Broaden their minds with free her­itage tours

The Sligo Champion - - OPINION - With Grace Larkin

THE first Wednesday of ev­ery month sees most of the her­itage at­trac­tions in the coun­try free to visit. I de­cided to take ad­van­tage of this to keep three ea­ger chil­dren en­ter­tained.

Our first stop was Parkes Cas­tle in Leitrim. A short drive took us to an­other world. As work on the court­yard is on­go­ing, ad­mis­sion is free ev­ery day at the mo­ment.

As we en­tered the cas­tle, the chil­dren were given a sheet with pic­tures on it and were asked to find them in the rooms. This turned it into a game which was fan­tas­tic. Go­ing through the dif­fer­ent rooms and dif­fer­ent dis­plays, I felt my age when my chil­dren were most im­pressed by the 1990’s Tele­com Eire­ann phone!

With the gor­geous weather we sat in the shade of the cas­tle walls and had a pic­nic. A free event but one they en­joyed.

Next we went to Sligo Abbey. I’m ashamed to say it was my first time in­side the walls. Again their imag­i­na­tions (and un­for­tu­nately their feet) ran wild as they felt they were on the set of a Harry Potter film and had landed in Hog­warts. My old­est is nine and had an in­ter­est in the his­tory but for the younger ones ex­plor­ing the pas­sages was great fun.

Wednesday is also the day for free events at Sligo Li­brary in July and Au­gust. Fol­low­ing a sto­ry­telling with Imelda Ní Ríain at the li­brary, we de­cided to visit the coun­try mu­seum, again ashamedly, a first time for me. The kids en­joyed the swords and guns (prob­a­bly some­thing I should be wor­ried about) and were amazed when I tried to ex­plain the age of the Ne­olithic dis­plays.

With her­itage week just around the cor­ner I have been look­ing through the brochure to pick out what might in­ter­est them. The Model is running a His­tory of Play ex­hi­bi­tion for the week of Au­gust 18 to 24. Cre­ated by artist Ea­mon O’Kane, this colour­ful three-di­men­sional in­stal­la­tion, in­vites chil­dren to ex­plore shape, colour and con­struc­tive de­sign through imag­i­na­tive and cre­ative play. On Au­gust 18 Tread­ing on my stones is an in­tro­duc­tion to the Ge­ol­ogy of North Sligo with the help of Drum­cliffe Church stone walls, arte­facts and grave­stones. Mean­while on Au­gust 26 there is a Viking pic­nic in Knox­park near the river in Bal­lisadare. Scenic Knox­park has ma­jor ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance and a pub­lic art trail: it could be the site of a Viking set­tle­ment. Fam­i­lies are in­vited to bring a pic­nic and en­joy an ex­pert guided tour. We have a wealth of ac­tiv­i­ties on our own doorstep and lots of times it costs noth­ing only the price of your petrol to en­joy. It’s free to give them me­mories that will last a life­time. For more in­for­ma­tion on sum­mer events at Sligo Li­brary check out their Face­book page or www.sligoli­brary.ie. For Free Wed­nes­days at her­itage sites log on to www.her­itageire­land.ie and for Her­itage Week events check out www. her­itage­week.ie

Parkes Cas­tle in Leitrim. Ad­mis­sion is free ev­ery day at the mo­ment.

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