Inside information & tips on what to see, do, eat, & special places to stay; Ireland, London & beyond!
Vibrant Ireland

All posts in See & Do in Ireland

Great tips from those in the know.

Belfast, it looks like you’re worth several trips in May alone! A fab Festival of Fools is on this weekend & Giro Start on next!

But I’ve tips here for anytime, too:

 

Here’s that ace video I mentioned, it really shows off Northern Ireland well– AND makes you gulp at some of the bike tricks!


Medieval stone carving, rude bishop Kilkenny

This sure does look like a rude gesture! I reckon the Bishop is telling the Kilkenny witches to feck off 😉

Mischievous Medieval Folk!

Witches and rude Bishops are just a few of the characters you may meet on Ireland’s Medieval Mile in Kilkenny City.

This charming & friendly small city is full of stories & historic buildings, and with the launch of the Medieval Mile even more gems are being restored– and new attractions added! Kilkenny is definitely a destination to add to your Irish vacation or staycation list.

The Mile roughly runs from Kilkenny Castle to St Canice’s Cathedral, and takes in Rothe House, The Thosel, St Mary’s church and much more. Visit Kilkenny have made a handy interactive map that shows you places of interest. Do note that medieval spots aren’t just on the main mile, but fan out from it as well. Gardens, brewery experiences, The National Museum in Kilkenny, art galleries & more are all in the works, so keep an eye on Visit Kilkenny for updates.

Medieval Knight in Kilkenny. Ireland's Medieval Mile

Sometimes the Medieval walking tour runs in characters & costumes. I took this tour last summer, & it was very good. We were escorted by this medieval knight & met Mr Rothe of Rothe House, Bishop Ledrede, and Dame (witch?) Alice Kyteler. Our Knight was in Big Trouble because he lost his shoes that day!

One of the best ways to discover the gems & hidden histories is to take one of the Medieval walking tours, and during Medieval Week, March 28th – April 6th 2014, they will be lead by costumed actors. I took the tour last year, and it was an interesting & fun way to orient yourself in Kilkenny & learn some history– do try to go!

There are several cool events on for Medieval Week; check out this one where you can meet the pesky Bishop Ledrede  & his nemesis witch Alice Kyteler. It runs Sat 29 March & Sat 5 April at St Mary’s Cathedral, Chapter House Tea Rooms and Kyteler’s Inn:

Dinner with Bishop Ledrede and Dame Alice Kyteler

A chance to meet two of Kilkenny’s most interesting characters! Complimentary drink on arrival at St Mary’s Cathedral, followed by tour of the Cathedral with Bishop Richard Ledrede – in full regalia!  A light bite medieval starter in the Chapter House follows the tour. Bishop Ledrede will then bring our Guests down to Kyteler’s Inn where they will be greeted by Dame Alice who will give them a glass of “Petronella’s Poison” and a little history of her infamous Inn. Main Course will be served – again in keeping with our Medieval Menu. Followed by Dessert. Scroll/Parchment certificates handed out to those who participate.

Booking essential, €17.50 per person (suitable for children)

T: +353 56 7703885   E: chapterhousetearooms@gmail.com

 

There is plenty more happening on Medieval Week!

Try your hand at glassblowing, the kids can do medieval craft workshops, you can sample medieval cider–  why not check out all the listings county-wide at: http://www.visitkilkenny.ie/medieval_week . You can also download the Medieval Week brochure with the full events list.

 

Kilkenny is a fantastic city, and you can check out some of my other posts on Kilkenny here. Please feel free to ask me any Kilkenny questions you may have, and if I can’t answer I’ll do my best to find someone who can. Come visit and enjoy Kilkenny, Ireland!

 These photos are from my Instagram account. Each Thursday, the hashtag #IGtravelthursday shows photos from peoples’ travels all around the world- local travels and far flung. Use the hashtag & join in! If you are a blogger, you can also join in with a blog featuring one of your trips/visits and your Instagram photos from it. Check out the stunning images of Winter in Scandinavia on Satu’s blog!

       Here are the rules for participating:
– Link to a new Instagram travel post and use the permalink of your post, not the homepage URL.
– Only new posts from the week of the linky and no giveaways, other linkys or sales pitch posts.
– Don’t add links to your Instagram profile in the linky, only links to your blog.
– Link back to one of the Instagram Travel Thursday hosts.
– Visit a few other posts in the linky and show them some love (comment, tweet, Pin etc.).
– Links that do not follow the guidelines will be removed.

