Ireland with 3 1/2 year olds?


Oct 24th, 2012, 10:12 AM
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Ireland with 3 1/2 year olds?

Hello everyone! It's been a long time since I've been on the Europe boards and I've missed it! My husband and I did quite a bit of overseas travel (from the US) before we had our twin daughters, and we miss it terribly. We are contemplating a vacation to Ireland for next spring, and our girls will be roughly 3 1/2 years old when this trip would take place. I went to Ireland in early 2007 so it's been awhile. I'm trying to figure out how vacation-friendly Ireland will be as far as traveling with two preschoolers in tow. I mean yes, I know people in Ireland also have children. My husband and I are just a little nervous about planning a vacation with little ones as it's going to cost us quite a bit of money (four airfares now instead of two...ouch!).

We would have about two weeks and my initial thoughts would be to base ourselves in one place for a week and then move onto another location for a week. It seems like, for my girls at least, having a "home base" and settling in and trying to stick to a routine is easiest.

So with all of that being said, has anyone traveled to Ireland with a child(ren)? If so, was it easy to find child-friendly things to do? Any specific areas that work better than others? I imagine we would be sticking to a lot of outdoor activities and general sightseeing. Probably no museums this time around!

tcreath is offline  
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Oct 24th, 2012, 10:45 AM
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So glad to hear that you are planning a new kind of European adventure! I think your idea of basing in two places is a good one.

There was a report here about taking a fmaily to Ireland and doing that. Perhaps if you search through the Ireland reports, you will find it. I'll look later.
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Oct 24th, 2012, 12:11 PM
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I went back to 2009 and couldn't find the report I was thinking of. I did top off a quest by kathrync479 who was asking about taking her kids and several posters gave her some good websites to check out.

indy_dad has a report on taking his kids to Ireland. His kids are older than your twins but it might give you an inkling of things to do. Put his name in the search box to find his report.

Just thinking back to my trips, you might want to look at Clare (near Shannon). There are a lot of kid friendly activities that would also be interesting for the parents. Ailwee caves--a good bit of walking and not suitable for strollers, but my 80 year old friend with a cane did it.
Exploring the Burren. Bunratty folk park. And lots more.

Connemara near Clifden. Some beaches, Connemara National Park.

Near Cork on the coast--beaches, Fota Wildlife Park--lots of chances to be up close to animals.

Killarney area--Staigue Fort, beaches

Dingle--harbor trips to see Fungie the friendly dolphin, Inch Strand (long stretch of sand, facilities (restrooms, etc.) Drive around the peninsula, lots of places to get out and stretch little legs, and longer ones too.

I did read one TR from a family who stayed on a farm and got to see all the animals.
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Oct 24th, 2012, 12:35 PM
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Disclaimer -- I have never been to Ireland. I am not actually answering your question but instead I'm asking you one. I normally hate it when people do this, so I want to be upfront about it!

Why Ireland? Do you want to go there because you've already been and would feel more comfortable taking your children to a familiar place?

I have traveled with a 3 1/2 year old so I'll answer from that perspective. We enjoyed trips with our son when the weather was nicer. Drizzly rain can dampen everything -- from clothes to spirits!

Also, having no direct experience with Ireland but having spent a few years in the UK (yes, I realize they are different, but I'm just making a point) we found tolerance and affection for children increased as we moved further south. In London our son was allowed, barely. In Paris people smiled and cooed. In Rome people patted his head as he walked past. In Spain he could do no wrong and was constantly indulged. Don't get me started on Egypt!

Anyway, just a few thoughts, feel free to completely disregard my post!
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Oct 24th, 2012, 12:49 PM
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Irishface is my biggest fan

Here's one that I remember reading when planning and they have smaller kids than ours (big difference between 3.5 and 11 & 8 obviously)
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Oct 24th, 2012, 02:27 PM
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Trace..I can't believe the little ones are 3!! Time flew right by me on that one. I'll send you some pics all around Ireland taken on my three trips there..from that you can sure figure out where you'd want to base and what to see...been a while, Tracy. Happty things are so well with you.
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Oct 24th, 2012, 03:29 PM
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I think BKP had some good points,, rain and little kids, not a good combo, since whatever you do or see each day you will need some running around outside time..
I know you aren't asking, but I will agree that in Spain your kids are treated like little prince and princesses...
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Oct 24th, 2012, 04:50 PM
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Hello everyone! Thank you all for your kind replies. irishface, thank you so much for doing some of the research for me. I did a bit of initial research but failed to come across indy_dad's trip report. Great report and I loved the pictures! I appreciate the honesty.

BKP, I'll be honest here and say that my main reason for thinking about Ireland came down to airfare. I was doing some airfare research, a sad hobby of mine, and came across flights to Ireland that are hundreds of dollars lower than most other cities throughout Europe. Istanbul is also a lot lower than most other cities so we are considering a return visit to Turkey as well, although DH isn't really on board with that one.

