We spent a fabulous weekend around Lough Derg in Ireland’s hidden heartlands with our four children, courtesy of Waterways Ireland and managed to squeeze in three water based activities and two on land over the weekend. Here’s what we did on our Fun Family Adventure with Waterways Ireland Activities in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands:
If you get a kick out of being outdoors and fancy the chance to get stuck into activities like cycling, walking or canoeing, the perfect family trip is to ‘Head into the Blue’ with Waterways Ireland. There’s a great combination of accommodation, activities and attractions all along the waterways to suit different tastes and budgets and lots to keep both kids and parents entertained.
Killaloe Farmers Market
We strolled down to one of Clare’s finest farmers’ markets right on the river bank in Killaloe. This is a lively, bustling little market selling everything from local fresh produce, vibrant plants, exquisite fine arts and crafts and a chocolate stall which we happily bought half of.
You can catch the market every Sunday from 11am-3pm.
Spirit of Killaloe Water Cruise
We cruised the River Shannon on the Spirit of Killaloe, a luxury purpose built 50 seater passenger boat with on board bar facilities and an upper viewing deck.
There’s some really stunning scenery from this angle and we sailed past the impressive Brian Boru’s Fort. All the kids on board got the chance to take over as captain for a minute at a time which made their day. The staff were so friendly and extremely patient, especially with my own boisterous bunch.
A family pass on The Spirit of Killaloe costs €40 for two adults and two children and they run daily cruises throughout the year. Booking is essential and the cruise lasts around an hour.
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Castlelough Playground in Tipperary
Looking as fresh as when it first opened in 2015, this ultra modern secure playground is right on the shores of the Lough Derg Lakelands.
It’s designed to entertain and challenge all ages. For kids aged 6-12, there’s a five tower unit with 18 individual play elements to test balance, motor skills, climbing and hand-eye coordination. There are several individual play areas for younger children aged 2-6 years to explore.
Hidden amongst the trees to the right of the playground is a charming little forest bursting with fairy magic where the kids can explore fairy doors and climb trees.
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Lough Derg Aqua Splash
Lough Derg Aqua Splash is a floating playground for adults and kids on Lough Derg, right in the heart of Dromineer. Ireland’s very own version of Wipe Out challenges you to jump, climb, bounce and slide your way around the inflatable course.
If jumping off inflatables doesn’t float your boat, you can entertain yourself with kayaks, pedal boats or stand up paddle boarding.
It’s suitable for children 6+ and any adult with enough energy! Water sports start at €10 with the pedal boats costing €20 an hour for up to four people. So, with wetsuits available to hire for as little as €3, it’s a pretty reasonable day out for the whole family.
Back on dry land, there’s a friendly little cafe on site with a small selection of specials available daily, and if the kids still aren’t wiped out, they can have a run around in the secure wooden adventure playground just right outside.
Before you leave, take a stroll along the pier to drink in the impressive number of boats, yachts and cruisers.
The Water Park opens every day from 11 am to 7 pm. It’s closed now until the summer but make sure you make a note of it for next year – definitely a winner with my family!
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Ballina Riverside Pool
Why let a little bit of rain get in the way of a fun day at an outdoor swimming pool? We headed to the Ballina Riverside Pool in the picturesque town of Ballina where the 25 metre long outdoor heated pool opens to the public every day during summer months between 2 – 6 pm. Admission is €5 per adult, €2.50 per child and spectators are charged €1.50.
When we were there, it poured cats and dogs and my three older kids aged 3, 4 and 8 loved it. I actually couldn’t persuade them to get out and had to drag them from the pool in my wellies!
I got out with my two year old as we found the pelting rain a little too much for our cold blooded bodies. We needed soup and a flask of tea on the sidelines as we watched my partner and three kids frolic around in the rain.
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We had a wonderful time with Waterways Ireland discovering Lough Derg’s scenic routes and breathtaking views. The adventurous activities kept us all on our toes and Killaloe, Ballina and Dromineer make the perfect destination for families of all sizes. We will be back and, next time, we’ll be checking out Garrykennedy Forest Walk – we hear it’s great for little explorers!
Over to you now. Have you done any of these fun activities around Lough Derg with the kids? Tell us in the comments below.