Inside information & tips on what to see, do, eat, & special places to stay; Ireland, London & beyond!
Vibrant Ireland

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Out To Lunch Arts Festival 2016, Belfast. January's Top Pick for Cultural Adventure

Out To Lunch Arts Festival 2016, Belfast. January’s Top Pick for Cultural Adventure

With over 50 intriguing events from comedy, music, food talks, art, magic & more, the Out To Lunch Arts Festival will add zing to your January afternoons and evenings from the 8th to the 31st!

Plus, as accommodation is generally cheaper in January, it’s a great time to visit Belfast! Your biggest issue will be trying whittle down what shows to see from the tempting array. Listen in to get a taste of what’s in store, and the wee video of some Belfast street art is below the podcast.

Belfast Street Art Video (under 1 minute)

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Belfast%20Street%20Art”]

Visit the Out To Lunch Arts Festival at to see all the listings and book tickets.

Keep an eye on @BelfastFoodTour and @SeedheadArts on Twitter to see if they add another combo walking tour 😀

Check in to every so often to see what will be added on as 2016 Northern Ireland Year of Food starts to get going.

Here is their info on the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink:

With two Belfast restaurants – Ox and Eipic – recently bagging Michelin stars, Northern Ireland’s artisan food and drink producers are reaping international renown from food critics and the media.

With record breaking performances at the UK Great Taste Awards year on year, Northern Ireland is something of a best kept foodie secret.

But not for long – 2016 has been designated a Year of Food and Drink. There’s going to be a big celebration of all that is good about the top notch local produce. And the world is invited!

Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016

Yum & Fun! Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016

It’s a leap year. So that means 366 days of opportunities to taste, munch and quaff your way through 12 specially selected themes for each month of the year. There’ll be special foodie events, festivals, money-off deals, pop-up restaurants, tastings and tours galore.

It all starts with ’breakfast’ in January (ah, the famous Ulster fry) and ends in December with ’Christmas and premium foods’. In between there’s everything from ’love meat’ to ’brewing and distilling’ to’ heritage and traditions’.

Northern Ireland’s epic landscapes, traditions and people make its food heritage very unique. Thanks to its wild coastline, endless green fields and famously fickle weather, the country produces some of the world’s finest and freshest ingredients – from fabulous seafood to rare meats and iconic breads, organic vegetables, artisan cheeses, premium spirits and craft beers.

Three of its home-grown foods hold EU Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status – Lough Neagh Eels, Armagh Bramley Apples and Comber Early Potatoes – putting them on a par with the likes of Parmesan cheese and Champagne.

Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 potato farm

These Northen Ireland potatoes are on par with champagne 😀

And there’s more. Shortcross Gin from County Down (MY NOTE: yum! I’ll have a gin taste test post up soon which includes Shortcross) recently scooped a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Glenarm Organic Salmon is lined up on shelves in Harvey Nichols and Abernethy Butter is the darling of London’s Michelin-starred chefs.

From a Game of Thrones Afternoon Tea at Ballygally Castle Hotel in the heart of ’Thrones’ country in County Antrim to the Titanic Menu at Rayanne House on the edge of Belfast Lough, the local food reflects local stories.

But there will be many more local tastes and exciting menus crammed with creativity and foodie sensations all through 2016.

Northern Ireland food is so good. Be shrewd, you’d be mad if you eschewed it.

Head Out To Lunch in Northern Ireland! For the festival and the food 😀

Happy 2016! Slainte, Susan 

You may be able to explore inside the largest Loughcrew megalithic tomb via Loughcrew Megalithic Centre

You may be able to explore inside the largest Loughcrew megalithic tomb via Loughcrew Megalithic Centre

What the heck is choreosonography? How can I visit a locked 5,000 year old megalithic tomb? Some November events events & ideas for cultural adventure in Ireland!

This is the first in a series for the more adventurous person; not as in bungee jumping or skydiving kinds of adventure– this is for those of us who enjoy being a bit adventurous in the areas of Arts & Culture. Are you a cultural adventurer Check these out! 

In this week’s suggestions we have 2 cultural adventures that involve the outdoors, a challenging piano concert, a charming book and tour idea, plus several tips for enjoying Ireland’s very first City of Culture, Limerick. 

Let’s start off with some ‘easier’ adventures. Irish thatched cottages are the darling of many a postcard, but they are actually an endangered architectural species, with less than 1,600 left on the whole island. Many are private homes, but some are open to the public; one such one can be found at the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre. I visited it last week, and the young men reviving this family cottage are a delight, as is the cottage itself. I’ll have more on the centre in an upcoming article focusing on county Meath, but it’ll pop up again here when we explore the 5,000 year old megaliths. In an example of perfect timing, this landed on my desk:

Map of Irish Thatch Cottages by Emma Byrne

Map of Irish Thatch Cottages by Emma Byrne

A charming book to inspire gentle adventure.

Irish Thatch by Emma Byrne Provides a rich visual theme for a gentle adventure round Ireland. Emma and her husband Johnathan live in a county Wexford thatched cottage, and the author is well versed in the joys and judders of living under thatch in a 200 year old cottage. (Fancy water pouring out of a ceiling light, anyone?) In her book, Emma brings you through the history & craft of Irish thatched cottages, and on a charming pictorial tour of these traditional beauties throughout Ireland. She took to the open road (or, winding road as the Irish case may be,) visiting these cottages herself; the book contains over 350 photos and an illustrated map listing thatched cottages open to the public. The thatched heritage cottage at Loughcrew was not yet open at the time of the book’s writing, so you’ll have to pencil it in yourself. You can purchase Irish Thatch at many bookshops, or order online from O’Brien Press.


This November, why not dream up a journey centered around Irish Thatch Cottages? Book by Emma Byrne

This November, why not dream up a journey centered around Irish Thatch Cottages? Book by Emma Byrne

While we are on the subject of thatch, let’s just also have a spot of Seamus Heaney, which is always a good idea 🙂


Bespoke for weeks, he turned up some morning
Unexpectedly, his bicycle slung
With a light ladder and a bag of knives.
He eyed the old rigging, poked at the eaves,

Opened and handled sheaves of lashed wheat-straw.
Next, the bundled rods: hazel and willow
Were flicked for weight, twisted in case they’d snap.
It seemed he spent the morning warming up:

Then fixed the larder, laid out well honed blades
And snipped at straw and sharpened ends of rods
That, bent in two, made a white-pronged staple
For pinning down his world, handful by handful.

Couchant for days on sods above the rafters,
He shaved and flushed the butts, stitched all together
Into a sloped honeycomb, a stubble patch,
And left them gaping at his Midas touch.

-Seamus Heaney

Explore the 5,000 year old ‘Hill of the Witch’ megalithic tombs at Loughcrew

With amazing views of approximatly 11 counties, and built around the same time as their famous neighbor Newgrange (which is now complete with fancy visitor center and a steady stream of huge tour buses), the cairn complex at Loughcrew near Oldcastle in county Meath is a very large, and much quieter, site. The feeling of wildness, of being generally ‘untamed’ by the OPW & tons of health and safety regulations, is strong. To get the most out of your visit to, arranging for a guide is best; usually your guide can get a hold of the key so that you may actually enter into the largest cairn on Slieve na Calliagh (The Hill of The Witch/Hag.) This ancient tomb/ritual place is home to the Hag’s Chair, and one the largest amounts of megalithic art in Ireland. At the autumn and spring equinoxes the rising sun sends its rays into the chamber, illuminating the back stones and rock art. A powerful sight! The aforementioned Loughcrew Megalithic Centre can give you updates on what equinox events may be happening, and as they are also open all year they’re super handy for a cuppa tea or coffee with cake or lunch in their cafe. Needed after the fairly steep walk up to the cairns! (Note; the way up to the cairns is not wheelchair friendly at time of writing; all steps.)

Guide: I had Malachy Hand as my guide– what a treasure trove of info and stories this gentleman is! You can contact him at 

Loughcrew Megalitic Centre: The two young men running it are Niall and Fechin. Theirs is a real labour of love, and as well as the thatched heritage cottage and cafe, they also provide camping & hostel accommodation. Shoot them an email at and I’m sure they’ll be happy to answer any enquiries you may have.


