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

All posts in Northern Ireland

Out To Lunch Arts Festival 2016, Belfast. January's Top Pick for Cultural Adventure

Out To Lunch Arts Festival 2016, Belfast. January’s Top Pick for Cultural Adventure

With over 50 intriguing events from comedy, music, food talks, art, magic & more, the Out To Lunch Arts Festival will add zing to your January afternoons and evenings from the 8th to the 31st!

Plus, as accommodation is generally cheaper in January, it’s a great time to visit Belfast! Your biggest issue will be trying whittle down what shows to see from the tempting array. Listen in to get a taste of what’s in store, and the wee video of some Belfast street art is below the podcast.

Belfast Street Art Video (under 1 minute)

[youtube_sc url=”https://youtu.be/yanZyDFnHog” title=”Belfast%20Street%20Art”]

Visit the Out To Lunch Arts Festival at cqaf.com/outtolunch/2016 to see all the listings and book tickets.

Keep an eye on @BelfastFoodTour and @SeedheadArts on Twitter to see if they add another combo walking tour 😀

Check in to www.discovernorthernireland.com/food every so often to see what will be added on as 2016 Northern Ireland Year of Food starts to get going.

Here is their info on the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink:

With two Belfast restaurants – Ox and Eipic – recently bagging Michelin stars, Northern Ireland’s artisan food and drink producers are reaping international renown from food critics and the media.

With record breaking performances at the UK Great Taste Awards year on year, Northern Ireland is something of a best kept foodie secret.

But not for long – 2016 has been designated a Year of Food and Drink. There’s going to be a big celebration of all that is good about the top notch local produce. And the world is invited!

Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016

Yum & Fun! Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016

It’s a leap year. So that means 366 days of opportunities to taste, munch and quaff your way through 12 specially selected themes for each month of the year. There’ll be special foodie events, festivals, money-off deals, pop-up restaurants, tastings and tours galore.

It all starts with ’breakfast’ in January (ah, the famous Ulster fry) and ends in December with ’Christmas and premium foods’. In between there’s everything from ’love meat’ to ’brewing and distilling’ to’ heritage and traditions’.

Northern Ireland’s epic landscapes, traditions and people make its food heritage very unique. Thanks to its wild coastline, endless green fields and famously fickle weather, the country produces some of the world’s finest and freshest ingredients – from fabulous seafood to rare meats and iconic breads, organic vegetables, artisan cheeses, premium spirits and craft beers.

Three of its home-grown foods hold EU Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status – Lough Neagh Eels, Armagh Bramley Apples and Comber Early Potatoes – putting them on a par with the likes of Parmesan cheese and Champagne.

Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 potato farm

These Northen Ireland potatoes are on par with champagne 😀

And there’s more. Shortcross Gin from County Down (MY NOTE: yum! I’ll have a gin taste test post up soon which includes Shortcross) recently scooped a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Glenarm Organic Salmon is lined up on shelves in Harvey Nichols and Abernethy Butter is the darling of London’s Michelin-starred chefs.

From a Game of Thrones Afternoon Tea at Ballygally Castle Hotel in the heart of ’Thrones’ country in County Antrim to the Titanic Menu at Rayanne House on the edge of Belfast Lough, the local food reflects local stories.

But there will be many more local tastes and exciting menus crammed with creativity and foodie sensations all through 2016.

Northern Ireland food is so good. Be shrewd, you’d be mad if you eschewed it.

www.ireland.com

www.nigoodfood.com

Head Out To Lunch in Northern Ireland! For the festival and the food 😀

Happy 2016! Slainte, Susan 


Kove Restaurant has views over Lough Erne

Kove Restaurant has views over Lough Erne
(Kove’s pic; the rest are mine)

Killyhevlin’s newest restaurant Kove had the unenviable task of having me, a US-expat, as a guest for (a normal) dinner on Thanksgiving.

Was Kove restaurant up to the challenge?

You may know that Thanksgiving is a very important day in the US calendar when Americans eat a rather specific and much loved set of foods. These are hotly anticipated, and in many ways this meal is even more important than the Christmas dinner. Americans’ mouths water with just the thought of the home cooked fare from recipes reverently handed down from great-grannies and grannies filling up the dinner table. How on Earth would Kove restaurant compete with my nostalgia-laced memories of delicious dinners past? I’d been invited up North by Fermanagh Lakelands tourism during a time when my memories of home could scupper things…would they?

My review of Kove Restaurant

Kove is one of two restaurants at the Killyhevlin Hotel, (the other is the Boathouse Grill) and is making a name for itself in the Enniskillen food scene. Kove has an interesting selection of dishes on their a la carte menu, but probably because of my memories of Thanksgiving I went for something I normally wouldn’t choose; set menu’s chicken. Again, I was probably setting Kove a very hard task– the reason I don’t normally go for chicken isn’t due to anything esoteric, I just don’t really like chicken! I know, I know, choosing it seems to make no sense– but it was stuffed chicken, the closest thing to Thanksgiving Turkey! 😀

Kove restaurant goats cheese & sundried tomato stuffed chicken wrapped in Fermanagh black bacon

Kove restaurant goats cheese & sundried tomato stuffed chicken wrapped in Fermanagh black bacon

Seriously though, I chose the Kove’s chicken because the description sounded delicious:  Sun-dried tomato and goat cheese stuffed supreme of chicken wrapped in Fermanagh black bacon. 

Kove Starters

But wait, I am ahead of myself; I must mention the starters. I had the salmon and prawn salad with greens and Marie Rose sauce. Prawn salad with Marie Rose is making a comeback after being an abhorred cliche that most ‘good’ restaurants wouldn’t dare serve. But Marie Rose sauce is making a comeback because when made well with quality ingredients it is fabulous with prawns– and the salmon. Yes indeed, it was very tasty. I couldn’t help myself; I ate every little bit, which for me is a mistake as I get full quickly. I had behaved myself not eating too much of Kove’s tasty bread beforehand, but I fell at the hurdle of the starter!

Salmon and prawn salad at Kove restaurant in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

Salmon and prawn salad at Kove restaurant in the Killyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen

I was interested in several starter items on the Kove restaurant menu; for example the roast scallop with cauliflower puree, black pudding, and cumin oil on the a la carte menu caught my attention. Kove is a member of Good Food Northern Ireland, and likes to source what they can locally; I see that their scallops are sourced from Donegal. As a fish lover it was good to see a nice selection of seafood as well as the more traditional items like chicken, lamb, and steak. We have so much edible bounty from our island and waters; no wonder 2016 is going to be the Year of Food in Northern Ireland.

Local Specialty Mains

Fermanagh black bacon is a local specialty from pigs who live free range on Inishcorkish Island in Lough Erne. This bacon is scrumptious. Indeed, my mains of Kove’s stuffed chicken dish wrapped in O’Dougherty’s Fermanagh Black Bacon made this non chicken lover very happy. The chicken was flavorsome and moist, the slightly sweet, salty and zingy accompaniments bringing out the best in the meat. The bacon is like bacon you remember from years gone by; perhaps even better. Bursting with flavor, black bacon is hung for several months, and is neither over salted nor pumped full of water or fillers. It goes very nicely with the ingredients of the stuffed chicken. The locally sourced side vegetables were perfectly cooked, Kove’s portion sizes were generous, and I was sorry that my partner was not with me to help finish this delicious dish!

Digging in to Kove restaurant's stuffed chicken and black bacon

Digging in to Kove restaurant’s stuffed chicken and black bacon

I gazed at my leftover portion of black bacon wrapped stuffed chicken and mourned. I knew that if I ate another bite of it there would be no attempting the desert. Surely that would be a sin– no dessert!?

Beautifully Presented Dessert

In order to report as fully as possible to you, I had a dessert. (Ahem.) I did choose what I figured was the lightest dessert on offer, the citrussy mousse. Look how beautiful it is! The lovely citrus zing was there, not too overpowering but not off simpering in the distance as can be the case in some other restaurants. It wasn’t heavy, but sadly I was too full for more than two or three bites. To be fair, the staff at Kove were attentive and helpful, and certainly would have set me up with a doggy bag for my leftovers, but with my travel plans I wouldn’t have been able to keep it cold and fresh. *Sniffle*

Desert at Kove restaurant, Enniskillen

Desert at Kove restaurant, Enniskillen

Dining Room Setting

Kove’s dining room looks out over Lough Erne, with Cuilcagh Mountain in the distance; the setting is lovely. I didn’t take photos of the dining room at dinner out of courtesy to the other diners, but I’ve one from the morning, below. I quite liked the blue lights; a splash of modern zing. It is obviously much brighter at breakfast, but Kove was well lit at dinner; you could see your food no bother. I imagine Kove is a popular restaurant with Enniskillen locals looking for a nice meal out, as well as being a good choice for dining hotel guests like myself.

As for wine or a cocktail, I didn’t indulge. The reason I didn’t has to do with my stay at Killyhevin Hotel– which I will reveal when I review it for you soon! I’d happily eat at the Kove restaurant again; the meal well pleased me even though I was in a nostalgic state of mind, and I think you will enjoy dining here, too. Keep your eye out for those wonderful local ingredients like Fermanagh Black Bacon, and save room for dessert 🙂 

See more, and download a sample menu and a wine list here at Kove Restaurant.

Killyhevlin Hotel also has some good special offers that include a dinner at Kove

 

 

Transparency: I was invited up by Fermanagh Lakelands Tourism, and was a guest at Killyhevlin and Kove, having a dinner and night’s stay with breakfast.  As always, opinions are my own.


Belfast Christmas Market with City Hall. Photo: Chris Heaney.

Belfast Christmas Market with City Hall. As it was raining the nights I was there, this photo is by Chris Heaney.

Would you enjoy a guilt-free break in the run up to Christmas? One where you could indulge yourself whilst also happily wrapping up your special gift shopping?

I would, and did, in Belfast! A Christmas break in Belfast is brilliant- the city is a perfect size as to be buzzy with city culture, Christmas cheer and unique locally made gift ideas without being a totally overwhelming teaming mass of crowds. I think you’ll love it!

