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Don't look now, but Halloween ghosts are popping up all over! Ely in Dublin & more have events on this year. See article for more!

Don’t look now, but Halloween ghosts are popping up all over!

Ireland is the ancestral home of Halloween, so surely we should have some spooktacular events on!

Well, Halloween in Ireland hasn’t always been the massive event that it is in the US, but we *are* getting more into the spirit (ahem) of things each year. Ireland now has some ace Halloween festivals & fun, including one that was voted Europe’s BEST Independent Scare Attraction! Read on for 2015’s top Halloween events for adults and children in Ireland.

***UPDATED! Be sure to read all the added events- and there is one county in particular that you mustn’t miss! Read all the way to the end***

Halloween is on a Saturday night this year, so for sure many adults will be having the Halloween craic once the kiddies have conked out after their sugar high. If you are in Dublin, book in that babysitter if needs be, & head out to the ely bar & brasserie at the IFCI in the trendy, modern Docklands to enjoy food, brews, & grooves at Ely’s

Halloween House Party:

Ghoulish grog! Ely's Halloween night is grown-up fun! Read about what's on for Haloween for adults and kids.

Ghoulish grog! Ely’s Halloween night is grown-up fun!

Beats, Brews, Tastings & Trouble; Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble!

Come on down to ely bar & brasserie on Saturday 31st October for our spooktacular Halloween House Party.

We’ll have tastings of bewitching beverages including a craft beer table with pumpkin & seasonal beers, candy cocktails, w-eerie wine ‘n’ whiskey, ghoulish gin and more!
Nothing says Halloween like stuffing your face full of food. And fantastic food it is too. Think mini pumpkin pies, turkey legs, sweet potato fritters and of course, sweet treats – without the tricks.

You can also WIN BIG with a load of amazing prizes up for grabs! We’ll be awarding scariest costume, most original costume, best corporate crew costume and more.

Our Halloween House Party kicks off from 8pm with a devilish DJ from 10pm
ely bar & brasserie, IFSC, Dublin 1

Only €30pp


pumpkin-like halloween in ireland sunset

A ‘ Halloween pumpkin ‘ sunset!

Loftus Hall, known as Ireland’s most haunted house!

The devil himself once visited this house on Wexford’s wild Hook Head peninsula! Loftus Hall has several Halloween tours, handily broken down into 3 age groups: families with school age children (5-11) , families with over 12s, and tours for over 18s. The tours start 17 Oct and run until 1 November, Do you dare? I’ll be going myself, but on a day tour. *scaredy cat* 😉

“Halloween (Samhain) marks the change between “light” and the “darkness”. This change means there is a weakness in the connection between worlds, allowing ghostly spirits to pass into our world more easily.

Ancestors are welcomed, but harmful spirits are avoided and hidden from. Which will you meet on your Loftus Hall Samhain Tour? Let your guide, from the present, and the past, take you on a journey through the ground floor of Loftus Hall, sharing with you some of the most ghostly tales of Ireland’s Most Haunted House… And just in case you meet a harmful spirit, please note that dressing in costume is recommended to all to help keep you hidden from sinister spirits!”

 Find out more details on The Spectres & Halloween at Loftus Hall, here.

Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Sure to delight both the young and the young at heart, the Virginia Pumpkin Festival returns on the 23rd through the 27th of October, 2015 in county Cavan. Cavan is a county well worth exploring, with lesser known gems like it’s very own Cavan Burren! Set aside a few days & enjoy the Pumpkin Festival and check out Cavan! (And perhaps treat yourself to one of my favorite Irish spa hotels!)

Irish Halloween Favorite! Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Halloween Favorite! Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Virginia Pumpkin Festival

If scooping out a pumpkin and decorating it with a particularly menacing face is your favourite part of Halloween, then look no further than the Virginia Pumpkin Festival. Now in its 8th year, the festival takes place over Bank Holiday Weekend and is the pumpkin party of the year!

Gather all the family to this magical festival with its biggest and best programme ever this year.  Join in the frightful fun commencing with a  haunted forest walk on Friday,  The Kilkenny’s and a tribute to Luke Kelly to entertain you on the Saturday night in the Virginia Show Centre and a monster fancy dress ball on the Sunday night, this festival is an essential for everyone who loves Halloween.  There is a full programme of day time entertainment for all ages and tastes. Check out the picture for a daily rundown.

Plus, there are competitions to partake in: Pumpkin Pie competition and the Alternative Pumpkin Competition, are both taking place over the weekend.

OMG I LOVE PUMPKIN PIE! Can I be a judge?!!? YUM 😀

Details and more info at

Halloween in Ireland: Huntington Castle Ireland

Huntington Castle has a fab, fun Halloween tour

Castles are perfect for ghost hunting and Halloween in Ireland!

One of my favorite castles is Huntington Castle in the charming village of Clonegal in county Carlow. I’ve been a few times throughout the year, and totally recommend a visit any time.  Huntington is still owned by the family of the original builders, and they are absolutely passionate about it. Halloween is perfect for a visit- I loved their candlelit tour! It runs from 27 Oct to the 31st in 2015.



Halloween at Birr Castle Ireland

Halloween at Birr Castle Ireland

Another Irish Castle celebrating Halloween is Birr Castle in county Offaly. Along with their Haunted Woods and Castle tours for ages over 5, they are also offering a grown up evening that is very tempting!

The Twlight Hour – An evening of Gothic Music and Literature and Trickery with Nóirín Ní Riain & guests

Join us at Birr Castle for this very special evening with Noirin Ni Riain and guests. ‘Oiche Shamhna’ is a magical time with strong roots in ancient celtic Ireland. This evening will celebrate music and literature linked to All Hollows Eve exploring much loved traditions, songs, folklore, ghost stories, poetry and lots of haunted fun in the gothic castle.

Sunday 25th October at 20.00
Booking essential as places are limited. Pre-paid event with Tickets €25.00.
Adults only.

Click to see more on the Birr Castle Halloween events.

A third Halloween castle tour is to be found at Shankill Castle in Paulstown, co Kilkenny. I’ve not experienced this Halloween event myself, but it must be scary as they’ve a strong disclaimer!

The Scarefest Ghost Tour: A night-time, candle-lit tour led by the castle residents through the most haunted areas of the 300 year old castle and the 11th century church yard.  A member of the Cope family leads the tours and relays the tales of past residents, along with an account of the recently recorded paranormal experiences.

On Halloween night, there will be extra special tours, including one over Midnight, for those willing and daring enough.

Be prepared to run for your life. The ghost tour is not for the faint hearted, or for those under the age of 15. Those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Group bookings available on request.  Book Early bird tickets now, just €21.95 for a limited time.

WARNING: This tour is genuinely frightening and is not suitable for young children, the infirm, or those with health related concerns. The owners of Shankill Castle do not accept responsibility for the cause or aggravation of a health related issue as a result of their visit. Take this tour at your own risk. Unfortunately this venue is not wheelchair friendly. Should you wish to organise a wheelchair accessible tour please contact us.Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

More info:  

Too Scary? How about a gentle Halloween Spooktacular?


Friday 23rd October – Sunday 1st November

Limerick Spooktacular viaHalloween events Ireland

Limerick Spooktacular via

Limerick’s very own Halloween ‘Spooktacular’ Family Festival at Arthur’s Quay on the banks of the River Shannon, join in for a hauntingly good time with attractions including an authentic international food market, Vintage carnival experience, live performances, games, competitions and more!

Vintage Carnival

Dare to hang 100 feet in the sky, whisk through the air and slide in circles?!? Limerick is proud to present an authentic Vintage Carnival as part of the Halloween Spooktacular. From “Galloping Horses” Carrousels, to Ferris wheels, and Helter Skelters, there is something to excite the imagination of children and adults alike.

