Ireland Family Vacation – Dingle 7 Nights

Day 1: Shannon Airport to Dingle

The journey from Shannon to Dingle will take you in the region two hours and 3o minutes to complete but there is plenty of stops en-route to keep you and the kids amused! Very close to Shannon you will find Medieval Bunratty Castle and its informative folk park. One of Ireland’s best family attractions, the fortress was built in 1425 by the McNamara Clan and is one of the country’s most complete castles – completely furnished on the inside. The adjacent folk park explores life in the later 19th century Ireland and contains rural farmhouses and cottages, village shops and even the local school where the kids can sit behind traditional wooden school desks and get a sense of what it was like to be a child in 19th century Ireland!  The village is complete with a doctor’s house, post office and a real working pub where you can have a bite to eat or a drop to drink before you leave. Continuing on your tour route, the town of Adare has plenty of activities for discerning families. The main street has many original thatched stone cottages, craft shops and restaurants. Adare is also home to Desmond Castle built more than 300 years ago, the Trinitarian Priory the only recorded Trinitarian monastery in Ireland, the Augustinian Priory and the Franciscan Friary which although in ruins show a remarkable outline of its former elegance. The heritage centre in the centre of the town is a great place to start your Adare exploration. On arrival in Dingle check into your accommodation ‘The Dingle Skellig Hotel’ for your seven night stay. This spectacular family hotel has everything you need for the ultimate Ireland family vacation including a spectacular spa and leisure centre for mom and dad, kids club (seasonal) for younger children, a games room and movie room where older kids can hang out and meet new friends!

Day 2: Exploring Dingle Town

Dingle town has a host of touring possibilities for you and your family to enjoy. Foremost is a boat trip to see Ireland’s most famous bottle-nosed dolphin, Fungie! In 1983, local fishermen noticed this little dolphin coming to play near their boats, unlike other dolphins Fungie prefers the company of humans and ever since then he has made an appearance near almost every boat that comes into the harbour. With stunning scenic views over Dingle harbour, a boat trip to see Fungie may well be one of the highlights of your Ireland vacation for both you and your kids! Across from Dingle harbour you will find Dingle Ocean World which has been keeping the kids of Ireland and abroad amused from the early 1980’s. The centre displays all types of marine life including the newly acquired Gentoo Penguins and a selection of Loggerhead Turtles! Dingle town is full of brightly painted craft shops, cafes and restaurants for you and your family to enjoy. At night the pubs come alive with traditional music, song and dance and children accompanied by their parents are welcomed in pubs until 9pm. In addition there are weekly Summer Concerts in St. James Church with the Dingle Beehive Theatre Company providing the entertainment. 

Day 3: Exploring the Dingle Peninsula

Undoubtedly, the Dingle Peninsula contains some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery but it also contains a wealth of historic sites and attractions and your Irish Tourism tailor made driving itinerary will help you discover them all in detail. Your first stop on this scenic driving tour might be Ventry village with its 5 mile long pristine white sandy beach.  Next on your tour you will find Dunbeg Fort which dates from the Iron Age and further onward you and your family will be able to experience remarkable sea views from Slea Head. The Blasket Islands come into full view here, one of the islands is nicknamed ‘The Sleeping Giant’ and all kids enjoy searching for him! The nearby Blasket Centre will inform you about the islands and their history or to truly experience the islands, boat trips can be taken from the departure point of Dún Chaoin. Continuing on your tour, you may like perusing the showroom in the Louis Mulcahy Pottery centre while the kids try their hand at creating their own pottery masterpiece! Before returning to Dingle you might visit the dry stone church of Gallarus Oratory. Built in the seventh century, Gallarus is the best preserved early Christian church in Ireland. According to local lore, if you can successfully climb through the window at the back of the building your soul will then be cleansed, however as you will discover, this is a little hard to do!


Day 4: The Ring of Kerry & Killarney

The Ring of Kerry, one of Ireland’s most famous driving tours is an ever popular family day out with visitors to Ireland and Irish families alike. Follow the simple directions in your Irish Tourism travelling pack from Dingle to Killarney and one of your fist stops should be Muckross House, Gardens & Traditional Farms. This fascinating 19th century completely furnished mansion is set against the stunning backdrop of Killarney National Park. The Farms display an Ireland of the 1930’s and 1940’s and kids old and young love the farm animals that roam freely around the farmyard! Nearby, you and your family will feel like adventurers as you climb to the top of Torc Mountain beside the cascading beauty of Torc Waterfall, the well maintained forest park create a fairy-tale like scene that both kids and adults relish! If you haven’t tired yourselves out you can continue your Ring of Kerry journey around the peninsula and back to Dingle.  Use your Irish Tourism itinerary to explore the town of Kenmare for example with its many traditional shops and pubs, Valentia Island where you will find the Skellig Experience which allows you to experience the beauty and heritage of the offshore Skellig Islands whilst remaining on dry land!