Read more on the ins & outs of join in here on SkimbacoLifestyle.

[inlinkz_linkup id=376804 mode=1]


PaddyWagon tour guide Mike

Mike was a fantastic guide. He showed us how under the stone slabs at the beehive huts there are tunnels the monks used to flee from raiders. He also pointed out the glider trailers & told us about the gliding that goes on in Kerry- I would never had had a clue! At the Beehive huts, Mike told us about Tom Cruise & the huts property owner Mary. We got to chat with her & see her photos. Priceless.

Have you ever considered a Paddywagon tour?

They are reaching out for more than just the stereotypical boozy backpackers now. CEO Cathal O’Connell told the Irish Independent:

 “While our target market was originally 18 to 35-year-olds, our focus has broadened in recent years to include, not just the young but the young at heart.” (Read the full interview here.)

I reckon it was with this broadened demographic in mind that  Paddywagon and their new endeavour Daytoursworld reached out to us travel bloggers attending the Dublin TBEX travel blogger conference in October. Would we be interested in experiencing a 3 day Paddywagon tour out to the West of Ireland? Yes, several of us would– the majority of us over 30.  Paddywagon arranged everything, and said that they looked forward to our honest reviews— which is good, because that is what I write!

Now, you may be thinking ”But I don’t really see bad things written about or reviewed on Vibrant Ireland.”

That’s true- not because I don’t give my honest opinion, but because if something I’ve tried is crap or has nothing to really recommend it, I don’t write about it. This is Vibrant Ireland, not Vicious Ireland. 

For Paddywagon I’m going to give you my pros & cons of a Paddywagon tour as I experienced it, and I’m also going to give you links to the other travel bloggers’ posts & reviews. They are a brilliant additional resource, because we all remember different things, and we all took different approaches to writing about the tour. I think the combination will give you a helpful, broad feeling for the trip.

 

The Pros of a Paddywagon Tour

  • The Driver/Guide. Ours was Mike Coggins. Mike lives in Kerry, so generally does the trips in that area. If all the drivers are like him, this is by far your biggest plus in doing a Paddywagon tour. Mike was very friendly, and a great driver, storyteller, informational tidbit-imparter, photo-opp spotter, singer, and general hospitality master. YES. People like Mike are what make whirlwind tours come alive. Otherwise, you see beautiful/historic/interesting sights, but don’t really get a feel for a place. Some guides give you information, but Mike gave us a window into Ireland and hospitality. Maith thú!
  • You don’t have to drive on the wee, wind-y backroads. If you are a nervous driver, the little Irish back roads can be stressful.
    paddywagon tour: clare
    We had a brilliant time in Clare on the Paddywagon tour

    Our small bus was able to go on them, so we got to see some gems like Minard castle by the sea without anyone white-knuckling the steering wheel 🙂

  • For a single person staying in the hostels, cost is a pro: about €188 for the 3 day/2 night tour. I doubt you’d rent a car, pay for petrol & stay overnights for this.
  • Most everything is planned for you, no hassle. (This is only a pro if you hate planning & enjoy set itineraries, though.)
  • Similar to the first pro; you’ll find out things you probably wouldn’t have if you were just driving yourself, or on public transport.
  • You’ll meet other travelers, and very likely make at least one friend.
  • You can take a fun hour of Irish dancing lessons at the Annascaul Paddywagon pub for only €4. 😀