Don’t miss the Halloween characters from Victorian Limerick, The Spooky Show –  will be coming along to bring some spooky surprises to the performance area at The Halloween Spooktacular. Make sure to join in for some spooky fun!

Why not enter one a Halloween competition… if you dare!

*Best Costume Competition *Spooky skeleton scavenger hunt* Apple peeling * Colouring competitions. Give it a go!

Find out more at:

More Children’s Fun at Halloween!

The Wexford Arts Centre has fun workshops on for the kids:

Children’s Halloween Workshops 
Booking fee: €15 per workshop
Ages: 4-6 years and 7-11 years

All Things Ghoulish….!
Friday 30th October / 11.00am-1.00pm / ages 4-6 years

To celebrate Halloween, younger artists will get to make scary handprint Vampire cards, peg zombies and crazy pumpkin and monster sun catchers. We will supply all the magical supplies, and the children will learn to make these spooky Halloween decorations which are sure to scare the bravest of trick or treaters!
Friday 30th October / 2.00pm-4.00pm / ages 7-11 years
Older artists will transform into powerful Witches and Wizards as they make their very own magic wands and decorate magical capes. Using a huge assortment of spooky, glittering materials older children will be casting spells and ready to collect bags of sweets on Halloween night!



Bram Stoker Dracula Festival DublinI have to mention this is fangtastic festival ;-D even though you may already be well aware of it.

From 23rd – 26th October 2015, Dublin City will celebrate 4 Days of Living Stories & 4 Nights of Deadly Adventures!

Whether you’re a resident vampire or visiting from further afield, Bram Stoker Festival 2015 has something for everyone in its gothically inspired programme of events.”

See the full Bram Stoker Festival Halloween line-up here.

Dragon of Shandon 2015; Halloween in Ireland

Dragon of Shandon 2015; Halloween in Ireland



Head to Ireland’s other capital, Cork and check out the Dragon of Shandon Festival running october 29-31st:

CCAL presents a Festival for all; Beasts, Visionaries, Ghouls, and Misfits come feast your eyes with wild spectacles as we ignite your imagination. For He is on his way. Emerging from the Underground. Hear his roar. The Dragon of Shandon calls you.

The renowned Dragon of Shandon returns for its 10th Year with a 3 day celebration of Samhain from the 29th to the 31st of Oct. Taking place in Cork’s Cultural Quarter, Shandon. For further information and Parade Route see

The Dragon of Shandon began in 2006 as a street parade celebration of Samhain and creative partnership between artists and communities which has taken place on the night of October 31st in the heart of Shandon, Cork , Ireland for over 8 years.

Each year thousands take to the streets of Shandon on Cork ’s Northside to walk with the Dragon as it travels between worlds in a celebration of the living and the dead accompanied by an assortment of creatures from the underworld. 

The evening parade is the result of an extensive outreach and participatory programme that spans several months of workshops with youth groups, the community and voluntary sector, schools and voluntary participants.

A commitment to high standards of practice both in artistic and participatory engagement are at the core of each annual parade with groups collaborating on an annual basis with artists to create original work that is reflective of their experiences.

The centrepiece of each parade is the Dragon, 36ft in length and made entirely of tape. This spectacular giant puppet is animated by twelve puppeteers on the night who walk it through the streets of Shandon along with an array of illuminated props, lanterns and characters.

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”The%20dragon%20Of%20Shandon”]

Treats for Adults! Halloween Food Tour

For tasty delights way beyond the tooth rotting trick or treat sweets from Lidl or Aldi, treat yourself to to a fantastic Halloween food tour in one of my favorite cities – Belfast! Caroline is a brilliant guide; I’ve done a tour with her & I know you’ll have fun as well as yum! Book quickly, it will fill up fast.

Halloween Food Tour – Friday 30th October 2015 10.30am

Location: Belfast City Centre at 10.30am

The foodie’s food tour of Belfast! What is the food of Belfast/ Northern Ireland and where are the best places to find it? Tastes. Experiences. Fun.

We visit up to 8 different foodie destinations around the city and get to eat/drink over 23 local foods and drinks! You don’t need breakfast or lunch and we suggest you don’t drive afterwards ;0)

Northern Ireland has lots of Halloween events, too many for me to list! One of the biggest is:

Banks of the Foyle Halloween Carnival, Derry~Londonderry FREE event! 29 October – 1 November. Europe’s biggest and best Halloween festival returns with an even busier programme of events than ever before! It’s set to be a week awash with devilish activities for the whole family with terror-ific characters, mythical mayhem and a whole host of ghostly going culminating the carnival parade through the streets and the fireworks display.

Check out more Halloween events in Northern Ireland on Discover Northern Ireland’s Halloween listings. 


Dear readers, the county that is totally winning at Halloween has got to be county Meath! 

Haunted Spooktacular at Grove Gardens, Fordstown, County Meath prepare for the 2015 'Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival'.Now is in its 7th year it offers over 37 spooky and fun events for all the family from October 16th to 1st November. Some of the 25 Ôgruesome events for kidsÕ include ÔThe Gates of HellÕ at the Haunted Hotel, an outdoor Halloween scare attraction with live characters, special effects and a warning is to be prepared for the totally unexpected. Tayto Park invites you into their ÔHouse or HorrorsÕ while ÔPooka SpookaÕ at Causey Farm promises a spine-tingling experience. A less scary ÔMonster High Family BuffetÕ is offered at the Pilo Hotel in Ashbourne, and the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells invites you to ÔStorytelling and Song with the friendly witchÓ.For those adults wishing to be scared there are lots to choose from at the ÔSpirits of Meath Halloween FestivalÕ. Immerse yourself in the horror of FARMAPHOBIA, recently pronounced EuropeÕs Best Independent Scare Attraction; these awards are the 'Oscars of the European Scare Industry'. New at Farmaphobia for 2015 is ÒSCARECUSÓ housing a terrifying troupe of crazed circus performers, who invite you to join them for an eternal performance! A ÔMurder Mystery DinnerÕ is on the menu at The Stationhouse Hotel, Kilmessan, Co. Meath. Or you could step inside your own personal horror movie at the ÒHaunted SpooktacularÓ HORROR FARM that includes the Asylum, School House Massacre, ChamberÕs Of Terror, Hillbilly HorrorÕs and Redneck Village. . Photo:Barry Cronin/

Haunted Spooktacular at Grove Gardens County Meath. Halloween events in Ireland: 2015 ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival. Photo:Barry Cronin/

Why? Well, 2 reasons: 1: Halloween began in County Meath over 2,000 years ago.  2: Meath has 36 different events on for Halloween!

Yep, that’s thirty and six spooky events– Meath is truly embracing being the  birthplace of Halloween / Samhain! Did you know:

The site of Tlachtga (aka Tlachta) on the Hill of Ward, in County Meath, Ireland is believed to have been the first site of the celebration of Samhain, the precursor to our modern Halloween.

The ringfort dates from around 200 AD but festivals and rituals at the site may have taken place as far back as 1000 BC.

Priests, augurs and druids used to assemble there to light the winter fires of the Great Fire Festival on Samhain eve.

Under penalty of law, all fires that were lit within the kingdom that night were to be kindled from the fire at Tlachtga.

Samhain was a festival celebrating the dead and it also marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year.

It was during this time that the Irish believed that the graves would open and their gods and spirits, who dwelt inside, would walk the earth again.

Now, on to Meath’s modern day Halloween events:

Halloween in Ireland- Spirits of Meath has lots of events throughout the county!

Halloween in Ireland- Spirits of Meath has lots of events throughout the county!


The Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival: A 16 day celebration of Halloween in the place where it began

Halloween began over 2,000 years ago in County Meath and each year the ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ re-creates that first Halloween with a Torchlit Procession and Samhain Festival of Fire, a re-enactment of the first Halloween fire from over 2,000 years ago. This takes place on the Hill of Tlachta, Athboy, Co. Meath and is just one of 37 other events that make up the scarily good ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’  Now in its 7th year, this festival offers spooky and fun events for all the family from October 16th to November 1st.

The scary events that are part of the ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ are categorised into Children’s ‘Fun by Day’ and Adult’s ‘Frights by Night’ events. Adults are invited to immerse themselves in the horror of ‘FARMAPHOBIA’, recently pronounced Europe’s Best Independent Scare Attraction; these awards are the ‘Oscars of the European Scare Industry’. This frighteningly good attraction includes “SCARECUS” that houses a terrifying troupe of crazed circus performers.  A ‘Murder Mystery Dinner’ is on the menu at The Stationhouse Hotel, Kilmessan, Co. Meath.  Or you could step inside your own personal horror movie at the “Haunted Spooktacular” HORROR FARM that includes the Asylum, School House Massacre, Chamber’s Of Terror, Hillbilly Horror’s and Redneck Village.

SCARY CLOWN! Causey Farm, County Meath p, Irelandrepares for the 2015 'Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival'.Now is in its 7th year it offers over 37 spooky and fun events for all the family from October 16th to 1st November. Some of the 25 Ôgruesome events for kidsÕ include ÔThe Gates of HellÕ at the Haunted Hotel, an outdoor Halloween scare attraction with live characters, special effects and a warning is to be prepared for the totally unexpected. Tayto Park invites you into their ÔHouse or HorrorsÕ while ÔPooka SpookaÕ at Causey Farm promises a spine-tingling experience. A less scary ÔMonster High Family BuffetÕ is offered at the Pilo Hotel in Ashbourne, and the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells invites you to ÔStorytelling and Song with the friendly witchÓ.For those adults wishing to be scared there are lots to choose from at the ÔSpirits of Meath Halloween FestivalÕ. Immerse yourself in the horror of FARMAPHOBIA, recently pronounced EuropeÕs Best Independent Scare Attraction; these awards are the 'Oscars of the European Scare Industry'. New at Farmaphobia for 2015 is ÒSCARECUSÓ housing a terrifying troupe of crazed circus performers, who invite you to join them for an eternal performance! A ÔMurder Mystery DinnerÕ is on the menu at The Stationhouse Hotel, Kilmessan, Co. Meath. Or you could step inside your own personal horror movie at the ÒHaunted SpooktacularÓ HORROR FARM that includes the Asylum, School House Massacre, ChamberÕs Of Terror, Hillbilly HorrorÕs and Redneck Village .Photo:Barry Cronin/ 087-9598549

SCARY CLOWN! Causey Farm, County Meath, Ireland prepares for the 2015 ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ Photo:Barry Cronin/

Some of the gruesome events for kids include: a terrifying and spine tingling experience; ‘Pooka Spooka’ at Causey Farm that promises magical happenings including the Fairytale Corn Maze and broomstick rides; A less scary ‘Monster High Family Buffet’ is offered at the Pillo Hotel in Ashbourne, and the Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells invites you to ‘Storytelling and Songs with the friendly witch”.  You can also pick your own Pumpkin at Meath Pumpkin Farm, Summerhill and Alright Pumpkin Farm, Girley, Fordstown while Tayto Park once again open their ‘House or Horrors’, ‘Haunted Hotel’ at Lough Crew have a special event for families in an outdoor Halloween scare attraction with live characters, special effects and a warning to be prepared for the totally unexpected.

The ‘Spirits of Meath Halloween Festival’ full event programme offers 36 different events, and a downloadable Festival Brochure can be found on:   

I think a trip to Meath is in order!

***UPDATE! 😀 I’ll be there for Halloween Weekend! Follow along on Twitter @VibrantIreland and live videos on Periscope @vibrantireland***

Fancy going to one of the MANY non-Halloween-y festivals on in Ireland this October? Click!

Do you have any Halloween in Ireland events that shoudn’t be missed? Let me know– THANKS! 


Carlow Garden Festival 2015 lineup

Carlow Garden Festival 2015 lineup

Eye candy of all sorts will be on show at the 10 day Carlow Garden Festival 2015!

The Carlow Garden Festival is back, with Monty Don!

Saturday 25th July – Monday 3th August 2015

Featuring 14 celebrated garden experts over 10 days in 15 different venues, the 2015 Carlow Garden Festival returns with its best ever line-up. MONTY DON heads the panel and opens the festival with his own experiences of “My Life in Gardens”. The 2015 programme contains an interesting mix of top UK gardeners and the best of Irish garden broadcasters and writers, offering something to interest everyone from novice gardeners to garden connoisseurs, garden designers to nature lovers and events for all the family.

Blooming beautiful at Carlow Garden Festival

Blooming beautiful at Carlow Garden Festival

This year’s highlights include an extensive series of garden tours led by Seamus O’ Brien (National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh), Fionnuala Fallon (Irish Times Gardening Columnist), Neil Porteous (Head Gardener at Mount Stewart), Roy Lancaster CBE (veteran UK broadcaster and gardening expert) and Dermot O’ Neill (broadcaster and garden author) along with tree trails headed by John McCullen (retired Chief Superintendent of the Phoenix Park and author of an Illustrated History of the Phoenix Park – Landscape and Management to 1880) and Seamus O’Brien. Entertaining and informative garden talks feature “My Life in Gardens” by Monty Don, Anna Pavord’s “The Curious Gardener” based on her bestselling book and Helen Dillon (undisputed Queen of Irish gardening and creator of the world famous Dillon Garden) who shares her unique insight into “What Makes a Good Garden”. Vegetable expertise is supplied by Kitty Scully (RTE’s How to Create a Garden and Food Gardener at Airfield) and Rob Smith, winner of BBC’s “Big Allotment Challenge”, while family days out can be enjoyed with a nature treasure hunt led by Wildways Adventures, investigating the flora and fauna of the River Barrow and the Duckett’s Grove Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Country Fair with teddy bear workshops, bouncy castle, traditional games and large local artisan food and craft market. See below for more details on all the events.

Late July and early August is the perfect time for a gardening festival  – there is still plenty of interest in the garden and with the majority of gardening work completed, it is the ideal time to relax, admire the work of others and make gardening plans for the coming months and year ahead. The Carlow Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity to obtain practical advice from the many instructive workshops while exploring the diversity of the Carlow Garden Trail, a collection of 21 different gardening attractions which range from great old gardens that have been lovingly restored and maintained throughout the years, to smaller gardens, community gardens, award-winning garden centres and forest parks.

Good value accommodation breaks can be found at or alternatively ring Carlow Tourism on 059-9130411 for further details.


Carlow Garden Festival Events

Saturday 25th July                 

Una Halpin, Wildways Adventures in Leighlinbridge

River Walk with Una Halpin

Join Una Halpin from Wildways Adventures on a treasure hunt to explore the local flora and fauna along the banks of the River Barrow.  Aimed at families, the walk will encourage both children and adults to take a close up look at their surroundings and investigate trees, wild flowers and insects along the way.

Venue:                        Meet at the Garden of Remembrance, The Quayside, Leighlinbridge, Co.


GPS:                52.736417, -6.978937

Time:               2 p.m.

Admission:      FREE


 Monty Don at Arboretum Home & Garden Heaven

An Evening with Monty Don – My Life in Gardens SOLD OUT

The Carlow Garden Trail is delighted to welcome Monty Don to the Carlow Garden Festival for the first time. The much loved UK broadcaster and author whose books include “The Complete Gardener”, “The Sensuous Garden” and “The Jewel Garden” will give a talk on his life and experiences in gardens. Due to unprecedented demand this workshop is fully booked out but the programme also features many other excellent workshops being delivered by a range of top class domestic and UK gardeners.

