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When did three children become a big family?

Answer this question honestly. What comprises a big family these days?

Is two kids the norm, or do you consider any more than this a big family? Admittedly, we've seen the back of traditional Irish families where seven or more kids was perfectly normal, but I never, for one moment, thought that three children would classify us as a big family.

That was, until last weekend.

The first incident that made me think about my family followed a random encounter on a lovely sunny day. I was walking along holding my two boys' hands and my husband was in front of us pushing our daughter in the double buggy.


As a car sped past us we realised the driver had roared something from his/her window. I glanced up at what I thought was a woman with short hair but my husband only heard the voice and thought it belonged to a man. Irrespective of sex, the offending stranger had decided to roar the following insult at us: "Have you never heard of contraception?"

We stopped in our tracks, partly amazed, partly to double check we'd both accurately heard the same bizarre comment.

Then I started wondering if the driver thought the lower tier of our double buggy had perhaps another little person on board, giving us an imaginary fourth kid. (It's designed to carry a second child, and is handy when our four-year-old boy gets tired.) My husband doubted the crazy stranger had time to absorb he was pushing a double buggy and pointed out that even if he/she had, four kids isn't exactly an army.

Next morning, I picked up a copy of Discover Ireland's summer deals brochure. It's a quarterly publication by Failte Ireland that showcases a huge range of hotel and self-catering breaks around Ireland.

The brochure has a useful 'Family' icon that highlights holiday breaks specially priced for families. A 'Kids Free' icon draws your eye to deals that allow your children to stay for free.


As I turned page after page, flicking between Cork and Clare, Westport and Wexford, I realised that my three-children-family doesn't conform to most hoteliers' ideas of what a family is either. Deal after deal I read the small print, which always seemed to say the same thing: up to two kids, 12 or under, sharing. I did find many self-catering options that can accommodate six people – which is great if you're planning on going self-catering – but I wasn't.

Out of over 120 deals I managed to find just four hotel offers geared towards families with three children. Plenty of hotels will quote you for interconnecting rooms – which is inevitably pricier – but I'm amazed, and disappointed that so few hotels have bothered to design a few large rooms for modest families.

If, like me, you "haven't heard of contraception" you might like Kerry's Dunloe Hotel and Randles Court Hotel, Kildare's Killashee House Hotel and The Holyrood, Donegal, which can all accommodate families of five in one room. If you know of anywhere else, please be so kind as to tweet me at @JillianBolger.