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

All posts in Carlow

Carlow Garden Festival - Dee & I have prizes for you to to win!

Carlow Garden Festival – Dee & I have prizes for you to to win!

Come enjoy colourful Carlow at the Carlow Garden Festival!

Full of flowers and fun for garden lovers and families, the Carlow Garden Festival will run 25 July- 4 August 2014. Find out what’s on, and how you can win 3 delightful prizes.

Admittedly, Carlow is off many peoples’ radar. Yet this county in Ireland’s sunny southeast is home to several garden gems, varied and unique festivals, and has a fascinating history. I live right on the Kilkenny/Carlow border, and my friend Dee of lives in Carlow. We feel that you all may like to discover more about this underreported county, and we would like to help give Carlow a boost in our own small way. So, we’ve decided to start by being social media ambassadors for the Carlow Garden Festival. And as part of this we’ve 3 prizes for you to win ūüėÄ

Carol Klein tickets - win for Carlow Garden Festival

Carol Klein tickets – win for Carlow Garden Festival

Prize #1

First up will be a prize of 2 tickets to hear Carol Klein’s talk on 25 July! This prize has a value of just under ‚ā¨50, so it is well worth entering!


Cheers to the Festival for donating these tickets!


garden hand tools prize

Comment on this post to be in to win!

The next two prizes we have to give away were¬†thoughtfully chosen for you by Carlow’s Arboretum Garden Centre manager Eamonn Wall. Huge thanks to Arboretum for donating these prizes!

Prize #2: Set of Garden Tools

Worth ‚ā¨45, this set of garden tools will be an asset in the garden whether you’re green fingered or not. Of course, during the Garden Festival you’ll get lots of tips on becoming green fingered if you feel you aren’t! ¬†


To enter contest #2: ( NOW CLOSED)

Leave a comment at the bottom of this article, in which you say whether you are greenfingered or not.

Leave your comment by Friday, 1 August 2014 at 6pm Irish Time.

*****WINNER: JAMIE BEE– congratulations!!****

The winner will be drawn at random, so your yea or nay inclination is neither help nor hindrance to winning. ūüėÄ ¬†I can post the tools out to you anywhere in the Republic Of Ireland.

Coronet Patio family apple tree, thanks to Arboretum Garden Centre

Coronet Patio family apple tree, thanks to Arboretum Garden Centre

Prize 3: Patio-sized Coronet Family apple tree

Prize 3 is a wonderful patio-sized Coronet family apple tree worth ‚ā¨40! These trees are fantastic as they fruit with 2 apple varieties and can live in a nice-sized pot or in the ground.

To enter contest #3:

Share a photo of your own of flowers from your garden,

OR any of the Carlow garden trail gardens, 

OR any Carlow Garden Festival events you attend.

Be sure to include the hashtag #CarlowGardenFest. 

You can share via your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts, and as long as you include #CarlowGardenFest you will be entered in the draw.

Do so by 9pm Irish Time Saturday, 2 August 2014.

You can also post your photos to either the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page, or to the Greensideup Facebook page. You may enter on all 3 social media platforms;Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Each platform’s post will be counted as a separate entry =more chances to win!

WINNER—>TRISH DARCY Here’s her photo tweet:


The Coronet Patio Apple Tree winner will be contacted via their social media profile, and will need to collect their Tree either at the Teddy Bear Picnic at Duckett’s Grove¬†on Sunday, 3 August, or otherwise at the Arboretum Garden centre, Leighlinbridge, county Carlow by 31 August.

Other Terms & Conditions: Anyone is eligible to enter all of the 3 contests. All 3 winners will be chosen at random. These prizes are not exchangeable for any monetary value. The Carol Klein tickets may be be collected at the door. The tools can be posted anywhere in ROI, but not further, sorry.  The Coronet Patio Apple Tree winner will have to collect their Tree at The Teddy Bear Picnic 2Aug, or at the Arboretum Garden centre, Leighlinbridge, county Carlow by 31 August. You retain all rights to your photographs, knowing that we may also share them, fully credited to you, on social media and perhaps on a blog post on both &

Here is more about the Festival:

Carlow Garden Festival Friday 25th July ‚Äď Monday 4th August 2014

CAROL KLEIN of Gardeners’ World opens the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival as it returns with its best ever line-up, in this its 13th year. Featuring 15 celebrated garden experts over 11 days, the festival offers something to interest everyone from novice gardeners to garden connoisseurs, garden designers to nature lovers and grandparents to grandchildren.

The Carlow Garden Festival is a wonderful opportunity for budding and experienced gardeners and nature lovers to obtain practical advice from a range of informative workshops while visiting the many beautiful gardens in the county. August is the perfect month for a gardening festival¬† ‚Äď gardens are in full bloom 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.

