There’s more to Ireland than shamrocks and Guinness.
But who needs more than that, amiright?
So, the family and I took our major family vacay to the land of Ire last year over Spring Break. I felt a teensy bit guilty that this trip really felt like MY trip. A destination I had dreamt of traveling to for a long, long time. I was ecstatic when the family jumped on board.
Four full days. One hostel, one hotel, one apartment and one B&B. One beach, one cliff, one big city, three castles, five pubs (or was it six?), one pub crawl, some fish & chips, a shit load of sheep and one Ford Mondeo with the driver’s side on the right. Oh and Guinness—lots and lots of Guinness.
Did I get it all?
So, I’m sure you’re wondering, what about the kids? So, here you have it, Ireland for kids.
- Kid-friendly Pubs
Yes! The pubs are kid friendly. I saw babies in bars past 10pm and my kids ate in pubs, no question, through lunch and dinner. I think there might be a “kids out when the music starts” unwritten rule somewhere, but as far as I could see, the smaller the village the laxer the rules.
The castles are great for kids, especially if they love to climb narrow winding stairs and find hidden nooks and crannies. My kids loved the dungeon at Bunratty castle and loved scaring the shit out of me by peaking over the bars atop Blarney Castle.
Bunratty has a folk park with roaming Irish Wolfhounds and period style homes and farms. Blarney has excellent grounds even with a Fairy garden.
- Wide Open Spaces
With the exception of Dublin, Ireland was mostly rural and coastal. We frolicked on beaches and hiked over grassy knolls. Especially with so much driving involved, it was nice to just let them out like a bunch of hungry hounds.
- Guinness Brewery
First, the Guinness Brewery is HUGE. We skipped a couple floors and it still took most of the day. But the highlights of the tour are 1. the area somewhere in the middle where you can lounge and listen to traditional Irish music. And if you’re lucky, watch your 9-year-old learn a little dance. and 2. the interactive videos and overall amusement park-like feel of it. My kids have been to a few breweries already (don’t judge) and they never seem to complain when they have so much going on around them. (Heineken was the other)
If you choose the Dingle Peninsula (the Ring of Kerry’s quaint and quiet little sister), then you will happen upon a famous dolphin named Fungie. Apparently Fungie has been hanging around the waters of Dingle since 1983. I didn’t even know a dolphin could do that. You can pay for a boat ride with a guarantee of seeing Fungie frolic alongside your boat.
We were tired and cold and opted out of the boat ride for the day, but we did see pictures and statues of little (homely) Fungie. Seems like a cool guy and worth seeing, although 32 year old dolphins are not Flipper pretty.
- The Cliffs of Moher
Unlike The Grand Canyon, the Cliffs of Moher are more protected against daredevils and gravity. There is a wall lining the cliffs, so you can see the edge and water without fear of littles getting too close.
The view is spectacular. This was the first thing we saw after landing in Shannon. The kids liked watching for birds, and there were areas where the wall was low enough for them to see. Although, let’s be honest, kids don’t care that much for views. On the plus side, it doesn’t take long to see the sights and move on. We did the whole experience in a couple hours.
All in all, the trip was AMAZING. No seriously, amazing. Like when you imagine a place in your head for a whole lifetime afraid that the real thing will let you down, but then it doesn’t. Like that.