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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

>> BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW <<

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 www.pumpkinfestival.ie

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.

See www.huntingtoncastle.com 

 

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: shankillcastle.com/scarefest2015/  

Too Scary? How about a gentle Halloween Spooktacular?

HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR 2015

Friday 23rd October – Sunday 1st November

Limerick Spooktacular viaHalloween events Ireland halloweenspooktacular.ie

Limerick Spooktacular via halloweenspooktacular.ie

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: halloweenspooktacular.ie

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!

Picture


DRACULA’S DUBLIN!

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

 

DRAGONS!

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 www.dragonofshandon.com

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=”https://youtu.be/exIX94oDUbQ” 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/www.barrycronin.com

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

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/www.barrycronin.com 087-9598549 info@barrycronin.com

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

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:  www.spiritsofmeath.ie   

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! 

 


Farnham Estate pillows & bed

Ahhh, and relax! Snuggle up in comfort at Farnham Estate

Do you ever treat yourself to a stress-relief break?

Relaxation seeking or not, one of the best hotels I’ve been to in Ireland is Farnham Estate in Cavan.

 treatment room, Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

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

Maybe you’re feeling good but want a treat, or perhaps your body has aches & pains, your mind feels frazzled, or your emotions have been a bit raw. I know when I went for an overnight at Farnham Estate I was less than rosy! I’ll use my achy & slightly frazzled self to illustrate in this review why I reckon you’ll enjoy Farnham Estate.

I wasn’t sure if visiting the spa would much benefit  my spine & shoulder pain, though I sure felt in need of a soothing break. But, YAY! The overnight spa break eased the pain and refreshed me greatly. I was on a tight budget and only availed of the indoor/outdoor infinity pool & the thermal suite, yet even without any hands-on spa treatments I felt better for days. Here are some reasons why you’ll enjoy Farnham Estate, too:

The stairway to bliss; ie Thermal Suites & Infinity Pool at Farnham Estate in Cavan, Ireland

The stairway to bliss; ie Thermal Suites & Infinity Pool, Farnham Estate, Cavan.

Total relaxation and comfort.

It’s not just the spa that makes you feel the cares of the world lifting, it’s the peaceful country estate surroundings, elegant historic building, and the friendly, capable professional staff. Yes, Farnham Estate is a beautiful, safe place to bliss out and rejuvenate. And sometimes we just need that!

“Going to a spa is a way of getting taken care of that is psychologically and culturally acceptable — and we can carry that feeling of being cared for with us for a period of time, and very often that can help us cope better with stress,” says NYU professor of psychiatry Virginia Sadock, MD via www.webmd.com

Of course, you needn’t go with total relaxation in mind, you may want use the 4 star Farnham Estate as your base to explore and visit the Cavan area. (Do visit the Cavan Burren!) But let me warn you, once you get to Farnham Estate you may find it hard to part from it 😀

AHHH…Thermal Suite and Spa

Fancy a treatment? There’s a wide array, and the treatment areas looked fantastic. You can also have lunch in the spa, chillin’ in your robe. I didn’t do either of these as I was completely broke. (Same for why I didn’t eat dinner at Farnham’s main restaurant, Botanica. But the menu sounded bril, & they’ve won awards.) I did do all the free spa stuff though- it was ace! It made a nice difference to my aches and pains. Do try all the thermal suites!

Sunlight streams in through the sash windows in the Jr suite in the historic house part of Farnham Estate, cavan, ireland

Sunlight streams in through the sash windows. Jr suite in the historic house part of Farnham Estate

In the thermal suites there are several hot and cold therapies. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the more extreme ones, but I SO did. On the warm side there is the Reflexology Foot Basin, the Aroma Steam Bath, the Amethyst & Salt Room, the Laconium, and the warmest, the Finnish Sauna. In between rooms you can refresh yourself in the Snail Showers; I adored the Fresh minty one, gently zingy! On the colder side of things you can have a cool/cold rain Snail Shower, step through the Kneipp Walk which alternates temperatures, and coldest of all, the Ice Fountain. I was so surprised by the Ice Fountain; I totally enjoyed it! Perfect after the Finnish Sauna (which I also thought I mightn’t enjoy, but did! If you’ve not done a sauna, do try!)