Here are a few reasons why I recommend a Christmas break in Belfast:

Christmas beak to Belfast Belfast and St Georges Market & Belfast Food Tour

Christmas break in Belfast: Fun buzz and fab food in St Georges Market & Belfast Food Tour

Foodie Finds

Did you know St George’s Market was voted the UK’s Best Large Indoor Market? What a hive of delights! I’ve just said that Belfast isn’t crazy-making busy, but the Saturday Food & Craft Market here isn’t quiet by any stretch, and later in the day many of the food stalls can sell out of their most popular items. My tip is to arrive around the opening time of 9 a.m. on Saturday, do a bit of gift shopping (SO much you’ll love!) and then indulge yourself on the Belfast Food Tour. Starting at St George’s, this walking tour meanders round Belfast as you sample local food and drink delights; you’ll gather excellent gift ideas into the bargain. And it is a bargain- at £45 for four and a half hours of local knowledge as well as the eats, I found it great value. Actually, a gift certificate for the tour might make a good gift!

Unique Treasures

I also love finding vintage gifts in addition to well made local products. The joy of discovery is part of the fun of shopping for presents, isn’t it– although there is the danger of discovering too many treasures for yourself! Belfast hosts several fabulous Vintage and Handmade Fairs throughout the year, and I came away with several vintage finds for under £20 total! As I write the next Fair is Sunday the 13th of December on the city’s outskirts at Belfast Castle, a fantastic location.

 

With stunning views over Belfast city and harbour, the Castle also has a lovely garden (cat themed!) plus several walks and archaeological sites to explore in Cave Hill Park. Did you know that the rock face of Cave Hill supposedly reminded Jonathan Swift of a sleeping giant? Thus giant Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels was born! Now that’s a scene deserving of a selfie 😉

Christmas Buzz

Christmas break in Belfast idea: Belfast Christmas Market with City Hall. Photo by Chris Heaney.

Christmas break in Belfast idea: Belfast Christmas Market with City Hall. Photo by Chris Heaney.

Back down in the city, Belfast City Hall is surrounded by the uber-festive Belfast Continental Christmas Market. You’ll hear fun patter from the stall holders, and there’s gluhwein galore. If you weren’t feeling the Christmas spirit before entering the Market, you’ll catch the cheer pretty sharpish in these surroundings, and of course the Baroque style City Hall building is a glorious backdrop. Another market to consider if you are in Belfast on the 20th is the Fine and Dandy Market of local artists, makers, bakers, and vintage sellers in the Crescent Arts Centre.  I came across a few of these stall holders at the Vintage Fair, so I’ll warn you—there’s some very tempting baking going on in Belfast. Do that Cave Hill walk to balance it out!

Night Delights

As your days can be happily filled browsing markets, tasting delights and strolling with views over or of the city, your nights should be no less marvellous. Restaurants in Belfast are serving top notch cuisine, and on all 3 of my weekend breaks I’ve been a very happy wine & diner. I couldn’t choose a favourite, but check out some award winners here. I can, though, give you a tip for choosing a spot for a festive drink if you love gin.

Christmas break in Belfast idea: enjoy some locally made Shortcross gin

Christmas break in Belfast idea: enjoy some locally made Shortcross gin

So far, I’ve 2 favourites; first is Muriel’s with 100 gins on her list, including Northern Ireland’s only gin distillery, Shortcross. Earlier this year Shortcross ran a gin drinks competition, and Muriel’s won the gin & tonic category. In the gin cocktail category, The Merchant won with their ‘9 hour Bill’. The Merchant is my favourite for the sheer elegance of the surroundings; I’d nearly drink mud there and enjoy it! Seriously, though, if you love cocktails, do call in—you’ll be spoiled for cocktail choice. (Stay tuned for more on Shortcross in an upcoming post!)

A wee drink before or after a show is perfect. This Christmas break I went to The Lyric Theatre to see an original Belfast play, Christmas Eve Can Kill You. It is full of that great Belfast humour that makes a visit here so fun. The Lyric was packed; Belfast folk love theatre, and why not, with venues like the beautifully modern Lyric and the beautifully Victorian Grand Opera House on their doorstep? It would it be so festive to see a show there this Christmas! Hop on the train, plane, or nip up in your car- Belfast is easy to get to! Check out discovernorthernireland.com for accommodation deals & more to help you plan your visit. Enjoy! 

I visited as a guest of Discover Northern Ireland, and a version of this article also is on their blog section. I’ll have 2 more posts on enjoying Belfast coming soon; one with ideas for the culture lover, and another full of flavorsome food & drink. I genuinely love visiting Belfast, & think you will too 🙂

Christmas break in Belfast idea: see a show at The beautifully modern Lyric Theatre

Christmas break in Belfast idea: see a show at The beautifully modern Lyric Theatre


She's 120 years old in December! Vintage Grand Opera House theatre goers in Belfast

She’s 120 years old in December! Vintage Grand Opera House theatre goers in Belfast– don’t you just love all the hats!

December is a GREAT time to visit Belfast, with shows, markets, & Christmas buzz galore.

And guess who’s turning 120 this December in Belfast?

It’s that lovely Victorian lady, the Grand Opera House Belfast!

