Family fun in Ireland can be found around practically every bend of the road, with the national forests and endless kilometers of fields and green grass, giving families plenty to see and do. But castle visits, spectacular scenery, or visit to the local park can become a little repetitive for the kids, as they seek something a little more interesting and adventurous. If 2014 will bring you to Ireland's shores, here are a few activities you might want to include in your itinerary.
1. Watch the Ice Child
The Ice Child is a story about a child made of ice (as the name suggests), who can’t be hugged or loved. This is a tale of growing up different. It’s a fairy story and a love story and a great way to introduce your children to something a little different. This theatrical piece uses sound, real-time video and live performances, and a band of contemporary sídhe (Irish fairy-folk) to enact a dazzling once-upon-a-time tale about people. This piece is commissioned and produced by Barnstorm and runs from the 27th February – 6th March in the Watergate Theatre in Kilkenny. Lasting just over an hour, the play is suitable for anyone over 8 years of age and is a must see.
2. Dolphia Discover, Co. Clare
Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with dolphins? If this is something you’d love to experience with the family, then get yourself along to Kilrush Creek in County Clare and visit the Dolphia Discovery. This area is home to Ireland’s only known resident group of dolphins so hope aboard the Dolphin Discovery to see these wonderful creatures in their natural habitat. The sail operates from April to October and if you are lucky, you may even time your visit with the birth of new dolphins (calves born between May and August). Each sailing lasts between 2 and 2 ½ hours and is a great way to spend the afternoon with the family.
3. Whale Watching
Another marine trip to add to your list of things to do this year is whale watching along the coast of West Cork. Get on board the “Voyager” and enjoy a short trip out at sea to watch both whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. The boat also stops at the North Harbour on Cape Clear Island. This is Ireland’s most southerly community and something nice to tick off your list of places to visit on the island of Ireland.
4. Carlingford National Leprechaun Hunt
If it’s a fun day with a difference that you are looking this year, then get yourself along to Carlingford, Co. Louth and the annual National Leprechaun Hunt. This takes place at Slieve Foy and is a celebration of the last remaining leprechauns on the island of Ireland. The hunt attracts kids and adults of all ages as they look for 100 ceramic ones and hidden under one, is a pot of gold in the form of €2000 waiting for someone. This all takes place on Sunday 30 March 2014, so get yourself along to the picturesque town of Carlingford.
5. Dublin Zoo and Dublin Bus Tour
Another trip to plan with the family this year is a visit to Ireland’s capital, Dublin; and the only way to see this great city is by hoping on a bus and taking a guided bus tour of the city. You’ll find out lots about the city and see all the great sites that attract tens of thousands of visitors each year. While you’re on the bus tour, make a stop at Phoenix Park and take in everything these wonderful gardens have to offer. Phoenix Park is twice the size of New York’s Central Park, and home to Dublin Zoo, a must see attraction when in the nation’s capital with your family.
For the more adventurous families among you, look no further than Xtreme.ie. This is an amazing outdoor adventure facility, packed with lots of great activities for you to try out with the family. With a climbing wall, paintballing, archery and a zip line, you won’t be short of things to do in this Balbriggan adventure centre. There’s even a 4×4 off road driving experience for adults to enjoy and a large swing for everyone to enjoy. If you’re planning a trip to Dublin for a few days and looking for some activities for all the family, be sure to embrace your extreme side at Xtreme.ie.
7. 2014 Giro D’Italia:
For the sport loving families among you, forget the All Ireland, Heineken Cup and the World Cup; the biggest date on the Irish sporting calendar this year is the Giro D’Italia. The 2nd largest cycling event in the world (after the Tour de France), the 2014 Giro, starts in Belfast on Friday 9th May. This is the start of a 3 day mini tour of Ireland before the cyclists head for Italy. This mini tour will see the competitors visit Belfast and the north coast of Northern Ireland, before a trip from The Mall in Armagh to Dublin’s City Centre. If you want to see some of the world’s best athletes, get along to Belfast, Armagh or Dublin or visit the small towns along the planned route and soak in the great atmosphere with the family.
With so much to see and do with the family in Ireland this year, it’s time to plan that family trip you've been dreaming about. Make some new memories that you can share with the kids for years to come.