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Ireland for Families

Ireland for Families

5 Products You Need if You Travel with Kids

Life as an expat often means a life of regular travel.   We are incredibly lucky that we have been able to make regular trips to America. Both ThisIrishGirl and ThisIrishBoy had flown across the Atlantic at least once before they were on solids!Top 5 Products for Traveling with Kids

Through all those transatlantic flights with kids we have come across some products that have made our trips easier and a few that were a waste of time and money.  With a million products out there here are This Irish Family’s 5 must have products for travelling with kids.

Ear plugs

If your kids (or you) suffer from ear plan when flying, Earplane Kids ear plugs act keep inner ear pressure constant and sooth ear pane associated with fluctuations in cabin pressure.  A pilot friend recommended them and they did help ThisIrisGirl when she was younger. Luckily now both kids do ok with the fluctuating cabin pressure.

Car Seat Bag

As if hiring a car isn’t expensive enough.  Renting the carseats for the kids run about $80 per week PER CAR SEAT.  Did you know pretty much every airline (including Ryan Air read the fine print) will check car seats free of charge!  We love the JL Childress Gate Check Bag for keeping our car seats protected when we travel.   Checked items can get pretty beat up in transit so using the JL Childress Gate Check Bag has kept our car seats in good shape.

*we’ve managed to fit two car seats in one bag

ID Bracelet

Once ThisIrishGirl started walking I knew travel through airports was about to get a whole lot more stressful for me.  To help keep her safe – and for my own peace of mind- we got an IDme wristband  for her to wear through airports.  The ID bracelet holds your contact details as well as allergy information in the event of an emergency.  We like the IDme wristband because it’s strong but comfortable to wear while being difficult for a toddler to take off.  We also use them when we’re going to events where we know there will be a crowd.

Mummy Clip

Ok everyone needs one of these!  Even if you’re not travelling.  We’ve tried about a dozen different bags, back packs and suit cases for the kids when we travel.  They all have one thing in common….the kids don’t carry them….at least mine don’t.  So rather than argue at security or break a sweat carrying the kids bag as well as our own we used our Mummy Clip  to clip back packs on the end of the buggy.

*this life hack only lasts so long last year when we flew without the buggy for the first time I minimised my own hand luggage in anticipation of having to carry the kids….I’ve never missed pushing a buggy so much!

Kids Headphones

Ok I have to admit we haven’t gone too far with these ones yet but I know they will be so handy when we travel.  We were sent two kids sets  CozyPhones Kids Headphones and the kids love them already.5 Must Have Products when travelling with kids

CozyPhones are made of fleece and come in adorable styles like unicorns, and pandas and frogs.  The fleece headband is washable and the light weight speakers ensure a comfy fit. I just know they are going to make falling asleep while watching a movie or listening to music so much more comfortable…I might have to get a set for myself.

We’ve done our share of travel – and we want to do so much more together as a family.  We’ve tried lots of products to make our lives easier when we travel and we genuinely love the products mentioned in this post.

We’d love to hear more about what products your family loves when you travel.  I’m sure there are more things out there we could try!

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  Two sets of Cozy Kids Headphones were sent to us free of charge for the kids.  As always all opinions on products are 100% genuine and our own. 

 

Interested in more travel tips for Travel with Kids?  Check out Top 10 Tips for Flying With Kids This Summer 

 

Wanderlust Kids

Ireland for Families

Glenview Gardens

Glenview Gardens This Irish Family We are so lucky that we have lots of friends and family who come to visit us from the US.  The trouble with visitors is the tourist scene can get tedious to us locals.  Sometimes though we find some amazing places that literally make the kids jump up and down when they hear we get to visit them again and again.

One of these special places is Glenview Gardens in Enniskeane, West Cork.

Glenview Gardens is a charming 3 acre garden that is home to 10 unique gardens, a woodland fairy walk and Ireland’s very own Hobbit House.

