Spring has finally sprung on this magnificent island of ours meaning it’s well and truly time to get out and explore if you haven’t already! We’ve been battling the elements since January 1st and here’s a round up of our adventures which will hopefully inspire you.
It really seems like this has been the longest winter ever! We’ve been making the most of it though in Johnny Magory HQ and on reflection we’ve had a super adventure-filled start to 2018.
Here’s a look at where we’ve been and things we’ve done. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to get outdoors with your little explorer.
Why am I sharing this as a blog post to do with children’s books?
Johnny Magory Books are all about the beautiful country of Ireland and aim to educate and instil a sense of pride and passion in young children about Irish heritage, wildlife and culture.
So it’s a case of walking the walk and not just talking the talk really!
Here’s a snip of what we’ve explored so far.
Mount Lucas Wind Farm, Co. Offaly
We started 2018 adventures with our first ever walk at the Bord na Móna Mount Lucas Wind Farm in county Offaly on New Years Day. This is a beautiful free amenity in the midlands and is well maintained for lovely long meandering walks through the bog. I’ve never actually stood close to a wind turbine and my word, we picked a day to do it. The wind was strong thanks to Storm Eleanor but we battled through it like heroic war veterans and thoroughly enjoyed our 2 hour visit. Looking forward to returning with bicycles in summer. Click here to find out more.
2. Donadea Forest Park, Co. Kildare
Anybody that knows me will know of my affinity with Donadea Forest. It’s a stones throw from our home but it is honestly one of thee most beautiful and calming places in the country. The native century old tree’s give us such a comforting feeling when among them. We go over at least once a week. The park was once owned by the Alymer family and the castle ruins always get the imaginations going in the small ones. The lake has plenty of ducks to be fed and the beautiful little cafe is there to warm you up with a cuppa in winter or cool you down with an ice-cream in summer. Make sure to read the nature trail signs on your way around to help broaden little minds. Click here for more.
3. Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk, Co. Wicklow
This one has been on the bucket list for quite some time and we finally braved it with the whole crew on a sunny Sunday near the end of January. My word, was it worth the effort. It felt like a different country looking over the bluest of waters and wearing light coats. We brought the youngest (then a tall 3 year old) in a borrowed Phil and Ted 3 wheel ‘off roader’ buggy. I’d read that it was accessible… Word of warning, don’t do it unless your looking for punishment!! The paths are often narrow and there’s a good few steep stone steps built in along the route. Our ignorance was what got us through and it was certainly worth the effort. However, you’ve been warned! We finished the route with smoothies in the infamous “Happy Pear” cafe in Greystones and got the Dart back to Bray (a whole adventure in itself for my culchie children!) We couldn’t finish the day without visiting the amusements on Bray seafront and wound up bringing home new members to the teddy bear family!
4. Ballynafagh Lake, Co. Kildare
Yes, I couldn’t get through a blog post without mentioning my beloved lake but hey, there’s no place like home to start exploring! This man made lake was originally a feeder for the Grand Canal but is now a wildlife sanctuary and a general area of outstanding beauty. The route around at this time of year is super mucky though so it’s not suitable for buggy’s or really little legs. Do visit in summer and pack a picnic.
4. Poolbeg Lighthouse, Co. Dublin
This was spectacular and well worth the drive up through Dublin City. The 2k walk out the pier with giant ships frequently passing by was a thrill in itself. This giant red beacon is close to the old Poolbeg chimneys; the youngest was convinced these were coming out of Willy Wonka’s factory!
If for nothing else bring them to see the paintings that were on the Late Late Toy Show last year.
5. Lullymore Hertiage Park, Co. Kildare
We are frequent visitors of this amazing park and gladly went again to celebrate our baby’s 4th birthday. What an amazing day was had by the birthday girl, her 10 similar aged friends and her big brother and sister. The park is built on Bord na Mona land and has developed its facilities to presently provide a quality blend of education, leisure and fun to both Irish and overseas visitors. We really love it here in all seasons and especially at Christmas when the big man in red is around. Click here for more info.
6. Bog of Allen 5k Family Run, Co. Kildare
So this is not exactly a destination but more so an activity suggestion. We have only started running as a family recently (obviously without the baby!) so to say we were chuffed when we crossed the finish line was an understatement! We’ve a number lined up throughout the year as a family, it’s such a brilliant team building activity to do with the most important team you’ll ever have. Check out upcoming events by clicking here.
7. Storm Emma/ Beast from the East, Ireland!
Look, there was no way I could write this blog without mentioning The Beast from the East and Storm Emma as I can hand over heart say that these are probably 6 days I will never forget as long as I live. The fun we had was second to none and the sense of community, family and friendship was so brilliant. We (and approx 20 other families) were trapped in our lovely Ballynafagh for 6 days; the picture shows the 13foot snow drifts that were blocking the roads to civilisation! We had epic snow ball fights, built snowmen, made sleighs from wheelie bin lids, cooked on the bbq in the shed then in our open fire when we ran out of gas, and just generally had the craic in our own little tribe! Times were though without the electricity but not being able to do anything or leave was the best piece of r&r I could ask for! I personally have my fingers crossed for 2019!
8. Crumlin Hospital, Co. Dublin
I did my first ever reading to a load of gorgeous little explorers in Crumlin Hospital in March. It was such a wonderful, humbling experience meeting these little heroes in various different wards throughout the hospital.
Sarah Joyce (head of corporate partnership) was a wonderful host and really helped settle the nerves on the day. My super mother came along for support also. It’s funny because she recollected reading to nearly an entire ward of children 30 odd years ago in Crumlin on one of my stints inside. Apparently there was terrible snow then also meaning lots of parents couldn’t make it to see their children. A quick thinking nurse encouraged my mother to expand her audience from just me to the entire ward in a bid to help pass the time.
Its a good sign when history repeats itself! Click here for more.
9. Runamuck Challenge, Co. Kildare
Obviously this isn’t one for little children but it is one for big kids! I cannot encourage every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, god parent enough to sign up for this race. We’re all so caught up in modern day life and being an adult, this race is guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again and its absolutely brilliant! When was the last time you rolled around in muck, jumped ditches, slid down slides? Click here to sign up for 2019
10. The Hill of Allen, Co. Kildare
Myself and the little man had 45 minutes to spare recently so we swung by the Hill of Allen and up we went. The Hill of Allen is a volcanic hill situated in the west of County Kildare, beside the village of Allen. According to Irish Mythology it was the seat of the hunter-warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Fianna. You park on the side of the road where the blue barrier is between Allen & Milltown.
The climb is suitable for buggy’s and small legs – it’s only a hill at the end of the day. The tower at the top is always open which is the cherry on the cake for the kids. Click here for more.
11. Rathbeggan Lakes, Co. Meath
We found this absolute gem by pure accident on a Sunday in March. We were looking for somewhere to go and handed the reins to the kids to decide. Their only constraints was that it must be close and it couldn’t be dear. Did they come up trumps! Rathbeggan lakes is just outside of Dunshaughlin and is an all encompassing family day out, and at €3 entry per person it’s a steal! There’s course fishing and a heritage walk around the park complete with minature crannogs, stone forts and fairy town. There’s brilliant swings and fun things dotted around the walk. Picnic and barbeques are welcome in summer. You pay extra to use the swan boats, water zorbing balls, zipline and bouncing castles but it’s all reasonably priced. There’s a cafe and fast food van on site as well as pet farm and go-kart track. Seriously cannot recommend this place enough and can’t wait to go back on a warm summers day. Click here for more.
12. Tinahely Railway Walk, Co. Wicklow
We got the idea for this walk from the Healthy Ireland supplement in the Irish Independent. The walk in just outside of Shillelagh in Co. Wicklow. It runs along part of the original train track from Woodenbridge to Shillelagh, alongside the Derry River and through pretty farmland. 2.3km in length, the walk has some picnic tables along the way, and a clearly defined path suitable for wheelchairs and sturdy buggies. Dogs must be kept leashed. The Railway Walk terminates at Tomnafinnoge Woods. There is car parking at both ends of the Railway Walk. It was a lovely way to spend Mother’s Day.
13. Coolcarrigan Easter Egg Hunt, Co. Kildare
Each and every year we visit Coolcarrigan Church for the egg hunt organised by the wonderful members of my community. This wonderfully simple event involves finding your matching ticket number which are hung from the branches in the little woods around the church (which we got married in!) As soon as they find their matching ticket they race back to the church to collect their bag of goodies. It’s something we look forward to every year.
14. Loftus Hall, Co. Wexford
We did a short trip in Wexford over the midterm and ventured out to see some of the sites along Hook Peninsula as we’d never been there before. The eldest two were intrigued when we drove by ‘Ireland’s most haunted house’ Loftus Hall. I told them the story and it then became a competition of ‘who was the bravest’ so we decided to test their bravery and did the tour. My word, it’s brilliant! I can only imagine the hairs standing on my back if it was a dark windy night! A must do for anyone looking for a scare! Click here for more.
15. Hook Lighthouse, Co. Wexford
The 115 steps to the top of Hook Lighthouse are worth the effort. This is one of the best tours I’ve done in a long time. Our tour guide, who grew up in the area was brilliant and kept young and old intrigued in the history of the worlds oldest working lighthouse (quite an impressive claim to fame!) We packed a picnic and enjoyed it outside but the coffee shop smelled very tempting. Click here for more
16. Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford
We drove in by Kilmore Quay on our way up from Hook Peninsula to check out the sights and grab an ice-cream in the sun. Such a beautiful quaint little port. We had planned on getting out to see the puffins on the Saltee Islands but we unfortunately missed the last boat. We’ll be back though to tick this one off the bucket list.
17. Cahore Beach, Co. Wexford
Our last adventure took place on the beautiful Cahore Beach in north Wexford. A long walk along the shore followed by some serious sand castle construction is really one of those perfect ways to spend an afternoon. I spent my childhood on this beach and back up in a mobile with my siblings and cousins playing cards and board games every night. Brilliant memories that’ll hopefully continue on in my little people.
So we’ve done plenty of exploring and we’ve plenty more to do! That’s the beauty of Ireland, it may be small but it’s packed with adventure around every corner… You just need to explore!
Please comment below and give us some ideas for the next few months.
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