Places to visit: For Kids

Airfield House

Airfield Estate

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

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 (20 acres), 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.

The farm at Airfield is a fine working example of environmentally sustainable agriculture in Ireland. Visitors are encouraged to explore and experience farm life up close. This is a working farm with a milking Jersey herd, as well as Jacob sheep, Oxford sandy black pigs, Saneen goats, Rhode Island red hens, chickens and donkeys.

The Jersey herd is milked once a day as part of Airfield’s commitment to sustainable farming. Visitors can watch the herd being milked, understand the pasteurisation process and taste the fresh, creamy milk used across the estate. [Egg Collection – daily at 10:00 am; Jersey Herd Milking daily at 10:30 am].

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 in Airfield are just over six acres in size and composed of diverse spaces ranging from an ornamental walled garden, shade gardens and glasshouse spaces, to an extensive organic certified fruit, vegetable and edible flower garden. You can also visit a greenhouse garden, an orchard border, a sunken garden and a potting shed order.

The temperate climate of south Dublin accommodates a large variety of plants to be grown on site which provides year-round interest to any visitor. The gardens are managed organically which helps contribute to a vibrant biodiverse green space.

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 take place daily at 12.00 pm and 2.00 pm (check for availability).

Opening Hours
January: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-4.30 pm
February to June: 9.30 am – 5.00 pm
July & Aug: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-6.00 pm
September: Mon–Sun: 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
Oct-Dec: Mon–Sun: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
Restaurant opening hours: Mon – Fri: 9.30 am to 3.30 pm // Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm (phone 01-9696666).

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

Restaurant/ Weekday Lunch Wed- Fri 12 pm – 3 pm
Restaurant/ Weekend Brunch Sat and Sun 10:30 am – 3 pm
Restaurant/ Weekend Family Roast Sat and Sun 12 pm – 3 pm
Farm Shop and Cafe Daily 9.30 am –5 pm
Farmers Market (Fri & Sat) 9:00 am – 2:30 pm

www.airfield.ie

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

Adults €12; concessions

The Ark

The Ark

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

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 Tuesday-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 €14. Pre-booking absolutely essential.

Butlers Chocolate Experience

Butlers Chocolate Experience

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

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, 12.30 pm 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. The tour is currently unavailable. 

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

Butlers Chocolates, Clonshaugh Business Park, Dublin 17

Tel: 01 6710599

Adults/children €14.25 (when you book online)

Dalkey Castle

Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

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 €13.95; concessions). Entry to the Heritage Centre is included in the guided tour price.

Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 10.00 am-5.30 pm [Closed Tuesdays]
Sat/Sun/Public Holidays 11.00 am-5.30 pm
June, July & August: Mon–Fri 10.00 am -18.00 pm [Closed Tuesdays]
Sat/Sun/Public Holidays 11.00 am – 18.00 pm

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 €13.95; concessions.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

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 €21; concessions. There is a slight discount for booking online.

Dublinia

Dublinia

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

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

Viking Dublin:  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: 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.

The Past Today: Find out about Dublin’s rich past. Discover how we are influenced by the Viking and Medieval eras. See artifacts found in Dublin on permanent loan from the National Museum of Ireland, including those from the famous Wood Quay excavations. Take a flying visit over the Medieval city and immersive yourself in the audio-visual experience, a story of one man’s life growing up in Medieval Dublin.

Living History guides are on-hand to give you all the information you need to know about Viking weapons, the history of the barber surgeon, medieval medicine and herbs, and even showing you how to play Hnefatafl (Viking chess). The guides are stationed around the exhibition and are happy to answer all your Viking and Medieval queries.

Walking tours of Viking and Medieval Dublin take place at 11.00 am Thursday to Sunday. Information is available on your arrival at Dublinia. The tours do not require advance booking before your visit and your admission ticket covers the cost.

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 daily 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 €15; 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.

Most events at Dunsink have been disrupted by Covid so little activity can be expected before autumn 2022. 

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. Email dunsink@dias.ie.

The “Race to Space” is a fully immersive escape room experience, a collaboration between DIAS Dunsink Observatory and Adventure Rooms Dublin.