Day 5: The Cliffs of Moher, the Burren & Aillwee Caves

The most direct route to Clare from this part of Ireland is through Annascaul where the Artic adventurer Tom Crean was born. You might decide to stop for a bite to eat in the pub that he owned ‘The South Pole Inn’ before continuing with your tour. Next on route will be the town of Tralee which has plenty of activities for adults and kids alike, including the newly opened Tralee Bay Wetlands Centre where visitors can take a safari boat ride through reed and freshwater channels, discovering the natural life in these fresh and saltwater habitats. Continue through Listowel to the port of Tarbert and take the 30 minute scenic ferry journey across to Clare and then the coast road as far as the Cliffs of Moher. Of course you might wish to stop in any of the coastal towns en-route including Kilrursh, Kilkee or Miltown Malbay which is famous for its traditional music scene. The Cliffs of Moher are certainly one of Ireland’s top visitor attractions and have spectacular views across the sea to the Aran Islands and Galway Bay, the onsite visitor centre provides a range of interactive displays and exhibits which tell you more about the cliffs unique history. You and the kids might enjoy a picnic in any one of the picnic areas on site (the hotel can usually arrange a picnic basket in advance for a small fee), or a scenic cliff walk. Leaving the cliffs you will have the opportunity to visit the Burren and the Burren Centre in Kilfenora, the Burren is an area of karst rock that is unique to this part of the country, the Burren Centre informs us of how the rock evolved through fascinating audio and visual displays. Before you leave Clare we recommend that you visit Aillwee Caves, here you and your family will feel like explorers as you journey deep underground with your informative tour guide.  Your Irish Tourism vacation itinerary will help you return to Dingle via Foynes and the Foynes Flying Boat Museum where the kids will enjoy boarding a real life replica of the B314 flying boat which they won’t believe was once the ultimate in luxury air travel. 

Day 6: Discovering Cork

On today’s tour you will have another opportunity to explore Killarney which will be directly on your touring route to the magnificent Blarney Castle! Blarney Castle was built by Cormac McCarthy more than five hundred years ago and since then millions of visitors have come to kiss the famous Blarney Stone! Legend has it that anybody who kisses the stone will have a lifelong gift of eloquence also known here in Ireland as ‘The Gift of the Gab’! The castle also has a beautiful selection of Garden walks and in the Rock Close area the kids will like climbing the wishing steps!  Not far from Blarney you might choose to visit Cork City which has a wealth of places that you might like to visit including Cork Gaol where visitors are transported to a time when the Gaol once housed 19th century prisoners. Exploring the different areas of the Gaol, the atmosphere makes it feel like you and your family are accompanied by the shuffling of inmates, each expressive of their own period in Irish history. The cells are equipped with remarkably lifelike wax figures; original scrawls on cell walls tell the deepest feelings of some of the inmates while an interesting audio visual tells the social history and contrasting lifestyles of the people that ended up in the Gaol. From here you may venture further into Cork City which is regarded by its inhabitants of the People’s Republic of Cork! The City has many interesting visitor attractions which your Irish Tourism itinerary will help you explore including for instance the English Market which was visited by the Queen of England recently in 2010. If you decide to skip Cork City your vacation might take you to the town of Cobh via a very unique family visitor attraction Fota Wildlife Park where you and your family can come face to face with the animals as they roam freely around the park and see them feeding and searching for food. Kids will enjoy the play areas dotted around the estate and are invited to take part in the kids’ activities that are organised throughout the year, including face painting, arts & crafts and drumming! Further onward the town of Cobh can be discovered, originally known as Queenstown, Cobh was the departure point for millions of Irish immigrants in the 19th & early 20th century. Cobh was also the final port of call for the ill-fated Titanic. Two great family museums pay tribute to these events; The Titanic Experience & Cobh Heritage Centre – both are worth a visit!