The Cons Of a Paddywagon Tour

  • The cost for a single traveller who doesn’t want to stay in the hostels. Approx €375, as there is a single room supplement of €58. It is expensive for such bland accommodation. We stayed B & B one night, and though it had a cute thatched roof and a curragh outside, disappointingly inside it was a soulless, plain, new-build type house. There was no character or warmth in the place. The B & B was immaculately clean, though; top marks on that!  But it wasn’t a happily memorable Irish hospitality experience. Breakfast was awkward, & the chairs nearly too wide to all fit under the table at the same time. This awkwardness made it fiddly to leave the table to get our milk and sugar as well as our coffee & tea; all located on a serving table. (Coffee and tea were both in teapots, which caused a few mix-ups.) The breakfast food was OK, but could be made better by even small things, like providing some Ballymaloe tomato relish, & adding that personal/Irish touch by saying a sentence or two about this Irish product, & how you may enjoy it on your ‘rasher’ (Irish bacon.) Another chance to add to the Irish-experience of visitors. Little touches can mean a lot, and the added value they give can actually cost the provider very little. The people working at the B & B were certainly nice, and I’m not criticizing the job they were doing; I just think the B & B needs to be  ‘warmed up’ & some important tweaks made. I am hopeful Paddywagon may consider these points, as they do want our honest feedback. And I will happily update this post to reflect any changes implemented.
    PaddyWagon b&b
    The Paddywagon B & B room I had. I snagged the double-bed room, VERY clean, but no bedside table or chair, so had to have my instant coffee balanced on the bed. Also no side lamp for reading or just avoiding the bright overhead light. Not worth the extra €100ish a night I would have had to pay for it (vs staying the hostel) as a single traveller!

     

  • Food could be an issue for you. The night we stayed in the B & B we were brought to the Paddywagon pub next door for dinner. It was rather expensive for ‘ boozy backpacker’ quality food. My veggie burger was €9.50 and I think that was one of the cheapest options. Living in Ireland, I know food here can be very tasty, and it doesn’t need to be fancy to be good. But if this standard is what people on the tours get, then no wonder many visitors think Irish food is pretty bad. I’m really sorry to have to write that sentence. But more and more people, especially the over 30s, want to to fully enjoy tasty food, especially if it has a bit of a ‘story.’ We have such foods here in Ireland! Please, please let visitors experience this–  at least give some in-house options other than those which taste like they are from frozen catering packs of school food.

 

  • The hostel we stayed in was definitely an old-school ‘backpacker’ hostel. Our dorm room had 10 beds- not a huge amount, but not small, either. It did have 2 bathrooms, but in one the door wouldn’t lock. When I took a shower there was only mildly lukewarm water even though no one else had showered recently. The building had a shabby feel to it, which a bit of DIY and colourful murals or such could help to rectify. Again, I’m hopeful this could be addressed, and when it is I’ll update this post. Paddywagon is operating successfully for years, I know, but if they do want to really expand their market, addressing these issues would help. I travel solo often, & stay at hostels both fancy and plain, but they must have hot water and feel well maintained.

Ok, those are my pros & cons. But look, the cons are things pretty easily addressed. And if you are a partying backpacker just looking for an inexpensive tour around parts of Ireland you may not care about those cons!

 

 But the thing is, I think that the people I met who work at PaddyWagon do care.

I think Mike cares hugely about giving all types of tour participants a hospitable, entertaining, enjoyable and warm Irish experience, one that they’ll talk about and remember for a lifetime.

And I think Zach, who arranged for us to take the tour & went along with us, full of enthusiasm & cheerful banter, wants that, too.

Although I didn’t spend time with the people who worked at the places we stayed & ate at, they were friendly and I’m sure they want to provide a brilliant experience for all types of tour-goers as well.

A few small adjustments could make middle aged ladies like myself very happy. There a lot of us out there, and we love to travel 🙂

I’ve done a stand-back-and-evaluate post on our PaddyWagon tour, but others have done posts that will give the feel for the wonderful time we had being guided around by Mike, and the beautiful places we saw.

And donkeys! BABY donkeys! AND we got to PET them! SQUEE!!!  (See a clip of them at the very end of this post)

So click the links below & enjoy!

Tanya from PA Girl Goes Abroad has fond memories of Mike’s stories

Alex & Bell from Wanderlust Marriage got lots of fab and sunny photos.

Anja from Travel on Toast had a brilliant time learning Irish dancing at the Paddywagon pub (in German, so use Google translate)

Nienke from The Travel Tester loved the donkeys & has great photos

Also, I did a photo post from the tour

More to come as the other bloggers write their posts.

Huge thanks to Mike, Zack, and all encountered on the tour, and to Paddywagon Tours as a company for having me & the other bloggers on a complimentary tour. I greatly hope you all will take my post in the spirit in which it was written- in honestly and in respect for an Irish business that is employing many well meaning people & giving so many visitors fun experiences; a business which I hope continues to grow and improve for many years to come. 


