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Summer festivals in Ireland -- Sunflower Fest in Lisburn & More!

Summer festivals in Ireland — Sunflower Fest in Lisburn & More!

Summer festivals in Ireland are an excitingly varied bunch. From motorcycles to plein air painting, family fun, bluegrass or beer, here are eight epic Irish events.

PS, if you are seriously missing the scorching sun, I’ve thrown in two interesting festivals in Spain 😀 Enjoy!

Plein Air Painting Festival in Wexford Ireland 2015

Plein Air Painting Festival in Wexford

Europe’s largest ‘Art in the Open’ Festival commences in Wexford

Many scenic vistas in the Southeast will be captured by some of the world’s finest ‘Plein Air’ artists this week as Europe’s largest outdoor painting festival Art in the Open runs now til August 3 2015.

A large number of high profile international artists have descended on County Wexford coming from thirteen countries including Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and of course the US, UK and Ireland to compete for up to €5,000 in awards. The paint-out Artists can enter two paintings for the Gala Exhibition and these will be on display at in the Old Library in Wellington Place, Wexford town centre Sunday 2nd August at 3pm.

The Art in the Open festival is based on the concept that all work is created outdoors at a daily paint-out location.  Artists must register at each paint-out with a blank canvas which is stamped daily and over the next few hours must capture their own image of the beautiful surroundings.

The public are encouraged to watch this creative process at any of the six paint-out locations, including the infamous Hook Head, the fishing village of Kilmore Quay, the historic Wells House near Gorey and the Viking town of Wexford or enjoy the Charity Quick Draw which will take place at Wexford’s Bullring on Sunday 2nd August at 1pm. The public are welcome to join in this fun event for a €5 registration fee.  Proceeds will go to the Windmill Therapeutic Centre.

Other highlights of the festival include a free lecture by Sinead Rice of the National Gallery of Ireland at the National Opera House on Bank Holiday Monday, August 3rd.  Several workshops and demonstrations take place throughout the week by well-known international artists, including Leon Holmes from Australia, Vincent Crotty from the USA, Antti Rautiola from Finland and Rachel Personett from the USA.

See more at


Summer festival fun in Lisburn

Summer festival fun in Lisburn

Birr Vintage Week

“Turn back time in the beautiful Georgian heritage town of Birr! Revel in its contemporary culture with a dynamic range of vintage and modern events for all ages during the Annual Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival 31 July – 7 August 2015.

The all-inclusive programme includes the fantastic opening parade with its display of vintage, equestrian and community entries; artisan and craft market; the Ormand Flying Club’s Annual Fly-In and display; the Olde Time Traditional Fair; busking competition; free children’s events; antiques and fine art fair; a donkey derby; live music; sporting and literary events; nightly pub entertainment; and a spectacular fireworks display which will illuminate the skies above the town.

The Arts play a central role with a visually stunning and exciting visual arts trail, theatre performances, contemporary dance classes, film screenings and workshops in various mediums taking place across the town. With annual favourites and new events, vintage flavour and modern entertainment throughout, Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival promises to be an exciting and vibrant event celebrating this charming town’s heritage and culture.”


Feakle Traditional Music Festival

5 – 10 August, 2015

In the little village of Feakle, County Clare, a traditional music festival started almost 30 years ago. It tapped into the area’s amazing wealth of local talent, and Feakle is now recognized internationally by those in-the-know as a centre of traditional music in Ireland. The festival is packed with workshops for musicians, and sessions all week for those of us who just love to listen. 🙂 East Clare is a beautiful area full of quiet lakes, gorgeous green hills, charming boreens lined with hedgerows & stonewalls, and traditionally cut bogs — yet it is off the beaten tourist track; perfect for getting into the heart of ‘authentic Ireland.’ Come explore!

See more at:

Music in Lisburn ©Brian Thompson Photography

Music at Festivals Lisburn ©Brian Thompson Photography

Summer in Lisburn

Don’t forget Northern Ireland on your quest to experience summer festivals in Ireland! There’s a jam-packed end of summer festival season in Lisburn, starting on 3 August 2015.

If it’s action you’re after, why not head to Lisburn from Monday 3rd August to Saturday 8th August for a week of exhilarating motorcycle race events at Dundrod, culminating in the international Grand Prix, the world’s fastest road race. With vantage points both inside and outside the circuit, the Ulster Grand Prix is fun for all the family.

Lisburn also plays host to incredible local and international music talent this summer.  This year’s Sunflowerfest brings British band Dreadzone, rap rock band Senser and a host of other artists and performers to Tubby’s Farm, Hillsborough.

Hilden Beer & Music Festival

Enjoy a tipple at Hilden Beer & Music Festival

The Hilden Beer and Music Festival is not to be missed. Hosting three stages and stocking over thirty ales, stouts, lagers and ciders sourced from the UK and Ireland, the three-day open air festival is held on the grounds of Hilden Brewery in Lisburn, the oldest independent brewery on the island of Ireland. Interesting- I must check this out myself!

Music at Hilden Beer & Music Festival

Music at Hilden Beer & Music Festival

Are you more of a foodie than a groupie? Well, Lisburn tells me they have it all and it’s the best around. From the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival (Tuesday 1st – Sunday 6th September) to a family day at Ballance House’s Raspberry and Tea Day, there are all kinds of delicious, beloved and brand new foods to taste. If you are just out and about in Lisburn, there are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants, or if you’re feeling like splurging pop into one of the city’s many trendy boutiques.

