There was no doubt I’d like Ireland, I just never knew I’d fall in love so hard. With Dublin City at the helm, Ireland’s history spans over a thousand years, live music plays a vital role (Tradfest for example), coastal villages are begging to be explored, packed pubs line the streets, and the Irish are some of the warmest and hospitable people I’ve ever met. It more than exceeds expectations; it’s a way of life. And I could get used to this way of life!
If your children are entering their tweens and teens, this is a perfect trip for them. One they will appreciate and remember, with stories they can tell their children, then perhaps one day take them to Dublin to recreate old memories and make new ones.
How to get there:
Westjet offers seasonal flights to Dublin, starting April 30 through the end of October. Air Canada offers flights from across Canada to Dublin, and beginning end of May through to September, you’ll find daily flights from Toronto, 5/week from Vancouver and 4/week from Montreal.
When I travelled with my family as a young teen, I always wondered is what is behind that magical curtain in the front of the plane? Well, on a trip to Dublin (in my mid-thirties) I finally found out. Air Canada’s International Business Class Service offers an unparalleled experience including full flat beds, amenities, extensive menu options (it’s like you don’t stop eating) and for adults, a fabulous cocktail assortment including bubbly. The Maple Leaf Lounge and business centre allows you to relax and stay connected while waiting for you to board your flight.
Where to stay: Fitzwilliam Hotel
Where their tagline is Friendly? Actually, it’s more like family. The Fitzwilliam is a five-star luxury escape right in the heart of the city.It’s castle-like in stature, and if your kids are at that age where you get cool points for bringing them somewhere grand, this is your place. Bringing in the old personal touches of Irish history meets modern features; this boutique hotel offers elegant décor with a comfortable setting. All rooms have either a courtyard garden view or view of St. Stephen’s Green. Independently Irish owned and a few steps from Grafton Street (psst, mom, it’s the premier shopping street) Temple Bar for restaurants and bars (psst. where dad can grab a pint) and the stunning St. Stephens Green right across the street (for taking a beautiful stroll with the family).
The Fitzwilliam has recently opened their newest restaurant, Glovers Alley, featuring a French twist with Andy McFadden as head chef.
Fancy a late afternoon tea or a late night cocktail? Inn on The Green is the place to go. The Afternoon Tea selection is extensive and pairs well with their delightful assortment of pastries, cakes and savoury options. Glass of Prosecco? Sure, why not. Once the children are tucked in, head down for a late night cocktail at the bar. The vast menu options of vodka, gin and beer will have you looking for recommendations from the staff, who are as friendly as they come. So genuine and attentive they’ll become part of your experience.
The cobblestone courtyards of Trinity College is not only where Oscar Wilde attended school, but also where you’ll find the magnificent Book of Kells (a manuscript from the 9th century) and the Long Room, housing 200,000 of the library’s oldest books.
Across the street from St. Stephen’s Green you’ll find The Little Museum of Dublin. Here you can experience the permanent collection on the first floor, The Irish Times Editor’s Room and of course, U2: Made in Dublin. Be sure to join one of their guided tours as they tell the story of Ireland’s capital in the 20th century.
Make sure to pack your walking shoes and enjoy a ‘Cool & Creative Walking Tour’ around Dublin. You’ll walk through stunning parks, cobblestone streets and stop in and explore shops like Sheridans Cheesemongers, the real cheese providers, and as music is a huge part of Irish culture, be sure to drop by Charles Byrne Musik Instrumente. A visit to the stunning and architecturally sound St. Patrick’s Cathedral (constructed in the 13th century) featuring stained glass windows and a gothic interior is worth the visit. Built as a fortress, Dublin Castle currently houses the Making Majesty exhibit, on until the end of April 2018, and what kid doesn’t like exploring a castle!
Explore your Irish routes and take a tour highlighting the Irish/Canadian connections at Epic, The Irish Emigration Museum.
And of course, there’s always a trip to the Dublin Zoo, Phoenix Park, Imaginosity, Dublin’s Children Museum, National Wax Museum Plus and Dublinia, where history is brought to life!
Howth: Just a 25-minute Dart ride from the city, you’ll experience this quaint fishing village featuring local shops, with the freshest seafood restaurants and ice-cream parlours, a children’s playground and a serene spot for mom and dad to enjoy. Take your family along the cliff’s edge for the Cliff walk and enjoy the spectacular views from up top.
EAT, DRINK & BE MERRY:
With 7,000 pubs in Ireland and 2,000 restaurants, it’s no wonder Irish people are some of the happiest-go-lucky people on the planet. Some of my favourite spots include:
The Guinness Storehouse is where you’ll learn all about the history of the famous stout and perhaps even take the Connoisseur Experience The whole family can explore the Advertising Floor which includes some of the earliest advertisements, Arthur’s Lease and the Ingredients Store. After touring the store, settle in on the 5th floor where you can enjoy a complimentary pint or soft drink whilst enjoying the panoramic views of the city.
For a full array of fabulous food options, take a FAB Food Trails of Dublin tour. The highlight is featuring local farm to table ingredients, including a trip to the Temple Bar Market where you can see goats, turkeys and chickens right in the centre square.
Lunch at Dollard & Co. features the freshest fish, delicious fries, amazing salads, and the biggest merengue’s I’ve ever seen!
You’ll feel like a kid again as you sit on the giant swing in the entrance of Sophie’s at The Dean. Delicious and extensive menu with a stunning view of Dublin as you dine.
Eden Bar & Grill is a plush restaurant and bar with live music serving authentic Irish cuisine.
And finally Hugo’s. This is where I’d recommend putting the kids to bed early and have a romantic night with your love. Featuring steak and foie gras with polenta fries and an extensive wine menu, add in some live jazz and this will be the meal to close out your trip to this fantastic city!