Thursday, 30 May 2013

DLR "Exploring Nature" events

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is running a series of free "Exploring Nature" biodiversity events over the summer which families are welcome to attend.  They include bat walks, ecology walks, birdwatching, shelter building, pond dipping, making beach sculptures, making bumblebee homes, rock pooling and bushcraft skills and are on in various locations such as parks and beaches. Click here for the leaflet of events.  

Oak Tree

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

National Concert Hall

The National Concert Hall, based in Dublin’s city centre, is rated by performing artists as one of the finest concert halls in Europe.   With a range of lunchtime and evening performances covering classical, opera, traditional, jazz, musicals, popular music and education, the National Concert Hall is a venue catering for all musical tastes young and old. 

Summer at the National Concert Hall
To download the NCH's calendar of events for June to August 2013, click here. 

I had a scan through the events and some that caught my eye that kids might like include the following:-

Global Express: A Family Concert for Young Children, NCH - 2nd June at 3pm (€10 for a child)
Waltons New School of Music - Student Concert - 24th June at 7.30pm (€5 for children under 12)
National Youth Orchestra of Ireland: Summer Proms - 29th July at 8pm (€9 for kids under 18)
Meitheal's Award-Winning Traditional Musicians - 3rd August at 1.05pm
Yes to Young Talent - 23rd August at 1.05pm (€5 for Children under 12)

The NCH also offers a wide range of programming and learning opportunities for children and families. 

Mini Music is an action-packed music workshop experience for babies and young children aged 3 months to 5 years old. 30-minute workshops take place on Saturdays at The National Concert Hall.

Ama-Zone: for Children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions is a multi-sensory installation created by sound artist Slavek Kwi. The next Ama-Zone session will be on Saturday 7th September - tickets will be on sale in the coming weeks. 

Kids can also join the NCH's Young Maestros Club (costs €50 a year)

The National Concert Hall will host music summer courses aiming to provide first rate interactive experiences for music students and musicians across Ireland.

Songschool - Five day summer course for secondary school students aged 13-18 who are interested in writing and recording songs, performing them at a concert, making a video, learning about music technology, and meeting people who love music
Monday 17th - 21st July,
Monday 29th July - 2nd August,
Tuesday 29th October - Friday 1st November

Junior Songschool - Five day summer course for 8-12 year olds.
Monday - Friday 22nd - 26th July

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Pearse Museum, St Enda's Park

Pearse Museum, the former school run by Patrick Pearse, is located in the beautiful grounds of St Enda’s Park, Rathfarnham. The museum is a great place to have a wander around.  It contains reconstructions of many of the original rooms, including Pearse's study, the chapel, the music room and one of the dormitories. There is also a gallery devoted exclusively to the sculpture of William Pearse and what my kids call the “hotroom” with lots of cacti.  A modern extension was added onto the Museum and kids love looking out the glass windows at the grounds of the park below.  The Museum runs some great seasonal events such as art exhibitions and indoor and concerts.   Email Brian Crowley and he will add you to their ebulletin so you can keep up with all the events on there.  His email address is

Pearse Museum - St Endas Park

You can also visit the nature study room in the courtyard behind the museum.  Kids have great fun here as there are toys, coloring pages and paper, a fish tank and examples of Irish plants and animals for them to get busy with (check with the museum for the nature room opening hours).  

St Enda’s Park itself is a wonderful park to walk around.  Kids can explore the gardens, the fountain, the riverside walks, the trees and the walled garden.  For refreshments, you can visit Brambles Café in the courtyard. 

National Bike Week (15-23 June)

As part of National Bike Week 2013, which takes place from 15th to 23rd June 2013, lots of family friendly cycling events organised by local authorities, community groups, charities and cycling groups will take place all over Dublin.  So no excuse, get yer bikes out!

15th June: National Sprocket Rocket Family Festival, St. Anne’s Park, Raheny (10am-1pm) ()
15th June: 4 mile family cycle, Deansgrange (12.15pm-3.15pm)

16th June: Fun Family 6km Cycle in Deansgrange Linear Park (from 3.00 pm)  
16th June: Heritage Cycle 4-6km Rathfarnham ( 11am-1pm)
17th June: Cycle Route Launch, Tolka Valley Park (11am–1pm)
18th June: Inclusive Cycle Training in Loughlinstown (7pm)
18th- 20th June: School Cycle Event, North County Dublin (10am-2pm)
19th June: Electric Bike Demonstration, Fingal Civic Offices (12.30pm-2.30pm) Blanchardstown
19th June: Family Cycle Fun Day, Poppintre Park, Ballymun (4pm-6.30pm)  
21st June: Cycling Skills Event, Millenium Park Blanchardstown (10am-2pm)
23rd June: Pedal in the Park – Family Cycling Fun, Tymon Park (12pm-3pm)
23rd June: Pedal in the Park Bike Festival, Phoenix Park (12pm-3pm)
23rd:June: Active8 in Shanganagh Park in Shankill (1pm-5pm)
23rd June: Pedal in the Park, Millenium Park, Blanchardstwon (2pm-4pm) ,
23rd June: Skerries fun Cycle, Skerries (12pm-2pm)   