It’s so easy to take the train from Dublin to Belfast or to just drive, and I’m super excited to be going myself during the start of the Christmas season. I’ll be reporting to you on the Belfast Christmas buzz & culture, the markets & unique spots to find gifts, the fabulous Mount Stewart Festival of Light, the delights of Northern Ireland’s own gin, Shortcross, and the scoop on great places to eat & drink, including the Belfast Food Tour. Whew! Though I’ll miss out on going myself this trip, the Grand Opera House Belfast has plenty on this December; so here’s more on her 120th anniversary & upcoming shows:

The Grand Opera House Belfast's interio

The Grand Opera House Belfast’s interior is, well, grand! 🙂

BELFAST OPERA HOUSE REACHES GRAND OLD AGE

This December will see Belfast’s majestic Grand Opera House celebrate its 120th Anniversary since the curtain first rose on December 23rd 1895. Located in the heart of Belfast’s bustling city centre, the Grand Opera House has delivered an unrivalled programme of entertainment over the course of its illustrious 120 year history and has played host to some of the greatest names in theatre and music.

“The rich heritage of the Grand Opera House make it a unique venue, with a history every bit as eventful as some of the shows produced on its famous stage. The diverse range of shows and performances which take place in the Grand Opera House make it a must see attraction for culture lovers on a trip to Belfast,” Tourism NI’s ROI Market Manager, Fiona Cunningham said.

“There are a wide range of performances, musicals and shows to suit every age and taste and visitors to this iconic building can also enjoy a fun short break in Belfast by staying in one of the nearby luxurious hotels or B&B’s, added Fiona.

Grand Opera House Belfast is 120 years old on the 23rd of December 2015

Grand Opera House Belfast is 120 years old on the 23rd of December 2015

Designed by prolific theatre architect Frank Matcham, it was a huge success from the outset, hosting a vibrant programme of opera, drama, pantomime, comedies, musicals and classic drama with regular performances of Shakespearean plays. In 1895, the capacity of the theatre was 2,500 (more than double what it is today) and the Victorian auditorium boasted all the luxuries of the day including tip-up seats, electric lighting, central heating and air conditioning.

The Grand Opera House has attracted large audiences right from the start, delivering an enviable programme of entertainment. Even the Great Depression in the 1930’s had little impact on audience numbers, with the highlight of the decade being a visit by Gracie Fields with a sellout performance in September 1933. Many more famous faces treaded the boards over the years including Laurel and Hardy, George Formby and Luciano Pavarotti, who made his UK debut in a production of Madame Butterfly in 1963.

A large scale restoration project was carried out on the Grand Opera House in the 1970’s and it reopened in September 1980. Throughout the 1980’s, the venue continued to prosper with healthy audience numbers and hit shows from London including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”, “Grease” and “Evita”. Local acts such as Phil Coulter, Mary Black and James Galway were very popular and Van Morrison played his first concert in his native city since 1967 there.

To this day, the theatre boasts a wide array of popular shows and additional facilities and even hosted the glittering BAFTA Awards in September 1994. Other services available include venue hire for corporate hospitality, functions and events and even weddings. Extended in 2006, the original façade has been joined by a striking addition to the Belfast skyline, home to a smaller performance space, the Baby Grand Studio.

The Grand Opera House Belfast nowadays provides an interesting visual contrast with the modern aspects of Belfast's architecture.

The Grand Opera House Belfast nowadays provides an interesting visual contrast with the modern aspects of Belfast’s architecture.

One of the most enduring traditions at the Grand Opera House is the Christmas pantomime. When the theatre first opened in 1895, the first performance was of “Bluebeard” and pantomime has been an annual feature of the programme from that day to this. This year’s panto, the much loved classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” will take place from 28 November – 10 January 2016. Bursting with all the ingredients of a classic fairytale, including a Wicked Stepmother, a Handsome Prince and a Damsel in Distress, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” stars Northern Ireland’s Queen of Comedy, May McFetteridge in what will be her 26th consecutive pantomime appearance

Other not to be missed upcoming shows include The Bodyguard starring Alexandra Burke which will run from February 3 -13, Motown’s Greatest Hits which runs from January 27 – 28, The Magic of the Beatles which runs from January 15 – 16 and much loved musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which is on from March 16 – 27. See all the listings here.

Have you been to Belfast recently?

You really should take a trip to Belfast– it’s brilliant for culture lovers! I fell for Belfast last year, when I got to visit twice; once for a Belfast weekend break in Spring, and once in Autumn for Belfast’s Culture Night weekend. Do have a look around www.discovernorthernireland.com for more information on short breaks and things to see and do in Northern Ireland. You can check out my report on Belfast and the people of Northern Ireland here.

Happy Belfast Visiting! 😀


HAPPY THANKSGIVING in Ireland!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING in Ireland!

In Ireland for Thanksgiving?

Here are tips for finding your favourite Thanksgiving foods in Ireland, where to eat a Thanksgiving dinner out, and more.

Updated with more places to eat Thanksgiving dinner in Ireland  for 2015, some recipe ideas, and a Thanksgiving reenactment. If YOU’VE tips, a fab recipe, Thanksgiving event or fun Thanksgiving in Ireland themed photo you’d like to share, contact me. @vibrantireland on Twitter or email hello@vibrantireland.com. Cheers!

Essential for Thanksgiving in Ireland? Libby's classic canned pumpkin.

Essential for Thanksgiving in Ireland? Libby’s classic canned pumpkin.

Thanksgiving food most missed in Ireland? Pumpkin Pie!

