45 Unique and Unusual Places in Ireland to Visit With Kids

Jill Holtz

May 28, 2020

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Looking for somewhere a bit different to take the kids during school holidays or weekends? Did you know there’s a pyramid in Offaly or a Jealous Wall in Westmeath or a Windmill in Roscommon? Here are our favourite Unusual Places in Ireland to visit with the kids:

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From a Pyramid in Offaly to a whale skeleton in Cork, there’s definitely plenty of unusual places in Ireland to visit as a family!

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Unique and Unusual Places in Ireland

Irish Agricultural Museum, Johnstown Castle, Wexford

Irish Agriculture Museum at Johnstown Castle St Patrick's Day events in Ireland

The Irish Agricultural Museum is housed within the grounds of Johnstown Castle and displays one of the most comprehensive collections showcasing farming and rural life in Ireland with everything from tractors to kitchens! Visitors can:

  • Admire the large collection of beautifully restored tractors, carts, ploughs, threshing machines, stationary engines and dairy equipment
  • See recreated workshops of traditional trades including blacksmith, cooper and wheelwright
  • Learn about ‘The Great Famine’ through an exhibition which vividly reveals what life was like before, during and after the famine
  • Discover the chequered history of Johnstown Castle and its estate
  • Enjoy the largest display of Irish country furniture
  • Compare farmhouse kitchens through the ages
  • Take part in quizzes and trails (suitable for children)

Treehouse at Birr Castle, Offaly

Birr Castle

At Birr Castle Demesne, kids will be amazed by the most spectacular Treehouse Adventure area! It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon of fun and adventure.

Birr Castle is also a place of discovery for the whole family – home to extensive gardens and parkland, as well as the Historic Science Centre and the Great Telescope of the 1840s. Well worth a visit.

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The Giant’s Lair Story Trail, Armagh

The Giant’s Lair Story Trail at Slieve Gullion Forest Park near Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, is an innovative magical living storybook. The Trail takes visitors on an unforgettable journey of fairy house and amazing features creating a fantastical childhood land of mystery, dragons, giants, witches and fairies.

Follow in the footsteps of Flynn the mischievous fairy, who has one important job – not to allow anyone to wake Slieve Gullion. It might look like a mountain but it’s really a sleeping giant! Drop in for a cup of dandelion tea, grab a seat at the Giant’s Table, stroll along to the Ladybird House and sneak a peek at local witchy trickster, The Cailleach Beara.

Situated beside the Slieve Gullion Adventure Playpark, with car parking available. The Giant’s Lair is free to explore. The trail takes you into plenty of nooks and crannies so a backpack carrier or baby sling is recommended for tots.

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Newgrange, Meath

Newgrange mythical places in Ireland

Image: © Brian Morrison, Tourism Ireland

Newgrange is an old passage tomb located in the Boyne Valley in Ireland’s Ancient East, and is part of a number of monuments built along the River Boyne known collectively as Brú na Bóinne. This prehistoric monument dates back over 5,200 years ago – which makes it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza!

Newgrange is famous for the illumination of the passage and chamber by the Winter Solstice sun. Built by Stone Age farmers, Newgrange is surrounded by 97 large stones, called kerbstones, some of which are engraved with megalithic art.

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National Leprechaun Museum, Dublin

Suitable for over 7s, the National Leprechaun Museum brings folklore to life! This oral storytelling experience taking you on a trip to the Otherworld, home of leprechauns and other mythical creatures.

Dublinia, Dublin

Dublinia best museums in Ireland

At Dublinia, travel back to Viking and Medieval Dublin, witness the sights, sounds and smells and unearth the city’s archaeology in the History Hunters exhibition!

There’s a full programme of events taking place at weekends during the summer, including Family First Saturdays which includes Making a Viking Longship Magnet, and demonstrations. With Viking Dublin Tours, Medieval Dublin tours and lots more, there’s heaps for families to do at Dublinia.

Elphin Windmill, Roscommon

elphin-windmill-1

This fully restored, working, 18th century windmill is the oldest of its kind in Ireland. It is perfectly located to harness the winds sweeping over the plains of Elphin. Unusual features include its thatched revolving roof and four sails that are turned into the wind by using a tailpole attached to a cartwheel on a circular track.

