Returning to the mother-ship doesn’t happen as often as I like these days, but when I do get back down to my home place in Co.Clare, watching the kids soak up all the excitement of countryside life is really lovely. I grew up, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere (we’re talking 5km to the nearest shop). It’s such a stark contrast to my home life now where I am living right in the heart of Dublin city centre. Although it is so incredibly different both places feel like home now. When I was a little older than Luke my parents built our house in a beautiful spot, surrounded by fields of green and sky scraping mature trees. The setting is idyllic and only now as an adult do I really appreciate it. Right over the garden wall is the Dromoland Estate and a short ramble brings us to the thick of Dromoland woods. When it comes to family days out, Dromoland never disappoints.
What is there to see?
The whole Dromoland Estate itself is steeped in wildlife and incredible greenery. From lily ponds, to gazebos and lakes to rolly hills (yes hills that are amazing to roll down), in these woods an adventure is guaranteed. When out walking we’re always on the lookout for deer, squirrels and of course ducks. This time of year is undoubtedly my favourite, where fallen leaves and welly wearing come as standard.
This weekend the weather was grey, the ground was mucky and the puddles were plentiful. Luke couldn’t get enough of running up and down hills and splashing in puddles en route to the lily pond. We collected buckets full of conkers from the gigantic horse chestnut trees, we picked up different colour fallen leaves and then we searched for different shaped leaves. The lily pond is picturesque and is surrounded by lush green grass. Just behind the pond is a really great ‘Bug Hotel’ that showcases lots of creepy crawlies in all manor of wood and twigs. A little further on there are some amazing deer sculptures crafted from branches which Luke was excited to get up close and personal with. By the time we got around the other side of the pond it was time for a visit to the spooky ‘Hobbit’s Cave’ which is build in the hill side leading up to Dromoland’s impressive gazebo.
With the lily pond done, we trekked on to the lake at the front of the castle. We were well prepared and brought 3 slices of bread for the ducks, who then failed to turn up. Luke considered giving it to the swans but didn’t find them worthy and opted to tuck into the plain sliced pan instead.
The Club House & Figtree Restaurant
A stones throw from the main castle is the beautiful walled garden which is located to the rear of the Golf and Country Club. It’s really gorgeous, and the recent addition of some wired fairy sculpture pieces make it even more magic for little adventurers. The garden is a great place to conclude your outside adventure because at the top of the garden the Club House and Fig Tree Restaurant is always a winner for hot chocolates, coffees, desserts or lunch including a well thought out children’s menu with proper food for hungry explorers.
So if you’re heading west for a weekend with family, maybe you’re travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way or if you’re fairly local and needed to be reminded of this magical woodland on your doorstep, the Dromoland Estate is a beautiful area to explore the great outdoors. There really is so much to see and do even with little humans in tow. Be sure to treat yourself to a spot of lunch or dinner afterwards in the cosy environs of the Fig Tree, you won’t regret it, after all, every great day should end with great food!
Looking for more ideas for family days out around Ireland, click here for more great destinations.