Birds of Prey experience tickets are €25 for family. You can save money too by buying combined tickets.
Castlecomer Discovery Park
Heading to Kilkenny now it’s the Castlecomer Discovery Park, 80 acres of woodland and lakes in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny. A fantastic place for the family to go because they have things to do for all ages from smallies to teens.
They have a Playground, Junior Low Ropes and High Ropes Obstacle course, a Tree Top Walk, Ireland’s longest Zip Line, Climbing Wall, Archery, Pedal Boats & Canoeing, Orienteering and as if that’s not enough there’s an Elf and Fairy Village, Coal Mining Museum, walking trails, orienteering through the forest and there’s their “Canopy Café” where you can buy refreshments or bring a picnic to have under the trees.
They run lots of events throughout the year and May is actually a special month it’s called Project Family month where they are hosting a range of events that are specially designed for families to bond and spend quality time together in nature.
- On Saturday 5th May (and the 19th) they have Bug & Nature hunts where bug viewers are provided and a trained guide will give you lots of interesting facts about insects.
- Then on Saturday 12th (& 26th) May they have a family bonding challenge “Raft Building”.
Ages: for the events, the Bug & Nature hunts for ages 5+ and for the Raft Building that’s for family teams up to 5 people (age 8+). Other activities:
- 0 – 3 Playground
- 3 – 7 Junior Low Ropes Obstacle course
- 7+ Tree Top Walk
- 7+ Climbing Wall
- 8+ Archery
- 4+ Boating & Canoeing
- 12+ Zip Line
- 12+ Octagon High Ropes course
- 8+ Orienteering
- 0-12 Elf & Fairy Village
- 5+ Coal Mining museum
- All ages for the walks
Costs: For the events during May there will be free arts activities for children in the Elf and Fairy village. Bug & Nature hunts cost per child is €5 and adult price is €2.50, sessions last 45 mins. Raft Building cost per family is €50 and this activity takes about four hours.
It costs €4 for all day parking.
The Elf & Fairy Village is free to visit. Then you pay per activity so for example, Archery and Junior Woodland Adventure Course are €5 per person. Tree Top Adventure Walk €12.50, Boating and Zipline €15, and there are various combination pries for multiple activities
It’s a not-for-profit social enterprise so all the money goes right back into running the park.
Stradbally Woodland Railway
Stradbally Woodland Railway is the oldest established Heritage Railway in Ireland with Steam Trains operating since 1969. Located within the grounds of Stradbally Hall in Co. Laois (home of the Electric Picnic Annual Music Festival) they run special season Stradbally Railway Running Days, so they have two railway days on the May Bank Holiday weekend on Sunday 6th and on the Bank Holiday Monday.
The Steam engine will be running between 12 and 4 both days round a 1k track it takes about 10 minutes. On running days, they also do their best to show the public behind the scenes into the engine sheds where they store their other diesel engines. You can find them there at Stradbally Hall at the top of end of town as you come in on the N80 and you can park there.
It’s completely run by volunteers so if you are interested in helping out they are looking for volunteers, so any train or steam enthusiasts or indeed anyone who wants to have a bit of fun can get in touch with them.
Suitable for all ages. The cost of the train is €7 for adult and €3 for children with under 5’s travelling free once accompanied by an adult.
April 12th Today Show
Here are 5 Fun Outdoor Things for Families to Do.
Nore Valley Park, Kilkenny
Nore Valley Park in Kilkenny is a family run working farm and campsite, where kids can meet and feed the animals but they also have an amazing range of other outdoor activities.
You can go on tractor and trailer rides, play crazy golf, there are Go-karts, a 2 mile river walk and nature trail. There’s a picnic area, cafe, and then just in case the weather is iffy there’s an Indoor 3D wooden maze with lots of trapdoor and ladders and dead ends which kids will love.
They run really fun kids camps and events that are a bit different too – for example, they’ve got a Slime Factory event coming up on the May Bank Holiday weekend. And you can also stay there, the campsite is open March – October and they even have wooden lodges to stay in.
The farm and interacting with animals is suitable for all ages, children and adults alike. Some particular activities would be ages 4+. A Family ticket costs Family (2 Adults & 2 Children) €27 some of the activities do cost extra eg. the Trailer Ride is 1.50 per person. The Slime Factory event costs an additional €3 per child over 2.
Brigit’s Garden, Galway
Brigit’s Garden located just 20 minutes west of Galway City, is a magical outdoors place, it’s a Celtic Garden for families with 11 acres to explore. It won the Georgina Campbell Family Friendly Destination of the Year Award last year. There’s plenty to do here for the day for children and adults including:
Family-friendly Celtic gardens – kids love the basket swings! There’s a 1km Sun Trail walk through woodlands and meadows, with sun features and a crannog. Kids will love the discovery trail, they collect a Nature Detective trail leaflet at Reception and go round the trail looking out for things and collect clues for a prize at the end, this is real outdoor fun with a Natural Playground with stepping logs, see-saw, sitting on the bog-wood throne, exploring the fairy fort, fairy village, following the secret trail through the woodland, adding their wishes to the Wishing tree, Willow play area and sandpit. They also have a family friendly Café.