This year families are well catered for with a Teddy Bears‚Äô Picnic at Duckett‚Äôs Grove while ¬†√Čanna N√≠ Lamhna‚Äôs River Walk along the Barrow will appeal to all. The creative side of gardening will be explored with a painting workshop at Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens and there are art galleries to enjoy at both Newtownbarry House and Gardens and Burtown House.

Carol Klein of Gardeners‚Äô World heads the panel of gardening experts and opens the festival with her own experiences of ‚ÄúLife in a Cottage Garden‚ÄĚ followed by a Q&A session on Friday, July 25th. Dermot O‚Äô Neill, well known to viewers of RTńí, is joined this year by acclaimed UK Financial Times columnist Robin Lane Fox, Seamus O‚Äô Brien, Head Gardener at Kilmacurragh Gardens, Helen Dillon of the Dillon Garden, Paul Martin, RHS Hampton Court Gold Medal Winner, June Blake of June Blake‚Äôs Garden, Fionnuala Fallon of the Irish Times and Shirley Lanigan, author of ‚Äú100 Best Gardens in Ireland‚ÄĚ will also feature on the festival programme. Popular radio presenters and environmentalists ńíanna N√≠ Lamhna and Dick Warner deliver a range of entertaining environmental talks and workshops while Ross Hennessy and Marina Kesso cover all aspects of growing herbs and herbal remedies.

Visitors can also explore the Carlow Garden Trail, a collection of 18 different gardening attractions which feature two gardens in the surrounding counties of Kildare and Wexford. The trail includes great old gardens that have been lovingly restored and maintained throughout the years, and smaller gardens which are maturing beautifully with time, where visitors will enjoy guided tours, usually with the owner or head gardener. Award winning garden centres and forest parks complement the joy of a visit here.

Great value accommodation breaks along with details of the festival programme can be found at or alternatively ring Carlow Tourism on 059-9130411 for further details.

Here are some of the Carlow Garden Festival’s Events, and you can download the full colour Festival Programme here:¬†Carlow Garden Festival¬†

Friday 25th July 2014

Carol Klein at the Woodford Dolmen Hotel: Life in a Cottage Garden

Carol¬†Klein¬†will chronicle a year in her own Glebe Cottage Garden in Devon, as seen in the book and series ‚ÄúLife in a Cottage Garden‚ÄĚ, followed by a chance to pick her brains with Q&A‚Äôs.¬†Join Carol and members of the Carlow Garden Trail to launch the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival at this very special event. The Organisers are delighted to welcome Carol Klein to the Carlow Garden Festival for the first time. Carol is the popular presenter of Gardeners‚Äô World¬†and Open Gardens¬†and author of many books including the bestselling ‚ÄúGrow Your Own Veg‚Ä̬†and ‚ÄúWild Flower: Nature‚Äôs Own to Garden Grown‚ÄĚ.

Time: 7.30 p.m. 

Venue: Woodford Dolmen Hotel, Kilkenny Road, Carlow  

Admission: ‚ā¨24.50. Tickets available from Carlow Tourism t: 059-9130411, Delta Sensory Gardens t: 059-9143527 or Altamont Plant Sales t: 087-9822135. All major debit and credit cards accepted.¬†

Woodford Dolmen Hotel special rates ‚Äď 25th July ‚ā¨50 B&B p.p.s. ‚ā¨70 Dinner, Bed & Breakfast p.p.s.


Saturday 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‚ÄôNeill, author, presenter of RTE‚Äôs ‚ÄúDermot‚Äôs Secret Garden‚Ä̬†and editor of ‚ÄúGarden Heaven‚ÄĚ,¬†is one Ireland’s best loved gardening experts.


Sunday 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: ‚ā¨5.¬†

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

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: ‚ā¨5

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

Monday 28th July 2014

Paul Martin at Delta Sensory Gardens

Join Paul Martin, Gold Medal Winner RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, on a journey through the marvelous series of multi-sensory gardens, including the Celtic Walk, the formal Rose Garden, the Five Senses Garden, the Circle of Life, the Stolen Child Garden and his own award-winning garden designed for Bloom.

Time: 12 noon and 2.30 p.m 

Venue: Delta Sensory Gardens, Strawhall Estate, Carlow. 

Admission: ‚ā¨5.

Tea, coffee, lunch and snacks available in the on-site restaurant. 

Tuesday, 29th July 2014 

Seamus O’ Brien at Altamont Gardens¬†and Altamont Plant Sales

Seamus O’ Brien will offer his unique insights into the enchanting gardens at Altamont Gardens. A gifted plantsman, 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.

Time: 11 a.m. 

Venue: Altamont Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow.  FREE admission 

The Walled Garden Café, tucked away in the far corner of the old walled garden at Altamont provides comfort and refreshment in a beautiful and unusual setting. Features fresh roasted coffees, speciality teas, homemade cake, and simple, savoury fare.

