Five years ago I took my four month old baby to Dublin to visit my father. At that time the most child friendly aspect of the whole trip had been the flight. Air South West were a a great company who bent over backwards to accommodate families and young children – perhaps it was their desire to be nice which finished them off – they have since closed down and we had little choice but to use Ryan Air. There are other options such as Air Lingus and Flybe but cost, flight times and being fully booked ruled them out. Cheap, and definitely not cheerful Ryan Air got us and our hand luggage there and back in one piece and didn’t break the bank.
Dublin at the time was not overly welcoming of a new mum travelling with an infant. There were no Parent and Child spaces at the shopping centre we visited and no nursing room in any store. So I was rather intrigued as to how I would find Dublin now, arriving with my three children and a lot more parenting confidence.
Dublin excelled! We arrived early on Saturday morning and deposited our baggage at my fathers house where we were staying. Then we headed on into the city to explore the Leprechaun Museum. Unfortunate weather is par for the course and didn’t dampen our spirits as sights of a real life bird man, (a male version of the bird lady in Mary Poppins), a horse and cart and a host of street performers delighted and excited them.
Halloween happens to be an ideal time to visit Ireland – They are mad for it! A combination of their pagan past combined with American links and a lack of the UK’s bonfire night means they really put the effort into Halloween and they do it really well. Ghosts, ghouls and vampires were out in abundance and spotting games were made easy. Considering everywhere is walk-able in Dublin this is great for keeping them going.
The friendliness towards the children was clear and natural everywhere we went, whether or not they were intended for families. On Sunday night we ate at Dillinger’s in Ranelagh. They make no pretences that it is a family restaurant because it isn’t, they don’t have high chairs or a children’s menu. But that’s not to say families aren’t welcome – they literally bent over backwards, forwards and sideways (mainly clearing up after us) to make us and our three young children welcome.
Despite no children’s menu they rustled up impressive cocktails for the boys and split an adult meal three ways. They are possibly the first restaurant I’ve ever been to that actually managed to split the meal onto three plates for us in the kitchen, rather than the usual experience of the meal served on one plate and a couple of smaller plates chucked at us to sort out ourselves. This little detail may seem minor but when hunger frays tempers and you’re paying for a nice meal out it is quite infuriating to have to start sorting all the kids food out on a cramped table before you can try your own meal and deters from the meaningful experience of eating out at a nice restaurant. The waiter engaged with the kids and admired Patrick’s fox jumper and there was no awkwardness about the noise or mess that comes with the kids no matter how well behaved they are.
And this fun and welcoming attitude wasn’t limited to Dillenger’s, we had the same welcome at every café and pub we went to. Breakfast was enjoyed with amazing mango smoothies they knocked up for the boys in a little café. And in the pub we nipped into for a porter, a tee-shirt was provided after Alfie slipped off the bench and was drenched by his orange juice, which had thoughtfully been served in a plastic pint glass. The Barman could not have been more helpful and kind in relieving Alfie’s embarrassment and the beers and home brewed porters at the aptly named Porterhouse went down helpfully too.
We did of course go to the Dublinia Museum, which documents the Viking and Medieval history of Dublin. Patrick’s highlight of the entire weekend was experienced here where they have a model of a Viking man on the toilet, complete with sound effects! This interactive museum also allows kids a variety of hands on fun playing medieval games, trying on chain-male amour and learning about archaeology. Here is Alfie throwing a ball at a man in the stocks (fear not – the Viking on the loo is further down).
The Museum is next door to the Cathedral which you can pay to visit also.
So, to sum up what Dublin has going for it for a family with young kids…
Cheap and quick flights (about 45 mins from Bristol)
Everywhere is easy walking
Fantastic restaurants, even the “non-family” ones welcoming
Great attractions for all the family
A rich culture and heritage which is difficult to rival in the UK
Great beer! A lot of which is brewed in the Cities various micro-breweries
We highly recommend a visit to this wonderful city, but do remember to take some wet weather gear!
Here are some more pictures to whet your appetite for Dublin: