Advice for a Family trip to Ireland

Apr 10th, 2003, 08:26 AM
  #1  
LRK
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Advice for a Family trip to Ireland

I'm in the midst of planning a trip to Ireland this summer for myself, my husband and our two sons, ages 10 (still likes to be with his parents!) and 14 1/2 (typically sullen one minute, charming the next...) . We are fortunate to be able to take up to 3 weeks. Can a parent who took a trip to Ireland with their family recommend areas/sights/ activities that won the hearts of your own kids? I'm thinking bike rides, horseback riding, etc. Also, is it better to travel in July or August ? Thank you in advance. If I can help anyone planning a trip to Paris or Stockholm with kids, I'd be happy to help!
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Apr 10th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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I'm not a parent who took kids to Ireland - I'm a person who was once (not so long ago!) a kid in Ireland, so here are a few bits of advice.

Horseriding can be done almost anywhere in Ireland, but tourist trekking (rather than traditional schools) is more common in the west and south.
There is (was?) a great adventure park called Clara Lara near Laragh in Co. Wicklow. There is (was?) another one nearby in the village of Anamoe. Both are great fun, but you may need to check with the tourist board if they are still operating.

Dublin Zoo has just undergone a re-vamp, if that's their kind of thing (but it is still kind of small).

There's a wildlife park in Cork (again, fairly small), a new water park in Dublin (slides and the like).

That's all I can come up with off the top of my head, but if you have anymore questions I might be able to help.

-- Viola
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Apr 10th, 2003, 08:39 AM
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Thanks, Viola!
Did you like Dublin as a child, or were the smaller towns more appealing to you?
Lisa (LRK)
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Apr 10th, 2003, 08:52 AM
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I loved Dublin. I'm not a "big city" person really, probably because Dublin was always my idea of a city. I always liked St. Stephen's Green, right in the centre of the city, for sitting on the grass and feeding the ducks (still do, in fact!).

The National History Museum was good too. And one highlight (that we only got to do when we had foreign visitors) was the Viking exhibition - a re-creation of Viking Dublin, complete with actors etc. (There's also an amphibious tour of Viking Dublin that kids would enjoy).

It depends where you come from, but you have to remember that most American consider Dublin a small town, rather than a city. Some of our small towns are VERY small.
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Apr 10th, 2003, 09:07 AM
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The Viking Centre is closed now but the new Waterworld in Dublin is big and busy (www.nac.ie).Spending a few days on a farm might be interesting.The National Museum in Dublin has lots of historical items stretching back thousands of years and it is free.You might get the kids into some kind of a summer camp for part of the day-check locally.Pitch and Putt golf is popular everywhere and does not cost much.
 
Apr 10th, 2003, 09:16 AM
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The Viking Centre is closed!?!

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Apr 10th, 2003, 09:53 AM
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Dublin's Viking Adventure closed in March of 2002 (give or take). Dublinia, which is sort of attached to Christchurch is still open. The Viking Splash Tours are still around to my knowledge. That would be fun for kids.

There is a model railroad museum attached to Malahide Castle and one in Killarney also. Although it would be pretty crowded in the summer, a tour of the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney Nat'l Park would offer a variety of fun options including various combinations of biking, horseback riding, jaunting cars and floating back into Killarney vis the lakes.

I highly reccommend you get them to do a bit of interesting study about the history of the country. Ireland is an island of history, and though history may not be everybody's favorite subject, the whole castle thing tends to be pretty cool for kids.

There are quite a few events around the Bunratty area that, though touristy, could be fun for the kids. Here is the website for the general area:
http://www.shannonheritage.com/main.html