Marlay Park

Marlay Park, is an extensive 247-acre historic demesne which lies at the foothills of the Dublin Mountains. The demesne contains many important historic features, including a restored Georgian House, a coffee shop in the former gardener’s house, courtyards and regency walled gardens.  A number of small craft workshops are located in the courtyard adjacent to Marlay House.

Marlay Demesne caters for various sporting activities, including walking, football, soccer, GAA, tennis, par-3 golf (which has an adventure golf course for the family) , cricket, orienteering and running. 

The demesne also includes two great children’s play facilities. The larger one is a really fantastic playground with lots of things to do and caters for all age groups  and the other smaller one (near the dog park) is a lovely little wooden playground more suitable to toddlers. 

Little train lovers will appreciate the fabulous miniature railway which operates on Saturday afternoons (weather permitting) from 2.30pm to 5.00pm from May to September and is operated by The Dublin Society of Model & Experimental Engineers Ltd (DSMEE). The Miniature Railway carries children for free around a track in the centre of the park (behind the bell tower).

The demesne hosts a range of events throughout the year.  There is a lovely farmer’s market every Saturday and Sunday.  Marlay Park is also host to outdoor concerts during the summer months e.g. Longitude Music Festival (19th-21st July). 

As part of the “Exploring Nature DLR Biodiversity Events” programme, there are a number of interesting events on in Marlay Park over the summer including:
  • ·         Sat 8th June: Exploring the Ecology of Marlay Park where you go for a nature walk and learn about its ecology.
  • ·         Sunday 18th August: Bushcraft Skills event where you learn how to make woodland tools and rope using natural materials found around the park. 
  • ·         Friday 30th August: An Evening Bat Walk where you go for a walk around the park to observe bats flying and feeding in the area.

Monday, 27 May 2013 and PhotoIreland Festival 2013 photography competition and PhotoIreland Festival 2013 are inviting 13-25 year-olds to enter their photography competition to win their very own photograph display in Dublin’s Temple Bar this July.

They’re asking young people to show them who their ‘tribe’ is. Maybe it’s school or college friends, family, neighbours, Facebook friends, sports team or fellow music fans?

Entrants are invited to capture them in a photograph and send it in for a chance to see their winning photo blown up to an AO poster and displayed on an outdoor billboard in Temple Bar during this year’s annual PhotoIreland Festival, when photographers from all over the world will be exhibiting in Dublin (and Cork and Limerick).

Milk and Cookies Stories Scavenger Hunt, Sat 1st June

On Saturday 1st June, Milk and Cookies Stories will be hosting a Photo Scavenger Hunt around Dublin. Starting at 12.00 at The Chocolate Factory (26 King’s Inn Street - around the corner from Cineworld), participants will race around the city to complete special photo tasks in order to be in with a chance to win prizes.  All you need to enter is a camera and the €4 entry fee. Entrants can participate in teams of up to five or go it alone. This event is open to people of all ages.


Imaginosity, Dublin Children's Museum is a child-centred creative, educational & interactive space for children under 9-years of age and their families and is a fantastic place for young kids. 

In June, Imaginosity will be running workshops that celebrate all types of films from musicals to animated classics e.g. Sound of Music Musical Workshops, The Land Before Time Dino Footprints and Snow White & the 7 Drama Games.  In addition to this, they are hosting family film nights every Saturday night at 6.15pm from June 8th.  To celebrate Father's Day (16th June), Dads and Grandads get free admission with paying children and can join in the special Father’s Day art workshops and the HB Ice-cream Funday.

Imaginosity is running eight summer camps during July and August this summer.

