Travelling to Ireland does not necessarily mean taking a plane, Claire and her family (including a 16 year old girl) took a ferry to get to Ireland. They met their UK based friends (a family of 5 one of which a 14year old) in Liverpool and drove to Holyhead (Wales) to catch the ferry to Dublin. They then drove to Waterford where they stayed at a Travelodge and next morning drove to Kilkenny. At Kilkenny they visited The Kilkenny castle which has impressive grounds. Many activities are held all year round which vary from folklore festivals to candle nights, so give their website a visit, you might be lucky.
There are many churches in Ireland, so Claire and her friends gave the kids the task to collect pictures of church clocks with Roman numerals throughout their holiday. The kids that collected the most would win something…it is always a good idea with teens to give them a task to keep up. In Kilkenny, we did the Medieval Mile, but due to time, constraints could not visit all the places so did not pay for the pass, but only visited the places we chose to http://visitkilkenny.ie/irelands_medieval_mile
They had planned to drive to Limerick and find accommodation there. Limerick is a good place to see some major Irish sights. On the way, they found some castle ruins and decided to stop for a stroll. Little did they know that it was abandoned and taken over by a herd of cows and bulls. Needless to say, they didn’t stay too long so as not to disturb, but it was an original break.
Upon arrival in Limerick, they visited the Limerick Museum. It’s always interesting to learn about the fight for independence and how proud the Irish are of what they achieved. In the museum, there are various traditional costumes and accessories for the kids to dress up, and the guide helped the kids to compare and contrast the different eras and social status related to the costumes they chose. Very interactive even if a museum.
They wished to Visit Skellig Michael Island that is quite a long drive and boat ride away. This is an iconic island that appeared in one of the Star Wars movies…. the husbands and eldest kids are Sci-Fi fans …Unfortunately weather was not favourable so they couldn’t make it. I guess they’ll have to return but if you go before they do, tell us all about it by contacting us!
So the next morning they drove to the Cliffs of Moher, this is a World Heritage site. We can say that they are similar to our Maltese version Dingli Cliffs but just slightly more populated. The visitor’s centre itself though, allows you to spend an hour inside so even if it rains there is something to do. There are videos about the history and nature of the area and many multisensory activities & workshops for the kids. Once they visited the cliffs, they were free to roam around. The various trails at the cliffs are all marked according to accessibility so there is a trail for everyone! Lots of local folk musicians display their talent and allow the kids to have a go at joining in.
They had to drive from Limerick to Lisburn and the drive would be 4 hours straight. We all know too well that driving with kids for more than 2 hours is not a good idea so, they decided to make a couple of stops to stretch their legs. Upon researching, they pinpointed Portumna Castle and Loughcrew Cairns.
At the Castle, they were the only visitors and had the guide all to themselves. She told me that he seemed to be thrilled to have them and took them around with enthusiastic passion. After the tour, they were free to roam around the various gardens and guard towers.
When kids were ready to leave they continued the drive to Loughcrew Cairns. These are Neolithic mounds surrounded by the typical and peaceful scenery and countryside. The flocks of sheep did not seem to mind them passing by and for us that don’t see many it’s always an experience. After this adventure, there was a quaint coffee shop with a small playing field for the kids, before they headed to finish the last leg of this trip.
They found their accomodation in Lisburn and the next morning they were able to tick off another Bucket List Exploration. They visited The Giant’s Causeway.
The place is so mystical and magical yet a bit over-commercialised. The audio guide has various settings for the History lover, magic lover, nature lover, or kids. You can spend a whole day there! However, it gets very tiring, especially for the little ones.
On their way back they passed through Bushmills where the men visited the Bushmills Distillery while the kids and the ladies found a little park.
For those Game of Thrones fans a place to visit close to Lisburn is the Carrick a Rede Bridge.
Apparently, this famous rope bridge featured in the Game of Thrones, but it is not only an attraction for that as it is a fantastic experience – fun and thrilling at the same time. After you cross the bridge you end up in a place untouched by man, nature is at it’s best.
Their next stop was on their way to Dublin where they stopped at a beach called Cloggerhead beach. They stopped here as their friends live on the Isle of Man and you can actually see it from this beach. Cloggerhead is a little beach and there was not a soul in sight, there are many beaches similar to this as you might find out in my describtion of Brittas Bay.
Claire has a very interesting family tradition; from when their daughter was a toddler, her grandfather used to tell her “ If you visit a place you fall in love with, take a pebble or stone back home, to remind you to visit again in the future!” This they have been doing ever since and they now have a large collection of stones and pebbles. Why not try it yourselves?
Upon arriving in Dublin, they visited the University of Dublin where they visited the Natural Science Museum that is run by the university students themselves. This kids love… they handle live bugs, bones fossils etc. not my cup of tea but to all their own!
In the afternoon, the men visited the Guinness house while they visited the lovely Phoenix Park.
Claire is very ambitious and in one week they covered over over a thousand kilometres. They got to see some of the most amazing scenery and countryside, tried to fit in adventure, fun and relaxation, tasted some good food and drink, learnt interesting and fun facts about Ireland and I know they would love to return to see more!
The next morning they caught the ferry to the Isle of Man but that’s another story.