day trips · Ireland · tourism

11 Brilliant Day Trips in Ireland

When we came back from our Summer holidays in Ireland, I was full of energy and motivation, ready to write tons of posts about all our recent days trips. The boys are at an age now where we can easily visit historical sights as well as parks and playgrounds, so we took advantage of that and did a lot on this Summer’s trip home. 

But the whole back to school thing and Number Three turning from placid baby to energetic toddler meant that a lot of posts I’d intended to write got put on the long finger. Bit by bit I am catching up, but I’ve come to the realisation that I will not be able to squeeze in time to write a post about each of the places we visited. 

So here, condensed into one county-by-county list, are some details about each of the places we visited and loved. You might like to try one or other of them during the mid-term break. Feel free to drop me a line if you want a bit more information on any of them.  
My sister-in-law suggested we meet them at Slieve Gullion Forest Park for a day out. Initially I was put off by the drive but it was a lot shorter than I imagined, being about 50 minutes from Drogheda. 
Entrance fee: No. Free entry
Cafe: Yes
Picnics allowed: Yes
What we loved: The fairy walk with loads of fairy houses, the trail in search of the giant and the amazing, huge playground
What we’d warn you about: The walking trails are quite steep in places. We brought the buggy and managed alright, but we had three adults to take turns of pusing it. Next time I would take Number Three in the sling. 
Meath – Newgrange Interpretive Centre and Passage Tomb, Donore
Entrance fee: Yes, but not extortionate. Rates differ depending on the package you want, e.g. just Newgrange or Knowth adn Dowth passage tombs too
Cafe: Yes, a Brambles cafe with highchairs, planty of space and delicious caramel slices.
Picnics allowed: I don’t think so, but while waiting for the bus from the interpretive centre to the tomb, you could sit at one of the benches and picnic there I suppose
What we loved: The fascinating history, the witty tour guide, the food in the cafe and the child-friendly interpretive centre
What we’d warn you about: Arrive early and plan plenty of time. The tour of the tomb itself is about 45 minutes and the tours run every 15 to 30 minutes but they fill up very fast during the holidays.
Meath – Oldbridge House & Battle of the Boyne Museum, near Drogheda
Entrance fee: Entrance to the grounds and gardens is free. There is a small entrance fee for the museum.
Cafe: Yes, Brambles again (as far as I remember). 
Picnics allowed: Yes and there is a huge area for picnicing on. 
What we loved: The wide open space for running around, the walking trails, the beautifully laid out gardens, the cannons in front of the house, learning about the Battle of the Boyne through the small but interesting exhibition in the museum which includes a laser show (anything that includes the word laser is a great thing).
What we’d warn you about: The museum is very small. Don’t rush through it. There is a lot of information packed in. We took our time and let the boys try and get some ideas of their own as to what was happening in each of the life-sized recreated scenes. 
Dublin – Malahide Castle, Malahide
Entrance fee: The grounds are free
Cafe: Yes, an Avoca cafe
Picnics allowed: Yes and there is a huge amount of space to picnic on.
What we loved: Again, the space to run about and kick a ball. Castles are always a big with our boys, so exploring around the castle was great fun too. At the other end of the park is a huge playground, also suitable for picnics. We spent a long time there too.
What we’d warn you about: The playground is huge. With small children you need to keep a good eye on them. Dressing them in  clothes you can easily spot is a good idea. NUmber One had a navy hoodie on, as did approximately half the children there. Number Two, in bright orange, was a lot easier to spot.
Sligo – The Beach Bar and Surf School, Aughris
Entrance fee: Yes, or rather you pay for your meal and drinks in the bar. The surf school obviously charges for rentals and lessons.
Cafe: The bar does food and coffee
Picnics allowed: On the beach, yes.
What we loved: The boys and my dad rented body boards and wet suits and spent a fun afternoon splashing around in the Atlantic. 
Later we all ate in the bar. The Guinness is great. The food is very good and a decent price too. 
What we’d warn you about: If you are braving the Atlantic, make sure to have something hot in a flask with you for warming up afterwards.
Mayo – Museum of Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar
Entrance fee: No. All Museum of Ireland museums are free of charge, a fantastic service.
Cafe: 
Picnics allowed:
What we loved: Walking round the large pond in the grounds, running on the great expanses of lawn, the interactive exhibitions. On arrival the children got clipboards, pens and activits sheets from the staff and were kept busy for ages, finding the answers to the quiz questions and drawing their favourite items form the exhibition.
What we’d warn you about: Plan plenty of time. There is a lot to see and to take in.