Robin Lane Fox at Hardymount Gardens 

Stroll through the delightful Hardymount Gardens with its herbaceous borders full of unusual plants, and on to the vegetable and fruit gardens and the great Spanish chestnut, accompanied by Robin Lane Fox, Financial Times garden columnist, Garden Master of New College, Oxford and author of¬†‚ÄúBetter Gardening‚Ä̬†and ‚ÄúThoughtful Gardening‚ÄĚ.

Round off the afternoon with a sumptuous afternoon tea featuring all kinds of delicious home baked goodies and sandwiches on the lawn of Hardymount Gardens.

Time: 2.30pm

Venue: Hardymount Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow.

Admission: ¬†‚ā¨10 to include afternoon tea on the lawn.


Wednesday, 30th July 

Ross Hennessy and Marina Kesso at Kilgraney House & Herb Gardens: Growing Medicinal Herbs with Ross Hennessy of Blu Herbal and Bareroot Botanicals

This workshop covers the sowing, propagation, cuttings, caring, harvesting, drying and seed saving of medicinal plants including unusual herbs that can be grown in Ireland. There will be demonstrations on each of these aspects and an overview of the medicinal uses of the plants throughout.

Time: 2 Р4 p.m. 

Venue: Kilgraney House & Herb Gardens, Kilgraney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow

Admission: ¬†‚ā¨10 to include both talks (see below details of talk with Marina Kesso)

Making Herbal Remedies with Marina Kesso of Iona Herbal

This workshop covers 3-4 different remedies that can be easily made at home from home grown medicinal plants and Irish wild plants. There will be lots of demonstrations and tastings. The medicinal properties and uses of the herbs will be discussed at length including common conditions they treat.

Time:¬†4 – 5.30 p.m.¬†Admission¬†‚ā¨10 for both talks.¬†

Venue: Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens, Kilgraney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow. 


Thursday 31st July 2014

June Blake at Burtown House

June Blake, creator of the exciting, contemporary and varied June Blake’s Garden in Wicklow will escort you around the enticing gardens at Burtown which includes splendid herbaceous borders, shrubberies, a rock garden and a walled organic vegetable garden.

Time: 12 noon

Venue: Burtown House, Athy, Co. Kildare. 

Admission: ‚ā¨10¬†

The Gallery Café serves tea, coffee, snacks and light lunches from seasonal homegrown produce. 

Matthew Jebb at Altamont Gardens and Altamont Plant Sales

The bewitching gardens of Altamont are the backdrop for a fascinating walk and talk led by Matthew Jebb, botanist, taxonomist and Director of the National Botanic Gardens. Matthew will point out many rare and unusual features associated with the 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.

Time: 2.30 p.m. 

Venue: Altamont Gardens and Altamont Plant Sales, Tullow, Co. Carlow. 

FREE admission.

The Walled Garden Café, tucked away in the far corner of the old walled garden at Altamont provides comfort and refreshment in a beautiful and unusual setting. Features fresh roasted coffees, speciality teas, homemade cake, and simple, savoury fare.

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

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.

Time: 2 Р6 p.m. 

Venue: Kilgraney House and Herb Gardens, Kilgraney, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow 

Admission: Donation to charity welcomed.

Friday, 1st August 2014 

Shirley Lanigan at Rathwood:

 All Year Interest in the Garden 

Shirley Lanigan, garden journalist and author of¬†‚Äú100 Best Gardens in Ireland‚ÄĚ,¬†shares her extensive garden know-how in two enlightening workshops.

Shirley gives new planting ideas for every corner of your garden to create year round interest while also providing all the information you need to keep your plants healthy. Pick up some new ideas and practical tips to ensure maximum impact and keep your garden looking its best all year round.

Time: 12 noon 

Venue: Rathwood Home and Garden World, Tullow, Co. Carlow. FREE admission.      

Golden Rules for Buying Plants

Shirley introduces 10 golden rules for plant and vegetable purchases focusing on areas including soil composure, repotting, planting, watering and plant grouping.

Time: 2.30 p.m. 

Venue: Rathwood Home and Garden World, Tullow, Co. Carlow. FREE admission     

Country style restaurant with fresh, wholesome food and home baking.

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: ‚ā¨5.¬†

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

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: ‚ā¨5.¬†

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

River Walk with √Čanna N√≠ Lamhna

√Čanna N√≠ 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.¬†√Čanna 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 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 ‚ā¨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: ‚ā¨5 per car


Monday 4th August

Fionnuala Fallon at Rathvilly Garden Centre

Fionnuala Fallon,¬†Irish Times¬†Gardening Columnist and author of¬†‚ÄúFrom The Ground Up‚ÄĚ, 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


overview of events Carlow Garden Festival

Overview of events Carlow Garden Festival


¬†Enjoy the Carlow Garden Festival, and good luck in the contests ūüėÄ


logo Carlow arts festivalThe Carlow Arts Festival,¬†Eigse, is on 6 – 15 June 2014; it’s 35th year!

There is music, street art, busking, street traders, a vintage trail, cultural workshops, alfresco dining, and gallery spaces!