After visiting the Windmill, stop by the Farm Museum, where you will find a range of items connected to the windmill as well as miniature models of the Bishop’s Palace, St Mary’s Cathedral, and St Patrick’s Church on display.

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Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens, Waterford

The Lafcadio Hearn Gardens reflect the life and extensive wanderings of Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo), who grew up in Ireland, and whose life journey embraced several parts of the world.

Learn about the life of Lafcadio Hearn through the Victorian, American, Greek and Japanese gardens. Children have their very own discovery trail with secret pathways through the woodlands with fairytales and folklore along the way.

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Ballycurrin Lighthouse, Galway

Ballycurrin Lighthouse

Photo courtesy of Rachel Dubber

Ballycurrin Lighthouse on Lough Corrib in County Galway is said to be the only in-shore lighthouse of its kind in Europe. It was built in the late 1700s by the local landowner Liam Lynch so that steamer that ran from Galway to Cong could make its way to his nearby Ballycurrin House with supplies. The Lighthouse is 22 foot high and has a mill stone as its roof. The uppermost section of the lighthouse would have been used to burn timber to create the beacon.

Rachel who visited recently says “Older kids will manage the uneven surface as some of the pier on the left is rather rocky but the walk to the lighthouse on the right is fine. It’s an unusual location as you feel you are trespassing but you’re not. The boat house is inhabited beside the pier and you park at the end of the lane near private homes.”

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The Mummies at St Michan’s Church, Dublin

St Michan’s, which was founded in 1095, was the only church located on the northside of Dublin until 1686. The interior, which has changed little since Victorian times, still has its original organ. Another notable artefact is the Penitant’s Desk, commissioned in 1724 and used for public confession.

Below the church are five long burial vaults containing the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s most influential families from 1600 to 1800. In the vaults, guests can view the death mask of Wolfe Tone and the coffins of the 1798 rebels John and Henry Sheares. There are fully guided tours of the vaults with a tour guide and a gift shop.

Craggaunowen, Clare

Lughnasa

A highlight of any visit to the West of Ireland is the Living Past Experience at Craggaunowen, which is off the beaten track but will give you a real sense of stepping back in history.

At Craggaunowen you will find a restored Tower House Castle, where you can climb up the winding stairs and into the different rooms, as well as the Crannog, where you can meet actors who renact and tell stories of how the Celts lived in Iron & Early Christian periods, what they did for hunting, how the bards were important, how battles might have taken place, how society was run.

Follow the trail past the Iron Age Field, Iron Age Road (with a section brought over from an original Iron Age bog road Corlea), and visit the Ringfort.

You can also visit The Brendan which was a boat built in 1976 based on descriptions of Brendan the Navigator’s vessel which according to legend went to America long before Columbus.

The James Turrell Sky Garden, Cork

Sky Garden

At Liss Ard Estate in Skibbereen, West Cork, there’s a most unusual garden called the James Turrell Sky Garden. It’s one of only two in the world designed by American sculptor James Turrell.

Shaped like a bowl, the Sky Garden is set against the natural landscape of the Celtic Liss Ard, or “High Fort”. The design of this Garden allows, either in daylight or at night, for the viewer to truly experience the sky at that particular moment in time without any distractions or impediments.

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The Other Dead Zoo, Dublin

Everyone knows the ‘Dead Zoo’ at the National Museum of Ireland Natural History, but did you know there’s a Dead Zoo at Trinity College Dublin? It’s actually the Zoology Museum, located on the first floor of the Zoology Building, and it is a unique, interactive experience for all ages. You can hold skulls, dinosaur material, shark jaws, elephant teeth and more.

Museum guides are recent zoology graduates and are on hand to answer questions and show you some of the amazing museum specimens.

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National Reptile Zoo, Kilkenny

National reptile zoo

The National Reptile Zoo houses numerous reptiles from snakes to crocodiles. With animal encounters daily, you can get up close and personal with some of your favourite reptiles. Why not hold or touch a reptile with the help of their trained wranglers?

