Free to go: summer outings for all the family
A selective guide to places that won’t cost a cent to visit
Situated about one and a half kilometres off Kilrush, in Co Clare, the island is the site of a monastic settlement founded in the sixth century and is believed to have derived its name from the Norse word for treasure, “Scatty”.
Play invaders for the day at an island which has seen many invasions over the centuries, and is home to one of the highest round towers (36 metres) in Ireland, as well as the ruins of six churches, a castle and 18th-century battery. See heritageireland.ie or tel: 065-6829100.
Between the covers
Not only a rich resource of books, DVDs and CDs to keep children entertained, libraries host summer events too numerous to mention here. From storytelling and author visits to arts and crafts, there is something to suit all ages.
Some branches also join the UK-based Summer Reading Challenge, encouraging children to read during the holidays. This year’s theme is Creepy House, and promotional materials are illustrated by award-winning children’s author Chris Riddell. Check with your local library.
Places for the free Silk Worm Club workshops (July 8th-12th and 15th-19th ) for children aged six to 11 at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle are going, going and probably gone by now (make a note in your 2014 diary . . .)
There are also robot-making workshops for teenagers on August 19th-21st that are still available going to print. Otherwise, plan a visit for the weekends of July 6th-7th or August 3rd-4th when there are special family events. See cbl.ie.
Without a trace
Learn about wall-building and how to leave no trace when out in the landscape at a free open day for all age groups in the Burren National Park on July 20th, in conjunction with a Learning Landscape Network Event.
On the first Sunday of every month, children go free on walks organised by the Burrenbeo Trust, which are also free to members but adult non-members are asked to contribute €5.
Meanwhile, the Burren’s very special limestone landscape is, of course, free to explore at any time. For more information see burrenbeo.com or tel: 091-638096.
Stick a pin anywhere in a map of Ireland, and there’s sure to be some sort of summer festival in the vicinity, most of which have free children’s events.
Ones to note include Drogheda Samba Festival (June 28th-30th); West Cork Literary Festival (July 7th-13th); Sneem Family Festival (July 17th-21st); Galway Arts Festival (July 15th-28th); Skibbereen Children’s Festival (July 22nd-28th); Birr Vintage Week (August 2nd-10th); Carlingford Oyster Festival (August 8th-11th); Kilkenny Arts Festival (August 9th-18th ) and Puck Fair in Co Kerry (August 10th-12th). See discoverireland.ie.
National Heritage Week
No matter where you live, you will find a heritage event happening near you between August 17th and 25th, and many are free.
From medieval fairs to night-time bat walks, historical re-enactments to traditional music sessions, there are activities for all ages, to celebrate our natural cultural and built heritage.
It is also a week when you can visit places not usually open to the public, or enjoy free admission to normally pay-in sites.
Youghal Medieval Festival: battle re-enactments and birds of prey are a couple of the attractions at a celebration of medieval times within the 13th-century walls of the Co Cork town, on Sunday, August 18th, 12-6pm.
Athenry Walled Towns Day: Puppet shows, archery and weapon displays are just a few of the activities laid on for children in the Co Galway town, on Sunday, August 18th, 1pm-5pm.
Fun Day in the Bog: at Ballycroy National Park, Westport, Co Mayo, Sunday, August 18th, 11am-4pm.
Water Heritage Open Day: explore the old Victorian waterworks on Lee Road in Cork; create giant bubbles and launch water rockets, on Saturday, August 17th, 11am-4pm.
Family Fun Day at the National Print Museum: demonstrations and hands-on activities at Beggars Bush Barracks, Haddington Road, Dublin on Sunday, August 25th, 12-4pm.
Children’s Day at the Áras: tours on Saturday, August 24th at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Strictly one adult per child/children and booking essential, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on all of these, see heritageweek.ie.
Every effort is made to ensure that these listings are accurate at the time of going to print, but you are advised to check with a venue before making a journey.