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Travel + Fun

11th Feb 2015

The best family-friendly eateries to work into your Irish road trip

Baby Bo wasn’t going to be happy with a petrol station sandwich

Ciara Whelan

Ciara Whelan is a first-time mama; proud owner of one baby girl and her dada, five cats and fifteen pairs of Converse. She is a keen tea drinker, though it has been nearly eleven months since she got to finish a full cup. When Ciara isn’t playing peek-a-boo or singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, she makes her bread and butter producing TV commercials and programmes, the latest of which she also presents alongside her partner Jon Slattery for TV3. The Holiday Show currently airs every Wednesday at 8pm.

Life on the road can be tricky. ‘They’ said it would be even trickier with a baby but as we filmed the latest installment of our travel series, The Holiday Show for TV3, we found that it definitely has its perks too. Baby Bo wasn’t going to be happy with a petrol station sandwich on-the-go. So, this series we got to have lunch every single day and on our way around Ireland we found some lovely family-friendly places to stop and grab a bite. Here are just a few of our favourites:

The Rowan Tree Café Bar, Ennis, Co Clare 

The Rowan Tree is a hostel but it’s certainly not of the kind I used to stay in. This award-winning place is fancy and clean and its Café Bar is worth a stop-off if you’re passing through Ennis. Around the warmth of the open fire you’ll find plenty of new mamas and their babies tucking into healthy and hearty Italian lunches. The service is super and the pizza is great.


Las Rada, Naas, Co Kildare

You wouldn’t usually associate babies with tapas and wine bars but the staff at Las Rada couldn’t do more to make you feel comfortable, especially in the early evening when the warm restaurant is full of the chatter of little kids. Las Rada offer all sorts of food served tapas-style so the smaller portions are perfect for the smallies. The Early Bird Menu of two dishes with a glass of wine, beer or a soft drink for €12 is ridiculously good value. I’d recommend the calamari, the nachos, the prawns and, well, everything else on the menu. Bo is a big fan of the sweet potato fries.

Chocolate Brown, Mullingar, Co Westmeath 

Travelling through Westmeath with a sweet tooth? No problem. We found this little gem on a hunt for a morning coffee and couldn’t help but indulge in a few of their treats. The coffee is great and the cupcakes are even better. It’s family-friendly and the kids will love you for popping in. We’ll just have to bring the baby back when she’s allowed to eat sugar.

The Poachers Inn, Bandon, Co Cork 

The Poachers Inn in Bandon is the perfect pit stop on a road trip in County Cork. The family-run restaurant prides itself on serving the freshest of fresh Irish seafood. There’s even chowder and a hot bowl of West Cork mussels on the kids’ menu, so it’s a great place to introduce the little ones to fish, too. They do, of course, serve turf as well as surf and if you like the food as much as I do, you can even learn to cook it yourself in their cookery school.


Vasco, Fanore, Co Clare

Vasco, another wine bar by night, is a little unexpected on the coast road of The Burren and definitely doesn’t feel very ‘rural Ireland’. The menu, made up of locally sourced and foraged food, is creative, contemporary and really tasty and overall the place feels very modern and cool. If the weather’s warm the kids will love sitting al fresco beside a field full of donkeys.

The Pins Gastro Bar @ The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co Galway 

Full of life, the bar at The Twelve does great food in a great atmosphere. It’s always a good sign when a hotel bar is as full of locals eating as guests. Sunday lunch is really popular with families although it’s such good value I recommend eating here any day of the week. Oh, and when you order your chips make sure to order a side of curry sauce too. Dee-licious.



Ciara Whelan