Located outside Enniskeane, Co Cork, the gardens are a fair bit from the main road but well worth the detour through this scenic part of Cork.  While there is ample parking for cars and coaches the place is so popular many often end up parking on the road.  As you approach the gardens you come to find out that you’re actually visiting someone’s home and it adds to the charm of it all. You ring the front bell to gain access to the gardens.

At €5 per adult & €3 per child its money well spent for an afternoon getting lost in Glenview Gardens Teddy Bear's Picnicthe unique gardens.

I’m not going to lie-  ThisIrishDad and I bit off more than we can chew when we bought a house and almost and acre of overgrown garden.  But that doesn’t stop us from enjoying a well planned and well cared for garden- especially on a fine day with a packed picnic!

Glenview doesn’t disapoint.  Despite a jam packed car park there is enough space to amble around the gardens and it doesn’t seem over crowded.   The kids love playing hide and seek and getting lost on each other in each garden.

Small children will love to sit and have a cup of tea  with the teddy bear’s at their picnic table.  Those who love hunting for fairies will run with delight in search of fairy doors walking the woodland fairy trail. Even the biggest kids will enjoy Glenview Gardens This Irish Familyvisiting Cork’s only Hobbit House.

Throughout the gardens there are plenty of  picnic areas and even a self serve tea room.  While it is easy to loose little ones among the plants and trees the gardens are secure, safe and wheelchair accessible.

Glenview Gardens is a local treasure not to be missed by locals or visitors.  Pack a picnic and spend a few hours getting lost in the charm of Glenview Gardens.

 

 

Desert, Enniskeane, Co Cork

GPS Google Maps:  51.7311 -8.9012

Ireland for Families

Uncle Pete’s Pizzeria

Welcome to Uncle Pete'sOne of our favourite places to go for pizza in Cork City is Uncle Pete’s on Paul Street.  ThisIrishGirl and I first went there on one of our girlie dates and after careful consideration we decided it was time to share this little gem with the boys.

Uncle Pete’s is a small cafe that feels familiar the second you enter. The friendly staff is never too busy to make recommendations and chat with customers.  Every time we are there it seems there is a balanced mix of tourists and locals. There are even a few faces we see there most times we visit so Uncle Pete’s certainly has its loyal regulars.  It’s one of those places where everyone is chatting across tables to each other and including the kids.  (and they fill their wine to the brim!)

The menu is simple yet varied with pasta, burgers, sandwiches, traditional Irish dishes and of Uncle Pete's Pizzeriacourse PIZZA!  There is also a decent number of gluten-free options if you need. Uncle Pete’s is great value for money.  Kids pizza’s were less than €5,  with 8inch pizzas mostly under €10.  For 2 kids pizzas, 2 8-inch pizzas, a side order of chips and two glasses of milk  we spent €32.

The pizzas do not disappoint. I have to be honest we haven’t tried anything else on the menu.  However, on our last visit there we noticed at least FOUR parties came in to enquire about the Irish Stew.  Unfortunately the stew had run out much to the disappointment of some.

Have you been to Uncle Pete’s? Let us know in the comments what you think of the place and if you’ve tried the stew!  We’ll be back soon to try it since it sends people in asking for more!!

We love to eat out as a family – what local places do you love to bring the kids for a meal?

Ireland for Families

Cork Burger Festival

Happening this week in Cork is the very first Cork Burger Festival brought to us by Eimear and Ernest from FestivalCork.  

With over 30 venues across Cork city and county participating there is no excuse to not get out there and sample some of the best burgers on offer before the 5 February.  

Yellow Sub Cork Cork Burger Festival

Sliders and chocolate brownie with toasted marshmallows from Yellow Sub Cork

ThisIrishFamily was lucky enough to snag an invite to the Bloggers and Burgers launch Wednesday night at Yellow Sub CorkLocated on the boardwalk on South Mall,  Yellow Sub serves sliders from 5pm until late Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It’s the perfect location for meeting friends for a quick bite before (or after) heading out for the night.  Yellow Sub treated 30+ bloggers to samples from their slider menu, including a special Burger Festival slider topped with bacon, quail egg and beetroot. As if sliders weren’t enough they were also serving up macaroni and cheese which is 100% pure comfort food to my American heart. All of that followed by a warm chocolate brownie with toasted marshmallows for dessert!

