Tuesday 16 January 2018

Five fabulously free family frolics for summer!

Sinead van Kampen

With summer nearly here, the risk of the family getting burned is ever present. Protecting the skin with factor 50 is one thing, but protecting the purse from the damage of entry fees, ice-creams and demands for novelty key rings is quite another.

With our beady bargain eye firmly fixed on activities you can do on a budget, we at Independent.ie thought we'd bring you five fabulously free family frolics for the summer ahead.

For the animal lover...

Animal lovers looking for long lazy afternoon should decamp to Cork Donkey Sanctuary. Located just outside Liscarroll, the Irish branch of this worldwide charity has been open since 1987 and has rescued over 2,850 donkeys who are ready and waiting for someone to fuss over them.

Set in the scenic valleys of Liscarroll in Mallow, there's plenty of fury but ultimately friendly faces to stroke as well as a visitors centre to browse.

Should you find the donkeys more agreeable than your own kids, a wide range of adoption options are available!

For more information visit thedonkeysanctuary.ie.

For the wild child...

Little explorers hungry for adventure will find plenty of places to comb at The Castlecomer Discovery Park.

Set on 30 hectares of woodland, the park is packed with play areas, picnic spots and woodland trails as well as being a home for some impressive sculpture.

If the adventure playground doesn't tickle their fancy and you discover your kids are more art than outdoors, the design craft yard is a must.

For budding country gentlemen Castlecomer offers two trout lakes. Entry to the park is free but a fee for fishing applies.

For more information telephone 056 4440707.

For culture vultures...

History hounds hunting for facts should be pointed in the direction of The National Museum of Ireland. Located on three sites in Dublin and one in County Mayo, everyone should find something of interest.

All four museums are free with Dublin locations catering for archeology, decorative arts and natural history, while the County Mayo Museum focuses on Irish Country Life.

Open to the public all year round, details for new and visiting exhibitions can be found at museum.ie.

For the young explorer...

City slickers looking to soak in sunshine should pack up and head for the Dublin's Botainic Gardens. Full to brimming with rare and unusual plants, the giant glass houses contain a world of exotic species.

With flycatchers, orchids and some plants that positively whiff, kids have their very own activity centre and young explorers thirsty for more information can do a special tour just for kids.

Once you've all done the picnics, plants and pergolas you can also make use of the free guided tours which take place on Sundays.

Located in Glasnevin, the gardens are easily assessible by bus but parking is available should you take the car..

For more information telephone 01 8040300.

For the little prince or princess...

Princes and princesses tired of the same old same old will love Ardgillan Castle.

Situated in North County Dublin and once the home to the Kings of Tyrconnell, the grounds come complete with their own outdoor adventure playground, a huge rose garden and the castle's very own forest.

As the castle is also close to the coast, this stately pile looks out over Dublin Bay. Should the swings and the walking not tire them out, an hour or so of making their very own castles in the sand should leave them sleeping in the carriage ride home.

For more information visit Ardgillianskerries.com.

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