They run kids camps and regular events such as Elves & Fairies Day held every year in August. The Garden is suitable for children from toddlers upwards, though there really is something for every age, adults included. A ticket for a family (2 adults and 2 children) costs €24.00 Apr – Sep, €18.50 rest of year.
Irish National Stud & Gardens
If you’ve never visited the Irish National Stud & Gardens in Kildare, then this is a super outdoor spot for families. This is the perfect time to visit too because they have loads of newborn foals! As well as the horses, there’s lots of other fun things for families to do outside there.
You can visit the beautiful Gardens, there’s a Japanese Garden with bridges and tunnels and paths. And then there’s a more modern Irish garden, St Fiachras Garden which covers 7 aces and the fun thing there is a Fairy Trail. The kids get a fairy trail map which they follow through the woodlands, alongside the big lake in St Fiachra’s garden, then you get to visit the ‘Buglington Hotel’ for some insect spotting. Finally to finish up there’s a fun playground. They also have a restaurant and a coffee shop by the playground.
They run lots of seasonal events for example they have a special Japanese festival coming up the Hanami Festival on 4th and 5th May to celebrate the zen garden. And during the summer holidays there are free pony rides for kids during school holidays on Tuesdays and Sundays.
Suitable for all ages. Pony rides up to 12. Playground up to 12. A family ticket for two adults and four children under the age of 16 costs 29.50 or 28.00 online with kids under 5 free. They also have season tickets which are worth looking at if you would go regularly plus season ticket holders get to go to special events.
Acres Lake Floating Boardwalk
Acres Lake Floating Boardwalk in Co Leitrim. It’s part of the Shannon Blueway, one of Blueways Ireland’s multi-activity recreational trails, designed to get people out and about on our waterways.
First of all it has Ireland’s first-ever “floating walkway” it’s part of a new 600m-long boardwalk on the River Shannon and that’s also part of a 14km off-road trail connecting Drumshanbo with Leitrim Village. The floating boardwalk runs 160m out over the water, kids will love this. Imagine telling them they are going to walk over water.
So you can walk there or bring the kids bikes and get them out cycling down the route or what’s great is they have other activities to try like canoeing or stand up paddle boarding.
And then if you bring the swimming gear, there’s also Drumshanbo Outdoor Swimming Pool, it’s a heated pool with shallow and deep ends, and that has facilities changing areas and showers there.
Acres Lake also has an interactive Visitor Centre, a kids playground, tennis courts, cruiser jetty. So loads to do outdoors there and most of it free.
All ages for the boardwalk, for canoeing and paddle boarding, generally Kayaking is suitable from 5+ Paddle boarding 10+. The Drumshanbo pool this summer is open from June til August 2-8pm, 7 days a week. Adults cost 4.00 euro and children 3.00 euro. Various prices for Canoe Hire, Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Bike hire.
Lough Key Forest & Activity Park
Lough Key Forest & Activity Park in Boyle, Co. Roscommon – there’s literally tons of things to do outdoors here and for all different ages and interests too. So, to start with you can take a trip back in time through Old Servant Tunnels that once belonged to Rockingham House and then walk along Ireland’s only Tree Canopy trail, it’s a walkway above the treeline. There’s a fabulous enclosed Adventure Play Kingdom, making it very safe, for kids up to 12 years.
The park is 350 hectares in size and there are historical and woodland walking trails and also a cycle trail, in fact there are 8km of traffic tree trails in the park, so you can either bring your own bikes or you can hire on site normal or Electric Bikes, or do a Woodland Segway where they take you on a half hour Segway glide through the forest. There’s also Zipit Forest Adventures – an obstacle course in the trees.
Then there is even more fun for the younger kids who want to try out their driving skills, Woodland Safari offers a Kids Mini Jeep Driving Experience on a specially formed track!!
There are also rowing boats that you can hire to take a closer look at the islands dotting Lough Key.
Then when everyone has got tired legs or burned up all the energy, you can refresh yourself at the Lakeside Café overlooking Lough Key. The café also does take away items if you want to build your own picnic or indeed you can bring your own picnic and enjoy on any of the provided outdoor seating areas.
You can also stay over at their Caravan and Campsite but be sure to book ahead as it gets very busy during popular times. And bring swimsuits if the weather is warm to take a dip in the Lough too if you’re brave enough!