And did you know Carlow Arts Festival now includes 2 exciting literary/spoken word events? The Borris House Festival of Writing and Ideas and The History Festival of Ireland are branch festivals in the county, whilst in Carlow town the festival invites you to experience the potential of a street brought back to life through a myriad of events. This weekend check out the Street Art Carnival Sat 7th & Sun 8th June, and tomorrow, Friday 6 June, you can hear musician Mick Hanly play. See below for more:


Street Art Carnival, Dublin Street, Carlow

Saturday 7th & 8th June

Initiated by the Carlow Art Festival 2014, Dublin Street Carnival will sow a seed that presents back to the town a potential cultural quarter. Pure Thinking Community Group, collaborating with Barrow Valley Painters and Carlow regional Youth Services, have created  several large scale exterior murals, fresco and frieze works and a multitude of small-scale street art installations on Dublin Street, joining Frank O’Sullivans lady, which enters its second year without a scratch.

The Delta Centre makers have designed street decorations, bunting, lighting, wild costumes and giant sculptural works ‚Äď think giant stiletto‚Ķ. ¬†The thoroughfare will be ‚Äėknit-bombed‚Äô, vintage clothing stores will spill onto the pavements, street food will sizzle, tables and chairs will appear on sidewalks, and musicians and performers will lay their hats on the ground and fill the neighbourhood with melody and fun.

*on mobile, list is wonky; click Carlow Arts link to see it & all events*


Saturday 7th  June                                                                                             Sunday 8th June

1pm                                                                                                                                 12pm

Spontaneous pop-up theatre from Carlow little Theatre                        Gospel Concert on steps of the Courthouse

12-7pm                                                                                                                  4pm

Musicians busking throughout the day                                                      Spontaneous pop-up theatre

7pm                                                                                                                        12pm-6pm

LIve music from the Town Hall Plaza                                                          Musicians Busking throughout the day

8pm                                                                                                                        3pm

The Good Thief by Conor McPherson @ TBA Speakeasy                  Stiletto Sprint: The 2nd running of this Charity Spectacular


If you’re in the mood for some tunes, check out Mick Hanly, who¬†will perform¬†at 9pm on Friday 6 June, the opening night of the Carlow Arts Festival.


Mick Hanly will be at Carlow Arts festival 2014

Mick Hanly will be at Carlow Arts festival 2014


The Milford Room, Seven Oaks, ‚ā¨15

Mick Hanly was born into a music loving family in Limerick. He was inspired by mid-50s rock ‚Äėn‚Äô roll before he became more interested in folk in the 60s. He went on to perform and record with Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Matt Molloy, Paddy Glackin, and Declan Sinnott. In the 80s be became lead singer with Moving Hearts after Christy Moore left. He subsequently turned to country music, and became a singer-songwriter for artists such as Mary Black and Hal Ketchum. His hit ‘Past the Point of Rescue‚Äô reached the top 10 in the US charts. {I’ve added a video of it below}

‚ÄúHis songs are real, they mean something. He is one of the best songwriters around.‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒ Garth Brooks

You can get your tickets at

For group bookings or special bookings such as wheelchair seating and hearing loop requirements, please call the box office on 059 9172400.

[youtube_sc url=”″ title=”Mick%20Hanly”]

Graig Goes Wild!Come join in!

From serene nature walks and painting in the wild, to white water fun and stand-up paddling, Graiguenamanagh has something for the whole family at the Graig Goes Wild festival 26-27 April 2014.

Nestling in the winding Barrow Valley along the border of Sunny Southeast Ireland counties Carlow and Kilkenny, the charming medieval village of¬†Graiguenamanagh is a perfect hub for outdoor activities. To help bring awareness of some of what this magical area has to offer, the 1st Graig Goes Wild festival is on this coming weekend, and I’m pretty sure there will be an activity that will tempt you!¬†bluebells in graiguenamanagh ireland

The timing is perfect, because the bluebells in Silair Wood have just opened, and a stroll there will be scented by their delicate perfume. Stop and linger on the riverside boardwalk, or bring a picnic and watch the river & kayakers go by if you don’t wish to do an on- river activity yourself. There will be an evening BBQ and adventure films as well! ¬†Have a look at the program for full events listings.

I’m a big fan of Graiguenamanagh, and, ok, I may be biased as I live here, but I genuinely feel Graig is one of Ireland’s hidden assets. It deserves to be more widely visited, and the community in the area are fantastic. Add it to your Irish vacation plans, you’ll love it! Drop by a pub for a pint, or call by Coffee on High and check out their new stock of local Irish products. Will we see you nipping into Doyles authentic traditional pub after your adventures? How could you resist? ūüėÄ

Doyles authentic traditional Irish Pub, Graiguenamanagh

Doyles authentic traditional Irish Pub, Graiguenamanagh

Did you know that Graiguenamanagh also has one of the biggest & best rural St Patrick’s Day parades around? Definitely have a gander at these photos from 2014’s parade. AND there are good places for ‘wild swimming’ in the river, while in summer there are lifeguards on duty, too. There are also diving boards into the river by the quays! I’ve more posts on the Graiguenamanagh area; you can have a look here.