Ice Fountain 

This is an ideal contrast to the heat treatments (sauna, steam bath)
The crushed ice stimulates the circulation and boosts the lymphatic and immune systems. The continuous falling ice and the refrigeration give a powerful and uplifting feeling, which is why ice fountains are used in medical spas to treat anxiety, stress and depression.
How to get the best results?
Take handfuls of ice flakes from the Ice Fountain and rub them vigorously all over the body, this contracts the pores of the skin rapidly, forcing out impurities. via Farnhamestate.ie

YOU GUYS, THIS WAS FAB! I did the rounds several times, and went back again next morning. It was then that I had a very special experience:

The Infinity Pool: a mist-ical experience!

Farnham Estate’s indoor/outdoor infinity pool can be used year-round as it is heated. It’s quite nice to paddle, water exercise, or swim, but for me the magic happened in the morning, in the pool’s outdoor section.

Outdoor section at night; Infinity Pool. Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

Outdoor section at night; Infinity Pool. Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

It was early Spring when I visited Cavan, so the mornings were still quite cool. When I went to the pool only a handful of folk were about, and none had gone through to the section outside. There, steam from the heated pool rose up to meet the mist and fog that had settled upon Ireland overnight. I lowered myself into the pool and headed to the divider between inside and out.

The cool fresh air rushed forward to greet me as I slid back the clear panel and it shut behind me. Suddenly I was enveloped in fresh mist. It was wonderful! As a robin sang out from the hedgerow, I turned onto my back and floated… just me, the caressing mist, the warm supportive water, and springtime birdsong. All I could feel and see was softness, infinity. No edges; not to the pool, not to the world around me. Bliss.

 

misty morning, Farnham Estate, Cavan, Ireland

The morning mist,, Farnham Estate

Will you be lucky enough to experience the same? Have a morning or evening swim– who knows when the mystical Irish mist may descend 😀  The Farnham Estate Spa is open daily from 8am to 9pm. Find out more about the Spa and the treatments available here.

Tip: If you are staying at Farnham, change into your swimsuit and (provided) robe & slippers in your room; the spa changing rooms are for day-spa guests. I wasn’t too sure it was okay to walk from my room in the historic part of the hotel and cross the lobby to the spa in my robe, but the receptionist reassured me that is exactly right. You know, sometimes in very nice hotels I get a little intimidated, and it is lovely when staff are warm & genuine when you ask (perhaps ‘obvious’) questions like that. You could think a place is gorgeous, but if you feel unwelcome, of course you’ll never go back. I felt very welcome.

Oh, and There’s Golf.

Tee hee (I’ll get my coat!..); what I mean is there is actually plenty at Farnham I didn’t experience. Golf is a big thing for many people, and Farnham Estate is big on golf.

Relax in grand style! The historic house lounge at Farnham Estate

Relax in grand style! The historic house lounge at Farnham Estate

Jeff Howe designed their course and that seems to be a good thing – LOL- I’m completely golf ignorant, but by the standard of what Farnham does elsewhere I reckon the golf is class!

You can also rent a bike for €15 a day, and there are 7 km of walking trails on the Estate. Or go fishing on their lakes- you can hire tackle for €15 at reception. They’ve a gym in the spa, too,  for fitness fans like my hubby Terry.

Time to Cocoon; Lovely Rooms

In both their modern and historic wings, Farnham Estate has very appealing rooms. I had a wonderful upgrade to a junior suite in the 400 year old Farnham Estate House. So lovely! I’m a huge fan of period properties, and the elegant, airy proportions of the Georgian era just seem to say: be at ease here.

The junior suite bathroom at Farnham is my favorite of any hotel I’ve stayed in so far; it just felt lush. The toiletries were divine; you’ll feel so pampered! A soak in the big beautiful tub, as well as a splash under the fantastic rain shower is a must.

