Is ice-cream the new pulled pork/doughnuts? It’s beginning to feel like it

Are We There Yet? Things to do with children this weekend

Beth Healy at Wild Lights, running in Dublin Zoo until January. in new window ]

We bumped into a well known comedian the other day in Dublin city-centre. I told my daughters what she does: "She makes people laugh for a living, sort of like Alan Shatter. "

"Do you need some more jokes?" the girls asked my comedian acquaintance as though she was Bob Monkhouse come back to life in search of a few one-liners. (Now seems as good a time as any to resurface my favourite Bob Monkhouse gag: "When I first said I wanted to be a comedian, everybody laughed. They're not laughing now." Legend.)

Bob Monkhouse: he had all the best one-liners

Anyway, before this well known comedian could explain she was more conversational than gag based in her approach to comedy – I can’t mention names, but hi, Eleanor Tiernan! - my daughters cracked out their world-famous repertoire of cheese jokes:

“How did the cheese maker paint his wife? He double glossed her” (Gloucester – it’s a cheese, see? Welcome to my world.)


“I have an addiction to cheddar,” they continued. “But don’t worry it’s only mild.”

Fortunately for Eleanor we had an urgent appointment at Gino’s Gelato on South Great George’s Street for strawberry ice-cream so she was able to make good her escape.

“Brie you later!” they said to her retreating back.

“Cheesus Christ!” I muttered under my breath.

It seems like everywhere you look around the country there are old-fashioned ice-cream parlours springing up. Maybe ice-cream is the new pulled pork/doughnuts/burritos? Anyway, at the moment, Gino’s is ice-cream nirvana as far as the girls are concerned. Gelato nirvana, to be precise.

My own preference has always been for Murphy’s on Wicklow Street or if you’re really lucky in Dingle, Co Kerry. (They serve gin flavoured ice-cream. I rest my case.) But the girls insist on going to Gino’s, the most garishly lit ice-cream emporium in Ireland where should you be so inclined you can sit astride an Italian moped/chair hybrid while you slurp fresh gelato.

Gino’s Gelato in South Great Georges Street, Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

I know sugar is evil and all that but those ad-hoc ice-cream moments are some of the happiest times I spend with my kids. I don’t remember much about my father but I’ll never forget the time he brought me for a knickerbocker glory all to myself in an ice-cream parlour on O’Connell Street. It seemed almost as tall as my six-year old-self. And he seemed all twinkly and kind.

Whatever the weather, an impromptu ice-cream stop can brighten even the greyest of days. And that’s no joke in these interesting times.

Fusion Sundays

Enjoy tasty treats from all over the world at Fusion Sundays in Dublin’s Newmarket Square

I relish any chance to browse a market, but I always need to find a way to sell it to the kids. They're turning into little foodies - they can't stop watching Junior Masterchef at the moment- so I'm hoping this one will appeal. Fusion Sundays happen ever second Sunday of the month, a unique market celebrating food culture from around the world. There are international stalls, as well as workshops, live music, and entertainment for all ages and artisan treats. There's also ethnic dance performances, yoga workshops for adults and children, and live music to add to the authentic, culturally-diverse atmosphere. (That's me sold anyway).
Where: Newmarket Square, off Cork St, Dublin 8
When: Sunday 12th November 11am-5pm
Cost: Free

Celebrate Science at the Cork Science Festival

Cork Science Festival is the winning formula for Alexa (2) and Reed (5) Barry who were pictured at the launch at Tyndall National Institute. Photograph: Clare Keogh

This one at UCC ticks a lot of boxes: it's free, it's fun and it has something for all ages. This Sunday the festival is all about celebrating science with over 30 workshops, tours and shows over three floors. Choose from Lego Robotics, Disgusting Digestion, Coding, Rainbows, Lasers and Experiments along with tours of the world-renowned FLAME lab. "We are on a mission to showcase everything that science has to offer, with free open days, incredible shows, science tours, fun workshops, awesome exhibitions, live demonstrations and experiments and so much more," said Mervyn Horgan, Cork Science Festival co-ordinator. The festival continues until November 19th across the city.
Where: Western Gateway Building, UCC, Cork
When: Sunday 12th November, noon to 5pm
Cost: All events are free but you are advised to book workshops and shows in advance as spaces are limited. 25 per cent of the spaces will be available on the day and there are lots of drop in activities

The Lit Festival, Waterford

A group of teenagers involved in the LITfestival of reading and writing for young people

What do you get when you mix two of the country’s most innovative writers, 30 young people and a train carriage? Join Writers in TRAINing for the 10.15am train from Heuston Station, Dublin for a journey that will transport you to The Lit in Waterford - a new writing festival created by young people, for young people - for an inspirational day out.

The ticket price includes the train journey from Dublin to Waterford return, a Workshop with Colm Keegan and Stephen James Smith on the way to Waterford and your choice of workshop at The Lit once you get there. There are loads more events aimed at the 15-19 age group including readings by Lisa McInerney and Kevin Barry as part of the Waterford based festival. Where: Heuston Station, Dublin
When: Saturday 11th November 10.15am Return train from Plunkett Station Waterford to Dublin is at 6.25pm
Cost: €20
Contact: or find them on twitter @TheLitYWF

Crash, Bang, Wallop with the City of London Sinfonia

The City of London Sinfonia, are performing Crash, Bang, Wallop at the National Concert Hall on Sunday November 12th

Fancy a bit of Crash, Bang, Wallop? Don't we all. Bring your little ones along to the National Concert Hall this Sunday to explore music and sound with the City of London Sinfonia. This is a unique orchestra that plays everywhere from hospitals to care homes to schools, with the aim of bringing music to audiences of all kinds. Meet their presenter Claire, and their friend Freddie the Frog. Pre-concert excitement starts with crafty games, a chance to try the instruments, and even conduct the musicians, before a journey through the orchestra, saying hello to all the different instruments on the way.
Where: National Concert Hall, Dublin 2
When: Sunday 12th November. Show starts at noon, pre-show games from 11.30am
Cost: €10/€15

Dublin Zoo Wild Lights

Pictured at Wild Lights at Dublin Zoo is Beth Healy. This winter the Zoo is home to a magical night-time event featuring giant colourful lanterns and illuminated sculptures, inspired by wildlife.

I don't know who enjoyed this more, us parents or the children. Okay, it was probably us. First of all, you are in Dublin Zoo at night which immediately feels wrong and therefore exciting. Second of all, you'd need to have a heart made of Connemara marble not to be moved by the giant lotus flower installation that greets you as you walk in. Elsewhere, there are light sculptures shaped like flamingos, penguins, giraffes, gorillas and more. It felt like we were in Willy Wonka land except with noodles, lanterns and Chinese women doing gymnastics on rollerskates. (They can be found performing in the nightly show near the sea lion enclosure. Don't miss it).
Where: Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Dublin 8
When: November to January 7th, 5pm-9pm every Friday and Saturday night in November, and Monday to Sunday in December except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and St Stephens's Day
Cost: €15/€20 - book in advance on

Email with tips about upcoming family friendly events and things to do with your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews or ones you’ve borrowed to or find me on twitter @roisiningle