Here’s a bit of official info about Graignamanagh and its connection to the river:

The River Barrow, historically a significant highway, was developed as a commercial navigation in the mid seventeen hundreds and Graiguenamanagh served as the main base for commercial barges operating on the river until barge traffic ceased in 1959. The barges that at one time lined the quaysides are now replaced by some one hundred pleasure craft. 

Walking and hillclimbing are among the popular pursuits of the Graiguenamanagh area and with the South Leinster Way meandering through the lovely Barrow Valley and traversing nearby Brandon Hill, scope is provided for the a gentle stroll or a vigorous, day-long hike. The Barrow’s aquatic facilities include fishing, swimming, kayaking and canoeing. Graigue, as the town is popularly known, is home to a rowing club and the two popular sporting clubs, the G.A.A and the soccer club, Highview Athletic.

The¬†Duiske Abbey, which takes its name from the little river Duiske (Blackwater) which joins the Barrow here, was founded by William Marshall in 1204 and was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1536. Significant remains of the monastery exist to the rear of the houses that line the east side of Lower Main Street. The abbey’s large “Early English”¬†gothic¬†church, was restored in the 1970s and in its northern aisle a model shows the monastery as it was in the fourteenth century. (Via¬†wikipedia)

Come and enjoy the outdoors, history, and fun in Graiguenamanagh!

stone scissors

These gardens are fun! I think a giant has just taken a break from hedge trimming & left behind his clippers.

Even in Winter there’s a lovely oasis in Carlow.

Delta Sensory Gardens are a real surprise, hidden away in the back of an business estate just outside of Carlow town.

Delta Sensory Gardens are two and a half acres of varied interlinking gardens; water, roses, sculpture, woodland, natural, formal, musical and more!

Wonderfully creative, a visit here will have you oohing & ahhing over the features as well as the plants. You can see some of these in my photos. Even on a grey Winter afternoon it was attractive. I can’t wait to go back in spring & summer!

The Delta Gardens also hold events such as their lovely Christmas wonderland & craft fair, as well as being a lovely wedding photograph venue!

If you’re in the area & feel stressed, I reckon watching the beautiful big goldfish swim in the fish pond and listing to the water flow from the many unusual water features would be a gentle way to relax & enjoy.

The sleeping lady's head Delta sensory gardens ireland

The sleeping lady’s head under a blanket of leaves

Yep, it’s a gem; with a small garden centre & coffee shop, Delta Sensory Gardens does just what their website says: combine the attractions of a tourist facility¬†with the sensory gardens also providing a therapeutic focus and¬†benefit for people of all abilities.

Have a look at the following photos – kids especially love the giant sleeping lady and the other hidden surprises throughout in the gardens. Go explore!

PS: the water features are really cool- don’t miss the GIANT spinning stone ball!


I’ve a map near the end of the post to help you find your way there.

The Delta Sensory Gardens website is here.


peas in a pod sculptures delta sensory gardens ireland

The stone sculptures are made by a local sculptor. LOVE these pea pods. And yes, you ARE meant to touch ūüôā

Insect hotel

Any insect would be happy in this lovely rustic insect hotel!

Amazing water feature carlow Ireand

This water feature in the rose garden is amazing. It’s a circle, yet the water flows along it no bother! On the inside it is a solar calendar. And look- roses still blooming at end November.


Delta Gardens Ireland water feature

Just one of the Delta Gardens’ water features

Pond & waterfall delta centre gardens

The pond is home to lots of colourful goldfish- big and small.

beautiful birch bark

Beautiful birch bark!


Indoor water musicfeature, delta Sensory Gardens

Don’t miss the indoor dancing water feature!

Rustic wood sculpure in the woods

Boo! This rustic sculpture is hidden in the trees!

Many of these are my Instagram photos for #IGTravelThursday. Would you like to join in? Just instagram some of your travel photos (can be local travel!) & hashtag them #IGtravelthursday. Check out the other interesting photos on that hashtag stream, as well. If you are a blogger, you can also do a post centered around your Instagram travel photos.  For all the ins & outs on joining in, see Skimbaco. Happy Thursday! 

View Larger Map

Halloween in Ireland is special.

Halloween in Ireland is spooky!

Halloween in Ireland is spooky! This is Kilkenny Castle.

After all, Ireland is the home of the Halloween tradition. Samhain¬†originated here, and Ireland is an exciting & spooky place to be during October- especially in one of the many ancient castles. You are spoiled for Halloween choice- so many places are haunted– castles, lighthouses,¬†crannogs & more! There’s plenty on, and I’ll give you some highlights.

No matter what your age or how nervous your temperament, there’s probably something Halloween-y on that you’ll enjoy.

