Recreational activities for young people


While recreation and the environment in which young people participate in recreation is changing, young people in Ireland are still involved in a wide range of traditional recreational activities. These include sports, clubs, music, dance and volunteering.

There is a strong focus on organised activities, particularly in the case of younger teenagers. As they get older there is also a move towards more casual activities that young people control themselves. These more casual activities can include skateboarding, biking and using the internet, as well as just ‘hanging out’ with friends.

National Recreational Policy

In 2007 the Office of the Minister for Children published Teenspace - the National Recreation Policy for Young People. The overall objective of the National Recreation Policy is to provide a framework for the promotion of appropriate recreational opportunities for young people between the ages of 12 and 18. The policy aims to cover both organised activities as well as the more casual activities that young people engage in during their free time.

Youth cafés

During the drafting of the policy, the need for casual recreational opportunities in particular, such as drop-in centres and youth cafés, was identified by young people. In 2010 the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth published Youth cafés in Ireland - a best practice guide (pdf) and Youth café toolkit - how to set up and run a youth café in Ireland (pdf).

Local Authority Play and Recreation Network

In February 2012, the Department established the Local Authority Play and Recreation Network (LAPRN) to introduce a more coordinated and interagency approach to achieving the main goals of the play and recreation policies at both national and local level. The network has developed and expanded a National Recreation Week which takes place annually in local authority areas across the country.

Funding programmes

The Department provides support to community and voluntary organisations providing youth services, including recreational activities, through its grants and funding programmes.

Youth arts

In partnership with the Department and the Arts Council, the National Youth Council of Ireland operates a youth arts programme to promote and develop youth arts.

Local Sports Partnerships

Sport Ireland has developed a network of Local Sports Partnerships to promote participation in sport.

Recreational activities

Community and voluntary organisations are major providers of recreational activities for young people. They run sports clubs, youth clubs and various other youth services.

Local authorities provide information on recreational and cultural facilities on their websites. Contact information for local authorities is available from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.


Sport Ireland provides support to the National Governing Bodies of the various sports available in Ireland. Contact details for the National Governing Bodies are available on its website.

Youth clubs and cafés

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) is the representative body for national voluntary youth work organisations. Information on its members and their activities is available on its website.


Volunteer Ireland provides advice for young people who are interested in volunteering on its website. It also provides contact details for the network of Volunteer Centres. Volunteer Centres provide a placement service between individuals who want to volunteer and organisations that want volunteers.

President's Award

The President's Award is the National Challenge Award for young people between the ages of 15 and 25 years. The purpose of the award is to reward young people who have set and achieved a demanding challenge for themselves in each of 4 different areas of activity. Find out more in our document on the President’s Award.

Page edited: 9 October 2015