Visiting Ireland – With Kids
I could fill a blog with why Ireland is a terrific place to take your family. Oh wait, I already do. I began writing Ireland with Kids a year ago to share my family’s passion for travel to Ireland and to showcase just how family friendly it is. Since the most Irish of all holidays is nearly upon us I thought now would be a perfect time to share some tips and debunk some myths about family travel to Ireland.
5 Reasons Ireland is an Amazing Family Travel Destination
- The Irish speak English. Ireland is a terrific country to introduce your children to Europe mainly because the Irish speak English with the most beautiful accent in the world. Road signs are in both Irish and English to keep you on the correct path (and driving on the “wrong side” of the road really isn’t that difficult).
- The Irish really are friendly. You’ll see “Céad Míle Fáilte”, One Hundred Thousand Welcomes, in action across Ireland. Everywhere you go, from bed and breakfasts to historic sites to village pubs, you will be warmly welcomed. Stay in one place for a few days and you’ll feel like part of the community.
- Castles – lots of castles. No matter how old you are, castles are awesome. Girls become princesses, boys are transformed to knights. Mom is glad she has a modern kitchen and Dad imagines standing behind a turret, lord of all he surveys. You’ll see beautifully restored castles and majestic ruins, all with their own tale to tell.
- Ireland is magical. True magic happens in Ireland. There are days when it shimmers through the air, so real you can almost grab it. Sure, modern science maybe able to explain the Giant’s Causeway, but visit and you’ll find yourself believing that Fionn mac Cumhail built the perfect crossing to Scotland. Or stand very still near Torc Waterfall in Killarney National Park and see if faeries don’t peek at you from behind the flora.
- The Irish are master storytellers. The gift of gab may be doled out to visitors by the Blarney Stone, but the Irish have a way of weaving a tale like no one else. Even simple directions become a tale of history and intrigue. While you will see amazing things in Ireland, what you will remember is the stories and the people.
5 Myths About Irish Travel
- It’s too expensive. I’ll admit, Ireland is not cheap. But neither is Walt Disney World, Hawaii or a week at an all inclusive resort, yet families vacation at these spots all the time. With planning, your Irish holiday can be both incredible and affordable.
- It rains all the time. Ireland may get quite a bit of rain- it’s the only way to keep the ‘thousand shades of green’- but it doesn’t rain all the time. Because Ireland is an island you’ll often see ‘soft weather’ blow over quickly, leaving a brilliant day for sight seeing and outdoor pursuits.
- Driving is too difficult. In Ireland you drive on the left. Most vehicles are manual (stick shift) transmission. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard; it’s just different, and very easy to get used to. Another big difference are roundabouts instead of intersections. Though intimidating at first, they are really quite fun (and so much nicer than stoplights!)
- Only old people or singles who pub hop visit Ireland. Ah, yes, the “seasoned travelers” on a tour bus or the young singles in pubs. Ireland is popular with both. But don’t let that dissuade you from taking the family. Pub is short for ‘Public House’ and you’ll find families here every evening for a meal, enjoying the music or sharing tales. Pubs are the soul of a village and should not be missed.
- My kids won’t enjoy it. If you think your kids have to see costumed characters or have their days planned out with kid-specific activities to have a great vacation, you’re giving your children far too little credit. A vacation in Ireland will expose your children to culture, history, food, magic and imagination. Your kids will ask questions that lead to discussions in history, archeology, mythology, biology… Your children will amaze you with what they know- and what they want to learn.
Ireland is breathtakingly beautiful, soul-searingly mystical and amazingly modern. That so much can co-exist in one small country, perfectly complimentary to each other, makes Ireland my favorite spot on Earth. I hope I’ve inspired you to visit her verdant shores- and to take your kids along for the journey.