Ireland on My Mind.

My screensaver for the month is the Cliffs of Moher; I watched River Dance last night; I am listening to Celtic Thunder at the moment and on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day I am planning to bake Irish soda bread. I have Ireland on my mind.

Cliffs of Moher along Ireland’s western coast

Cliffs of Moher along Ireland’s western coast embrace the power of the sea connecting the island to its destiny.

I think of Ireland and smile. It is known for its friendly people and engaging music plus I know it to be artful, festive, magical, mysterious, quirky, beautiful,  energizing, and welcoming which makes the destination perfect for families on holiday.

For families of all age combinations the choices for having fun and making memories are many. Want to enjoy miles of awesome bike trails, hike into the morning mist, or walk along ancient island pathways?  Want to listen to energizing music, hear local stories, and laugh every day? Maybe the taste creamy cheeses, soda bread, and scrumptious ginger bread sounds appealing? How about sailing lessons or a falconry session at a castle? Ireland with kids is a natural high. The fresh air and ready-made adventures make achieving a healthy vacation balance easy.

Historic Kinsale Harbor

Historic Kinsale Harbor is a stopping point on Thomson Family Adventures Ireland adventure.

For families the vacation options are plentiful from fly/drive circuits to escorted island adventures customized for small groups. Thomson Family Adventures has a quintessentially Irish family vacation experience. The escorted multi-sport tour includes Dublin and focuses on the dramatically beautiful southwestern coast and includes sailing lessons in the harbor of historic Kinsale, biking through the Gap of Dunloe, and kayaking around the shores of Baltimore. Adventures by Disney has a family tour which begins in Dublin, includes a castle stay and concludes at Shannon. For more independent families I very much like the Ancient & Medieval Mysteries vacation offered by Authentic Ireland.

Clonmacnoise Heritage Site

Nun’s Chapel ruins along the River Shannon at Clonmacnoise Heritage Site date from the 10th century depict evidence of Ireland’s rich history.

Of course I have dozens of notes and suggestions posted on our Ireland page. The punch line Ireland is a terrific place to vacation with kids of all ages.

Níos déanaí.

Nancy Nelson-Duac

Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files.


Ireland – A Family Vacation on European Island Time

Ireland for families? It makes perfect sense to me. Take the kids and go for the music, art, and shopping; stay for the hiking (so many), beaches (oh the tide pools), and ruins.

Kilkenny Castle Ireland

Goofing off on island time in Kilkenny.

The country offers a uniquely European “island” experience complete with a pace in the countryside that matches a Sunday afternoon from 1952. Ireland is an excellent choice for families with children of any age but is ideal for travel with young adults because the country has a youthful energy. I think caused by the availability of rain.
The respect and support for art and artists is obvious. And while they export plenty it is just possible that the best is saved for the homeland. We did not find Craig Ashurst and Chloey Turner with the cast of Riverdance at the airport but we did find plenty of live music interspersed with laughter. For music the list of artists is long and includes both traditional folk music not just Celtic Thunder as well as contemporary bands including The Script, more suited to teens and young adults.
For art my favorite spots include the remarkable sculpture field at Lough Boora Parklands and the inspiring National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny. The carved crosses at Clonmacnoise are of stone rubbing quality and the stained glass windows at St. Canice Cathedral need no endorsements.
For shopping I love All Saints and fortunately there is a smaller version of Spitalfields in Dublin. And of course there’s a tempting H&M not far away both dare I say in Temple Bar. The National Craft Centre in Kilkenny has tempting, high quality items including delightful children’s clothing, woolens, and beautiful contemporary jewelry. Plus we found an array of clever shops not far from the castle in the city centre. Galway has the Claddagh ring and Connemara’s Sheep & Wool Centre near Leenane has amazing yarn.
The bottom line for families, Ireland is safe, friendly, and fun. For parents or grandparents’ with wee ones there’s delightful folklore to be shared plus plenty of parks, playgrounds, tide pools, and pony trekking. For teens and young adults the list spans castles, cathedrals, ruins, hiking, biking, and surfing to music, falconry, shopping, and pubs. Ireland is the perfect European island experience.

Ireland: Dublin – Getting to Know the Capital of the Emerald Isle.

(Written by my youngest daughter – Jule Nelson-Duac)

My daughter Jule and I are all smiles by the Liffey in Dublin.

It’s Sunday – my first day in Dublin on my own. I have my Lonely Planet (guidebook), my city map, and I just purchased a ticket to the hop-on-hop-off tour. 23 stops in total- sounds excessive but how else am I going to get the lay of the land? As I stand at the starting point or should I say one of the starting points a large Viking ship shaped bus drives past me full of screaming laughing tourists wearing viking hats. Yet another way to see this historical city. Continue reading