Float Through Time! A Medieval River Tour of Trim

You can do a Medieval Float Through Time in Trim, Ireland

You can do a Medieval Float Through Time in Trim, Ireland

On a raft but no real paddling required! It’s all play and not really any work required as you float downstream on the river Boyne. I reckon you’ll love this fascinating and just oh so pretty journey through medieval Trim offered by Boyne Valley Activities. We went last week; the autumn leaves where ablaze and the hour & a half gentle float was just gorgeous. James knows tons of interesting facts and stories that you probably won’t find out elsewhere, so listen up! If you don’t capsize the boat anywhere (I imagine that would be pretty hard to do!) at the end of the river tour you’ll call into the tiny 14th century pub Regan’s at the riverside for a sip of what you fancy before the van brings you back to the centre. At the time of writing this, the Medieval River Tour is priced at €25 per person, and I feel that this is a terrific bargain & perhaps even a bit too low for all the work that James puts into it. Don’t miss this wonderful cultural adventure in Trim, county Meath! I’ll have more on this in my upcoming Meath article, too.

Tip: Depending on the state of the river & weather, this tour may not run in the wintery months. Contact James at to check. Do have a look at their other activities too!

Challenging the boundaries of music and dance

Figures, by Óscar Mascareñas

Figures is a new work for piano conceived, devised and directed by Irish-based, Mexican-born composer Óscar Mascareñas in collaboration with Mexican dance artist Nora Rodríguez. The work is the result of eight years of research in sound and movement that Mascareñas has been undertaking at the University of Limerick in Ireland.The aim of this project is to transform somatic forces into sounds through an exploration of the relationship between the piano and the body; the former not only seen and understood as a musical instrument, but also, and most importantly, as a space where the body moves, plays and interacts with its physicality and its sonic potential.  To describe the work, he coined the term choreosonography, a concept that involves the physicalisation of sounds and the sounding of physicality. A choreosonography is both a process and a work.

This conceptual work is the first of its kind, and represents a unique, innovative, state-of-the-art proposal that aims to challenge the boundaries of music and dance, as well as to provide a space for collaboration between artists of different disciplines, creating a discourse that will eventually change the way we approach, think about and experience composition and performance.

Óscar Mascareñas began to collaborate with Nora Rodríguez in September 2014  as part of their work at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, in the University of Limerick, and have worked on Figures since the beginning of 2015.

The full work will consist of seven to ten studies for piano, with a projected programme duration of one hour.

When? Thursday, 12 November, 8pm

Where? Tower Theatre, Irish World Academy, Univeristy of Limerick (see map below the video)

How much? Free

What else is in Limerick to see? Plenty! The Hunt Museum is always a good choice for the culture lover; have a look here for the Hunt’s current exhibitions. Until the 19th of November, there will be works by Brian MacMahon  on view, amongst others. You can check out the talks on at the Hunt Museum here. Just up O’Connell Street from the Hunt is Ormston House, another arts venue worth checking.  Also see another music event here, farther below. 


Limerick Docks by Brian MacMahon

Limerick Docks by Brian MacMahon

Any other tips? Whenever I’m in Limerick, I love to spoil myself by either eating or staying at One Pery Square in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter. (The Limerick City Gallery is just across the street.) One Pery Square does wonderful Afternoon Teas– and if you really want to indulge, how about an Afternoon Tea combined with a Thermal Spa? AHHHH! Check out their daytime menu with Afternoon Teas here. If you’d like to explore the Georgian Quarter a bit more, get in touch with Declan, over on Limerick Walking Tours. He’s great! He also does Medieval & Angela’s Ashes tours.

What’s for lunch? Well, there’s lots; if you are visiting the Hunt Museum their cafe is good, and just a wee stroll up O’Connell Street is one of my favorite Asian places, the award winning Aroi. Check out the Eat In Limerick guide map here.

Artists Biographies

Óscar Mascareñas (PhD) (Mexico/Ireland) is a poet, composer, performer and musicologist. He has given concerts, conferences and master classes extensively in Ireland, the UK, Slovakia, Hungary and Mexico. He is the founding course director of the BA in Voice and Dance, and was acting and assistant director of the MA Ritual Chant and Song at the Irish World Academy. Óscar is also founding director of the Irish ensemble HIBERNIA, and founding chair of the Cage-Cunningham Professorship in Contemporary Performance at the Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey in Mexico. His forthcoming poetry book ‘[Sketches for] A Poetry of Desire’ will be published at the end of the year by the University of Nuevo León press in Mexico. He currently lectures and researches in music and contemporary performance at the Academy.

Nora Rodríguez (Mexico) is a versatile dance artist based in Limerick, Ireland. Her main interest is to develop live performance and video. Since 2009 she has been exploring the notions of corporeality, emotion, memories, space and sound. Nora has presented and performed work internationally. She is currently Dance Co-ordinator of the BA in Voice and Dance programme at the Irish World Academy in the University of Limerick. Nora is continuously engaged in the development of interdisciplinary projects. She is currently working with Óscar Mascareñas on a series of musical explorations between movement and sound, and on her piece (ALLOW) EVERYTHING SOMETIMES with actor Kevin Kiely Jnr. and poet Shane Vaughan.

Info via Limerick 2020, do give their Facebook page a like as they often share interesting cultural events happening in the city.

Trailer for Figures, by Óscar Mascareñas:[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Figures%20″]


Also in the area that day, you may also like to check out this free daytime performance by Eve Stafford (soprano) and Yonit Kosovske (piano,) which is based on four elements: poet, composer, singer and pianist.

“An art song strives to be the perfect combination of music and text. Songs become a marriage of exquisite music and beautiful poetry.”

This programme features works by renowned Irish, English and other European composers, including Michael Head, Haevlock Nelson, Hector Berlioz, Hugo Wolf, Hubert Hastings Parry, Eric Coates, Armstrong Gibbs and Roger Quilter.

Soprano Eve Stafford has won numerous competitions at the Féile Luimní, including ‘Voice of Féile Luimní’ (2013), in operatic solo, art song, lieder and sacred music. She won prizes at Feis Maitiú Corcaigh in early music, show songs and the soprano soloist category.

While specializing in classical repertoire, she sang Rosalia in West Side Story, her first musical to date, with the Cecillian Society. A student of Olive Cowpar, she enjoys a freelance performance career and has sung in various venues throughout Limerick, including the Hunt Museum and the University Concert Hall.

When? Thursday 12 November, 1.15pm

Where? Irish World Academy of Music & Dance, University of Limerick, Limerick

How Much? Free

What can I eat nearby? La Cucina Italian isn’t far, and is very tasty! Tis only small inside, but they also do a top notch Italian takeaway menu; check that out here.

So, which cultural adventures do you fancy doing? If YOU know of or have an event, book, tour, etc that you think would fit in well with the Vibrant Ireland cultural adventure articles, get in touch! You can email hello AT Thanks!

Pull Bite Rally NCAD

Pull Bite Rally NCAD

Are you an artist?

Are you fascinated by art?

If so, and you’d  enjoy delving deeper into the processes by which artists create their works, there is a 4 week series of events and exhibitions called Pull Bite Rally starting on 19 November 2014  at  Dublin’s NCAD gallery and campus which you’ll want to have a read about! Here is the information– there’s lots going on:

Pull Bite Rally is the first exhibition to mark the Black Church Print Studio’s dynamic initiative Process. For the Pull Bite Rally exhibition artists Brian Fay, Damien Flood, Jesse Jones, Isabel Nolan and Sarah Pierce present their artworks and continued collaboration at NCAD Gallery.

Process invites leading art practitioners to work with the resources and expertise of the Studio in the production of original artworks. This collaboration between artist and the Studio aims to give a comprehensive understanding of the processes and concepts of printmaking, leading to new directions in the artists’ practices.

To mention only a few of the event highlights, (see full listing below) Declan Long is in conversation with artist and 2014 Turner Prize nominee, Ciara Phillips, on Monday 24th November, 6pm.