Contact Lisburn Visitor Information Centre on 028 9266 0038 for details on events, attractions, activities, shopping and hospitality in the area. Visit the Lisburn & Castlereagh website, Like on Facebook or follow on Twitter

Terryglass Arts Festival

12 – 15 August 2015

Terryglass Arts Festival is known for its innovative arts programme, and they’ve a huge amount of workshops available- over 70! Definitely book early, as these fascinating & fun workshops will fill up quickly (see a few below.)

Other highlights include: Paddy Casey, Blood Red Mountain Band and Molly Sterling. For theatre fans there is ‘Back Seat’ and for Art lovers this years festival features Michal Ray’s ‘Nest’ and Paraic Leahy’s ‘Creatures of Costume’ exhibitions. Family entertainment includes Fidget Feet, Jack Wise, Niall de Burca, Dabbledoo and a Fireworks finale.

Here is a sampling of the fab workshops:

Science Soup – Stir up some trouble with alien mixes! Prepare things that go bang, and some other strange fixes! Measure things that go fizz and some more that go slop, and finish it off with some things that just pop! (Wear old clothes)

Alien Slime – A fun science workshop that investigates alien life. Make the slime and the aliens that would live in it!

Shadow Play with Joanna Williams from Little Bigtop–  Join Joanna Williams to explore and play with shadow. Participants will learn how to make a shadow grow and shrink, explore the shadow effects of different materials and find out how to make simple shadow puppets using coloured gels.

Pallet Furniture & Sign Design– Work with local carpenter, Dave Corboy from Revived and Retro, to design something creative and useful which will be displayed in the village during the remainder of the festival. Materials supplied.

Head over to the county Tipperary side of lovely Lough Derg and experience one of the most creative summer festivals in Ireland!

See more at www.


The Claire Lynch band will play Dunmore East Bluegrass summer festival in Ireland

The Claire Lynch band will play Dunmore East Bluegrass summer festival in Ireland

Bluegrass in Dunmore East – 21 years and going strong; Guinness International Bluegrass Festival returns to its roots for 2015

 The 21st Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 27th and heralds the start of three days of dozens of bands, playing over 50 gigs in the villages’ pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Fans of bluegrass, honky-tonk, blues, country, and rhythm ‘n’ roots are in for a musical treat as the Guinness International Bluegrass Festival returns for the 21st year this summer!

The picturesque Co. Waterford seaside village Dunmore East hosts the Bluegrass Festival from the 27th to  the 30th of August, and the 2015 line-up is as impressive as ever.

Credited by Dolly Parton as being “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today,”  Claire Lynch will be at the festival for the first time. Having won a host of music awards, along with two Grammy nominations, Claire developed her love of  bluegrass  and country music when she moved from New York to Alabama at the age of 12.

In the 1970’s Claire fronted the Front Porch String Band, until forming her own Claire Lynch Band in 2005.  Since then Claire and her band have consistently been in demand with festival audiences across the US.

“Claire is a pioneer of bluegrass and country music and we are delighted that she will be playing at the International Bluegrass Festival in Dunmore East,” Festival founder and organiser, Mick Daly said. “Not only has she a couple of Grammy nominations, Digital Journal placed her in the Top Ten of “Most Angelic voices of our time”, putting her on an equal footing with music legends such as Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss.”

Big name Irish, European and American bluegrass acts playing free gigs include Demolition String Band (USA), New Section (Cze), Cup O’ Joe (Northern Ireland), The Mons Wheeler Band (NI), the Down and Out Bluegrass Band (NI), Land’s End (UK / Ire) and Irish bands Jigjam and Barefoot.

Another American band making their Dunmore East debut is Whiskey Deaf, made up by Annie Staninec and John Kael.  Born and bred on bluegrass music, Staninec has toured the world, featured on countless albums with renowned country, Cajun and blues artists. Kael, an established songwriter, has been playing bluegrass guitar, mandolin, banjo and bass for over twenty years.  His award winning song “Handmade Cross”, features on Grammy nominated album, Hard Love, by Doyle Lawson.

Whilst the Claire Lynch Band will play a ticketed intimate gig on Sunday, August 30th, all the other events throughout the village are free.

For more information about the 21st Guinness International Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival line-up in Co. Waterford visit

For ticket information and bookings for The Claire Lynch band, email or Discover Dunmore on Facebook and Twitter.


BUT… I need heat and tons of sun, I hear some of you cry! Ok then, what about these 2 unusual summer festivals in Spain?

The Viking invasion festival in Spain

The Viking invasion festival in Spain

Some of the most fascinating festivals that are celebrated in Spain are re-enactments. Every year, on the first Sunday of August (this year on the 2nd of August), the residents of Catoira (Pontevedra, Galicia) stage a spectacular re-enactment of the Viking invasions that occurred a thousand years ago.
The climax of the Viking Festival from Catoira is marked by the arrival of the “invaders” on board a replica 11th-century Viking vessel with the goal of capturing Torres del Oeste Castle, a fortified structure from the 11th century that is one of the most important archaeological and historical legacies in Galicia. Local residents try to resist and attack in festive atmosphere, where the participants end up completely soaked with wine. Folk groups, a picnic with octopus, grilled sardines, pies… and the pleasant sound of typical bagpipes in the background add charm to this fiesta.

A different kind of battle, although not exactly a re-enactment, takes places every year in Buñol (Valencia). “The Tomatina” tomato festival originated from a children’s fight in 1945 and has been celebrated ever since on the last Wednesday of August (this year on the 26th of August). Participants have a wonderful time throwing tomatoes at anything that moves. Save the date, if you want to paint the town red in your next visit to Spain.

