A lot of things about Ireland are “family friendly.” There tend to be excellent family discounts on attractions and activities. More importantly, people on the street seem to exhibit a warmth and patience towards the children that we don’t encounter often in the U.S. (Occasionally, this crosses over into creepy—like the man who kept making faces at my daughter on the train yesterday—she just ignored him—but it’s usually great.)
Restaurants are a bit trickier. They all seem to basically welcome children, even the pubs (at least in the daytime). Children’s menus are somewhat rare, though. I think the philosophy is that children should “eat regular food”, and I’m comfortable with that. But the portions can be tricky. Since we have three children, though, we usually can order a main or two with some sides and divvy things up appropriately. It works out.
But hotels in Ireland, and Europe generally, aren’t family friendly at all. Most hotel rooms in Europe are marketed as a “single” or a “double.” A single often has one twin bed. A double has either two twin beds or one double bed. Obviously, neither is viable for a family of five.
(If you aren’t familiar with American hotels, the most common room types are rooms with one king bed or two double beds. A room with two double beds is perfectly adequate for our family.)
We haven’t really sorted this, yet, either. Jury’s Inn, a chain (mostly) in Ireland and the UK, does have something called a “family room.” It consists of a double bed and a pull-out couch that can supposedly sleep two children up to 12 years. We got one of these in Belfast, though, and the pull-out couch was scarcely twin-sized. It worked for our 4 and 5 year old children, but barely.
With more travels coming up, though, I guess we’ll keep trying. What do families here do? I’m really not sure.