I was born and raised in the tiny village of Duncannon on the Hook Peninsula in South West County Wexford. The village is on the beach, has a small fishing harbour and is dominated by a Fort that originally dates from the late 16th century (I worked there as a tour guide one summer).
It’s no secret that I am very proud of my homeplace, and I think I grow more fond of it every year now. It wasn’t always this way, when I was a teenager I thought it was boring and too remote. Back then it took twenty minutes’ drive to reach the nearest ATM, a fact that visiting friends could never comprehend, but these days I love to get down to Duncannon for a walk on the beach and a catch up with family. (And there’s an ATM in the next village now). It feels like I’m on holidays, especially when the sun shines, and it looks like this: Last year, the combination of great weather and small baby meant that we spent a lot of time in my parents’ house, traipsing up and down to the beach and across to the playground, usually with a helpful auntie or uncle to assist too.
I realised then what a fantastic holiday location it is for anyone taking their summer break in Ireland, especially those with young children. We had such a great time that I thought I’d share the holiday destination and all there is to do for families with young children in the area. Feel free to add more, I’m sure I’ve missed a lot.
The village really comes alive in the summer and hosts three festivals, including the nationally acclaimed Sandsculpting Festival, the Military Reenactment Festival and the Kitesurfing Festival.
There are enough beaches on the Hook Peninsula to go to a different one every day for two weeks. You could even try a beach scavenger hunt. Duncannon Strand itself is one of those rare beaches where you can bring the car, brilliant if you have a small baby. The water is also very shallow and there’s a lifeguard patrol.
Attractions in the area include:
Hook Lighthouse There’s the lighthouse (the oldest in Europe), a wooden ship play thing, rocks to climb and an art room where kids can make their own slate artwork and bring it home as a holiday souvenir.
Tintern Abbey An abbey might not sound like somewhere fun to bring the smallies but we love it. Located just off the road from Wexford to Arthurstown, Tintern is a great place to wander and breathe in the fresh Wexford air. There’s a walled garden (admission charged) and the abbey is open to the public, but for us we avail of the walk in the woods and the exploring. For this, admission is free. There’s a tearoom on site and the abbey is open to the public for a fee.
John F Kennedy Park and Arboretum This was one of the places we used to go on a Sunday drive when I was a child (The Hook was the other). We always took the Lake walk and brought bread to feed the ducks. These days we spend the day wandering along the walks and botanical examples where you can walk for hours, feed the ducks, play in the playground and ride the model train (extra charge, only open during the summer months). Make sure to take the drive to the top of Sliabh Coillte too (entrance across the road from the Arboretum) for panoramic views of the area.
Loftus Hall – Ireland’s most haunted house, so possibly more for the adults but my sources tell me that kids will love the new zipwire.
Close by (30 minutes drive or less)
Choose one of my Things to do in Wexford as a short day trip
Take a trip to Dunmore East via the Passage East Car Ferry– the ferry trip itself is exciting for the kids, but very short.
Check out Waterford and Suir Valley Railway
There are cinemas in Waterford and Wexford.
The nearest indoor playcentre is Playbarn in New Ross.
If you’re feeling active check out Hooked Kitesurfing in Duncannon, “supping” is suitable for older kids and adults. There’s kayaking and surfing at Monkey Rocks Surf Shop in Fethard.
Places to eat and drink with kids
Both The Strand Tavern and Roches Bar serve food til 9pm in summer and offer excellent children’s menus and a friendly atmosphere.
The village has two traditional chippers- Off the Hook and Juff’s. There’s a coffee shop located in the grounds of the Fort, and an arts centre too.
Hal’s Ceili Band play every Thursday night all year long in The Strand Tavern (my Dad is in the band!)
Roches Bar and The Strand Tavern have live music every weekend all summer.
For the kids, there’s a magic and puppet show with Noel Lynch’s Kids’
Party Club in the Strand Tavern each Monday during the school holidays at 6pm. Admission, €2 per child is well worth it, this was the highlight of the boys’ Duncannon visits last year.
Duncannon’s playground recently doubled in size thanks to the amazing efforts of a local community group. The boys could spend hours here.
There’s a smaller playground in Fethard on Sea.
Attractions I have yet to visit
See, there’s so much to do, there’s a great reason why they call it #Funcannon