Montenotte Hotel Cork Burger Festival

Welcome to the Montenotte Hotel

ThisIrishFamily was also offered the opportunity to sample the burgers from The Montenotte Hotel.  With a very special thanks to Nan and Grandad for babysitting, ThisIrishDad and myself were treated to a mid-week meal without the kids!!  If you haven’t been to The Montenotte Hotel in the past year or so it has been completely renovated.  The bar and restaurant continue to offer a beautiful view overlooking the River Lee but in far more updated surroundings.  Despite its trendy decor the friendly staff and innovative menu provide a relaxing atmosphere for a meal.  The Cork Burger Festival menu offered a choice between a gourmet beef burger with cheddar and streaky bacon on a brioche bun or a fried onion and rosemary lamb burger served with semi sweet tomato mayo, brie and smoked bacon.  ThisIrishDad and I ordered both and shared.  The gourmet beef burger was fab but without a doubt the lamb burger with brie was out of this world.  I’m not usually a lover of lamb and ThisIrishDad isn’t too keen on brie cheese but we both agree that paired together they made a phenomenal burger. We even had time to linger over coffee served up on the cutest matching china.

cork burger festival montenotte hotel

So if you’re looking to sample a burger this week we can recommend both the Yellow Sub and The Montenotte Hotel.  As I said before the Yellow Sub would make a great meeting spot in town.  The Montenotte Hotel offers free parking and a spacious laid back atmosphere which certainly comes in handy when dining with kids.

FestivalCork has some great plans to bring new, fun festivals celebrating food and drink across the county. Be sure to keep an eye out for future events. We’re particularly keen to check out the Cork Whiskey Festival this Spring.

**Disclaimer: ThisIrishFamily received no monetary compensation for this post however food sampled from Yellow Sub and Montenotte Hotel was provided free of charge.  All opinions are 100% my own with some input from ThisIrishDad  

Ireland for Families

Our Visit to the Toy Soldier Factory

toy solider factory

Ever since I came to Ireland I have been intrigued by the Prince August Toy Soldier Factory  in Kilnamarytra, Macroom, Co Cork.   You can’t drive over the Cork & Kerry Mountains without passing signs for the place – – – it’s so well sign posted from all the main roads.  This summer we had friends from the US stay with us so after years of wanting to check it out, having visitors was the perfect excuse to finally visit.

The Toy Soldier Factory is a one of a kind attraction.  It’s the only Toy Soldier factory in Europe and is a fully functioning

factory so they are actually casting toy soldiers there!

Visiting the factory is free for all but the main attraction is the ‘Make and Paint’ Workshops.  For a reasonable price everyone can select a miniature to cast and paint.   For safety reasons littler ones  (under 6) can take a paint workshop as casting involves heat and melting. The website outlines a variety of workshops and there is even a fairy door Make & Paint workshop.

Casting at the Toy Soldier Factory

We selected the Make & Paint workshop which takes approximately 40-60 minutes (with the smallies just painting).     Participants get aprons and a quick demo on how to cast metal miniatures.  After choosing from a variety of miniatures (including toy soldiers, fairies, ballerinas, holiday ornaments and many more)  each participant has an opportunity to melt metal and cast their own miniature.  Once cast the fun moves to the painting area!!!  There is plenty of colours and brushes for everyone to perfect their work.  For the little ones who finished early there was a small play area with toys to occupy them while the perfectionists in our group finished.

painting toy soldier factory

Once dried everyone’s masterpieces are ready to take home!