So, which summer festivals in Ireland will YOU go to? Are you tempted to also top up on your sunshine in Spain? Hope you can enjoy the best of both 🙂

Carlow Garden Festival 2015 lineup

Carlow Garden Festival 2015 lineup

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

The Carlow Garden Festival is back, with Monty Don!

Saturday 25th July – Monday 3th August 2015

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

Blooming beautiful at Carlow Garden Festival

Blooming beautiful at Carlow Garden Festival

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

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

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


Carlow Garden Festival Events

Saturday 25th July                 

Una Halpin, Wildways Adventures in Leighlinbridge

River Walk with Una Halpin

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

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


GPS:                52.736417, -6.978937

Time:               2 p.m.

Admission:      FREE


 Monty Don at Arboretum Home & Garden Heaven

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

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

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


Sunday 26th July 

Seamus O’Brien at Newtownbarry House and Gardens

Garden tour

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

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

t:                      053-9376383/087-0569805 w:

GPS:                52.65673, -6.65035

Time:               12 noon.

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


Seamus O’Brien at Huntington Castle

Tree Trail 

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

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

t:                      053-9377160

GPS:                52.690404, -6.649131

Time:               3 p.m.

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

 Monday 27th  July    

 Fionnuala Fallon at Delta Sensory Gardens

Tour of the inspirational Delta Sensory Gardens

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

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

t:                      059-9143527

GPS:                52.844988, -6.924546

Time:               12 noon and 2.30 p.m.

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


Tuesday 28th July      

Matthew Jebb at Altamont Gardens and Altamont Plant Sales

Garden tour

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

Venue:                        Altamont Gardens, Tullow, Co Carlow

t:                      059-9159444/087-9822135

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

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


Anna Pavord at Hardymount Gardens

The Curious Gardener

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

Venue:                        Hardymount Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9151769

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

Admission:      €10 includes afternoon tea on the lawn


Wednesday 29th July

Dr. John McCullen at Borris House

Tree Trail

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

Venue:                        Borris House, Borris, Co Carlow

t:                      059-9771884   w:

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

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


 Rob Smith at Kilgraney House & Herb Gardens

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

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

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

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

t:                      059-9775283   w:

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

Admission:      € 10 for both talks and tea


Thursday 30th   July     

Helen Dillon at Rathwood

What Makes a Good Garden

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

Venue:                        Rathwood, Rath, Tullow, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9156285 w:

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

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


Helen Dillon at The Meadows

Garden Tour

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

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

t:                      059-9157530 w:

GPS:                52.6870338, -6.777797

Time:               2.30 p.m.

Admission:      €5


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


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

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

t:                      059-9775283               w:

GPS:                52.653681, -6.957502

Time:               2 – 6 p.m.

Admission:      Donation to charity welcomed.


Friday 31st   July               

Neil Porteous at Burtown House

Garden Tour

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

Venue:                        Burtown House, Athy, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-8623148 w:

GPS:                52.996672, -6.870744

Time:               11.30 a.m.

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


 Roy Lancaster at Altamont Gardens

Garden Tour

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

Venue:                        Altamont Gardens, Tullow, Co. Carlow

t:                      059-9159444 w:

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

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


Saturday 1st  August

Dermot O’Neill at  Huntington Castle

Garden Tour

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

Venue:                        Huntington Castle, Clonegal, Co Carlow

GPS:                52.690404, -6.649131

t:                      053-9377160

Time:               12 noon

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


 Dermot O’Neill at Newtownbarry House

Walk & Talk

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

Venue:                        Newtownbarry House, Bunclody, Co. Wexford

t:                      053-9376383

GPS:                52.65673, -6.65035

Time:               3pm

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


Sunday 2nd August    

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

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

Venue:                        Duckett’s Grove, near Carlow town

t:                      059-9130411 w:

GPS:                52.858748, -6.812787

Time:               12 noon – 6pm

Admission:      €5 per car


Monday 3rd August   

Kitty Scully at Clonegal Community Gardens

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

Venue:                        Clonegal Community Gardens, Clonegal, Co. Carlow

t:                      086-2111942 w:

GPS:                52.693884, -6.64658

Time:               12 noon

Admission:      FREE


Kitty Scully at Rathvilly Garden Centre

Resilient Vegetable Gardening 

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

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

t:                      059-9161594

GPS:                52.898638, -6.697199

Time:               3 p.m.

Admission:      FREE

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

Bloom 2015; Dublin, Ireland

Bloom 2015; Dublin, Ireland


Bord Bia’s 9th annual gardening, food, & family festival, Bloom 2015, is on in the Phoenix Park, Dublin from 28 May to 1 June

Flowers, fab food & Irish craft are some of my favourite things, and I’ve got a feeling many of you enjoy some of these, too! So gather up yourself, family (kids under 16 free,) & friends and go feast your eyes and tum on the delights of Bloom 2015!


Peter Pan, stiletto heels, WB Yeats, home brewing and botanical beauty provide just some of the inspiration for this year’s Bloom show gardens

Bloom 2015 is a five day annual event packed full of gardening inspiration, gastronomic delights and good old fashioned family fun!

Not just for those with green fingers, the festival has firmly established itself as one of the most anticipated social events of the year for all who enjoy a fantastic day out in the beautiful surroundings of the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Attracting a nationwide audience – over 106,000 people attended last year – this year Ireland’s largest garden, food and family festival will run from Thursday, 28th May until Monday, 1st June 2015.

Gary Graham, Bord Bia spokesperson, said; Bord Bia is delighted to launch the 9th annual Bloom festival, once again taking place in the magnificent Phoenix Park in Dublin this June bank holiday weekend. Our flagship horticulture and food event provides the ultimate platform to showcase our incredibly talented garden designers, food producers, chefs and crafts and design people. Visitors to the event are once again in for a real treat, and can expect to see 25 breath-taking show gardens, sample some of Ireland’s finest food, enjoy wonderful entertainment and witness the passion of some of Ireland’s most skilful craft workers.” 