If you have the nerve, you could set yourself a fantastically spooky tour of the events & festivals listed here. Do you dare? If you do, let us know in the comments below; tell us YOUR favorite Halloween events/outings/tales/treats.

For the HUGE array of Halloween events for 2015, please click to the newest article here.

Candlelit Halloween Tours of Huntington Castle

One of the Halloween things we did last year was the nighttime candlelit adult tour of Huntington Castle¬†in county Carlow. We loved it! Huntington is about 500 years old and is a castle full of stories; for example did you know it is home to the Temple of Isis? It also is home to lots of screams during the tour– I think mine are still echoing there ūüôā Thank fully there are also family tours for those with kids under 12, and the castle tearoom is open for a cheery restorative Halloween bun & coffee after your frightening experiences. Click Huntington Castle¬†for all the details and to book.


Halloween in Ireland: Huntington Castle Ireland

Huntington Castle has a fab, fun Halloween tour

Halloween at Rathwood

At the side of county Carlow (Wicklow border) you’ll find Rathwood. I’ve heard lots of good reports on Rathwood and their falconry centre, woodlands, garden centre, shops &¬†more. Plus, The Chocolate Garden is next door. Now, that’s frightening — for those on a diet! ūüėČ

Renowned for their magical Christmas train experience, this Halloween families can jump onboard the spooky delights of Rathwood’s Halloween train. Travel through the enchanted forest, magical fairy playground and meet some friendly ghoulish creatures. Children and adults alike can enjoy a pumpkin pick and pumpkin carving with Rathwood’s witches. All children will enjoy a complimentary hot chocolate after the Halloween adventure.

Babies (0-12months) go free, ‚ā¨5 per adult and ‚ā¨10 per child. Halloween trains running from October 19th¬†to October 31st.¬†

For bookings visit


Halloween in Ireland Rathwood

Love this pic from Rathwood! The scary face the wee lad on the left is making ūüėÄ

 Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Head to county Cavan for the Pumpkin Festival, with events from 25-30 October. There’s the national giant pumpkins competition, Haunted Forest Walk, pumpkin pie contest, artisan food & craft¬†fair, treasure hunt, fireworks, and music &¬†more happening as well. A great time for the whole family!

Unlike some of the next Halloween highlights- for adults only!

Loftus Hall- the Devil Visited!

Loftus Hall in county Wexford, where the devil is said to have visited, does have a children’s event listed, but it also has a tour for over 21’s only! How scary must that be? Too scary for me, that’s for sure. They also have an adult only¬†murder mystery night running on Friday the 13th of December. Click the link above to find out more, if you dare…

Halloween in ireland: Loftus Hall

I’m not! Are YOU? Loftus Hall is spooky!

Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm

Another adult only Halloween event is the over 16’s only Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm¬†in¬†county Meath. I’m a big scardy-cat, so I’ve not been to this, but here’s a 30 second video of the scares. They do have a family friendly day on Oct 27th, Halloween Bank Holiday Monday…that may be more my speed ūüôā

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Haunted%20Spooktacular%20Haunted%20Farm%20Ireland”]

 Shankill Castle: Midnight Halloween Tour

Shankill Castle in county Kilkenny has events for both over 15’s– accompanied by an adult- and for families. The candlelit tours bring you through the most haunted parts of the castle, and also out into the graveyard. The tours start running 18 October, and there is to be an extra-special one at the witching hour of midnight on Halloween. They are also having 2 murder mystery nights, which include a 4 course meal as part of Savour Kilkenny. To find out more about all the events Shankill Castle is running, click here.

Children: Get ready for Halloween!

In Kilkenny City, the 16th century Rothe House is holding events for children ages 5-12 on Halloween day:

11.00 ‚Äď 12.30:¬† Get creative, and make your Hallowe‚Äôen mask and lots more scary stuff.

12.30 ‚Äď 1.00:¬† Break (bring your own lunch)

1.00 ‚Äď 2.00: ¬† Michael Moylan of Irish History Live brings past Hallowe‚Äôens to life, with scary stories.

‚ā¨6.00 each session (morning and afternoon), or ‚ā¨10 for both. To book: +353 56 7722893 or¬†¬†¬†

Thank goodness this sounds nice and non-heartstopping! I was getting the creeps just writing about all the very scary Halloween events. I’m sure there are others, but I’m too scared to write about any more ūüėČ

Right; now all I have to do is go and suit up for the Vampire Hunt at the Bram Stoker Festival.¬†Stake; check. Holy water; check. Garlic…uh oh…hubby cooked with it.. ¬†Find out more on the Vampire Hunt and the festival, here.

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?