Venue:                        Arboretum Home & Garden Heaven, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow


Sunday 26th July 

Seamus O’Brien at Newtownbarry House and Gardens

Garden tour

Tour these charming gardens in the informative company of Seamus O’Brien, covering everything from the lake to the Rose Garden and on to the recently renovated 19th century sunken garden.  A gifted plantsman, Seamus O’ Brien is Curator of the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh and author of “In the Footsteps of Augustine Henry” which took him on plant hunting expeditions across China, Nepal, California, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.

Venue:                        Newtownbarry House and Gardens, Bunclody, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

t:                      053-9376383/087-0569805 w:

GPS:                52.65673, -6.65035

Time:               12 noon.

Admission:      €5. Gallery, farm café serving refreshments and lunch and gift shop also open. House tours available.


Seamus O’Brien at Huntington Castle

Tree Trail 

Join Seamus O’ Brien as he discovers some superb trees and a number of Irish champions in the grounds of Huntington Castle including hickory, oak and Siberian crab. Discover the scenic avenue with its amazing lime tree collection and the famous Yew Walk. Enjoy the “Wilderness” woodland paths which lead to the newly restored ornamental lakes.

Venue:                        Huntington Castle and Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow

t:                      053-9377160

GPS:                52.690404, -6.649131

Time:               3 p.m.

Admission:      €5. Tea rooms open for tea, coffee and light snacks. Castle tours available and children’s playground open.

 Monday 27th  July    

 Fionnuala Fallon at Delta Sensory Gardens

Tour of the inspirational Delta Sensory Gardens

Fionnuala Fallon, Irish Times Gardening Columnist and author of “From The Ground Up”, is  your guide on a journey through this series of multi-sensory gardens, including the Celtic Walk, the formal Rose Garden, the Five Senses Garden, the Circle of Life and the Stolen Child Garden, which have been created by Ireland’s leading garden designers to indulge every one of the senses.

Venue:                        Delta Sensory Gardens and Garden Centre, Strawhall Estate, Carlow

t:                      059-9143527

GPS:                52.844988, -6.924546

Time:               12 noon and 2.30 p.m.

Admission:      Adults Є5/Concs Є4. Tea, coffee, lunch and snacks available in the on-site restaurant.


Tuesday 28th July      

Matthew Jebb at Altamont Gardens and Altamont Plant Sales

Garden tour

The enchanting surroundings of Altamont, one of Ireland’s most romantic gardens, are the backdrop for an unmissable tour led by Dr. Matthew Jebb, botanist, taxonomist and Director of the National Botanic Gardens, who points out many rare and unusual features associated with these gardens before finishing his talk at Altamont Plant Sales where he will pick out his top 10 plants which can be easily incorporated into your own garden.

Venue:                        Altamont Gardens, Tullow, Co Carlow

t:                      059-9159444/087-9822135

GPS:                52.735129, -6.720966
Time:               11 a.m.

Admission:      FREE. The Walled Garden Café in Altamont Plant Sales is open for tea, coffee and light snacks.


Anna Pavord at Hardymount Gardens

The Curious Gardener

The delightful Hardymount Gardens play host to Anna Pavord, author of “The Tulip” and “The Naming of Names” and Gardening Columnist for the Independent (UK), who will give a talk based on her bestselling book “The Curious Gardener”. Afterwards, stroll through the lovely old walled garden containing herbaceous borders full of unusual plants, espaliered fruit and a vegetable garden while finishing the afternoon with tea on the lawn featuring sandwiches and splendid home baked cakes under the Spanish chestnut tree..

Venue:                        Hardymount Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9151769

GPS:                52.798787, -6.7612269
Time:               3 p.m.

Admission:      €10 includes afternoon tea on the lawn


Wednesday 29th July

Dr. John McCullen at Borris House

Tree Trail

Borris demesne is a fine example of how a formal Baroque landscape has evolved over centuries into the impressive parkland setting visible today. Dr. John McCullen, retired Chief Superintendent of the Phoenix Park and author of an “Illustrated History of the Phoenix Park – Landscape and Management to 1880”, will offer his unique insight into this mature estate with its many specimen trees, original Stew Pond and 18th century Ice House.

Venue:                        Borris House, Borris, Co Carlow

t:                      059-9771884   w:

GPS:                52.598644, -6.926618
Time:               11 a.m.

Admission:      €5 in aid of charity. House tours €10 p.p. Craft gallery open.


 Rob Smith at Kilgraney House & Herb Gardens

“Growing for Success – Companion Planting in a Kitchen Garden”

Rob Smith, winner of the 2015 “Big Allotment Challenge” on BBC, will talk about his gardening successes and, in particular, will focus on the essentials of companion planting for pest control, pollination and crop productivity in the kitchen garden.

Rob’s second workshop “Make and Eat” features two demonstrations inspired by the “make” and “eat” tasks from the Big Allotment Challenge.

Venue:                        Kilgraney House, Borris Road, Kilgraney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9775283   w:

GPS:                52.653681, -6.957602
Time:               From 2 p.m.

Admission:      € 10 for both talks and tea


Thursday 30th   July     

Helen Dillon at Rathwood

What Makes a Good Garden

Often described as the undisputed queen of Irish gardening, Helen Dillon is a legendary plantswoman, author, international lecturer and creator of the world famous Dillon Garden. A firm festival favourite, this year Helen offers a personal reflection on the pleasing aspects of good garden design in an intriguing workshop blending a vast knowledge of gardening with an entertaining and witty presentation. Many of the plants discussed will be available in Rathwood’s Garden Centre.

Venue:                        Rathwood, Rath, Tullow, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9156285 w:

GPS:                52.796597, -6.660739
Time:               11 a.m.

Admission:      FREE. On site restaurant with fresh wholesome food and baking.


Helen Dillon at The Meadows

Garden Tour

A new garden for 2015, Helen Dillon will lead a “walk and talk” through the Meadows, using this town plot as an example to demonstrate what can be achieved with a small budget and limited time.  Helen’s creative tips and recommendations are sure to inspire ideas as to what can be accomplished in your own garden.

Venue:                        No 7, The Meadows, Myshall, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9157530 w:

GPS:                52.6870338, -6.777797

Time:               2.30 p.m.

Admission:      €5


Art in the Garden with Gethyn Gibson at Kilgraney House & Herb                 


Take your pencils, pens and paints outside for an afternoon of exploration and sketching. Artist Gethyn Gibson is on hand to offer helpful advice and guide your brush and pen strokes. Event unsuitable for children.

Venue:                        Kilgraney House, Borris Road, Kilgraney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9775283               w:

GPS:                52.653681, -6.957502

Time:               2 – 6 p.m.

Admission:      Donation to charity welcomed.


Friday 31st   July               

Neil Porteous at Burtown House

Garden Tour

Neil Porteous, head gardener at the outstanding Mount Stewart Gardens in Co. Down and worldwide plant hunter will escort you around the enticing gardens at Burtown made up of several areas including splendid herbaceous borders, shrubberies, a rock garden, a yew walk with dividing pergola, an old orchard, a walled organic vegetable garden and a large woodland surrounded on all sides by water.

Venue:                        Burtown House, Athy, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-8623148 w:

GPS:                52.996672, -6.870744

Time:               11.30 a.m.

Admission:      €10. The Gallery Café serves tea, coffee, snacks and light lunches from seasonal home grown produce.


 Roy Lancaster at Altamont Gardens

Garden Tour

A visit to Altamont’s captivating blend of formal and informal gardens with riverside walks covering over 40 acres is the highpoint of the Carlow Garden Trail. Roy Lancaster, veteran UK broadcaster and author, who has been awarded a CBE for services to horticulture, tours the scenic formal grounds offering his own impressions on the gardens, before ending in Altamont Plant Sales to select some of his own favourite plants.

