Here’s my updated-every-year guide to holidaying with kids around Duncannon and the Hook Peninsula in south County Wexford. The most recent update is July 2019.
If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that it’s where I grew up, and we spend lots of time there with the kids all year ’round.
I’ve included some practical information below answer the questions I’ve been asked, and as always if there’s anything I’ve forgotten feel free to message me on Facebook
The area is perfect for a family holiday, where you kick back and relax, enjoying the beaches, the fresh air, good food and the outdoors.
The Highlights- Don’t Miss them
Hook Lighthouse, sitting out at the edge of the peninsula it lends its name to is the undisputed number 1 tourist attraction of the area. The Lighthouse tour experience introduced last year gets good reviews (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, and lots of games and space-hoppers out on the lawn in front. rocks to climb and an art room where kids can make their own slate artwork and bring it home as a holiday souvenir (Drop in, Cost from €5).
The views from Hook Head are breathtaking, even if you skip the tour make sure you visit the site and take in the view from the platform. There’s a coffee shop on site (get the chowder, you’ll thank me) or a coffee and an ice-cream and sit on the picnic benches out front while the kids play. Admission to the lighthouse costs €9 per adult, but they have a good variety of family ticket combinations (for example 2 adults and 2 kids for €22) and under 5’s are free. Booking your ticket online in advance is recommended at busier times to avoid a wait til the next available tour. The view from the top of the lighthouse is superb, and only accessible on the tour, but we often go down and just hang out and walk on the cliffs. More info and ticket booking here.
Duncannon Fort, a star-shaped fort jutting out into the Waterford Estuary and dating from the 16th century is well worth a visit, the Estuary views are breathtaking as you take in all angles. Guided tours are available 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 and tickets can be booked online in advance here. Adults €6, children 6- 16 €1.50; children age 5 and under are free. You can get a €1 discount on the adult price if you show your Hook Lighthouse receipt! You can see our review of the tour we did in 2016 here.
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 still, the map and all on the back). Duncannon Beach is handy as it’s in the village and easily accessible, plus you can drive down on to it, a real bonus when you want to scoop the kids up. The water is shallow and there are lifeguards on duty. There’s also a beach wheelchair available to book this year to book go to the Wexford County Council Beach Wheelchair Page.
Our other favourite is Dollar Bay, a secluded cove with lots of rockpools to explore, which may or may not have buried treasure, but you can check them all out, one day at a time.
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- have a look at the Tintern Trails page here for more info.
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 a friend recently visited and raved about it, bring a picnic and do the maze.
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 (2 in 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 and they have kayaks this summer too.
If you’re the adventurous type you might enjoy Sea Cave Kayaking or other tours run by Hook Head Adventures.
Shielbaggan OEC also offer a wide variety of outdoor activities including orienteering, coasteering and kayaking- more info here.
Bar Food: Roches Bar and The Local at Dunbrody House serve food til about 9pm in summer and offer excellent children’s menus and a family friendly atmosphere. Slightly farther are Templar’s Inn, The Hollow Bar and The King’s Bay Inn.
Chippers: Duncannon village has a traditional style chipper – Off the Hook (who also do pizza).
Coffee: A very welcome addition to the village The Wild Rose Cafe in the Fort Conan Hotel, its breakfasts in particular are excellent, as are the cakes. Takeaway coffees are available from The Wild Rose and also from the Zephyr Kitesurfing Hut.
Ice-cream: The Kitesurfing Hut has Maud’s cones, Off the Hook has 99’s.
Fethard Country Market is on Saturdays – more details here
Roches Bar has live music throughout the summer.
The Fort Ceilí Band play in Sláinte in Ramsgrange on Thursday nights from around 9.30pm.
Duncannon’s playground is a highlight, the adults should all climb to the top of this slide for the view. We have spent hours here and I have been down the slide a couple of times 🙂 There are tennis and basketball courts too
There’s a smaller playground in Fethard-on-Sea.
Duncannon’s famed Sandsculpting Festival is on Friday 2nd – Monday 5th August this year and is always a great family friendly affair with lots of activities. The sandsculptures are housed in tent with an admission fee, and really are works of art.
There’s a small and very friendly family run 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.
Duncannon Holiday Park is very popular for camping and mobile homes.
Groceries: Strand Stores in Duncannon is currently closed. Floods Centra in Ramgrange has everything you could need including hot dinners and a butcher counter, further afield there’s Wallace’s Supervalu in Wellingtonbridge and Tesco, Aldi and Lidl in New Ross.
The nearest chemist to Duncannon is in Campile -details here
Dr Doyle is the local GP 051 389215; out of hours cover is by Caredoc 1850-334999
Petrol – There’s a petrol station in Arthurstown
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 information available on visitwexford.ie
If you have any suggestions or would like to be included in this guide please do email me firstname.lastname@example.org