Travel writer and documentary maker Manchán Magan has put together his top 10 days out for families with kids. They’re great opportunities to make the most of being outdoors, and then enjoy warmer moments indoors. #warmermoments
Start your day in Carlingford with a visit to the Leprechaun Cavern by the seafront to learn about the leprechaun uniform found on the mountainside. Head up into the Cooley Hills in search of them, along any of the trails or out to the Carlingford Adventure Centre for some rock climbing or zip lining through the forest.
The ultimate Cavan day out begins at the Bear Essentials Teddy Bear Hospital and Museum in Bawnboy where you learn how to make a fully-jointed mohair bear using centuries-old techniques. Follow it with solo hovercraft racing at Outdoor Extreme Activity Centre or canoeing around the island castle on Lough Oughter with Cavan Canoe Centre. The waters may be wild and chilly, but the coldest days are followed by the warmest nights.
The beautifully preserved village of Tinahely village in Wicklow offers a surprisingly rich day out with pot-bellied pigs, donkeys and the largest indoor beach at Tinahely Farm Shop and Café, and just down the road, the ancient Tomnafinnoge Oakwood with its kingfishers, deer and woodpeckers. www.tinahelyfarm.ie, www.tinahely.ie
Lough Boora Discovery Park, Co Offaly, provides an ideal day out with a Fairy Avenue (home to 14 fairies) and a sculpture park of 26 vast art works. Hire a bike to explore trails through this moorland expanse. www.loughboora.com
Kayaking through Limerick with Nevsail Watersports shows you King John’s Castle, Sarsfield Bridge and medieval Limerick from a new perspective. Head out then to the Flying Boat Museum in Foynes to experience a visceral sense of the romantic era of the first transatlantic passenger flights. Days on the water makes nights by the fire seem all the cosier. www.nevsailwatersports.com
The archeologically-saturated Burren makes for an ideal walk amidst the wild goats and Alpine flowers. Don’t miss the spectacular Poulnabrone dolmen standing proud on a wind-swept mountainside.
West Cork is as fine for whale watching as New Zealand or Canada. Head out to sea for a day with Cork Whale Watch for glimpses of minke whale, or even the vast 70 ton fin whales. Make sure to wrap up well and have a fine fire burning when you get back home.
Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon, provides the ideal rainy day out with its two-storey Boda Borg challenge course which requires kids and adults to use ingenuity along with trial and error to progress through its 47 rooms. There are also 900m of ziplines and more than 350 hectares of woodlands and lakes. www.loughkey.ie
Loop Head is the most glorious sliver of Co Clare jutting coquettishly out into the Atlantic Ocean from the Victorian seaside resort of Kilkee. Head to the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula for a glimpse of some of the 200 dolphins that inhabit this area, and stop by the sea arches at the Bridges of Ross on the way home. www.loophead.ie
Climbing Carrauntoohil is a rite of passage, achievable by many families with an experienced guide – but it is definitely one for older children and teenagers. Take it slow, keep clear of rock slides and have a sharp eye out for the nesting sites of raptors and rare pre-glacial fish leaping out of the mountain lakes. Remember though the temperature can be 10 degrees colder on top, than at the carpark. Carrauntoohil is our tallest mountain and scaling it gives one a great sense of achievement when you reflect back on it by the fireside that night. www.kerrymountainrescue.ie/routes
When you come back indoors, get a fire going with our peat briquettes, coal or stove fuel.