Bloom 2015 fun for all ages!

Bloom 2015 fun for all ages!

Often referred to as the jewel in the crown of the festival, there will be 25 captivating Bloom show gardensThe designers have continued the tradition of repeatedly raising the bar on previous years, to develop beautiful, imaginative and thought provoking designs. Organisations such as Pieta HouseThe Ronald McDonald HouseGOALThe Atlantic Youth TrustITB Blanchardstown & Fingal County Council have also teamed up with designers to create gardens with powerful messages around social and cultural issues.

This year’s bespoke garden creations will include; Yeats Secret Garden in Sligo, which is part of the 2015 celebration of WB Yeats, and is based on his well-known poem, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, Beauty Full, a wonderful garden creation from Bloom veteran Fiann Ó Nualláin which aims to highlight the amazing botanical and plant based beauty treatments which can be found in the garden, Water In The Air, a ‘dry aquarium’ which will give visitors a unique underwater feeling whilst coming alive with colour at night, Saison, a garden partnership between designer Breffni McGeogh and master brewer Alex Lawless inspired by the current trend towards craft beer, Footfall, a concept garden which will see over 144 pairs of stiletto heels used to dramatic effect and The GOAL Garden – What you call a slum, I call a home!, a  garden created to present a ‘slum’ from a different perspective that highlights the work and initiatives of aid agency GOAL.

The Pieta House Garden – Darkness into Light, created by designer Niall Maxwell, will shine a light on attitudes towards mental health issues. Husband and wife Liat and Oliver Schurmann will create The PAN Garden, inspired by the upcoming Peter Pan movie by Warner Bros.

To inspire those who wish to create their own garden at home, the gardens will vary in size from large, medium and small gardens, each developed with a unique theme and style. For the third year, Bloom will also feature a number of Postcard Gardens designed and constructed by passionate amateur gardeners from all around the country. This year the gardens will once again be judged by experts renowned in the world of horticulture. They include Andrew Wilson (award-winning garden designer, lecturer and writer), Mark Gregory (winner of 55 Chelsea medals), Karen Foley (landscape architect and educator) and Paul Maher (curator of the National Botanic Gardens). They will be joined by guest judges, award-winning landscape architect and garden designer Feargus McGarvey, Francis MacDonald, a regular columnist with Irish Gardening Magazine and shadow judge Sally Brown, a landscape architect and garden designer based in New Zealand.

Bloom 2015 will inspire you to garden!

Bloom 2015 will inspire you to garden!

A new feature at this year’s festival will be Bloom in Transition (BIT), showcasing the creative expression of transition year students via installation/projects in the fields of agriculture, food science, horticulture, environmental and ecological management, human health or societal issues. Facilitated by ongoing mentorship of Fiann Ó Nualláin and a number of experts associated with the project, the aim of the scheme is to promote the areas of horticulture, agriculture and health with 15-17 year olds and to create a space within Bloom 2015 for them to explore concepts in garden design, gardening as pastime, economic botany, food, nutrition, health, biodiversity, climate change, food security from a teenage perspective.

The Banter at Bloom 2015 marquee is another new and exciting feature for this year’s festival.  At Banter, they talk… a lot! Chaired by Jim Carroll, the Banter marquee will host a series of discussions, talks, and conversations on topical issues around food, sustainability, agriculture, and everything in between.

This year’s Floral & Nursery Pavilion will showcase the very best of plant nurseries in Ireland. The marquee will will house over 50 exhibits from some of the country’s top floral artists. The AOIFA Floral Art Stage also returns to 2015’s Bloom, offering advice and demonstrations on the techniques and artistry required to achieve a perfect floral display at home. For those with green fingers, the Garden Expert Stage will provide a comprehensive range of expert advice from leading experts in horticulture, gardening and floristry. Speakers will include Gerry Daly of Irish Garden Magazine and Michael Kelly of GIY. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment at the Picnic Area and visit an Irish Craft Village hosted by the Craft and Design Council of Ireland. Following its recent launch, GroMór experts and Ambassadors will host gardening expert talks daily from the Plant Village podium. GroMór experts will also be on hand throughout each day to answer your questions and help you get the most out of your garden space.

Bord Bia's Bloom 2015

Bord Bia’s Bloom 2015

The kids will love‘Budding Bloomers,’ the children’s area, which will host a vibrant mixture of family friendly features to keep children entertained and active, from toddlers to fifth classers. We want children to play, learn and grow at Bloom. There is no entry charge for children under 16 years of age.

Home to even more gastronomic delights and palette pleasers, the Food Village at Bloom will offer a wide range of artisan produce on sale and onsite dining options. Guests can also dine at Bistro Bloom restaurant, café and seafood bar, or visit the all new Country Crest Food Fayre, a 370-seater restaurant. Visitors can also try a wide range of tasty handcrafted Irish beers and spirits in the Bloom Inn.

For those in need of foodie inspiration, the Quality Kitchen stage is a must, with a number of cookery demonstrations taking place throughout each day with Ireland’s top chefs, including Neven MaguireCatherine FulvioRory O’ConnellThe Lazy Chef Simon Lamont, David and Stephen Flynn (The Happy Pearand Fiona Uyema, to name but a few.  They will be demonstrating their culinary genius and showcasing exciting new recipes made from Bord Bia Quality Assured products and the best of local ingredients. Well-known TV personality Ella McSweeney will act as MC and will also introduce Bloom visitors to some of Ireland’s top food producers live on stage. There will also be daily competitions in the Quality Kitchen, with visitors encouraged to drop by from 10.30am each day for the first demonstration to be in with a chance to win daily prizes.


