By Elaine Whelan
Louth is officially Ireland’s smallest county. As the saying goes though, good things come in small packages! Louth doesn’t tend to be everyone’s first choice for a holiday destination but this small but mighty county is severely overlooked. Louth is situated just North of Dublin on Ireland’s east coast, which makes it the perfect place to spend a night or two if you’re traveling around Dublin or making your way up north. This little corner of Ireland rarely gets the recognition it deserves.
Skypark is Ireland’s largest adventure park, which also features the longest aerial adventure course in the country. Thrill seekers can climb to new heights on over 30 aerial obstacle courses and seven zip wires. For families who prefer to have their fun while firmly planted on the ground, there are countless land activities to try. There is so much to do such as foot golf, mini golf, archery, kids off-road jeeps, sand pits, inflatable play areas, kid’s diggers, trampolines, fairy trails and even a giant Thomas the Tank engine that chugs throughout the park. Admission to the park is based on passes. The more activities you plan on doing, the more expensive the pass is. Skypark also have a smaller sister park known as the Carlingford Adventure Centre in the town of Carlingford.
Carlingford Lough Ferry is one of the new and most popular tourist attractions in County Louth. Sailing between Greencastle at the foot of the Mournes and Greenore beneath the Cooley Mountains, the Carlingford Lough Ferry makes the journey part of your fun. Hop aboard the Carlingford Ferry which is only a 15-minute drive from the centre of Carlingford and take the scenic route from Greenore in Louth to Greencastle in County Down. The journey takes only 15 minutes but saves you hours travelling by car between the towns.
Funtasia Theme Park
At 30,000 square feet, The Pirate’s Cove Waterpark at Funtasia is one of Ireland’s largest indoor water parks. There are over 200 water-based activities meaning that your kids will be entertained splashing about for hours on the slides and pools. You can enjoy over 15 different activities in Funtasia Theme Park. From climbing, bowling or soft play areas to all the fun of the fairground. There’s something for the whole family to enjoy. Funtasia is also home to the Royal Palace where your little prince or princess will get a magical makeover from one of the resident princesses. The princess will do their hair, paint their nails and play fun games, all while dressed like royalty. As well as a reptile zoo, ziplines and sky climbs, there is literally nothing that you can’t do at Funtasia.
Cúchulainn’s Castle – Castletown Motte
What child doesn’t love the story of Cúchulainn? The famous folklore has been something we have all been hearing since we were young. The Castletown Motte in Dundalk is said to be the birthplace of the legend himself, resulting in its nickname, Cúchulainn’s Castle. The standing stone that supposedly marks his burial can be seen in the field to the right as you go up the entrance lane.
The Last of the Leprechauns
Even more legends come to life in Louth with what is said to be the last of the leprechauns. The Last Leprechauns of Ireland are the last 236 Leprechauns living in Co. Louth. They live below the Slate Rock on Carlingford Mountain, and visit Carlingford through a tunnel system into a cavern at the folklore park on Ghan Rd. Visitors can head off on a tour that includes storytelling, an introduction to the area and a brief history of the current state of leprechaun welfare by the ‘Leprechaun Whisperer’ himself. Even if you don’t happen to spot any leprechauns, unsurprisingly, the kids will still love it!
Dundalk County Museum
Dundalk County Museum is the perfect place to spend a few hours on a rainy afternoon. There are few museums in Ireland that chronicle the changes and evolution of an area from the Stone Age right the way up to the present day as finely this Louth museum. The restored 18th-century distillery in the Carroll Centre is home to a number of fascinating exhibits as well as the odd drama presentations, lectures and film screenings.
When thinking of a coastal escape, often times our minds drift towards counties such as Galway, Clare, Waterford or Kerry. However, Louth has its fair share of stunning beaches to choose from. Two of the most popular beaches are Clogherhead and Termonfeckin with plenty of others on offer such as Blackrock Beach, Port Beach and The Ladies Beach. The best thing about beaches in Louth is that they aren’t as overcrowded as some of the more popular beaches, giving your kids plenty of freedom to splash and play. Or even give the adults enough privacy to join them. I would prefer understated over overrated any day!
The Boyne Greenway
Although much of The Boyne Greenway is in County Meath, it begins in Louth. Your journey starts at Dominic’s park in Drogheda and takes you along the river, past the Boyne Canal, and then on to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre at Oldbridge. Perfect for getting some vitamin D and exercise for the whole family.