The bed was enormous, sheets so smooth and soft; you’ll sleep like a log, especially after all your spa-ing! Of course, I say always bring earplugs (I find the squidgy silicon ones best) to any hotel. Especially in period properties where preservation doesn’t allow for elaborate sound proofing; you never know how noisy the other guests may be even if the general surroundings are quiet.

Standard room, Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan, ireland

The standard rooms in the modern section of Farnham Estate are lovely, too! Pic via Radisson Blu Farnham Estate Cavan

Everything you’d expect from a fine 4-star hotel is at Farnham Estate, and the suites have Nespresso machines; fantastic. I dearly wish other hotels in Ireland would follow suit; it is disappointing (and fairly yuk!) that many only have instant coffee. (So far the other hotel where I’ve found Nespresso is the affordable-fab executive room in Belmore Court in Enniskillen. Others have ground coffee & supply a French press, which is good, too.)

Delicious Food, Local Ingredients

Farnham Estate’s breakfast buffet will tempt you to eat yourself to bursting! There is a plethora of delicious options and locally sourced ingredients; plenty to make both veggies and dedicated carnivores happy. This breakfast impressed me, and in my brekkie experience is second only to the 5 star Hayfield Manor in Cork. That is high praise!

Hot breakfast items, Farnham estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland

Hot breakfast buffet looking and tasting good! Farnham Estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland

The dinner menu at Farnham’s AA Rosette winning  restaurant Botanica is mouth-watering, and the Wine Goose Cellar Bar seems a cozy place for a drink, but as mentioned I hadn’t the funds this stay to do either. Have you been? Tell us! I had a few folk via Twitter tell me that they love the Sunday Lunch there. You can find out more about dining at Farnham Estate here.

Special Offers

Special offers are the business! Certainly I can’t afford to stay 4 star without them, and Farnham Estate has good ones. They also have competitions, so sign up for their newsletter & follow their Facebook to stay in the know. (This is a good tip in regards to many hotels.) Farnham is also part of the Radisson Blu network, so I think if you a person who has Points, you get deals too; sadly on the subject of Points I’m as clueless as I am on golf!

One thing I do know, though, is I like the sound of this (current at time of writing) Special Offer:

Dine and Stay Two Nights

This package includes:

  • Two Nights accommodation
  • Super Breakfast Buffet each morning
  • Set Dinner in the Botanica Restaurant on an evening of choice
  • Unlimited use of the Health Spa’s Indoor/Outdoor Infinity Pool, Watermint Thermal Suite, Gym, Relaxation Rooms and 7Km of Walking Trails through the Ancient Woodlands
  • VAT and applicable taxes included

Midweek Rates from: €149.00 per person sharing
Rates are valid for Sunday – Thursday and are subject to availability

Weekend Rates from: €207.50 per person sharing
Rates are valid for Friday or Saturday and are subject to availability

So keep your eye out for special offers, and consider treating yourself to a break at Farnham Estate. It’s actually good for you 😀

So you know: I negotiated a special price and upgrade with Farnham Estate. I think it is always a good idea to go to individual hotel websites directly, and/or to talk/email to the hotel if you’re looking for their specials or are having an occasion such as a birthday or anniversary. Big booking engines usually can’t get you the same special deals in nice rooms. Worth a shot!

Photo gallery, Farnham Estate hotel, Cavan, Ireland:

Jump In! 


Summer Solstice Cavan BurrenOne of Ireland’s special spots, the Cavan Burren will be extra magical as it celebrates Summer Solstice among the megaliths.

With events and walks- many wheelchair & buggy accessible, the Cavan Burren welcomes those of all ages and abilities on 21 June, Saturday, for the 2014 Summer Solstice.

The Calf House megalith, Cavan Burren, is accessible for all

The Calf House megalith, Cavan Burren, is accessible for all

I was very impressed by the range of history, human and geological, on view when I visited in early March, as well as by the care given to accessibility for all. Even during my quick visit in the rain I could tell that the Cavan Burren Park was full of beauty and stories waiting to unfold.

