Discover rainy day activities in the west
Stop off at Skelligs Chocolate Company in Ballinskelligs, Kerry and explore the only open plan chocolate production factory in Ireland. Learn how the mouthwatering Vanilla Ganache and Tequila Sunrise treats are created and after, enjoy a tasty hot chocolate at the adjoining café, while taking in the view of the magnificent Skelligs Rock.
Wing your way back to the war-time era at the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, a 30 minute spin from Limerick city. From 1939 to 1945, Foynes was the centre of the aviation world. Board a life-size replica of a Boeing 314 Flying Boat and bring your feet back down to earth with an Irish coffee.
The famous beverage was invented at Foynes back in 1943, and a 3D holographic show tells you how the drink was created to revive a group of tired passengers.
Shelter from the rain at Galway Cathedral, the last major stone cathedral to be built in Europe. Admire its green-domed roof and see the impressive array of art, mosaics and intricate stained-glass windows. Designed by J.J. Robinson in the late 1950s, the cathedral features some Renaissance detail mixed with Romanesque and Gothic traditions.
Visit the most picturesque aquarium in Ireland with a trip to Achill in scenic Mayo. Get a glimpse of life under the sea at the Achill Experience Aquarium and watch the little ones grow wide-eyed as they come face to face with colourful sea creatures. Featuring all sorts of fishy friends from razor-toothed piranhas to friendly ‘Nemo’ clownfish, it’s fun for big and small kids. Take the time to learn more about the aquarium’s inhabitants by chatting to the expert staff.
5| The Model
Find one of the country’s best contemporary arts centres, The Model in Sligo. Built in 1862, the world class visitor centre features collections from talented artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Paul Henry and Louis le Brocquy. Time your visit around one of the regular music performances and stroll around the artist studios. Fans of W.B. Yeats can head on to the nearby Yeats Building and Memorial Centre, which celebrates the life and work of the famous Irish scribe.
If you find yourself in Letterkenny on a rainy day, Tropical World is the perfect destination. The vibrant butterflies brighten even the dreariest of days and the owls, lorikeets, meerkats and lemurs are sure to delight children of all ages. There’s a café and play area at this indoor zoo in Donegal, so let the kids blow off some steam while you relax over a well-deserved cup of coffee.
Find rainy day fun in the heartlands
Have a fun family day out and give the kids a history lesson at the same time, with a visit to the Knights and Conquests Exhibition Centre in Granard, Longford. Learn all about the Norman invasion of Ireland and climb to the summit of the highest motte and bailey in the country. Check out the interactive props and after, discover the connection Michael Collins had with the town of Granard and the epic love story between him and Kitty Kiernan.
You might associate Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in Roscommon with sunny summer days, but you can have fun at the park any time of year with the Boda Borg Indoor Challenge. With 15 quests and over 40 individual challenges, the whole family can get lost in this maze of escape rooms and unique puzzles over an afternoon.
Take a rainy day trip to the National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park to learn more about this period of Irish history. Pour over the archive of letters written by evicted tenants and see some of the original photographs and documents.
Find the National Famine Museum on the grounds of Strokestown Park House, an excellent example of Palladian architecture. Book ahead and take a guided tour to see some of the estate’s original features including the galleried kitchen, the vaulted stables and the lodge.
Explore the east on a rainy day
Get creative at Busy Bee Ceramics in the picturesque village of Glaslough, Monaghan. With classes available for all age groups, you can learn to ‘throw a pot’ and decorate your own pottery. Your creation is fired up in a kiln, and you can also buy some of the professional pottery pieces on display. Pre-booking is essential with lots of choice including one-to-one workshops, pottery for hen parties, and school tours.
Travel to Meath and step back in time at the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre in Oldbridge House, on the banks of the River Boyne. Book ahead to watch a historical re-enactment, where guides dress-up and recreate the battle between King William III and his father-in-law King James II in 1690. After an informative afternoon of history, enjoy some refreshments at the centre’s Tearoom Pavilion.
The home of Guinness, the Guinness Storehouse is an ideal place to visit on a rainy day. Head to St James’s Gate in the heart of Dublin city and discover the story of the iconic stout. Discover the Guinness Experience which explains the history and culture of the black stuff. End your visit over a creamy pint in the Gravity Bar and enjoy unrivalled panoramic views of Dublin.
A rainy day is the perfect opportunity to pour over all kinds of weird and wonderful exhibits at the National Museum of Ireland, Natural History. Affectionately known as the ‘Dead Zoo’, study the Irish Fauna and Mammals of the World exhibitions. It’s a fantastic place to take the kids for an afternoon. There is some construction work happening at present, so make sure to check before you visit.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council runs the Bog of Allen Nature Centre, and it’s one of the country’s ever-dwindling peatlands. Over 80 percent of the wild boglands have been lost forever and this interesting centre in Kildare gives you the chance to learn how important it is to protect the remaining peat. Wander through the exhibitions on a self-guided tour and after, pick up an eco-friendly souvenir from the gift shop.
Discover Kilkenny’s history at the Medieval Mile Museum. Listen as knowledgeable guides regale you with tales of days gone by, learn the history of famous religious relics, and bring the kids on the epic Lego Hunt. After, go on a walking tour of the Medieval Mile along the Marble City’s winding streets, treading in the footsteps of ancient Tudor merchants.
Explore enchanting Mitchelstown Cave on the border of Cork and Tipperary. Go on a guided tour of the three caverns and learn all about dripstone formations, stalactites and stalagmites. It’s easy to see why an episode of the History Channel’s TV series Vikings was filmed here.
Escape a rainy day with an exciting virtual reality experience at The King of the Vikings in Waterford. The 3D adventure takes place in a reconstructed Viking house and combines state of the art technology with a tapestry of rich history.
This 30-minute immersive tour lets you walk with the Vikings in Ireland’s oldest city and it comes highly recommended for big and little kids. Down the road is The House of Waterford Crystal, where you can tour the home of the famous glassware.
Moored on the banks of the River Barrow, the award-winning Dunbrody Famine Ship in Wexford is an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel. Travel back in time as costumed actors bring the harrowing experiences of Irish famine emigrants to life. Bring the kids along to give them an insight into such an important part of Irish history and after, have dinner in the river view restaurant.
Another excellent rainy day destination is Wicklow Gaol, where an interactive tour helps you to imagine the harsh reality of prison life in the 18th century. Previous inmates took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and virtual reality experiences bring this period of history to life. If you’re feeling brave, book a night tour of the gaol and venture down to the dark dungeons.