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A late October week in Ireland with a young child

Last week we pounced on a too-good-to-pass-up airfare to Dublin from Canada, so my husband and I will be in Ireland October 17-25 with our 4 year old daughter. I did a 2 week home exchange and driving holiday in Ireland back in August 2000 (Dingle was my favourite) but my husband and daughter are going for the first time.

We arrive at 7:00 a.m. on October 17 (it will be 3:00 a.m. for us so not planning anything too strenuous for the first day) and have 7 nights, departing around 8:30 a.m. on October 25 (so our last night will need to be in Dublin's city centre or near the airport).

Our daughter is a frequent flier and adapts really well to travel. She is comfortable in restaurants and seldom naps now. Accommodation with a separate sitting area would be ideal as we're awake for about 3 hours per day while she is still sleeping, but regular hotel rooms have also worked fine for us (though in summer weather when there was always a balcony or porch to sit on).

I am hoping for some guidance on how to adapt an itinerary for a fall visit with a child. We are particularly interested in spectacular scenery, relaxing and people-watching. We would also like to appreciate some pub music.

Places to Visit: I am thinking we should plan for two, or at most three, different locations staying 2-4 nights at each and renting a car to get from place to place (except in Dublin.) Dublin is a must for my husband. I loved Dingletown, the Slea Head bike ride and Conor Pass and would enjoy it again but also interested in seeing something new - Ring of Kerry? Portrush and the Antrim coast? I am particularly interested in spectacular scenery. How does the Antrim coast compare with the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula? Would I be sorry I didn't go back to Dingle? Is it realistic to consider Dublin (3 nights)/Dingle (2 nights)/Portrush Antrim (2 nights)? Or simplify to: Dublin (4 nights)/Dingle (3 nights)?

Weather: is it realistic to plan scenic drives/lots of outside time in October?

Sights/activities with a child: many of the activities I would enjoy on my own (such as guided tours) aren't really practical with a pre-schooler. Similarly, we'd love to hear some pub music, but it would probably only work in the afternoon as we'd have to bring our daughter with us. Can anyone offer advice on family sights or activities that will be fun for our daughter and also fun for us as well?

My husband would love a round of golf while we are in Ireland. Can anyone recommend a reasonably priced course somewhere around Dublin or Dingle?

Thanks for any advice.

Posted by
1804 posts

Weather in October - just like the other 11 months of the year in Ireland, expect rain, dampness, some cold and windy (particularly along the coastal regions). It won't be bitter cold, but you will want to dress in layers and have a decent jacket with maybe a removable liner for warmer days.

If you have already been to Dingle, I say go check out some other areas of Ireland or Northern Ireland. Antrim coast is great, but Portrush is really more of a summertime beach town, so I would not look for lodging there in October. For sure you can get a room, but there isn't much happening there in the off season in the evenings. Bushmills is located nearby and might make a better base if you want to see the coast, Giant's Causeway, Dunluce Castle, etc.

An easy option may also be to train from Dublin to Galway, spend a night - depending what day of the week you are there, you may catch some live music in the afternoon or early evening. Rent a car in Galway and move on to explore Connemara and maybe spend a night on the Aran Islands (ferries from Rossaveal run in October, but much less frequently than they do in the summer - you can also fly to the Aran Islands if you don't have a whole lot of luggage to drag along with you) or look into visiting some farms for your daughter.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks Ceidleh! My husband is very keen on the idea of booking a rental car and our first and last night's accommodation before we go, then winging it. Do you think we'd be able to find decent, reasonably priced accommodation in late October if calling ahead by no more than 24 hours?

Posted by
5754 posts

Back to Dingle then either take a trap (horse cart) , hike, ride bikes or drive over the Gap of Dunloe.
Absolutely gorgeous scenery. Hour outside of Dingle.

Posted by
1890 posts

If you do go back to Dingle, highly recommend Celli Breach (not correct spelling) B&B just at start of Slea Head drive. Ask if you can get room at top of stairs on the right in the back as you would be right next to a good sized sitting room with access to a porch, that way you can have a sitting room while the tot sleeps in your room. There are also sheep in the back field as well. This is the best B&B have stayed in during numerous trips to Ireland. Also stop at the Stonehouse Restaurant on the drive as there are donkeys the child can feed and pet right in the front. Enjoy whatever you do.

