Ireland is without a doubt, Magical.  It is steeped in history that we mostly know nothing about.  Legends are everywhere about Fairies, Giants, Little people and shape-shifters.  And with the legends, are ACTUAL places!  Its like the perfect little ball of adventuring with Kids!  We knew that taking our kids with us on this trip would entail “difficulties”, but knew that it would be worth it. WE wanted to go to Ireland, the kids? Well, they couldn’t really care less WHERE we were. I mean, they are too little young to understand world geography at this point. So HOW do we make Ireland SO SPECIAL? Enthusiasm.  Simple as that, you want your little kid to be excited? YOU’VE got to be excited! The way they mimic your mood, is sometimes scary.  So HOW did we make Ireland Magical? Here is the steps WE took to make Ireland Magical (and thus memorable) for our “Babbies”.

 

  •  The Giant’s Causeway
    • This place LIVES with legends on how it was built! It’s included with a short video on the “big screen” in the Visitor’s Center!
    • Before visiting, I read several versions of the story of Finn MacCool, associated with The Giant’s Causeway.  I took my favorite parts out of the varying stories, and told the girls “my” story for several days leading up to our visit to the site. Lots of voice changes, and dramatic storytelling really got the girls excited! …Just make sure to add in the part that “This happened a LOOOONG time ago, and their are NO Giants living any longer”.
    • The place is such a wonder of nature, that it FEELS magical! The tide pools along the shore are a wonderful place to search for a “Water Horse Egg”- This is based on a 2007 movie “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep”, where a boy finds an egg in a tide pool, that becomes the Loch Ness Monster. My girls LOVED this movie.  Just be sure to keep a close eye and steady hand ready, those rocks are SLIPPERY!
  • Selkies

    • Selkies are creatures of legend, that belong to the Ocean as well as Land. They are part Seal and part Human.  Anytime we were near the coast (which is basically EVERYWHERE, I mean, DUH its an Island), we were looking for Seals which COULD be Selkies!
    • There is a REALLY good newer movie, 2014 “The Song of The Sea”, which we watched leading up to our trip through Amazon Prime.  Another movie, which I watched as a child, is 1994 “The Secret of Roan Inish”.  Movies can really encourage a child’s imagination ahead of a trip!  Plus, they are fun to watch!
  • The Dark Hedges

    • Being such a short drive from The Giants Causeway, I say this is a MUST.  It is an alleyway of Beech Trees, (planted in the late 1700’s) that forms a natural arch over the roadway between them. The trees are huge and white and are just breathtaking.  I didn’t tell the girls of any legends here (the only one I could find involved Ghosts), the place is just neat! But, beware! There are BUS LOADS of people coming to this site, due to it being featured on “Game of Thrones” HBO series.  AND, its still A ROAD! Please don’t be one of those arrogant tourists, thinking your the only person there and that you have “the right” to block traffic, just to get a good picture.
  • Stone Circles

    • We took liberty to call these historic places “Fairy Rings”, JUST to keep the girls excited.  We LOOOOVE the Tinker Bell Movies at our house, so Fairies are very much a part of our life!
    • The Stone Circles are scattered ALL OVER Ireland. They are often in fields, which you just hike a short distance to.  The ones we visited were never too crowded, and the girls were able to run in, through and around the circles with total freedom.
    • The stone circles WE visited and LOVED were: Beaghmore Stone Circle Complex near Cookstown, Northern Ireland (Which happens to have a “Dragons Tooth Circle”!). Beltany Stone Circle, Raphoe Town, County Donegal (walking up an old road (paved), lined with old stone walls and trees creating a canopy around you, the road ends at the edge of a field, opening up to the Hill top summit with the Circle of Stones). And Drombegh Stone Circle, Glandore, County Cork (a short walk through tall flowering hedges, with a wonderful view of the ocean).
  • Fairy Villages

    • I THINK, there are lots of “Fairy Villages”, but here are the two we saw!
    • We specifically rented a couple of nights at Waterford Castle, Waterford JUST because it features a local fairy living on the grounds, in which you can look for its shy “residents”.
    • An unexpected, and AMAZING, village we came across was at Bunratty Folk Park, located near the town of Shannon.  The Folk park also had a very nice play ground, lots of animals, beautiful gardens, houses and the whole historic village!
  • Portal Tombs

    • These gems of history are also littered ALL OVER Ireland. Some accessible, others not.  Some of them are SO huge, it makes sense that the legends surrounding them claim they were built by Giants.
    • Creevykeel Court Tomb, near Sligo is one we visited.  Also nearby is Benbulben and “Queen Mauve’s Tomb”, Knocknarea,-(which we did NOT have time to hike up to) located on a hilltop visible from Sligo.
    • Brownshill Dolmen, near Carlow.  This dolmen is believed to host the largest capstone in Europe! And it is HUGE!  It is surrounded by farmland and was surrounded by Hops when we visited.
    • Poulnadrome Dolmen, The Burren National Park.  This place was unlike anything I have ever seen. While there, we “discovered” a “GIANTS FOOTPRINT”!  We couldn’t believe our luck! I had not read or heard ANYTHING about this, so boy were we excited when we found it!

  • Kesh Caves
    •  This is one place, that I discovered on Pintrest that I absolutely KNEW we MUST visit!  Its NOT listed on any tourist blogs that I’ve found and is totally a local “know-about”.  It is open to the public, like MOST of the historical and natural wonders of Ireland, it simply requires a hike through an operating field (Yes, sheep).
    • We could NOT find the Kesh Caves on our GPS.  NO-ONE I asked (In Sligo), knew what or where I was talking about! Like, it was a complete mystery and was only about a 15-20 minute drive. I knew they HAD to be near Keash, so that’s where we drove towards. Luckily, there were road signs from there that we were able to follow.
    • There are legends about these caves as being “Fairy Caves”, associated with Giants from that area, and an ancient “King” Cormac.  The “natural” (if you believe that) formation of these caves are beautiful, but NOT as breathtaking as the view from inside them.
    • You CAN hike to the summit of the hill, where their is an ancient burial site, but that proved to be to difficult with our kids.  The hike up can be difficult and slippery, and it is littered with Stinging Nettle, but for us, it was completely magical!  You never know what or WHO you may find in the caves, so proceed with caution!
  • Blarney Castle
    • On top of being one of the most visited Castle’s in Ireland, due to the Blarney Stone, it has a trove of magical places in its gardens!  Also, nice are the detailed signs, telling you what your’e looking at and the history. –side note, we DID climb to the top of the castle, to LOOK at the Blarney Stone. I was worried the WHOLE time! Very dangerous for young children.

       

If you travel to Ireland with Kids, you can have a MAGNIFICENT time! Just do mostly what you do at home, take cues from your kids (on their needs-naps, food, energy level) and go from there! In a lot of ways, having our kids WITH us, it made OUR trip more magical too!  Happy Travels!

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