Places to visit: For Kids

Airfield Estate

Airfield Estate

In 1893, a successful Dublin solicitor named Trevor Overend purchased an 18th century farmhouse in Dundrum, Co. Dublin. The property was eventually inherited by his two daughters, Letitia and Naomi Overend. They lived there all their lives and prior to their death they set up the Airfield Trust, so that the estate would be kept intact for educational and recreational purposes.

The Overend ladies were well known for their prize-winning Jersey herd, named after characters from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. They were regular prize winners at the RDS Spring Show. Their life and times can be appreciated via the Airfield House exhibition. The lasting effects of their fundraising and charity work for St John’s Ambulance brigade and Children’s Sunshine Home can be seen through an impressive collection of photographs, diaries and press clippings. They were also ladies who knew how to enjoy themselves, as evidenced by the memorabilia they gathered from their travels. Both sisters were also very interested in gardening.

The Airfield farm, gardens, restaurant and heritage experience offer visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy and learn about food, farming, gardening, history and heritage in a natural and relaxed environment.

Airfield farm is the life blood of the estate, supplying the Overends restaurant with food and the gardens with fertiliser. Two farmers are on hand to guide visitors through the workings of the farm, from daily milking to egg collecting, mucking out and feeding. The new farmyard includes livestock housing and stables and allows easy visitor access to the animals, the milking parlour and dairy kitchen.

Throughout the year specialised events like lambing, calving and shearing highlight what is typically going on in farms around the country. Airfield is a working farm with a milking Jersey herd, as well as sheep, pigs, chickens and donkeys. The farm has 50 laying hens including Rhode Island Red Hybrids and fancy fowl such as Legbars and Arucanas.

The gardens at Airfield have been re-designed by the award winning landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd. There is a refurbished walled garden and a tea garden. The freshly designed New Food Garden is a place where Airfield shares its commitment to the production and consumption of local, seasonal home grown food. The vineyard is an interesting addition to an Irish kitchen garden as is the display of native Irish apple trees.

The display garage for vintage cars is a fine setting for Letitia’s 1927 Rolls Royce, Naomi’s Austin Tickford and Lily’s Peugeot Quadrilette.

Heritage tours of the family house, garage, gardens and farm daily from Wed-Sun at 11.30 am and 2.30 pm (check for availability). Animal feeding daily at 3.30 pm. Cows milked daily at 10.30 am.

Opening Hours
Sept-June: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-5.00 pm
July & Aug: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-6.00 pm
Restaurant Mon-Fri 9.00 am-4.00 pm (phone 01-9696641) [Sat/Sun/Bank Holidays 9.00 am-5.00 pm]

Closures can occur in January for essential site works and training.

www.airfield.ie

Overend Way, Dundrum, Dublin 14
Tel: 01-969 6666

Adults €10; concessions

The Ark

The Ark *****

The Ark 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. The programme of world class performances, exhibitions and creative workshops changes every few weeks.

The Ark has a very busy programme for schools, providing primary school children with an exciting and enjoyable encounter with high-quality culture. The Ark aims to allow children to nurture their imaginations in an inspirational yet structured setting.

The Ark was designed by Michael Kelly and Shane O’Toole of Group 91 Architects and has received awards and praise for its innovative and contemporary design. Housed on the site of a former Presbyterian Meeting House (1728), it incorporates the carefully restored front facade of the church. It extends to 1,500 square meters (16,000 square feet) and houses a theatre, a gallery and a workshop.

The Ark’s core space, the Theatre, has been built to intimate proportions so as not to intimidate children. The amphitheatre-shaped space also adds to the feeling of warmth, and ensures that the audience feels closely connected to the performances.

