Thursday, September 5, 2013

A family weekend in Ireland


Guest post by Aimee Claire

Ireland is a fantastic place to visit with small children, as outside the cities it’s just the right size itself.  That is to say, everything is focussed around small towns and villages that children can enjoy without becoming too weary of the hustle and bustle of large urban centres.  There are endless places to explore that will capture kids’ imagination.  Though it may not be the warmest (or driest) of countries, there are some great beaches, and there are lots of attractions specifically designed for family fun.

Kangaroos at Fota Wildlife Park

Places to take toddlers

Travelling with toddlers is always hard going and, to make it fun for them, car journeys need to be kept as short as possible.  The best way to approach this is to plan well beforehand and make lots of stops to explore new places along the way.  If it’s done right, this will wear toddlers out so that they doze when the car is in motion.

One thing that toddlers always love is visiting petting zoos where they can get up close to the animals.  Newgrange Farm and the donkey sanctuary at Lough Gur are two great options, whilst at Fota Wildlife Park it’s possible to encounter exotic animals, including lemurs, kangaroos and llamas roaming at will.  In Killarney it’s possible to go for a ride in a traditional cart and say hello to the carthorse, and there are excellent play areas at Kylemore Abbey and Dublin’s Phoenix Park.

Travelling in Ireland with a small child

When travelling with a child it is important to fit the holiday around things that they find entertaining.  More adult-centred activities are, after all, not much fun with a frustrated child in tow.  There is no single way to approach this as every child is different, but fortunately Ireland offers a lot of variety.  Children that like trains will love the Clonmacnoise and West Offally bog train, which looks like a giant toy, and will delight in a trip to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum.  Kids who like pirates will love the Louisburgh museums and the chance to see where real pirates hid their booty, while those who are into castles will be spoilt for choice; Trim Castle, Bunratty Castle and Ross Castle are always firm favourites.  For truly adventurous ones, there is the Giant’s Causeway, though they might need a little help getting around.


Accommodation and travel

Ireland doesn’t have a lot of chain hotels, as most locations are so small, so it’s not always possible to arrange for a room that can be shared by the whole family.  The smaller hotels in Ireland, however, are almost universally friendly to children and will make special arrangements to fit them in, as well as helping to make the stay more fun for them.  For those who prefer to avoid hotels, camping and caravanning are also an option, but such visitors should be warned - Ireland can be damp!
By far the easiest way to get around with small children is by car.  Family discounts are available for those wanting to take their own cars over on the ferry, and it’s easy to pick up hire cars close to the major airports.  There are flights to Ireland from most major British and Western European airports.


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