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Queen Maeve’s Grave, Sligo

Photo courtesy of Val Robus

A 300m limestone hill sits in Knocknarea, Sligo and it’s believed that Queen Maeve, a figure from Irish mythology, is buried inside. As the story goes, the fiery Irish queen Medb was felled by a piece of cheese flung from an expert’s sling.

Although it features all the classic makings of a tomb, for now we don’t know if she lies inside or not as it remains of one the largest unexplored monuments in Ireland.

You can climb the hill of Knocknarea and get breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside including Ben Bulben, Slieve League and other famous Irish landmarks.

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Brigit’s Garden, Galway

brigit's garden galway

Brigit’s Garden takes you on a magical journey into the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology, making it one of the truly outstanding places to visit in the West of Ireland. The award-winning Celtic Gardens are widely regarded as one of the most spectacular in Ireland, set within 11 acres of native woodland & wildflower meadows.

In addition to the Celtic Gardens visitors can enjoy the nature trail, an ancient ring fort (fairy fort), thatched roundhouse and crannog, and the calendar sundial, the largest in Ireland. Brigit’s Garden is very family-friendly with a kids’ discovery trail, a natural playground, café and lots of opportunity to explore.

Conolly’s Folly, Kildare

unusual places in Ireland

Conolly’s Folly stands on the grounds of Castletown House. The arches and obelisks are decorated with stone eagles and pineapples, and the central obelisk reaches a height of 140 feet. But the Folly’s physical characteristics are not the only ingredient that makes it unique.

It was constructed in 1740 at the height of the Irish famine of 1740-1741. It was built so that the local farmers might make some money working on its construction and not starve. Katherine Conolly, widow of William Conolly, one of the richest men in Ireland, commissioned the folly.

Wonderful Barn, Kildare

unusual places in Ireland

Also on the edge of Castletown Estate you will find The Wonderful Barn which is made out of rock and shaped like a corkscrew. Dating from 1743, no one is exactly sure what its original purpose was, maybe it was a dovecote, or some think it was a granary.

The staircase goes around the exterior of the building, giving the building the look of a corkscrew, and ends on a flat roof, surrounded by a parapet.

Crag Cave, Kerry

Crag Cave is situated just outside Castleisland in Co. Kerry and is thought to be over 1 million years old. On your tour of Crag Cave you will see fine examples of pillars, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, straws and curtains, all naturally formed in the limestone cave.

Titanic Experience, Belfast

Things to do in Belfast with Kids - Mykidstime

At Titanic Belfast, discover the Titanic story in a fresh and insightful way. Explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the true legend of Titanic, in the city where it all began.

With several levels of interactive exhibits, tracing the story of the Titanic from its origins in industrial Belfast to the final tragedy itself, you will find plenty for all ages.

The Hungry Tree, Dublin

unusual places in Ireland

The Hungry Tree in Dublin is located on the grounds of The Honorable Society of King’s Inns, Ireland’s oldest school of law. This 80-year-old London Plane tree is currently in the process of “eating” a cast-iron bench.

As the tree has grown, it has overtaken and swallowed parts of the structure in its way. Its gnarled bark now spills over the back of the bench, making it appear as though the seat is being sucked into the tree’s trunk.

The grounds are open and accessible to the public, so you can visit The Hungry Tree for yourself!

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The Leaning Tower of Galway

Did you know there’s a Leaning Tower in Galway? It’s actually St Colman’s Tower in Kilmacduagh, a short drive from either Gort or Kinvara. It’s notable not only as a good example of an Irish round tower but also because of its noticeable lean, over 2 feet from the vertical.

The “Leaning Tower of Galway” is over 30 metres tall, with the only doorway some 7 metres above ground level and dates from the 12th Century. The round tower sits next to the original Cathedral building within the graveyard just down the road a bit from the car park.

There’s plenty of room for kids to wander around and it’s enclosed so you don’t need to worry about them getting out on the road, quiet enough as it is. NB There are no facilites at the site, so head back to Gort or Kinvara for refreshments/toilets.

