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

All posts in Graiguenamanagh

A day being in Ireland is a day well spent; especially if it’s Kilkenny Ireland!

There is so much to do and enjoy in Kilkenny, City and county.

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You’ll find plenty of ideas for things to see and do here, and I’ve made a bit of a Kilkenny map to help you. Also look at the wee video to get a taster of what life in the charming Kilkenny countryside is like. Thanks so much to Suzanna at Zwartbles Ireland sheep farm for letting me visit & film!

US food writer Joanna Pruess loved her day in Kilkenny & Zwartbles Ireland! sheep

US food writer Joanna Pruess loved her day in Kilkenny & Zwartbles Ireland sheep!

Kilkenny Ireland: a perfect mix of city & rural culture.

Campagne Kilkenny Ireland- Michelin star desserts!

Campagne Kilkenny Ireland- Michelin star desserts!


You will truly get the best of ‘both worlds’ here; for example you can experience exquisite tastes at (not one, but 2!) Michelin star restaurants, and explore the rural countryside where several of the food products used in these & other Kilkenny restaurants are farmed. I’ve not yet been to the Lady Helen, but I’ve been to Campagne for special occasions several times. We always go for their Early Bird dinner menu or set lunch menu, as they are good value if you haven’t got the biggest budget. My top tip is to save room for dessert! Seriously have not ever tasted better, so if you are like me & go for 2 courses skip the starter not the sweet 😀

The Ireland you’ve dreamed of

Often when folk visit Ireland they want to experience some of the wonderful ‘cliches’ of Ireland; amazingly green countryside, an ‘Ireland traffic jam’ of sheep herded down a windy road, other-worldly megalithic stone circles and ancient monastic ruins, hospitality & craic of a traditional village pub which also doubles as a hardware shop, a friendly cupán tae in a handmade crafts shop. `

You may think that this is a tall order; perhaps you haven’t loads of time, and figure that in order to experience all this you’ll have to do a several hour trek across Ireland to Kerry, Galway, or Donegal. But you don’t! In under an hour and a half’s journey from Dublin you can be in a very special part of Ireland, a place that everyone, including outdoor adventurers, culture lovers, foodies, fun seekers, and family travellers will enjoy. Welcome to Kilkenny!

Kilkenny Ireland sheep traffic jam

Kilkenny Ireland sheep traffic jam

A world- class friendly city: Kilkenny, Ireland

Kilkenny City was voted the 9th friendliest city in the world by Conde Naste readers in 2013. It’s a compact medieval city home to Ireland’s Medieval Mile; this includes Kilkenny Castle, St Canice’s Cathedral with one of only two Irish round towers you can still climb, Rothe House and much more. There’s nearly always a festival of some sort happening! You should definitely go to Kilkenny City. But what you should also do is explore the Kilkenny countryside.

It is easy to get to Kilkenny City from Dublin. You can take the train from Heuston station, several bus companies go, or you can rent a car and drive. To get to several of the fantastic places in the Kilkenny countryside you’ll need a car. I’m afraid that is true for all of Ireland; many of the gems are tucked away from public transport routes. So, do seriously think about renting a car. If you just can’t get a car, you can still get to some of the towns by bus. There are two routes: Kilkenny City to Thomastown and Inistioge, and Kilkenny City to Graiguenamanagh.

There really is something for everyone in the Kilkenny countryside! What do you want to experience?

You want ancient ruins?

Knockroe passage tomb is second only to those in the Boyne valley when it comes to Irish Neolithic stone carvings. Unusually, is aligned to both the rising and setting sun on Winter Solstice. If you are in the mood for an adventure, this side trip is perfect. Non sign-posted, you have to traipse across some fields to find this truly hidden gem. Finding the 12c Aghavillar monastic site along the way is easier and you can actually go up to the top of the building. Brooding and beautiful, there is a part of a round tower here as well.