The gift shop sells some pretty unique toys and gifts including  do at home toy soldier kits. There are also plenty of hand patient toy soldiers to buy. ThisIrishBoy fell in love with the hand painted knight gear. For an additional charge visitors can see the HUGE diorama of the Battle of Waterloo.  The scene includes over 15,000 hand cast and painted toy soldiers and was an 8 year-long labor of love by Andre Rudolph from Germany.

toy soldier

Top Tips:

  • Book online at http://princeaugust.ie/toysoldierfactory/ to select your workshop and avail of discounted pricing.  We booked early on a Sunday morning and had the factory virtually to ourselves!
  • Thinking of early Christmas shipping?? The at home cast and paint kits make cool gifts and the helpful staff was happy to arrange shipping internationally.
  • We made a day of it and headed off to one of our favourite places for lunch: Toons Bridge Dairy  you can check out or post on it here.

 

Ireland for Families

Toons Bridge Dairy Café

Toons Bridge Fairy Café

We visited Toons Bridge Dairy Café for lunch on a relaxing Sunday afternoon after a trip to the Prince August Toy Solider Factory.  It was one of those ‘Summer’ days that are dry enough to want to be outside but we welcomed the heat lamps and outdoor blankets as we sat.

Toons Bridge Dairy Café in Toons Bridge, Macroom is open weekends and serves fresh West Cork foods and the tastiest stone baked pizzas.  Toons Bridge Dairy is the same crowd as the Real Olive Company in the English Market so chances are you already love them!  They make and sell many of their own cheeses AND you can even take a cheese making course with them.  How cool is that?  (I honestly think I would give up chocolate before cheese.)

Anyway,  a visit to Toons Bridge Dairy Café will not disappoint.   It’s a truly fab place but it’s small so you have to get there early….expeically when the weather isn’t great as inside seating is limited.  We were lucky enough to have the weather, and sitting outiside meant the kids could happily run riot and play with others in the secure garden while us grown ups lingered over  a glass of wine or a Mountain Man beer!!

The food was amazing and our plates were virtually licked clean.  The pizzas were the perfect size for the kids to share making it such a quality lunch at a great price! Opting for a salad plate gave a choice of three of the salads from a selection made fresh that day and you certainly could taste the freshness in the flavours.

I could have spent as much in the shop as we did on our lunch there were so many tasty things to buy and the cutests pasta dishes I have seen in a long time!!!!   Toons Bridge Dairy Café is one of the true gems of Cork and the cafe is so worth a trip when you’re down that direction visiting the Toy Solider Factory or Gougane Barra.

Ireland for Families

Pick Your Own Strawberries

Want to pick your own strawberries in Ireland this summer? Check out the best place to pick your own strawberries in Ireland in Tipperary.

One of my all time favourite summer activities growing up was strawberry picking!!  I remember countless summer days crawling around strawberry fields in Upstate New York searching for the perfect fruit. Those are memories I couldn’t wait to create with my kids, but since moving I haven been searching for somewhere to pick your own strawberries in Ireland.

Strawberries are abundant and flavorful in Ireland. In June and July you don’t have to drive far to come across a small roadside stand selling Wexford Strawberries and New season potatoes, and yet I couldn’t find anywhere that would allow me to go and pick my own.

Finally after years of searching I found The Apple Farm in Cahir, Co Tipperary!

ThisIrishDad was paying attention…which wasn’t hard since I basically didn’t shut up about it for weeks…and booked a night away for the five of us complete with a visit to The Apple Farm for my birthday last summer.

The Apple Farm is less than an hour drive from Cork City, so an overnight wasn’t necessary, but why not. We opted for the Clonmel Park Hotel having stayed there previously.  The hotel is spacious and family friendly.  The staff went out of their way to keep the kids happy. We all enjoyed the pool which seemed spacious enough had it been busier. The hotel was clean, staff helpful and it was a good fit for the family and we got a great deal using SuperValu Getawaybreaks.

I can’t comment much on Clonmel town itself, other than it was easy to navigate both by car and foot. We were there during the Clonmel Junction Festival and had planned to take in some of the festivities, however the heat seemed to have gotten the better of the Prince and we ended up back at the hotel bar watching the hurling match and relaxing.