Venue:                        Altamont Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9159444 w:

GPS:                52.735129, -6.720966
Time:               3 p.m.

Admission:      FREE. The Walled Garden Café in Altamont Plant Sales is open for tea, coffee and light snacks.


Saturday 1st  August

Dermot O’Neill at  Huntington Castle

Garden Tour

Dermot O’Neill, one of Ireland’s most popular garden experts, comes to Huntington Castle for the first time. Explore the many delights of these historic surroundings with him, from the 17th Century parterres, the ancient Yew Walk, the “Wilderness” woodland to the kitchen gardens, with the Greenhouse and the recently restored Rose Gardens.

Venue:                        Huntington Castle, Clonegal, Co Carlow

GPS:                52.690404, -6.649131

t:                      053-9377160

Time:               12 noon

Admission:       €5. Tea rooms open for tea, coffee and light snacks. Castle tours available and children’s playground open.


 Dermot O’Neill at Newtownbarry House

Walk & Talk

Dermot O’Neill heads a “walk & talk” in the magnificent two acre walled Sunken garden which has retained its original 18th century grottos and features a formal oval pool, a fountain and a series of borders filled with shrubs and herbaceous perennials enclosed by lines of dwarf hedges. Mature trees, a rose garden and a lake complete the picture.

Venue:                        Newtownbarry House, Bunclody, Co. Wexford

t:                      053-9376383

GPS:                52.65673, -6.65035

Time:               3pm

Admission:      €5. Farm cafe open for refreshments. Gallery open


Sunday 2nd August    

Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Country Fair at Duckett’s Grove

Enjoy Summer fun and entertainment in the magical setting of Duckett’s Grove Walled Gardens and Pleasure Grounds close to Carlow Town. Bring a rug and picnic and enjoy a fun day out for the whole family. Take Teddy and dress him in his Sunday best to win a prize. Face painting, together with teddy bear workshops, bouncy castle and games complete the line-up for this fun packed afternoon which also features dedicated displays of traditional crafts including basket making, weaving, a blacksmith, a falconry display by Woodlands Falconry and an extensive local artisan food and craft market.

Venue:                        Duckett’s Grove, near Carlow town

t:                      059-9130411 w:

GPS:                52.858748, -6.812787

Time:               12 noon – 6pm

Admission:      €5 per car


Monday 3rd August   

Kitty Scully at Clonegal Community Gardens

Situated in Ireland’s Tidiest Village 2014, the Clonegal Community Garden was developed in early 2013. The garden is primarily used for growing fruit and vegetables but it also has a small native tree nursery, polytunnel, wild garden, herbaceous border, a composting area and water harvesting system. Kitty Scully of RTE’s How To Create a Garden and Food Gardener at Airfield is on hand to demonstrate how the benefits of a community garden can be enjoyed by all.

Venue:                        Clonegal Community Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow

t:                      086-2111942 w:

GPS:                52.693884, -6.64658

Time:               12 noon

Admission:      FREE


Kitty Scully at Rathvilly Garden Centre

Resilient Vegetable Gardening 

Life has its ups and downs and so too will your garden.  In this talk Kitty, will provide plenty of inspiration to help make your plot more resilient and to ensure it is producing tasty, seasonal vegetables all year round.

Venue:                        Rathvilly Garden Centre, Baltinglass Road, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9161594

GPS:                52.898638, -6.697199

Time:               3 p.m.

Admission:      FREE

If you’d like to see what the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival was like, have a look. if you love flowers, have a look at these stunners from when Dublin hosted the World Flower Show!

Altamont Gardens tulips

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Altamont%20Gardens,%20Ireland”]

 A Snow Globe will be at Duckett's Grove Christmas Fair

A Snow Globe will be at Duckett’s Grove Christmas Fair

What’s happening during the Christmas Fair at Duckett’s Grove?

You may have gotten the flavor of Duckett’s Grove & Christmas in Carlow over on my last post, but now I’ve been sent more details on what’s on. So have a read, and be sure to head over to this magical place on 7 December!

home baking at Duckett's Grove. ChristmasOn Sunday December 7th 12-5pm, the historic surroundings of Duckett’s Grove House and Estate will be transformed into Carlow’s own Winter Wonderland when it hosts its annual and very popular Christmas Fair. A magical grotto of traditional Christmas activities incorporating a large craft and food market featuring over 50 stands awaits all visitors in the courtyard area adjacent to the main house. Featuring ceramics and knitwear, art, jewellery, embroidery, Christmas cards and decorations, this fair is guaranteed to appeal to anybody seeking a special gift or those who just want to browse and soak in the Christmas atmosphere in this beautiful setting.

On the food front there are a range of seasonal treats including Christmas cakes, puddings, mince pies, seasonal fruit tarts, jams, chutneys, apple juice and hampers. Tempting mulled apple juice, a range of hot drinks including cappuccinos and lattes and hot mince pies will keep hunger and thirst at bay throughout the day. Visitors will also have the opportunity to taste the tempting array of Christmas goodies in the tea room at Duckett’s Grove or enjoy organic burgers from Paul Stock Barbeques.

childrens choir at Ducketts Grove Christmas fairThe smaller folk will also be thrilled with a number of the new new attractions included…Santa Claus is coming to town….there will be a Santa Grotto with a free present for every child, free festive face painting and performances by Carlow based musical and entertainment groups. At 2 and 4 p.m. Christmas storytelling workshops will take place in the courtyard, which are always a big hit with the children. Additionally both adults and children can enjoy the inflatable game experience of Rodeo Reindeer while a giant snow globe is available as a special backdrop for family and individual photos.

Adding to the atmosphere on the day will be a range of traditional craft demonstrations including weaving and horse shoeing while Woodlands Falconry will be showing their range of beautiful birds of prey including hawks, falcons and owls. The start and finish of the Carlow Farmers Hunt, in period dress will add a special ambience to this year’s fair. Celebrating their bi-centenary in 2014 the hunt is returning to historic premises where they would have hunted in the past.

A farrier at work at Ducketts Grove Christmas fair

A farrier at work at Ducketts Grove Christmas fair

The magic and fun of Christmas can be enjoyed in this unique setting, just 10 minutes from Carlow and Tullow off the R418 Castledermot/Tullow Road, the R726 Carlow/Hacketstown Road and the R448 Castledermot/Carlow Road. Visitors travelling from Dublin and the south should exit the M9 motorway at junction 4 and follow signs for Castledermot and the R418 Castledermot/Tullow Road.

NOTE: you can also see Duckett’s Grove located on the Google map over here. You can also access the full Christmas in Carlow county-wide program there.

For more information phone 059-9130411 Admission is €7 per car with free car parking. 12 noon – 5 p.m.

Taste of Carlow Christmas

Taste of Carlow Christmas

It’s Taste of Carlow Christmas time!

It is almost December, so if you’d like to get a little head start on your  Christmas spirit and gift list, head over to Taste of Carlow Christmas market on Sunday 30 November, from noon to 6pm. Located at Water Mill Lane on Kennedy Street, it is free in and also free to see Santa, so is a great opportunity to bring the little ones without affecting your budget!

“Over thirty local producers will be selling products that range from gingerbread cookies and fresh water pearl jewellery to locally produced honey, wood turned bowls, chocolate, and more.

We are also promised entertainment throughout the afternoon from Santa who will be there with Rudolph and his friends, carol singing from local choirs as well as demos during this free event.”

Christmas in Carlow 2014

Christmas in Carlow 2014

Shopping locally is a brilliant way to keep money in the community, and supports small Irish businesses and craftspeople. And with a locally made gift, your present is often more unique!

Carlow has LOTS o for Christmas, starting off with the turning on of the Christmas lights on Saturday the 29th of November. Have a look at the full Christmas in Carlow 2014 programme here. There are also special offers listed!

