My husband and I love bringing our daughter along on our adventures. In fact, there’s never even a question on whether or not she will come with us. We love to explore as a family and think that it is beneficial for her to have these experiences in her life. Plus, she’s actually a lot of fun and it’s interesting to see her reaction to events and certain aspects of history.
It’s not always the easiest and requires compromise. Traveling with your children or child in my case means balancing adult interests with your child’s interests. It’s amazing when there’s an overlap, but it’s important to make time for both.
Below are some of the experiences that my 8-year-old daughter enjoyed the most while touring Southern Ireland.
Dublinia – Dublin
Dublinia is an interactive exhibit/museum that allows the visitor to travel through Dublin’s colorful history from the Vikings to Medieval times. The information is creatively presented through interactive displays and settings. There were a few sections that my daughter found a bit “creepy,” but overall, she enjoyed it. Dublinia is next to Christ’s Church Cathedral. So, you could do both quite easily. It is also part of the Dublin Pass, which is what we used to enter. According to the Dublinia website hours of operation are: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 A.M. – 6:30 P.M. March to September and 10:00 A.M. – 5:30 P.M. October to February. Give yourself at least an hour and a half to explore.
Dublin Castle – Dublin
My daughter was super excited to explore Dublin Castle. The part that truly piqued her curiosity was the archeological site of one of the original towers. To see this section of the castle, you must be on one of the tours. It is rather fascinating. Also, inside the more modern section of the castle is an activity page for children to complete. My Daughter always loves these types of scavenger hunts. Plus, it’s educational and is a part of the Dublin Pass.
Celtic Performance – Dublin
Dublin has many Celtic performances throughout the city. We opted for a dinner one close to our hotel. My daughter really enjoyed the energy of the Irish dancing and the bodhran drum, which is now one of my favorite instruments. It has this almost tribal sound and the energy that resonates from it is intoxicating. I digress. It is definitely worth attending one of the many Celtic performances in Dublin to experience traditional Irish music and dance.
Kilkenny Castle – Kilkenny
The picturesque Kilkenny Castle was built in 1195 and is situated along the River Nore. Daily guided tours are available, or you can branch out on your own. The castle was the official seat of the Butler family and has been refurbished to its Victorian era grandeur. I recommend taking in the view to the NW from the upper bedroom. It’s fantastic. Also, if you have children, there is a nice playground on the castle grounds just NE of the castle. My daughter thought it was amazing. It’s a great place for a picnic.
Medieval Mile Museum – Kilkenny
The Medieval Mile Museum was interesting and showcased the struggles of life in Kilkenny during medieval times. Guided tours are available, but we opted for the headset, which my daughter thought was great because she could tour at her own pace. Don’t skip the graveyard section. It was a bit eerie, but also a time trip. A great activity for kids is the Lego figurine scavenger hunt throughout the museum. If your child finds all of them, he or she will get a small prize. It kept my daughter entertained. The figures are well-hidden.
Kiss the Blarney Stone – Blarney Castle & Gardens
Go ahead. Do it! It is the castle’s claim to fame. Legend says that by kissing the Blarney Stone the individual will be blessed with the gift of gab…eloquence of conversation. There are some things to consider. First, if you don’t arrive early, you will be waiting a long time. Second, if you are afraid of heights, this may not be for you because you are backwards, upside down and head first leaning over the edge. It is relatively safe though. There are bars and there is someone there holding you, however, if you’re not comfortable with heights, you may struggle a bit. This seems like a good place to admit that my daughter would not kiss the Blarney Stone. The height made her extremely nervous. The attendant that was helping did point to a closer, smaller stone that he said is a special one that only works for kids. It would’ve been an easier reach, but she still didn’t go for it. Third, the Blarney stone is at the top of the castle and the climb up is steep and narrow. All that being said, I think it’s worth it. My daughter enjoyed the view from the Blarney Stone.
Explore the Castle – Blarney Castle & Gardens
The Blarney Castle has its charm with its picturesque, sturdy exterior and interior spaces that feel authentic. My daughter enjoyed exploring all the different areas. I could tell that it made her daydream a bit. The thick stone walls and narrow steep stone staircases and corridors show today’s tourist a glimpse of what it must have been like to live in and defend this great castle. You will see the great hall, bedrooms, “bathrooms”, towers, the murder hole, and many other rooms. There are no furnishings, but that really didn’t bother us.