Sunday we stopped to get picnic supplies before heading to The Apple Farm which was less than 15 minutes drive back toward Cork once you leave Clonmel.

When you arrive at the farm you get a real sense of a family run operation. There is a picnic area, play area, shop and campgrounds. We were offered empty punnets and a box and pointed to the direction of the raised strawberry beds.

I quickly became consumed with leaving no perfect strawberry behind. The crop was abundant and there seemed to be an endless supply to choose from. ThisIrishGirl managed to fill half a punnet before the allure of the swings and slides pulled her away. ThisIrishDad and I filled the remainder of our punnets before stopping to eat lunch. The strawberries were €1.75 per pound and as we ate lunch we agreed that we simply didn’t have enough so took turns filling another three punnets.

It is a great place to spend an afternoon with kids and the strawberries are amazingly sweet. With nearly 10 pounds searched for recipes to try and how best to freeze strawberries.

There are several tourist attractions including Cahir Castle, the Swiss Cottage, Mitchelstown Caves and the Rock of Cashel all within reasonable distance of the farm making it easily a part of a day visit to the area of tourists or locals alike.

The Apple Farm is possibly a little known gem. Well worth the visit for strawberry picking. They also produce and sell their own apple juice and lemonade which was refreshing on a hot day. They have recently allowed  you to pick your own apples in the autumn…which made this Upstate New Yorker’s hear sing!

 

The best place to pick your own strawberries in Ireland

**The strawberry season varies yearly depending on weather but is usually for 2-3 weeks in June/July.  Contact The Apple Farm  to find out details about this years picking season.

Ireland for Families

Kilbarry Wood- A Hidden Gem of North Cork

Kilbarry Wood, Fermoy

The weather seems to finally be getting better around here….well maybe not- maybe we are just pretending- either way it’s ‘summer’ in Cork and we are determined to spend it outside.    I’ve got two little adventurers on my hands who love nothing better than exploring any new place.  Thankfully they are still at an age where we can make anything  just about anything an ‘adventure,’ but our recent trip to Kilbarry Wood was an adventure indeed.

The truth is, it had been raining for days and we desperately needed to get out so I hit the Coillte  website for inspiration.

Located about 7km east of Fermoy, Co Cork Kilbarry Wood (near the village of Coolagown) is worth a visit to North Cork.  The wood has two looped walks, both of which offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

We opted for the shorter route-or so I thought-thankfully the kids were enjoying the adventure so much they didn’t even realise when we got lost.

Walk among the fairies at Killbarry Wood

After parking the car and taking note of our surroundings we weren’t walking long until we ventured upon our first surprise fairy door!!  There are dozens of handmade fairy doors dotting the lower portion of the route.  The kids loved running from one door until they found the next one.  Of course in between doors we kept our eyes and ears peeled in hopes to catch a glimpse of an actual fairy.

Killbarry Wood

 

Between the fairy doors and wildflowers the wood was full of colour in the early summer.  Coincidentally we are learning our colours in this house-  I can tell you there is no better way to cement a child’s learning than  studying the colour of fairy doors.

Along the walk are several lookout points with clear views of the valley below and the mountains beyond.  On a clear afternoon it seemed like we could see for miles.

These vantage points happen to also make excellent lookouts for knights protecting the fairy princesses who life nearby.

At the top of the mountain (or at least I think it was the top- we really did get lost) sits a large, ominous looking reservoir.  The kids’ imaginations ran wild with thoughts of its many many uses for the fairies on the mountain.

I hadn’t come to Kilbarry Wood prepared but next time I will pack a picnic as there are several picnic tables and grassy knolls perfect for a picnic blanket.

The wood is fairly remote but seemingly popular as we crossed paths with several families, people and dogs out walking.  Although the paths are well laid out, it is steep in some areas and unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.  I wouldn’t have wanted to push the buggy around either.   Our walk took us about 2 hours, but that  accounts for time lost due to my excellent navigational skills as well as extensive investigation of each and every fairy door.  Entrance to the carpark and Killbarry Wood are free.