I’ll be heading to #TasteCarlowChristmas myself to take photos at the event to help spread the word, as Green & Vibrant are helping to promote. You may see me there trying not to buy chocolate products from The Chocolate Garden for myself, but rather for others…maybe for my hubby; then he’ll share! Clever 😉

Here’s a wee video clip teaser I’ve made. PS if you can’t make it to Taste of Carlow Christmas, stick Sunday, 7th December in your diary, because Duckett’s Grove will be having a Christmas Fair then. See you there, too!  Happy Christmas!

“Ma!” she cried. “There is a Santa Claus, isn’t there?”

“Of course there’s a Santa Claus,” said Ma.

“The older you are, the more you know about Santa Claus,” she said. “You are so big now, you know he can’t be just one man, don’t you? You know he is everywhere on Christmas Eve. He is in the Big Woods, and in Indian Territory, and far away in York State, and here. He comes down all the chimneys at the same time. You know that, don’t you?”
“Yes, Ma,” said Mary and Laura.

“Well,” said Ma. “Then you see–“

“I guess he is like angels,” Mary said, slowly. And Laura could see that, just as well as Mary could.

Then Ma told them something else about Santa Claus. He was everywhere, and besides that, he was all the time.

Whenever anyone was unselfish, that was Santa Claus.

Christmas Eve was the time when everybody was unselfish. On that one night, Santa Claus was everywhere, because everybody, all together, stopped being selfish and wanted other people to be happy. And in the morning you saw what that had done.

“If everybody wanted everybody else to be happy all the time, then would it be Christmas all the time?” Laura asked, and Ma said, “Yes, Laura.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

Merry Christmas!

Duckett's Grove Castle will be holding Duckett's Grove Christmas 7 Dec, 2014

Duckett’s Grove Castle will be holding Duckett’s Grove Christmas 7 Dec, 2014 Carlow

Picturesque castle? Check!

Family fun? Check!

Local markets for gift shopping? Check!

Christmas at Duckett’s Grove has this & more!

Here’s a super Christmassy afternoon out for the whole family! Duckett’s Grove is a very romantic part-ruined gothic style castle in county Carlow, and on the afternoon of 7 December 2014 (Sunday,) from 12 to 5pm it will be filled with events, Santa & his grotto, craft and food stalls, demonstrations & more.

childrens band at Ducketts Grove Christmas fair

Childrens band at Ducketts Grove Christmas fair

Put your family and friends into the car (only €7 per car; the events & Santa etc inside are FREE- click here for more on them) and take a wee trip to Duckett’s Grove. If you haven’t seen this hidden gem in Carlow, the Christmas fair is a great reason to see why those who have been love Duckett’s Grove so. Green & Vibrant brought some bloggers to visit there, and here is some of what they said:

Lorna has been to the Christmas Fair at Duckett’s Grove before, and she says: “The Ducketts Grove Christmas fair is like a winter wonderland – crisp winter air, music in the background, yummy food to sample and purchase, great gift buys and finish it off with a marshmallow topped hot chocolate.For those who like to shop local (and I do!), this type of Christmas shopping supplies all the feel good and happy hormones! ” – Lorna Sixsmith, Irish Farmerette

“I just loved Duckett’s Grove Castle. The Castle suddenly seems to appear before you, with a magnificent drive up to it. We walked around the Castle and Gardens, and, of course, stopped at The Tea Rooms for tea and the most delicious scones ever.”  -Margaret, A Year In Redwood duckett's grove at night

“The fantastic thing about Duckett’s Grove is that you can spend hours exploring every detail of the majestic ruins or in true awe looking out over the surrounding Carlow countryside. The newly restored walled gardens allow gardeners to use their imagination and think about how they would have looked when they were fully functional in their heyday.” – David Corscadden, Beyond The Wild Garden

“Duckett’s Grove, while in ruins, is a stunning architectural example of an 1830’s family estate house. We happened to visit on one of the most beautiful September days with brilliant sunshine and blue skies – I was captivated by it as a photography subject. The tea room and craft shop give you an added excuse to make a morning or afternoon out of you visit and while we didn’t have enough time to go for a lengthy walk that day – the long drive and surrounding countryside lends itself to one.” – Lisa McGee, Isle Magazine

Duckett's Grove Christmas Fair 2014

Duckett’s Grove Christmas Fair 2014

UPDATE: Christmas at Duckett’s Grove is over for this year, but watch the video clip from it below! The Christmas Fair here is a fab, authentic, local Irish experience, & I really think you will enjoy it. The Carlow cheeses at the fair’s market are just fantastic, and there are so many wonderful local handmade & artisan items & foods. Add in the beautiful setting, traditions like the Hunt, carol singing, Santa & so on, and a visit to the duckett’s grove Christmas is a special afternoon that you may want to add to your 2015 Christmas calendar 😀 [youtube_sc url=”” title=”Christmas%20at%20Duckett%27s%20Grove%20castle,%20Ireland”]

Carlow has loads on for the Christmas season, (download the programme: Christmas in Carlow 2014across the whole county. The Christmas markets & fairs are fantastic places to pick up a unique handcrafted gift from local producers & craftspeople. I was just at the Taste of Carlow Christmas market in Carlow town on 30 Nov, and I got loads of gifts & goodies. A fair few of the stands there will also be at Duckett’s Grove Christmas, plus additional stalls. I’ve made a little video of some of the treats you may find in Carlow: [youtube_sc url=”” title=”Christmas%20In%20Carlow”]

Not sure where Duckett’s is? Here’s a map to help you; it’s actually not far outside of Carlow Town and the M9.

–> More info on the events of Ducketts Grove Christmas 7th December 2014

Feeling the Christmas spirit yet? Hope so!

“There hoved a great hall and fair:
Turrets rising in tiers, with tines at their tops,
Spires set beside them, splendidly long,
With finials well-fashioned, as filigree fine.
Chalk-white chimneys over chambers high
Gleamed in gay array upon gables and roofs;
The pinnacles in panoply, pointing in air,
So vied there for his view that verily it seemed
A castle cut of paper for a king’s feast.
The good knight on Gringolet thought it great luck
If he could but contrive to come there within
To keep the Christmas feast in that castle fair
and bright.”

– from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

ALSO, the Sunday beforehand, 30 November, there’s another event to get you in the Christmas spirit & also help with your gift list– Taste of Carlow Christmas is on with lots of artisan food & craft stalls. To see what the summer’s Taste Carlow event was like, click.

For even more places to visit, events and more in Carlow,

I hope you’ll come to Duckett’s Grove Christmas, and I’ll be there too, live sharing photos and making a little video and I’m proud to help to promote this fantastic local event 😀

The Barrow Valley, Ireland

Walk the Barrow Valley & Blackstairs Mountains, Ireland

Breathe that fresh mountain air. Ahhh!

Serious hikes, serene strolls, river safaris and sure-fire craic is in store for you at the Carlow Walking Festival 2014!

You can choose from 23 guided walks that range from leisurely historic walks & nature walks, all the way through to a hard & fast 8 hour A++ hike through Ireland’s heather -covered Blackstairs Mountains. Transport to & from the walks is provided, and each walk has several guides but limited numbers of walkers in order to give you the best experience possible. There are even refreshments afterwards, and evening trad sessions in O’Shea’s fabulous pub/hardware shop that you really shouldn’t miss!


Trad music in Carlow voa

Trad music in Carlow via

 The Walking Festival runs 3-5 October 2014, and sadly, (ok not sooo sad!) I’ll be in Italy during it, so I’ll miss out myself; but if I was in Ireland I’d also be very interested in some of the complementary outdoor activities on offer during the festival too.