The Arts in Beautiful Settings: The Barrow River Arts Festival

The idyllic Barrow river

The idyllic Barrow river

The idyllic Barrow river, Graiguenamanagh,
The idyllic Barrow river valley of counties Carlow and Kilkenny is the setting for The Barrow River Arts Festival 
19-21 April 2013. 
Okay, I may be biased because this is where we live, but why don’t you come and see what you think of it yourself? If you enjoy the arts the festival is a great excuse to visit. There will be¬†music,¬†visual art,poetry¬†and¬†more–¬†with the added attraction of events being held in the¬†historic¬†home of the kings of Leinster,¬†Borris¬†House, as well as in medieval¬†Duiske¬†Abbey.
 Plus, you could also hire bikes & cycle up the Barrow towpath from Graiguenamanagh (home of  Duiske Abbey) to Borris & Borris House- enjoyable exercise AND the arts: win-win!
 UPDATE! The area is now an even more interesting setting. Breaking news has it that theVirgin Mary has appeared as on the hillside above Graiguenamanagh and the golf course. What do you think? Does it look like her?? 
For the full programme and more information on the festival  

 Sarah Foley (7), Shayna Howe (6), Hannah Matthews (4), Chantelle Matthews (9) Ava Kehoe,8
Photo Dylan Vaughn. Carlow Pan Celtic Festival

Get jiggy at  the Carlow Pan Celtic International Festival this Easter!

I’ve been sent the info on this year’s fest (2-7 April 2013,) & it sounds brill!

¬†Bride de R√≥iste, festival director says there¬†will be ”a great festival line-up and highlights include storytelling and swapping, concerts, book launches, traditional singing and choral competitions as well as piping and drumming, harp, fiddle and dance contests in dozens of venues across Carlow town.‚ÄĚ WHEW!

”And in ancient times, Irish dancers’ hairstyles were¬†this big!”
Disclaimer: *may not be a direct quote* ūüėČ
Photo Dylan Vaughn
Story tellers Jack Sheehan & daughter Aideen McBride from Bagenalstown Co. Carlow.

I’m told the highlight for many will be the Pan Celtic International Song Contest on Thursday, April 4. It will feature newly-composed songs¬†from each of the six nations¬†in their own Celtic language. Ireland will be represented by Seoirse √ď Dochartaigh from Donegal, singing Le Do Thaobh, by Connemara native √Āine Durkin, a moving and poignant tribute to √Āine‚Äôs late sister.


Carlow Pan Celtic Festival launch, Tricia Hutton, Carlow town. Dylan Vaughn
Here are a few more tidbits: 

”Carlow comes alive for the festival. Outdoor entertainment includes Celtic dancing, an open-air Ceil√≠, busking competitions and the festival parade. Festival-goers are also invited to run, walk or jog the Pan Celtic Mile!


The Trad Trail features no less than 40 sessions and 80 musicians in a total of 12 hostelries. There is also a series of workshops which range from baby fiddle to master classes in all traditional instruments, as well as Sean-Nós, Céilí and Breton dance classes.
This year‚Äôs programme also features performances from the Garda Band, RT√Č C√≥r na n√ďg, Thurso Pipe Band, Pervish, The Great Trad Train and ARDS CC√Č as well as 3 Orchestras in Concert. Celtic language classes will offer a taste of Scots Gaelic, Manx and Cornish as well as Irish.


A Festival Club in the Seven Oaks Hotel, hosted by a different nation each night, will give a taste of the very best of Celtic entertainment each country has to offer. The festival is a true family event, with workshops and attractions galore for children, a ‚ÄėCeltic Taste of Carlow‚Äô artisan farmers‚Äô market and much more.”
Fun, music, dance, food– I’m in!! See YOU there?¬†


All fringe events are free of charge.
 For more see
See all the festival signs? never a dull moment in our area!
This weekend -21 to 23 September 2012- the Town of Books Festival AND the Michealmas festival are both on here in Graiguenamanagh (Kilkenny side of the river Barrow) and Tinnahinch (Carlow side of the river Barrow.)
Have a look at this fantastic new photo site showing off the 50 Shades of Graig & more. Many thanks to Best Foot Photo for putting this together to show off some of the fantastic things in our patch of Kilkenny & Carlow.

Don’t Miss it!! ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
Books, craic, history, music, & fun for the whole family on September 21-23, 2012 in the wonderful medieval riverside town of Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny!
¬†One of Ireland’s hidden gems, the town is filled with booksellers from all over Ireland & the UK during the festival weekend. This year the theme is 50 Shades of Graig, & in addition to the readings/talks from (non-Graig) Irish authors, there are fabulous walks & tours where you’ll enjoy the nature and ¬†history of Graiguenamanagh, music from Graig’s own Brass Band- the longest running in Ireland!- local food, plants, craft, & books from local authors. Go on, mark the dates in your calendar!
Get stuck in at Graiguenamanagh Town of Books Festival
Graiguenamanagh is the best place in Ireland to pick up a bargain in new and second hand books, antiquarian, childrens and specialist categories. The festival also features several readings for young and old alike, a smashing food and craft fair, music, street entertainment a host of interesting activities. Graig is the outdoor activity headquarters for southeast Ireland, and is constantly alive with hillwalkers, cyclists, & canoeists,  as well as fishing and boating enthusiasts.
So come on down to the river and take your time to browse the bookshops, walk the Barrow towpath and pop in for afternoon tea or enjoy a wee drink in a local hostelry. Here’s the 2012 schedule:
Friday 21st September
Booksellers open 2-6pm
Bridget in Werewolf Rehab:¬†Author Maura Byrne reading & Workshop for 9-12 year olds ‚Äď Graiguenamanagh LIBRARY 3pm ‚ā¨3
Louise Philips:¬†Crime writer, A reading from her book¬†‚ÄėRed Ribbons‚Äô
All welcome ‚Äďhosted by Graigue Bookclub at Graigue Library 7pm
Saturday 22nd September
Booksellers open 10am to 6pm
Graiguenamanagh Community Garden open day:¬†with willow weaving display & plant sales, 10 ‚Äď5
A Walk through Silaire Wood:¬†Graiguenamanagh. Meet at the boathouse 10.30am. ‚ā¨3
‚ÄėThe Backwards Speller‚Äô¬†‚Äď Children‚Äôs author and backward speller extraordinaire David Donohue, reading and workshop for 7-13 years old at Graiguenamanagh Playgroup 11.30am ‚ā¨3
Graiguenamanagh Brass Band: on the streets of Graigue 11am
Funky Kids Art & Craft workshop and Funky Disco:¬†for 7 to 12 years 2.30pm at Graiguenamanagh Playgroup ‚ā¨3
National Chamber Choir of Ireland in Concert Duiske Abbey:¬†conducted by¬†David Hill¬†and singing sacred music connected with the Autumn Equinox 3pm ‚ā¨15.00(‚ā¨12.00 concession)
Sunday 23rd September
Booksellers open 10am to 6pm
Artisan Food & Craft fair: Upper Main St. 11am to 5pm
Graiguenamanagh Brass Band: 12 to 1pm Upper main St.
Street Entertainment: with Cory O’Brollochain followed by 
Juggling workshop for kids:¬†(workshop ‚ā¨3) 2pm
The 800 year walk: Through the ages since establishment of Duiske Abbey in 1204. Includes fascinating visit to the historic, working, Cushendale Woollen Mills with guidance from current owner of the mill. Walk guided by Graiguenamanagh Historical Society, meet at Duiske Abbey 3pm
Jazz by the river: 3pm at the boathouse with FourSquare Jazz
The Festival Monkey ‚Äď Mark Graham:¬†creator of the popular Blog ‚ÄėA Year of Festivals In Ireland‚Äô¬†gives his version of the fun, culture, & plain old bizzare events he’s experienced this year.
Murrays Pub 4.30pmI’m¬†certainly¬†going to be there! Hope to see you!!

If gardens are your thing, especially gardens in the grounds of beautiful, old, renovated  Georgian Irish houses, then Kilgraney House Herb Gardens situated between Bagenalstown (Muine Bheag) and Borris in County Carlow, Ireland is the place to head for.
It’s hard to believe that the interconnected herb gardens have only been there for six years – their colours, textures and perfumes fill the beds and air as you amble around. I was told that the end of May/beginning of June is the time of year to really see them in all their glory- which must be a sight to behold as they were pretty impressive in August!
Starting with the medicinal garden (individual beds sown with herbs suitable for different ailments), pebbled pathways lined with granite take you through to the monastic herb cloister, the cosmic herb circle (where each star sign is depicted by it’s own herbs), the aromatic herb & rose garden (located next to the very tempting spar) and the herbal tea walk. There’s also an orchard (bulging with fruit in August), beautiful old trees scattered around the grounds and a kitchen garden where fruit and veg are grown for use in the restaurant kitchens. No chemicals are used in the gardens and the owners of Kilgraney House take on most of the work themselves, carefully researching their planting schemes and always on the look out for new ideas.
If you’re a guest at this very tempting romantic getaway then you’re free to wander around whenever suits you. If not the gardens (only) are open from May to September, Thursdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays from 2.00pm until 5.00pm (current fee ‚ā¨3.00, (groups by prior arrangement). Refreshments are available and herbs are for sale too. ¬†I really can’t recommend a trip out to Kilgraney House herb gardens enough – an inspirational place to spend an afternoon!
¬†Kilgraney takes its name from the Irish ‚Äėcill greine‚Äô which means ‚Äėsunny hill‚Äô or ‚Äėsunny wood‚Äô, and it is located in the beautiful Barrow valley, about half way between Kilkenny City & Carlow town. So whether you’re just looking to enjoy a simple afternoon in the gardens, or perhaps a special weekend getaway in the House itself, this spot in the sunny southeast is worth a look!
**Kilgraney House Herb Gardens were visited ,enjoyed, & written about by Dee, who writes GreensideUpVeg** 
OutsideInItreland     WhereToStayInIreland