Five brilliant Irish drives for you and your kids this summer

By Sunday World
The Volkswagen Tiguan at the Gap of Dunloe
The Volkswagen Tiguan at the Gap of Dunloe

“Are we there yet?” How do you drive with your children without them driving you crazy this summer?

For amazing views, Ireland is unbeatable, with surprises around every corner whether it’s the Wild Atlantic Way or Ireland’s Ancient East. Think ahead before long car journeys this summer and you’ll be guaranteed to keep the back seat passengers happy.  Remember, while the summer seems like a long stretch, it will soon be all over and they’ll be back in the car with even more equipment, clamouring for attention once again for the school run in September! Driving them to school needn't be an uncomfortable experience though...

1. Mizen Head, Co. Cork

The sensational views at Mizen Head, Ireland’s most south-westerly point are guaranteed to have even the most boisterous children of any age in awe, with stunning coastal formations and cliff top views, no matter what the weather.  An essential stopping off point is the Mizen Head Irish Lights Signal Station and the entire family will be captivated with stories of Marconi and the invention of radio, the lighthouse, tide clock and the sounds of the waves crashing off the cliffs.  The iconic rope bridge, high above the gorge, will be talked about for months afterwards for those brave enough to cross it and it’s often possible to spot seals, dolphins or even whales.  It’s the perfect family road trip.

2.  Slea Head, Co. Kerry

Described by National Geographic as “the most beautiful place on earth”, the Dingle Peninsula is one of the most archaeologically important places to visit in Ireland. While you may not automatically associate stones and old ruins with children’s entertainment, they can provide the perfect playground and the wide open spaces will be the big attraction, even if they don’t fully appreciate the significance of the relics from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Ecclesiastical period.  The best thing about the Slea Head drive is that it takes very little planning – some of the best beaches in the entire country are dotted around the peninsula so you can just stop off whenever you feel like it.   Children will enjoy looking at or visiting “The next parish to America”, the Blasket Islands, which can be seen from this drive, and it will be an adventure practicing the Irish language, freely spoken in this Gaeltacht area.  Probably for most this year, Star Wars will be the big attraction as it has just been filmed at Ceann Sibéal.

3.  Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare

Back seat passengers will love competing to see who can spot the best sights, the reason that the views from the Cliffs of Moher are so spectacular is that on a clear day it is possible to see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay and even as far as the Maum Turk mountains and Twelve Pins in Connemara. What’s more is that it is also possible to see Loop Head to the south and even the Dingle Peninsula and the Blasket Islands in Kerry.  It’s essential to stop off at the Cliffs of Moher Visitors Centre which has a great film for all ages on the local wildlife and interactive displays about the actual cliffs, which stand 214 m high and stretch for 8 kilometers.  A trip up the vertical steps to O’Briens Tower and a long walk along the recently restored walkway on the cliff edge will have everybody asleep and exhausted within minutes when they get back to the car.

4.  The Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim

Half a million tourists can’t be wrong and now visit the amazing Giant’s Causeway every year.  Children will absolutely love hearing the names of the unique rock formations and volcanic columns, including the Chimney Stacks, the Harp, the Organ and the Camel’s Hump.  Imaginations will easily be captured with the sense of going back in time by 60 million years and there are lots of stopping off points on this most stunning of coastal drives. Nearby attractions include spectacular Dunluce Castle and the thrilling Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  The journey is well worth it and the more research that is done on the legends of the area in advance of going on the adventure, the more that the road trip will pay off for all the family.

5.  Malin Head, Co. Donegal

Also now part of the hugely successful Wild Atlantic Way, the most northerly point of Ireland, the Inishowen Peninsula has simply spectacular views.  One of the best places for families to stop is the breathtaking stone ringfort at Burt, called Grianan of Aileach, which translates as Fortress of the Sun.  This is where the original ringfort was located (created in 1700 BC) which stands 735 feet above sea level.  On a clear day there are views over Lough Swilly, Inch Island and sometimes across a full six counties.  Children will marvel at the spectacular sunsets in the area.

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