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Ireland: Good Old-Fashioned Family Craic

OK, I know you are thinking why is she talking about crack and families…in Ireland craic (pronounced crack) means fun. And, I am here to tell you, we had a blast traveling through Ireland with eight families on our Travel With Kids Family Adventure Tour Ireland this summer.

Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Teenagers carry the younger kids to win the scavenger hunt at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

We learned the history of the Republic…the Easter Rising, how the English ruled from Dublin Castle, etc…on a family digital scavenger hunt through the streets of Dublin culminating in Irish dance and bodhran drum lessons in a pub in Temple Bar. But that’s not the only way we immersed in history and culture. Families learned all about the importance of Gaelic games to the Irish people and then learned how to play a few themselves: Irish hurling was my favorite! #SportsCraic

Travel With Kids Irish Hurling Team, Dublin Ireland

Travel With Kids Irish Hurling Team, Dublin Ireland

After Dublin, it was time to give back…and we had just the spot: the Loreto Sisters convent. One of the nuns we know back at home was there (it was the place the nuns from our kids’ school had lived before moving to the United States) and she invited us in for tea and put the kids to work cleaning moss off the pathways of the cemetery and planting vegetables in the garden. The kids loved feeling like they were helping out and were rewarded by an impromptu concert given by the Loreto sisters. #VolunteerCraic

Cleaning paths at the cemetery at Loreto Sisters Convent, Navan, Ireland

Cleaning paths at the cemetery at Loreto Sisters Convent, Navan, Ireland

Loreto Sisters convent, Navan, Ireland

Embrey helps the younger kids plant seeds in the convent garden

From nuns to pirates…we headed from the convent in Navan to Westport on Ireland’s northwest coast, home of Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen! We learned about her dominance in a time where women did not typically dominate and visited her castle and the abbey in which she is buried on Clare Island. But, it would not be a Travel With Kids trip if a little adventure wasn’t thrown in to the mix. On Clare Island, the teenagers and some intrepid parents learned the art of coasteering – scrambling up rocky coasts, jumping off cliffs, exploring caves – while the younger kids learned archery (Grace O’Malley would be proud!). #PirateCraic

Coasteering on Clare Island, Ireland

Coasteering on Clare Island, Ireland

And there was plenty of time to relax on the beach.

Clare Island, Ireland

Sienna enjoying some free time, Clare Island, Ireland

Then, it was time to head south…across the moonlike landscape of the Burren, where the kids were thrilled to see Poulnabroune Dolmen (not!) one of the oldest portal tombs in Ireland.

Poulnabroune Dolmen, The Burren, Ireland

Ballecer family in front of Poulnabroune Dolmen, The Burren, Ireland

The Burren, Ireland

Kids feigning interest in dolmen to make me happy

They were thrilled about some nearby rocks though…the soaring Cliffs of Moher, where you walk along dizzying drops into the Atlantic Ocean (I stayed where the rock walls separated me from the drop…braver parents headed out with kids to the open cliffs…yikes!)

Kids in group hiking along Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Kids in group hiking along Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

We stopped in a small town – blink and you’ll miss it type – to visit a priest, Msgr. O’Grady, from back home who also summers in Ireland. He showed us his wonderful home and arranged a grill at the local pub. And in the last hour of the very long drive from Westport to Killarney, we played family trivia (and found out who had really been paying attention to all the tidbits we’d been learning along the way!) Boy, were the families with us competitive!! #TriviaCraic


In Killarney, the kids had a wonderful time listening to live music. Now, in Ireland live music doesn’t always mean a band…often times it’s a “sesh” or traditional music session, where local musicians just turn up with their instruments and join in when they can. It was amazing to watch them learn and play together, and surprisingly lovely when the old man at the end of the bar would start off a song or recite a poem. It definitely shows what an important place music has in Irish culture…and gave our kids some ideas on impromptu music performances to take back home with them. #MusicCraic

We explored the nearby Dingle Peninsula by horseback, trotting through green pastures as well as roaming through the small town of Dingle looking for its famous resident Fungi the Dolphin in the harbor and discovering what else lives in the Atlantic Ocean at the aquarium. After kissing the Blarney Stones and being blessed with the gift of gab (you can’t come to Ireland without doing it, right?)

Blarney Stone, Ireland

Annie kissing the Blarney Stone

we ended our trip with a night in a real castle! Everyone loved the beautiful grounds of Dromoland Castle, where we learned the art of falconry…

Flying hawk at Dromoland Castle

Ally flying hawk while other look on

and hung out in the drawing room (who has one of those anymore?). On our last evening, we left our castle to attend a medieval banquet at a castle down the road. Our kids took turns being king and queen of the banquet (ordering their siblings around!), running around the fields and watching the Irish dance and musical performances…quite a way to end our time on the Emerald Isle…with some more #VeryGoodCraic!

Cahernane House, Killarney, Ireland

Adults relaxing while the kids practice their rugby skills

Want to join us on a Travel With Kids Family Adventure Tour, check out our 2017 trips.

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