Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on the Trails

I never noticed how many shades of green existed in the world until traveling to Ireland. There was something magical about hiking through Killarney National Park in County Kerry. From the luscious shades of green to the grand Torc Waterfall, the park was a hidden gem for my husband and me during a trip in 2011.

Fast forward to 2017. Our family has now grown to include a toddler and an infant, and the drab winter doesn’t lend itself to much greenspace. So this year, bring Irish culture to you! Instead of international travel, there are many activities you and your family can take part in this year to celebrate all things Irish.

 

Host a Leprechaun Hike or Story Hike

Legend says that when you trap a leprechaun, he will have to tell you where his gold is hidden in return for his freedom. What better way to get the kids out on the trails than searching for a leprechaun and his gold? Leave a trail of gold coins leading to a leprechaun trap at the end of the hike. (To create a leprechaun trap, use a green box or decorate a shoe box with shamrocks, rainbows, and a variety of green.) Your trap may have some gold coin chocolates, Lucky Charms, green grapes, or raw broccoli that your little hikers can indulge in after they’ve finished the hike. Not interested in leaving a trail of coins? Instead, try a story hike! After your welcome circle, lead the group in a story about catching a leprechaun. When the book is over, head out on your hike, and you can finish up your day with some St. Patrick’s Day treats.

Book Suggestions: There are plenty of books about St. Patrick’s Day you can explore, but you might want to try How to Catch a Leprechaun (Adam Wallace), Clever Tom and the Leprechaun (Linda Shute), or Leprechaun on the Loose (Marcia Jones).

Create Your Own “Blarney Stone”

If you’re not able to travel to the Blarney Castle in County Cork, Ireland, consider creating your own Blarney Stone! Hit the trails or the beach and look for larger, smooth rocks. Once you return home, it’s time to decorate. Paint your rocks with white, green, and orange to make an Irish flag. Decorate it with colorful rainbows or shamrocks. Dress the rocks in gold yellow paint and glitter to create your own pot of gold. Who knows? Maybe your little ones will acquire the gift of gab after creating their own Blarney Stone.

Plan a Scavenger Hunt

To help get you in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, you can also host a scavenger hunt hike. As searching for four-leaf clovers can bring you luck, the task may be too overwhelming for the younger hikers. Instead, try to find the color of the rainbow while hiking! Look up, down, and all around as you search for items in nature that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (or just use purple instead of indigo and violet). Maybe you’ll see a blue jay, cardinal, leaves, or other wildlife that will help you complete your rainbow. Point out your objects as you notice them, or for a more structured scavenger hunt, you can create a paper checklist for older kids to use, or hike leads can write down the objects as they’re discovered in the parks or on the trail. Another option for a scavenger hunt would be to find as many green objects as you can while you out on your hike or at a park.

They say that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. So whether you’re watching a parade, catching a leprechaun, eating corned beef, or enjoying the day outdoors, may the luck of the Irish be with you.

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