Imaginosity has announced a new partnership with Powerscourt House and Gardens. Throughout 2013 families will be able to enjoy all the unique fun of Imaginosity's off-site activities in the magical surroundings of Powerscourt.  The next event at Powerscourt is a "Enchanted Walk" through the gardens. Meet Rapunzel, Lady Powerscourt & some other curious characters! Taking place on Sunday the 21st of July, spaces are limited and must be booked through

The Dalkey Book Festival (14-16th June)

The Dalkey Book Festival is running from the 14-16th June. Over the festival weekend, there will be family oriented entertainment such as children’s storytelling and writers and readings for kids from authors including John Boyle, Oisín McGann, Sarah Webb, Pauline McLynn and Eoin Colfer.  Bloom’s Balloons and puppet shows will also keep the kids occupied.  The Festival is also running a children’s short story competition, so your budding young authors might like a go at entering it (deadline is Monday 3rd June). 

Malahide Castle and Gardens

Malahide Castle and Gardens is one of the oldest castles in Ireland, set on 260 acres, this 12th century castle has been home to the Talbot family for over 800 years. The ornamental gardens adjoining the castle cover an area of about 22 acres

It is definitely a day trip to do if you have not gone already.  The Demesne has lovely walks, picnic sites, cricket pitch, tennis courts, 9-hole golf course and an 18-hole pitch and putt course.  There is a great children’s playground, which is a short walk from the Castle.  It is split into sections for toddlers and older children. With slides, swings, climbing frames, sandpits, the playground has something for all ages. 

You can visit the recently re-opened castle and gardens too (family ticket from €26).  Avoca have also opened up a shop and foodhall in the castle courtyard. 
In June, Medieval Mayhem at Malahide Castle & Gardens is running on Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd June. It aims to bring history to life with an outdoor event for all the family. You will be able to see how families lived hundreds of years ago, experience a medieval battle through the daily battle re-enactments.  You can witness how the women and children cooked and made crafts, watch the falconry and archery displays.  Food & drink stalls will be provided by Malahide Village. Tickets prices: Adult €10, Child €6 and family tickets from €20. ( Includes entry to The Walled Garden & West Lawn). 

Pop into Malahide village while you are out there and explore the village, marina and beaches.  For ideas on what to do, where to go etc see

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Newbridge House and Farm (Donabate)

Newbridge House and Farm in Donabate, north County Dublin is a great place for a day trip.  The demesne consists of approximately 370 acres of pastureland, woodland walks, traditional farm, a deer park, lime kiln, ruins of Lanistown Castle, watercourses, pleasure grounds and tea rooms. Newbridge Demesne is one of the finest complete 18th century parklands in Ireland.  Centrepiece of the Demesne is Newbridge House, a Georgian Mansion. There is also a great playground for children, and plenty of car parking space.  You can buy tickets to visit the farm on its own or the house on its own or get a combo ticket to visit both. 
newbridge house_0007_  

Soft Play Centres in Dublin

For those rainy days, a soft indoor play centre is a great respite for younger children.  We particularly like Fun Fitness in Sandyford.  Others we have gone to in the Dublin area include Tallaght Adventure World , Leisureplex (Stillorgan), Fitzone (Westwood) and Zoom Adventure Play (Greystones).  

For toddlers, the Panda Play Cafes in Terenure and Donnybrook are great. When Gymboree in the Spawell is not running classes,  the Centre is open for non-members to come and use the facility for a cost of €7 an hour.  This is what it  calls "Open Gym" or "PlayGym". Suitable for kids up to 7.  Many of these centres run summer camps.  

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Dublin Port River Fest, 1st June 2013 – 3rd June 2013

This June Bank Holiday, North Wall Quay will play host to the Dublin Port’s Riverfest, which has a family fun element to it.   Many activities are planned over the course of the weekend, such as the arrival of six tall ships, curragh racing on the Liffey, boat racing on the Liffey, tug boat demonstrations, street performers, music, bars, face painting, children's funfair, markets, food and carnival attractions. 

National Botanic Gardens

The National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin is well worth a visit. It is an oasis of calm and beauty, and entry is free. A premier scientific institution, the gardens also contain the National Herbarium and several historic wrought iron glasshouses, such as the fantastic plam house - kids love exploring this as it is like a mini rainforest.  There are loads of other places to explore too such as the rose garden, the rock garden.  There is a kids trail to follow, just pick it up at the reception area and follow the trail around the gardens.  Kids will get seeds to plant at home.  We got rocket seeds on our last visit.  There is also a nice visitor centre and a restaurant, which has a great range of food and treats. 