But wait, help is at hand! You can now buy that pumpkin pie classic, pumpkin in a can, in Ireland! How many of us grew up with this rather rubbery mass of surprising deliciousness? Often the brand of choice was Libby’s; You may enjoy the blast from the past Libby’s commercial below!

Note: I should say that while I didn’t conduct a rigorous scientific survey, in chatting to other North Americans over the years, Pumpkin Pie seems to top the list of what we miss most when we spend Thanksgiving in Ireland 🙂

 

 

[youtube_sc url=”https://youtu.be/_fivBoHfgEs” title=”vintage%20Libby%27s%20Libby%27s%20Libby%27s%20ad%20″]

Fallon & Byrne in Dublin carry Libby’s canned pumpkin in their shop; I know that  supplies sell out fairly sharpish in many places, and F & B is no exception. Perhaps just give Fallon & Byrne a buzz to check stock levels before you make a special trip. Of course just eating there in their tasty restaurant is a grand consolation if you find the pumpkin pie cans are all gone! Tel. 01 4721010 (choose 1 for the office) Open Mon to Fri 8am- 9pm,  Sat 9am- 9pm, Sun 11am- 7pm Location: 11-17 Exchequer St, Dublin 2

I’ve seen canned pumpkin occasionally in Aldi or Lidl– it must have been during one of their special ‘American’ promotions (Hotdogs in liquid stuffed a jar, anyone? Umm, how is that even a thing? Did I miss this during my 30 years in the States?) If I were you, I’d keep my eyes peeled over the coming weeks in case these guys put canned pumpkin on their shelves again.

You can order Libby’s canned pumpkin online at americanfood.ie where it costs €3.45 a can. They also have some shop stocklists; here’s the list from their website:

Call before you go to make sure they have what you are looking for!

The Food Centre (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

Unit 1

Cleveragh Business Park (beside Doorly Park)

Sligo

Ph: 071-91-74077

Web: www.thefoodcentre.com

**********

The Food Centre (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

Unit 12

Hills Industrial Estate

Lucan

Ph: 01-601-0952

Web: www.thefoodcentre.com

**********

FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

1-4 Lower Camden Street

Dublin 2

Ph: 01-475-8033/8036

Web: www.freshthegoodfoodmarket.ie

**********

FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery, Drinks, Sweets, Snacks)

Unit 4, Block 1

Grand Canal Square (near the Bord Gais Energy Theatre)

Dublin 2

Ph: 01-671-8004

Web: www.freshthegoodfoodmarket.ie

**********

FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery,Drinks, Sweets, Snacks)

IFSC

Unit 2

Mayor Street

Dublin 2

Web: www.freshthegoodfoodmarket.ie

Ph: 01-672-0977

**********

FRESH, The Good Food Market (Grocery,Drinks, Sweets, Snacks)

Smithfield

Dublin 7

Ph:01-485-0271

Web: www.freshthegoodfoodmarket.ie

***********

Gleesons of Booterstown (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

44 Booterstown Avenue (accross from the Booterstown Church)

Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Ph: 01-288-0236

Web: www.gleesons.ie

**********

Londis (Drinks, Sweets)

Foxrock Avenue

Foxrock, Dublin 18

Ph: 01-289-4777

**********

McAteers, The Food House (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

15 Clanbrassil Street

Dundalk, Co. Louth

Ph: 042-932-6420

Web: www.mcateersthefoodhouse.com

**********

Super Valu (Rushe’s) (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

37 Castle Street

Dalkey, Co. Dublin

Ph: 01-285-9477

Web: https://www.facebook.com/eurospardalkey

**********
Sweeties (Grocery, Drinks, Snacks, Sweets)

56 Henry Street

Kilrush

Co. Clare

Ph: 085-732-8759
Web: https://www.facebook.com/sweetieskilrush/timeline

Fun! And how to make your own pumpkin pie- can or no can

A fun read with a great recipe for pumpkin pie is US expat Imen McDonald’s account of her first Thanksgiving in Ireland. Well! I find some of those reactions to the pumpkin pie almost sacrilegious 😉

Mouthwatering Recipes from ex-pats in Ireland

Thanksgiving can be a bit of a puzzle in regards to vegetarian eating; what main dish can you serve that is special, filling, and delicious? I think this gorgeous dish from Canadian ex-pat Janine may even tempt the meat eaters away from the turkey. (Note: Canadian’s have their Thanksgiving the second Monday in October.) Butternut Squash, Sage, and Buffalo Mozzarella, let’s be having you! The recipe is here on Cooking With Craic; do check it out & her other recipes too!

MY TIP: you can now get Irish made buffalo mozzarella. As well as online and at cheesemongers’, I’ve also purchased it at Aldi, for €1.99. Yum! 

Irish Buffalo Mozzerella - I got this at Aldi for 1.99

Irish Buffalo Mozzarella – I got this at Aldi for 1.99

Janine says:

Here’s a vegetarian lasagna recipe made with béchamel, butternut squash, sage and buffalo mozzarella. It’s not entirely diet-friendly, but we’re thinking of it as one of our final, creamy indulgences before our diet begins on Monday. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

I’m sure we will!

