Ireland

March 2, 2017

Irish Folklore and Legends

If your family is interested in history and folklore as well as adventure, where should you look to go on a family vacation? No further than Southwest Ireland! A Southwest Ireland family vacation is full of gorgeous countryside, quaint towns, dramatic coastline, and friendly people. There are plenty of opportunities to ride bikes, hike, and be active and also plenty of places to explore with deep ties to mythology and folklore.

Southwest Ireland - a beautiful place for a family vacation

The Slieve Mish Mountains

The Slieve Mish Mountains in Country Kerry are actually named, Sliabh Mish, and were named after Mish the Milesian Princess who was slain in the battle of Sliabh Mish. This was a great battle in prehistoric times between the early settlers.  Caherconree a mountain peak in the Slieve Mish Mountains is home to a stone ringfort called Bóthar na gCloch (“road of the stones”) which is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs and was the fort of Cú Roí mac Dáire, a magical warrior and master of disguise in Irish Mythology. Today, the mountain range is great to explore and ride through on horseback.

The Barbary Pirates

Barbary Pirates attacked the small fishing village of Baltimore in County Cork, in 1631 and kidnapped most of the villagers under the cover of darkness. A popular poem entitled The Sack of Baltimore, as well as books have been written about this terrible night. When visiting Baltimore you’ll learn more about the fascinating tale of what happened to this village.

Charles Fort

Charles Fort is one of the largest military forts in Ireland and it is also said to be haunted by a tragic figure. The White Lady, as she is known, was the bride of a soldier who tragically died on their wedding day. When she learned of his death, she leapt to hers jumping off of the wall of the fort. She has been seen wandering not only the fort, but also the streets of nearby Kinsale. If you don’t runinto the White Lady in Kinsale, you’re sure to run into some up and coming restaurants on the culinary circuit! Kinsale is getting quiet the reputation of a food hub for travelers.

Leprechauns

There have never been female Leprechauns! While modern holiday decorations show female leprechauns, in traditional Irish folk tales, there are none!  Leprechauns are considered “tall fairies” and some people believe that these elusive little guys still exist. The last supposed sighting of a Leprechaun happened in 1989 and because of this the area where he was sighted is “now a protected area for flora, fauna, wild animals, and leprechauns.”

The Shamrock

The shamrock, a well known symbol of Ireland, comes from the Irish Gaelic word Seamrog. This is a word that refers to the plant’s most noticeable feature, its three leaves.

Our family vacation through Southwest Ireland is a great way to experience this folklore and investigate the mythology! It is not only a fun, active family adventure but also a great opportunity for the whole family to learn about the history and culture of a magical country.



February 2, 2016

Affordable Family Vacations: Big Change for Thailand, Ireland, and Canada

It isn’t often that things become cheaper but the quality stays the same, or in this case gets even better. We’ve updated our itineraries for Thailand and Ireland to show more of the places that you want to see with more fun and adventures along the way. As the US Dollar has gotten stronger in the global economy, specifically against the Euro, the Thai Baht, and the Canadian Dollar, and we wanted to pass any savings we could on to our traveling families. After adjusting for the strength of the US Dollar, some of these trips are as much as $800 lower per person. Thailand, Ireland, and Canada are three very different destinations, all special in their own way, that all make for a great affordable family vacation!

Thailand

affordable family vacation to Thailand

This is a country that is great for all travelers, but older kids tend to appreciate the cultural differences more than our younger travelers. Visiting temples, participating in traditional alms-giving with monks, and meeting hill tribe villagers are just a few of the ways that cultural exchanges take the driver’s seat on this recently-more-affordable family vacation option. Everyone also enjoys fun activities like jungle hikes, zip-lining, relaxing on the beach, and exploring the cities of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. This is an awesome adventure in Southeast Asia.

Ireland

affordable Ireland family vacation

The Emerald Isle is a great spot to take an family vacation. This is particularly great for younger travelers that are starting to get their exploration experience in.  You’ll see Ireland in ways that you never thought you would— ride a bike through the Slieve Mish Mountains on the Dingle Peninsula and learn how to sail in Kinsale Harbor. Kids will also enjoy hearing tales of pirates, taking a friendly ghost tour around Kinsale, and exploring the star shaped Charles Fort. Plus, part of this adventure is staying in your very own castle. If that isn’t enough of a reason to go to Ireland than we don’t know what is!

Canada

affordable canada family vacation

Our neighbor to the North is home to an incredible stretch of the Rocky Mountains. This adventure is great for families that like to be more active than usual on their vacations. Spend time exploring scenic Banff and Yoho National Parks. Hike to Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks to see this awe inspiring region by foot. The adventurers in the family will also enjoy rafting down the Kicking Horse River. There’s no reason not to vacation up North for an affordable family vacation that’s close to home!

These are all just a snapshot of the fun and excitement that can come on your next family vacation.



September 15, 2015

5 Great Family Activities to Do in Southwest Ireland

Ireland has long been a great destination for a fun and relaxing family vacation. It has everything you would want: wilderness, wildlife, delicious food, and great fun. There is much to see in Ireland but one of the best places where you can find adventure, culture, and a bit of good craic is in the Southwest!