Dunguire Castle, Galway, Ireland

The tide is out beside the lovely seaside village of Kinvara’s Dunguire Castle, Galway, Ireland.

What a whirlwind on the Wild Atlantic Way!

A 3-day PaddyWagon tour along part of the new Wild Atlantic Way last week means I’ve some lovely photos to share with you this Instagram Travel Thursday. We visited counties Galway, Clare, and Kerry, and the visits were a whirlwind as there was much ground to cover.

The weather the first day was just glorious. Our stops that day were mainly in counties Galway & Clare, and included the Cliffs of Moher before we headed into county Kerry for the night.

Along the way, our font-of-information driver/guide Mike stopped at a spot in Clare when he saw some adorable baby donkeys. The donkey family was very friendly, and this youngster even wanted to scale the wall to check us for carrots 🙂 I’ve a video of them on my Instagram account.

Young donkey wants to get closer! Any carrots? clare, Ireland

Young donkey wants to get closer! Any carrots? County Clare, Ireland

The close of our first evening was just glorious, the clouds beautiful even before the sunset turned everything a heartwarming orange. I got some decent snaps from the moving bus window- well done Samsung Note.

I’ll have a posts for you on the other sites we saw along the Wild Atlantic Way, as well as the pros & cons of doing a PaddyWagon tour. Until then, there are a few more photos below to whet your appetite for the gorgeous Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland.

As well as the PaddyWagon tour ( which was compliments of Paddywagon and Daytoursworld,) I was at a travel conference in Dublin (TBEX) and met lots of other travel bloggers & some  #IGTravelThursday instagrammers, like Satu. A great group; do join in with us if you instagram or blog!

TIP:These are the signs for the Wild Atlantic Way, so keep your eye out for them on your travels.

Wild Atlantic Way sign

Signs of the Wild Atlantic Way ( frm journal.ie)

Sunset over county Kerry, Ireland. From the Paddywagon bus window!

Sunset over county Kerry, Ireland. From the Paddywagon bus window!

Minard Castle, Kerry, Ireland

Minard Castle, Kerry, Ireland. Did you know the saying is that when gorse is out of flower, kissing is out of fashion? IE, it is usually in flower somewhere all year 🙂

Great meat at Dingle Food festival!
Great meat at Dingle Food Festival! This young man was lots of fun to chat with & the Irish chorizo was FAB!

Rainbow at the journey's end. Harvested hayfield, Ireland
Rainbow at the journey’s end. Harvested hayfield, Ireland

 

 


Discover Graiguenamanagh, Ireland!

A beautiful new video has just been made by RTE’s Derek Davis, introducing you to the fantastic outdoor scenery, adventures, & more in the Graiguenamanagh area of the Barrow Valley. Relax with a cuppa and enjoy! I’m running off to Graiguenamanagh’s Town Of Books festival, so this post intro is short. Maybe I’ll see you there 🙂

Discover Graiguenamanagh – Written & Presented by Derek Davis from Alchemy Electronic Arts on Vimeo.

For more posts on the Graiguenamanagh area, just click 🙂


Percy, the Jerpoint Park  tour guide dog leads the way.

Percy, the Jerpoint Park tour guide dog leads the way.

One of the friendliest fellas you’ll ever meet, Percy loves people! He accompanies his very interesting human, Joe, as they lead the guided tour of the Lost Town of Jerpoint, in rural county Kilkenny. Over 800 years old, this lost town is also home to the grave of St. Nicholas! I’ll be writing a post up on it in future, but til then I’ll just say that if you enjoy history, mystery, or enchanting scenery- go! And give Percy a hug for us 🙂 For more information, their website is jerpointpark.com


 

Ireland Road Trip: Glenstal Abbey Big Leaves

Ireland Road Trip: Glenstal Abbey Big Leaves

There are some great tips in this Ireland road trip post from Tatjana, whom I met when we both did the Fast Track To Dance (watching, not performing!)  via Dublin Dance Festival & Project Brand New. She’s a very interesting person and has been kind enough to share the tips she learned from one of her weekend trips around Ireland. She has her own blog Out and About where she shares reviews of arts performances attended in Dublin, & her travels out & about elsewhere. You can also follow Tatjana on Twitter @kliony. Here’s a little of her bio:

I am your usual person with interests in pretty much any field you can imagine. Maybe apart from neuroscience and quantum physics. Trying out all sorts of things, not necessarily excelling in all of them, would be typical me as well.