For more Bloom 2015 information and tickets, visit –kids go free!

Follow Bloom 2015 on or join the conversation on Twitter @Bloominthepark @bordbia and #bloom


Here is the list of all the show gardens at Bloom 2015. Are you looking forward to seeing them? I sure am!

Large Gardens:

·Yeats’s Secret Garden in Sligo, sponsored by Glen Dimplex and designed by Lorely Forrester
·Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin garden, brought to you by Kildare Growers and designed by Anthony Ryan with Kieran Dunne
·Our Origin is Green, sponsored by Savills and designed by Jane McCorkell
·Santa Rita – the moment is yours, sponsored by Santa Rita Wines and designed by Ingrid Swan
·Sculpture at the Boatyard, designed by Ingrid Swan and Ruth Liddle

Medium Gardens:

·Saison, sponsored by White Label Brewing Company and designed by Breffni McGeough
·Sunwood’s Contemporary Expression, designed by Declan McKenna
·The GOAL Garden– What you call a slum, I call a home!, sponsored by GOAL and designed by Joan Mallon
·PAN garden, sponsored by PAN and designed by Liat and Oliver Schurmann
·Specsavers Wonderful Awakening, sponsored by Specsavers and designed by Karen M. Butler
·The Solus Garden of Light, sponsored by Solus and designed by Alan Rudden
·Darkness into Light – The Pieta House Garden, sponsored by Pieta House and designed by Niall Maxwell
·Freddy Buttons Garden, sponsored by Glenisk and designed by Fiona Dillon and Outside Options
·Irish Country Magazine Garden, designed by Fiann Ó Nualláin and Lisa Kelly
·          Ronald McDonald House Garden, presented by Dawn Meats and designed by Anthony Ryan
·Atlantic Youth Trust, designed by Annmarie Bowring 
·Footfall, supported by John West and designed by Hugh Ryan


Small Gardens:

·Beauty Full, designed by Fiann Ó Nualláin
·Beech Park Garden, sponsored by Fingal County Council and ITB Blanchardstown
·Connect, sponsored by Schram Plants and Lily O’Briens and designed by Karen Butler
·Urban Oasis, designed by Nathalie Markiefka of Blackrock Further Education Institute
·Cetriz Summer, sponsored by Cetriz and designed by Christopher Byrne
·Calor’s Coast Garden, sponsored by Calor and designed Dawn Aston
·Water in the Air designed by Tünde Szentesi

See you at Bloom!

Waterford Country Fair at Mount congreve gardens

Fun for all the family at Waterford Country Fair this June!

Waterford Country Fair shines the spotlight on Ireland’s country life!

Inaugural Country Fair destined for Waterford’s Mount Congreve Gardens

On June 14th Mount Congreve Gardens will host the first Waterford Country Fair, a festival celebrating the very best of country life & living.

This one day event will feature a host of field sports and country pursuits including dressage, side saddle displays and sheep dog trials, along with falconry, beekeeping, artisan craft producers and local food producers.

In this video, I’ll tell you a bit more about Mount Congreve and the Waterford Country Fair, plus share some flower photos taken there in Summer:

Jo Breheny, Chair of the Waterford Country Fair is delighted with the reaction to the festival so far.  “A few months ago, some friends and I discussed the idea of a festival that showcases the best of country pursuits, but we also wanted to ensure it was a festival that would have a wide appeal to all ages.”

“The day itself will have something for everyone, not just those with an interest in equestrian and country pursuits.  There will be pony club games, sheep dog trials, and dressage.  There will be an exciting falconry display as visitors can learn more about these majestic birds, hot-shoeing farrier demonstrations, carriage driving displays, beekeepers will give a fascinating insight into the busy life of bees, traditional artisan crafts such as basket weaving and some of the county’s finest food producers will have stalls at the event.”

Horses! At Waterford Country fair, 14 June 2015 at Mount Congreve

Horses! At Waterford Country Fair, 14 June 2015 at Mount Congreve

The event setting is stunning. Mount Congreve Gardens are regarded as “one of the great gardens of the world.”   Situated just outside Kilmeaden in Co. Waterford, the gardens consist of seventy acres of planted woodland gardens and a four acre walled garden.

Ray Sinnott, Mount Congreve Estate Manager, is looking forward to hosting the Waterford Country Fair.  “The festival and the gardens complement each other very well.  The Fair will put the focus on country living and we believe that Mount Congreve Estate is the perfect example of country living at its best.  We have wide open spaces to accommodate the myriad of events on the day with plenty of room for country pursuits’ enthusiasts, families and tourists.  Visitors will also have the chance to explore the largest collection of plants in Ireland and thousands of trees and shrubs.”

The Waterford Country Fair will also work with the charity CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young.  According to Ms. Breheny, “We chose CRY as our charity partner in order to raise awareness of the crucial work this organization does tirelessly.  It raises awareness of Sudden Cardiac Death Syndrome, provides free counselling and support for families affected by sudden cardiac death and supports the Centre for Cardiovascular Risk in Younger Persons.  We hope the day will help spread the message about sudden cardiac death syndrome and raise funds for this remarkable charity.”

Birds of prey & falconry at Waterford Country fair, 14 June 2015 at Mount Congreve

Birds of prey & falconry at Waterford Country fair, 14 June 2015 at Mount Congreve

To find out more about Waterford Country Fair, which takes place at Mount Congreve Gardens on Sunday, June 14th, visit or keep up to date with Facebook and Twitter.

New Year's Eve Dublin 2014

New Year’s Eve Dublin 2014 is sure to put a smile on even the most crabby face!

Confession: I’m a New Year’s Eve Scrooge.

So is Terry, & from chatting on social media, I know plenty of you all are, too.

BUT this year Dublin’s New Year’s Festival is like a big zingy Tiny Tim– tempting us out of our Scroogy ways to experience to the fun on offer.

Dublin's new year's festival ; Love Dublin

Dublin consistently ranks as one of the friendliest cities in the world; why not experience that during this exciting celebration of New Year’s in Ireland– join in the party!

Starting on 30 December 2014, Dublin’s New Year’s Festival (NYF Dublin,) will be 3 days of music, arts, artisan food, lightshows, family fun, comedy, parades, fireworks, and all around fab craic.

NYF Dublin is going to be an exciting way to say Slan to the old year and Failte to the new. Whether you’d like to do the full 3-day New Year’s Festival as a city break in Dublin (see the fun & handy interactive chart to compare Dublin’s prices & New Year’s Eve celebrations with other cities), or just pick one day to attend, I reckon you’ll have a blast. I’ve got more information on what’s on in Dublin for the New Year’s festival, so after you’ve played with the interactive chart, read on past it, too, to tempt your NYE Scrooge even further 🙂

I’m told that by day, Dublin will be alive with everything from arts trails, discovery trails, poetry slams, pop up music sessions and comedy in cafés & restaurants. Plus there will be artisan food markets and a range of events for families and children. Then when night beckons, you can dance at a silent disco, dine in the dark, or join in the stunning New Year’s Eve Procession of Light; a huge torchlight procession along the historic city centre streets, culminating at the festival’s hub, Dublin Castle.


NYE Count down light show Dublins New Years Festival 2014

NYE Count down light show Dublin’s New Year’s Festival

The Procession of Light sounds beautiful: the the city will twinkle and glow with hundreds of participants and performers illuminating the streets with floats, dazzling light displays, music and dance in a free family event. I’m a fan of things light-filled & colourful; if you enjoy them too, you’ll want to also see the 3D projections which will bring the facades of some of Dublin’s best known buildings to life each festival night. The Luminosity event will see iconic structures like Leinster House (seat of the Irish Parliament,) change their shape & appearance in 3D colour projections complete with sound effects. Even Scrooge can’t say “Bah, humbug” to this New Year’s Festival!

Friends, I’m super-excited just writing all this-– and I didn’t think I would be so tempted by New Year’s Eve! There is SO much to this festival for all ages and interests to enjoy. Let me just give you some more of the highlights of Dublin’s New Year’s Festival:

The NYF Countdown Concert on 31 December 2014 will be epic, with pyrotechnics and 5 acts. Did you get a ticket? It is sold out already! But don’t worry, there’s plenty more to enjoy, and other music gigs as well–>

Experience the real Dublin by picking and choosing from the list of the city’s top 20 cultural venues offering special NYF discounts and guided tours. Over two of the days of the festival you can explore the city with the NYF Dublin Discovery Trail.

Artisan food will be an appetising part of the festival on all 3 days, and the historic Dublin Castle will host a bustling and delicious NYF Food Village. On 31 December – 1 January from midday until the early evening celebrity chefs, food demos and an array of aromatic and tasty Irish fare will more than satisfy hungry New Year revellers.

A feast of fringe events is also part of the NYF Dublin mix, and the Love Dublin cultural programme on 30 and 31 December will feature an art trail, a discovery trail and Dublin Genius, which will be great Dublin craic; it celebrates the spoken word the city’s talent for literature, comedy, and non-stop talking.

The NYF Dublin Music Comedy Trail will feature pop up music sessions and comedy in cafes and restaurants on 30 and 31 December, with acoustic sessions at the Chapel Royal in Dublin Castle, the Dublin Gospel Choir at Christ Church Cathedral and night-time live music and DJ sessions across the city’s pubs and bars.

As 1 January is Resolution Day, this means the opportunity to start that ‘new you’ programme you have promised yourself. There will be a fun run, family fun dog walks and even a Mind, Body and Fitness Festival to encourage all the New Year resolutions to take hold on day one of the New Year.

But yes, the food, music and entertainment will continue at the NYF Food Village… in case you might want to wait until day two to be ‘good’ 😀

Find out more at and info for the whole of Ireland at

Did you find the interactive infographic interesting? I shared it because I thought it gave a handy snapshot way to compare the most popular city-break spots here in Ireland & across the water in Britain. I was surprised at some of the facts found: of all the capital cities across the Isles, Edinburgh steals the show when it comes to pubs per square mile- not Dublin as many may suppose! The Scottish capital boasts 104 pubs per square mile, as compared to Dublin’s 55.

swans victorian pub dublin ireland

Dublin doesn’t have the most pubs! But they could be the best 😉

As for the price of a pint, I wasn’t surprised about this finding (prices in Sterling): Even London, though renowned for high prices, turns out cheaper than many of its counterparts (most notably Dublin), coming in at £3.68 a pint as compared to the Irish capital’s £4.41.