If you’d like to add a classic Irish flair to your Thanksgiving spread, why not try some easy Irish soda bread? Dee has added a few nutty bits to this, and pumpkin seed (sensing a theme?) but you can omit them if you’d like. Dee says:

Irish Soda Bread Recipe -GreensideUp

Irish Soda Bread Recipe -GreensideUp

I don’t recall eating soda bread in the UK, but soon discovered how tasty it is with a chunk of cheese or a bowl of soup when we moved to Ireland; as a result of Colette’s recipe I also learnt that it’s incredibly easy to make. There’s no kneading or waiting for the bread to rise, just throw all the ingredients in a bowl, transfer to a loaf tin, pop in the oven and it’s done. The traditional Irish bread soda recipe contains just four ingredients – flour, salt, buttermilk and bread soda but a few more bits and pieces have been added to this Irish Soda Bread recipe.

Dee grows masses of vegetables in her Irish garden as well as teaching others about vegetable gardening, and she’s great recipes for pumpkin rice and for pumpkin soup.

I also enjoyed this Instagram photo shared on Twitter by @Alanazdinak 😀 Now that’s a quick and easy Thanksgiving dinner!

No need to go home for Thanksgiving. All sorted now! #Merica #dublin2015

A photo posted by AlanaZ (@alanazdinak) on

For something more substantial, why not try Thanksgiving Dinner in Waterford’s wonderful La Boheme? They tell me that:

Our chefs have created a sumptuous feast of traditional Thanksgiving fare. Eric and Christine lived in the States when they met, and when they moved to Europe, they missed this traditional feast and therefore decided to offer the menu in La Boheme every Thanksgiving. Its a hugely popular day and menu in La Boheme, with many patrons traveling from far and wide to participate in the day, so reservations are appreciated. 

Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in Ireland at La Boheme

Enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in Ireland at La Boheme

A tasty and easy way to celebrate Thanksgiving in Ireland! La Boheme’s Thanksgiving dinner is €29.95 pp, and runs Thanksgiving evening only. You can check out their Turkey Day menu here.

 

Where else can you eat Thanksgiving dinner out in Ireland?

Well, I’ve gotten some tips via social media. — Over on the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page, Linda Fulton Burke says:  Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney has a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Their website is here: www.gleneaglehotel.com   Twitter supplied an idea for the Eastern side of the country, in Drogheda, county Louth:   

@Eseaboard is Eastern Seafood Bar & Grill, and they have served Thanksgiving dinner for the past 7 years. Give them a shout on their Facebook Page to find out the details for this Thanksgiving. You can get their Brown Hound Bakery pumpkin pie in Dublin, too:  

PIE LOVERS UNITE! #pumpkinpie Brown Hound Bakery Ireland for #Thanksgiving 26.11.15 also available for collection in DUBLIN from The Garden Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, D2 (1pm – 3pm) pre-orders only!

Posted by Brown Hound Bakery Ireland on Thursday, 12 November 2015

Thanksgiving at the Ulster American Folk Park

It could be very interesting for North American visitors to see what they think of the Thanksgiving reenactment at the Ulster American Folk park in Northern Ireland. I’d be quite curious to see this myself, especially as it is based around a family in western Pennsylvania; where the majority of my own family immigrated to from Ireland. You’ll also get to sample some of the Thanksgiving food, including pumpkin pie. I wonder will it be as good as my granny’s? 😀

At the Ulster American Folk Park you can join the Partridge family for Thanksgiving as they prepare the turkey and anxiously await the return of their only son Joseph, an infantryman in the Union Army.

Costumed guides re-enacting a 1800s Thanksgiving at the Ulster American Folk ParkThe American Thanksgiving is an occasion for Americans to remember those from the Old World who first settled on its shores, consider the uncertain future of the pilgrims who faced many a hardship and to pay tribute to the Native Americans who greeted the first European newcomers.

At the Ulster American Folk Park you will be able to immerse yourself in living history to experience this grand tradition first hand. You will have the opportunity to sample the flavour of a Western Pennsylvania rural Thanksgiving in November of 1863, which was the year of the first national day of Thanksgiving.

Costumed guides from the museum will re-enact a Thanksgiving Day from the 1800s. You will have the opportunity to sample some seasonal dishes such as Succotash, Pumpkin Pie and Butternut Squash.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 – in Ireland or elsewhere!


October is a terrific month to be in Ireland! SO many festivals!

And I don’t just mean the fantastic Halloween festivals, there are many, many others. I made a podcast to tell you about some of my Top Picks for October in Ireland, but in the few days after I became aware of a few more I’d like to mention. So, read on & then have a listen to the others on the podcast. Enjoy your October in Ireland 😀

Cloughtoberfest Gypsy Jazz & Swing

Gypsy Jazz Cloughtoberfest by Eoin Campbell at justmultimedia https://instagram.com/justmultimedia/