I have a BSc in Information Technology and somewhat boring corporate career. Recently though I switched my focus to arts – theater, dance, visual arts, architecture etc. I also like to be out – see new places, experience new things– and share them!

So have a read, you’ll get some good ideas. In fact, I picked up a new one myself! 

 

Ireland’s perfect for road trips!

I love to travel. To be honest I am surprised why so many people prefer to go abroad rather than discover local beauty first. And by local I mean the entire island of Ireland. C’mon, it will only take you 3-4hrs to get from east to west.  By car that is; perhaps this is the main obstacle – not everyone wants to spend money on petrol going local and staying overnight in a hotel- which might cost the same amount, or even slightly more, than in your usual mainland destinations. However, you can find good value accommodation if you do your research and plan in advance, and the road is there for you, just get on to it!

 

Where will the Ireland Road trip lead YOU? Down an autumn laneway?

Where will the Ireland Road trip lead YOU?

Make it easy with a clever plan

While planning another trip, I got a bit puzzled – where to go? Looking at the map, I realized I always looked at a county as a starting point. So why not to do a county over the weekend? Thanks to the modern technology there are tonnes of information on the internet; each county has a website with travel tips and famous landmarks. All you have to do – pin it down. The most convenient part of the entire planning for me is Google Maps. Even if you can’t find a landmark on Google Maps through the search, you can just pin it yourself ( if you find directions to it somewhere else like the county websites, that is). Add all your pins to a newly created map and voila. Look through it, think of what you are going to visit first and you have your plan. I personally use my Android smartphone as GPS, so I have the map with the outlined route accessible at all times. Snacks – check, water – check, wallet – check, and whatever else you want to take on the road trip – check, and off you go.

 

The Middle of Ireland

I set off to what I thought would be well, the very middle of our evergreen island – co Tipperary. North of the county, Lough Derg was my first stopping point. There was a scenic drive along the way and just on the route to my next destination. There are viewing points, where I was able to get out of the car, enjoy autumn breeze, a bit of rain and amazing scenery. The viewing points are  handily located; if you are caught in bad weather you don’t have to get out of the car to enjoy the picturesqueness.

Glenstal Abbey, Ireland-- Hogwarts?

Glenstal Abbey– Hogwarts?

Hogwarts?

Next stop on the map while driving down the scenic route was  my B&B. However after getting off the M7 I saw a sign that I recognised  from an iPad app– Glenstal Abbey. Rain cleared and wind was chilly but not enough to make me frozen and distracted. So, what did I see? A Boarding School – it  reminded me of Hogwarts (just being a bit silly here) I guess autumn greyness contributed to that comparison coming up in my head.

 

Autumn has its own magic

At this point I realized that timing of the journey was perfect – given the variety of trees and plants, autumn reveals a palette of colours that no other season can offer (unless we are talking about the colour madness in this fashion season – I mean have you seen what are they selling in shops? Off the topic, my apologies.) [Susan’s note: a fashion for magic capes from Hogwarts? ;-)]

The little walk around Glenstal Abbey’s premises with the fallen tree leaves rustling underneath my feet reminded me how much I miss the countryside’s  autumn. You instantly get the urge to plunge into a pile of those leaves, just like back in childhood days. It felt like walking on a carpet, beautiful yet fragile.

The magic carpet of leaves Glenstal Abbey Ireland

The magic carpet of leaves Glenstal Abbey Ireland

 

 

 Fantastic hospitality & felt like home

It was getting dark as clock approached 6 on the dial, so I decided to call my B&B to warn them that we are going to be a little later than previously agreed. The lovely lady Marian was so kind – she asked if I wanted to have some hot soup or maybe wine and cheese on arrival. She was also kind enough to explain me how to get to the Aisling B&B from Tipperary town (as apparently it is placed incorrectly on GPS and it is likely you are going to get lost and possibly end up around Limerick if GPS directions are to be trusted!)

 

Don’t Get Lost!