But sure, you still may want to choose Dublin over London (especially if you’re like us & not into drinking loads) because: The expense of the UK capital was plain to see in the £7.30 average charged by taxi companies per mile. And whilst public transport may be free between 11.45pm and 4.30am, the £10 entry fee for fireworks (the only city to charge) and highest average club entry of £32 reaffirmed London’s reputation as a pricey micro-economy. Charging for the Fireworks! Awww, c’mon, London! I love you, but…

Actually, the fact that London wasn’t tops in average hotel room prices helps redeem it. Here Hotel Direct contributed their own hotel room prices: where Birmingham stands proud as the cheapest place for a hotel room (averaging at £82 for a room over New Year’s Eve 2014), in comparison to Edinburgh’s £283 per night price tag. SO especially if you’d fancy New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, you may like to know I spotted elsewhere that if you’d like to book a hotel via Hotel Direct, ring them on 0800 633 8000 (Just FYI that’s probably only a free phone in the UK) &  quote NYEPARTY14 you’ll get  a 10% discount on all telephone bookings made from 1st Dec to 15th Jan.

You might have noticed in the infographic that Belfast has no New Year’s Eve fireworks, but I’m here to let you know that they do have a New Year’s Eve Titanic Ball, & New Year’s Day Titanic Afternoon tea!

Happy New Year! 2014 welcomes 2015; may it be full of fun for you!

Dublin St Patricks Day Parade via

Dublin St Patricks Day Parade via

What can I do in Ireland in MARCH?

March can be a great time to visit Ireland, with less tourists, better prices, and some fab festivals as well as St Patrick’s Day parades galore!

March 17th is St Patrick’s Day, and there are parades and celebrations all over the island. The biggest is Dublin’s St Patrick’s festival, which runs over several days; March 14-17 in 2015. The daily schedule for 2015 is not up yet, (as of 9 Dec 2014) but all of the days are usually full of fun events for all ages.

If you’re in Dublin & have a hankering for some traditional Irish music, one of the very best places to go is The Cobblestone Pub, an authentic, non- touristy pub in the Smithfield area. You can hear trad music played here 7 nights a week.

March in the Irish Countryside

If trad music and craic out in a beautiful seaside & mountainside country town is more your thing, you won’t go wrong in Dingle! As an added bonus the Dingle International Film Festival is on on the 12th to the 15th of March 2015.

Dingle is a charming town, home to great food and the Dingle Distillery, where they carefully craft whiskey, gin, and vodka. I adore the gin, it really does have a unique flavour from the special local ingredients they use:

“We use, amongst other botanicals, rowan berry from the mountain ash trees, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn and heather for a taste of the Kerry landscape. It’s a formula unknown elsewhere and is calculated, amongst other things, to create some sense of place and provenance, what winemakers might call the gout de terroir..  [we use] the purest of water which we draw from our own well, 240 feet below the distillery.”

You must give the Dingle spirits a try! Also in Dingle you’ll find the Louis Mulcahy Pottery, ancient beehive huts, and plenty more to explore. Here’s a clip about the Dingle Film festival. (Video in Irish with subtitles.)

[youtube_sc url=”” title=”Dingle%20International%20film%20festival”]

Also in county Kerry, the Kenmare Lace Festival is on from 19-22 March 2015. A wonderful way of keeping this beautiful Irish traditional craft alive, the festival will have:

Lace making workshops in nine different disciplines running over two days. For the fashion conscious there will be millinery and up-styling workshops, a fashion show, and meet the designers at the Art & Design Cloister. Exhibitions will showcase the very best in lacemaking and Irish design. There will be a full day of children’s craft and fashion workshops including Kenmare Lace making to introduce traditional techniques and design to the younger generation.

Another unique event on in Ireland in March is the Ennis Book Club Festival in county Clare, also located on the west coast. This festival will run from the 6th to the 8th of March in 2015. There is always loads on for book lovers to enjoy, and the 2015 programme will be up soon. Ennis is known as Ireland’s Friendliest Town, and I agree; I’ve visited Ennis and totally experienced that friendliness. You can read about my visit to Ennis and what I thought of where I stayed; Rowan Tree.

Belfast and the Titanic museum are great to visit in March- or anytime!

Belfast and the Titanic museum are great to visit in March- or anytime!

Celebrate St Patrick and Northern Ireland

If you’d like to get more into the Saint Patrick side of things, what about heading up North and exploring St Patrick’s old stomping grounds? There’s a St Patrick’s Trail, 92 miles long and linking 15 sites connected to St Patrick. Not every site will be open in March, but many are, such as the St Patrick Centre, Down Museum & more.

Of course, when up North you can’t miss the Giant’s Causeway! If you’re a fan of the Game Of Thrones, the Northern Ireland Game of Thrones trail is a must do, too. Plus, Belfast is a brilliant place to spend a few days, full of craic, culture, fab food & fun. We’ve been twice and love it! The Titanic Museum is amazing even if you are like Terry & I and not normally a Titanic fan. Two thumbs up from us 😀

Also in Northern Ireland, Sunday 15 March 2015 sees Shamrock Shenanigans on at the National Trust property Springhill in Magherafelt, co Derry. There’s free entry for anyone who can prove their name is Patrick! You can discover the Shamrock Trail (extra charge) around the grounds and enjoy crafts, food and music from noon to 5pm.

Where will YOU go & what will you do in March in Ireland? Have you more suggestions? Let us know! Comment, tweet Vibrant Ireland, or post on the Vibrant Ireland & Travel Facebook page.

Taste of Carlow Christmas

Taste of Carlow Christmas

It’s Taste of Carlow Christmas time!

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

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

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

Christmas in Carlow 2014

Christmas in Carlow 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well,” said Ma. “Then you see–“

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

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

Whenever anyone was unselfish, that was Santa Claus.

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

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

Merry Christmas!

Santa arrives at Waterford Winterval 2014and greets child

Santa arrives at Waterford Winterval 2014 and greets the children

Santa Arrives on an ICEBERG to Open Waterford Winterval 2014!

