Summer is in full swing and children are free” from school. While this is a great time for children, it can be a difficult time for parents trying to occupy all that free time and ensure their children are kept somewhat entertained over the couple of months.
Many children will attend Summer Camps. There is a huge range and diversity of camps on offer from Sports to Arts and Crafts, Science and Technology to dance, drama and music. While these camps are fantastic experiences for the children, they can often be expensive and out of reach for many parents.
Below are some ideas of things you can do with your children over the summer months. They are mostly free and are available on your doorstep. All of the activities listed below involve some form of physical activity. What better way to spend some quality time with your children?
Limerick is lucky in that it has a wide range of parks and playgrounds within the city. These parks are ideal venues to spend some time with your children and you can also reap the benefits. For example, Shelbourne Park on Shelbourne Road has a fantastic playground but also has a 1km running track, around two pitches. Bring the children to the park and while they play in the playground you can get your own run/walk done in the same venue. Encourage your children to join you for a lap or two. They can walk, run or cycle around the park for hours of fun and more importantly your children will be getting exercise and learning good lifestyle habits from you.
There are many other parks in the city, including the Peoples Park, Clare Street Park and Castletroy Park. All have playgrounds and paths for you to run, walk or cycle on. Castletroy Park also has the option for you to play a game of Boccia. Boccia is a game like bowls, where you throw balls and try to get them nearest the target. There is an area in the park set out for this and the set of balls is available from the pharmacy beside the park for a small deposit, returned to you once the equipment has been returned. Castletroy Park also has outdoor exercise equipment for adults, free to use.
One of my favourite things to do with my small lady is to take her to feed the ducks in the wetlands area between North Circular road and Condell Road. The wetlands area can be accessed from North Circular Road and again once you are there the area has paths which are suitable for walking, biking or buggies. You can walk all around the wetlands area and there is a specific point with a wooden pier where you can take your little ones to feed the ducks, swans, waterhens etc. It is a great way to pass an hour or two and costs absolutely nothing. The wooden pier is very safe for the little ones as it is enclosed but be advised that along the other walk ways the water is nearby and easily accessible, so keep an eye on your children.
One of Limericks most beautiful areas and best kept secrets is Baggott Estate accessible through Ballinacurra Gardens. Baggott Estate is a small woodland area between the Crescent Shopping Centre and Punches Cross. On entry to the area, a large display sign informs you of some of the wildlife you are likely to come across in the park. This is a great way to get the children interested in going for a walk in the area as you can show them the pictures of the animals/birds etc and get them to keep an eye out for them as they walk around. It’s also a great place to go “on a bear hunt” or to try and find the “gruffalo”. There is also some outdoor gym equipment as you walk around and a fully functional two lane cycle path, ideal for letting the young ones off for a cycle. Baggott Estate is a great place to let kids be kids, to explore, to climb trees and to let their imaginations run wild. Be advised that the gates are on automatic timers so if it is late in the evening (7.30/8pm) when you are there, be careful not to get locked in.
If you are looking for something a little different and are willing to travel about 40mins out to county Limerick then there is no better way to spend a few hours than to pay a visit to the Limerick Animal Welfare “Field of Dreams Sanctuary” in Kilfinnane. Open from 11-3 each day and set amongst the beautiful backdrop of the Ballyhoura Hills, The Field of Dreams Sanctuary is well worth a visit. On visiting, you will see all the rescue animals and will even be allowed to take a rescue dog for a walk in the countryside. This is a real treat for anyone who doesn’t own a dog. It is a great way to start conversation with your children about the importance of looking after animals and not being cruel to them etc. Who knows you might even find your “fur ever” friend to bring home with you.
There are many other parks and playgrounds in and around Limerick City and County that are great for spending some quality time with your children in the great outdoors. Another great place to get in touch with nature is down the mill road Corbally. Turn left at the lights in Corbally and drive down to the bottom of the Mill Road. Here, on the banks of the Shannon you can feed Swans, ducks and also take a walk along the river up to the “Corbally Baths” in Shannonbanks. Staying out at this side of town, one can gain access to a walk/cycle path through Irish Estates (first turn right after lights in Corbally). This path leads all the way to the University of Limerick and is full of beautiful scenery. It is also very safe.
Before I finish, there are a couple of more things that are worth a mention. There is a fantastic new playground in Adare, surrounded by pitches and with plenty of parking. The playground is full of climbing frames, climbing poles, slides swings etc, but it also has a built in trampoline and a sand pit where children can build a sandcastle. On fine days an ice cream van has also been known to pull in to the car park and this is always a winner with the kids. The “Manor Fields” is located in by the Pitch and Putt Club in Adare. Take the Newcastlewest Road out of Adare and turn left at the first set of lights you come to. You’ll see a sign for Adare Pitch and Putt and you’ll know you’re in the right place.
A couple of miles over from Adare, there is also a brand new playground in Croom. Not as big as the playground in Adare, but still has plenty to offer. There is also new paths laid in a loop around so you can go for a jog, walk or cycle with the small ones, or else go yourself while the small ones are playing in the park. There is also a very nice restaurant/ coffee shop overlooking the park so you can relax and have a bite to eat or have a coffee while the “smallies” tire themselves out in the playground. The Croom Town Park features 13 acres of woodland paths, walkways, picnic benches and riverside seating. St Marys Well is situated within the park also.
The last place I’m going to write about, I visited last weekend for the first time in many years. I used always be taken there when I was younger and decided to take my own little ones last week. This place was Curraghchase. It was absolutely fantastic and has changed so much for the better. There are two playgrounds, loads of forest walks and cycles and even facilities for a bit of off road cycling if that’s what you like. We spent the whole day there, walking, cycling, playing games on the grass and of course rolling down the big hill from the house. There is picnic benches where you can have your lunch or snack and also built in barbeques where you can cook a feast. It really is a super place to spend a day and well worth the €5 fee at the entrance. Make sure you have coins for this as it is an automated barrier and won’t accept notes. Without a doubt one of the best days I have spent with the family this summer, 20mins from the city.
Finally, do not under estimate the importance of friends, neighbours, cousins etc. Talk to your neighbours, friends etc and arrange to take part in activities together. Kids love hanging out with kids. Organise some activities on your local green or in your garden. Rotate between each other’s houses and take turns in organising “fun days”. There is loads of activities that can easily be done in very little space.
If you are short of ideas you can email Limerick Sports Partnership @ firstname.lastname@example.org and we can give you some ideas. Enjoy the rest of your summer and don’t forget to make the most of the time with your children. Activities you take part in with the children do not always have to be about the children you can use the time to exercise as well and in doing so set a good example for your children to follow.
Written by Liam Cantwell Limerick Sports Partnership email@example.com