In a special one-off episode of TV Museum: The Mini-Series, Maeve Connolly investigates temporal, social and political aspects of serial publication and distribution. Connolly’s titled ‘Serial Publications and Practices’ lecture reconsiders some of the strategies employed by General Idea and also explores the work of various contemporary artists and institutions engaged in the production of newspapers, journals and serialised moving images, posing questions about the changing form and function of seriality in art, media and culture – Wednesday 3rd December, 5pm.

Repeat. Don’t stop’ is the NCAD MA Art in the Contemporary World organised public seminar that delves into ways to critically engage with current forms of artistic repetition and reproduction, considering how ideas and processes explored in the Pull Bite Rally exhibition relate to the broader contexts of twenty-first century art, Friday 28th November, 2pm.

Integral and in addition to the exhibition, responses from practitioners, leading figures in the visual arts and the wider public are invited to participate in rigorous inquiry and discussion that Pull Bite Rally invokes. NCAD Gallery’s collegial context affords the opportunity to form close exhibition partner relationships with staff and students from the NCAD College departments and further afield to form a parallel event series. Engaging key topics fundamental to the artists’ project experience, with reference to: the potentiality of collaboration and creative professional links for artists; printed matter and publishing; authorship and reproduction; medium specificity; professional practice pathways, skills and exchange; pedagogical foundations and shifts in contemporary art practice.

* On the occasion of the exhibition writer Niamh Dunphy is commissioned to write the essay ‘Trace and Use’ published in the Pull Bite Rally pamphlet available throughout the exhibition at NCAD Gallery.

Pull Bite Rally schedule of Exhibition Events

Wednesday 19 November 2014, 7pm.  NCAD Gallery.
● Exhibiting artist, Sarah Pierce performance on the opening night of Pull Bite Rally

Friday 21 November 2014, 5.30pm.  Harry Clarke House Lecture Theatre, NCAD.
● A screening of ‘Before the page has turned’ by Jaki Irvine.

Monday 24 November 2014, 6pm.  Harry Clarke House, NCAD.
● Ciara Phillips, artist and 2014 Turner Prize nominee in conversation with Declan Long. NCAD Research Institute funded keynote lecture.

Friday 28 November 2014, 2pm – 4pm.  Harry Clarke House, NCAD.
● Repeat. Don’t stop. In this MA Art in the Contemporary World public seminar, ways to critically engage with current forms of artistic repetition and reproduction, considering how ideas and processes explored in the Pull Bite Rally exhibition relate to the broader contexts of twenty-first century art are  considered.

Friday 28 November 2014, 5.30pm.   NCAD Gallery.
 Process Artists Talk, exhibiting artists event with the initial three Process project artists Brian Fay / Damien Flood / Jesse Jones with master printmakers Debora Ando / Mary A. Fitzgerald / print coordinator Dave McGinn, chaired by artist Colin Martin.

Monday 1st December 2014, 2pm. NCAD Gallery.
 Sarah Pierce in conversation with Donal Maguire, curator and Administrator of the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland will talk about the collaboration between the artist and the archive in the context of Pierce’s work, My dear Betty. 

Wednesday 3 December 2014, 5pm.   Harry Clarke House, NCAD.
● TV Museum: The Mini-Series, Maeve Connolly investigates temporal, social and political aspects of serial publication and distribution. Connolly’s titled ‘Serial Publications and Practices’ lecture reconsiders some of the strategies employed by General Idea and also explores the work of various contemporary artists and institutions engaged in the production of newspapers, journals and serialised moving images, posing questions about the changing form and function of seriality in art, media and culture.

Friday 5 December 2014, 5pm.   Harry Clarke House, NCAD.
● The current NCAD 4th yr BA print department artist collective, GUM Collective screen their self-made documentary on what it means to be part of a collective with Q & A. GUM will also launch their current publication.

Tuesday 9 December 2014, 5.30pm.   Harry Clarke House, NCAD.
 Once a printmaker, always a printmaker: 15 minute professional practice / artists presentations. Debora Ando / Cora Cummins / Taffina Flood / Andrew Folan / Raymond Henshaw / Mary A. Fitzgerald / Margaret O’Brien

Wednesday 10 December 4.30pm.   Black Church Print Studio.
● ‘Prosperity Project’, Jesse Jones in conversation with Raymond Henshaw to discuss the percent for art commission for the Convention Centre Dublin.

Friday 12 December, 5pm.   Harry Clarke House, NCAD.
‘The Palimpsest Project’, NCAD Fine Art Print Department presents a lecture and student discussion forum. A thirty minute screening of the student time lapse animation spanning over ten years introduced by the Head of Fine Art Print, Andrew Folan.

See their website for more

Belfast fun events- having fun

Belfast is great fun!

Belfast is buzzing with events!

We LOVE Belfast, and though it’s under many people’s radar at the minute, that won’t last for long. Visit now and enjoy some fab Belfast events in October.

I’m confident you’ll enjoy a trip to Belfast at any time, but when there is a festival or event on (which is nearly always!) this just adds to your enjoyment. Terry & I’ve spent 2 weekends there this year, and even though we’ve done loads, there are still some Belfast attractions we haven’t yet seen. Crumlin Road Gaol is one still on our list, and it sounds like Oct 16 – 19 2014 is the time to go—IF YOU ARE BRAVE ENOUGH 😀

Crumlin Gaol Paranormal Tours: Halloween Special

Crumlin Road Gaol has been interconnected with Paranormal Activity since it closed its doors in 1996. There have been sightings, noises and unexplained happenings within the walls that have seen 17 men executed over its 150 year history.

This special edition 60 minute tour will take you to the various hot spots of the Gaol where Paranormal Activity has been reported and the guide will tell you off the harrowing stories associated with these areas. The places you will be taken include the condemned man’s cell, execution chamber, the tunnel and the flogging room. Paranormal Tours are carried out in low light conditions and are not for the faint hearted.

You must book ahead for these Halloween tours; times and more information can be found here.

From Bolshoi to Belfast on at Crumlin Gaol; costumesWhile you are at the Gaol,  you may like to check out From Bolshoi to Belfast – The Theatre of Costume, running 17 October to 13 December. It sounds quite interesting: ” The globally recognised Bolshoi has come together with the Russian Museum of Ethnography to curate a show that tells the story of how the traditional costumes of the people are reimaged in the famous 20th century ballet and opera designs. Combining costumes never seen before outside Russia with designs that have been showcased in the fashion capitals of Europe, this exhibition has been created especially for Belfast as part of UK Russia Year of Culture.” You can find out more, and book the £5 ticket online here.

Even if you are too faint-hearted for the Paranormal Tour, on Halloween itself the Metro Monster Mash down on the Titanic Slipways should be good fun. It runs from 5.30-8.30pm on 31 October, and if you haven’t been to the truly fascinating Titanic Museum yet, do go earlier in the day & visit! Even if you aren’t normally into museums or the Titanic you will be impressed! Another tip is to book yourself in for a Segway tour of the area with SegwayNI.

Segway selfie, Belfast Northern Ireland

Segway selfie, Belfast Northern Ireland

Terry & I had the best craic on our Segways! They are a bit weird to ‘drive’ at first, because this is done by body weight & not via the handles, but after the first 15 minutes or so you’ll be zipping around no bother. I wonder if my Segway Selfie would qualify for the ‘Spooky Selfie’ contest mentioned below 😉

 Metro Monster Mash, Belfast’s Titanic Quarter

Come along for the a spooktacular Halloween evening of haunting street theatre, fire jugglers, music and the largest fireworks display in Northern Ireland!

The annual spectacle gets underway at The Slipways, Titanic Belfast with haunting street theatre featuring fire and glow performers, children’s rides and a performance by local band Peach on stage with Cool FM’s Pete Snodden and the Cool crew. The event will close with one of the biggest fireworks displays in Northern Ireland.

A free Metro Ghostbus will be operating to The Slipways leaving Chichester Street in the city centre at regular intervals from 5.15pm-8pm with return journeys until 9pm from Queen’s Road in the Titanic Quarter.

This year, the council is holding a special #spookyselfie campaign in the run up to the event where people can send in their ‘spooky selfies’ via the council’s Facebook and Twitter pages to be in with the chance to win a prize on the night as the audience vote for the spookiest photo. Deadline for entries is Monday 27 October.

Craving a good dollop of culture? Then the Belfast Festival at Queens on from 16 October – 1 November is for you! There looks to be an intriguing programme of works on offer. I know from our visit during Culture Night (amazing fun!) that Belfast folk enjoy culture of all varieties, and if you are a culture vulture like me, I recommend you keep your calendar open for Belfast cultural events. See the Special Short Breaks Offer on for the Belfast Festival here.

The Belfast Festival at Queen’s, 2014

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s presents great and diverse works of art from home and abroad, bringing audiences something very special that they cannot see elsewhere, all combining to deliver one unique festival which runs throughout the city from 16 October – 1 November. The 2014 festival features performers from 18 different countries covering classical and contemporary music, film, dance, theatre, talks and visual arts, many of which are EU, UK and Ireland premieres.

For the full programme go to

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Belfast%20Festival%202014″]

The MAC is a beautiful contemporary building you won’t forget in a hurry, especially if you lose your partner in it, as I did Terry! The MAC is full of nooks & crannies, so do pick up their map when you go in 🙂 During our last Belfast visit we went to a performance as well as the art exhibitions, and it is a fantastic space for both.

photographing inside Belfast's beautiful The MAC, Northern Ireland

Terry photographing in Belfast’s beautiful The MAC, Northern Ireland

The MAC was designed by local architects Hackett Hall McKnight & has won national and international architecture awards. It is chock full of uses, with 2 theatres, 3 art galleries, the Den for learning and participation programmes, the Family Room, 4 multi-purpose spaces designed for workshops, rehearsals and conferences and dance classes; offices for 4 resident companies; an artist-in-residence studio, and a café and bar. Emm, you can see how I/Terry got lost! From 31 October 2014 through 18 Jan 2015, The MAC will be running the MAC International:

The MAC International

The MAC will host a major exhibition in October following an international art prize competition, offering professional artists worldwide the opportunity to exhibit at the MAC.

The exhibition, which will run across all three MAC galleries from 31st October 2014 until 18th January 2015, will offer visitors the very best in contemporary visual art including sculpture, painting, photography, film, installation and performance. MAC International will build on the innovative visual art practice built up by the MAC and highlighted by the Turner Prize presence in Derry-Londonderry during 2013’s City of Culture.

The MAC is open 10am to late, 364 days a year, with the galleries open from 10am to 7pm seven days a week. 

Find out more on The MAC International here.

To help you plan ahead for your Summer holiday, I want to mention here that the Tall Ships Race will be coming to Belfast 2 to 5 July 2015. Having been to see the tall ships twice in Waterford, and having seen how well Belfast puts on festivals, I reckon this will be a winner even if you aren’t totally ship-mad.

The Tall Ships Races 2015

2 Jul 2015 – 5 Jul 2015
Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter

Here’s a video showing a bit of what’s in store for 2015, and for more information you can also have a look at Belfast City’s site here.

[youtube_sc url=”″ title=”Tall%20ships%20Belfast%202015″]

After all this discussion of fab Belfast events in October, I’m sad (sort of) to say I won’t be able to go to any because I will be in Greece at a travel blogging conference (and soaking up some culture, food, & sun!) So if you go to Belfast or any of these events, let us know! Share your photos with us on social media, we’d love to see & share. Have a great time in Belfast!


Click these to see: some Belfast tips  and 3 reasons why Belfast is brilliant and a taster of what was on at Culture Night— another great time to visit Belfast. And here is the article I wrote about Belfast over on the Discover Northern Ireland site.

Terry and I were kindly hosted on our trip by the Northern Ireland tourist board, but we love Belfast simply because it is a terrific place to visit!

mr.magregor's garden painting

Mr. Magregor’s Garden

An Irish Art Gallery – The Doorway Gallery – is popping up in London!

London is one of the best big cities in the world when it comes to seeing art, much of it cutting edge. But sometimes, especially in the buzz of a 24 hour city, you crave a bit of comfort and a escape away from the harder edges of urban life. Some of the Irish art coming over to London for a special pop-up gallery the week of 26 Oct – 2 November will give you that romantic softness you may crave, as well as other styles to enjoy.

Why not call by, and perhaps Meet the Artist on the Opening 28 October? 

I’ll be travelling to London myself and staying at my favorite affordable accommodation in The City – sadly I arrive 3 November, just a day too late for this show! But do stay tuned to my social media accounts, as I’ll be sharing London photos & travel tips from my trip. And for more info on The Doorway Gallery’s pop-up gallery in London, please see below:

The Doorway Gallery comes to London for one week!

October 26th – November 2nd  

The Chart Gallery,62 Old Church St, London SW3 6DP


The Whispering Room painting

The Whispering Room

The Doorway Gallery is resident to a beautiful Georgian building, located in the busy arts quarter of Dublin city centre. The gallery is spaciously spread out over two floors, filled with a broad variety of amazing creations. We are an affordable and affable Gallery, representing established Irish artists.The Doorway Gallery will exhibit in a unique pop-up gallery at The Chart Gallery, 62 Old Church Street, London SW3 6DP,  for one week only.

Immerse yourself in the best of Irish art, and take the opportunity to meet the Artist and see how they create. The Gallery launches with a bang, kicking off with a live demonstration from well-known Irish artist , Roisin O’Farrell.  Be there for the opening night of October 28th, between 6 and 9pm.

We will be exhibiting Christy Keeney’s latest work, as well as those by, Cormac O’Leary, Lucy Doyle, Roisin O’Farrell, Kate Beagan, Chris Wilson, Ken Browne, Heidi Wickham, Padraig McCaul, and many more.

Take the time to enjoy this unique experience, to find out for yourself what The Doorway Gallery has to offer. We are certain your visit won’t be a wasted one.

Gallery Hours: 10 – 7pm

Opening Launch: Tuesday 28th October

Time: 6-8pm

Address: The Chart Gallery, 62 Old Church Street, London SW3 6DP

More information:

Lion King, Nutgrove Arts Festival

Put a little sparkle in your Autumn with these fab cultural events on in Ireland

Both North and South of the border, Autumn won’t let you long for the summer– there’s too much to enjoy right now!  (She says, about to jet off to Italy & Greece herself.) But really, I actually am sorry to miss out on these cultural events; especially the Fermanagh Living History weekend, as I’ll have just left Fermanagh’s Lusty Beg! Oh well– will you go & then share your photos with the rest of us? I promise I’ll share mine from Lusty Beg (Which is not what you may be thinking! LOL)

Have a look at what’s on in the cultural scene:


Nutgrove Arts Festival 2014

September 25 – October 5 2014 

Nutgrove Arts Festival is an annual celebration of community arts and culture, taking place in the unique setting of Nutgrove Shopping Centre in South County Dublin. Now in its fourth year, the festival has become an integral part of the local area’s cultural events calendar, welcoming a selection of exciting performers, musicians and dancers to take over the centre for ten days each year. The festival works as an informal and exciting medium to experience creativity in all its forms. With a variety of theatre, dance and art workshops there will be plenty to inspire creativity in the local community at any age.                           

Festival highlights include:

Rathfarnham Theatre Group presents an evening of drama and entertainment in the Calypso Café.

Students from The Independent Theatre Workshop will perform scenes and songs from The Jungle King.

All are welcome to take part in Intrepidus Stage School’s great jungle themed dance workshop, fear nothing and challenge everything while having lots of fun. They will also bring you a night of amazing, fun filled and extremely talented young people who aim to entertain you through Drama, Song and

We have an exciting selection of workshops for kids this year. Planit Party will give you a taste of their entertainments available and there will be a fun music workshop by Rainbow Music for Kids. Quaint Baby Art will facilitate a workshop of their unique art work.

