Wednesday 7 December 2016

50 great things to do with the family this weekend

Action stations!

Katy Harrington

Published 11/04/2015 | 02:30

Adare Manor, Co. Limerick. Photo: Getty
Adare Manor, Co. Limerick. Photo: Getty
1 Lissadell, Co Sligo
5. Killruddery, Bray, Co Wicklow
15. Fota Wildlife Park, Cork
6. Surfing. Picture posed
9. Glucksman Gallery, Cork City
11. Ticknock Mountain Bike Trail
16. The Ark, Temple Bar
18. Newgrange, Boyne Valley, Co Meath
23. Malahide Castle
Tayto theme park, Co. Meath
25. Titanic Experience, Belfast
26. Oceanworld Aquarium, Dingle
29. The Burren, Co Clare
Cyclists take on the Gap of Dunloe in Kerry.
34. Kayaking
27. The Viking Splash
38. Glendeer Pet Farm, Athlone
42. Glasnevin Cemetery
47. A '99' at Teddy's
46. National Gallery of Ireland

It's the final fling before the holidays end and they're all back to school. Katy McGuinness suggests how to make the most of it...

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1. Lissadell, Co Sligo

The house and gardens are open for the Easter holidays until tomorrow, April 12. While younger children may not be as interested in the history of the house and the Yeats and Countess Markievicz exhibitions as their parents or older siblings, they will like the newly constructed obstacle course (lots of upside down trees and mud, promise the owners), the mossy maze, woodland walks and the farmyard sessions. Lissadell has three miles of water frontage (there are plans for a water sports centre later this year) and spectacular views of Ben Bulben. And after all that activity, they will also probably enjoy the wholesome country food on offer in the restored Coach House.

1 Lissadell, Co Sligo
1 Lissadell, Co Sligo

Details: lissadellhouse.com

2. Russborough House, Co Wicklow

Art lovers and historians love Russborough House, with its Lafranchini ceilings, its art collection, including works from the original Beit Collection, and ornaments that include a microscope given to Marie Antoinette on her wedding day. Children are more likely to be interested in the sheepdog demonstrations, horse and carriage rides, parkland tours, maze, and children's playground. This year there are two new offerings geared towards younger visitors. The first is a Birds of Prey Treasure Hunt, on which children can learn about Irish birds of prey as they explore the maze, Lady's Island and the old Milltown Tomb. For little girls, the new fairy trail will be a big hit. Russborough has recently become home to 10 fairies including Isadora, whose favourite colour is pink, and Faylinn, who has lived secretly at Russborough for 270 years. Each fairy has its own house, and visitors can learn fairy language, enjoy fairy games and learn what the fairies use from nature to make their clothes and jewellery.

Details: russboroughhouse.ie

3. Kenmare Irish Music Festival, Co Kerry

The festival runs until tomorrow and there are dozens of traditional music events taking place all over the town. Check the website for specifics, but one of the most family-friendly options looks like being a Seafari tour of Kenmare Bay, with its amazing scenery and wildlife - accompanied by a live on board trad session. Sightings of the recently introduced white-tailed sea eagle are common and the local seal population is usually obliging in terms of making an appearance. There are workshops in box, fiddle, whistle, banjo, concertina and other instruments that are open to all ages but must be booked in advance.

Details: kenmareirishmusicfestival.com

4. Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo

Geared towards children aged under 12, the Pirate Adventure Centre at Westport House in County Mayo is a whole-family day out experience, with rides including the Pirates' Plunge Water Ride, a 30ft-long Cannon Ball Run slide, swan pedaloe boats, the Westport House express train, the Pirate Queen swinging ship, go-karts, an indoor soft play area, pitch and putt, bouncy castles and playgrounds. If that's not enough, the adventure activity centre also offers archery, combat games, zip wires and zorbing. Alternatively, more sedate children and their parents may prefer the tours of Westport House, including the Grace O'Malley Children's Tour, the Dungeon Experience, funny mirror, and even the chance to paint their own pottery.

Details: westporthouse.ie

5. Killruddery, Bray, Co. Wicklow

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Kilruddery, Co. Wicklow

Kilruddery is a great example of the revitalisation of a country estate by a new generation, and today you could visit the estate near Bray, explore the gardens and graze the farmers' market for lunch. None of that will be quite as appealing for children as the Squirrel's Scramble tree adventure camp www.squirrelsscramble.ie, with more than 20 different challenges to climb, balance, slide and crawl. Suitable for children over five, who can zoom along the zip lines through narrow passages in the woods for a thrilling adventure, this is an active day out almost guaranteed to exhaust.

Details: killruddery.com

6. Seventh Wave Surf School, Enniscrone, Co Sligo

Active types could head for Sligo, and make water-loving children and teens very happy with a visit to the surfing capital of Ireland for kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding and surfing instruction. Wetsuits and all equipment provided.

Details: surfsligo.com

5. Killruddery, Bray, Co Wicklow
5. Killruddery, Bray, Co Wicklow

7. MusicTown 2015, Dublin

This new festival organised by Dublin City Council runs until the April 19 and celebrates music and music makers. While many of the events are more suited to adults, today at FamiliBase in Ballyfermot there are three performances of The Quiet Tree, a traditional Irish musical fairytale geared towards two to six-year-olds who will participate and help to create the music. The creatures of Whistleberry Forest have discovered an old oak tree growing deep in the woods. However, there are no birds singing, no leaves rustling, and no animals scurrying around its trunk. Led by musicians Thomas Johnston and Stephen Markham, this delightful musical takes families on a journey through the forest where they become a band of musicians that explore instruments, sing and dance and help Oran the owl, Sorley the snail and Faolán the frog bring the old oak tree to life. Teenagers and their young-at-heart, keen-to-be-down-with-the-kids parents may be more interested in the free Breaking Tunes music trail, which will introduce them to some of the city's upcoming bands at various venues around the city.

Details: musictown.ie

6. Surfing. Picture posed
6. Surfing. Picture posed

8. IMMA, Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Imma's regular Sunday Family Workshop, Explorer (which the gallery describes as "drop-in, fun and free"), is on tomorrow from 2-4pm and allows participants to get creative together as a family, explore artworks with Imma staff, and enjoy a hands-on workshop in the galleries. Look, No Cows is a trail for families by Laureate na nOg, Siobhán Parkinson, visiting her favourite artworks from IMMA's Collection in the museum grounds. The booklet includes a map and is available free of charge. Afterwards, bribe the children with the promise of something good to eat at Café Itsa, and try and squeeze in a visit to the Gerda Frömel exhibition, the first contemporary retrospective of the artist who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1931 as the daughter of German parents but who moved to Ireland in 1956.

Details: imma.ie

9. Glucksman Gallery, Cork City

The Glucksman holds Sunday afternoon art workshops from 3-4pm each week. Led by practising artists, the workshops aim to get children and their parents making art, from painting to sculpture, drawing to collage, and are open to all ages. Places are allocated on a first-come first-served basis and admission is free, with a suggested donation of €5. Secondary school art and home economics students may find inspiration in both the permanent collection and two current exhibitions. Stitch in Time: The Fabric of Contemporary Life includes work by artists including Grayson Perry, and is part of the official programme of ID2015: A Year of Irish Design. With works ranging from protest banners to embroidered passports, abstract fabric designs to narrative tapestries, Stitch in Time demonstrates how artists employ textiles to shape and comment on contemporary life. The Knitting Map: Art, Community and Controversy 2005 - 2015 was one of the flagship projects of Cork's year as European Capital of Culture in 2005, and became the subject of local and national controversy in that year.

Details: glucksman.org

10. Orienteering

Orienteering is a popular outdoor sport for all the family in the Dublin mountains. There are permanent orienteering courses at Hell Fire Club, Massy's Estate, Carrickgollogan, Barnaslingan and Ticknock with varying levels of difficulty and downloadable maps available. www.orienteering.ie has information about orienteering courses and events around the country.

Details: dublinmountains.ie

11. Ticknock Mountain Bike Trail

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On yer bike...

Mountain biking teens will love the Ticknock Mountain Bike Trail, a network of purpose-built singletrack trails and forest roads that are designated for use by mountain bikes on a circular route 8km in length. The trails go through forests and heaths and reward the effort with fantastic views over Dublin City and Bay and the Wicklow Mountains beyond. The tracks are twisty with fast descents, tight turns and technical rocky bits - not for the faint-hearted.

Details: dublinmountains.ie

12. Sea Safari, Cork

Cork Sea Safari has a range of weather- and sea condition-dependent tours from a one hour blast around the harbour to a longer half-day trip to Kinsale that hugs the coastline for close-up views of cliffs, bays, caves and islands, and takes in a visit to a colony of grey seals. There's a stop-off in Kinsale for lunch or sightseeing, and on the return journey you might encounter common or bottlenose dolphins.

Details: safari.ie

13. The Greenway, Co Mayo

The traffic-free Great Western Greenway from Achill to Westport is one of the great successes of Irish tourism, and the perfect way to explore this beautiful landscape by bike with children safely and without damage to your mental health. Bring your own bikes or rent them at various points along the route, and make the excursion as long or short as suits the ages of the children.

Details: greenway.ie

14. Game of Thrones Tour

It's not easy to get teenagers to participate in any kind of family outing, but this is one that might just appeal. Departing from either Dublin or Belfast, the day long tour takes in the main locations of the television series, including Winterfell, where there are nine Games of Thrones sets and opportunities to try your hand at archery and dress up in the cloaks and costumes of the Stark family.

Details: gameofthronestours.com

11. Ticknock Mountain Bike Trail
11. Ticknock Mountain Bike Trail

15. Fota Wildlife Park, Cork

East Cork is lucky to have an amenity such as Fota Wildlife Park, but it can get crowded in peak season. If you're feeling flush - the cost is €150 - consider the VIP Family Experience which gives a family group of two adults and up to four children a two-hour guided tour with one of Fota's wardens. You'll get to explore the behind-the-scenes areas, prepare food for the animals and help the warden with the feeding of penguins or ring-tailed lemurs. Nearby, Fota House and Gardens www.fotahouse.com offers another option, with tours of the grand house as well as the chance to see what life was like for the domestic servants.

Details: fotawildlife.ie

16. The Ark, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

If you're quick off the mark, you might snap up one of the last tickets for The Art of Fantastical Flavours today at 1 and 3.30pm. Suitable for eight to 12-year-olds and lasting for 90 minutes, the workshop with artist Stephen Brandes explores some of the most bizarre recipes ever invented and how they've been inspired by stories, artworks, tastes, and places. Brandes will make 'The Snow Witch's Black Seaweed Cakes', inspired by an old Japanese folk-story. The kids will learn how to tattoo bananas and use their imaginations to create their own strange and fantastic recipes (to test out at home) which they will illustrate using drawing and collage. There will be an optional tasting of 'The Snow Witch's Black Seaweed Cake'.

Details: ark.ie

17. Tayto Park, Ashbourne, Co Meath

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Tayto Park

If you want your children to forgive you for working late and missing too many school concerts and bedtime stories, you'll bring them to Tayto Park for the day and they will leave thinking that you are the most awesome parent in the world. One of the most popular family attractions in Ireland, Tayto Park has everything from animals (including big cats, buffalo and pets) to the Eagle Sky Adventure zone for older children (extreme climbing wall, twister slide, sky walk, zipline, rotator, and 5D cinema). The Pow Wow Playground has towers, slides, climbing walls and rope bridge, while the Eagle's Nest has air jumpers, a steam train and the crispy creek mining company, where children can pan sand through running water in search of treasure. The Tiny Taters Patch Giant Spiral Hill and Mini Maze are suitable for children under five years, while the Giant Chess Board with squirting jets of water activated as you step on the squares is suitable for children of all ages. Exhaustion is guaranteed.

Details: taytocrisps.ie/park

18. Newgrange, Boyne Valley, Co Meath

Newgrange is a Stone Age monument constructed over 5,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period, which makes it older than Stonehenge and the pyramids. A large circular mound ringed with decorated kerbstones with a stone passageway and chambers inside, Newgrange is classified as a passage tomb but is also regarded as a place of spiritual and astrological importance. Nearby, there are similar mounds at Knowth and Dowth - together with Newgrange these have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Access is by guided tour from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. Swot up before you go to really impress the kids, and be prepared that the smaller ones - and anyone with claustrophobic tendencies - may not want to go inside the narrow passage of the tomb.

Details: newgrange.com

19. Brigit's Garden, Pollagh, Rosscahill, Co Galway

There's great freedom for children at Brigit's Garden in Rosscahill. They can explore a range of natural woodland, lake and garden habitats, and engage with nature and wildlife along the discovery trail, catching bugs in the pond and spotting birds. The focus here is on the natural world, so even the play area is a bit different, with basket swings, a bog-wood throne and a fairy fort. Children can climb up on the 'whale' and slide down, run through the willow tunnels, swing on rope ladders, create castles in the sand-pit and discover the whispering pipes in the stone chamber. Particularly popular with little girls who like fairies.

Details: brigitsgarden.ie

20. Rathbeggan Lakes, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath

The Airsoft game - described as safe, active battle play - will appeal to energetic kids of 12 and over, which includes adults who like that sort of thing. Equipment, full instruction and marshaling are provided in several different battle zones within the complex, offering participants the chance to try everything from 'Patrol Ambush' to 'Find the Sniper'. Old clothes and hiking boots are recommended, players will definitely get wet and muddy. The High Kings Adventure Tower has a minimum height requirement of 120cm and offers climbing and abseiling walls, a zip-line across the lake, and other activities including the nerve-wracking Leap of Faith. Less adventurous visitors may prefer the swan paddle-boats, bungee bounce, mini-diggers, pet farm and fairy gardens. There are also bouncy castles and pony rides, plus fishing on a lake stocked with trout.

Details: rathbegganlakes.com

21. Body Worlds - Animals Inside Out, Dublin

The exhibition (at the Ambassador Theatre) includes dozens of anatomically dissected animals from goats to giraffes, and octopuses to ostriches. Visitors can see the circulatory and muscular systems preserved by a process of plastination, during which the skins of the animals are removed and the water in their cells replaced with silicon rubber or epoxy resin. Highlights include peering into the trunk of a giant elephant, standing face to face with a giant gorilla and peeking inside a rabbit's brain. One for budding vets and zoologists, but perhaps not for the squeamish as the animals' muscles, nerves, arteries and organs are all visible.

Details: ambassadordublin.com

22. Killarney National Park, Killarney, Co Kerry

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Cycling the Dunloe Gap

Rent bicycles in Killarney (or bring your own) and head off along the network of surfaced tracks in the Muckross, Knockreer and Ross Island areas of the spectacularly beautiful national park. There are marked circular routes and some nature trails in the Muckross area and a mining trail in Ross Island. Park information centres at Muckross House and at the Gate Lodge of Killarney House can provide maps. Children love the trip to the Gap of Dunloe, taking a boat from Ross Castle through the Lower and Middle lakes into the upper lake to Lord Brandon's Cottage. From here, splash out on a pony and trap through the Gap of Dunloe to Kate Kearney's Cottage. Torc Waterfall, Muckross House and Gardens and the traditional farms in the national park are also worth a visit.

Details: killarneynationalpark.ie

23. Malahide Castle, Malahide, Co Dublin

Malahide Castle offers plenty of options for a family visit, from a tour of the castle, which dates back to the 12th century, and its walled botanical garden, to a fantastic playground with apparatus to entertain and challenge children of all ages. Toots, the Malahide Road train, is the best way to take a whistlestop tour of the village, and there's a branch of Avoca so there's no fear of going hungry.

Details: malahidecastleandgardens.ie

24. Hands On History, Collins Barracks, Dublin

Between 3 and 4pm tomorrow, there's a chance to explore some of the artefacts from the Museum's collection of objects for handling with Museum educators. Suitable for all ages and no booking required.

Details: nationalmuseum.ie

25. Titanic Experience, Belfast

The award-winning Titanic experience comprises nine galleries with special effects, dark rides, full-scale reconstructions and interactive exhibits and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. For Titanic anoraks - and that includes a lot of small and not so small boys - there's a complementary walking tour through the barrel-vaulted drawing offices of Harland and Wolff where Titanic was designed. Others may prefer the afternoon tea that takes place every Sunday afternoon by the replica Grand Staircase in the Titanic Suite, with discounts for children aged 11 and under.

Details: titanicbelfast.com

26. Oceanworld Aquarium, Dingle

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Oceanworld, Dingle

As well as an underwater tunnel and Ireland's largest collection of sharks (including the fearsome Sandtiger Shark, with which brave children can get up close and personal), Oceanworld is home to 12 Gentoo Penguins, whose natural habitat is around the Falkland Islands. They are kept in a natural environment with polar air temperatures and a constant flow of chilled water and ice. The Amazon display features piranhas and catfish, and the touch tank allows visitors to hold a starfish and stroke the rays. New this year is a creepy crawlie display featuring tarantulas, scorpions, giant African snails, millipedes and geckos. Lovely.

Details: dingle-oceanworld.ie

27. The Viking Splash, Dublin

While Dublin city centre workers may be inured to the charms of the Viking Splash and the verbal abuse that can be thrown at them from the World War II amphibious vehicles, children relish the raucous anarchism and all that shouting and roaring. The tour takes in the major sites of the city including Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral, St Patrick's Cathedral, Viking Dublin, Medieval Dublin, Georgian Dublin, Government buildings, and the Dublin Docklands. It's a sure-fire hit, and would be a great outing with country cousins.

Details: vikingsplash.com

28. The Irish at Gallipoli, Collins Barracks, Dublin

Lots of older children (and their parents) are fascinated by WW1, and as part of the National Museum's centenary programme it has put together an immersive experience, based on the events surrounding the campaign at Gallipoli in Turkey. The performance is inspired by the previously untold stories of the 7th Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers and the everyday lives of the Irish people who were affected by the Great War. There are five performances today, and three tomorrow.

Details: pals-theirishatgallipoli.com

29. The Burren, Co Clare

There's not a schoolchild in Ireland who won't learn about the Burren at some stage of their education, and a trip to see its rock formations, flora and fauna will remain etched on the memory for years - think of it as bringing their geography textbooks to life. The extraordinary limestone karst landscape of hills, valleys, plateaus, cliffs (including the spectacular Cliff of Moher), beaches, turloughs, lakes, streams, depressions, and caves, has contributed to the region being awarded Geopark status by UNESCO. There's also a Burren Food Trail, which includes the opportunity to visit producers including the Burren Smokehouse, which sells its terrific smoked salmon in prestigious shops including Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.

Details: burren.ie

30. Architectural Wonders - The Pyramids!, National Museum, Kildare St, Dublin

Children aged six and over can drop in to the National Museum this afternoon between 2 and 4 pm to discover with historian Caoimhe Leppard the structural secrets of pyramids from ancient Egypt and create their own mini-pyramid totake home. No booking required.

Details: nationalmuseum.ie

31. Teddy Bear Tour, Natural History Museum, Merrion St, Dublin

Today at 10.30 and 12 at the Dead Zoo, families can join zoologist, Catherine McGuiness, to learn about animals that are usually made into cuddly toys, but may not be so friendly in real life. Children should bring their own favourite Teddy Bear. No booking is required, but places are on a first-come first-served basis.

Details: nationalmuseum.ie

32. Go Karting, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Dublin

Sure-fire fun. Check venues for age restrictions and booking information.

Details: kartmania.ie (Cork)

Details: galwaycitykarting.com (Galway)

Details: nationalkartcentre.ie (Limerick)

Details: kylemore-karting.com (Dublin)

33. Treasure Hunt, Hunt Museum, Limerick

The Easter Treasure Hunt runs until tomorrow and allows children to follow specially created QR codes, produced with facilitating artist Siobhan Clancy, to reveal the stories behind the Museum's treasures. The Hunt Museum also holds Saturday morning arts and crafts sessions for children aged two and over, with a different set of projects each week.

Details: huntmuseum.com

34. Kayaking

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Kayaking in Dublin

City Kayaking runs trips from their base at Dublin City Moorings up the River Liffey through the heart of the city under some of Dublin's most famous bridges and past well known landmarks. Wetsuits are available for hire and discounts for family groups. City Kayaking also runs special classes for children with mild and moderate special needs on Sunday mornings.

Details: citykayaking.com

35. Powerscourt Waterfall, Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Powerscourt Waterfall in County Wicklow is Ireland's highest at 121m (398ft.) In good weather this is truly an ideal location for picnics and barbecues, with plenty of space for children to run around and also a playground suitable for the younger children. There are also opportunities for bird and wildlife-spotting, and easy walks along scenic woodland paths.

Details: powerscourt.com

36. Giants Causeway, Co Antrim

The dramatic basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway bring Junior Cert geography to life. Flanked by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs, the Giant's Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site; visitors can either book a tour guide or pick up an audio guide and go at their own pace, climbing the Shepherd's Steps and hiking along the cliff-top trail to get a bird's eye view of the beautiful causeway coast.

Details: nationaltrust.org.uk

37. Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Co Roscommon

The beautiful landscape around Lough Key is steeped in history but the activity park caters for the needs of modern families in search of an action-packed day out. Among the attractions are a tree canopy walk and outdoor adventure playground, 19th Century servant tunnels to explore, bog gardens and lakeside walks. A major draw is the indoor Boda Borg, a Swedish concept available in Ireland only at Lough Key. Designed to challenge adults and children, players progress through the 47 rooms using a combination of teamwork, ingenuity, trial and error and numerous other skills to tackle fun-filled activities, imaginative puzzles and enjoyable tasks with no instructions.

Details: loughkey.ie

38. Glendeer Pet Farm, Athlone, Co Westmeath

The appeal of a pet farm never dwindles for young children, whatever about their parents. Here there are monkeys and a llama as well as the usual cows, donkeys and rabbits, and new features include a maze and obstacle course as well as a ball pool and toddler area for the smaller ones. Many of the activities are under cover, making this a good choice if the weather is bad.

Details: glendeerpetfarm.ie

39. Secret Valley Wildlife Park, Clonroche, Co Wexford

The 14-acre Secret Valley Wildlife Park offers plenty of opportunities for visiting children to interact with the animals, from bottle-feeding the hungry kid goats, to riding Snowball the pony. Animals in residence include donkeys, llamas, alpaca, meerkats, prairie dogs, lemurs, rabbits and guinea pigs. There are also adventure hunts and indoor and outdoor play areas.

Details: secretvalley.ie

40. Imaginosity, Sandyford, Dublin

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Imaginosity, Dublin

There can hardly be a child in the country who doesn't love Imaginosity, with its huge range of activities suitable for children of all ages. This weekend's activities include storytime, handprint painting, interactive parachute games and Professor Squigley's Waterlab. Good clean fun.

Details: imaginosity.ie

41. Wicklow Gaol, Wicklow Town

A popular interactive experience with actor guides, holographic projections of cruel prison guards and state of the art audio-visual systems. Mannequins of major historic figures help recreate the 1798 rebellion, the Famine era, the War of Independence and Civil War, and the replica two-deck transportation ship now features holographic interaction with the ship's Captain as visitors climb aboard the torturous 200-day journey to Van Diemen's Land.

Details: wicklowshistoricgaol.com

42. Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin 7

Teenagers are generally reluctant to participate in family outings, but a tour of Glasnevin cemetery may just appeal enough to get them out of bed. As well as guided tours with expert historians, there are permanent exhibitions focusing on burial practices, religious beliefs surrounding death and some of the cemetery's well-known occupants. There is also currently a WW1 exhibition.

Details: glasnevintrust.ie

43. Kilkenny Activity Centre

Captain Jack's Play Centre is a treasure trove of themed inflatables and bouncy castles suitable for toddlers up to age 10. Rainy day fun.

Details: kilkennyactivitycentre.ie

44. Glendalough, Co Wicklow

Glendalough is home to one of the most important monastic sites in Ireland. This early Christian monastic settlement was founded by St Kevin in the 6th century and from this developed the 'Monastic City'. The 'City' consists of a number of monastic remains, and the most impressive being the Round Tower which stands 30m high. Read up before you go and either take in the buggy-friendly walk around the lake or have a more ambitious hike with older children.

Details: glendalough.ie

45. Barry's Amusements, Portrush, Co Antrim

Not all family outings have to be educational, and it would be stretching it to say that a trip to the amusements is cultural, but it can be a lot of fun and Barry's is one of the oldest and best. There are rides suitable for all ages, from dodgems to the worrying-sounding Freak Out; parental participation optional with older children.

Details: barrysamusements.com

46. National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin 2

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National Gallery of Ireland

A quick visit to the National Gallery is something that can easily be incorporated into a family day in the city. There's no point spending too long, or expecting too much from very young children, but regular visits do somehow seep into the bones and after a while the children will be telling you that they have a favourite painting. Today at 3pm there's a free creative family workshop with Kitty Rogers entitled A Party at the Palace, which sounds like a good way of introducing youngsters to the gallery. Try and squeeze in a few paintings either before or after.

Details: nationalgallery.ie

47. A '99' at Teddy's, Dun Laoghaire

If the sun is shining, hop on the DART to Dun Laoghaire for a walk down the pier, a few twirls on the gentle rides by the ferry terminal (suitable for young children) and a '99' at Teddy's. For an altogether more decadent ice-cream indulgence try Scrumdiddly's on Crofton Rd, but be prepared for very long queues. Catch the Here I Am exhibition at the new Lexicon library (and make up your mind whether you like the controversial building or not), try the outdoor exercise machines by Scotsman's Bay, paddle at Sandycove, take a dip in the Forty Foot (for hardy, competent swimmers only) or visit the James Joyce Tower before heading home. On Sundays, the farmers' market in Dun Laoghaire is one of the best in the country, with terrific opportunities for grazing as well as to buy food to bring home.

Details: teddys.ie

48. W5, Belfast

A trip to W5 is always a hit, there's nowhere quite as good for interactive play and discovery for kids from quite young all the way through to older teenagers. Until tomorrow, W5 has Easter Carnival Games, described as 'an old fashioned, fun family day out, with a modern technology twist'. You can throw balls to knock down virtual milk bottles; pop virtual balloons and smash virtual plates. Try to unlock the 'Dunk the Clown' and take part in the Giant Buzzer challenge, a steady hand is all that's needed, just keep the loop off the wire to reach the end without setting off the buzzer. Then see how many rabbits you can catch with the bunny- themed reaction timer. W5's demonstrators are science showpeople, performing feats of magic - or is it science? - throughout the day.

Details: w5online.co.uk

49. Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Holywood, Co Down

Train-mad kids aged 3-5 will love the tour of the Transport Museum led by Berkeley Bear, who drives trains, sells tickets on board the buses, plays dress-up, helps firemen rescue cats and gets to ride in a 100-year- old car.

Details: nmni.com

50. Airfield Farm, Dundrum, Dublin

Idyllic Airfield is a working farm that allows visitors to experience its sheep, pigs, chickens and donkeys as well as its Jersey herd, the milking parlour and dairy kitchen. The farm also has 50 laying hens including Rhode Island Red Hybrids and fancy fowl such as Legbars and Arucanas that produce blue eggs as well as Silkies. Check the website for milking and egg collecting times. Airfield also has ponds and hedgerows to explore, and play areas, as well as a restaurant, Overends, that is worth a visit in its own right.

Details: airfield.ie

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