Kells Priory Kilkenny Ireland sheep

Kells Priory Kilkenny Ireland sheep

Kells Priory is 1,000 years old. It is a large, walled set of ruins, and the tumbled-down parts are rather maze like. Kids love running around here, and in the field populated by sheep on the short walk to the ruins. Kells Priory is usually deserted, though on my last visit I met a man with his pet fox. This is not the only pet fox in rural Kilkenny! You may also see another man walking with one in Thomastown. With accompanying fox or not, it’s nice to take a nice little walk along the river behind the Priory, where you’ll find the restored Mullins Mill.

Jerpoint Abbey is stunningly elegant & beautiful, dating from the 1100s. Unlike Kells Priory, there is a small visitor centre run by the OPW. Be sure to look carefully around this Abbey, because it has many carvings along and in the stone walls that you may otherwise miss.  There are many more fascinating historic sites in the area- keep your eyes open and investigate!

Want to stroll, or take part in more active outdoor adventure?

In the charming village of Inistioge where the movie Circle of Friends was filmed, walk along the river Nore to ‘Eve’s’ hidden cottage, or stroll in the Woodstock Gardens and Arboretum. You can go kayaking, SUPing, and canoeing out on the river Barrow in Graiguenamanagh, and you can even arrange to take a half day barge trip from St. Mullins to Graiguenamanagh on Larry’s Barge.  If you’d like to get into the water, there are two diving boards (or steps for the less brave) into the river along the quays.


Rent the beautiful Larrys Barge in Ireland

Rent the beautiful Larrys Barge in Ireland

Rent bikes and cycle along the Barrow river towpaths with Bike & Hike Graiguenamanagh (great for families as it is quite flat) or get more challenging along the Trail Kilkenny East Kilkenny bike trail. Or how about a hike up Brandon Hill to look across five counties, or hike in the Blackstairs mountains.

You want tasty artisan Irish food?

There are several award winning artisan food producers in the area, ranging from Stoneyford’s Knockdrinna cheese to Thomastown’s  Goatsbridge trout & caviar to Truffle Fairy chocolates– and loads more. Many of Kilkenny’s restaurants pride themselves on using fresh local ingredients. There’s a whole Kilkenny Food Trail you can explore, too.

You want to experience an authentic traditional Irish pub?

Graiguenamanagh is home to a pub which is also a shop, a hardware store, and a fishing and shooting depot! If you’re lucky, you may hear trad music, or the church bells as you have a tasty pint. Doyle’s is just across the street from the 800 year old (still functioning) Duiske Abbey.

There’s a tiny pub in a farmhouse on the road from Thomastown to Graiguenamanagh, just at the Coppenagh crossroads, . You can glimpse the family watching telly in their sitting room as you sip your pint.

Inside of Doyles, Graiguenamanagh Kilkenny Ireland

Inside of Doyles pub,Graiguenamanagh Kilkenny Ireland. Photo by @GraigueBikeHire

Get your name written in your pint by the barman in Inistioge’s O’Donnell’s pub. Better than Starbucks!

You want Irish crafts?

There’s Cushendale traditional woolen mill in Graiguenamanagh, between Thomastown & Stoneyford you’ll find Jerpoint Glass glassblowers, and in Bennettsbridge there’s Moth to a Flame candle maker and Nicholas Mosse‘s lovely handcrafted pottery & cafe in a picturesque stone mill. Thomastown is a very crafty small town, with several makers and craft shops. Do have a stroll around. There’s even more elsewhere, all on the Kilkenny Craft Trail.

Call it getting off the beaten track, call it community-oriented tourism, or just call it a good idea- exploring rural Kilkenny Ireland will give you an authentic taste of Ireland in uncrowded, special places.

Prepare for that Irish weather!

Transitions well from rainy field nice restaurant! Makes life simpler! My Cotswold Outdoor triclimate jacket

Transitions well from rainy field nice restaurant! Makes life simpler! My Cotswold Outdoor triclimate jacket

One thing I’ve found invaluable when enjoying a day out in Kilkenny, is to be prepared for any weather, any time of year! Even if it is sunny when you start out, it could change and lash down rain for 20 minutes, or just produce a steady, misty drizzle for a few hours before the sun splits the sky again. Don’t underestimate the misty type rain– it will soak you to the skin in a few minutes! Always bring a suitable rain jacket- preferably one that won’t be too warm, or cold!