Being born without GPS in my head, I always struggle with directions, so it was no surprise that I felt I was lost. I decided to use my GPS, but also feared the consequences. Luckily enough following the directions ( Though I remember 30min left to destination being displayed) I spotted my target. Perhaps it was not as high of a standard as some people might expect, but it felt like home and for the first time I actually wrote a review on TripAdvisor thanking owners. Their hospitality was the best I have experienced – I even got sandwiches for the road back. My advice on choosing your lodging – make sure it is on your route, preferably close to your next destination.

The beauty of this particular B&B was – it was minutes drive from Glen of Aherlow. Even though weather was pretty miserable, I met some trail walkers which only proves the point – you can’t wait for the weather to be good in order to enjoy nature.

 

A 2 seater bench- stay & relax awhile!

Cozy and welcoming- stay & relax awhile!

Castles & Cottages on route

On one of the websites  I saw a mention of Alladin Caves, so I tried to located them on the map. I pinned down the approximate location and so it happened that my way lay on the scenic drive from Glen of Aherlow down towards Lismore town. The view was absolutely stunning. I can’t stress enough though the importance of visiting these places in autumn. As I arrived in Lismore, I saw a castle and a little market in front of it. It’s a shame there was a sign – Private property. [Susan’s note: Only the Lismore Castle gardens & art gallery are open to the public, not the castle itself. Cost €8pp. I think the Alladin Caves shop in the town has closed 🙁 ]

 

Swiss Cottage tips

There was no sign of the Aladin Caves whatsoever. I jumped into the car and set my GPS to the next destination – Swiss Cottage. The downside (or possibly upside, depends on how you look at it) was that I had to go all the way back on the scenic drive- and it’s not the short one, let me tell you. So make sure that all your pins on the map are verified by several sources, otherwise you end up spending time, petrol and your patience. Also if you are using Google Maps and going to Swiss Cottage – it might take you on a very narrow country road that looks more like a trail than the actual road! You are likely to end up at the gates, which look pretty closed, but are actually not fully locked, so you are able to open them, no panic. However, be aware of your timing – Sunday 4pm is not the time to pay a visit, you are going to be greeted by a closed door.

 

The Swiss Cottage is thatched & very intricate

Swiss Cottage, Tipperary, Ireland. Photo, Discover Ireland

Special charm- but also the downside of Autumn’s early evenings

Next up was Cahir Castle;  do go and visit, they’ve a great history display. After spending some time expanding my knowledge it was time to hit the road yet again. Driving up the county my next stop was Rock of Cashel. Unfortunately by the time I got there, it was already closed for public, so when you plan your journey, be aware of opening times for places you want to visit. Just pinning them down on a map is not enough. Rather disappointed, I had only 1 stopover to make – Hollycross Abbey. By the time I arrived there darkness was already taking over daylight, nevertheless I still managed to have a quick look around and I must say, fading daylight gave it a special kind of charm.

The trip was almost over. On the way back I decided to pop into a little town on the other side of the motorway – Roscrea for a dinner. Found a lovely hotel – Damer Court hotel. Lovely food, friendly staff – after being on the road most of the day, it’s all we really needed before our final journey – all the way home to Dublin.

 

Thanks a mil, Tatjana, for sharing your Tipp trip (map pictured below) and your tips 🙂 I am now making and pinning on Google Maps myself, thanks to you! (My 1st one for activities for families in the Sunny Southeast is here) Have fun pinning & taking your Ireland road trip, everyone!

View co Tipperary in a larger map


Active Family Vacation in Ireland: swimming & on the beach Dunmore East

Active Family Vacation in Ireland: Fun on the beach Dunmore East

Looking for ideas for an active family vacation in Ireland?

Kristi @TheMountainSun was, & asked me for suggestions. So, like I did for Leah over on this post about eating in Kilkenny City, I’m going to give you all a few ideas, thanks to Kristi’s question. She and her family are coming in Summer and want to go south & west. Here are some ideas for her, and you, here in the sunniest part of Ireland 🙂

Sunny Southeast of Ireland

The sunny southeast of Ireland is a wonderful place to be, especially in summer. The mountains and river valleys are not filled with big tour buses, but are filled with beauty & outdoor activities! There are loads of clean beaches, several of which are quite magical– coves surrounded by cliffs, caves and rock pools, uncrowded. Our favorite is the stretch of coastline from the 13th century ruins of Tintern Abbey, Co. Wexford all the way to through the Copper Coast in Co. Waterford. Along with swimming, rock pooling, & enjoying the riverside/seaside in general, in the sunny southeast of Ireland there are family adventure activities, horse riding, cycling, mini farms, kids’ power kite-ing, and The Magic Road. (There’s a map with the places I mention at the end of the post.)

