The summer holidays are almost upon us which means that parents, teachers and children alike all have their minds on one thing – the end-of-year school tour.
As the end of the primary school year nears, thoughts of fun, friends and frolics stretch out before us. But, there’s one last hoorah left before the final bell tolls and that’s the annual school tour.
One of the most anticipated events of our childhood social calendars, the build-up to finding out where we’d be going was often as exciting as learning we’d be having double PE on a Friday afternoon. Usually trying to incorporate some sort of educational element into the trip, our rose-tinted glasses probably prevent us from remembering how taxing some of those day outs actually were but I’m sure you’ll forgive us the nostalgia this one time.
Whether you’re an overtired parent desperately trying to keep the kiddos busy or a frazzled teacher who left organising the school tour just a tad late this year, we’ve got you covered on the ideas front. So, peruse our list for suggestions as you reminisce about your own long-forgotten school tour memories.
Just twenty minutes from the Rock of Cashel, the Mitchelstown Caves are slightly lesser known than the former but are just as worth a visit. One of the largest and most complex cave systems in Ireland, they were first discovered back in 1833 by a local farmer who was quarrying limestone in the area. Home to one of many a dripstone formation, you’ll be able to spot stalactites, stalagmites and huge calcite pillars aplenty – along with a huge nine-metre high column called the “Tower of Babel”.
Mention the words “adventure centre” and you’re likely to be a big hit. Priding themselves on their wide range of land, sea and sky activities, Carlingford Adventure Centre is always a mega day out. From outdoor laser to rock climbing, stand-up paddleboarding and Ziptopia, their high ropes course – you name it, they probably have it. And at just one hour from both Dublin and Belfast, they’re centrally located so you won’t have to worry about spending the day on a stuffy bus either.
Located in Clogheen in the Galtee Vee Valley in South Tipperary, Parsons is a popular choice amongst staycationers, but you may not know that it’s a great shout for a school tour too. Offering any number of fun activities there are both indoor and outdoor playgrounds, pony and trap rides, boat rides, crazy golf, a pet farm and even an agri-museum. Not to mention guided tours of the garden and river walks… the kids will arrive home exhausted after a full day of adventure.
A jam-packed day of learning and adventure, Airfield Estate is Dublin’s only urban working farm. Usually open to the public all year round (or at least it was in pre-Covid times), the grounds include the Overend family home, kitchen, gardens, vintage cars, the farm itself and a child-friendly play area too. School tours here bring groups on a two-hour adventure around the farm where you’ll meet all the animals, plants and nature that make the place what it is.
One of the country’s most popular school tour destinations, Causey Farm offers three different tour options – the Causey Experience, Martry Mill and Causey Farm, Historical High-Jinks. It’s the first one that usually impresses though, there’s nothing kids love more than arriving home covered head to toe in dirt. Incorporating traditional turf cutting, mine craft tunnels, a mirror maze, giant dominos and bog jumping amongst other things, your washing machine won’t love it but at least they’ll be tired out!
A real-life version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, the Chocolate Garden run interactive workshops where they welcome guests inside to show them exactly where their favourite treats come from. Not only will you get to see a demo of how different chocolate products are made, but you’ll also get to sample some of the goods, see and smell what a cocoa bean actually is and decorate your own chocolate figure to take home too. Can’t go wrong with that, now can you?!
An ideal spot to teach little minds about the importance of sustainability, Sonairte is just the place to nurture a love of nature and the outdoors. Over 30 years old, the centre is run almost entirely by volunteers. Home to an award-winning river and nature trail, the team run a number of different activities including scavenger hunts, ecology orienteering, pond dipping, bird watching and mini beast hunts. Each course is learner-focused with a holistic approach to educating.