The Visual Arts programme features well renowned caricaturist Niall O’Loughlin, whose work will be displayed around the centre for the duration of the festival. Artist Karen Wilson will give a painting demonstration where you can get a taste of what her workshops have to offer. Sculptor Eamonn Heffernan will display his skill in a woodcarving workshop. Artist Christien van Bussel will facilitate a pottery workshop. There will be an exhibition of artist Chris McMorrow’s popular scenes of Dublin and Ireland.

Artist Magda Toth whose workshop was extremely popular at South Fred Street Fest last year has a fruit and veg art making workshop the whole family can get involved with.

An impressive contemporary Music programme featuring Kevin Kerdoc Murphy, Ian James White, Liz Ryan, Lynda Lucas and Melina Malone. Community choir Corús return for another uplifting and inspiring performance.

As part of the Trad for Trocaire week we will have musicians playing traditional Irish music.

Here’s a video preview of the Nutgrove Arts Festival:

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Nutgrove%20arts%20festival%202014″]

Next up is a really cool weekend where Fermanagh’s visitor attractions such as Belleek Pottery, Enniskillen Castle, and the stunning Marble Arch Caves come to life. I was at several of these places during the Fermanagh open weekend in March, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Fermanagh is a fantastic county, and there is lots to explore there in addition to any cultural events.

Fermanagh Living History Weekend

Friday 26th – Sunday 28th September.

Meet Arabella as you tour Ireland’s oldest pottery, Belleek Pottery; enjoy Mrs Bridges’ 1900’s cooking as you dine with the servants at Orchard Acre Farm; meet the man who first explored the Marble Arch Caves in 1895, Mr Edouard Martel; explore the traditions of mumming at Aughakillymaude Mummers Centre; enjoy a street performance by the Wartime Living History Association in association with Headhunters Railway Museum, as American GI’s say goodbye and head to war; explore the food, dress and traditions of Enniskillen Castle in medieval times; enlist as Army Personnel recruit at Inniskillings Museum; step back in time to the 1920’s at Florence Court and finally, enjoy a re-enactment of the Children of Lir at the Garden of Celtic Saints. Bring family and friends and learn a thing or two about Fermanagh’s historical past.
With something for everyone it’s sure to be a great weekend for all.

Download the Brochure

Back to Dublin and at the Copper House Gallery you’ll find an Arctic photography exhibit by Daragh Muldowney will be showing. As a huge fan of all things ice & snow, I think this certainly sounds worth a visit!


Out Of Thin Air

1 October – 7 November

Out Of Thin Air  by Daragh Muldowney

Out Of Thin Air by Daragh Muldowney


The last of the fab 4 cultural events runs both North and South. Neither Either is a collaboration between the Dublin based Liz Roche Company, and the Belfast based Maiden Voyage Dance. Excitingly, they’ll be touring across the whole island, so you may be able to catch them near you. I’ve really enjoyed some of Liz Roche Company’s past work, and I hope next time they will come to Kilkenny, too. (All venue listings at bottom.)


Neither Either

29th October – 27th November 2014


Neither Either“…the strain of being in two places at once, of needing to accommodate two opposing conditions of truthfulness simultaneously…” Seamus Heaney


Two dance companies, one from Belfast and one from Dublin, come together to perform a new dance work that looks at the predicament of living out two conflicting states of mind at once.


Neither Either brings together an exciting group of creative artists and stunning dancers who will be performing the length of the island, from Enniskillen to Tralee, and taking in Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and Project Arts Centre Dublin throughout October and November.

Choreographed by Liz Roche and set to Neil Martin’s score, identities, beliefs, emotions and aspirations are put to the test in this poignant blend of dance, poetry and music.

At the crux of this piece are issues of conflicting identities, habits within oneself, adapting to change and drawing distinctions inspired by Seamus Heaney’s quote “…the strain of being in two places at once, of needing to accommodate two opposing conditions of truthfulness simultaneously…” from his prose work “Place and Displacement” from the collection Finders Keepers.

Nicola Curry from Maiden Voyage Dance says, “Teaming with Liz Roche Company on this project felt right immediately not just because of our companies’ shared history but because Liz Roche is a choreographer whose detailed and fluid work is as articulate as the words from Heaney’s pen. It has also been a great pleasure to introduce Liz to new collaborators including Neil Martin who will produce the score and to Ciaran Bagnall, set and lighting designer. Audiences are to expect an evening rich in movement and music, bathed in sumptuous lighting, set in a stunning design and all of it inspired by the writing of Seamus Heaney.”

“This piece is a real ‘first time’ artistic situation for me,” says Liz. “It’s my first time collaborating with Neil Martin, Ciaran Bagnall and Louise Lowe and with the Maiden Voyage dancers Vasiliki Stasinaki and David Ogle. What Liz Roche Company brings to this co-production are the wonderful dancers Katherine O’Malley and Philip Connaughton and the final member of the creative team Catherine Fay. I’m really excited about what we will find together. We are also really pleased to be presenting a series of talks with various artists on Heaney’s influence curated by Dr.Aoife McGrath who is a lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast. Our panels will see the likes of poet Maedbh McGuckian, director Jimmy Fay, and composer George Higgs in discussion, among others.”

Neither Either dance eventGilly Campbell, Arts Officer for Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, says, “Neither Either is a great example of two companies from the North and South of Ireland joining creative forces to produce this outstanding new dance work where dance, music and poetry combine to captivating effect. The Arts Council is delighted to support Maiden Voyage and wish both companies every success in touring this impressive production.”

Liz Roche Company is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary dance companies. Known for its own distinctive movement and performance style, the Dublin based company presents the works of choreographer Liz Roche in collaboration with artists, dancers and designers of the highest caliber. The company has produced over twenty original productions since its establishment in 1999 and has performed throughout Ireland and in the UK, Germany, France, USA and China.

Maiden Voyage Dance is Northern Ireland’s leading commissioning company for contemporary dance. This Belfast based company, founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Nicola Curry, works with a carefully curated range of national and international choreographers, composers and collaborators. The company have built a highly respected and flexible repertoire for theatre, site specific installation and public space performance and are based in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.


Downstairs at the MAC, Belfast 

Wed 29 & Thurs 30 Oct @ 7:45pm Tickets £15/£12 + 44 (0)28 9023 5053


Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo

Tues 4 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €15/€12 +353 (0)71 916 1518


Siamsa Tíre, Tralee

Thurs 6 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €16/€13 +353 (0)66 712 3055


Firkin Crane Theatre, Shandon, Cork 

Sat 8 Nov at 8pm Tickets: €12/€10/€8  +353 (0)21 450 7487


Project Arts Centre, Dublin

Wed 12 – Sat 15 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €18/€14

Preview Tues 11 Nov @ 8pm

Matinee Sat 15 Nov @ 2pm +353 (0) 881 9613


Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen

Wed 19 Nov @ 8pm Tickets £5 +44 (0)28 6632 5440


Market Place Theatre, Armagh

Thurs 20 Nov @ 8pm Tickets £7 +44 (0)28 3752 1821


ISLAND Arts Centre, Lisburn

Fri 21 Nov @ 8pm Tickets £10/£8 +44 (0)28 9250 9254


Dance Limerick Thurs 27 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €12/€10 +353 (0)61 467 813

Enjoy Autumn in Ireland! There’s lots on!

Art In The Open.Paint Out!

Europe’s largest Art in the Open Festival to take place in the Southeast of Ireland

Go see! Folk from all around the world are coming to Ireland for this unique art festival. I’m quite excited that one of the paint out locations will be here in medieval Graiguenamanagh! If you haven’t visited Graig yet, here’s what Art In The open have to say:

Graiguenamanagh or Graignamanagh (Irish: Gráig na Manach, meaning “village of the monks”) is a town in County Kilkenny, Ireland. It is located on the R705 regional road by the border with County Carlow on the River Barrow at the foot of Brandon Hill. It is home to Duiske Abbey, the largest and perhaps the finest of the thirty-four medieval Cistercian abbeys in Ireland.
This pretty medieval village nestles in the beautiful river Barrow valley about 6 miles north of the Coachouse. It has been called Ireland’s best kept secret and is a veritable treasure trove of varied scenery, ancient buildings, canal boating, river and hill walks, crafts, traditional pubs restaurants.

dog waiting outside Coffee on High cafe, Graiguenamanagh Ireland

Will you bring me out a treat? Waiting patiently at Coffee On High, Graiguenamanagh.