Diving in Graiguenamanagh: Active Family Vacation in Ireland

Diving in Graiguenamanagh

Enjoy the Barrow River Valley

The Barrow river valley of counties Kilkenny and Carlow, nestled under the Blackstairs Mountains is a hidden gem.  There, all in the vicinity of the non-touristy medieval village of Graiguenamanagh Co. Kilkenny & Tinnahinch Co Carlow, families can rent bikes and, as I did in, take an easy cycle along the river tow path

Or also in the same area, what about a family river canoe trip or some kayaking? You can also take a guided nature walk (minimum 5 for this) or swim & dive off the diving board in the river. Whew!

You could also take a half day or longer trip on the most gorgeous barge in the world, Larry’s Barge. You can see it moored on the river near beautiful St Mullins, Co. Carlow’. And of course, you can just walk along the paths & trails in the area, too. If you are in the area for the Graiguenamanagh Traditional Regatta on the August Bank Holiday Sunday you may want to try your hand at tub racing, diving for plates, climbing the rope across the river, & more!

Head out to the Coast

Continuing on down by the Barrow, you’ll come to the town of New Ross, Co Wexford. There you can tour on the old emigrant ship, Dunbrody. Ok, it isn’t an adventure activity, but children often find it cool to be on an old Tall Ship &  they really do seem to enjoy this bit of  history, as the tour is done as a live re-enactment. From New Ross if you’d like to take in a beautiful ruin you can head to Tintern Abbey & roam that 800 year old ruin and walk the wooded trail to find another hidden ruin or two on site. From there you can go to Hook Head Peninsula & Hook Lighthouse. At the far west of County Wexford is the lovely seaside village of Duncannon. Here Hooked Kitesurfing offers a power kite lesson to children, and there is a big sandy beach that hosts a Kitesurfing Festival- 17 August  2013, & Sand Sculpting competition 12-14 August 2013.  Historic Duncannon Fort is also there, and may be of interest if there are military fans in the family. I’ve not been, nor know anyone who has, so I can’t comment. (On to-do list!) Duncannon is also where off The Hook Whale watching goes out from in winter. ( Have done & is FAB!)

Hook whalewatching trip

On our Hook whalewatching trip

Oh, Where’s This Go?

From Duncannon the quickest way over to county Waterford is by the little ferry that leaves from Arthurstown/Ballyhack. It goes every few minutes, & the first time we encountered it was by accident on one of our  ‘exploring’ drives. We asked where it was going, in case it was headed off to Wales, but it only goes 5 minutes across the bay over to Passage East 🙂 That’s another gorgeous little fishing village.

 Full of Fun

From there you can go to one of our absolute favorite seaside villages, Dunmore East. It is a great place for families. There on the main strand you can swim, high tide or low, and there are lifeguards.  There’s not a huge amount of beach left at high tide just at the jetty, but you can always get a drink at The Strand Inn just above the beach and watch the boats go by 🙂  There are more beaches in the area, too. Tip: the fish n chips, and the chicken n chips from O’Shea’s take-away (up the road inland from The Strand, 2 minutes walk) are very good. The village is rather large, and down by the fishing harbour is Dunmore East Adventure Centre, where all sorts of activities are available. My husband, who had been very nervous of the sea, did a day’s mini sail boat course with them and loved every minute.

sea stacks & sunshine Copper Coast, Waterford

Along the Copper Coast, Waterford

From Dunmore East, you may want to head farther west along Waterford’s unspoilt Copper Coast. The next town is Tramore, home to sandy beaches,  & with a busy family seaside holiday feel. Here is  Tramore Surf Shop & School, where in the Summer kids can have a surf lesson at either 10am or 2pm. There are also family lessons & more. If you need a break from getting wet,  in the Tramore area are Lake Tour Stables, where you can do a horse trek suitable for the family. You can go several times a day, all year, and is suitable for beginners & up. (There’s an all day Copper Coast trek, too–I’d love to do that!) The Copper Coast is full of magical wee beaches, and it is well worth taking a leisurely drive along it & investigating the strands & coves (and if the younger children need a visit to something  just for them, Copper Coast Mini Farm may fit the bill) before reaching Dungarvan Town & heading inland a bit to the The Magic Road (great fun!)