The gardens are running lots of  events for Children over the summer including:-

  • Children's Art Workshop: Budding Artists on Saturday 15th June from 11.00am-12.30pm. Suitable for 4 to 7 year olds (costs €10)
  • Children's Art Workshop: Hardy Annuals on Saturday 15th June from 2-4pm.  Suitable for 8 to 12 year olds  (costs €10)
  • Children’s Pond Dipping on Saturday 22nd June at 11am. Suitable from 8 years up (free)
  • Children’s Botany Workshop on Saturday 29th June at 11am. Suitable from 8 years up (free)
Also worth checking out on the web is the Eco-Sensor Network for Science Education, which is an  interactive programme for primary schools that allows you behind the scenes of the gardens.  Take a look at the project website ( and join Buzz the Bee to investigate real-time environmental information coming direct from a network of wireless sensors in the National Botanic Gardens. 


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Mount Usher Gardens

Mount Usher Gardens in Ashord, Co Wicklow is a quick spin down the motorway from Dublin.  It is a lovely place to visit and have a wander around.  You can pop into the Avoca Garden Cafe for a snack/lunch and do a bit of shopping in the Shopping Courtyard. Entrance to the gardens for an adult costs €7.50; children (4-16) costs €3.50 and children under 4 are free. 

Spring Bluebells
Photography: Des Irvine

Kilruddery House (Bray)

Killruddery House is a hidden gem!  Lots to see and explore in the gorgeous gardens of this lovely house - leisurely walks, hills to roll down, the maze, the sandpit and adjacent picnic area, the pigs, the chickens, the lovely Tea Room.  

There are loads of things on this summer that are really family friendly, such as falconry displays (25 May/27 July/31 August); sheep shearing (8/9 June); The Enchanted Garden Festival (16/16 June), Paper Princess (21 July), Kids Gardening and Pesto Making Workshop (5 July) and the Groove Festival (6/7 July). They have a farmers market there too at the weekends. 

Tickets to the garden only for adults cost €6.50 and children (12 and under) are free. Costs more to do a tour of the house. Definitely one to go to if you have not been before. We went this week and the gardens were bathed in rare summer sun - the whole place was magical.  

Harold’s Cross Park

Harold’s Cross Park is a small pocket park in the heart of Harold's Cross.  It has a nice little playground suitable for younger kids.  If you fancy a snack before or after your visit, there is a lovely café called The Black Apple Café on Harold’s Cross Road a couple of minute’s walk away, which has lovely cakes, biscuits etc. 

The Ark, Temple Bar

The Ark, Temple Bar

One place we will be definitely visiting this summer is The Ark in Temple Bar. It is a unique, purpose-built cultural centre in the heart of Dublin's Temple Bar, where children aged 2 -12 can explore theatre, music, literature, art, film, dance and more. It runs some amazing programmes of performances, exhibitions and creative workshops which change every few weeks.  This summer there are loads of cool events (some are free, some not) such as the circus inspired Roll Up! Roll Up! and and the musical film inspired Lights, Camera, Music.  Find out more at and sign up to its ezine to keep up-to-date with events.
Wish Upon a Tree

Monday, 20 May 2013

Bushy Park

Part of an extensive open space network along the Dodder, Bushy Park extends to 20.5 hectares.  The park has lovely woodland walks, ornamental ponds with plenty of hungry ducks and swans, the Dodder Walk, lots of places for picnics and a nice playground.  There is often an ice-cream van at the Rathdown Avenue entrance by the tennis courts and there is a kiosk at this entrance too, but I am not sure when it is open.

The park caters for a variety of sports, including tennis, soccer, GAA, petanque, running and skateboarding.   You can play tennis for an hourly fee.  Parks Tennis runs a Tennis Summer Camp in Bushy Park for children aged 5 plus every year.  Hourly lessons are given every day for the month of July (costs €40).  Dublin City’s first public skatepark was opened in 2006 in Bushy Park. It consists of a concrete bowl surrounded with typical street elements. The park is open to skateboarders, in-line skaters and B.M.X. bikes.  Bushy Park also caters for pétanque - the Park Pétanque Club is for enthusiasts of any age and playing standard. New family and junior members are encouraged and can come along to the terrain on any playing day.  If your little ones like soccer, Bushy Park has plenty to offer.  It is home to Rangers A.F.C, which is one of south Dublin’s oldest established soccer clubs catering for boys and girls.  Terenure Football Club also runs in Bushy Park and has Schoolboy Teams, Schoolgirls Teams, a development academy for children aged 4-6 and an eFlow FAI Summer Soccer camp for children aged 6-14 which runs from July 1st - July 5th.  As far as I can work out, there are three different GAA clubs operating in Bushy Park including Kevins, Templeogue Synge Street GFC, Templeogue Synge Street GFC Ladies and the Ranelagh Gaels.  For adults looking to get fit, you may be interested in the fitness programme Fit Squad and Bootcamp Ireland run in Bushy Park

If you fancy a bit of nature appreciation, Bushy Park has a Native Tree Trail which we plan to have a go at this summer.  It will help introduce your mini munchkins to a selection of Ireland's Native Trees. There are 15 native tree signposts in Bushy Park. To find them you can navigate your way around the park using The Native Tree Trail Booklet, which can be downloaded for free. 