With that being said, I loved Ireland. I was there for a short visit but I found the people to be gracious and welcoming, the scenery beautiful and I left wanting more. I love Rome but after 4 previous visits I personally can't see myself bringing a couple of rambunctious toddlers there...just too crowded and busy for what I'm looking for this time around. But your point about the weather is well taken and is giving me pause. I was there in the month of February and it was certainly dreary and drizzling most of the time. Funny how I forgot that little important piece of information!

In an effort to keep costs down we would be traveling during off-peak or shoulder season so we will have to deal with a bit of spring weather in any location we pick.

Stu, I'm getting ready to respond to your email. I'll send a couple of pictures of the girls...they are getting too big!

Thanks everyone!! You've given me a lot to think about.

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Oct 25th, 2012, 06:06 AM
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Hi Tracy. I've been traveling to Ireland with my girls since they were both a year old. Yes, it can be wet, but don't let it discourage you! There is plenty to do both indoors and out.

If the girls are active- like mine are- the open spaces in Ireland are perfect! Lough Boora has bicycling trails, a sculpture walk that is really fun and ducks to feed.

The donkey sanctuary in County Cork is a terrific stop, as is Kennedy's Pet farm near Killarney.

I would recommend the site - (disclosure- it's mine) but it is filled with kids friendly things to do in Ireland, as well as places to stay.

I recommend at least 2 nights in a place, if you're doing B&Bs; a week if you plan to self cater.

I've been to Ireland in all seasons and you never know what you may get. We've had more beautiful days in November than we have in June... That said, just pack smart and you'll be fine.

One thing to remember- 2013 is "The Gathering" in Ireland, which means more events and hopefully (for Ireland) higher tourism numbers. So book your car as soon as you know your travel dates, book the lodging at least 2-3 months in advance. And let me know if you have any questions- I'm happy to help!
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Oct 25th, 2012, 07:21 AM
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Posts: 2,842 is one resource (and a good one too Jody) and might be worth a look. Basically all you do at home can be done here. Kids are easily occupied and every town and even villages have a playground duck pond or both.

Find somewhere that suits you and your kids will be happy. The Idea of one week self catering (Sat to Sat) and one week roaming makes perfect sense. many B&B have rooms with a double and single bed some may even offer child minding although its the grandchildren that are Pre/at school now. Sites we use for self catering are many have enclosed gardens.
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Oct 25th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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Jody_Halsted, your website is fantastic! I am now following your pinterest pages and the information was so helpful. Tony2phones, thank you for the other websites as well! I've been browsing the FamilyFun website and I love it. I'll check out your other suggestions this evening...I think I hear the girls waking up from their naps.

I admit I'm now a bit confused! I got scared away by the possibility of a rained-out April trip but I'm still interested. I know one can't predict the weather, and our shoulder-season travels to Europe have been all over the place weather-wise. Some trips were rainy and dreary almost the entire time, others quite gorgeous. Of course the yucky weather is easier to deal with without two little ones in tow.

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Oct 25th, 2012, 05:32 PM
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It is funny that you forgot that it was rainy and drizzly when you were there! But that says to me you aren't the type to let a little rain slow you down! If that's the case, you'll be fine. Use the money you save on airfare to buy wellies and an umbrella.

I grew up in Seattle and live in England -- rain doesn't slow me down on a daily basis either -- but when I get on a plane and spend ££££ I want to see the sun!

The weather affects me more than my son when we are on holiday. So I don't worry that he'll get damp and grumpy, I worry that will be me. It's just hard for me to muster the energy for our 100th game of eye spy when I'm shivering!
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Oct 25th, 2012, 06:28 PM
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Thanks, IndyDad for the mark and monica link. that was the one I was trying to remember to tell tcreath about! I think that htey have taken more trips with their girls who are about five and seven now, if I remember correctly from their latest trip.

Anyway, Tcreath, this was a good read and had lots of ideas.
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Nov 7th, 2012, 04:27 AM
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I would suggest staying in a house at Castlemartyr or Fota in Cork. Links later.

I have stayed a both with kids. You have the benefit of a hotel but are staying in a house. There are nice pools if the weather is bad. Castlemartyr is not too far from a beach and Fota has a big wildlife park. Both are good destinations for exploring Cork. Plus - both have good restaurants and a nice spa for mum and Dad. You can also organise a baby sitter so mum and dad could have a nice quiet dinner.
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Nov 7th, 2012, 06:00 AM
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Hello Tracy

When our two boys were young we would go places where they could throw rocks into the ocean all day long. Ireland would have been perfect.

Any chance of exchanging the twin girls for twin boys?
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Nov 7th, 2012, 07:23 AM
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Here's another that may help:
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