The Lough Key Experience which includes Tree Canopy Walk costs €20 for a family ticket and kids under 5 go free. An all-day pass to the Adventure Play Kingdom is €5.00 per child, they can go in and out all day. There are also Combination Tickets available which offer good value. The Segway, bike hire, jeep safari, Zipit and Boat hire all cost extra but the beauty is you can do as much or as little as you like.
There is a €4.00 fee for parking which goes towards the park and trail maintenance and refuse collection as the operation of the park is not funded but if you spend €20 on activities or the café, you will get a token for FREE parking.
March 15th Today Show
What’s on for families this Easter? Here are 5 Easter Things for Families to Do that we have picked out.
Round Tower Clondalkin
The first place I’ve picked is a brand new visitor attraction in South County Dublin, it’s the Round Tower, Brú Chronáin, Clondalkin. At the new Visitor Centre, they bring the story of the Tower and the surrounding area to life through an exciting interactive experience. It covers 8 different spaces and explores the monastic setting, the Vikings, the 19th and 20th Century setting of Clondalkin. I think families will love this.
There are public gardens, an exhibition and gallery space and then if you’re hungry after all that, there’s The Happy Pear onsite café. And when the weather gets a bit warmer, you can also dine outside and enjoy the gardens. They’ve also got some upcoming events including St. Patrick’s Day festivities and an Easter Egg hunt for young children on Sunday 1st April at 11.00 am. Nearby is the beautiful Corkagh Park with playpark, fairy wood, petting farm, sports facilities, walking/jogging, orienteering, cycle track, fishing and picnic area. It’s completely free to visit! and it’s close to public transport including Dublin Bus and the Red Luas line. Open daily.
King John’s Castle Limerick
This is one of my favourite places, it’s King John’s Castle in Limerick. It is a super modern visitor experience where over 800 years of dramatic history is brought to life. As you move around the exhibition, there’s plenty of things for kids to look at, discovery drawers to open, artefacts to touch, shoot a canon, crawl through a siege tunnel and costumes to try on.
Then you go out into the busy Castle courtyard and you can climb up some of the towers of the castle, walk the castle walls there’s a blacksmith’s forge, characters in medieval costume doing medieval crafts, archery, playing medieval music.
I particularly loved the audio visual characters from the past – they literally are designed to talk to you as if they are there in real life. It’s amazing.
They also run loads of seasonal events and camps during school holidays. There’s a big Easter family event at the Castle on Easter Sunday 2nd April including circus, percussion show stiltwalkers, magic shows and more.
The Attraction is recommended for 5 years upwards but their Easter event is suitable for 2 years and up.
It’s worth booking online as it’s a bit cheaper. A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 kids is €23, a ticket for 2 adults and up to 6 kids is 33.50. Under 5s are free.
Birr Castle, Gardens and Science Centre
Next I’ve chosen Birr Castle, Gardens and Science Centre in Offaly. It’s really a great place for families, obviously the Castle is there and you can visit it, the Gardens are fabulous to walk around, but it’s got lots of other things for kids to enjoy.
So as well as the gardens, you can visit the Science Scentre and the Great Telescope but the star of the show for kids has to be the play area with Ireland’s largest treehouse along with a big bouncy pillow sort of like a trampoline that you can jump on. They have sand pits, climbing frames, slides and much more.
There is also a lovely cafe on site and at the Treehouse area there’s a little sweetshop that sells sandwiches and coffees too.
They also run lots of events, and for Easter, this looks great, it’s the Family Easter Quest which you can do between Saturday 24 March to Sunday 8 April, and that takes young explorers on a journey through time, from great engineering feats to wildlife discoveries, and many more highlights in between. Once the young explorers complete the quest they return to the playground kiosk and choose from a sweet or fruit treat. For those doing the Quest on Easter Sunday there will be Easter Eggs. The Quest included in admission price and that will be available from reception.
Suitable for all ages. The Easter Quest would be for kids who can read, write and understand clues so maybe from ages 4 up.
Family (2 adults and 2 children): €25.00 with additional Kids tickets €5, 4 and under go free. Admission tickets give you access to the gardens, great telescope, science centre and treehouse adventure area.
Strokestown House & Gardens
So I’ve chosen something a bit unique, it’s Strokestown House and Walled Gardens in Roscommon. First you’ve got the beautiful Strokestown House where you can take a tour to get an insight into life in the Big House, upstairs and downstairs. Then you can visit the National Famine Museum, obviously a sad time but important for everyone to know about and hear the stories.
Then you’ve got 6 acres of Walled Gardens with Woodlands nearby, perfect for a bit of exploration outdoors. There’s also a cafe and shop.
They run all sorts of fun events during the year. So for example coming up is a Fly a Kite Event on Sunday 25th March, this is a completely free event, kites are provided, or you could bring your own of course. And that’s in Strokestown Park.
