Where does the time go? It seems no sooner the holidays started but the back-to-school signs have appeared in the shops. Don’t let the summer pass you by without getting out and exploring Ireland. Whether it’s a day trip or a short break, ensure the kids make the most of the last days of the hols with www.discoverIreland.ie
Go to Wildlife School! (Clare, Wicklow and Louth)
Let the kids go wild and learn about Ireland’s great outdoors. There are a huge number of nature attractions all over the country. Check out Dolphin Watch in Co. Clare, which runs boat trips in search of schools of dolphins off Loop Head Penninsula. The kids can listen into their conversations via the on-board hydrophone.
Or, lest your children grow up thinking tweeting is something done on a smart phone, introduce them to some natural twitter with a visit to Birdwatch Ireland’s East Coast Nature Reserve near Newcastle in Co. Wicklow. A conservation area designed to protect rare water birds and habitats, there are wetlands, grasslands and woodlands.
And here is one young adventure seekers will simply love. Bush Craft Ireland in Co. Louth gives lessons in outdoor living and runs weekend Family Bushcraft courses. They will have them building their own shelter, starting a campfire, sleeping under stars and tracking foxes and deer.
Lots of High Jinks (Wexford and Kerry)
Let them blow off steam before September at one of the country’s many outdoor pursuits centres. For high flying aerial acrobatics, head down to the sunny south east to Gravity at Forest Park Leisure Centre in Courtown, Co. Wexford, and get them climbing like pros in minutes. There zip wires, high rope obstacles, and a recently installed junior climbing course for under-eights. Cool down afterwards with a swim at the terrific pool next door, which has a 65m slide - or just take a dip in the sea on one of Wexford’s famous beaches.
Older kids will love Hidden Ireland Adventure’s guided mountain climbs, including one up Carrauntoohil, Co Kerry, Ireland’s highest peak. Your guide will provide a safe route up, and informative and entertaining commentary on history, archaeology and folklore.
Bring them to the Capital for a City break (Dublin)
Bring them to Dublin for a City break. There is a tonne to do and see in the capital this August. Why not start with the Viking Splash Tour, a unique Dublin sightseeing experience by land and water. Viking captains will guide you on a fun and witty tour of Dublin City, taking in all top sights including Viking and medieval Dublin. Follow it up with a trip to Imaginosity, the children’s museum in Dundrum. Back in the city centre, the National Leprechaun Museum is worth a visit. And Dublin Zoo is always a winner great day out and the African Plains there is as close to a safari park as you’ll find. Don’t miss the spectacular Dublin Tall Ships taking place from the 23rd – 26th August.
Pack a picnic (Wexford, Killarney and Roscommon)
If the forecast is good, start practicing packing lunches and go on a few picnics! Ireland boasts a wealth of amazing parks and gardens waiting to be explored. The JFK Arboretum, near New Ross in Co. Wexford, spreads over 250 hectares and has 4,500 types of tree and shrub from all over the world. There is playground, maze and miniature train and you can ride a horse drawn carriage around the park.
In the South West, Killarney National Park has its own version horse drawn carriages – jarvies! Or better still put the kids in charge of their own horse by booking them a ride with Killarney Riding Stables which provides guided trekking through the park.
Lough Key Forest Park near Boyle has beautiful parkland, and an audio guide re-enactment of life in a Big House. There’s a tree top canopy walk out over the forest, an activity high wires course for older kids and a fab playground for younger ones. It’s even weather proof thanks to the brain melting Boda Borg, an indoor activity which requires a puzzle to be solved, an obstacle to be overcome or a code to be cracked. It’s the perfect way to get their brains back in gear for school.
Life’s a Beach (Waterford, Donegal and Galway)
The Irish coastline boats some of the cleanest beaches in Europe with the highest number of Blue Flags awarded this year. Most seaside resorts have lots of activities to keep the family occupied. Try Tramore in Co Waterford, famous for its stunning sandy beach and amusement park. Or head to Bundoran in Co. Donegal to ride the surf and enrol in a surf in one of its many surf schools there. If you fancy combining a visit to the beach with a city, Salthill in Galway is the place to go.
Pool your pleasures (Louth, Kerry, Waterford and Dublin)
If the weather is not looking up, the kids can get wet indoors at some top class water parks. Funtasia Water Park in Drogheda, Co Louth has 30,000 square feet of pools, with enough slides, chutes and flumes to keep kids entertained for hours. It isn’t all watery fun either - there’s an indoor climbing wall leading up to a roof filled with zip wires, hanging logs, swinging rungs and rope ladders.
Catch some indoor waves at the Aquadome in Tralee, Co Kerry, famous for its wave pool, sky high flumes and outdoor rapids, as well as the relaxing lazy river. The National Aquatic Centre in Dublin, one of the most innovative water parks in the country and guaranteed to leave them smiling. Also try Splashworld in Tramore, Co Waterford.
So before you dust off the schoolbags give them a taste of Ireland at www.discoverireland.ie