If you’re moving to the Emerald Isle with children – or you’ll have grandchildren, nieces, nephews and so on visiting you – these family-friendly places in Ireland are the best locations to buy your home. From the Dublin suburb that ticks all the boxes, to the perfect village to experience rural life, we’ve scoured the country for the top spots.
Skerries, County Fingal
Beautiful Skerries is a postcard-perfect Irish fishing town, with colourful houses lining a sweeping harbour. In fact, there are two harbours, on either side of a small promontory, so (for a higher price tag), you can find yourself a property with dual-aspect sea views. Skerries has a strong community spirit, and the entire town as a whole won RTÉ’s People of the Year Awards back in 2011. More recently, it’s won Ireland’s Tidiest Town and has come second in the Best Place to Live in Ireland award. It’s small enough that people know each other, but offers excellent connections to Dublin, being just a short train ride into Connolly Station.
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There’s plenty to do for the whole family, and many activities take advantage of the waterfront location. Fancy a spot of paragliding, sea kayaking or sailing? Don’t forget to explore the historic mills and take a cycle ride out to imposing Ardgillan Castle. On the weekend, take a boat out to Red Island to see the seabirds and build sandcastles on the sandy beaches.
Flights from Dublin International Airport to all major European destinations, 25 minutes’ drive by car. Public transport links from Dublin include a 30-minute train journey from Connolly Station or a one-hour-and-a-half bus ride on the 33 from Gardiner Street.
Three-bedroom semi-detached houses, €400,000. Three-bedroom detached houses, €800,000.
Howth is top of family-friendly places in Ireland for easy access to central Dublin for us. It’s a short ride on the DART from Connolly Station, but it feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. With the popular cliff walks and its quiet harbour district, where you’ll find some great cafés and, of course, a fish and chip shop, it’s almost like being in a village, but with all the advantages of city living. Properties here are generally spacious, with large gardens, and the streets are green, quiet and safe. When the sun’s shining, head to Claremont Beach, whose shallow waters are ideal for kids.
Howth is top of family-friendly places in Ireland for easy access to central Dublin for us. It’s a short ride on the DART from Connolly Station, but it feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre
Flights from Dublin International Airport to all major European destinations, 20 minutes’ drive by car or one hour and a half by bus (700 and then 31). Public transport from central Dublin includes a 30-minute journey by DART from Tara Street, or the same amount of time by bus 31 and 31a from Busáras.
Three-bedroom terraced houses, €400,000. Three-bedroom semi-detached houses, €600,000. Three-bedroom detached houses, above one million.
Killarney, County Kerry
Who wouldn’t want the beautiful Ring of Kerry almost right on their doorstep? Killarney has made it on our list of family-friendly places in Ireland for the fantastic range of outdoor activities on offer – there’ll be no weekends glued to screens here! It’s no wonder that it officially bills itself as ‘Ireland’s Adventure Capital’.
Spend sunny days on the shores of Lough Leane, or head to Purple Mountains, the Gap of Dunloe or the Lakes of Killarney, and explore Torc Waterfall. Killarney itself is consistently rated one of Ireland’s cleanest towns, and, like Skerries, has a strong community spirit and welcoming attitude to newcomers. There are any number of hobbies for children to take up here, including Irish specialties like GAA sports or Irish dancing!
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Regional flights from Kerry Airport, including to London-Luton, 22 minutes by train from Killarney (get off at Farranfoe). Longer-haul flights from Cork Airport, one hour 20 minutes’ drive by car. Dublin is 4 hours 35 minutes away by Bus Éireann, or three hours by train.
Three-bedroom semi-detached houses, €250,000. Three-bedroom detaches houses, €380,000.
Ardara, County Donegal
Aradara packs a lot into a small village, and its long high street is full of prosperous shops and cafés. As one of the nominees of the Best Place to Live in Ireland award said, commenting on the village, ‘We have so many events throughout the year, catering for visitors and locals alike and showcasing some top-class music, crafts and family entertainment.’ The busy social calendar and strong sense of community attracts plenty of newcomers, to the extent that this small village is actually bucking the trend of rural population decline, having grown by about 30% since 2006.
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International flights from Belfast International Airport, two hours 40 minutes’ drive away, or Dublin International Airport, three hours 25 minutes’ away by car. Public transport from major cities is limited.
Four-bedroom detached houses, €250-300,000.
Westport, County Mayo
Westport is exactly what many of us picture when we think of an Irish town. It’s neither too big nor too small, and is surrounded by beautiful scenery, in this case the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick and the calm waters of Clew Bay. Victorian novelist William Makepeace Thackeray described it as ‘the most beautiful view I ever saw in the world. It forms an event in one’s life to have seen that place so beautiful that it is, and so unlike other beauties I know.’
Just walking through the centre, you can see the community spirit in the carefully tended floral displays and tidy streets – and the fact that there is one voluntary association for every 55 inhabitants. If the children are budding surfers, they can practise at Louisburg Beach, or, on a rainy day, you could explore Westport House – the site of one of the castles of ‘Pirate Queen’ Grace O’Malley. For the adults, Matt Malloy’s Pub on Bridge Street is a proper Irish pub, with nightly live music.
Regional flights from Knock Airport, 50 minutes’ drive away, or longer-haul flights from Dublin International Airport, three hours 30 minutes’ drive away.
Three-bedroom townhouse in centre, €700,000. Three-bedroom detached house in rural area, €300,000.