It has always been a dream of mine to visit Ireland. My obsession started with Father Ted and took me through music, history, autobiography and literature, cinema and art… Of course, the Holy Grail, as it were, has always been the idea of actually visiting the Emerald Isle. This dream came true last week. It was a last-minute arrangement; I don’t think we were even sure we were going until the afternoon before we left! We were on holiday at Bluestone Wales, an easy 30 minute drive from Fishguard, so when Stena Line very kindly offered us return tickets to Rosslare, we really couldn’t refuse. The thought of doing the trip in one day almost put my husband off completely, particularly as I don’t know how to drive, so was unable to take over at any point. However, I think he got the impression that I would never forgive him if we didn’t make the trip so we were suddenly Ireland-bound! There are two crossings from Fishguard to Rosslare each day, one that departs at 02:30 and arrives at 06:30, and a second that departs at 14:30 and arrives at 18:00. As we were looking to get there and back in a day, we chose the early crossing, which had its trials. We chose not to get a cabin and instead had breakfast in the restaurant once we had checked in! The children watched films on the tablet and laptop and spent some time in the play area. It was a very strange time to be crossing with children, I must admit. I think if it was for longer than a day trip, it would feel more worthwhile, but we were very aware that at least one of the four of us was likely to be grumpy and sleep-deprived at any one time!
The crossing ran smoothly, the staff at the restaurant were incredibly friendly and I managed to get a little sleep, hence the lack of photographs! We arrived in Ireland at 06:30 and made our way to Dublin. The children quickly fell asleep, which gave hubby a chance to power through some miles. Unfortunately, he had a migraine that day so frequent stops were a necessity and I think it was almost lunch time before we reached the capital city. Dublin really reminded us of Amsterdam – it was so friendly and pretty, particularly by the river.
The children loved being able to run around; I think the whole trip has since become a bit of a blur to them and they struggle to differentiate between Ireland and Wales, but it is a day that we all enjoyed and one that will stay with me for a long time. In the grounds of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the children were delighted to discover a park and burnt off lots of energy whilst I kept one eye on them and the other on a snoozing hubs.
One of the kids’ stand-out memories from our day in Dublin is that the cafe in the aforementioned Cathedral’s grounds had one table; a communal table. Miss J reminded us of this only yesterday when she was pointing out how friendly the city was compared to London!
We also had time to visit Dublin Castle and found the national wax museum, which we didn’t get a chance to go in but will definitely be looking at visiting on our next trip as it looked like lots of fun.
Before long, it was time to head back to Rosslare for the evening ferry, which departed at 21:15 and arrived back in Wales just after midnight. Once we reached the ferry, we checked in really quickly (it’s such an easy process when travelling between the UK and Ireland) and headed up towards the deck to get a last look at Ireland.
The children spent the entire crossing playing with the children of another family in the designated play area and genuinely had a great time. They are generally very good travellers but I had been nervous that the timings of the crossings would upset their routines too much for them to enjoy their day, but thankfully this was not the case. As we hadn’t yet had an evening meal, we bought dinner from the restaurant and were served by the same staff as before, who were just as friendly. Unfortunately, there was a very limited selection from the menu available and no children’s meals at all, so Miss J just had chips and the boy had some bread and butter. The staff were very apologetic and as helpful as they could be. The meals that hubs and I had were really yummy and well worth the £4.99 we paid for them.
Stena Europe is a Superferry at 149m long and carries 1386 passengers and 564 cars. You can book a trip to Ireland here, either from Holyhead to Dublin or the crossing we took, which was Fishguard to Rosslare. We were staying at Bluestone so it made more sense for us to sail from Fishguard. If you book your crossing online you also get the chance to make any amendments or cancellations by going to the manage my booking section. Furthermore, with Stena Line’s current special offer, the trip needn’t cost much at all – kids go free with the generous ferry company when you book a motorist fare on any of their Irish Sea routes. The news gets better, as there are no restrictions on when the kids can travel including during half-term breaks, long Bank Holiday weekends and the fast approaching summer holidays.
“An adult travelling with four kids in the car can save up to £120 return – money which can be spent treating the whole family to a special day out”, said Marc Casey, Route Marketing Manager Irish Sea North, Stena Line. “My advice to parents is to book their dates early as some sailings at certain times of the year can be very popular with families.”
Visit www.stenaline.co.uk to book your travel – just select your sailings and your discount will be applied – saving you up to £30 per child return.
What are you waiting for? We thoroughly recommend both Stena Line as a child-friendly company and Ireland as a destination to visit with little ones. Ours loved it and we cannot wait to go back; though next time it will be for longer than one day!
We received complimentary return crossing in return for an honest review