It’s an annual tradition now, my guide to holidaying around Duncannon and the Hook Peninsula. So, without further ado here’s what’s happening this year:
From my previous posts you know that in my opinion Duncannon, my home village is near idyllic and that the Hook Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places on earth with tons to offer families. Hopefully the new Ireland’s Ancient East campaign will spotlight the area for tourism.
Hook Lighthouse, sitting out at the edge of the penisula it lends its name to is the undisputed number 1 tourist attraction. The Lighthouse has a new tour experience this year, I haven’t tried it yet but it looks fantastic on the ads. The lighthouse is the oldest in Europe, called “the flashiest” by Lonely Planet, there’s 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. The views from Hook Head are breathtaking, even if you skip the tour make sure you visit the site. There’s a coffee shop on site, get the chowder, you’ll thank me.
Duncannon Fort is well worth a visit, and after a closed season last year it’s now open for business for guided tours. I spent a summer on a student scheme as a tour guide here in the 1990’s and I can confirm that getting behind the scenes is fantastic, the views of the estuary alone are worth it. Their Facebook page is here. Adults €5, children under 16 free.
Beaches. There are enough beaches on the Hook Peninsula to go to a different one every day for two weeks (I’m pretty certain I got that from a tourism brochure back in the ’80s, in fact I can picture it). Duncannon is handy as it’s in the village and easily accessible, plus you can drive down on to it. There’s also a beach wheelchair available to book this year to book contact Christina in Hooked on 087 6103224. Our other favourite is Dollar Bay, a secluded cove with lots of rockpools to explore.
Attractions in the area include
Tintern Abbey We love Tintern for a walk and amble through the woods. There’s a walled garden (admission charged) and the abbey is open to the public, but usually we wander in the woods and explore. For this, admission is free. There’s a tea room on site and the abbey is open to the public for a fee. Perfect picnic spot.
John F Kennedy Park and Arboretum You could spend the day here, walking in the grounds, riding the model train (in season) and playing in the playground, you can even take a ride in a pony and trap and see one of Jackie O’s outfits in the small museum. Don’t forget the bread for the ducks. I wrote more about it here.
Cockleshell Art Centre which once operated from the Fort is now run by local Peter Murphy from a room in his house on the Main Street – check out his facebook page here or look out for the sign on the Main Street when it’s open.
Attractions I have yet to visit (Still)
Dunbrody Famine Ship in New Ross comes highly recommended.
Abbey Par 3 and Crazy Golf is at Winningtown outside Duncannon
Loftus Hall – Ireland’s most haunted house, so possibly more for the adults but kids are welcome.
Dunbrody Abbey and Maze website http://www.dunbrodyabbey.com/maze.htm
Kilmokea Gardens More info here
Close by (30 minutes drive or less)
Take a trip to Dunmore East via the Passage East Car Ferry– the ferry trip itself is exciting for the kids, but very short so get out of the car as soon as you drive on!
Check out Waterford and Suir Valley Railway
There are cinemas in Waterford and Wexford.
The nearest indoor playcentre is Playbarn in New Ross.
Is Duncannon beach safe to swim on?
I’ll defer to a local who spends a lot of his time in it on this one: Niall Roche of Hooked Kitesurfing shares Duncannon Village Renewal’s statement on water quality at Duncannon.
If you’re feeling active check out Hooked Kitesurfing in Duncannon, “supping” is suitable for older kids and adults and they have kayaks this summer too.
There’s kayaking and surfing at Monkey Rocks Surf Shop in Fethard.
Go Whale Spotting You can visit the local humpback whale by booking a tour with local skipper Martin Colfer -contact details here. Sightings of the whales are not guaranteed but you’ll have nice day out.
Places to eat and drink with kids
Bar Food: The Strand Tavern, Roches Bar and the Fort Conan Hotel and The Local at Dunbrody House serve food til about 9pm in summer and offer excellent children’s menus and a friendly atmosphere.
Chippers: The village has two traditional chippers – Off the Hook (who also do pizza) and Juff’s.
Coffee: A welcome addition to the village The Wild Rose Cafe has recently opened in the Fort Conan Hotel. Takeaway coffees area available from the Kitesurfing Hut and Strand Stores.
Ice-cream: The Kitesurfing Hut has Maud’s cones, Off the Hook has 99’s and Strand Stores has a fridge full of HB delights and a cone machine.
Hal’s Ceili Band play every Thursday night all year long in The Strand Tavern, kicking off around 9.30pm
Roches Bar, The Strand Tavern and The Fort Conan Hotel have live music throughout the summer.
For the kids, there’s a magic and puppet show and disco in the Strand Tavern each Monday during the school holidays at 6pm. Admission, €3 per child.
Duncannon’s playground recently doubled in size thanks to the amazing efforts of a local community group. The boys could spend hours here and I have been down the slide a couple of times 🙂
There’s a smaller playground in Fethard-on-Sea.
Duncannon hosts two festivals during the summer. The famed Sandsculpting Festival is on 5th – 7th August and is always a great family friendly affair. The Hooked Kitefest kitesurfing Festival is on the following weekend 13th-14th August and is a great spectacle if the weather is kind.
There’s a music festival at Loftus Hall on 28th August, in aid of Fethard RNLI- Waves Festival featuring Nathan Carter and Corner Boy.
There’s a small hotel in the village, numerous B&B’s and lots of holiday lets. Dunbrody Country House is just outside the village and Aldridge Lodge has a small amount of accommodation.
See, there’s so much to do, there’s a great reason why they call it #Funcannon
*Some of this content appeared previously on Bumbles of Rice as I’m too lazy to re-write it ! Also I really need to take better photos
There’s lots more infomation available on visitwexford.ie
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