Tuesday, September 01, 2020

A Summer of Irish Adventures | Family Friendly Itinerary of Ireland

Another season has come and gone. I'm thankful that this year is going by quickly as I want it over and done with. I want the fear, worry, anxiety and upheaval to melt away and regain that freedom that life once had.

I naively thought that when the schools closed on March 12th that it would be for two or so weeks... how wrong and foolish I was. I can be forgiven though, after all, we've never lived through a pandemic before and I hope we never have to again.

But for all that the Covid19 pandemic took away from us, it also gave back in abundance, in surprisingly positive ways.

It allowed me to have a lot more time with my boys. They're growing up far too quickly for my liking and in some ways it feels that school takes your children away from you - for the majority of the day anyway.

Being at home together in our own little bubble was lovely. We enjoyed walks around the block, woodland walks with the dog, Tyler learned to ride his new bike on the road and did it like a pro... The children have grown so much during this time, in ways that school could never have taught them and I have grown a lot too as a person.

The pandemic meant that we couldn't go on our annual holiday to Jersey to see my Dad and although that saddened us all, it meant that we had to make the most of things and embrace a summer of Irish adventures instead.

Once it was safe to do so we explored lots of new places within Ireland and I want to share our adventures in case any other families are looking for an Ireland travel itinerary.

Our adventures in Cork this summer were mainly just trips to the beach, but we did take the long drive to West Cork to visit Mizen Head. This had been on our travel bucket list for quite awhile now and I'm so glad we got to see it in all it's glory. It was well worth the trip.

Just a few minutes from Mizen Head was the beautiful Barley Cove Beach and it made for a lovely afternoon for us all. We'll definitely return next summer.

We also returned to Bantry House and Gardens as the place is just too beautiful not to go again and again! Beau took great delight in climbing the 105 steps to see the amazing view over and over again.

We also went to The Old Head of Kinsale again, which is a brilliant place to visit in Cork, albeit a bit windy! My nerves were also shot with Beau there, but once you hold onto the younger children you'll be okay. Just a short drive away from here is Garrettstown Beach and it's a lovely place to go for a swim and watch the kite surfers.

Another great place in Cork where we enjoyed a day out again was Doneraile Park. It's free to visit and we had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Sharon and Noah from Our Wheely Big Journey there. There are deer in Doneraile park so make sure to bring carrots with you to feed them, or pick some ivy from the hedgerows there, they love it!

We were lucky enough to enjoy a lovely staycation in Clare back in July. We stayed at the Inn at Dromoland and it acted as a great base for us to explore the county - and further afield too.

After a quick drive by of the house my grandad grew up in we visited Loop Head Lighthouse, which was sadly closed, but we did discover the amazing cliffs there. We then drove on to Kilkee Beach which was a great place, the kids had a ball there!

We had to stop by Doolin to get a picture with the famous pink sweater shop - such tourists we were! The rain didn't dampen our spirits.

Before leaving Clare we went to Lahinch, which again is another amazing beach. Sadly it was a bit wild and the tide was in when we got there, but that only gives us an excuse to come back.

During our staycation in Clare we decided to take a day trip to Connemara and see Kylemore Abbey. This was on our bucket list for many years so I'm so glad we got to tick this off.

Connemara is a place like no other, it's simply beautiful! Kylemore Abbey was absolutely amazing and it was great to visit the walled garden and take a look inside the Abbey too. What a stunning place it is.

We then stopped by in Clifden and let the boys play on the beach. We did try and go to Dog's Bay but sadly it was jam packed and there was no parking. Again, it only gives us another excuse to return someday.

On our trip to Tipperary later in the summer we realised how close we were to the Galway border, so we decided to take a day trip to the beautiful Portumna Castle (which was free to visit during the time of our visit). We love visiting castles and wanted to tick this one off our list. Unfortunately, we only saw the outside of it as Beau decided to become hide and seek champion of the world and gave us all a fright, so we left quite quickly.

The walled garden there was so beautiful and had poppies, sunflowers, pumpkins and so many other lovely things growing there. Hopefully one day we can make it back there and have an enjoyable visit, but from what we did see of it we loved!

On the last day of Jacek's holidays from work we decided to take a spur of the moment day trip to Kerry. Kerry is our neighbouring county, yet we've spent very little time there as a family. That'll all be changing though as we really fell in love with it during our day trip.

We drove the Ring of Kerry and discovered Kells Bay House and Gardens. The boys loved the Skywalk - the longest rope bridge in Ireland. They also loved the dinosaur trail - it's great fun for kids. The waterfall was a lovely feature to the gardens and it made for a great photo opportunity. It was €26 for a family ticket.

We then drove on to Cahirciveen where we went to a lovely blue flag, life guarded beach called White Strand. The water was crystal clear and despite the wind we all had a great time there.

Just a few minutes from White Strand were two ancient stone forts. Jacek visited one on his own and we visited Cahergall Stone Fort as a family. The sun was beginning to set over the bay and the view from the fort of the Kerry countryside was amazing! We'll be back to see the rest of the Ring of Kerry.

We had been looking for gardens to visit around Ireland and came upon Heywood Gardens, so we decided to take a day trip to Laois. Heywood Gardens were lovely - the sunken pond garden was beautiful. The gardens are part of the OPW and are free to visit.

Heywood Gardens are also home to the ruins of Sham Castle and the gothic arches as part of the castle ruins were a lovely sight. The river flowing through also makes for a lovely place to walk alongside too.

On our way home we decided to take a quick trip to the Rock of Dunamase - which is literally just off the motorway. This was an amazing historic site to visit and the views of the surrounding countryside were beautiful. The boys really enjoyed exploring here and getting to climb up on the ruins.

We were also lucky enough to enjoy a little staycation in Tipperary this summer. We stayed at the Abbey Court Hotel in Nenagh and it was such a brilliant place to stay.

We explored the Lough Derg area and one of the highlights of our summer was taking a peddle boat around the Lough. Jacek and Tyler also enjoyed the Aqua Splash inflatable assault course while Beau and I went to the playground and took a look at Dromineer Castle.

We also visited Nenagh Castle, the site of Brian Boru's fort (I'd personally give this a miss as there was nothing there!) and enjoyed a stroll through Birdhill. All of these places are free to visit.

We've been to Waterford many times but were keen to explore more of the garden trail, so we took a day trip to Mount Congreve Gardens which are so beautiful! I loved the walled garden and the wildflowers and there was plenty of space for the boys to run around.

Jacek and I also took a day trip ourselves to Lismore Castle Gardens and the wildflowers there were so beautiful! It was unlike anything we had ever seen before. We've been to Lismore Castle Gardens many times but there always seems to be something new to see each time we go.

We like to go to a lavender farm every year, but we had never been to one in Ireland, so we decided to take the trip to Wexford Lavender Farm and it was well worth the trip.

We'll definitely return again next summer. It was such a lovely place and at just €3 per car it makes for a bargain family day out too.

During our visit to Wexford Lavender Farm we realised how close we were to the Wicklow border - a country we had never been to before, so we decided to take a trip to Glendalough.

The monastic church site was well worth the visit. We also took a walk around the first lake, but we didn't enjoy it as much as I thought we would. I thought it was far too busy there (we did go on a weekend though), but the kids had fun paddling in the lake.

So there you have it, a family friendly itinerary of Ireland that's full of adventure and fun to be had. This itinerary covers 9 counties and a lot of these places can be visited as day trips - no accommodation needed, unless you want it of course!


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