Happily, Terry & I will be back in county Cavan for the Summer Solstice weekend! I very much wanted to return to explore more, and now we need YOUR help; more about that in a minute.UPDATE: in the hour before leaving, we recieved unexpected news which meant we were unable to go. But I would still like your tips as we want to go another time. And if you go to the Cavan Burren Summer Solstice & want to share a pic,  please do! Will try not to feel too jealous 😉

 

Celebrate Summer Solstice, Cavan Burren Park

Cavan Burren Park, Burren, Blacklion, Co. Cavan, Ireland

Saturday 21st June 2014, 1 – 6pm

Celebrate the Summer Solstice in prehistoric style at the newly developed Cavan Burren Park! Monuments, megalithic tombs, hut sites and pre-bog walls survive from pre-historic times–some are older than the pyramids! The inspiring and intriguing history of West Cavan is on display for all to see. The festival on the 21st will have an exciting and packed programme of celebratory activities for all the family. Enjoy historic re-enactments, music, guided tours of the park & new visitor centre, children’s activities, food stalls and lots more. Expect a spectacular dance performece by the Shawbrook dancers, musical performances by Cavan Big Band, the County Choir and Martin Donohoe, poetry readings by Heather Brett and lots lots more. Click here  for the leaflet PDF.

one of Cavan's many lakes

One of Cavan’s many lakes

Cavan is a county rich with lakes and fascinating geology– in fact it is part of the world’s only international geopark- the Marble Arch Caves geopark, which Cavan shares with Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. On this trip Terry & I will be exploring a bit more of the wider Cavan area as well as The Burren Park itself. The Shannon Pot (the very mystical source of the river Shannon,) and a scenic drive tour of the Cavan Drumlins are both on our list.

Shannon Pot

As the surface rising of Ireland’s longest river, the Shannon Pot’s fame can be traced back to the legendary Finn MacCool and the Fianna, the great warriors of Irish mythology. Legend has it that Síonnan, the daughter of Lodan (a son of the Celtic Sea God, Lír), came to the Shannon Pot in search of the great Salmon of Wisdom. This Salmon was angered at the sight of Síonnan and caused the pool to overflow and drown the maiden. Thus the Shannon was created and still bears her name today.

– See more here

I’m currently joyfully nerding out with brochures and maps in planning our weekend trip, and I’m looking for YOUR Cavan tips, especially on local food products & where to eat. Please let us know what you recommend in the comment section below, or you can tweet or Facebook or email me at hello@vibrantireland.com.

planning a trip;Cavan brochures & walk guides

Planning a Cavan trip!

Thanks so much, and I’ll add your tips  at the bottom of this post for all to see, if you don’t mind.

We will be returning to The Keepers Arms for the cozy accommodation & true Irish hospitality, and I can’t wait to have a pint in their pub 🙂 I’m sure we won’t have time to do/see all we want in Cavan, but we’ll keep the pints to just the one or 2 so we can make early…ish.. starts 😀

For more to help you plan a trip to Cavan – daytrip or vacation, check out: This Is Cavan 

And check this one for in depth information on the Cavan Burren

More on Summer Solstice traditions:

In Ireland, people believed that certain plants had miraculous healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings! – See more at Old Moore’s Almanac

 

Here’s some TIPS from Brid of Sligo’s fab Osta cafe and wine bar:

Enjoy the Solstice, where ever you are!


'The Calf House' megalith in Cavan Burren. Ireland

‘The Calf House’ megalith in Cavan Burren. Is very interesting, as was also used as a little shelter by the farm until the 1950s!

Officially Open for exploring!

One of the lesser-known treasures of Ireland is the Cavan Burren Park. It’s chock a block full of  interesting structures, stones, walks & folklore which stretch back into the mists of time.