Posted by
191 posts

I love Dingle and always try to go back (4 times in 2 years when I was living there!). In the off season, you are probably fine to just call ahead as you arrive at a location. In Dingle, I really like Bambury's guesthouse which is a quick walk to town,has ample parking, and a good breakfast (

I would also encourage renting a car as driving is pretty easy and you have a lot of freedom.

The Dublin Zoo is really nice and would be a fun trip.

Posted by
124 posts

Because you are traveling so close to Halloween in Ireland (mostly Dublin), do make sure to stay in city center, don't take any hotels or B&B outside of the city center. I didn't know this at the time last year when I took my flat for the month of October (in the neighborhood of Rathmines, in Dublin) that fireworks are a very big part of celebrating Halloween. They go off at all hours of the night the closer you get to Halloween, plus you quickly learn to avoid all apartment buildings with balconies cause the teens of Dublin like to throw said fireworks down from the balconies onto the sidewalks below. When I talked to my Dublin friends they said to stay in the city center (where the cops can control it). Dublin it self is very safe, I just wasn't aware of this custom of celebration, so it was very different.

Posted by
2246 posts

cchewter-I would point out that while you have been to Dingle, to leave it off your itinerary would mean your husband and daughter missing what I think is one of the best, most scenic area's of Ireland.
Also, and this is just me, but I would have no desire to spend Halloween in Dublin. We loved Dublin, but I'd be out in the sticks for that day.

Posted by
74 posts

For fabulous scenery and few tour busses and not over run with tourists, we liked the Beara peninsula better than R of K or Dingle. Travel clockwise. Healy Pass is awesome and the entire north coast of the peninsula has breath taking scenery. Shhh don't tell anybody!

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks everyone! I think we'll wing it. Going to have fun looking into all of your suggestions. I never would have considered Hallowe'en a factor, but that does cement my view to stay in the city centre the last night and take a taxi to the airport in the morning.

Posted by
40 posts

I would suggest Blewleys Airport Hotel for your Dublin nights. They have a 24/7 shuttle to & from the airport. At the airport you can catch a bus or taxi into town & back again. The bus routes are well marked. That way you only need to pick up your rental car the day you leave "The Dubs" and can return it the night before you depart - taking the hassle out returning the rental car the day you fly home. My last three trips I had no choice but to fly into Dublin - the hotel & staff are wonderful. My flights get I early and I usually am checked in by 10am

Posted by
30 posts

I'm in Ireland with my 22-month-old daughter right now - we just left Dublin after four days there. There's a good playground in St. Stephen's Green, for when your daughter needs to run. The Trinity College guided tour is short (about 30 min) and entirely outside, so it was manageable for us. Also, the Old Storehouse pub in Temple Bar has live traditional music seven days a week, usually two or three times a day. We went there last night at 6:00, which worked out perfectly. If you google them, their website gives their daily performance schedule. We also went to Bru na Boinne this morning and it was a good tour for us as it was all outside. My daughter got to meet some nearby cows, which was thrilling for her :)

Things I would avoid: The only thing we did with her that was a total disaster was Kilmainham Gaol. We're new to traveling with a toddler and just didn't think about the prison being full of stairs she couldn't climb and doors she couldn't open. It was a long and frustrating tour for all of us - we left about 40 min into it and it was still going.

We also went to the National Museum of Archaeology, where two guards scolded us for allowing our daughter to walk, supervised, through the museum (rather than riding in the stroller, which she had already been doing for 45 min by the time we got there). She wasn't being noisy or disruptive, she was just walking. We were surprised at how unwelcoming to children they seemed to be. Maybe we just happened to encounter two guards who didn't like kids, but it was enough to turn us off to seeing the rest of the museum. Since your daughter is a little older though, maybe they won't mind her walking around on her own.

Overall, we're having a great time, and I'm sure you will too. Almost everyone we've encountered has been really kid-friendly. Good luck!

Posted by
9 posts

We travel every year to Ireland with our 3 kids for the last 14 years since they were infants, mostly to Cork but we have done a bit of touring with them. In Cork outside Cobh there is Fota Wildlife Park great fun for kids, also nearby in Glanmire is Monkey Maze a 5000 square foot inside chuckey cheese place without arcade games or pizza or a Chuckey!!! Mine have always enjoyed a carriage ride in Killarney or dublin. The Dublin Zoo is great as well. Seek out the playgrounds in the places you stop around the country because honestly that's all they care about. When you stop to eat in pubs, hotels and some restaurants ask for a baby bowl which is usually mashed potatoes, veg mashed and gravy.