The end is nigh San­dra O’Con­nell has 20 ways to eke out the end of the school hol­i­days

As the hol­i­days draw to a close and ‘ back to school’ talk takes over the din­ner ta­ble, San­dra O’Con­nell sug­gests 20 ways to make the most of the next week or so

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS - Con­tin­ued over­leaf

If the thought of head­ing back to home­work, uni­forms and school lunches is hard to bear, just think how the chil­dren feel. The be s t way t o br u s h of f th e back- to- school blues i s with a last- minute burst of fun. We’ve rounded up 20 ways to keep that hol­i­day feel­ing go­ing as long as pos­si­ble. 1 Satur­day marks the st a r t o f Na­tional Her­itage Week – although, to be pedan­tic, it’s ac­tu­ally Na­tional Her­itage Nine Days, be­cause it runs un­til Au­gust 27th. All the more time for you take ev­ery­body’s mind off the im­pend­ing gloom by get­ting in­volved. This year’s theme is “It’s In Your Na­ture”, so the pro­gramme i s packed with out­door es­capades from ur­ban wildlife tours to for­ag­ing walks and bee ho­tel builds. There are events on all over the coun­try, in­clud­ing a Whale and Dol­phin Day ( Au­gust 26th) at Hook Light­house in Co Wex­ford, be­tween 11am and 5.30pm, so with luck some­one will tell the cetaceans. For more, see Manchán Ma­gan’s A to Z guide to Ire­land’s nat­u­ral her­itage on page 16. her­itage­week. ie 2 Have a laugh at the Char­lie Chap­lin Com­edy Film Fes­ti­val ( Au­gust 24th- 27th) in the pic­turesque vil­lage of Water­ville, t he great comic’s f amous home­from- home on the Ring of Kerry. As well as of­fer­ing the most bowler hats the kids are likely to see out­side a Mary Pop­pins movie ( the town is aim­ing to get into the Guin­ness Book of World Records for this feat, on Satur­day 26th), there’ll be loads of street en­ter­tain­ment plus Fos­setts cir­cus. chap­lin­film­fes­ti­val. com 3 You’ll have to be quick but there’s still time to im­merse your­selves in the Rose of Tralee Fes­ti­val , which is now in its 58th year and runs un­til Au­gust 22nd. If you’re used to check­ing out this par­tic­u­lar “Lovely Girls” com­pe­ti­tion from the sofa, it might be fun to go see them do their thing – sing, dance, talk – live and in per­son. Even if you can’t get a cov­eted ticket, there’s still plenty of street en­ter­tain­ment plus a cir­cus, fun­fair and fire­works. Just like on stage. rose­of­tralee. ie 4 For the fleet of foot – and ace at last­minute ac­com­mo­da­tion – the mighty Fleadh Cheoil fin­ishes on Mon­day ( Au­gust 21st), hav­ing brought the best of the coun­try’s tra­di­tional mu­si­cians to En­nis, Co Clare. Vis­i­tor num­bers are al­ways off the scale for this Au­gust – and indeed au­gust – shindig, and the fam­ily- friendly at­mos­phere is like noth­ing else. There are con­certs, céilís, ex­hi­bi­tions, lec­tures and street per­for­mances; a good ex­cuse to stay on and explore the Bur­ren, Cliffs of Mo­her and Bun­ratty after the crowds go home. flead­hcheoil. ie 5 Who could pass up the chance to ring the bells at Christ Church Cathe­dral? Well, Dublin’s cit­i­zens had better stock up on ear plugs be­cause from Satur­day, Au­gust 19th to Satur­day, Au­gust 26th, as part of Na­tional Her­itage Week, this won­der­ful 11th- cen­tury in­sti­tu­tion has put to­gether a packed pro­gramme of fam­ily- friendly events, in­clud­ing or­gan recitals, trea­sure trails, talks and tours, plus an op­por­tu­nity to ring those bells. Form an or­derly queue. christchurch­cathe­dral. ie 6 How many times have you sprinted through St Stephen’s Green late for some­thing, daw­dled to feed the ducks, or sun­bathed on your lunch break? So why

sc‘ r‘ If the only een you see a child look­ing at these days is the one in the palm of their hand, the IFI fam­ily fes­ti­val could be just the ticket

not trans­form it from be­ing a back­drop to the main event? Find out all sorts of in­ter­est­ing nuggets from its fas­ci­nat­ing past, whether it’s the lo­ca­tion of its old gal­lows, the ghosts pass­ing through the rail­ings or the names on the arch. Next Satur­day, Au­gust 26th, the won­der­ful Lit­tle Mu­seum of Dublin just across the road is or­gan­is­ing a 60- minute tour around the Green, led by his­to­rian Donal Fallon, to fill you in on all sorts of as­pects of the city’s star park. And, best of all, though you have to book, ad­mis­sion is free. lit­tle­mu­seum. ie 7 Bud­ding film buffs in the fam­ily might ap­pre­ci­ate a trip to the Ir­ish Film In­sti­tute’s Fam­ily Fes­ti­val next week­end, Au­gust 26th and 27th. An an­nual event, it’s aimed at bring­ing fam­i­lies to­gether to see some of the finest an­i­mated and live ac­tion movies from around the world, as well as take part in work­shops. If the only screen you see a child look­ing at these days is the one in the palm of their hand, and you feel you’re in­ter­rupt­ing them every time you speak, this one could be just the ticket. ifi. ie 8 Trim is a ter­rific lit­tle town for a fam­ily break, with all sorts of his­toric mon­u­ments in its hin­ter­land, from cas­tles to cairns. Visit on Sun­day Au­gust 27th for the Sal­mon of Knowl­edge Fes­ti­val at Trim Cas­tle – it­self a great place for an en­ter­tain­ing tour. The same day will see the start of the Race Around Ire­land cy­cle, with ad­ven­ture races for grownups and chil­dren, plus tradi- tional mu­sic and dance per­for­mances, and craft stalls from all over the Boyne Val­ley. stay­intrim. ie 9 Tim Clabon of the Ir­ish Wildlife Trust is bring­ing Dublin­ers back to na­ture with an ot­ter- spot­ting walk along the River Dod­der at 10am on Sun­day, Au­gust 27th, ex­plain­ing about ot­ters, their slides and holts, as well as Ratty, Toad, Mole and all their river­bank friends. With a re­cent sur­vey find­ing that one in eight kids in the UK has never seen a real cow, it’s maybe no harm to show yours the wildlife on their sub­ur­ban doorstep. iwt. ie 10 If you’ve got kids, chances are you’ve got Harry Pot­ter fans. You may not be able to en­rol them in Hog­warts but you can ease the pain of the re­turn to bor­ing old real school with a visit to LeakyCon ( Au­gust 31st to Septem­ber 3rd). This fan­dom event, which takes place at the City West Ho­tel, prom­ises to bring to­gether all sorts of cast mem­bers – in­clud­ing Evanna Lynch ( Luna Love­g­ood), Al­fred Enoch ( Dean Thomas) and more – for in­ter­views, dis­cus­sions and all things wiz­ard­ing. leakycon. com

Far left: the Char­lie Chap­lin film fes­ti­val in Water­ville ( 2); above: the Trim Sal­mon of Knowl­edge Fes­ti­val, Co Meath ( 8); left: St Stephen’s Green ( 6)

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