Six Things to Do in Connemara with Kids.
In 2014 we spent two weeks in Connemara as our family holiday. Our kids were 1, 3 and 5 and we rented this house in Clifden.
1. Kylemore Abbey
I was surprised how much we enjoyed Kylemore Abbey, we didn’t expect it to be nearly as child friendly or interesting for the kids as it was. It was one of my five-year-old’s favourite things that we did on our holiday, so much so that we went back a second time!
I wrote its own blogpost check it out HERE.
2. The Sky Road/ Clifden Castle
The Sky Road is a loop drive from Clifden with breathtaking scenery, about 2km up the Sky Road to the left there’s a house with a castle type entrance, which signifies the gateway to Clifden Castle. The walk down the lane with horses and sheep in the fields either side was enjoyed by the small girl, her little arm sore for pointing out all the animals. Grandad explained the significance of the standing stones we passed, and Granny tried out her new runners when challenged to a race.
A nice little adventure taking about 15 minutes slow walking. The castle itself is modern by Irish standards, dating from the late 19th century, and is in ruin. (Or broken as a three-year-old would put it). If it’s wet let the kids wear wellies for the walk, there are lots of puddle jumping opportunities.
There are playgrounds at Clifden (it was closed when we were there), Ballyconneely and Roundstone, and a very good one in Connemara National Park (see below).
4. The beach and the rockpools
We visited Mannin Bay near Clifden and Dogs’ Bay near Roundstone, the boys preferred Dogs’ Bay, there was more beach to run around on, and the scenery there is simply spectacular.
5. Connemara National Park
Playground, mountain and wooded hikes – we did the Diamond Hill hike, the yellow and blue routes are fine for even three-and-a -half-year-old legs. However, my sons did the red route too, right up to the top! It was a highlight of their holiday but my husband who did the hike with our three and five year-olds reckons it’s suitable for “hardy six year olds with lots of energy”, and not really for three year olds!
6. A boat ride in Killary Harbour
We’d promised the boys a boat ride on their holidays so plumped for this one which has no charge for kids. The staff on board were incredibly friendly and welcoming and played along with the boys’ questions about pirates. The boys also got to talk to the captain and steer the boat. There’s a café on board, and while we only had coffee and cake (moist, homemade coffee cake) the quality of food being served really tempted us.
We really lucked out with our trip- the President of Ireland and his family were on board too and we got this photo with him, and the boys get to say forevermore that they drove a boat that the President was on!
You could also:
Visit Dan O’Hara’s homestead
Let’s be honest, this wasn’t on the top of our list of things to do. It’s purpose built for bus loads of tourists, but on a very wet day we decided to check it. It’s only about ten minutes drive outside Clifden.
We watched the movie about Dan O’Hara the local man who lived there, then walked up to the old cottage, which was interesting to see. The boys got up close and personal with some turf and fed some chickens. The welcome given in this attraction makes you remember why tourists love coming to Ireland, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful or obliging, and the apple tart was excellent! You can read about it here
Buy a three day family pass for the leisure centre in the Station House Hotel, at €70 (2014) it’s not cheap but if the weather’s bad you might get the use out of it.
There are early evening trad music sessions from 5.30pm in the pubs on the Main St., the boys loved watching the “musickers”.
We ate with the kids at EJ Kings and Guys, and were particularly impressed with the value and quality in Guys and the staff in EJ Kings. There’s also a Supermacs if you crave a Smokey Bacon Burger or Curry Chips.
*Post written 2015 and updated January 2019