On Saturday morning I appeared on the Brendan O’Connor Show on RTE1 and we talked about the range of day trips that families could do. There has been a big increase in great places to explore, particularly outdoor activities for families. Come with me on a tour of the country and discover some fun places to explore.
Connacht and the West
The Aran Islands Ferries now operate a service from Galway Harbour to Inishmore. There you can explore the island on foot, by bike or take a tour. The day trip allows for plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and take in a nice lunch in places like Tigh Joe Wattys, Aran Islands Hotel or gorgeous Teach Nan Phaidi, to name just a few.
If you can, go to see Poill an Peist – the natural swimming pool in the rocks. it is an extraordinary place, or crawl on your belly to the edge of the cliff at Dun Aonghus.
On the way back from Inishmore, Saoirse na Farraige sails up close to the Cliffs of Moher and it is an extraordinary way to see this wonder of the west. €49 adults, €29 children.
Wildlands is a new adventure park just outside Galway city in Moycullen. If your children are in any way active they will love Wildlands. Here you will find zip lines, bushcraft, off-road driving, digger driving, a fairy trail, canoeing, paddleboarding and more.
Indoors there are climbing walls, quest challenge rooms, a sports hall and my favourite the Baile Beag, a little town designed for Tiny Tots in tiny size. The restaurant the Olive Tree, is excellent, they brought a traditional pizza oven from Italy, so guess what’s the favourite food. Wildlands.ie.
Stunning Drives in the West
One of the nicest and most scenic road trips in Mayo is the drive through the Sheffrey Hills and the Partry Mountains stopping at Ashleagh Falls on the way to the Leenane, at the head of the Killary Fjord.
Here you can take a boat trip on the fjord, or have lunch in the unique Misunderstood Heron, food truck with the best views. Take a quick stop in Louisburgh before heading to Old Head for a dip in the sea, finish off with some fresh crab in the Tavern at Murrisk.
Carlingford in Co. Louth on the Lough between the Cooley Mountains and the Mountains of Mourne is a surprisingly quick drive from Dublin via the M1. The pretty village is a hive of activity, there are great pubs, restaurants and food trucks. There are two antique shops to browse and some nice fashion places.
There is a Greenway you can walk or cycle on the from the village to Omeath, it’s only 7kms There the lCafé Rosa is lovely for lunch or try the prawns in the Granvue Hotel are always delicious. A trip to Carlingford doesn’t have to be pricy, get fish and chips and eat them on the harbour or the village green, and don’t miss the Leprechaun Park.
Horses, Playgrounds and Gardens
Heading to Kildare, the Irish National Stud is a lovely day out for families. Not only are there horses to see but also the beautiful Japanese Gardens and the playground for children. Days out €13 adult and €7.50 for children.
In Wicklow this next adventurous day out will open on midsummer day June 21 in Wicklow. Beyond The Trees at Avondale House and Forest and it is the treetops walk that leads you to an amazing wooden tower 38 metres high with views over the tops of the trees.
This extraordinary construction by Coillte, will be a must see. It is built in such a way that the Tower is accessible to wheelchairs and buggies. It is open for bookings.
You can’t beat a day out by the sea and the beach at Inchydoney in West Cork is fantastic. It is a very safe beach as the water is quite shallow. There is also a great surf school where you can take lessons. The Dunes pub and bistro is a good spot for lunch. Or there is always Clonakilty only a short distance away and full of great places to eat.
East Cork gets overlooked but there are some fantastic beaches and places to see. The beach at Garryvoe, it is 8km long and perfect for a picnic. There’s also the lovely Garrvoe Hotel for lunch. Nearby is Ballycotton Beach, another gorgeous place.
Going further east into Youghal will bring you to one of the Historic Towns of Ireland. Here you can stroll the longest seafront boardwalk in the country – 7km it just opened last year.
Ulster and the northwest
There are two amazing forest parks in the northwest and they are fun places to visit. The first is the Giants of the Drumlins in Rossmore Forest Park in Co Monaghan. Here you will find the gigantic figures of Roddy Den Drum, Spike, Queen Banba and the Morrigan in an eco-park for children.
In Roscommon the Lough Key Forest Park will test the brains of many a family with its Boda Borg, tricky Swedish designed Quests, with activities, puzzles and tasks and no instructions. There are also lots of walking, cycling and orienteering trails to try.
Heading northwest and into Donegal, you do not have to go far to find the highest cliffs in not just Ireland but Europe. This is a beautiful part of Donegal with some amazing scenery. Nancys in Ardara would be popular place to stop here.
Happy fun days out this summer.