The joke about Ireland having 4 seasons in one day is TRUE! I’m finding that one of those rainproof jackets that also has a removeable fleece lining is perfect. I got a 3-season one from Cotswold Outdoor online, and I wear it everywhere! I even wore it  into our annual Christmas lunch at Michelin-starred Campagne– I think it looks that good 😀 Cotswold contacted me about testing out an item, and when I chose the 3-season coat I never expected it to look as nice as it does; I figured it would be really frumpy or kinda gaudy because it was functional; but this coat goes fine with most any outfit! You can see me in it in the video & photos; often even with a skirt or dress! Of course if I get it mucky visiting the Zwartbles Ireland lambs that’ll be born around Christmas, I won’t wear it to eat out until it gets a good clean– I’ll let you know how it washes up!  If you are interested in checking out the one I got, it’s also on Sale right now at Cotswold Outdoor; the Women’s Evolution 2 triclimate jacket.

Here’s the Google map with driving routes & some interest points and activities for your visit to Kilkenny.

In the map I have you starting from the area of Kilkenny Castle, heading to Kells. (The route is figure 8-ish, with a side jaunt to Knockroe passage tomb.) I’ve recommended the journey with that starting point because from that driving direction a lovely view of the Barrow valley rises up on your right hand side as you near Graiguenamanagh. There is a roadside pull-off where you can stop and savour the scene.

Have a great time! If you have any questions, tweet me @VibrantIreland. And watch out for those sheep on the road 😀

A version of the Kilkenny information was first was written by me for TBEXcon’s site ahead of their 2013 conference in Dublin.

Graiguenamanagh Town Of Books Festival 2011Book Lover?

Town of Books 2014 is on in Graiguenamanagh, Kilkenny, Sept 12 – 14!

The Town of Books festival here in the medieval village of Graiguenamanagh has sent me this years info, and if you love books and bargains, then this is the place to come. Also, if you are in search of rare or vintage books, this weekend of books should be on your hit-list! Do bring your pals, because even if they aren’t into books, ‘Graig’ is a lovely place to enjoy the outdoors, nestled as it is along the river Barrow by the Blackstairs mountains. If you’d like to see more about visiting Graiguenamanagh, click, and at the very bottom of this post I’ve added in a lovely video of the area & the outdoor fun here. For more on the 2014 book festival, see the info sent, here:

The 14th Annual Graiguenamanagh ‘Town of Books’ Festival will take place in Graiguenamanagh on September 12th (noon – 6pm,) 13th(10am – 6pm) and 14th(10am – 6pm ). This unusual event continues to catch the imagination of the book buying public and once again is expected to bring thousands of people to Graiguenamanagh over that weekend. Graiguenamanagh ‘Town of Books is different from other Irish Book fairs. Usually these fairs constitute a row of tables in a hotel ballroom. In Graiguenamanagh the whole town is involved with booksellers taking over whole shops and carrying quite an amount of stock. The organisers, Graiguenamanagh Town of books Committee in association with Abbey Hall, produce a book trail map and visitors to the town can guide themselves into every nook and cranny to find that special book they require. There will be sellers of antiquarian, second hand, new, children’s, and other specialist subject areas.

The organisers of this successful book weekend are looking forward to another bumper weekend in Graiguenamanagh, particularly if we get some more of the fine weather experienced over the summer. Despite the recession the organisers are delighted to report that the number of booksellers applying to trade for the festival is actually every bit as good as last year, so there will be plenty of bookshops for people to browse through. In fact the biggest headache at the moment is securing enough locations for all booksellers to trade from.



Graiguenamanagh ‘Town of Books’ is also unique in that it is held over three days and is not just about selling and buying of books. There are several fringe events that give this book fair the atmosphere of a true festival. Visitors can take walks by the river barrow or hire bikes to cycle down river to the historical St. Mullins just four miles away. There is also Mt. Brandon which overlooks the town and has an eight mile walk around it where anyone can enjoy the view of the entire south east from its hill top. The walk itself is singed under the National Loop walks of Ireland and is easy passable with historical sites to view there also.