They’ve also got their Secret Garden Easter Hunt at 1pm on Easter Sunday, 1st April, kids will search through the clues in the garden to find the chocolate egg treasure. There’s also a Custard Pie Puppet Show and you can see spring lambs.
The Easter event costs €7 per child if you book in advance or €10 on the day and adults go free which is nice.
A family ticket costs €28, and that includes the House tour, Walled Gardens, Irish Famine Museum. So you’re getting a lot for your money which is great too.
February 15th Today Show
Here are 5 things that we have picked out for families to do. The weather as we know at this time of year is a bit iffy, so we have focused on places that you can go indoors with the kids.
The Lifetime Lab in the Cork Waterworks has interactive exhibitions, a themed playground, and they also run open days and events for kids and families. What’s nice about this place is it’s a mix of history and engineering and science too, so educational but fun. You get to wander through their Victorian buildings, discover some of Cork’s industrial heritage, have a go at their interactive exhibits & enjoy a coffee in the playground & garden.
And for anyone with a bit of interest in steam engines, they also have a steam experience, where you can see original engines working away, so that’s kind of cool. A family ticket for 2 adults and 2 kids costs €15.00 with kids’ tickets at €3 so it’s very reasonable too. They are open Mondays – Fridays during winter months and then also open at weekends and on Bank Holidays from May.
Cool Planet Experience
Cool Planet Experience is Ireland’s first interactive climate change experience. When you visit, you will discover what it is making our climate change, the science behind it & how you can help create a healthy future for you and the planet. But in case you think it’s going to be worthy and boring, the organisers assure us it’s totally fun and interactive and designed really to highlight climate change in a fun way.
Cool Planet Experience will be open from the 28th of February and promises to be a really interesting place for families and kids. Family tickets for 2 adults + 2 kids will cost 25 euro. And of course the good thing about Powerscourt Estate is there’s loads of other things to do while you visit, take in the Waterfall, visit the Pepperpot Tower etc
National Museum of Ireland Museums
Then for something completely free, I’d recommend the National Museum of Ireland museums, so in Dublin there’s the 3 Museums: Museum of Archaeology, Museum of Natural History aka the Dead Zoo and at Collins Barracks the Museum of Decorative Arts & History and then there’s the Museum of Country Life near Castlebar.
These are all free to visit, they are very child-friendly – you can pick up activity sheets at reception to find things in the museum and they also run regular events for kids, e.g. they have workshops around different themes. There is one on glass at the moment at Collins Barracks with an artist in residence Roisin de Buitlear. She will have a wide range of events for families to make them appreciate glass even more.
3 of the museums have cafés in them too so you can make a bit of a day out of it. And the grounds of the Museum of Country Life are lovely for a walk around the lake there too. Just don’t plan to visit on a Monday as they are all closed on Mondays.
Moving westwards, if you’re going to be in County Clare, then you should definitely stop by glór in Ennis. It’s maybe familiar to people for the events they put on. They run a lot of music, theatre, workshops, and they also have a St Patrick’s Day Family Festival with loads of fun for kids and families.
But the reason we have picked it is because it’s also a lovely place to stop by on a rainy day – there’s a really family friendly café, they have an art exhibition space upstairs, a reading corner and something quite unusual a fresh pizza vending machine! So somewhere a bit different to take the kids. It’s free to visit, aside from paying for any shows or workshops that you go to and it’s open every day apart from Sunday.
The Jackie Clarke Collection
Finally, we have picked out The Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina in Mayo, where you can discover 400 years of Irish history through self-guiding family friendly interactive touch screens. Jackie Clarke was a businessman and collector and his widow gifted the collection to Mayo County Council and to the people of Ireland.
The main exhibit space showcases the Collection’s treasures and you can see things like an original 1916 Proclamation, objects belonging to Wolfe Tone and letters from Michael Collins. He was a big map fan as well, so the collection collection contains maps that date from the 1600s up to the late 1900s.
Also very cool is their Memory Pod which is a space where you can record and share your stories and memories, if you’ve been inspired by the collection. There’s also a Walled Garden and a café, so you can visit the exhibition then go for a stroll in the garden then grab a bite to eat. Admission to the collection is free and it’s open Tuesday – Saturday.
More ideas for things to do with kids:
- What’s on for Kids every month – we update this every month
- Things to do in Ireland with Kids for Easter 2018 – we run special What’s On features for holiday times.
- Best Places to Discover Science for Kids in Ireland
- Best Places to See Bluebells in Ireland
- 30 Magical Harry Potter Places to Visit
- Best Escape Rooms for Adrenaline Fuelled Family Fun
- Low Cost Things to Do in Ireland recommended by Parents