Tayto Park

If you fancy a day out, a visit to Tayto Park (Ashbourne, Meath) is a really amazing one! We went two summers ago and went back this summer with the cousins over from the USA and everyone really enjoyed it.    

A family ticket costs from €40 (under three's are free) but you will be there for the whole day so I would say it is worth it.  There is plenty to do - visit the fab playgrounds just as you enter the park.  You can do the tayto factory tour (although we never did this as it is a bit boring so my daughter tells me) and do the vortex which sets your head spinning.

There are loads of animals to see and you can do pony rides (€2).  You can pop into the native american village.  Main attractions include the eagle sky adventure zone which is aimed at older and more adventurous kids and teens (height restrictions apply) and the geronimo thrill zone.  The last two areas have lots of activities and rides that are charged by ride so cost will add up this way.  You buy tokens which can be used on any of the extra cost rides.   

If you shop at Tesco, vouchers can be used to get reduced admission to Tayto Park, which would be very handy and there are groups rates if you fancy going with a bunch of pals.  Take a picnic if you want to keep costs down. 

Tayto Park Map

Street Performance World Championship 2013, 12-14th July, Merrion Square

Taking place over two weekends in July, the Laya Healthcare Street Performance World Championship will bring the world's best street performers to Dublin’s Merrion Square (12-14th July) to compete for the world champion title. This is a free family festival showcasing jugglers, acrobats and sword swallowers.  More info at where you can sign up to its mailing list to keep up-to-date.

SPWC 2011 Street Performers at East Wall, Dublin

Parks In Dublin

Where would we be without parks!!

We have favourites and will fill you in on these, but we will be exploring some new ones this summer and I will let you know how we get on. 

In the meantime, if you want to explore the parks in Dublin, check out the four Dublin local authority websites and go to the parks pages for info on where they are, facilities, opening times etc:-

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council at

Free Admission to Heritage Sites

Free Admission to Heritage Sites
On the first Wednesday of every month in 2013, the OPW will offer free admission to individuals wishing to visit certain sites.   In Dublin that means you can visit The Casino, Marino; Dublin Castle, State Apartments; and Kilmainham Gaol for free!  If you are feeling adventurous and want to go a little further afield, you could visit Castletown House in Kildare; Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre (Newgrange and Knowth), the Hill of Tara and Trim Castle in Meath and Glendalough Visitor Centre in Wicklow for free as well. For more information, see

Bloom in the Park, Thursday 30th May until Monday 3rd June 2013

Bloom  in the Park takes place again in Phoenix Park over the June Bank Holiday weekend.  I have been meaning to go along for years, but have not made it yet, but will aim to go this year for sure.  It is Ireland's largest gardening, food & family event.  There will be a special kids zone called Budding Bloomers’, which will have a mix of features aimed to keep the younger audience entertained and active.  Hamley’s will return for the third year running and its daily Teddy Bear’s picnics will include Teddy Bear storytelling, sing alongs and games. Face painting, nail painting and glitter tattoos will also be on offer. The Food Dudes stand will include a mix of interactive activities for children, with the overall aim of encouraging them to get their five a day. The Food Dudes Healthy Eating Programme is an award winning programme developed to encourage children to eat more fruit and vegetables both in school at home.  There will also be a dedicated Children's Stage featuring Irish dancing, magician Billy Bubbles and science impresario Scientific Sue. Go along and find out how exploding vegetables are used to power cars, see magical colour changes, vats of slime, and disappearing water demonstrations.   Great news is - kids attend Bloom for free!   For more info, see

Welcome to Dublin Munchkins!

With the summer holidays looming on the touchable horizon, I have started scouting for things to do with my gang to keep them occupied. 
I have come across some really cool events, festivals, things to do and places to visit, so I thought I would have a go at trying to share, rather than waste, all that I have learned with  anyone looking for things to occupy mini munchkins in Dublin - the latter being no easy task!
So, I have stepped with trepidation into the land of blogging and tweeting.
If you fancy finding out more, have a look at a few of my posts - maybe they might give you a few ideas. Please excuse the layout.  I just starting putting up a few posts last week and was furiously hitting buttons I am sure I should not have been hitting so who knows what you will see!  

Also you can follow @dublinmunchkins on twitter.  Again first time doing the twitter thang, so excuse me as I get to grips with all of this!