Mayo – Great Western Greenway, a walking and cycle path from Westpost to Achill Island
Entrance fee: No. You can hire bikes and trailers for children in several locations, e.g. in Newport and Mulranny
Cafe: Yes, several dotted along the route
Picnics allowed: Yes, wherever you fancy stopping
What we loved: The stunning scenery and the fact that the kids could run along without having to look out for cars. 
What we’d warn you about: Nothing. It is a brilliant addition to Mayo tourism and you should definitely go there if you get the chance. You don’t have to go the whole route. 

Mayo – Foxford Wollen Mills
Entrance fee: Not to the shop. There is a tour of the wollen mills but it was booked out at the time we were there.
Cafe: Yes, with a great selection of delicious cakes as well as savory foods.
Picnics allowed: No, but you could have a traditional Irish car boot picnic in the car park if you wanted to.
What we loved: The wollen mills’ own woollen blankets, throws and cushions as well as the gorgeous interior design of the shop and cafe. The kids loved that the cafe had a little old-fashioned school-like corner with colouring pencils and paper to keep them entertained while the grown up chatted and drank coffee.
What we’d warn you about: You will probably end up with bags of fabulous Irish designed and handmade rugs, cards, scarves, etc. 
Cork – Titanic Museum, Cobh
Entrance fee: Yes, but reasonable.
Cafe: No, but there are several bars and cafe along the opposite side of the road and next door.
Picnics allowed: No, but there are benches along the street if you were sitting down with a snack or a cuppa.
What we loved: The fact that the museum is housed in the former White Star Line tícket office, meaning that we were in the building where passengers on the Titanic stood. The recreated passenger cabins are amazing to look at and there are some interative games for children. Really well worth a visit if you are in the area.
What we’d warn you about: The information provided during the tour is incredibly moving. Bring tissues. 
Cork – Baltimore Castle (Dun na Sead Castle), Baltimore
Entrance fee: Yes
Cafe: No, but there are several bars and cafes just around the corner
Picnics allowed: Not at the castle but across the road at the pier there are picnic tables.
What we loved: Learning about Irish, Dutch and African pirates and the plundering that went on in the south of Ireland. 
What we’d warn you about: The museum is very small, but if you take the time to look at the construction of the castle, to enjoy the view from the rooftop and to read all about the piracy that went on, you will find it fascinating.
Cork – Model Railway Clonakilty
Entrance fee: Yes
Cafe: Yes, housed in an old railway wagon – charmingly nostalgic.
Picnics allowed: No, but again the old car boot picnic in the car park would be an option
What we loved: The railways, the tiny model people and houses, the indoor playground/ball pool and the outdoor playground.
What we’d warn you about: Don’t rush. There is a huge amount of detail hidden in each of the sections of the display. 
The Twinkle Diaries

The Free Range Family  

7 thoughts on “11 Brilliant Day Trips in Ireland

  1. Oh my goodness, you were busy! This list is wonderful. I lived in Scotland for 1 year when I was a girl and we visited Ireland. I would love to take my own daughters some day to visit and these places sound perfect! Thanks so much for sharing. #twinklytuesday

  2. What a busy time you had! I love the look of that cafe with those gorgeous bookcases and Zach would love the minute railway place! Anything with trains is a win for him! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  3. We had a month in Ireland this summer and it was great because we could do loads of day trips and ahort breaks with a few ordinary days with my family in between.
    Zach would definitely love the model train place. If you are ever in Cork, you have to go Lisa. Have to! x

  4. Ireland looks so beautiful, it is so far from Australia though, but hopefully one day I will save up and get there. So I have to live through your stories and photos for now, so glad you shared them #busydoinglife linked up after you xx

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