Ireland’s Waterford City puts on a magical Winterval festival. I’ve been lucky enough to attend each one, & I highly recommend you take a trip to Waterford Winterval 2014!

So fun! Santa Claus arrived via a giant iceberg on November 21 to open Winterval, and Ireland’s biggest Christmas festival will run right through to the 23 of December 2014. Santa switched on the city’s Christmas lights and greeted the boys and girls excited waiting to see their favorite jolly ol’ elf.

Santa’s iceberg floated down to Ireland from the North Pole, and when he set sail on his iceberg earlier in the week, he specially selected a crew of friendly Viking elves to steer him to Waterford, Ireland’s oldest Viking city. (Founded in 914!) Santa also brought a gift to Waterford; a half ton block of ice towed from the North Pole to present to the House of Waterford Crystal!  The team there along with some professional Ice-Sculptors are creating ice and crystal Sculptures which will be unveiled at the Winterval Ice Rink on Saturday 29 November. They will form the centerpiece of the Ice Rink for the duration of the festival, so check it out and maybe go have an ice skate, too!

Santa said, “I am delighted to meet all of the boys and girls at Winterval today, it is my favourite place to be in preparation for our busiest time of the year and I am very excited to see this wonderful North Pole Ice-Sculpture set to be created with the wonderful Waterford Crystal.”

santa arrives at Waterford Winterval from Hi-Lite TV on Vimeo.

House of Waterford Crystal’s David McCoy  said, “We are delighted to be working with the Winterval Festival. It is a great opportunity to create a new piece of artwork using Ice and Crystal for the first time, the sculptures will be wonderfully unique and will capture the festive season and the heritage of Waterford.”

The Winterval festival has over 32 trail events; 18 of which are free!

A 3D Lightshow commissioned especially for Winterval has the Grinch’s plot to ruin Winterval; but fear not, Santa arrives just in time to save the day ;-D The 3D show will be projected on to the front of the Old Deanery building, and runs every half hour during the festival open days ’til December 23.

Some other highlights include a Helter Skelter, Snow-Globe, the Hasbro Toy Museum, Penguins at The Palace, a free movie theatre showing ‘Frozen’, Storytelling at Reginald’s Tower, Craft Making Workshops, a giant Winterval Post Box, a South Pole Enchanted Garden, and -whew!- even more! Visitors wishing to journey through the City Trail, the Winterval Express Train as well as the Horse Drawn Sleigh Stations are the place to head to for a trip. A group our friends and I go every year, and I reckon Waterford Winterval truly is full of magical enjoyment for all ages.

Have a look at Santa’s arrival at Waterford Winterval 2014, and get a feel for what you’ll be enjoying there. Christmas cheer for sure!

For further details see

To read  & see photos of last year’s Waterford Winterval 2013, click.

For a listing of  all Waterford Winterval posts, click

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

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

Picturesque castle? Check!

Family fun? Check!

Local markets for gift shopping? Check!

Christmas at Duckett’s Grove has this & more!

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

childrens band at Ducketts Grove Christmas fair

Childrens band at Ducketts Grove Christmas fair

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

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

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

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

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

Duckett's Grove Christmas Fair 2014

Duckett’s Grove Christmas Fair 2014

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

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

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

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

Feeling the Christmas spirit yet? Hope so!

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

– from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

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

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

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


Limerick is a very creative city, and one of my favourite Irish city – break destinations. I’ve just been sent the info on the Open Night of Limerick Craft Hub as they celebrate National Design Week. Have a read, and apologies if my layout is off- as I’m in London I’m posting this from my phone! So much for *my* design 😉

Love beautiful things? Love local? Want to support talented designers and get something unique? Then come and meet the makers at our celebration of National Design Week on our open night of the Limerick Craft Hub on Thursday November 6th at 6pm.

Showcasing the best of craft and design handmade in Limerick, the Limerick Craft Hub is a vibrant addition to the Limerick city’s creative culture. Inside is the city’s newest and largest craft shop, a craft gallery, a craft classroom and open studios where you can meet the craftworkers and watch their skills at work. Come along and browse the handmade crafts, see how they are made, take a class – get crafty!

Take the opportunity to get your hands on some beautiful, hand-made designs from the best of Limerick talent, and visit Limerick’s most exciting cultural legacy project, experience Forgotten Silver jewellery being made before your eyes, enjoy bespoke felt-making by Fabulous Felt.

This is more than a shop, the Craft Hub is a centre of design excellence with designers working in their onsite studios that make up part of this design co-op. If you choose to invest in a unique hat by Olainn Milinery, or a piece of ceramic design by Clare Jordan, your money is going directly to the artists who are choosing Limerick as their base and workplace. Why spend your hard won cash on pieces that everybody else has when you can be happy in the knowledge that every euro invested in beautiful things at the Craft  Hub is an investment in Limerick’s legacy as a centre of design excellence, and in your fabulous wardrobe and home! Give beautiful gifts, be proud of what you buy, let your gift have it’s own story.

The evening culminates in a fashion show featuring knitwear from Caroline Mitchell, Hanora K, Daivas’ Textiles and unique pieces by Susan McCarthy Designs. For a chance to pick up a piece that nobody else has, made by hand and made in Limerick, don’t miss this opportunity on this special showcase evening.

The Craft Hub plays host to ongoing workshops for children and adults in crafting, knitting, ceramics, felt-making and silversmithing. Vouchers for workshops make unique and priceless gifts that just might help make that budding artist in your life.

Photo note:
Model is wearing a knitwear ensemble by Hanora K Designs and the scarf is Daiva’s Textiles, pictured at the Craft Hub