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Aistear Park, Clare

Situated in the centre of the village of Mountshannon, between the main street and the harbour, is a unique 4.5 acre Aistear Park which includes:

  • the Aistear Labyrinth, a maze incorporating timber, stone and foliage which takes the visitor through an informative exploration of Irish Spirituality over 9,000 years. There are seven spaces within the maze, each displaying contemporary relics and artefacts reflecting the beliefs of past generations. All artefacts have been replicated from original archaeological discoveries making it a fascinating heritage walk.
  • A kids playground area with swings, slides and climbing frames
  • Picnic area
  • An outdoor library called the “Wee Library”

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Kinnity Pyramid, Offaly

kinnity pyramid unusual places in Ireland

In the village of Kinnity in County Offaly you’ll find the 30-foot high Kinnitty Pyramid, which is actually a burial tomb of six members of the once-owners of nearby Kinnity Castle. Inspired by a visit to the Egyptian Pyramids, the Kinnity Pyramid took four years to complete, finished in 1834.

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Ulster American Folk Park, Tyrone

Ulster American Folk Park - ICP (1)

Image: Tourism Northern Ireland

When you visit the Ulster American Folk Park, embark on a journey back in time from the Old World of Ulster to the New World on the American frontier.

Wander the well-trodden pathways of rural Ulster, complete with a bustling street and welcoming farmhouses. Board a full-scale emigrant ship and experience the cramped quarters where hundreds of people lived during their twelve-week Atlantic crossing. Emerge in the New World and marvel at the ingenious solutions these resourceful newcomers created on the frontier.

Experience demonstrations of traditional crafts daily, from forge work to wool spinning, turf cutting to willow weaving, woodcraft to patchwork quilting. Take a stroll through the herb garden to learn about herbal remedies from years gone by.

Slievemore Deserted Village, Mayo

Slievemore for unusual places in Ireland

On Achill Island in County Mayo you can visit the Slievemore Deserted Village – it’s like stepping back in time. Along a stretch of 1km you will find the remains of up to 100 cottages and farms.

The village was one of the longest running booley villages on Achill. Booleying was the practice of living in different location depending on the season so that cattle could remain in grassy areas all year round. Slievemore was a good location in the spring and summer months, so would have been busy during these times.

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Tetrapod Trackway, Kerry

tetrapod trackway at Valentia

Did you know you can see prehistoric tetrapod footprints predating dinosaurs at the Tetrapod Trackway on Valentia Island? The island is at the end of the Iveragh Peninsula, more familiar to many as the location of the Ring of Kerry.

On the island you will find one of only 4 sets of prehistoric footprints in the world! The footprints give an invaluable view of the transition of life from water onto land.

Access to the track way is by a steep pathway down to the rocks. NB this is quite rocky as well as steep and won’t be suitable for buggies but kids will enjoy climbing down. At the bottom of the hill is an information plaque where you can read about the Trackway before you make the final descent towards the rocks at the beach where the footprints themselves can be seen.

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Derrigimlagh, Galway

Derrigimlagh

The Derrigimlagh/Marconi walking loop provides visitors with a five kilometre trail through an area of outstanding natural beauty within the Derrygimlagh bog complex. The walk is made all the more interesting by its historical claims to fame.

The Derrygimlagh blanket bog, close to Clifden, is where pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown crashed-landed in 1919 after completing the world’s first transatlantic flight. They landed close to a wireless telegraphy station which had been set up 14 years earlier by Italian inventor, Guglielmo Marconi.

Today the location of the Marconi wireless station is home to a memorial cairn dedicated to the pair. You can hire bikes if you prefer cycling to walking.

Kilbrattain Whale, Cork

kilbrattain whale

Visit the Kilbrattain Whale for a unique opportunity to see the entire skeleton of a fin whale which beached locally in January 2009. The whale is over 65 feet long with the jaw being 18 feet long, it really is an awe-inspiring sight.

There is also a picnic area and it is a lovely area for woodland walks. You’ll also find a Slí na Sláinte walk nearby which takes you along the tidal mudflats which is a special area of conservation.

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Foynes Flying Boat Museum, Limerick

Foynes Flying Boat Museum (1)

Image © Tourism Ireland

The Foynes Flying Boat Museum is the only aviation museum in Ireland and the only dedicated flying boat museum in the world.

