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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# family magazine
8 of the best parks and playgrounds around Ireland, according to parents of young kids
Fairy woods, zip lines and the best slides around.

parents-panel-banner-final1.1 - Copy / Shutterstock / Shutterstock / Shutterstock

This article was updated on June 5, 2019.

AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we’ve created a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads can share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way.

If you live near a playground or a kid-friendly park, you’ll know how much of an asset it is. Free entertainment, interaction with other kids, and not a screen in sight? A winning combination.

Ireland has plenty of parks and playgrounds, but we want to know which ones parents truly rate – the local gems they always turn to.

What’s the best kid-friendly park or playground in Ireland?

Here’s a selection of the top spots, according to our panel… 

Parents Panel All 7 - Copy Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

Rathfarnham Castle Playground, Dublin 14: I’m a big fan of the playground here. Even when it’s crowded there’s still space to move around and plenty of slides and places to climb. I love that there are two ‘castle’ set-ups that suit Charlie’s age group (here’s 2.5). Although I can’t get him out of the playground just yet, the grounds themselves are also nice for a walk or scooter ride – and there is a cafe inside for an after-play tea party as well.

- Kait Quinn 

Ballinspittle playground in Co Cork: Out past Kinsale, in the small village of Ballinspittle, there is a fantastic playground: quite big, loads to do, and surrounded by fields and trees. Families travel from all over to visit this playground – and it’s just over a mile from Garretstown beach so you can get some sandcastle time in too.

- Ríona Flood

unnamed (5) Kait Quinn Charlie taking on the slide at Rathfarnham Castle last weekend. Kait Quinn

Children’s play park at the Station Cafe, Co Louth: There’s a lovely playground in Lordship, just outside Dundalk on the Carlingford Road. It has a little cafe beside it, the Station Cafe. The playground has a great mix of activities for all ages (a particular favourite is the zip line!) and there’s plenty of room to run around. And FYI parents, there’s great parking and it’s all well fenced in.

- Olly Keegan 

Lucan Demesne, Co Dublin: Extending from Lucan village along the Liffey, this is a beautiful natural riverside park that has been added to over the years by the council. In addition to a large fairy wood, it now has a small playground too.

- Ross Boxshall

unnamed (4) Ross Boxshall Taking a break at Lucan Demesne. Ross Boxshall

St Catherine’s Park and Playground, Co Dublin: This is technically an extension of Lucan Demesne, and you can walk or cycle between the two if you wish, but it has lots of facilities of its own. There are woodland walks, a very extensive kids’ playground, and a new urban market on Sundays (though prepare for a busier playground on market days).

- Ross Boxshall

Fairy Trail, Kilbrittain, Co Cork: Living at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way in Cork we’re quite short on big parks but there are some fantastic playgrounds and fairy woods to check out instead. The woods in Kilbrittain have just been taken over by faeries, it is a pleasure to walk through, and there is even a playground nearby.

- Ríona Flood

Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Newry: This forest park between Dundalk and Newry has its own “giant’s lair” and adventure playpark. It’s great to take a picnic to, but it also has a coffee shop. Along with the kids’ facilities, there’s a 10km walk through the Slieve Gullion forest and mountains, or you can spin up in the car, park near the top and finish the last 20 minutes on foot. The views on a clear day are unreal. You can see for miles. We love it, and admission is free, so it’s a great way to keep the family occupied for nothing.

- Denise Cumiskey

Corkagh Park, Clondalkin, Co Dublin: A bit of a hidden gem, this is another great park with lots to do including a pet farm, playground, fishing lakes, a rose garden, a fairy wood… and plenty of hills to roll down!

- Ross Boxshall

Plus, want to win a getaway to Kilkenny’s luxurious Lyrath Estate? Enter right here – and don’t forget to subscribe to our Family Newsletter in the box below!

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