Groups of 2-4 people are welcome to play. Open to age 10+ if accompanied by a parent/guardian. Players under 18 must attend with a parent/guardian. Each game has a 1 hour time slot.

Email enquiries – escaperoomdunsink@dias.ie.

Website – www.dunsink.dias.ie/escaperoom/

Jeanie Johnston

Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship Museum

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

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.  MAY TO OCTOBER – Open 7 days, 9.30 am to 5.15 pm.  First tour at 10.00 am, last tour at 4.30 pm . NOVEMBER TO APRIL – Open 7 days, 10.30 am to 4.00 pm. First tour at 11.00 am, last tour at 3.00 pm.

www.jeaniejohnston.ie

Custom House Quay, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 473 0111.

Adults €11; concessions.

National Aquatic Centre (Aquazone)

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

Aquazone, at the National Aquatic Centre, is one of the most innovative water parks in Europe. The Centre has over 650,000 visitors per year. Aquazone offers thrills, water adventures and loads of fun. Rides include:

  • Master Blaster (water roller coaster) – with hair-raising drops and thrilling banked curves, this rollercoaster-style ride is a proven hair raiser.
  • Flow Rider (Surfing Machine) – the fun and excitement of surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding in a truly interactive ride.
  • Wave Pool – the swell of the waves starts in the deep end of the pool and comes towards you, lifting you up. Just like in the ocean, as the waves get closer to the shore, they reduce in size and gradually wash up on the centre shoreline.
  • Green Giant – reach high speeds on this long, open top water slide. Experience thrills and high speeds as you are taken around bends towards the splash opening at the bottom.
  • Pirate Ship – heaven for kids aged 8 and under. Full of safe and fun rides, complete with pirate ship, cannons and small slides.
  • Bubble Pool –  sit back and relax into a world of luxury as the powerful jacuzzi pool jets take your stress away. A real adult favourite at AquaZone.
  • Dark Hole – Take a slide down the dark flume. In total darkness. You know the end is coming, you just don’t know when it will arrive. A slide for adrenaline junkies.
  • Lazy River – float around the Wave Pool at two miles an hour, a relaxing 120 metre ride.

The opening times of Aquazone vary depending on the season. The general opening hours are from 10.00 am until 6.00 pm seven days a week, but the complex has longer opening hours in the peak season and at other high demand times.

The peak period covers Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays and national school holiday periods.  All other times (i.e. Mondays-Fridays outside of national school holiday periods) are regarded as off peak. 

Rates for Off Peak Period
Monday-Friday 10.00 am-12.00 pm
Pirate ship and Wave Pool ONLY (wave machine not in use) – Adults: €6 Children: €4
Monday-Friday 12.00 pm-6.00 pm
Pirate ship and Wave Pool ONLY (wave machine not in use) – Adults: €7.50 Children: €5

Rates for the Peak Season 
Adults: €16.50; children €14.50.

www.aquazone.ie

National Aquatic Centre, National Sports Campus, Snugborough Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Tel: 01- 6464 300

Leprechaun Museum

National Leprechaun Museum

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The National Leprechaun Museum is a light-hearted celebration of Irish fairy tales and folklore. It covers such territory as the festivals of Samhain, Bealtaine and Lughnasa; the Tuatha Dé Danann; Cúchulainn and the Fianna; and ghosties such as the Púca and the Banshee. Exhibits include the rainbow room, a leprechaun well, the Giant’s Causeway, and the rain room.

Open daily 10.00 am-6.30 pm.  In the high season tours are every 20 minutes; in the low season, tours are every hour (Mon-Fri) and every 30 minutes (weekends).

Evening tours Fridays 7.30 pm & 8.30 pm; Saturdays  7.00 pm, 7.30 pm, 8.00 pm, 8.30 pm.  Evening tours are unsuitable for children.

Daytime tours are 45 minutes long; evening tours last 60 minutes.

www.leprechaunmuseum.ie

Jervis Street, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 873 3899.

Day tours – Adults €16; concessions. Night tours – Adults €18.