Holidaying with Kids in Duncannon, Wexford (2015 edition)

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We’re back into holiday season and people have been asking me again about Duncannon, the beautiful village on the Hook Peninsula in South West County Wexford where I was born. I continue to be a proud ambassador. I wrote all about it last year

The village is on the beach, has a small fishing harbour and is dominated by a Fort that originally dates from the late 16th century. The Fort is currently closed to the public, a huge loss to the village. The good news story is that the Cockleshell Art Centre is relocating to Ramsgrange Parish Hall for months of July and August, exhibiting local artists’ work.
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When I spent a lot of time in the summer of 2013 in my parents’ house with the three kids and I realised then what a fantastic holiday location it is for anyone taking their summer break in Ireland, especially those with young children.

The village really comes alive in the summer, and when the sun comes out the beach is packed. Duncannon beach is perfect for a stroll, or an amble, you can park on the beach and stride across. There are some water quality issues at the moment but when swimming is allowed it’s very safe for kids and there is a lifeguard patrol.

There are enough beaches on the Hook Peninsula to go to a different one every day for two weeks (I’m pretty certain I got that from a tourism brochure back in the ’80s, in fact I can picture it). You could even try a beach scavenger hunt.

Duncannon hosts three festivals during the summer. The newest one, the Duncannon Balloon & Kite Flying Festival is on this June Bank Holiday weekend. The Sandsculpting Festival is on 7th -9th August and the Kitesurfing Festival is in late August.

Attractions in the area include:

Hook Lighthouse There’s the lighthouse (the oldest in Europe, called “the flashiest” by Lonely Planet), a wooden ship play thing, rocks to climb and an art room where kids can make their own slate artwork and bring it home as a holiday souvenir.

Image: Sinead Fox
Image: Sinead Fox

Tintern Abbey An abbey might not sound like somewhere fun to bring the smallies but we love it. Located just off the road from Wexford to Arthurstown, Tintern is a great place to wander and breathe in the fresh Wexford air.  There’s a walled garden (admission charged) and the abbey is open to the public, but for us we avail of the walk in the woods and the exploring. For this, admission is free. There’s a tearoom on site and the abbey is open to the public for a fee.

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John F Kennedy Park and Arboretum This was one of the places we used to go on a Sunday drive when I was a child (The Hook was the other). We always took the Lake walk and brought bread to feed the ducks. These days we spend the day wandering along the walks and botanical examples where you can walk for hours, feed the ducks, play in the playground and ride the model train (extra charge, only open during the summer months). Make sure to take the drive to the top of Sliabh Coillte too (entrance across the road from the Arboretum) for panoramic views of the area.

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Feeding the ducks at Kennedy Park

Loftus Hall – Ireland’s most haunted house, so possibly more for the adults but my sources tell me that kids will love the new zipwire.

Close by (30 minutes drive or less)

Choose one of my Things to do in Wexford as a short day trip

Take a trip to Dunmore East via the Passage East Car Ferry– the ferry trip itself is exciting for the kids, but very short.

Check out Waterford and Suir Valley Railway

There are cinemas in Waterford and Wexford.

The nearest indoor playcentre is Playbarn in New Ross.

If you’re feeling active check out Hooked Kitesurfing in Duncannon, “supping” is suitable for older kids and adults. There’s kayaking and surfing at Monkey Rocks Surf Shop in Fethard.

Places to eat and drink with kids

Bar Food: The Strand Tavern, Roches Bar and the Fort Conan Hotel and The Local at Dunbrody House serve food til about 9pm in summer and most offer excellent children’s menus and a friendly atmosphere.

Chippers: The village has two traditional chippers- Off the Hook (who also do pizza) and Juff’s.

Coffee: Takeaway coffees area available from the Kitesurfing Hut and Strand Stores.

Ice-cream: The Kitesurfing Hut has Maud’s cones, Off the Hook has 99’s and Strand Stores has a fridge full of HB delights and a new cone machine.

For fancier dining (as in without the kids) Aldridge Lodge and Dunbrody House are a stone’s throw (or walking distance, depending on your shoes)

Socialising

Hal’s Ceili Band play every Thursday night all year long in The Strand Tavern (my Dad is in the band!)

Roches Bar and The Strand Tavern and The Fort Conan Hotel have live music every weekend all summer.

For the kids, there’s a magic and puppet show with Noel Lynch’s Kids’ Party Club in the Strand Tavern each Monday during the school holidays at 6pm. Admission, €2 per child is well worth it, Noel is brilliant with the kids.

Playgrounds

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The HUGE slide at Duncannon playground

Duncannon’s playground recently doubled in size thanks to the amazing efforts of a local community group. The boys could spend hours here and I have been down the slide a couple of times 🙂

There’s a smaller playground in Fethard on Sea.

Attractions I have yet to visit (Still)

Loftus Hall

Dunbrody Famine Ship

Abbey Crazy Golf is at Winningtown outside Duncannon

Accommodation

There’s a small hotel in the village, numerous B&B’s and lots of holiday lets. Dunbrody Country House is just outside the village.

See, there’s so much to do, there’s a great reason why they call it #Funcannon

*Some of this content appeared previously on Bumbles of Rice as I’m too lazy to re-write it ! Also I really need to take better photos

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22 thoughts on “Holidaying with Kids in Duncannon, Wexford (2015 edition)

  1. Brilliant post. We holiday in Dunmore East every year, and discovered Duncannon playground on a day trip to Hook last year. The kids loved it and we promised ourselves that we sold come to Duncannon for a whole day next year. Didn’t know about the water but the beach looks fabulous! Roll on August.

  2. Great place to visit, I was down there for a spin around last week – nice programme broadcast on Duncannon on local T.V. channel some weeks ago worth checking out.

  3. We live in Yorkshire and have holidayed in Duncannon 5 times in the last few years. Its a beautiful place with outstanding scenery and an equally wonderful beach. I was there with my husband and 3 children and on a few of these occasions taken my parents and parents in law who all thoroughly enjoyed it. Apart from the sensational view the village has beautiful food and beer, the people are so welcoming and helpful. I always feel like i’ve come home when I go there and hope to return again next year. I would highly recommend Duncannon and Wexford to all.

  4. We had many a happy day spent on the beach when the kids were small a long time ago! I remember winning a prize of a set of egg cups during horse racing on the strand! That was about 40 years ago!! I loved it!

  5. Oh the beautiful Duncannon my family are coming here for generations now I’m glad to say we bought a house here 9 years ago this weekend and all the family come to celebrate Duncannon is just paradise and the locals are just so friendly

  6. Ooh I love Duncannon, was there pre – kids and you’ve just reminded me that we should definitely go there with the kids!! So much to do in there 🙂

  7. You’ve reminded me of my inaugural (and only) visit to Hook Lighthouse a few years back. A seriously cool building. I remember thinking what a great venue it would make for gigs only to discover Maria Doyle Kennedy was playing there sometime later. Sickened. We attempted to go back last year but alas our car broke down in Passage East. I’m not familiar with Duncannon at all but will certainly lash it on the itinerary next time.

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