Creep through the Caves – Blarney Castle & Gardens
Beneath the Blarney Castle lies a series of caves. These are fun to explore, but can be a bit muddy after rain and some are a tight squeeze. My daughter thought it was the best! These caves once connected to the main castle and were used as exit and entry points. Now, they’re just really interesting to explore.
Visit the Witch’s Tree – Blarney Castle & Gardens
In the gardens of the Blarney Castle stands an amazing tree with wide-spreading branches. Below the tree is a shallow cave…just a small room really. It has a fireplace with a chimney protruding from the ground on the opposite side of the tree and cave entrance. The tree is rumored to once be home to a witch. It is perfect for a child’s imagination to take flight. It’s outward appearance and lower cave enclosure is reminiscent of a fairy tale setting. Nearby is a similar cave that once belonged to a hermit. It is said that people from the castle brought food down to sustain him.
Waterfalls – Blarney Castle & Gardens
There are a few small waterfalls a short distance from the castle that flow into small pools at their bases. It’s peaceful and picturesque. The sound of the water from the falls was also soothing. I think it helped that we were some of the few people in the garden at the time.
Horses – Blarney Castle & Gardens
I can’t personally attest to it, but apparently there are horses fenced in within the garden a short walk from the castle. They were not in the pasture when we passed by, but I’m sure it would be nice to see them. I bet younger children would enjoy a quick peek.
Titanic Experience – Cobh
The Titanic Experience in Cobh, Ireland was fantastic for any age. A chilling aspect of the experience is that each person is given a boarding pass with the name of a real passenger from the Titanic printed on it. At the end of the tour you find out if your passenger survived. Before that, you get to explore the exhibits and learn many interesting facts and see replicas of the first- and third-class passenger rooms. The part of the experience that gave me goose bumps is the original dock that the last passengers to board the Titanic departed. It’s still standing. Unfortunately, neither my daughter’s or my passenger survived the sinking of the Titanic. My husband’s passenger did.
Spike Island – Cobh
Spike Island may seem like a strange place to take a child, but my daughter really wanted to go…so, we did. It is the sight of a former prison and military base and has a vast and interesting history. Some things that made it nice for our daughter was the ferry ride over to Spike Island from Cobh, which offered some amazing views from the water. She learned a lot about Ireland’s history through the island tour and was entertained by a fairy house scavenger hunt as we explored the main section of the island. We explored the former prison buildings and saw the remnants of the former town that once existed on the island. My advice: Walk along the water by the ruins of the former town. Go as far as you can go. Trust me, the path dead ends at an old building on the water that you can’t pass. If you are there during low tide like we were, you will see a small beach of stones. This is where we skipped stones and found the most amazing sea glass and pieces of old pottery. From this small beach, you will also get a beautiful view of Cobh across the water. I would pay to go back to Spike Island just to hangout at this small patch of beach with my family again.
Pet a Lamb – Dingle Peninsula
Yes, there is a place along the Dingle Peninsula where you can pet, pick up and snuggle the most adorable lambs. Ours was so sweet and soft. My daughter still talks about this experience.
Inch Beach – Dingle Peninsula
The five kilometer stretch of tan-colored sand that comprises Inch Beach is a paradise anchored on each side by cliffs and large rolling hills, opening up to the Atlantic Ocean. It was too cold to swim, but my daughter enjoyed running barefoot through the water and chasing the seagulls.
Cliffs of Moher
The views of and from the Cliffs of Moher are amazing. The aspects that my daughter found interesting besides the views were the history presentation inside the white tower, which explains one man’s vision that turned the Cliffs of Moher into a tourist destination. She also enjoyed the interactive displays inside the visitor’s center. Here she learned about many of the animals that call the Cliff’s of Moher home.
I hope these ideas help you plan your trip to Southern Ireland with your child and or children. There is plenty to occupy and entertain them along the way. Plus, Ireland is such a beautiful place, it would be a shame not to bring them along for the experience.
I’m sure there are more places and things to experience with your child in Southern Ireland. Please share below in the comments any you think should be added to the list.