River Safaris

Go With The Flow are running a Safari on the River Barrow each day of the walking festival, suitable for absolute beginners and families. The Barrow is a great river for spotting otters & kingfishers– I know because I’ve seen several here myself, and it is such a thrill each time!

Cycling along the River

Cycling is another brilliant way to spot Irish wildlife. A gentle cycle down the towpath which runs alongside the Barrow is just the ticket. Terry and I rented the bikes & did this ourselves, and the wide towpath is lovely and flat for those of us on the un side of fit 🙂 That flatness also makes it more family friendly, so a cycle along the river, with perhaps a stop for cake & coffee in St Mullins or Graiguenamanagh makes for a lovely and easy outdoor adventure. You can rent bikes from Waterside Bike & Hike, €15 a day for adults, €10 for child. Don’t miss the stone chair of the robber Freney along the lefthand side of the Barrow towpath a few km down from Tinnahinch if you cycle to St Mullins. Picturesque seat for stopping to take a breather!

Carlow walking festival brochureNight Walk

Walking in Ireland’s mountains at night is magical. One of the B rated walks (#1) is at nighttime, lead by experienced local guides. When I lived in Donegal I used to walk a bit of the mountainside at night, and believe me, it is something special. If the stars & moon are out it is even more so, but regardless, if you are in the category of  ‘experienced hillwalker’ this is a walk not to be missed. And if you’d like to learn more about that B level of ‘experienced hillwalker,’ check out Walk 16, which is an informal Introduction To Hillwalking for B level walkers.

Fabulous Views

Brandon Hill is just one of the walks giving you fabulous views; see the the photo below for one beautiful view over the Barrow Valley– and how about that carpet of purple heather! Terry did this hill walk with his friend last week, and you can do it too; it is a B level walk, #6. It takes around 4-5 hours and you can usually easily see the Wicklow Mountains and several counties. I think Terry will be doing some of the Carlow walks whilst I’m away in Italy, and he is under instruction to take photos to share with you all!


The Festival is using the Twitter hashtag #WalkCarlow, so you can follow along & enjoy some beautiful views even if you aren’t here. As part of Green and Vibrant I’m organizing the hashtag and bringing a blogger or two in to experience & share about this lovely Irish walking festival, so they will be tweeting photos too– when mobile coverage in the countryside allows 😀

Do share YOUR #CarlowWalks photos & if you’ve any walking tips, because we’d love to see & share them. 

There are SO many fabulous walks in Carlow, do have a look of the full Festival listings & brochure hereCarlow Autumn Walking Festival 2014 .

Purple heather, stunning views even on a cloudy day; enjoy Carlow Walking Festival in 2014!

Purple heather, stunning views even on a cloudy day; enjoy the Carlow Autumn Walking Festival 2014!

And DO book early, places are limited; the link to book walks is here. Walks are between €10-€20 to cover costs. Carlow Walking is a well regarded walking festival, with many walkers returning each year-maybe you will too 🙂

PS: If you’re travelling to Carlow, several hotels have Walking Festival offers; see them on the brochure, linked above.

For even more Carlow events, like the Feile an Fhomhaie 2-9 October, see

Enjoy your Walks & Outdoor Adventures in Carlow!



Alan Foley of carlow's Step House is the McKennas Guides Chef of the Year 2014 Pic by Nick O'Keeffe

Alan Foley of Carlow’s Step House is the McKennas Guides Chef of the Year 2014 Pic by Nick O’Keeffe

Carlow is Tasty!

Taste of Carlow Food Festival is on Sunday 31 August 2014, and it is stuffed full of food, fun, and even family foraging!

There are SO many reasons to visit Carlow, it is full of tasty treasures! The Taste of Carlow is taking place along the river Barrow in Carlow Town from 12-6pm, and it promises to be an event for both foodies and families. I’ll be there, and hope you will, too. Follow the hashtag #TasteCarlow on Twitter & Instagram to see what will be happening on the day- plus I’m also arranging a Blogger’s Tour of Carlow, and we’ll be sharing photos & Carlow tips using #TasteCarlow. If YOU are in or have been to Carlow, do share your pics & Carlow tips using #TasteCarlow, too– let’s spread the word about what’s tasty & good in Carlow 🙂

Check out some of what’s on at Taste of Carlow:


Savour all that is wonderful about Carlow at Taste of Carlow, a dedicated craft and food fair on Sunday 31st August from  12 – 6 p.m. on the River Barrow Promenade, Barrow Track, Carlow Town.

Taste of Carlow - Sunday 31st August

Taste of Carlow – Sunday 31st August


This artisan food and craft fair, which is in its 4th year, will feature local craft and food producers. There will be food demonstrations by leading Carlow chefs, tasting menus, Bungee Trampoline, Kite Flying, face painting, water activities and musical/family entertainment!

Visitors to Taste of Carlow are invited to meet, learn from, taste and smell the produce of the many hospitality providers and artisan food producers whose passion and commitment is profiling Carlow as an up and coming food destination.

Artisan foods will include cheeses, juices, jams, chutneys, crepes, beverages, home baking, fresh meat, organic fruit and vegetables, organic home made burgers and chips, ice cream and mouth watering chocolates. Enjoy your lunch on the banks of the gentle River Barrow!

Cheese  making demonstrations will be delivered by Tom Burgess of Coolattin Cheddar, and the Carlow Bee Keepers Association will give an insight into the fascinating world of honey.

Fiona Dillon author of Food from an Irish garden, Dympna Maher, Healing Herbs and Alan Foley head chef of Step House, Borris will provide insights into the delights of good cooking and healthy foods.

Paul Stock from SMOQUE  Restaurant and Tapas will provide mouth watering Tapas Carlow Style. Imelda Byrne from the ICA Bootcamp will also be in attendance.

Carlow enjoys an abundance of original, hand made crafts including woodturning, pottery and jewellery. A Taste of Carlow is the perfect opportunity to meet local artists and craftspeople who have created a wealth of beautiful and collectible pieces in both traditional and contemporary designs. Featuring ceramics and knitwear, hand crafted enamels, art, jewellery, embroidery and hand made cards, the craft fair is guaranteed to appeal to anybody seeking a special gift or those who just want to browse and soak in the atmosphere of the riverside area.

For the younger among us there is lots of fun entertainment throughout the day, with face painting, musical entertainment & more. While here make sure and visit Carlow Town Park, immediately adjacent, a wonderful amenity for all the family which features a safe and secure children’s playground. Other activities for the little ones include a craft area, bouncy castle and  bungee trampoline.

River activities on the day will focus on demonstrations by Carlow Sub Aqua and Carlow Rowing Club and Civil Defence.

Carlow has so many quality craft makers and artisan food producers and restaurants. This event recognises the importance of this resource by bringing both buyers and sellers together in a dedicated one day event against the backdrop of the lovely River Barrow. Visitors to the fair will be guaranteed both excellent shopping and a very special atmosphere with a wide range of activities throughout the day.

Free Admission and ample free car parking available

For more information telephone 059-9136204 or visit


Altamont Gardens, Carlow

Altamont Gardens, Carlow


The past week has been just fantastic, and the Carlow Garden Festival is not over yet! Here are  some photos, and the upcomimg events on Saturday, Sunday & Monday 2-4 August:

Saturday 2nd August 2014

Dick Warner at Newtownbarry House and Gardens

Wander through the glorious grounds of Newtownbarry along with Dick Warner, environmentalist, broadcaster and Irish Garden columnist, as he highlights aspects of the natural habitat in lush woodlands and around the tranquil lake.

Time: 11.30 a.m.  

Venue: Newtownbarry House and Gardens, Bunclody, Co. Wexford. 

Admission: €5. 

Tea Rooms open for tea, coffee and homemade scones and cakes. House tours also available.


