SUMMER is here and already there are sighs from parents who are desperately trying to find something to do with the little ones during their fun months off from that dreaded old place they call school.
Foreign holidays may be a figment of the imagination or a mere memory of the past. But do not fear: your very own county of Carlow is sure to keep your kiddies occupied for the summer – well, for a few days anyway!
Many different events can be found in the Carlow festival and events guide for 2014. You can locate it online (carlowtourism.com/events). The guide is also available in the Carlow Tourism office, which is located at College Street in Carlow town. Many suitable family events are featured in the scheduled for this summer.Burtown House in Athy is holding a fairy and goblin trail with a children’s tea party on 10 August. It will also host a children’s cookery workshop on 18 July which will teach children and their parents fun ways to cook nutritious and healthy meals.
The taste of Carlow food and craft fair takes place on 31 August along the Barrow Track in Carlow town. This free event is sure to be buzzing, with 40 stands on display by Carlow craft and food producers. There will also be guest appearances from celebrity chiefs, who will cook up a storm for all who attend. There will also be face painting, bouncy castles, a barrel train and an animal display area for the kids to enjoy.
1) THE CHOCOLATE GARDEN OF IRELAND
The Chocolate Garden of Ireland is a tremendous place to bring children and is guaranteed to be a real treat. The Chocolate Garden is located in Rath, Tullow. Children can book in and take part in chocolate-making workshops and also play on the trim trail, slides, sandpit and Wendy house in their play area, while parents enjoy a quiet moment in the award-winning coffee shop. This is guaranteed to be a fun visit for both parents and children.
Double your fun and visit Rathwood, which is located right beside the Chocolate Garden. Rathwood offers a great shopping and dining experience as well as a play area for children. And in July, the kids can dress up as cowboys and Indians and take part in the Wild West Adventures.
3) GRAIGUE SWIMMING POOL
In Ireland we are not exactly renowned for scorching temperatures, but summer is all about splashing around for kids. Graiguecullen has an indoor swimming pool that’s perfect for our unreliable weather. Swim summer camps will be held throughout the summer for children learning and developing their swimming skills. There’s also aqua zumba and water aerobics.
4) WILDWAYS ADVENTURES LTD
These are based in Duckett’s Grove and Oak Park. They hold a variety of different workshops and events, which include nature workshops. The workshops run for up to two hours and include hands-on activities, which aim to teach kids about wildlife and nature. This activity is enjoyable for kids of all ages and adults. See wildwaysadventures.ie for more.
5) CARLOW OMNIPLEX CINEMA
Visiting the cinema is a great way to pass a not-so-summery evening. And this time of year always provides plenty of summer blockbusters. Carlow Omniplex has some great offers with its kids’ club, too.
6) RANCHO REILLY’S PET FARM
Rancho Reilly’s is located on Springhill Road, Carlow. It is a kids’ paradise. The centre holds endless activities for children of all ages. Its indoor activities include a soft play area for children up to three years of age and a separate facility for those between four and 11. There are a huge amount of brilliant outdoor activities as well, including swings, slides, trampolines, forts, an obstacle course, basketball area, football area, miniature golf and crazy golf. There is also a large sandpit, which has buckets, shovels, diggers and a sandpit boat. And the mums and dads can relax with a beverage in the coffee shop while the kids have fun.
7) CARRIGBEG RIDING STABLES
Children and adults can take riding lessons at Carrigbeg Riding stables in Bagenalstown. These range from beginner to competitive level. It has both an outdoor and indoor arena. There is also a cross-country course for the more experienced rider. Going for your first horse-riding lesson can be a fun day out, a great experience and, who knows, you might even have a future little jockey living under your roof.
8) COILLTE FAMILY OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES
The woods are a great place to bring adventurous children. They’re a perfect setting for a family to go for a stroll and enjoy the great outdoors. The wonderful forest can be used for walking, hiking, biking and nature watching. After exploring the forest, why not top off the day with a family picnic. Coillte holds various family events throughout the year. Check out www.coillteoutdoors.ie for locations of woodland walks and other activities.
9) ALTAMONT GARDENS
Altamont’s are known as the most romantic gardens in the country. They are absolutely beautiful on a fine summer’s day. It’s a great place to spend a few hours and you can even buy a new plant before you head home. There is also great freedom for children to play on the lawns.
10) CARLOW COUNTRY QUADS
Carlow Country Quads is located in Tinnecarrig, Borris. This is a perfect outing for families. The owners ensure that children challenge their own special areas of the track, while adults can experience the more demanding areas. They have a clubhouse facility which offers showers, refreshments and a barbecue facility.
11) VISUAL ARTS CENTRE
This is a more educational experience for older children. It is important to expose kids to arts, and especially local art galleries. The George Bernard Shaw Theatre is also located within the centre. It holds various shows which are of interest to all types. The centre contains a bar, restaurant, book shop and a craft shop. To find out what’s going on in the coming weeks, see www.visualcarlow.ie.
12) THE HISTORICAL DAY TRIP
Knowing the history of your local area can be very rewarding, and Carlow is full of interesting sites. Some of these include the Browneshill Dolmen, Carlow Castle, Ballyloughan Castle in Bagenalstown, and the Bishop Delaney Museum in Tullow. There is also Rathgall, which is a hillside fortification, more commonly known as a fairy fort. This is located on the Shillelagh Road, Tullow.
And that’s not forgetting day trips to some of the most beautiful villages in the country, such as Borris, Graignamanagh, and Clonegal or picnics along the Barrow. And what about a trip to the wonderful county museum in Carlow town.
We’ve only just scratched the surface here so there’s really no excuse for the little ones (or you!) to hang about the house, feeling bored. Get out and enjoy all that Co Carlow has to offer this summer!