A new Playful Pirate Culture Trail has launched in Cork City, Ireland’s maritime haven, for the summer months. Throughout July and August, the city’s vibrant museums, galleries and visitor attractions will add pirate fun to their offering so families can explore culture, heritage and the city’s green spaces in an imaginative and playful way.
It’s the perfect opportunity to get your kids to say ‘aye-aye’ to cultural adventures so gather your hearties and navigate them to great culture and green spaces in the city using the specially created Playful Pirate Culture Trail treasure map.
Museums, galleries, and historic sites are of course all keepers of treasure so there are lots for your crew to discover and explore! The map includes a special treasure to be found at each site, along with other challenges. It also lists 20 child-friendly activities to do in the city from spotting pirate ships and cannons, to digging for hidden loot and searching for golden angels!
In addition to a treasure hunt at each venue on your voyage, there will be pirate photo opportunities, fun facts, lots of pirate colouring, and suggested activities to try where X marks the spot.
Make sure you also look out for the play trail mascot Bláithin, a little green environmentalist pirate lizard, who will play hide and seek at each venue. As a pirate who lives on the sea, she encourages everyone to learn about the environment and keep the city and planet clean and healthy!
And above all, make sure your little pirates get a stamp at every venue to fill their maps with their bounty! The trail includes Blackrock Castle Observatory, Blarney Castle, The Butter Museum, Cork City Gaol, Cork Public Museum, Cork Military Museum, Elizabeth Fort, Crawford Art Gallery, Nano Nagle Place, Glucksman Gallery, Old Cork Waterworks Experience, Shandon Bells and Tower, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, St Peter’s Church, Triskel Christchurch and outdoor spaces/ picnic points including Fitzgerald Park, the Lough, and the Atlantic Pond. The aim is that families can have multiple days out, trying different locations and activities.
Embracing a fun pirate theme is just one of many ways museums, galleries and attractions have come together to make their spaces more playful, youth-friendly and accessible. This year the map includes information on accessibility and work is being done with UCC Occupational Therapy Department to make our cultural spaces more inclusive.
The Playful Culture Trail was first established in Cork in 2021 as part of an ongoing commitment toward making Cork a ‘Playful City’ and to making cultural and heritage spaces more accessible and fun for children. The idea proved hugely popular with locals and visitors to the city alike and opened up a new way of thinking about attractions in the city. This year the Playful Culture Trail has taken inspiration from the sponsor Cork City Council’s coat of arms, which depicts a ship passing through two towers (perhaps with pirates onboard!). This fun pirate theme is a playful nod to the city’s maritime history and promises fun for all ages.
Commenting on Cork City Playful Pirate Culture Trail, one of the key organisers Dr Danielle O’Donovan, Programme Manager at Nano Nagle Place, said that Cork City wants to lead the way in encouraging playful engagement in venues that may have traditionally been perceived as adult-focused spaces. “Following the huge success of our Playful Cultural Trail in 2021, we have gone back to the drawing board to create lots more ways for children to have fun and discover the amazing riches on offer in our culture and heritage spaces. This year we want to stress that the Playful Pirate Culture Trail is for everyone, reflecting the creative, curious, interactive, inclusive, beautiful nature of play.”
Also commenting, Denise Cahill, coordinator of the Playful Cork City Project and Cork Healthy Cities, said “Providing opportunities for fun and giving children every opportunity to play is more important than ever. It is wonderful to see that Cork City Council so actively supports the strong playful partnership in Cork City demonstrating a real commitment to making Cork a playful city by renewing and expanding the Playful Culture Trail offering for 2022. I’m sure the new Pirate theme will help to capture imagination even further. We want to infuse play into everyday, ordinary spaces, enabling children to thrive and reach their full potential in cultural spaces in our city, building the capacity and opportunity for the important adults in their lives who they are dependent upon for opportunities and exposure to play.”
The newly-elected Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Deirdre Forde says it’s it is wonderful to showcase the playful and child-friendly side of Cork City, and she anticipates that families will once again flock to the city’s museums, galleries, and attractions to experience the Pirate trail this summer. “It is fitting to have a fun theme like Pirates for a child-friendly initiative like this, and it is great to highlight Cork’s maritime history. I hope that families will flock to Cork this summer to follow the Playful Pirate Culture Trail and introduce young people to the City’s wonderful culture and heritage. I’m proud that we are creating an open and welcome experience for families in our museums, galleries, and historic sites, and look forward to discovering more of the trail with my grandchildren”.
20 Activities for landlubbers, scallywags and scurvy naves to try out along the
Cork City Playful Pirate Culture Trail
- Make a pirate hat from paper and wear it on your adventures!
- Find Bláithin the pirate lizard
- Make a floatable raft by wrapping up leaves and floating it along the River Lee!
- Race your floatable nature rafts on the Lough
- Race sticks with a friend by throwing them from a footbridge
- Find 5 ducks and 2 swans on the Atlantic Pond
- Have a nature treasure hunt – find a bird’s feather, a fern and a small grey stone
- Find a stick in the shape of a pirate’s sword
- Play on the shipwrecked boat at Fitzgerald’s Park Playground
- Spot the golden angel treasure at the top of St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral
- Grab your mates and go cloud spotting for sharks and starfish
- Make a pirate spyglass from toilet roll tubes
- Find the cannon on the corner of Grand Parade and Tuckey Street
- Search for buried treasure in the sand at Fitzgerald’s Park playground
- Can you spot a Jolly Roger flag among the ships moored at the Port of Cork building?
- What do pirates eat for dinner? Wander through the English Market to find the ugliest fish!
- Set sail on a reading adventure at Cork Public Libraries!
- Grab a Hysterical Histories booklet from the Tourist Office on Patrick’s Street
- Be like an old Sea Dog and don’t go thirsty, use a reusable drinks bottle!
- Get out on the water on a kayak or harbour cruise!
This project is part of an overall mission to make Cork a playful, child-friendly, active city and was developed in collaboration with all the participating museums, galleries, and attractions in Cork, in partnership with Let’s Play Cork, and Pure Cork. The initiative has been generously funded by Cork City Council. Some venues on the trail are free, while others offer family rates.
Pick up your map in the tourist information offices or at any attraction or hotels in Cork City or find it at playfulculturetrail.com. For updates on Cork as a Playful City follow @corkcitycouncilofficial on social media or search hashtags #LetsPlayCork #ActiveCorkCity