Hope this helps

Bill
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Apr 10th, 2003, 10:01 AM
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LRK
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Wonderful suggestions! Thanks ! Anybody out there do any B & B's that were particularly wonderful for families-ie: big or adjoining rooms? Thanks again !
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Apr 10th, 2003, 10:44 AM
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Hi LRK,
We took our kids (then 10 & 7) to Ireland last June. It was a great trip.
We flew into Dublin, took the train to Belfast. (the train was a big hit) They enjoyed the black taxi tour in Belfast, though they didn't really understand the politics of it, but enjoyed writing on the "Peace Wall". Your teen would probably be fascinated.
We then drove up to Co. Antrim, and stayed at the Craig Park B&B near Bushmills. (highly recommend this place).Highlights of the north include the Carrick-a-rede Bridge (though I almost had a heart attack trying to keep my 7 year old from being blown off the side), and Giant's Causeway (they loved this).
Back to Dublin for the weekend, they particularly enjoyed sitting on the top deck of the hop on hop off tour bus, the viking splash tour (previously mentioned)and walking/playing in St. Stephen's Green.
In the west we stayed in Doolin. Cullinan's B&B had 2 children around their ages, (and a nice big room, and great food)From here we visited the Cliffs of Mohr which they (and we) thought were awesome. They also enjoyed wandering over the rocky beach at the end of the town, and watching the World Cup in the pub!
Dingle was the final destination, and we did not spend enough time here. Stayed at Emlagh Lodge, great rooms. We tried to go horseback riding, but they wouldn't take the 7 year old on the trail in the weather. Drove Conor Pass, checked out the beehive huts, made some pottery at Louis Mulcahy.
All in all, they loved Ireland, and can't wait to go back. Sorry for the length of this post, hope it helps somewhat!
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Apr 10th, 2003, 12:34 PM
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LRK
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Thanks so much ,flaneuse! It helps alot! I wasn't really considering going to Belfast, but maybe I should...
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Apr 11th, 2003, 06:08 AM
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Your 14yr-old might like Kinsale. You can visit Charles Fort (for hours), and the town small enough that he could walk around & feel like an adult, my daughter (13) loves it, great shopping. It’s something that you wouldn’t let him do this in a larger town like Killarney. We were in Kinsale last November, stayed @ Kierran's Folk House, they had large family rooms, 1 double & 2 twin in a room, but it was a bit smelly, (curry from the kitchen), but I stayed there, a few weekends ago, and it wasn't bad at all. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email, its [email protected]
Enjoy your trip!
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Apr 11th, 2003, 06:57 AM
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The Ghost Bus tour might be fun with the kids in the evening. I am trying to get my gang to do this for ages as it looks fun. It's a double decker bus that has curtain to close out the light and only goes in the evenings. The visit a small old graveyard Off Camden St and tell ghost stories and myths etc. The tpurist office should have a leaflet as there is only 1 tour like this. I always came to Irlans in the sumer a few rtimes as a kid and the parks are great. Some Museums (Collins BArrick Museum) have kids programs sat and Sunday where they make things. The last one I saw there the kids were making Brighid's crosses and teaching them about harvest time and weaving. The kids seemed really lively and enjoyed it.
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Apr 11th, 2003, 09:45 AM
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Oh! SiobhanP, your ghost tour reminded me of a church in Dublin where we toured the crypts and saw 3 real live (dead) mummies. The kids got to touch them, and didn't they think they were cool sharing that little tidbit with their friends when we got home. The name of the church is on the tip of my tongue, but I just can't think of it right now. Does this ring a bell with anybody?
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Apr 11th, 2003, 11:07 AM
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LRK
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Boy, you guys are just fabulous! Keep those suggestions coming! By the way, US Air just upped their fare about $75--just when I was getting smug about traveling when everyone else appears to be staying close to home...I wanted to set our itinerary first and then book flights after I knew I had my first choice in accomodations, but now I think that may be a luxury I don't have anymore...
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Apr 13th, 2003, 07:01 AM
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LRK-you can wait on the flights.

If you do decide to put Northern Ireland into your plans, I would go in August rather than July. Without going into all of the details, there are Orangemen marches in July, and they often distrupt traffic, etc., and there are sometimes protests and whatever else going on.

And I think August is a good time to go to Ireland, anyway.
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Apr 13th, 2003, 07:02 AM
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BTW, Dublin is a very metropolitan city these days. It's changed tremendously in the past 10 years. Friend who left Dublin in the 80s say they don't even recognize it today.

I think your 14-year-old would love it.
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Apr 13th, 2003, 07:41 AM
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LRK,

Before heading off, you might consider obtaining a copy of the book Ireland for Kids, by Derek MacKenzie-Hook. It's available through Amazon for just under $12.

Best of luck.
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Apr 13th, 2003, 07:59 AM
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Both July and August will be busy. We were in Ireland in Aug. 2002 and although the roads were busy, the only place that were found wall-to-wall people was in Kinsale. Some other recommendations for things your kids might like: someone mentioned Bunratty, in addition to a basic castle there is the Folk Park which is quite interesting, particularly in the summer when it is a living museum with people dressed in costume cooking, thatching, etc.

There is the interpretive centre at Cobh. Some of the pictorial displays might be boring for the kids but they have the inside of a ship recreated with movies of the ocean playing that give you a good idea what it might have been like to be on one of the coffin ships. They also have an interactive display on the rescue of people from the Lusitania and some Titanic stuff.

Blarney Castle is quite touristy, but your kids might enjoy it. The small boat ride from Glengarrif to Ilnacullin gardens is interesting, particularly seeing the seals in the harbour. The gardens are a good place to get rid of some extra energy, can do a lot of climbing about. Same can be said of Glendalough in Wicklow. Lots of opportunity for walking/hikes. Can also bring a picnic and eat by the lake. There are also some great beaches at Youghal and Ardmore, and on Achill Island.

You don't say if you are planning to stay in B&Bs or ??? We've always found that renting a cottage is a great way to go with kids (not our own but we met friends with kids, who loved the idea of unpacking for a week at a time - can also do laundry!).

Have a great time.
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Apr 13th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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LRK
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Thanks, David. I'll certainly be ordering that book! Ann, besides the Orangeman activities (I appreciate you informing me of this...), you said you still like August better in Ireland-any particular reasons? What I would REALLY like to do is stay in nice hotels the entire time we're there, with one room for us and one for the boys, but we do want to send the boys to college as well as Ireland...So, we are open to B&B's, if they are spacious enough. This is, after all, a vacation! We thought about renting a cottage, but thought that would restrict us geographically. FYI, The Irish National Trust (Irishlandmark.com) rents very cool places, but again, staying a week in one place is not something we wish to do this trip.
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