There will be traditional Irish music in the bars on Saturday night hosted by Love Graig development committee for the first time in the festivals history to give the night life entertainment a boost for all locals and visitors who intend to stay around for the festival weekend.

Publisher, Author and Historian, Ultan Cowley will give a presentation on his work based on the history of Irish Navvies, Saturday 9pm. ‘’the men who built Britain’’ (Wolfhound Press 2001).

There will be an indoor Market on Saturday and Sunday down at the Boathouse area. This is organised with the help of Borris market.

Food craft stalls on Sunday will be set up at the boat house car parking area ,which is located along the quay beside the river. Other attractions are various children’s art competitions organised by the local schools, live street buskin musicians including the Graiguenamanagh brass band will perform during the days of the festival.

For further information on any of the above items or for the list of booksellers contact the following members of Graiguenamanagh Town of Books;

Martin O’Brien; 086 8211140

John Heddon; 086 4061049  or e-mail .

Also, during the Carlow Autumn Walking Festival this October 3-5 2014, there are Family-Friendly river safaris which will paddle to Graiguenamanagh, and bikes you can rent at Graig’s Waterside Bike & Hike. It will be another fab weekend in the area!

Discover Graiguenamanagh – Written & Presented by Derek Davis from Alchemy Electronic Arts on Vimeo.

Art In The Open.Paint Out!

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

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

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

dog waiting outside Coffee on High cafe, Graiguenamanagh Ireland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Graig Goes Wild!Come join in!

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

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

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

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

Doyles authentic traditional Irish Pub, Graiguenamanagh

Doyles authentic traditional Irish Pub, Graiguenamanagh

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gild wearing st patricks day hat & gear ready for parade

Nancy is thrilled to cycle with Graigue Bike & Hike in the Graiguenamanagh St Patrick’s Day Parade. Pic GraigueBikeHire

Everyone loves a parade!

Here are some photos from the 2014 St Patrick’s Day parade through our village of Graiguenamanagh, Ireland.

 Mount Leinster Rangers  hurling  cups

The Mount Leinster Rangers are in the final! Will they come home with another cup?

The Paddy’s Day parade was held on Sunday, because today a local hurling team, the Mount Leinster Rangers, is in the final in Croke Park! It’s all very exciting, & we wish them the best.

Update: Well, the team played a hard game, but didn’t win. They will still be welcomed home as heroes, because making it to the final is in itself a huge achievement. Well done, lads!

It was a fun parade this year, with a steam tractor joining the other vintage tractors, fab performances by children’s groups & marching bands, fun floats, & of course the obligatory breakdown of one of the vintage cars :-O

There was transport of all kinds represented- as well as the tractors & cars there was a pony & cart, bikes, motorbikes, firetrucks, a digger & more. Sure, where else would you want to be on Paddy’s Weekend other than Graiguenamanagh, the ‘village of the monks’? 😀


Enjoy the photos!


Transport of all types was on show:


 Thankfully there was only one drink driver:

 Bike Hire & O'Hara's beer

When this lady, Miss Rosie, showed up in the parade with her bottle of Locally brewed O’Hara’s beer, we worried about possibly tipsy biking 😉 Pic: GraigueBikeHire

Cute alert! Happy performers & marchers ahead 🙂

*Some* of these people aren’t quite as cute, but that’s okay 😉

And I mustn’t forget the vintage!

I don’t know about you, but for me, this guy’s suit wins the parade! Love it! Hope you enjoyed this sample of Graiguenamanagh‘s St Patrick’s day parade. Maybe we’ll see you there next year!

You’ll find more St Patrick’s Day posts here

Writing- pencil, notebook, coffee

Ready to write?

Do you live in county Kilkenny?

Kilkenny County Council Arts Office & Library Service have 2 new writing classes for Kilkenny based writers/budding writers.

Here are their Spring 2014 Writers’ Workshops. 

Creative Prose

Tuesday February 25th to Tuesday April 1st

Venue: Graiguenamanagh Library, Convent Road, Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny
Time: 6pm – 8pm

Duration: 6 weeks

There is a €30 nominal fee to ensure your place in the course.