The Graig Paint Out will be Tuesday, 29 July, 2014 and be sure to pop into some of Graig’s treasures like Cushendale traditional woollen mill. You can get local & Irish made products there, in Duiske Glass, and scrummy local food products & local craft in Coffee On High cafe. Be sure to look for Graiguenamanagh man Edward Hayden’s fab cookbook on sale there; Edward’s one of Ireland’s top celebrity chefs as well as being a genuinely nice guy!

TIP:  Cushendale closes for lunch 1230-130, and sometimes Duiske Glass, too, so that maybe a good time to go to Coffee On High 😀

If you’d like to check out other posts on Graiguenamanagh, they are here.

Here’s the scoop on the Art in the Open festival:

Thousands of pieces of art will be created at paint out locations across the Southeast of Ireland next week as Europe’s largest outdoor Art Festival ‘Art in the Open’ takes place from Monday, July 28 until Monday, August 4.

 A huge number of well known international artists will descend on the Irish countryside next week, with artists attending from twelve different countries including Russia, Sweden, Jamaica, Israel and many parts of the U.S, Europe and all across Ireland to participate.

The concept of an Art in the Open festival is that all of the work is created outdoors, on location. Artists arrive at a ‘paint-out’ site with blank canvases, these canvases are stamped on the back acknowledging the artist is starting from scratch and over the next couple of hours at the ‘paint-out’ location the artists attempt to capture the light and the atmosphere of the Irish countryside.  At the end of the festival, the best 250 paintings are selected for a massive exhibition with artists competing for over €5000 in awards.

The public can watch the creative painting process at any of the six Art in The Open paint-out locations across the Southeast:

Courtown, north Wexford: 28 July
Graiguenamanagh, county Kilkenny: 29 July
Enniscorthy in Wexford: 30 July
the village of Ballyhack, county Wexford: 31 July
Clonegal in county Wicklow: 1 Aug
and Wexford town,: 2 & 3 Aug, and where on Saturday 2nd the registered artists and the public will compete in a Charity Quick Draw at1pm in the Selskar area, with the funds going to Wexford Hospice HomeCare.

Some of the festival highlights include a free lecture at the world renowned Wexford Opera House by Spanish artist, Paloma Pelaez Bravo on Bank Holiday Monday, August 4th. Painting workshops and demonstrations with well-known international artists, including Dot Courson (Mississippi), Valerie Craig (Philadelphia), Billyo O’Donnell (Missouri), Aaron Schuerr (Montana) and Antti Rautiola from Finland to name just a few.

Commenting on the upcoming festival Chairperson, Neil O’Keeffe says,

“We are overwhelmed with the level of interest that the festival has received from artists and the public who love to watch the creative process and who look forward to the exhibition. Up to 180 artists will take part and all of these artists will create numerous pieces of art ‘live’ during the festival, they will then choose their best pieces to exhibit at the end of the festival, culminating in an art exhibition of 250 pieces which will be open to the public to view at Whites of Wexford.”

The Art in the Open festival runs from July 28 to August 4

I’ve included their Art in the Open video from 2013 below, and  for further details see

PS: there’s LOADS on this end July & start August in Ireland. Click here to see some more events you may enjoy.

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Art%20in%20the%20Open%20-%20Plein%20Air%20Painting%20Festival%20Ireland”]

Blue Raincoat Theatre Co_ A Brief Taste of Lightening at Tread Softly festival

Blue Raincoat Theatre Co A Brief Taste of Lightening. On at Tread Softly festival, Sligo

Wondering what’s on?

Flea markets, battle reenactment, art exhibits, paint-outs, craft talks, music, fashion & family fun–it’s all happening!

I’ve had some interesting events notices land in my email from all over Ireland, & I figured I better pass ’em on so you can sort out your calendars before its too late. Whether you’re looking for things to do when visiting Ireland over the next few weeks or are looking for a local day out, peruse & choose! 😀


To start off with, in Kilkenny you can enjoy exhibits of craft, and art:


EXHIBITION: Up From Earth Show NCG Grads 2014 'Up from Earth'

18July–3 August

An exhibition of ceramics from the students of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Ceramics Skills & Design Course, curated by Gus Mabelson. Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Ceramics Skills & Design Course is a unique two-year intensive programme designed to equip graduates with the practical skills to
 develop careers in the ceramics industry.

Located at the beautiful Island Mill, Thomastown, this extremely successful course has established an excellent reputation in the industry both nationally and internationally, and many of its graduates have gone on to establish international careers. The biennial graduation exhibition is an opportunity to spot stars of the future. Up From Earth will be launched by Jack Doherty, internationally renowned ceramicist, at 6.30pm on Friday 18 July.

LATE DATE: Meet the Makers

DCCoI Ceramics Course 2014 graduates with Tutor Gus Mableson

Thurs 24 July, 6.30pm

An informal evening of discussion and sharing with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Ceramics Course Graduates, class of 2014. Each maker will chat through their practices and processes focusing on the works in the exhibition. Meet the makers and have a glass of wine.

National Craft Gallery, Castle Yard, Kilkenny FREE

Felicity Clear

Drawings Plans Projections

June 14 – July 27, 2014

The Butler Gallery is delighted to present Drawings Plans Projections, an exhibition by Felicity Clear, which includes wall drawings, structures and animation.

Clear’s earlier work included precise large-scale drawings using graphite and acrylic on paper of high-rise modernist building schemes, suburban parking lots, and ghost cranes hovering over building sites with wide empty skies. These drawings were occasionally populated by trees but rarely ever with people.

Clear has made a shift in her practice in the past few years,and broadened out into more abstract ideas of structure, stability and failure. The recent drawings describe structures that are untenable, and ambiguous as to their beginning, middle and end. The process begins with the making of small-scale simple wooden structures that are intuitive and quickly constructed and reference architectural models. Studio lights cast two-way shadows of the models back onto paper, which are then drawn in pencil. Clear expands upon her process:

Felicity Clear at Butler GalleryWhen the structures are taken away there is a gap in perspectival logic, which makes the drawings difficult for the eye to interpret.  There is also a good deal of repetition in the work; repetitive pencil marks and repetition in the making of the models, where there is a potentially infinite supply of different solutions in a never-ending pursuit of an impossible or undeclared goal.

Clear has become interested in the use of projection to generate large wall drawings. This led her in a whole new direction, involving screen and moving image, and ultimately towards the use of animation to fulfil new ideas.  In a work entitled ‘Blueprints’, three structures revolve through space in a stop-go animation. In its making each element has been drawn, rubbed out and drawn again, moving slightly each time. Eventually the drawings form a loop and appear to be revolving again and again, with each individual drawing leaving a trace, referencing the handmade.

A large-scale drawing, ‘here’s the thing,’ flows down the wall and out onto the gallery floor leading the viewer inwards to consider its multiple drawing propositions. The varied structures, which have become more complicated and self-contained over time, cast myriad shadows back onto the drawing, distorting our perceptions. It is not clear where light ends and wall begins.

In Drawings Plans Projections, we survey Clear’s ideas at work and at play, punctuating the galleries with experimentation, whimsy and skill.

Felicity Clear is from Greystones, Co. Wicklow but lives and works in Dublin. After receiving a degree in Natural Science from Trinity College Dublin, she went on to study Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design from which she graduated in 1991. She received an MA in Visual Arts Practice in 2007 from Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design. Clear has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally and has had solo exhibitions at the Rubicon Gallery and The Lab in Dublin, the Mermaid Arts Centre in Wicklow, the Galway Arts Centre, and The Drawing Project, Dún Laoghaire. She has also been included in group exhibitions at Limerick City Gallery, Crawford Art Gallery, Irish Museum Of Modern Art, National Gallery Of Ireland, Contemporary Arts Society London and the Shanghai Contemporary Art Museum.Her work appears in many private and public collections including, the Arts Council Of Ireland, Goldman Sachs UK, KPMG, Office Of Public Works, Dublin Institute Of Technology, RTÈ, Tralee RTC, Allied Irish Bank, Irish Contemporary Arts Society and private collections.

Butler Gallery at The Castle, Kilkenny, Ireland

t: + 353 56 7761106  e:

flower carlow garden festival

Don’t forget to check out Kilkenny Arts festival, 8-17 August, too!

Staying in the sunny southeast, in county Carlow you can feed your flower fetish and enjoy gorgeous gardens at the Carlow Garden Festival– I’ve a whole post on it, with how to win tickets & other prizes, here.

And in county Wexford, there’s tons on too:


Art in the Open Festival  2014

Wexford will host Europe’s largest outdoor Art Festival as ‘Art in the Open’ takes place from July 28 until Aug 4.

Six spectacular ‘Paint-outs’ are the core of Art in the Open Festival where artists will take to some of the Southeasts most stunning scenery, charming villages and historic towns including Courtown, Graignamanagh, Enniscorthy, Ballyhack, Clonegal, and Wexford Town, where they will create a masterpiece of the vista.

Art In The Open. The festival culminates in a giant exhibition of all the pieces created, featuring 2,500 paintings exhibited in Wexford town. Festivalgoers can join the artists or observe the creative process, enjoy workshops, a quickdraw or a painter’s pint.

For further details see



Vinegar Hill Battle ReEnactment, Aug 1- 3

Witness history unfold this August Bank Holiday weekend and make tracks for Enniscorthy as the town hosts Ireland’s largest Battle Reenactment. Vinegar Hill is the venue for a free re-creation of the 1798 Battle of Vinegar Hill.

Experience life as an 18th Century redcoat, learn about the heroic pikemen of ’98, or see blacksmiths preparing for battle. Why not even enlist to take part and re-live a momentous scene from Irelands’ history books.Battle Vinegar Hill Battle Reenactment


Gorey Market House Festival – August Bank Holiday Weekend 2014 – July 31 to August 3.

The very best in music, fashion and family fun. North Wexford’s premier open air Festival is even bigger and better this year with Live outdoor music from Jack L, Corner Boy, White Chalk and Riptide Movement. Plus, exhibitions, tons of kids fun, market day, Ireland’s only open air street fashion extravaganza with Brendan Courtney and lots more.

It’s a festival for all the family over the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Check out the fun Jam ‘N’ Jam competition featuring three categories ‘Best Strawberry’, ‘Best Raspberry’ and ‘Best Unusual Combination.’ Irish food writer Biddy White Lennon will award a prize of €100 for the 1st place entries, €50 for 2nd place and a Jam making kit for 3rd place. The pot of jam dubbed ‘Best in Show’ will win the overall prize of €200.


Head to the wild & beautiful northwest and you can Tread Softly at the fabulous Yeats festival (dedicated post here,) or find some vintage treasures at the Sligo Flea Market:

Sligo Flea Market, 19 July

Are you hunting for something unique? A special dress for your upcoming Debs, or have a summer event coming up? Look no further as Sligo’s only indoor vintage, vinyl and craft market returns to The Model on 19 July for the second of a trio of markets taking place throughout the summer. Stallholders will be selling one of a kind vintage dresses from the 1950s to the 1970s, with costume jewellery to match!

sligo flea market 2The spacious, cool interior of the historic Model building is perfectly suited for comfortably browsing the stalls of vinyl records, local crafts and illustrators, bric a brac, costume jewellery and vintage clothing.

The market will be open to the public between 12-5pm, there is free Wi-Fi in the building, and after an afternoon of browsing and buying, visitors can unwind at The Model Café, located in the bright central atrium of The Model.

If you’d like to apply for a stall, we are currently accepting applications for our final summer market (23 August). Visit our Facebook page at

You can follow the activity of the Sligo Flea, from stallholders, live updates and all the latest news, on Facebook, instagram and twitter, and by using the hashtag #SligoFlea


In the lake studded county of Cavan, you can catch the Cavan Theatre Festival:

Cavan Theatre Festival will host a four day theatre festival from 17th to 20th July 2014. Officially launched at the Abbey Theatre, during the celebrations of World Theatre Day on 27th March, it will provide a new and ambitious platform for theatre artists both local and national to perform and network. Some Flood at Cavan Theatre festival

Cavan is a county buzzing with arts and culture, the Cavan Theatre Festival’s Kieron Smith (Artistic Director) and the Cavan Theatre Festival team are aiming to showcase some of the best plays produced nationwide.

Kilkenny’s Devious Theatre Company will be opening the festival with Some Flood. Terry and I saw this in Kilkenny and we quite enjoyed it– do go! You can download the full theatre festival program over on This is Cavan and check out the Cavan Theatre Festival’s Facebook page, too. (I found their website didn’t work well for me..)

And if all these fab events leave you in need of a refreshing break, well, I can tell you from experience that Cavan’s historic hotel & spa gem, Farnham Estate, will see you right! Enjoy filling your calendar with fun 😀

treatment room, Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

One of the treatment rooms, pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan.

Yeats statue, Sligo, Ireland

WB Yeats statue, Sligo Town

Another super Sligo fest! Tread Softly Festival

Sligo’s Festival in Celebration of the Yeats Family

27th July – 8th August

The third Tread Softly festival, celebrating the link between Sligo and the Yeats family will take place 27 July – 8 August 2014.

The many dimensions of this family of famous artists –

Nobel Prize winning poet William Butler,

Painter Jack B,

Embroiderer Susan

Fine press printer Elizabeth

will be brought to life over two weeks of theatre, exhibitions, cinema, music, literary events, talks and tours, alongside a programme of children’s events.

The Yeats Experience menu, host, silverware

The Yeats Experience

W. B. Yeats is considered by many to be the greatest English language poet of the 20th Century. Throughout his life he wrote about Sligo and the beauty, folklore and spirituality of the surrounding landscape. His brother Jack once said he never created a painting ‘without at least a thought of Sligo in it’. Sisters Susan and Elizabeth Yeats ran the Cuala Press which printed the work of W. B. Yeats and many other well-known writers including Ezra Pound, Douglas Hyde, Rabindranath Tagore and Elizabeth Bowen.

You all may remember that I was in Sligo in June for the So Sligo food & culture festival, and that I was mighty impressed with all that Sligo Town & countryside has to offer. You’ll see that for yourself in Tread Softly’s many events. I’ll just point out 3 which I’ve taken part in myself.

The Yeats Experience

This is a unique and beautiful experience of Irish hospitality, history, and of course, Yeats. I was lucky enough to attend the dinner with the other So Sligo visiting bloggers, one of whom is Dee Sewell, who wrote this post about  the evening. (Yeats &  Sligo worked their magic on us, and the wonderful So Sligo tour inspired us to create Green & Vibrant...more on that another time!)

When you go and enjoy this special experience, keep a look out for the  lovely cows there in the yard 😀

“The Yeats Experience is situated overlooking Lough Gill providing magnificent views over landscapes described in four of Yeats’ earlier poems for your group (10 to 50 people). A unique Sligo experience. Dine at Lunch or dinner on the finest contemporary Irish cuisine, locally sourced and/or grown in our own garden. As you dine you and your guests learn of the early life of William Butler Yeats, the Sligo of his youth and the wonderful poetry he wrote out of his experience in the Land of Heart’s desire. Enjoy it all in the style and comfort of a private home.”

calf dinnertime at Yeats Experience

Calf dinnertime at the Yeats Experience!

Booking: Booking Essential to Damien Brennan (10 person minimum) at 087 2320820

Streedagh Seaweed Walk

Try this guided exploration of the beautiful beach near the famous mount Benbulben. There you’ll be amazed at the truly tasty seaweeds you can nibble straight from the ocean, and Prannie’s knowledge and recipes are top class. This walk is another fab activity I took part in during So Sligo, and it totally inspired me! You can read more about it, & try Terry’s Easy Seaside Summer Bean Salad recipe here.

