On Sunday we drove out to Skerries in North County Dublin to visit the monstrously talented children’s book author Niamh Sharkey and her family. It was a cold, bright day. Niamh had warned us to dress warmly; the playground was by the sea.
We must have maneuvered through five roundabouts to get there (the traffic circles in Europe take some getting used to), and at the last one, we wound through a railway underpass so narrow we had no idea it was two-way until nearly getting sideswiped by an oncoming car.
From Niamh’s kitchen, we could see a giant windmill.
We packed up all the kids (she has three adorable older kids who G & C keep talking about) and followed them to Ardgillan Castle.
Ardgillan is a gorgeous public park with plenty of (free!) parking. The location was spectacular. Standing at the top of a rolling meadow, we looked down to a line of yew trees flanking the castle. Beyond the castle (technically a country house from the late eighteenth century), lay the turquoise Irish Sea. The grounds have rose gardens (not yet in bloom), picnic areas, and beautiful walking and cycling paths. They even host children’s parties (giving an entirely new dimension to the princess phenomenon among young children). Looking north, the velvety Mourne Mountains looked painted by watercolor on the horizon.
On the almost 200 acres of grounds, there is a wonderland of a playground. With a pirate ship and a submarine, another perilous rope tree and a zip line, this playground was as state of the art as the one in Malahide, though a bit smaller. How will we ever go back to U.S. playgrounds? Why does North County have such amazing playgrounds?
On the way back to Niamh’s house for lunch, we drove down hilly roads lined with ivy-covered trees and organic farms out to the road edging Skerries Harbour. Thickets of ragwort banked along the road, pops of yellow as sharp as the sun (the harsh light made for long shadows, despite the place being so photogenic, it was hard to capture in that light). White caps skimmed along the water. The tide was out so the boats in the harbor looked tossed there, keeling over like forgotten toys in the basin.
We didn’t explore the village of Skerries on foot but just did a quick drive through. I would love to go back again (especially when it’s a bit warmer, to get ice cream from the tiny pier-side shack known as “Storm in a Teacup”) to see more and stroll along the beach. Highly recommend this as a day trip from Dublin with young children. It was about 45 minutes north but it felt a world away.
We had so much fun that the boys missed their nap and we left her house at 4pm, just as our blue sky gave itself over to a dark cloud and hail started.
The boys conked out by the time we were on the N1 and C wanted to sleep on Daddy for another hour or so when we got home.