Over the six weeks, you will have the opportunity to develop your prose-writing skills in a relaxed atmosphere. You will be encouraged to identify your writing objectives in terms of how, where, what and when you will write. The workshops will focus on shorter prose forms, but there will be opportunities to discuss other aspects of story-telling, and the focus and objectives of the workshop will be tailored to the needs of the participants. All levels of experience are welcome: the diversity of the group will be one of our key resources, and numbers will be limited to encourage full participation by all present.

 Tutor: Ken Bourke has been a professional writer for over twenty years. He is an experienced facilitator and has worked with a wide range of groups.  He lives in Kilkenny.


Poetry for Spring: Getting Started

Commencing Tuesday February 25th to Tuesday April 1st

Venue:  St. Mary’s Day Care Centre, Gaol Road, Haughney Green, Kilkenny
Time: 6pm – 8pm

Duration: 6 weeks

There is a €30 nominal fee to ensure your place in the course

This course will get you writing poems. Participants will start plenty of new work in the course of the six weeks. You will begin many short pieces, but you will also start a longer poem and continue working on it over the six weeks. In the workshops you will learn what to look at in a poem from a writer’s point of view. You will work on developing your skills as makers of poems by learning how to read and examine carefully the work of other makers. Participants will learn some new words and techniques so that they can become more confident readers, and thus writers, of poetry. Participants will learn about line-breaks, couplets and quatrains, irony and satire. Along the way they will look at a selection of poems by well established poets from Ireland and abroad: Derek Walcott, Constantinos Cavafy, John Montague, Dermot Healey, Seamus Heaney, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Kerry Hardie, Thom Gunn, Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, to name a few.

Tutor: Derek Coyle lectures in English Literature and Irish Studies at Carlow College. He has published poems and reviews in The SHOp, Ceide, The Texas Literary Review, and The Irish Literary Supplement. Recently, he has had poems published in Mexico, in Cuadrivio, in their Irish issue. He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award (2010), and the Bradshaw Prize (2011).

Deadline for Bookings is 4pm on Monday 17th February 2014!

Places are limited to 12 participants per course so please book early to avoid disappointment.


To secure a place on the above courses please contact the Arts Office on 056 7794938/ or email   

Sharpen your pencils and/or charge up your laptops & get writing, Kilkenny! 🙂

The rosy-fingered dawn of Ireland

The rosy-fingered dawn of Ireland

The shorter days of Autumn have a silver lining: you’re  more likely to be up to see the sunrise. In the height of summer, the sun starts to lighten the sky here in the Barrow valley around 4 a.m, and it peeps over the the Blackstairs mountains around 5. I’m not usually awake for that! But now, in November, the sun has a lie-in until 8, and I’m one of the the not-so-early birds reaping the reward.

So although Homer wasn’t talking about Ireland in the Odyssey, it is kind of appropriate:

“When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, we admired the island and wandered all over it..”

Autumn is a special time to be in Ireland; enjoy these sunrises.

autumn sunrises ireland

Some mornings are more subtly beautiful, the cloud dancing with & hiding the mountains

autumn sunrise ireland

Every sunrise is a bit different.

autumn sunrises ireland

Some days have very misty beginnings


misty ireland

Some misty mornings turn into misty days


autumn sunrise ireland

Some mornings are just golden

blue sky ireland
And turn into amazing blue-sky days.


If you would like to read more about our area of the Barrow Valley, there are several posts in the Graiguenamanagh category. It is a beautiful, quiet & unspoiled spot in the sunny southeast of Ireland. I hope you’ll be inspired to watch an Autumn sunrise in Ireland, and maybe even from the Barrow Valley 🙂

These are all Instagram photos! Do you love Instagram, & travel– near or far? I take part in #IGtravelthursday, and you can, too. Just instagram some of your travel photos (can be local travel!) & hashtag them #IGtravelthursday. Check out the other interesting photos on that hashtag stream, as well. If you are a blogger, you can do a post like this one; centered around your Instagram travel photos. For example, on To Destination Unknown Satu has a post on Finland – the land of Santa Claus as a IGTravelThursday post. For more info on how to link up your blog & take part that way, go to Katja’s Simbaco site and read more.  Join in & enjoy! 