Gypsy Jazz Cloughtoberfest by Eoin Campbell at justmultimedia 

Cloughtoberfest is Ireland’s annual festival of “Hot Club” Gypsy Jazz and Swing celebrating the legacy of Django Reinhardt. It takes place in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary, and the combination of the cosy village setting with a host of lively international musicians makes for quite a unique atmosphere!
This year, the festival is celebrating its 5th anniversary by extending the festival for an extra day… which means even more amazing, uplifting music, workshops and free fringe events right through the October Bank Holiday weekend. Concerts are all held in the intimate setting of Cloughjordan House, bringing together some of the world’s finest guitarists… and if you play yourself, you might just be invited onto the stage! After the concerts there are legendary jam sessions going on into the wee small hours, where you get to play right alongside the festival stars.
All-Stars invite the audience onto the stage at Cloughtoberfest 2013 (c) by Patrick Bridgeman at Best Self

All-Stars invite the audience onto the stage at Cloughtoberfest 2013 (c) by Patrick Bridgeman at Best Self

There’s lots more music to enjoy at “Trad Manouche” sessions all around town where Gypsy Jazz meets local Trad, “Devlesa”, a gypsy campfire BBQ, or you can brush up your guitar or violin skills at a music masterclass with one of the headline performers. The fringe programme also includes swing dance, film shows and much more to keep you busy. With a great selection of fine Irish foods and craft beers to keep up your strength, this weekend is the perfect autumn pick-you-up to keep you swingin’ right through the winter!

This will be the final outing for this quirky festival, so make sure you don’t miss out.  Full details, ticket bookings etc. can be found atwww.cloughtoberfest.com

My podcast is below, and underneath that is a quick listing of even more October festivals in Ireland

Top Tips for October Events in Ireland

The Belfast International Arts Festival 9 October to 1 November 2015

Cuisle: Limerick City International Poetry Festival 14 October to 18 October 2015

The Waterford Festival of Architecture  13- 18 October 2015 (check out the interesting guided walks!)

The Imagine Arts Festival in Waterford, 15 October to 25 October 2015

The Cork Jazz Festival 22 October to 26 October 2015

Links for festivals mentioned in the podcast:

Savour Kilkenny

The Burren Winterage Weekend

Wexford Fringe Festival

Many Halloween Festivals can be found here

Spirits of Meath

What will you do this October in Ireland?

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

Halloween House Party:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only €30pp

>> BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW <<

pumpkin-like halloween in ireland sunset

A ‘ Halloween pumpkin ‘ sunset!

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

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

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

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

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

Virginia Pumpkin Festival

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

Irish Halloween Favorite! Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Halloween Favorite! Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Virginia Pumpkin Festival

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

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

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

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

Details and more info at www.pumpkinfestival.ie

Halloween in Ireland: Huntington Castle Ireland

Huntington Castle has a fab, fun Halloween tour

Castles are perfect for ghost hunting and Halloween in Ireland!

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

See www.huntingtoncastle.com 

 

Halloween at Birr Castle Ireland

Halloween at Birr Castle Ireland

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

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

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

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

Click to see more on the Birr Castle Halloween events.

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

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

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

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

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

More info: shankillcastle.com/scarefest2015/  

Too Scary? How about a gentle Halloween Spooktacular?

HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR 2015

Friday 23rd October – Sunday 1st November

Limerick Spooktacular viaHalloween events Ireland halloweenspooktacular.ie

Limerick Spooktacular via halloweenspooktacular.ie

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

Vintage Carnival

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

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

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

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

Find out more at: halloweenspooktacular.ie

More Children’s Fun at Halloween!

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

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


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

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

Picture


DRACULA’S DUBLIN!

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

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

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

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

Dragon of Shandon 2015; Halloween in Ireland

Dragon of Shandon 2015; Halloween in Ireland

 

DRAGONS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[youtube_sc url=”https://youtu.be/exIX94oDUbQ” title=”The%20dragon%20Of%20Shandon”]

Treats for Adults! Halloween Food Tour

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

Halloween Food Tour – Friday 30th October 2015 10.30am

Location: Belfast City Centre at 10.30am

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think a trip to Meath is in order!

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

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

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

 


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 artintheopen.org

 

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.”

Website: birrvintageweek.com

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: feaklefestival.ie

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. terryglassartsfestival.ie

 

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 www.discoverdunmore.com.

For ticket information and bookings for The Claire Lynch band, email bluegrass@eircom.net 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 🙂


Does Santa fly along the Christmas Eve Northern Lights to Ireland

Does Santa fly along the Christmas Eve Northern Lights to Ireland

Christmas time is magical in Ireland, and in the wee hours of Christmas Eve Northern Lights lit up the sky in the North & northwest; here are photos.

Meanwhile in the southeast of Ireland, in county Kilkenny lambs were being born, and 3 Wise Women followed the light in the sky, hoping to see the gift of Peace unfold in a stable, even between the great hurling rivals of Kilkenny and Tipperary. See the video below 🙂

PS :  there is a giant gap before you will get to the video. Please just scroll down, as I can’t seem to fix that. Thank you! HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!

 

As well as the first lambs being born, county Kilkenny was an exciting place to be as Kilkenny.com filmed 3 Wise Women as they came to the end of their long journey… [youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/rqM7j3D139M” title=”Kilkenny%20Christmas%20video%202014″]

Titanic Belfast Christmas funHave a Titanic amount of Christmas Fun!

Speaking from experience, visiting the Titanic Quarter in Belfast can really bring out the happy child in you!