“Guided walk by author, chef and seaweed expert Dr Prannie Rhatigan on the rich and varied seaweed growing in the backdrop of bare Benbulben. Walkers will learn about harvesting and using this natural resource.”

Start time: 11am
Degree of difficulty: Easy, looped walk
Duration: 2 hours
Start Point: Streedagh Beach Car Park
Tickets: FREE

Walking Tours of Sligo Town with Yeats Family Points of Interest

Sligo Town, Ireland

Walking tours with a great guide are one of the very best ways to get under the skin of a place whilst having a bit of craic. We certainly did just that when we did the Sligo Town tour with Niamh! Best FREE you’ll ever spend 😀

Start time: 11.00am
Days: Monday – Saturday
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: FREE
Booking: Booking, pick up and return at 1.00pm from Tourist Information Office

Here are a few more tidbits on the Tread Softly festival:

This year’s festival’s theatrical highlights include performances of The Man in the Woman’s Shoes by Mikel Murfi and A Brief Taste of Lightening performed by Blue Raincoat Theatre Company.

An exhibition entitled Jack B Yeats The Music Has Come at the Model will look at his interest in song.  The venue is also presenting a display of Norah McGuinness’s illustrations of William Butler Yeats, The Stories of Red Hanrahan and the Secret Rose, and the first comprehensive solo exhibition of work by Susan Hiller.

The Hamilton Gallery will be home to Confluence: A Merging by Janet Pearse, reflecting on her experiences in Ireland and India in recent years, and The Factory Foyer to Wandering Shades by Katie McDonagh, inspired by the ‘dance plays’ of W. B. Yeats, which were in turn influenced by Japanese Noh Theatre.

The Factory will also be the venue for one of the films featuring in the programme, Sanctuary by Blue Raincoat co-founder Malcolm Hamilton, based on the stage play of the same name.

Speaker’s Corner is a new departure for the festival programme this year; an informal gathering of politicians to discuss their visions for Ireland as the centenary of 1916 approaches. Such a discussion seems a fitting element in any celebrations of Yeats’ life and work.

Out and about, the festival will offer a programme of walking tours Yeats and the landscape – Walking in the Footsteps of Yeats. 

The festival runs alongside the 55th annual Yeats International Summer School, Ireland’s longest running summer school, which will be opened this year by Alan Gilsenan at the Hawk’s Well on 27th July. The Summer School continues until 8thAugust.

Have a gander of the full list of Tread Softly events here.

For full information and programme details: or contact Sligo Tourist Office O’Connell Street Sligo on Tel: 071 91 61201

Ticket Booking: The Hawk’s Well, Temple Street, Sligo Tel: 071 9161526

For more posts on Sligo, have a look here.

City Spectacular Dublin & Cork 2014

City Spectacular Dublin & Cork 2014, image


Yup,this year the City Spectacular in Dublin & Cork will be bigger & better than ever.

The Street Performance World Championships has grown! The event has expanded into the City Spectacular, with loads of brilliant free events, street performances, walking tours, creative collaborations, events for all ages, and the proverbial more lined up for you to enjoy. The festival’s gotten a boost from new sponsor Laya Healthcare and is looking pretty lush. There’s plenty to catch your eye, ear, and taste buds!

Below is a map & the events timetable for Dublin’s Merrion Square City Spectacular, and I’ve grabbed some extra details on 2 of the events that caught my eye. I reckon you need to mark your calendars for these action packed days! Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular brings Ireland’s biggest summer festivals to Dublin’s Merrion Square July 11– 13, then Cork’s Fitzgerald Park July 19 & 20and a Dublin citywide program of creative events including music concerts, walking tours, art exhibitions & much more July 11 – 27. 

Wil St Leger's Spectacular Street art tour

Wil St Leger’s Spectacular Street art tour, image

One of the first events to catch my eye was the Street Art Tour with Wil St Leger. The City Spectacular’s Facebook page is good to follow for updates & competitions, and this is what they say about the tour:

 “Have you ever seen a piece of street art in Dublin city, but didn’t know who did it? what it symbolizes? why it was made? Well now you can. Join street artist, Will St Leger for a guided tour around Ireland’s capital city and you will discover the stories and the work of over 20 street artists. Will has been making street art for 10 years and has close ties to a number of Dublin’s street artists. Through this connection he’s built up a knowledge of the Dublin street art scene, it’s history and the work which you won’t get from reading in a book. Once you’ve experienced this tour you’ll never be able to ‘unsee’ Dublin’s amazing street art.” 

(There’s a competition on to win tickets for the tour at the moment, so check out the Page.)

Tour dates: July 12th and 26th, 11am and 3pm.

Meet at the corner of Fleet Street and Westmoreland Street (outside Thai Orchid,) Dublin.

Tickets are €10, and you can purchase through

The Go Metro Music Stage should be worth checking out; it runs 12-13 July in Merrion Square, Dublin. 13 bands will be playing over the 2 days, including Ireland’s only New Orleans-style brass band, The Booka Brass Band. Here’s a clip of them with Irish rapper Daryl McCormack:

[soundcloud id=’141784862′]

Laya City Spectacular has put together a playlist of the Go Metro stage bands, here:

At the bottom of this post you’ll find the City Spectacular map for Merrion Square, and the listings of the events. Here’s the City Spectacular blurb!  Sounds like a summertime winner 😀


Ireland’s biggest and best-loved free family festival! With over 300,000 attending last years’ events, this year’s Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular is set to be the highlight of the summer transforming parks in Dublin and Cork with free festivals and celebrating Dublin city with 3 weeks of citywide collaborative events.

In addition to the international street performers, this year’s free festivals include live music on the festival’s first ever ‘Go Metro Music Stage’, a food village, petting zoo, Laya Healthcare’s Family Area and much much more.  See Mums and Dads getting pied in the face or super-soaked at the ‘Kid’s Court with Ray D’Arcy’ where it’s the children’s turn to get their own back on their elders.  The ‘Today FM Irish Summer’ area is a throw back to all we love about summers in Ireland, think red lemonade, 10p bags, windbreakers and tunes from your favourite summers. The ‘ESB Spark Your imagination’ area is brain food for our little ones with educational workshops galore, with the ‘Outdoor Living Room’ being your home away from home. The festivals run in Dublin’s Merrion Square (July 11-13th) and Fizgerald Park Cork (July 19th and 20th)


With the Irish debut of 6 time Guinness World Record Holding Sword Swallower Aerial Manx, YouTube loop artist sensation Mr.Woodnote, strait-jacket escapologist Rob Roy Collins and last year’s world champions Cork acrobatic duo Lords of Strut, this year’s performers are set to be the best yet. The 13 international street performers are joined at Dublin’s free festival by


To live up to it’s name, Laya Healthcare’s City Spectacular not only brings summer to the city parks but also includes a city wide programme of creative events during the day and night across the 3 weeks (July 11-27th).  Featuring free and ticketed events, the festival is collaborating with those at the heart of the city including a Street Art Walking Tour with acclaimed street artist Will.St.Leger, Art Exhibition with screen printing group Damn Fine Print, Midsummer Night’s Dream themed banquet dinner with Dublin’s cutting-edge and hip collective Hunt and Gather and a Vintage Gaming Night at Lighthouse Cinema with Fade Street’s video game store R.A.G.E. Dublin’s City Soul Festival, now in its 8th year, is rebranded as ‘City Picnic’ and this free music concert will run in Merrion Square on July 26th and 27th. The full city wide programme is available at and tickets are available on

If you’re like me & love Twitter, use #LAYACITYSPEC when you’re tweeting about the festival, and/or keep an eye on the hashtag to see what others are saying about it. 

Here are those locations, days & times again:

DUBLIN: Merrion Square, Dublin 2

Supported by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland

Friday July 11 – Sunday July 13, 2014

12 – 8pm daily

CORK: Fitzgerald Park

Supported by Cork City Council and Fáilte Ireland

Saturday July 19 – Sunday July 20, 2014

12 – 8pm daily

DUBLIN: Various Venues Across Dublin

Friday July 11 – Sunday July 27, 2014

Full event listings on