Traditional night at Duiske Concerts is the Friday

Traditional night at Duiske Concerts is Friday 8 Nov, 2013

Enjoy fantastic music in a fabulous setting!

The 13th century Duiske Abbey in medieval Graiguenamanagh in county Kilkenny is home to the Duiske concerts series, which runs each November.

This year brings 3 concerts over the weekend of November 8th-10th, 2013, Irish traditional, a saxophone quartet, and a soprano singer. Venture over to this lovely small town by the river Barrow and hear some wonderful sounds in a very special venue.


Traditional Night

 Friday November 8th, 8pm

Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny

Four of Ireland’s outstanding traditional musicians will be in concert in Graiguenamanagh’s 13th century Duiske Abbey:

Paudie O’Connor (accordion)

Aoife Ni Chaoimh (Fiddle)

David Power (Uilleann pipes)

Nel Ní Cróinín (Sean-nós )

Tickets €15 (€10) on the door


Chatham Saxophone Quartet, Duiske Concerts, Graiguenamanagh

Chatham Saxophone Quartet, Duiske Concerts

Chatham Saxophone Quartet

Saturday November 9th, 3pm (do note- this is an afternoon concert)
Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny

Runaway winners of Music Network’s Young Musicwide Award in 2012 with a programme ranging from Bach to Gershwin and Nyman.

Tickets €15 (€10) on the door


Regina Nathan will sing in medieval Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh

Regina Nathan will sing in medieval Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh

 Regina Nathan (soprano)

Sunday November 10th 8pm

Duiske Abbey, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny 

Featuring operatic and traditional favourites, accompanied by Linnhe Robertson.
Tickets €20 (€15)


059 972 5893  Mon-Fri 9.30-1pm

Traditional Irish music in a rural medieval Irish town? Yes, please!

Doyles pub in Graiguenamanagh,Ireland, during the Book Festival

Doyles pub in Graiguenamanagh, during the Book Festival

I’ve a link to a clip below, and the program featuring Graiguenamanagh is on this Sunday, 22 Sept at 10.oo, with a repeat on Thurs the 26th on TG4 channel. You can also watch it online on their player.

Here’s what the TG4 website tells us:

Spillane an Fánaí is a fascinating Irish-speaking exploration of the history and personality of rural towns outside of the traditional Gaeltacht areas. In this second programme John Spillane travels to Graiguenamanagh. Co. Kilkenny and steps back in time in Doyle’s Bar, a pub that sells pints, eggs and fishing tackle!

John discovers life on the river, plays some mighty sessions and talks to bargemen, brass bands, organ players and wool spinners as well as enquiring about having his face put on a statue of a monk!

For this series John Spillane spends a week in six different locations, working in a pub and venturing out to meet a host of locals in search of musical inspiration for his song-writing in the uniqueness and character of small town life. doyles

Inside of Doyles, Graiguenamanagh

Inside of Doyles pub,Graiguenamanagh. Photo by @GraigueBikeHire







The towns John visits are Fethard in Tipperary, Graiguenamanagh in Kilkenny, Cootehill in Cavan, Castleisland in Kerry, Castlepollard in Westmeath and Kiltimagh in Mayo.

You can watch Sunday night at 10.00pm, repeats on Thursdays at 10.15pm,  on TG4

 Watch the clip:

Discover Graiguenamanagh, Ireland!

A beautiful new video has just been made by RTE’s Derek Davis, introducing you to the fantastic outdoor scenery, adventures, & more in the Graiguenamanagh area of the Barrow Valley. Relax with a cuppa and enjoy! I’m running off to Graiguenamanagh’s Town Of Books festival, so this post intro is short. Maybe I’ll see you there 🙂

Discover Graiguenamanagh – Written & Presented by Derek Davis from Alchemy Electronic Arts on Vimeo.

For more posts on the Graiguenamanagh area, just click 🙂