This unique attraction preserves the rich history of aviation and the development of passenger travel. It takes you back to that nostalgic era when Foynes became the centre of the aviation world between 1937 and 1945, and you will enjoy

  • an authentic 1940’s cinema
  • the Radio and Weather Room—complete with transmitters, receivers and Morse code equipment
  • the Brendan O’Regan restaurant
  • the only full sized replica B314 flying boat in the world
  • try your hand at flying the B314 on the flight simulators with amazing visuals.

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Charlie Chaplin’s Statue, Kerry

unusual places in Ireland

Did you know that Charlie Chaplin brought his family on holiday to Waterville in County Kerry every year for ten years starting in 1959? The actor became so beloved by the community during his brief stays, that they erected a permanent bronze statue of Charlie Chaplin and there’s an annual Chaplin film festival each year in the town.

Dunbrody Maze, Wexford

Dunbrody abbey maze

At Dunbrody Castle in Wexford you’ll find an intricate yew hedge maze made with 1,500 yew trees and gravel paths. As it is one of the few large scale mazes in Ireland, it may take a while to puzzle your way and out!

Around the outside of the maze lies a 9-hole pitch and putt course, you can hire clubs in the shop. You’ll also enjoy walks and a picnic area nearby.

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Blennerville Windmill, Kerry

blennerville windmill

Blennerville Windmill stands in Tralee Bay, where Tralee meets the Dingle Peninsula. At the Blennerville Visitor Centre you will find the working Windmill – you can climb to the top – and audio-visual presentation as well as a model of the Tralee Dingle railway, an exhibition gallery, gift and coffee shop.

Blennerville was the main port of emigration from County Kerry during the Great Famine (1845-1848) and was, during those years, the home port of the famous emigrant barque “Jeanie Johnston”. The visitor centre houses a fascinating display on Irish emigration including models of the infamous coffin ships.

There’s also a Bird Watching platform with a telescope overlooking Slí na nÉan (The Way of the Birds).

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Dursey Island Cable Car, Cork

unusual places in Ireland

Image © Tourism Ireland

Originally opened in 1969, the Dursey Island cable car remains, to this day, the most used means of transport across the turbulent waters of the Dursey Sound and offers a truly singular experience. Ireland’s only cable car, and one of the very few cable cars that traverses seawater in all of Europe, it is one of the great attractions of the island. As long as you and the kids have a good head for heights, that is, as it can be a wild ride over the waves!

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Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, Dublin

ye olde hurdy gurdy museum

Ye Olde Hurdy-Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio is located in the Martello Tower in Howth and houses a fine collection of exhibits chronicling the history of telecommunications from the 1840s to date. There are many examples of early Morse equipment, gramophones, crystal sets, valve radios and other pieces of equipment.

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Waterfall Alpaca Farm, Cork

waterfall alpaca farm

Go and meet Alpacas, curious and intelligent animals at Waterfall Alpaca Farm in Cork. As well as farm tours, they run Alpaca walks which take about 40 minutes, where you actually get to take the Alpacas for a walk! You can also meet the other farm residents, sheep, donkeys, hens, ducks and rabbits.

Bring a picnic for after the walk and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings, picnic table and toilet on site. There’s also a self catering cabin should you fancy an overnight stay.

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The Jealous Wall, Westmeath

unusual places in Ireland

The Jealous Wall at Belvedere was built c. 1760 as a result of a quarrel between Robert Rochfort and another brother George, the owner of nearby Rochfort House (subsequently re-named Tudenham House), now, alas a melancholy ruin. The Wall was built between the two houses as an artificial ruin of an abbey so as to exclude from Robert’s view the sight of his brother’s residence of which he was jealous. It is believed that the Earl went to enormous expense in constructing the ruin, to the extent of hiring the services of a celebrated Italian Architect Barrodotte to superintend its erection.

Enjoy a visit to Belvedere House and Gardens afterwards, they also run events throughout the year including Easter Hunts, outdoor plays, Bat Walks and their famous Green Santa event in the run up to Christmas.