Learn to Sail

kinsale harbor

Sailing is an art and a skill that is practiced all over the world. But did you know that one of the most famous historic harbors in all of Europe is in Southwest Ireland? It is! The Kinsale Harbor is a place that sailors have visited for centuries because of its safe and noble waters. In the harbor, your family can hop aboard a small boat and learn the basics of sailing— a skill and hobby that may follow you home!

Visit Cultural Towns for Food and Art

Ireland has been making a bit of a splash in the culinary and art world. Kinsale has recently become the gourmet capital of Ireland and a hot spot for art tourism. Over the past few decades artists have been coming to Kinsale to hone their craft of drawing, sketching, or painting and this has translated into creating a wonderfully little town with its own unique culture. Kinsale isn’t the only town that has been praised for its food and art. Dingle has recently been called the best foodie town in Ireland and also has a host of small shops and art galleries for you to explore.

Go on a Sea Safari

jumping dolphin

One of the best places in Europe to view marine life out in the wild is in the small sea side town of Baltimore. With over 20 recorded species of whales and dolphins, there is always a good chance that you’ll be able to see one of these magical creatures swimming alongside your boat to say hello! Seeing dolphins or whales in their natural habitat is one of the most exciting things your child can ever experience.

Explore the Countryside

No trip to Ireland would be complete without venturing into the rolling hills of the countryside. There are two main outdoor areas that are great for families to explore in Ireland: the Gap of Dunloe and Killarney National Park.  The Gap of Dunloe is a famous 7-mile long narrow pass through the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range that has become a popular path for bikes and horse drawn carriages. Killarney National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Special Area of Conservation. Your family can hike through the untouched forests and lakes while trying to spot the only remaining herd of Red Deer in the country.

a family cycling while on vacation in Ireland

Stay in a Castle

Quite self-explanatory, but you can have a room in your very own castle! Feel like royalty on the grounds of Ballyseede Castle. This is one of the best ways to learn what it might be like to live like the King and Queen!

There is no time better than now to see all that Southwest Ireland has to offer!

 



July 10, 2015

Four of Our Favorite Family Vacation Destinations on Four Different Continents

One of the toughest parts of planning a family vacation is deciding where to go. With so many places to travel for your next vacation we understand that choosing a destination can be a little overwhelming. Is the place kid friendly? Will my kids have fun? Will they also learn? Will I be able to have fun and relax? The answer to all of those questions should be a resounding YES. We have a few destinations that are a firm yes to all of those questions across the globe. Here are four (each on a separate continent for variety) that are a good place to start looking to plan a family vacation!

Africa: South Africa

A view of Cape Town from the water

A view of Cape Town from the water

One of the premier destinations in Africa for all things fun, educational, and family friendly is South Africa. After holding its first democratic election in 1994, the country has come a long way. Just off of the coast of Cape Town an important spot to visit is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 18 years. Apart from the political history of the country, there are also incredible sites. From the view of the magnificent Table Mountain to the wild fynbos of the Cape Floral Kingdom, you will always be left in awe. This isn’t even to mention what you’ll see on a South African safari (here’s a clue: think Big 5 and then way more). Also for mom and dad, South Africa has an amazing selection of locally produced wines to make for optimal evening relaxation!

 

 

Asia: Thailand

Having some fun with an elephant!

Having some fun with an elephant!

Exotic? Check. Exciting? Check. Exhilarating? Check. Other adjectives that start with ‘ex’? Check! Thailand is a great family vacation destination that offers families a great cultural experience. The streets of Bangkok are a constant hustle with tuk-tuks, food stalls, and people darting in and out of shops and work. While it is a site to see, getting around can be a bit easier and more fun on a boat! The khlongs (canals) in Bangkok are a great way to see the sites without getting caught in the traffic of the city. Thailand also has a wonderful northern region full of hiking opportunities and chances to care for elephants all day. That’s right— all day! No conversation about Thailand would be complete without mentioning the cool emerald and teal waters of the islands like Phuket and Koh Yao Noi where relaxation is not only encouraged, but guaranteed!

Europe: Ireland

A classic destination that all types of travelers want to visit and it isn’t hard to see why. Ireland is known for its friendly people with talkative personalities but the real pull to Ireland, is its rolling green hills in the countryside and its fun historical cities. Dublin is one of a kind as it can immediately transport you to medieval times as you walk through the heart of the city stopping in the famous places such as Temple Bar, O’Connell Street, and Trinity College. Crossing the country west to Connemara is one of the most beautiful rides that your family can take as you wind through the scenic hills and quaint farms out to the Atlantic. With a friendly reputation and plenty of activities for kids, Ireland family vacations are great!

South America: Brazil

A jaguar resting in the Pantanal.

A jaguar resting in the Pantanal.

This is a country that can speak for itself. Rio is impressive and fun for travelers of any age with unlimited venues for entertainment and gorgeous beaches that stretch for miles. This is s a passionate city full of life and excitement! Although, many may argue that this isn’t even the most exciting area of Brazil. Heading out to the amazon and trekking through the lush and diverse Pantanal region is nothing short of unforgettable. With thousands of plant species and hundreds of animals you’re sure to see something in the Pantanal that you can’t see anywhere else. This includes the quiet and mysterious jaguar! Kids will love a nighttime jeep ride to try and spot the magnificent creature!

At Thomson Family Adventures we always have you on our minds. This is just a sample of a few places that families love to visit. Call us today to hear about them or feel free to explore our site and see the other destinations that we can help you see on your next family vacation!