“The Ark was one of the great and certainly one of the most enduring initiatives to come out of the reinvention of Temple Bar. My children loved the place, so warm and welcoming and fairly fizzing with creativity, and now that they are too old for it – but then, is one ever too old for The Ark? – they recall it with vivid fondness. Long may this wonderful children’s centre thrive.” [John Banville, novelist and screenwriter]

“I had a fantastic experience working with all the people at The Ark on The Giant Blue Hand. I found them hugely enthusiastic, extremely committed and with the highest production values, as high, if not higher than in any other professional theatre company. I honestly feel this production at The Ark has raised the bar for children’s theatre in this country.” [Marina Carr, Playwright, ‘The Giant Blue Hand’]

The Ark booking office is open Monday-Friday from 10.00 am-4.00 pm, and one hour before performances and workshops on weekends and in the evening. Groups attending events at The Ark can claim one free ticket with every 10 purchased, and can reserve tickets without having to make full payment at the time of the reservation. Phone to discuss your group’s requirements.

www.ark.ie

http://ark.ie/events

The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, 11a Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 670 7788

Ticket price guide: School bookings €5 per child; exhibitions €5; workshops and concerts €11. Pre-booking absolutely essential.

Butlers Chocolate Experience

Butlers Chocolate Experience

What really goes on behind the doors of a working chocolate factory? Where does Butlers chocolate come from and how it is made? Would you like to learn about the different types of chocolate and how handcrafted Butlers Chocolate assortments, fudge and toffee, hot chocolate and the finest chocolate bars are created?

Find out by booking a guided tour at the Butlers Chocolate Experience, with plenty of chocolate tastings along the way. Watch the Chocolate Movie, wander around the Chocolate Museum, savour the aroma from the Chocolate Gallery and decorate your own chocolate novelty to bring home in the Chocolate Experience room.

Although the company was founded in 1932, the Butlers Irish Chocolates brand was not created till 1984. In 2011 Butlers Chocolates were named Food & Drink Exporter of the Year at the Irish Exporters Awards.

Tours generally run daily at 10.00 am, 12 noon and 3.30 pm Monday to Saturday and on Bank Holidays. Tour times can be subject to change on occasion. Please double check the official website booking calendar.

Please note that the factory itself does not operate at weekends or on bank holidays.

All bookings must be made in advance.

http://www.butlerschocolates.com/chocolateexperience/

Butlers Chocolates, Clonshaugh Business Park, Dublin 17

Tel: 01 6710599

Adults/children €13.50; get an extra 5% discount when you book online.

Chocolate Warehouse

Chocolate Warehouse

Take a unique and special journey through the history and joy of making chocolate. A 25 minute film explains in detail the story of chocolate and how the cocoa beans are grown and harvested. The film shows the journey of the cocoa beans from country of origin to the factory and the process the cocoa beans go through to create modern chocolate.

Visitors are given a demonstration on how both chocolates and Easter eggs are made. They are shown the machinery needed to make chocolate. The “hands on” session involves visitors putting on aprons, coating chocolates, adding toppings and hand piping with white chocolate. All participants get to decorate and package their own chocolate to take home.

Fun for both children and adults. Booking essential.

www.chocolatewarehouse.ie

Mulcahy Keane Industrial Estate, Greenhills Road, Walkinstown, Dublin 12

Tel: 01-4500080

Adults €12.50; concessions

Dalkey Castle

Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre

Dalkey Castle is one of the seven fortified town houses/castles of Dalkey. The castles  were built to store goods off-loaded in Dalkey during the Middle Ages, when Dalkey acted as the port for Dublin. From the mid-1300s to the late 1500s, large Anglo-Norman ships could not access Dublin, as the river Liffey was silted up. But they could anchor safely in the deep waters of Dalkey Sound. The castles all had defensive features to protect goods from being plundered. These are all still visible on the site.

On site you will find a medieval castle/fortified townhouse, an early Christian Church, a state of the art Heritage Centre, and a Writers’ Gallery with portraits and interactive screens featuring the work of 45 writers and creative artists. Climb to the battlements for panoramic views of sea and mountains. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the early Christian Church and Graveyard, dedicated to Saint Begnet. Browse the interactive time line from early Christian through Viking, Medieval, Victorian and modern times.

Guided living history tours – Professional actors bring history to life with a fun theatre performance as part of the guided tour. Travel back in time and be enthralled by the work of the Archer, the Cook and the travelling Barber-Surgeon. Actors from Deilg Inis Living History Theatre Company involve you in their lives, their work and their stories. It is wise to book the tour in advance online (Adults €9; concessions). Entry to the Heritage Centre is included in the guided tour price.

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 10.00 am-5.00 pm
Sat-Sun 11.00 am-5.00 pm
Closing time variable: open till 6.00 pm in the high season
Closed Tuesdays

See the Centre’s website for details of other events such as guided literary walks and low season offerings.

www.dalkeycastle.com

Tel: 01 285 8366.

Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin.

Adults €9; concessions.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo *****

Ireland’s most popular family attraction (over one million visitors a year). Opened in 1831, Dublin Zoo is one of the world’s oldest and most popular zoos. It has been transformed in recent decades into a 28 hectare park of gardens, lakes and natural habitats for over 400 animals. Many are rare species and their survival in the wild is under threat; many of the zoo’s animals are part of international breeding programmes for endangered species. The African Plains area is spectacular, a facsimile of the grassy savanna and open plains of the natural wild. See giraffe and zebras wander while the hunting dogs prowl. Look out too for the rhino, the ostrich and the chimpanzees.

Kids rate this venue a 5-star experience.

Open Mon–Sun. Jan: 9.30 am–4.30 pm; Feb: 9.30 am–5.00 pm; Mar – Sept: 9.30 am–6.00 pm; Oct: 9.30 pm–5.30 pm; Nov & Dec: 9.30 am–4.00 pm. Closed December 25 and 26. [The African Plains close thirty minutes before the listed closing times]. 

www.dublinzoo.ie

Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 474 8900.

Adults €17.50; concessions.

Dublinia

Dublinia ****

Dublinia is a museum in which Viking and Medieval Dublin are re-created through life-size reconstructions.

Viking Dublin Exhibition:  See what life was like on board a Viking warship. Learn about long and challenging voyages, weaponry and the skills of being a Viking warrior. Try on Viking clothes, become a slave and stroll down a noisy street. Visit a smoky and cramped Viking house, learn the Viking runic alphabet and hear their poetry and sagas.

Medieval Dublin Exhibition: From Strongbow to the Reformation, experience the re-created sights, sounds and smells of this busy city. Learn of warfare, crime and punishment, death and disease. Visit a medieval fair, a rich merchant’s kitchen and a bustling medieval street.

History Hunters Exhibition: Learn how archaeology works with history and science to piece together the jigsaws of our ancestors’ lives and lifestyles. See genuine Viking and Medieval artefacts, including those of a medieval skeleton found in Dublin (courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland). Hear the languages of old Dublin and explore the city’s earliest maps. Visit the lab and learn how bugs and dirt can be the history hunter’s gold.

St Michael’s Tower: Dublinia’s late seventeenth century viewing tower belonged to the church of St Michael the Archangel, which once stood at the site now occupied by Dublinia. The medieval tower has 96 steps leading to a panoramic view of Dublin. Access to the viewing tower is weather dependent.

To generate atmosphere, the walking route through Dublinia is a little narrow so the attraction is less enjoyable at peak periods (especially when large tour groups may be in attendance). For this reason, visiting the site off peak is recommended.

Open Mar-Sept: 10.00 am- 6.30 pm; Oct-Feb: 10.00 am-5.30 pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

www.dublinia.ie

St. Michael’s Hill, Christchurch, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 679 4611.

Adults €9.50; concessions.

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory, opened in 1785, was the first building in Ireland specifically constructed for scientific research. Ireland’s greatest mathematician/scientist, William Rowan Hamilton, lived and worked here.

Originally part of Trinity College Dublin, it was purchased by the state in 1947 when the School of Cosmic Physics was established (as part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies).

The Observatory is used nowadays mainly for public outreach,  workshops/conferences, and as visitor accommodation. Rooms can also be hired by external parties.

Open Nights are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month during the winter months (October-March). Weather permitting, visitors can view celestial objects through the historic Grubb Telescope. There are also audio-visual presentations, lectures on a wide variety of topics in astronomy, and question and answer sessions. Open nights are free of charge.

From time to time Dunsink Observatory holds a special evening for parents and children who would like to meet a real astronomer and explore the night sky together. This family event begins at 7.30 pm with a short presentation, followed by live stargazing (weather permitting) and a question and answer session.

School/College trips to Dunsink Observatory can be arranged if booked beforehand. These trips can be organised for day or evening time.

www.dunsink.dias.ie

Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, Dublin 15.