Huntington Castle lake

Huntington Castle lake

Dick Warner at Huntington Castle: Tree Trail

Explore the wonderful surroundings of Huntington Castle  and discover some rare and unusual trees, including the scenic avenue with its amazing lime tree collection, hickory, Siberian crab, buckeye chestnut, as well as the impressive Yew walk, with Dick Warner, acclaimed tree expert, as your guide.

Time: 2.30 p.m. 

Huntington Castle, Clonegal, Co. Carlow. 

Admission: €5. 

Tea Rooms open for teas, snacks, etc. Tours of the castle available and children’s playground open.


River Walk with Éanna Ní Lamhna

Éanna Ní Lamhna, environmentalist and RTE personality, leads a leisurely walk along the lovely banks of the River Barrow in Leighlinbridge, highlighting the history and heritage of this great river while identifying a wide variety of local flora and fauna. Éanna also provides practical, easy steps to garden for wildlife. Find out which plants attract songbirds, butterflies, frogs and other interesting wildlife.

Venue: Meet at the Garden of Remembrance, The Quay, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow 

Time: 3 p.m. FREE admission 

Sunday 3rd August 


Duckett's Grove at night, Carlow, Ireland

Duckett’s Grove at night, Carlow, Ireland

Duckett’s Grove Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Bring a rug and picnic and enjoy a fun day out for the whole family in Duckett’s Grove, a ruined gothic mansion dating to the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. Take Teddy and dress him in his Sunday best and win a prize. On hand will be a special Teddy Bear’s hospital where Teddy’s ailments are tended to with love and attention. All old, ill or torn teddy bears can be brought here to be mended and loved back to health. Face painting, together with teddy bears workshop, bouncy castle and games complete the line up for this fun packed afternoon.

This is a great opportunity to visit Duckett’s Grove Design – Craft and Gift Emporium, selling high quality artisan craft and also three individual craft workshops featuring products made on site by a jeweller, felter and stained glass artist. Take a glimpse into the past history of the Duckett family and enjoy self-guided tours of this fabulous ruined mansion which can be booked at Duckett’s Grove Design at a cost of €2 per person extra. Tea room on-site.

Time: 2-6 p.m. 

Venue: Duckett’s Grove, Historic House and Walled Garden, near Carlow Town.

Admission: €5 per car


Monday 4th August

delta-sensory-5-flowers.jpg.jpegFionnuala Fallon at Rathvilly Garden Centre

Fionnuala Fallon, Irish Times Gardening Columnist and author of “From The Ground Up”, offers her considerable expertise while delivering two informative workshops.

Summer maintenance and Top Ten Plants for August 

Fionnuala chooses her top 10 plants for August that everybody should find room for in their gardens. Fionnuala also highlights key lessons for successful border and flowerbed planting including pruning, deadheading, second flowerings, delayed flowering, watering and feeding.

Time: 2.30 p.m. 

Venue: Rathvilly Garden Centre (on N81), Rathvilly, Co. Carlow. FREE admission 

Planning Flowerbeds and Borders/Health checking your plants

Heralding the changes of each new month, flowers provide seasonal variation in colour, form and texture. Fionnuala introduces key lessons for successful border and flower bed planting while also highlighting the importance of plant health checks to ensure a flourishing garden

Time: 4.00 p.m. 

Venue: Rathvilly Garden Centre (on N81), Rathvilly, Co. Carlow. FREE admission

Enjoy the Weekend!

Carlow Garden festival irises

Carlow Garden Festival 25 July- 4 Aug 2014

Carlow Garden Festival opened last night to a great crowd, & continues with 9 more days of top garden & family events.

Here are the events happening this weekend, 26 & 27 July,

For the full 10 day listing, and to see how you can be in to win some cool prizes, have a read of this. You can also download the full Carlow Garden Festival programme there, too. 

Carol Klein opens Carlow Garden Festival 2014

Carol Klein opens Carlow Garden Festival 2014

Carol Klein is much loved by gardening folk for her catching enthusiasm & extensive knowledge, and her talk opening the festival last night was packed out. The next 9 Garden Festival days are full of gardening stars, Irish & UK, and our local Carlow area garden gems.

ADVANCE WARNING: If you have children, be sure to keep 2-5pm NEXT Sunday 3 Aug open, as there will be a Teddy Bear Picnic at beautiful Duckett’s Grove. The Bear Essentials are even travelling down from Cavan to help repair any Teddys who need to visit the Teddy Bear Hospital! Admission to the Picnic is per car- – just €5 a car.

Today, Saturday 26 July, you won’t want to miss Dermot O’Neill’s talks, especially if you are just starting with the gardening bug!  He’ll be at the Arboretum in Leighlinbridge.

Dermot O'Neill, Carlow Garden FestSaturday 26th July

Dermot O’ Neill at Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven: 

Container Gardening

Container plants add versatility to gardens large and small, lending instant colour and providing a focal point. If you would love to plant garden containers but don’t know where to start, then Dermot O’ Neill will introduce you to its basic principles including planting and best container options.

Time: 12 noon FREE admission

Low Maintenance Gardening 

This workshop covers all the important aspects of summer gardening including watering, grooming and summer pruning, pest control and much more. With Dermot’s valuable advice and tips you can ensure that your garden continues to look great from summer into autumn.

Time: 2.30 p.m. FREE admission 

Tour of the Arboretum Inspirational Gardens 

In a one hour tour of the Arboretum Inspirational Gardens, Dermot O’ Neill provides details of easy, low maintenance gardening schemes and solutions. A visit to this garden is a treat for the amateur or enthusiast who will enjoy seeing the themed planting and use of colour and texture.

Time: 3.30 p.m. FREE admission

Venue: Arboretum Home and Garden Heaven, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow 

Rachel’s Garden Cafe is open for snacks, light lunches and main meals.

Dermot O’Neill, author, presenter of RTE’s “Dermot’s Secret Garden” and editor of “Garden Heaven”, is one Ireland’s best loved gardening experts.

 Another of Ireland’s favorite gardeners is Helen Dillon, who on Sunday 27 July will first be at Huntington Castle in Clonegal [which, by the way, does a bril Halloween tour! I screamed my head off 😀 ] After that, at 2.30 she heads to Newtownbarry House in Bunclody; a fabulous looking place I hope to visit soon if I can’t on Sunday.

Be sure to share your photos if you go to any Carlow Garden Festival events! Share on Twitter or Instagram using hashtag #CarlowGardenFest, or you can also post them on Vibrant Ireland’s Facebook page, or on GreensideUp’s. You’ll be entered in the draw for the Patio Apple Tree!

Helen Dillon will be at Carlow garden festivalSunday 27th July

Helen Dillon at Huntington Castle and Gardens: Garden History

The history of gardening is explored in this lecture using the formal gardens of Huntington Castle as a case study. View the 17th century parterre, ornamental lakes, fish ponds and Yew Tree Walk, one of the oldest in the country in the company of Helen Dillon, world renowned plants expert, broadcaster and garden author.

Time: 12 noon 

Venue: Huntington Castle and Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow 

Admission: €5. 

Tea rooms open for teas, light snacks and cakes. Tours of the castle available and children’s playground open. 

Huntington Castle’s website is:

Helen Dillon at Newtownbarry House and Gardens: Garden Tour

Tour these charming gardens in the informative and entertaining company of Helen Dillon, covering everything from the lake to the Rose Garden and on to the recently renovated nineteenth century sunken garden.

Time: 2.30 p.m. 

Venue: Newtownbarry House and Gardens, Bunclody, Co. Wexford 

Admission: €5

Tea rooms open for tea, coffee and homemade scones and cakes. House tours also available.

Newtownbarry’s website is

As mentioned above, we have 2 prizes to give away, and to find out how to enter as well as to see the complete Carlow Garden Festival programme, check this post if you haven’t already.

To find out more about the gardens on the Carlow Garden Trail: