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4 entertainment-packed itineraries for family staycations around Ireland

Not heading abroad this summer? We’ve got your back.

Image: Shutterstock/Ollie Phillips

IF YOU’RE PLANNING a holiday at home this year, we’ve come up with four jam-packed plans for the whole family to enjoy.


A hop, skip and a jump from Dublin, there is a reason why so many of us decamp from the capital to summer in Wexford. If you want a proper hotel break, then there’s something for every budget and luxury requirement.

At the top end of the scale, Kellys in Rosslare have been servicing the holidays of Irish families for decades, and their offering is seamless. From kids’ discos, to proper children’s menus and mealtimes, to brilliantly appointed family rooms, it’s luxe, family style.

If your family require a more all-singing and all-dancing hotel break, then consider Amber Springs in Gorey as an option. Boasting a play park complete with go karts, mini golf and an epic playground, as well as an indoor play centre, this is the kind of hotel that doesn’t mind your toddler flinging a ramekin of ketchup on the floor – it’s all part and parcel of its charm.

Beaches are an obvious draw to Wexford and from Curracloe to Duncannon, pack a picnic and head off for the day, being sure to tire little legs out by racing up and down the sand dunes that abound. If you want to get away from the crowds then consider Morriscastle and be sure to drop into Lawler’s for one of the best stone-baked pizzas you’ll ever taste.

The National Heritage Park is a must visit, and all visitors are given a map at the beginning to mark as they walk through – peak distraction for small people. If you fancy a day on the farm, head to Blackwater Farm, which not only has a working farm, but go karts, bouncy castles and a tractor track.

West Cork

imageRosscarberySource: Shutterstock

From surfing to whale watching to island hopping, West Cork has something for the whole family, and more. Start in Clonakilty, with a drop into the Model Railway Village – it’s a must for any fans of Thomas The Tank and has an indoor playroom in case the weather is less than sunny. The Celtic Ross hotel in Rosscarbery is a great starting point; it has family rooms and a kids' club that runs throughout the summer which allows parents to have their dinner in peace while the kids watch a movie with excellent supervision.

When in Rosscarbery, head to Smugglers Cove to play mini golf and have a go in their year-round wooden maze before tackling their freshly grown maize maze. From there, head to Drombeg and one of Ireland’s most famous Stone Circles. Head for Skibbereen, stopping at Owenahincha beach for a dip, and drive straight to Liss Ard Estate to visit the Sky Garden, an upside down garden that will bend your mind and seriously impress your kids.

If your kids are big enough, stay up until sundown and book a night kayaking trip on Lough Hyne, where during the summer months, the phosphorous lights up this salt water lake like magical glitter – it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

Check out Baltimore and Fastnet Lighthouse and rest your head at Casey's, where you’ll have incredible food and a lovely room. Finally, it wouldn’t be a trip to West Cork without a trip to some of its islands. From cable cars to world-class gardens to lookout posts for humpback whales – there are days and days of adventures to be had here.


imageLough BooraSource: Shutterstock/ Mooro

The midlands are a brilliant starting point for a family staycation, and Offaly gives great access to a huge amount of family-friendly day trips. The Tullamore Court Hotel has family rooms, a leisure centre and a kids club that caters all the way up to age 12.

Lough Boora is an obvious choice for a day of exploring, with walking trails, excellent picnic facilities and a brilliant café. Smallies will love the fairy trail and the park offers bike rental for families who want to spend a day cycling through the sculpture gardens that lend an otherworldly beauty to this ex bogland.

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Birr Castle is a veritable wonderland of kid-friendliness, with an adventure area that houses Ireland’s largest treehouse as well as picnic areas, a bouncy pillow, sand pits, sweet shop and hobbit hut. Yes, a hobbit hut. It also has an onsite interactive science centre, which focuses on astronomy and the history of the telescope.

Pilkos, Tearaways and Tullamore pet farms each offer hands on experience for kids who want to get a feel for farm life. They’re all family-run and have fantastic facilities for small kids.


imageSurfers at LahinchSource: Shutterstock/ Remizov

County Clare offers a huge range of activities for the adventure-minded families. The Inn at Dromoland is really family friendly, with wonderful rooms and a complimentary supervised evening entertainment programme for children between 6 and 9pm from July to the end of August.

The Cliffs of Moher is a must-visit, and has a brilliant visitor’s centre, as well as access to the Burren National Park, which offers days of exploring opportunities. Be sure to stop at The Stonecutters Kitchen, a family friendly restaurant that has a play area and a kid’s loyalty scheme where they receive tokens when they order food. Healthier choices equal more tokens, which can then be exchanged for toys at the end of the meal!

Then you can enrol in a surf school at Lahinch and learn to surf as a family – if nothing else it will tire you all out! After a day on the beach, go underground at Ailwee Cave and make sure to make time for the Birds Of Prey centre – it’s epic.

More: 7 parenting lessons I’ve learnt while planning our first ever family trip abroad>

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