As a child our Sunday drives brought us to one of two places, or so my memory tells me.The first was Hook Lighthouse, where we’d sit and look at the waves in all weathers. The second was inland, to John F. Kennedy Park and Arboretum, or Kennedy Park as we always called it.
The visit to Kennedy Park when we were kids involved a walk through the woodlands to the lake to feed the ducks and the same walk back. Sometimes we’d get an ice-cream in the gift shop, and once we brought our bikes and went on the big road. I even went there on a school tour in First Class. (I have a photo but I don’t think my life is worth publishing that one)
We’d also go to the viewing point on Slieve Coillte, (the entrance is on the opposite side of the road to the park itself and entry is free). I’ve very fond memories of rolling down the grassy slopes of what was then the viewing point. while the adults listened to Michael O’Hare commentate a hurling match.
These days, the kids love going to Kennedy Park too, and I can get a bit nostalgic so we go a few times a year when we’re down Duncannon way. The Park is located not far from New Ross, on the road to Campile and is well signposted from all directions.
Dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy, President of the United States from 1960 to 1963, whose family emigrated from nearby Dunganstown, the Arboretum is a plant collection of international standing. It covers over 600 acres on the southern slopes and summit of Sliabh Coillte, and contains 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all around the world. The 500 varieties of rhododendrons are especially memorable. (I didn’t count them all but the rhododendrons are beautiful when they’re in bloom).
The main draw for the kids is the playground, it’s a good one with loads of climbing potential. I still insist that we walk (or scoot) to the lake first (follow signs for the lake walk opposite the tea-rooms, it’s about ten -fifteen minutes stroll) and on energetic days we might walk the long way around back to the playground on the main road. Mostly, we’ll go back up the Lake Walk that we came down. The walk provides lots of hide and and seek potential which keeps the kids busy. There’s a tea-room overlooking the playground so it’s handy to have a coffee and a bun while watching the kids play, they have lunch specials too, and are very welcoming. There are lots of picnic tables near the playground too, and plenty of grassy space to play football, so spend the day there.
In the summer season there’s a small scale train (on tracks) in the woods that runs during the season for a small additional charge.
This visit we also checked out the Visitor Centre and were surprised to find a life sized replica of Mercury Spacecraft which was the first craft to orbit the Earth. The exhibition which includes Photographs and audiovisual as well as some of Jackie O’s outfits is short so bringing kids is a possibility.
I’ve been going there almost 40 years, but Kennedy Park still has appeal.
Entry is €4 for adults, €3 for OAPs and €2 for children, or a family ticket is €10. if you’re going in very close to closing time you most likely will be charged less too.
It’s a Heritage Ireland property so entry is free with a heritage card to get in free. Read more about heritage cards here.
Disclaimer: This isn’t a sponsored post, I wasn’t asked to write it and we paid our admission charge just like everyone else