I had a quick (& rainy!) visit in March, and went away excited to return to see more. I think you’ll enjoy the Cavan Burren, too! Now that it is officially open, pencil it into your day-tripping or Irish vacation plans. A special time to go will also be during the events on at the Summer Solstice 21 June. You can read a bit more about that & check out some photos here.

Here’s the official scoop on the Cavan Burren Park:

Cavan Burren Park and Interpretative Centre will open up this spectacular area to the public while protecting the historical infrastructure.  Areas like the Global Geopark are essential in supporting tourism in rural communities and are of immense value in terms of protecting our national heritage. Increasingly partnerships are essential if we are to deliver these important projects and I commend the work of Cavan County Council and Coillte in delivering this innovative project.”-Minister Phil Hogan 

Cavan Burren Park is a joint initiative between Coillte and Cavan County Council and consists of a 5km series of walking trails (including a multi-access trail) and an interpretative centre within the  UNESCO designated Marble Arch Caves  Global Geopark. The site is recognised to have an exceptional archaeological heritage with over 80 monuments, ancient hut sites and field systems that survive from prehistoric times.

The 124 hectare Cavan Burren Park is a cross border initiative made possible through over €900,000 in funding from the Border Uplands project which is supported by the European Union’s Interreg IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programme Body and delivered by the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN); project partners include Cavan County Council, Fermanagh District Council, Leitrim County Council and Sligo County Council.  Cavan Burren Park will be jointly managed by Coillte and Cavan County Council who have been working together to deliver local tourism and recreation facilities while protecting the landscape and heritage for future generations.

 

    Find out more about Cavan here: http://www.thisiscavan.ie/fun

 


Cavan Burren; old walls & megalith The Calf House

The moss reclaims the wall of a farm abandoned in the 1950s, while in the left corner the prehistoric megalith ‘The Calf House’ or ‘Druid’s Chair’ stands tall

The thrill of discovering an amazing place little-known to the wider world is priceless.

I think I speak for many folk, Irish and International, when I say I had no idea that there is a Cavan Burren, nor that the surrounding areas are so charming!

cavan burren megalith Lady's Grave

The Lady’s Grave. There is possible rock art on some of the stones, tho’ experts are divided.

The Cavan Burren Forest is a place where you can see millions of years of history; geological formations so old you can barely comprehend the timespan, prehistoric megaliths that echo with tales of the Tuatha de Dannan and fairy-magic, and the remains of farms from ancient times up right up until the 1950s.

This spring a visitor centre and 5 walking trails are opening there, and an app will also be launched. I got a sneak-peek when This Is Cavan arranged for project manager Grainne to give me a tour.

Grainne was brilliant– she really is on fire for the Cavan Burren Forest Park and the whole team are dedicated to having the park & sights accessible for all whilst also being eco-friendly and sustainable. The afternoon I visited, the skies tipped out the rain, so our walk round was cut short– but that’s okay, it just means I’ve a fab excuse to go back for the Summer Solstice grand opening celebrations on 21 June!

 Going to this is a great idea for a daytrip or as part of a longer holiday!

Celebrate the Summer Solstice at Cavan Burren Park

Date: 21st June Time: 1pm – 6pm

Celebrate the Summer Solstice at Cavan Burren Park, Blacklion, co Cavan!  Inspiring and intriguing human history of West Cavan is on display– monuments, megalithic tombs, hut sites and pre-bog walls survive from prehistoric times and some are older than the pyramids. The festival on the 21st will see an exciting and packed programme of celebratory activities for all the family at Cavan Burren Park, with historic re-enactments, music, guided tours of the park and the new visitor centre, children’s activities, food stalls and lots more.

An exciting new visitor centre opens in Spring 2014 and will interpret the inspiring and intriguing human history of Cavan Burren Park. Visitors will have the opportunity on the 21st June to explore the new visitor centre and the new walking trails around the park. Burren is a very special place located in a breathtakingly beautiful part of Cavan. Visitors will be very pleasantly surprised as to what they will find there. Cavan Burren Park is in the heart of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark.

