Top 10 Family Things to Do

Ireland’s Ancient East is crammed with wonderful, quirky things to do for the whole family. Whether it’s exploring the eerie dungeons of Wicklow Gaol or zip-lining though the forest in Meath, there are a wealth of unique experiences waiting to be sampled.

Irish National Heritage Park, Wexford

Five thousand years of Irish history is showcased at the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, Wexford. With 16 separate sites dotted through 35 acres of woodland and wetland, try a family sleepover in a replica 1,500-year-old ring fort—it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that the kids are bound to love.

Wicklow Gaol, Wicklow

The once infamous Wicklow Gaol operated between 1702 and 1922 and played an important role in our history. Today, a brilliant, interactive tour led by energetic guides helps accentuate the spooky eerie atmosphere of hardship and despair; visitors of all ages will feel the chill as they listen to the daily punishment regimes and the strange tales of haunted happenings.

Actor throwing a ball against a wall
The Irish National Heritage Park Viking settlement
Left: An actor plays the role of Billy Byrne. Right: The Irish National Heritage Park Viking settlement

Carlingford Adventure Centre, Louth

The pretty, medieval town of Carlingford has little trouble attracting day-trippers and thrill-seekers, who will have plenty to keep them busy. From zorbing to rock-climbing, abseiling to kayaking, there’s something to appeal to all ages and levels of skill at Carlingford Adventure Centre.

Emo Court, Laois

The gardens and parklands of Emo Court House offer plenty of fresh air and room to roam. The estate features over 35 hectares of naturalistic landscaped grounds, with formal areas, woodland walks, statues and a 20-acre lake – making it the perfect spot for a family stroll followed by a picnic.

Birr Castle, Offaly

The famous Leviathan telescope of Birr Castle Science and Gardens Centre will appeal to amateur astronomers everywhere, but younger explorers aren’t forgotten either: the country’s largest treehouse is here, plus an abundance of sand pits and climbing frames for eager explorers.

Irish National Stud, Kildare

The Irish National Stud is one of the world’s leading thoroughbred breeding centres, and a guided tour is the best way to see these magnificent creatures up close. Top your visit off with a wander through the adjoining Japanese Gardens – a horticultural masterpiece designed and laid out by one of Japan’s great horticulturalists, Tassa Eida and his son Minoru.

The Irish National Stud
The Irish National Stud

Kilkenny Way Hurling Experience and Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny

The hands-on Kilkenny Way Hurling Experience offers a great introduction to an ancient game and demonstrates the finer points of blocking and free-taking. More family fun is in store at the nearby Castlecomer Discovery Park, where a range of attractions include woodland trails and a zipline.

Hook Head Lighthouse and Dunbrody Famine Ship, Wexford

Thought to be the oldest operating lighthouse in the world, the magnificent beacon of Hook Head Lighthouse has been guiding ships entering Waterford Harbour for almost 800 years. The nearby Dunbrody Famine Ship and Irish Emigrant Experience is another unmissable attraction in the area; costumed characters and interactive tours will capture the imagination of children of all ages.

Hook Head Lighthouse
Women on a ship reading
Left: Hook Head Lighthouse Right: An actor on the Dunbrody Famine Ship

Shandon Bells, English Market and Ballycotton Lighthouse, Cork

For a unique experience, visit the legendary Shandon Bells in Cork City. Become a bell ringer for the afternoon before exploring the inner workings of the famous clock, then climb 132 steps to enjoy spectacular 360 degree views of the city. Afterwards, forage for a feast in the English Market or visit the picturesque Ballycotton Lighthouse to round off the day.

Loughcrew Adventure Centre, Meath

Brave enough to tackle the longest zip-line in Ireland? Head to Loughcrew Adventure Centre near Oldcastle, for zip-lining, archery, climbing trees and a chance to explore the Forest Crystal Maze. Loughcrew Gardens and coffee shop are waiting nearby for some post-adventure rest and relaxation.



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