Helpful Apps & Sites

Knowing the high/low tide times is quite helpful, as some beaches (like Bannow Bay, a wild, pebbly stony beach good for birdwatching) will nearly disappear at high tide. If you have a smartphone, a tide app is useful. I have Tides Near Me – Free  (Android,) & there’s also a version for iphones.  A good website to visit is Irish Water Safety, it will also list beaches which have lifeguard cover. If you enjoy nature identification, there are free apps on Android for Irish Butterflies, plus bees, and mammals. Another good app is Ireland Green Travel, for Android and on itunes.  As well as outdoor activities, it has info on green places to stay and so on. It isn’t free, but is certainly worth the couple of euros. Specifically for families is Are We There Yet Ireland, very handy for just over €2!! Android  and itunes. Also, feel free use the search function to search my site, as I’ve  posts on other things to do, eat, etc, particularly in Kilkenny and Graiguenamanagh.

Here’s a map I made of the places mentioned, move it around to see ’em all. Click on the pins for more info on each.

View Sunny Southeast Active Holiday (family friendly) in a larger map  

Hope you’ve gotten some ideas you’d like to pursue. Have fun! 

 


Kennedy Homestead, New Ross, Wexford, Ireland

Kennedy Homestead is located in Dunganstown, New Ross,Wexford, Ireland

 The JFK Kennedy Homestead is opening!

 Opening to us all from 23 June, 2013, The Kennedy Homestead sounds an interesting visit if you are interested in JFK and Ireland’s most famous emigrant family. I’ve not been myself- as it isn’t open yet- but I will go check it out in future. Here’s the scoop I’ve been sent to share with you:

The Kennedy Homestead in Dunganstown, will also be officially opened by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Caroline Kennedy tomorrow, Saturday 22nd June. The opening of the Kennedy Homestead further cements the historic link of the Kennedy family to Ireland, and ensures the continued preservation of the JFK legacy. The Homestead opens to the public from Sunday 23rd June.

The Kennedy Homestead is a new visitor attraction and exhibition centre, situated beside the original farmhouse at Dunganstown where President John F Kennedy’s great grandfather was born and lived before he emigrated to the United States from the Quayside of New Ross in 1848. The Homestead celebrates the story of five generations of the Kennedy dynasty and is still today farmed by his descendants.

JFK 50yrs celebration photo reflected in the Dunbrody Ship polished black granite sign

JFK 50yrs celebration photo reflected in the Dunbrody Ship polished black granite sign

The Kennedy Homestead is curated by Patrick Grennan, 3rd cousin of JFK. It is a unique cultural museum, dedicated to “the Kennedys who went away and the Kennedys who stayed behind” and plays a vital part in the continued preservation of the Kennedy legacy in Ireland. It was also the location for President John F Kennedy’s iconic visit to have tea with his Irish relatives during his state visit to Ireland in 1963.

The interpretative exhibit explores the circumstances of Patrick Kennedy’s departure from Ireland in 1848 and pieces together the story of the most famous Irish–American family through the 20th century to the present day.

The Kennedy family legacy is an integral part of daily life in Co. Wexford. Facilities at the Homestead include a unique collection of Kennedy memorabilia, audio-visual displays, a souvenir shop, picnic area, wheelchair access and extensive car and coach parking facilities.

The Kennedy Homestead is open to the public from the 23rd June, for more information visit www.kennedyhomestead.ie

The JFK 50 years Celebrations were on, 22 June 2013- here’s more about them & what was on— the eternal flame came to Ireland from the US!


I’m still visiting Dublin, so this is only a short tip- The National Museum Of Ireland at Collins Barracks -Decorative Arts & more- is a hidden gem right in the centre of Dublin. Beautiful buildings, a wealth of items, free, and not too busy with people. I was really impressed- a wonderful way to get away from the crowds and get lost in time for a few hours. Visit!

image

image

image