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Glendalough, Wicklow

Glendalough for places to learn about Irish history

Image © Failte Ireland & Tourism Ireland. Courtesy of Chris Hill

Glendalough (Gleann dá Loch, meaning ‘Valley of the Two Lakes’) is one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland. With two dark and mysterious lakes tucked into a long, glacial valley fringed by forest.

There’s a 1000-year-old round tower, a ruined cathedral and the tiny church known as St Kevin’s Kitchen. It was founded in the late 6th century by St Kevin, a bishop who established a monastery on the Upper Lake’s southern shore.

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Dark Hedges, Antrim

The Dark Hedges

Image © Tourism Northern Ireland

Made famous by being included in a scene in Game of Thrones (when Arya Stark disguised as a boy travels in a cart north on the King’s Road) this striking avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the eighteenth century and was intended to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Georgian mansion, Gracehill House.

Two centuries later, the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland. There’s free parking at Hedges Estate Hotel nearby, with the Dark Hedges a short walk away.

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Giant’s Causeway, Antrim

Giant's Causeway

© Christopher Hill Photographic +44 (0)2890 245038

Follow in the footsteps of giants at the Giants Causeway, flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs. The Grand Causeway is the largest of three rock outcrops which make up the Giant’s Causeway. These collections of curious columns contributed to the causeway being designated Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.

Enjoy the Visitor Centre, then be sure to follow the small path leading towards the sea which takes you to what is perhaps the bay’s most famous feature – the Giant’s Boot. Apparently lost by Finn as he fled from the wrath of Scottish giant, Benandonner, the boot is reputed to be a size 93.5!

Then stop at the Wishing Chair, a natural throne formed from a perfectly arranged set of columns. Then peek out at Finn McCool’s Camel, the only steed capable of carrying the giant across long distances, now turned to stone. The Camel is actually a basaltic dyke, formed from cooling lava which has pushed its way through other layers of rock.

And for the very active, take the Cliff-top Experience, a fully guided 5-mile hike from the ruins of Dunseverick Castle along the cliffs high above the causeway.

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Terra Nova Fairy Garden, Limerick

terra nova fairy garden

Terra Nova Fairy Garden near Kilmallock is a beautifully designed and richly planted, award winning garden set in the Golden Vale of Co. Limerick. Packed to the brim with plants and personality, come and meet the fairies and feel the magic for yourself.

Kilfane Glen, Kilkenny

Kilfane Glen and Waterfall is romantic garden dating from the 1790s. Untouched for 200 years, it is a picturesque paradise with a waterfall tumbling its way to a rushing stream and woodland paths leading to a cottage orné. Tiny bridges sit among ancient trees, wild foxgloves and ferns.

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Giant’s Walk, Mayo

land of giants

Follow the Giant’s Walk around Clare Lake in Claremorris, Co Mayo and you will see a towering yellow door, a red chair that belongs in the world of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant and an enormous set of keys that can never be lost, dangling from a random tree.

“Clare and Morris live here, but nobody has ever seen them, let us know if you see them”.

The Land of the Giants is a first for Ireland, its handcrafted wood features will guide you around the 4.5 km route. It is family-, buggy-, bike- and wheelchair- friendly and with a total distance of 5km and a flat terrain, it’s a great walk for all.

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Fairy Forest at Strokestown, Roscommon

strokestown woodland

Image courtesy of Val Robus

Val Robus recommended the Woodland Walk at Strokestown Park. It’s a gentle stroll through the woods to spot a worry tree, a wishing tree and a rag tree. You’ll find evidence of fairies are all around the woodland walk, some of the trees even have faces! It’s the perfect place for children of all ages. Look out for the sculptures created by local schools as part of a creative sculpture competition.

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Erica’s Fairy Forest, Cavan

erica's fairy forest

Erica’s Fairy Forest in Cootehill, Cavan was created by her parents Natasha and Ciaran to honour Erica’s memory and her unshakable belief in fairies and magical kingdoms. It is also a thank you to the people of Cootehill and surrounding areas whose love and support was never ending throughout Erica’s journey.

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unusual places in Ireland

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Published On: May 28th, 2020 / Categories: Ireland, Travel / Last Updated: December 21st, 2021 / Tags: , /

About the Author: Jill Holtz

Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls

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