For more info, phone  049 4378 614 or email : fun@thisiscavan.ie

West Cavan Charm

 

West Cavan is beautiful countryside full of lakes, hills, & the Breffni/Breifne mountains, and charming small villages. I stayed in one of them; Bawnboy (An Bábhún Buí) at the foot of Slieve Rushen. At The Keeper’s Arms you get the real Irish village experience- a welcoming guesthouse with pub where you’ll also find locals having a chat & a pint, as well as the warm hospitality of owners Sheila & Bryan. As I was still recovering from flu, I had a hot whiskey in their pub & then slept like a log in my country-cozy bedroom that night.

photo montage of The Keepers Arms, Cavan Ireland

Irish country charm & hospitality in spades at The Keeper’s Arms!

The morning dawned with birdsong, and I took advantage of the free wifi in my room to Tweet, too 🙂 I was the last one down to the big Irish breakfast because of my dawdling, and because it was the low-season, owner Sheila was doing all the food duties- cooking and serving. This meant, though, that we could have a good chat, and I’m glad we did.

 

Teddy Bears & more!

Sheila is a passionate advocate for the area, and you’ll learn lots about  the local gems from her. Plus, she has very engaging stories of village life 🙂 Sheila brought me for a spin while she did catering deliveries, pointing out the teddy bear heaven that is Bear Essentials as well as a lovely & unusual local church– it has by-gone era ‘parking spaces’ under the building for the carriages of wealthy folk! Shelia also shared about the local Workhouse and the hopes & plans of the village in restoring it. I totally see why folk who’ve been to The Keepers Arms rave about her when I mention that’s where I stayed!

Recommended for a slice of Irish village life!

I think that whether you’re visiting Ireland from abroad, or are living here & want a holiday that’s a nice slice of village life, Keepers Arms will fit the bill. There’s also loads to see in the wider area, and that’s exactly what I did. (Posts on that later.) Still, I’ll have to go back, as there is much I didn’t have time to see. I’ve really fallen for the Cavan & Fermanagh area and I highly recommend spending some of your Irish vacation time there!

 

Families! You may be interested in the Teddy Bear Adventure Walk

The Bear Essentials & Cavan Walking festival are doing a Teddy Bear Adventure Walk in Bawnboy on Sunday 5 May. You’ll ”Discover the History of Teddy Bears while walking through the beautiful surroundings of Bawnboy forest. This is a family event. If you bring small kids, this walk is suitable for off road buggies.” How fun is that!

The Cavan Walking Festival has over 30 guided walks & runs from 2-11 May, 2014. Be sure to go to the Cavan Burren Forest Park then, too! For in-depth information & the stories associated with the Cavan Burren, do have a look at http://www.cavanburren.ie/

Note:  ThisIsCavan arranged my Cavan Burren tour and sponsored my overnight at The Keepers Arms. Being sponsored does not affect the truthfulness of what I write, and when there are problems somewhere I tell you, like I did in this post.

These photos are Instagram photos! Each Thursday, the hashtags #IGtravelthursday (& #IGTT on Twitter) show photos from peoples’ travels all around the world- local travels and far flung. Use the hashtag & join in! If you are a blogger, you can also join in with a blog featuring one of your trips/visits and your Instagram photos from it, or how you use Instagram to plan travels, like in Reeta’s post this week. Read the ins & outs of that here on SkimbacoLifestyle.

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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 🙂 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! 😉

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, €5 per adult and €10 per child. Halloween trains running from October 19th to October 31st. 

For bookings visit rathwood.com

 

Halloween in Ireland Rathwood

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

 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 musicmore 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 🙂

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpErZ_vI6gs” 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 – 12.30:  Get creative, and make your Hallowe’en mask and lots more scary stuff.

12.30 – 1.00:  Break (bring your own lunch)

1.00 – 2.00:   Michael Moylan of Irish History Live brings past Hallowe’ens to life, with scary stories.

€6.00 each session (morning and afternoon), or €10 for both. To book: +353 56 7722893 or  info@rothehouse.com 

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 😉

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?