Check out your local paper, library, community group and the links we mention below to avail of these.
- Parks and Playgrounds
- Summer for Science
- Walking and Cycling
- Cultural Experiences
- Art Galleries
- Heritage Sites
- Family Friendly Festivals
- Travel Experiences
- Useful Links
Luckily in Ireland there are an array of parks, playgrounds, outdoor spaces, football pitches and all sorts of gems available for families if you just know where to look. Every city and county now has an individual website, so the best way to find your nearest open space is by searching online, put in www. followed by your county then .ie for e.g. www.dublincity.ie or www.kilkenny.ie . Your local city or county website will have information on what is happening, free events and places to go.
Head to the beach for a swim and a sandcastle building competition! Explore rock pools for exotic sea creatures, or even try your hand at surfing or boogie boarding!
In 2012 82 Irish beaches and 2 marinas received the International Blue Flag award. Find your nearest Blue Flag Beach! If there isn’t a beach nearby then visit your local swimming pool.
There are science-themed places to visit all over Ireland, such as Birr Castle, Co Offaly, Straffan Steam Museum, Co Kildare, and the Arigna Mining Experience, Co Roscommon, which you can find on the Atlas of Ingenious Ireland website!
Early Childhood Ireland also has a range of science activities which you might want to try out at home on our Science through play page!
Coillte, Ireland’s leading forestry company, has developed a huge range of recreational opportunities at sites across the country. There are new cycling trails now especially designed with children and families in mind. Families can access miles of walking, hiking, multi access, and long distance trails, enjoy the thrill of cycling new world class bike trails, fish, picnic, watch wildlife, launch your canoe on the rivers, visit megalithic sites or just sit and enjoy the outdoors. Go to the Coillte website for a list of Coillte Recreation Sites in your county.
There are also plenty of walking trails for each county on the Discover Ireland website.
Explore outdoor activities and things to do near the world class Great Western Greenway ; a traffic free cycling and walking trail which follows the route of the renowned Westport to Achill railway.
Did you know that every household in Ireland had a native tree planted on its behalf for the Millennium? Over fifteen hundred acres of native Irish woodland were restored and designated as 16 ‘Millennium Forests’, and are dedicated to the people of Ireland. These trees were planted as part of the restoration of these native woodland communities .Find the nearest millennium forest near you!
Enjoy the fantastic cultural and artistic experiences that Ireland has to offer! The arts are one of the fundamental tools through which young children learn about the world. In Ireland most of the major arts organisations provide outreach and educational activity programmes for children at weekends and during school holidays. A variety of cultural institutions also now provide cultural opportunities for babies and their parents.
Visit your local art gallery- many have a children’s programme over the summer holidays and some even organise tours for new parents and babies such as the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, or find out what cultural events are going on around Ireland on www.culturefox.ie, detailing hundreds of events, some of them free.
One of the joys of exposing young children to art is that they can learn from visual and tactile experience well before they can read. Talk about the different designs, colours, contrasts of light and dark and different colours, shapes ,textures and forms of paintings, drawings, installations and sculptures and which art pieces appeal to the children the most and why. Hopefully they will be inspired to create their own masterpieces when they get home or even at the gallery with some paper and crayons/pencils!
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once s/he grows up.” Pablo Picasso
Make a visit to at least one branch of the National Museum, in Dublin and Co Mayo which are free! There are also a range of free activities and events and even museum adapted tours for parents with babies and toddlers in some of them.
The National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny also has an events guide of what’s on over the summer both in Kilkenny and other places.
On the first Wednesday of every month, various heritage sites managed by the Office of Public Works that normally charge admission throw their doors open for free.
So it won’t cost you anything to bring the family to the State Apartments in Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin; Charles Fort in Kinsale, Co Cork; Athenry Castle in Co Galway; Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Newgrange and Knowth) and Trim Castle in Co Meath and the Rock of Cashel in Co Tipperary – to name just a few.Visit the Heritage Ireland website for more details!
National Heritage Week 2013 will run from the 17th to the 25th of August and has a programme of over 1500 events throughout Ireland.
Never forget the power of reading! A recent study in Ireland showed that one in five parents don’t read to their children. Take this opportunity over the holidays to read more books; they’re free from your local library so there’s no excuse not to!
Many libraries have a programme of summer events scheduled especially for children including free storytelling or trips to local attractions. Find out what’s on in your local library.
There are many festivals all over the country that provide free entertainment, activities for children and extra incentive to visit the host town or city. Some of these are the Birr Vintage Week (August 3rd-10th), Kilkenny Arts Festival (August 10th-19th), the Tall Ships Races in Dublin (August 23rd-26th), and lesser-known events such as the Lughnasa Festival at Craggaunowen, Quin, Co Clare (August 5th-6th) and Terryglass Arts Festival in Co Tipperary (August 15th -19th). These are listed on the Discover Ireland website.
As well as a host of children’s movies available through the summer holidays there are now baby-friendly cinema programmes at multiplexes and art-house cinemas around the country. The cinemas turn the sound down, for tiny ears, brighten the lighting a little, to facilitate feeding, and there is even a baby changing area, bottle warming area and buggy valet in some of them! These shows cater for all those parents and carers who don’t want to miss out on the latest movie releases. The IMC cinema in Dun Laoghaire runs them on Thursday mornings.
Odeon kids screenings throughout the country show movies that have been chosen especially for children and are every Saturday and Sunday mornings. Ticket prices start from €3.20 and what’s more with every child ticket you get a FREE adult ticket – so mums and dads get to go FREE! Go to the Odeon website to find out what’s on near you!
Irish Rail has special offers to various summer events, and a family of one/two adults and up to four children can have a day’s unlimited travel on the Dart and short-hop commuter service (Balbriggan-Greystones) for an all-in ticket of €15. See the Irish Rail website.
Kids also get to go free on the Dublin bus sightseeing tours.
If you’re still struggling for ideas then check out our outdoor and indoor activities below or visit these websites: