Tuesday 20 November 2018

Sinead Ryan: Free fun to keep kids occupied during the long school break

Cycling through countryside is a great family activity
Cycling through countryside is a great family activity
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

School is finally out and we’re all enjoying the long, summer holidays. Or are we?

It’s an expensive time for parents as they struggle to fill the days with activities. Failure to do so leads to bored children, and that means stressful families.

You may have the kids in camp for part of the holiday, but eight weeks is a long time, so today I’m looking at cheap and even free stuff, all of which abound.

One of my favourite outdoor activities is a picnic, and if the weather continues to hold (and even if it doesn’t), it’s a brilliant day out.

The panel on the right includes some great places to go – just remember to keep it simple. You don’t need to come over all cheffy. Simple rolls, cold meats, a few salads and some fruit and you’re off.

If the children are older, summer’s a great time to get a job, internship or volunteer work. Business is booming, and many firms are suffering staff shortages, so encourage your children to draw up that CV and start asking around.

Those not old enough to formally work (you have to be 16 or over) may be able to cut lawns, walk dogs or sweep up at the hairdresser.

Festivals and Events

The four Dublin local authorities have websites outlining local events, so it’s always worth checking them out.

Dublin plays host to the science, tech and art Festival of Curiosity from July 19 to 22 in 14 venues citywide (festivalofcuriosity.ie).

Events include Deep Ocean Explorer or Everest Lab at

Smock Alley, Litter Lab For Kids at Wood Quay and From The Seat To The Stars at the Science Gallery. Many are free, but all need to be booked.

The National Museum of Ireland is staging many children’s workshops throughout July and August, including How To Catch Your Dinner and Megalithic Big Draw.

All are free and need to be booked (museum.ie).

The Swords Summer Festival offers family fun around the village from July 22 to 24.

The Malahide Has It festival runs from July 27 to 29 (have a look at Facebook for more information).

STEMFest runs in Blanchardstown Library for junior Lego engineers and codebreakers on July 21. It’s free, but you’ll need to book. Smallies can visit the Big Bear Planetariums (fingal.ie).

Rush library is holding a Nuts About Nature exhibit on July 25 for kids aged six to 12.

DayS Out

Wood Quay has free summer music sessions every Thursday from 1 to 2pm. Details at dublin.ie.

Many sites run by the Office of Public Works are free on Wednesdays and reasonably priced on other days. Properties include Adare Castle, Castletown House and Emo Court (heritageireland.ie).

Walking tours are a super way

of seeing Dublin in a different

light. All the buildings we casually walk by every day are given a different take when you’re a tourist. Many are run by Dublin City Council, but there are private ones too. If there’s an admission fee, it’s always worth checking review sites such as TripAdvisor to find out if it’s worth it.

Excellent ones include Let’s Walk And Talk, which are weekly and free and have experts such as historian Pat Liddy showing a side of Dublin you may not know (dublincity.ie).

Historical Walking Tours of Dublin offers two-hour walking tours every day at 11am and 3pm, departing from Trinity College. Adults are charged €12 but chil-

dren under 14 go free (historical-tours.ie).

Hidden Dublin Walks offers a spooky Northside Ghost Walk and the Haunted History Tour. Both start at 8pm and cost €15.

Check out The Gravedigger (€25, 7.45pm) and The Comedy Bus Tour that leaves Westmoreland Street daily at 7pm (hiddendublinwalks.com).

Old Favourites

You still can’t beat the Phoenix Park for a day out, but instead of heading for the zoo, consider the visitor centre, which has free art and workshop exhibitions aimed at children.

 You can live like the President by touring Aras an Uachtarain on Saturdays from 10.30am to 3.30pm (free tickets from the visitor centre).

Finish your day at the Victorian Tea Rooms.

Useful Websites

There are lots of parenting websites, but I think the best are mykidstime.com, rollercoaster.ie and mummypages.ie.

The four local authorities can be found at fingal.ie, dublincity.ie, dlrcoco.ie and sdcc.ie.

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