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Fáilte - Be Prepared for Laughter, Inspiration, and Energizing Fun. Ireland is artful, festive, magical, mysterious, quirky, welcoming, and pure fun - the perfect recipe for a family vacation. From the moment of arrival the positive spirit of the island is reflected in smiling faces and a welcoming atmosphere. Rainbow View from Dublin Harbor

Here’s the scoop. I think everyone could benefit from a healthy dose of Irish green. It is dramatically beautiful in a picture postcard sort of way. Residents seem to embrace a cultural sense of humor which is often obvious on signs, in songs and along the streets.
Although I can only attest to its beauty in August and April, I suspect other times of the year are just as remarkable. When I was there with my 20-something kids we noticed every place we stopped was ready to make families comfortable and welcome, rain or shine. For certain, no two days need be the same. It may rain more than once but rain is never a reason to halt events or activities and there is likely to be a rainbow. Ireland World View from Dublin Harbor

With the chaos on the Continent this year a vacation in Ireland is even more appealing. While safety is always important, traveling with children or grandchildren always comes with concerns for wellbeing. Ireland is currently not a terrorism hot spot making the destination even more appealing. Travel throughout the country is easy because Irish folks wish to be helpful to tourists and everyone looks after the welfare of children.  

Because I love Ireland, but know the planning process can be daunting, I have a few trip preparation notes to share.   Fáilte means welcome in Gaelic and sets the stage for adventures.Coast Road Drive North of Dublin
To drive or not to drive that is the question? If driving is part of your family vacation plan, more than likely you will encounter road construction, traffic circles, tolls to be paid, and roads without signs. Your GPS may or may not work. It will rain for sure but there will be a rainbow. It’s all part of being in Ireland - a lively country loaded with artistic energy, cultural pride, and a quirkiness that makes everything meld perfectly.

Enjoy anticipating your trip. The best way to become excited and energized about an upcoming holiday is to make a few cultural connections in anticipation. The rule holds for adults as well as children and for families it can mean the difference in a nice holiday and a great holiday. Any combination of films, books, music, food, and new words, will do the trick.

Get the story before departure. I discovered an excellent place to find Celtic fairy tales and printable Irish stories for young children. Another option includes Claddagh: The Tale of the Ring - the story of the first Claddagh ring. Download a PDF sample and read more about the book at 

Celtic Myths and Legends by Eoin Neeson is a terrific resource for short stories ideal to be shared with all ages. It covers Irish folklore around the time when the Tuatha De Danaan ruled the land. Who is Tuatha? The answer (worth discovering) is in the book.

Watch films and get excited. Ireland is not only known as the home of Darby O’ Gill. For youngsters an excellent choice is The Secret of Kells - an animated adventure with Vikings and an enchanted forest. I also suggest, The Secret of Roan Inish, a remarkable film by director John Sayles. Set on the West Coast of Ireland, the film includes mythical selkies, haunting Celtic music, beautiful scenery and family values. And third, Into the West by director Mike Newell is an adventure film about two Dublin kids and a magical horse - Tir Na Nog. The film is at points realistic to the point of ugliness (no Disney influence) but it is uplifting in the end.

My short list of films best suited for families with older children: Waking Ned Devine, The Quiet Man, The Magdalene Sisters, and John Crowley’s Intermission. Bonus Points: No one captures the quirkiness of Ireland like Dylan Moran. He is known for his a litany of comedic commentaries about his homeland; he offers the same rhythmic sarcasm that worked so well for him as Bernard in Black Books. Clonmacnoise World Heritage Site Monastery Archway

They speak English don’t they? If one of your concerns is Ireland won’t deliver cultural differences, not to worry. For example: in Irish bailey is the word used to describe the outer wall of a castle and I thought it was an Irish cream drink. Still in any pub the word sláinte (say "slaan-sha") works as a toast to good health. As all Canadians know ceildh (or ceili) is the word for a session of traditional music with dancing. Diapers are called nappies and a baby bed is a cot, not a crib. The term for day care or nursery is a crèche and just let your teens know snogging means kissing.  Dew Inn - Hot Beer, Lousy Food, Bad Service, Welcome.

Looking for the toilets? The general word is leithreas but almost everywhere the word displayed will be toilets. However on a more specific and practical note fir (not a tree) is the word used for the men’s toilet and mná (not a misspelling of the word man) is the Irish for "women" and appears as an identifier on toilet doors, mainly in the West of Ireland.

The punch line - Ireland is definitely a vacation spot made for families of all ages.

Make it happen. My suggestion is to checkout Discover Ireland which provides free vacation planning kits. Simply contact them online at or call from USA or Canada toll-free 1-800 SHAMROCK (1-800-742-6762 FREE).

Comments and images posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright 2016.

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