Terry and I were perhaps hard-sell customers, because neither of us is ‘into’ the history of the Titanic, nor did we like the movie– but we loved Belfast’s Titanic Museum! From the stunning iceberg-like building itself, to the top class, totally absorbing and interactive way that the history was made to come alive inside, we were hooked! Add in the yummy Afternoon Tea, and having the craic on the Segway tour of the Titanic Quarter, and a visit here is firmly on my Recommended list! Be sure to check out the video of our September Titanic visit at the bottom of this article 🙂

December is a super time to go! Titanic Belfast has fab events on for Christmas and New Year, starting with:

 Titanic’s Christmas Experience

Fun times! Make decorations, play timeless street games, enjoy classic stories, write your Father Christmas letter and visit him in his Old Curiosity Shop where he will check your name off the ‘Naughty or Nice List’

Old fashioned Christmas fun at Titanic belfast

Children’s under 13 ticket  includes:

Gingerbread Man Cookie

Storytelling

Arts & Crafts

Traditional Games (such as quoits)

Father Christmas Letter Writing

‘Naughty or Nice’ list stop, before entering the Old Curiosity Shop

Individual photo with Father Christmas (and print)

Father Christmas Gift and Candy Cane

Exclusive Titanic Belfast Activity Book

Adults, you can enjoy a mug of mulled wine, or tea, or coffee, and a mince pie.

Ticket Prices: Children £15 / Adults £4
Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 22nd Nov – 14th December.
Open daily from Monday 15th December – Tuesday 23rd December.

Book your place at the Titanic Christmas experience here.

Festive holiday season Sunday afternoon tea in Titanic’s Ballroom

The joy of a leisurely Afternoon Tea is something Terry and I’ve gotten charmed by over the past couple of years. And Sunday is a perfect day for Afternoon Tea; it’s a day that just lends itself to gentle relaxing, chatting, and enjoying nibbles & sips.

Afternoon tea at Titanic Belfast

Afternoon tea at Titanic Belfast

Terry is unbeaten for being able to eat lots of mini sandwiches and still have room for a desert or three, but the Afternoon Tea we had at Titanic Belfast defeated even him– it was so full of filling goodies! There was a plate of little sambos in addition to the 3 tiers of the goodies stan– check out the video and our full happy faces 😀 We had some great laughs with the friendly staff there– in fact the friendly people of Belfast are one of the things that make visiting so special. (See more on the fab folk of Belfast here.)

Afternoon Tea is offered at the Titanic every Sunday (do book) and they have a special Christmas Afternoon Tea menu on for the holidays:

vintage christmas Mini Mince Pies Brandy Cream
Red Currant & Nutmeg Custard Tartlet
Pecan & Tiramisu Éclair
Cranberry & White Chocolate Butter Cream Cup Cake
Yule log

Mrs Beaton’s Sherry Trifle
EggNog Syllabub

Thick Sliced Irish Cheddar and Fruity Tomato Chutney
Baked Irish Ham & Wholegrain Mustard
Irish Smoked Salmon with Lemon Pepper Butter
Topside of Beef with Horseradish Cream & Diced Spring Onion
Free Range Egg, Tomato, Mayonnaise & Baby Mustard Cress

Freshly Baked Raisin and Plain Scones with Chestnut Cream and Strawberry Preserve

Titanic Christmas Cake
Treacle Ginger Bread

The Titanic’s Christmas afternoon tea will be on Sunday 14th Dec, Sunday 21st Dec, AND Thursday 1st January 2015

You can book in for the Christmas afternoon tea at Titanic here.

See New Year’s in with style at Titanic Belfast’s White Star ball!

Why not treat yourself and/or a loved one to New Year’s Eve at the Titanic’s Ball? This would be a spectacular gift for someone who is a Titanic history and/or movie fan! The Ball starts at 7.30pm with a welcome drink, and there will be a live band, 5 course meal, piper at midnight, and then a DJ. Dress up and boogie down– with no threat of capsizing! Check out the menu:

Amuse Bouche
Roast celeriac & pear soup with grilled stilton crostini

Starter
Smoked duck & squab terrine, spiced plum compote, apple and hazelnut salad, toasted sourdough

Main course
Maurice Kettyle dry aged pointend steak, truffle watercress tartlet, chard onion cauliflower and potato gratin, tarragon jus

Dessert
Gâteau St Honoré with pistachio pastry cream, raspberry caramel

The New Year’s Eve Titanic Ball costs £75 per person, and you can book here.

For complete information on visiting Titanic Belfast, do explore their website, and don’t miss their special combo tickets and discount times.

[youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/yAuDw5Khpm0″ title=”Titanic%20Belfast-%20fun!”]

See why so many Belfast-folk say Culture Night (in September) is the best night of the year in Belfast.

We were kindly hosted by the Northern Ireland Tourist board during our re-visit to Belfast in September for Culture Night weekend. We experienced lots of fab events, places such as the Titanic museum, and activities like the segway tour. Over the 2 weekends Terry & I have spent in Belfast we have become huge fans of this vibrant & friendly city– of which we were at first wary due to the news reports of the past… Now it is one of our favorite places to have a city break, and we both recommend it to our family, friends, and you! 😀

To see just of some of what’s coming up in Northern Ireland in March 2015, have a look here.

Enjoy YOUR Titanic Belfast visit- at Christmas or anytime!