Re Open Nights, phone Hilary O’Donnell at 087-6294966 or email hod@cp.dias.ie

For general queries, phone 01 4406656.

Imaginosity

Imaginosity

Imaginosity is a child-centred creative and educational interactive space for children under 9 and their families, a space for adults and children to engage in creative play. Imaginosity champions the ‘hands-on, minds-on’ philosophy that encourages all visitors to get involved and have fun while learning.

Every day Imaginosity offers a wide variety of workshops and classes in arts and crafts, computers, music and theatre – in the Art Studio, in the Children’s Theatre Space and in the Cyber Room. There is no additional fee for most workshops.

The Imaginosity Museum Theatre offers children the opportunity to engage in role-play, improvisational drama and more formally directed theatre, engaging the talent of performers both young and old. Visitors can try on costumes, put on make-up, interact with the props, change the scenery, operate the lights, and create their own stories.

Would you like to be a rock star; part of a band; dance with your friends in the music corner? Visitors can put on a costume, grab a guitar and watch themselves perform on the big screen.

In the News and Weather Station section, you can create your own news story and deliver it to camera. You can operate the camera in the news studio and capture the young news readers as they deliver the day’s news.

In the Construction Company area, visitors can grab a yellow plastic hardhat and tool belt, load up with child-friendly tools and get ready to join in the building fun. Operate a crane to lift solar panel windows onto the roof; build up exterior walls with sponge bricks; paint the interiors in one of the three houses; and lay magnetic wallpaper in a room to liven up the space.

Other exhibit areas include the climber, the town centre, the garage, the roof, Dr Apple a Day’s office, the library, the bank, the gallery, the puppet room, and the maths house.

Open 7 days.
Mon: 1.30 pm – 5.30 pm.
Tues – Fri: 9.30 am – 5.30 pm.
Sat/Sun: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm.
Bank Holiday Mondays: 9.30 am – 5.30 pm.
Usually closed on Monday mornings.
Closed 24-26 Dec, 1 Jan.

Imaginosity operates two hour sessions which you can book into. The session times are as follows: Saturday & Sunday: 10.00 am, 12.00 pm, 2.00 pm & 4.00 pm; Tuesday – Friday: 9.30 am, 11.30 am, 1.30 pm & 3.30 pm. Booking is advisable.

Imaginosity operates a ‘timed-ticketing’ system, during busy periods including Fridays, weekends, school holidays and bank holidays. Timed-ticketing will guarantee you a minimum of a 2-hour visit to the museum at set times.

Workshops operate on a first come first served basis. Check with reception on arrival. The website has a detailed calendar telling you what is on now and what events are upcoming.

www.imaginosity.ie

Imaginosity, The Plaza, Beacon South Quarter, Sandyford, Dublin 18

Tel: 01 2176130

€8 for children and adults; concessions.

 

 

Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship

Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum

The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum is a replica of a wooden tall ship which sailed between Tralee & North America between 1848 and 1855.

The original Jeanie Johnston was built in 1847 on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, Canada. The cargo ship was purchased in Liverpool by John Donovan and Sons of Tralee, Co. Kerry. As the famine gripped Ireland, the company ran a successful trade bringing emigrants from Ireland to North America and returning with timbers bound for the ports of Europe.

The Jeanie Johnston made her maiden voyage on 24th April 1848 from Blennerville, Co. Kerry to Quebec with 193 passengers on board. Over the next seven years the ship made 16 voyages to North America carrying over 2,500 emigrants safely to the New World. Despite the seven week journey in very cramped and difficult conditions, no life was ever lost on board the ship – a remarkable achievement.

Guided tours only.

It is difficult to summarise tour times. In general, in December and January there are tours on Fri, Sat, Sun only at 11.00 am, 12.00 pm, 2.00 pm, 3.00 pm. In February there are tours on Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun at 11.00 am, 12.00 pm, 2.00 pm, 3.00 pm. Tours run every day from March 1 to November 30 (usually at 10.00 am, 11.00 am, 12.00 pm, 2.00 pm, 3.00 pm, 4.00 pm) but check the “book online” link on the home page of the official website to make sure. Closed 25-28 December.

www.jeaniejohnston.ie

Custom House Quay, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 473 0111.

Adults €10; concessions.