Ideas for family friendly days out in Cork this summer

As summer holidays for primary school children get underway from this week onwards, mum of four EIMEAR HUTCHINSON shares some ideas on places to venture in the weeks ahead
Ideas for family friendly days out in Cork this summer

Walking between the Rhododendrons at the Vee, Co Tipperary. Picture: Dan Linehan

WE live out in North Cork, close to several county borders, and last week I took a spin out to see the rhododendrons that basically take over The Vee Mountain Pass in Tipperary.

If you have never been, it is worth a spin out if you don’t live too far away, it is beyond belief the amount of flowers there are from Clogheen up to the lake in The Vee. Now, I know they are an invasive species, but like a lot of things, what we may like is not always good for us.

I think it was that morning that the children informed me that the school holidays are almost upon us, typical me I thought we had a few more weeks to go. It got me thinking though of things to do this summer here in Cork that might be a little off the beaten track.

We all know that places like Fota Wildlife Park, Leahy’s Open Farm, Spike Island, Ballyhass Lakes, Smuggler’s Cove and various big attractions like that around the county are going to be huge hits with everyone, and rightly so, they are amazing days out.

With many of us staying close to home this summer, I suspect it might be nice to have a list of places to visit that may not be too crowded or that are a little off the beaten track.

A great place to start if you are planning days out this summer is the new Explore Cork app that Cork County Council have launched. It is free to download and it is just fantastic, a great one for people visiting Cork too that might not have every day planned out, it will give great guidance. You can look for trails and filter it in terms of difficulty, accessibility, whether it is dog friendly or not, and you can narrow the search down to a certain distance from where you are based. It also gives a host of ‘things to do’ suggestions that cover everything from beaches, nature and gardens, heritage sites, golf courses, food experiences and lots more.

Cork City Gaol.
Cork City Gaol.

One place that we really love that might not be that well known is Cork City Gaol. It is a self guided tour around parts of the old goal and they give a nice bit of information about the different people who passed through the gaol including Countess Markievicz. The tour is probably not suitable for children who scare easily as the figures are life-sized and a little scary in parts. You can pass an hour or two in the gaol and afterwards a nice spot to visit is the Old Cork Waterworks, which is just up the road from the Gaol. It goes through the history of the waterworks and there is a nice, small and hidden away playground up behind the lab that is the perfect spot for a picnic overlooking the city.

Some of the other days I have planned include a trip up to the Shandon Bells and to explore some more forests and quieter beaches.

Zip It in Farran Woods is brilliant too, suitable from seven years up, but there is a playground and a nice walk around so you can bring smaller children with you — but two adults would be advisable, one to supervise the children on the Zip It wires, and one to occupy the smaller ones.

Cork is a huge county though so I could write for days about the different places to go and I would probably still leave out some fabulous spots. I too am limited by the ages of my ladies, the oldest is of an age where she can go to places like Ballyhass Lakes and has the ability to kayak on her own, but with three younger sisters we are a bit limited in terms of what we can manage, but that’s OK too, all in good time.

If you are heading out for the day, my advice this summer, like last summer, is to go as self- sufficiently as you can. Sometimes, queues for food can be long or clean toilets can be tricky to find so before you leave make sure your children use the toilet.

Bring snacks, lunch (even if you plan on getting lunch when you are out it is good to have back up and if you keep it cool it can be eaten later) and plenty of water so that you don’t have the pressure of trying to find food with impatient faces looking up at you.

Everything lately seems to have moved towards cashless payment, but bring some change for toilets, and car parks — I can’t tell you the amount of times I have been caught out without change and it’s so annoying.

I can’t wait for the summer this year, it feels like there is a fabulous air of positivity around lately, so here’s hoping we have some amazing months ahead to enjoy!

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