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

All posts in Northern Ireland

weather bomb Ireland - on its way

weather bomb Ireland – on its way

What in the world is a Weather Bomb, and how is it hitting Ireland?

I’ve curated some photos of this storm, shared from around Ireland, and I’ll attempt to explain what this weather bomb Ireland / severe weather phenomenon is!

Actually, I’ve used Dictonary.com to help me explain! A weather bomb is technically known as explosive cyclogenesis; a low pressure system or depression “in which the central barometric pressure drops at least 24 millibars in 24 hours, which can produce hurricane-force winds with very heavy rainfall or snow.” Though so far here it’s not been snowy or even overly rainy, the wind and waves are quite high. The Northern parts of Ireland are getting the worst of it, and here are the photos: 

PS: if you’ve pictures of this Weather Bomb Ireland you’d like added, tweet them to me!

To see more dramatic photos of Ireland’s stormy weather, check out these from storm Christine!

For photos of a storm of a different sort, see these of the beautiful Northern Lights in Ireland!

More photos of Irish weather; sunrises, sunsets, and Northern Lights– see here.


Dublin St Patricks Day Parade via stpatricksfestival.ie

Dublin St Patricks Day Parade via stpatricksfestival.ie

What can I do in Ireland in MARCH?

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

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

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

March in the Irish Countryside

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

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

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

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

[youtube_sc url=”http://youtu.be/5-Mu6bAKxzo?t=16s” title=”Dingle%20International%20film%20festival”]

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate St Patrick and Northern Ireland

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

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

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

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


frosty Lusty Beg Christmas, Fermanagh; boat on lake by frosty trees and cottage

A frosty Lusty Beg Christmas, Fermanagh

Ok, it’s time to stop freezing up and ignoring the C-word.

I mean, really, we can’t keep postponing sitting down & dealing with it; as I write this it is 6 weeks til Christmas. You may have a party to plan. You want everyone to enjoy it, women and men both. Well, I have a brilliant tip for you– I got a bit Lusty a few months ago and I totally recommend it for both sexes– Lusty Beg Christmas!

You see, sometimes when you head to a secluded, special resort like Lusty Beg, the gals are loving the gentle massages &  relaxation they can receive in the spa, the lakeside walks and the hot tub & pool, but the guys can be, well, a bit bored. The fellas want a bit more action; 4×4 off roading, boating, clay pigeon shooting and such. And you know what? At Lusty Beg, they get it! 😀 Now, I’m just being a bit silly here, because truthfully when I visited Lusty Beg we women enjoyed just as much action as the men, and I don’t think the men hated the relaxation aspects either. My point is, on this ace island in the Fermanagh Lakelands there is indeed something for everyone.

archery at Lusty Beg in Fermanagh; woman archer

Robin Hood has nothing on this fabulous Maid Marion! Archery at Lusty Beg in Fermanagh!

The food, wine, and cocktails we had were delicious, our room lovely and comfortable, the staff super helpful and friendly. (See my photo of our twin room below) I was quite impressed. I had driven up to the ferry that brings you to Lusty Beg (5 minutes crossing) when I had a visit to Fermanagh in March, and I was quite curious about Lusty. So, when I was invited as part of a press trip in September to spend a night & 2 days trying out what Lusty Beg had to offer, I went with my friend Dee. I’ll be writing an article about our spa experience & more next week, but I’ve just received information on Lusty’s Christmas Party packages & I’d like to pass it on. Having been myself, I think that it is really great value for what you get. Have a look:

It’s that time of year again…time to start racking your brains for a venue for the annual Christmas party.  But this year why not take the hassle out of the Christmas bash and give your guests what they really want – their own island paradise, for one night only, on Co Fermanagh’s fabulous Lusty Beg Island.

Lusty Beg is Ireland’s best kept secret venue, a luxurious island resort nestled in the heart of scenic Northern Ireland.  Famed for its incredible natural beauty, mouth-watering food, indulgent spa and the non-stop craic in our cosy Thatch Bar, it’s the perfect place to get away from it all and let your hair down in the run-up to the hectic festive season.

The Thatch pub Lusty Beg, Fermanagh. thatched cottage

We got cozy in the Thatch pub Lusty Beg, Fermanagh

Our Christmas party package includes a delicious four course meal, live music from Paddy Shannon, one night’s accommodation and a hearty Irish breakfast to set you right the next morning.  With tasty roast beef, festive turkey and exotic red snapper on the menu, you’re bound to find something to tickle your fancy.  Prices start at just £40 per person sharing, or £50 for single occupancy.

Only on Lusty Beg Island can you blow away the cobwebs the morning after the night before with onsite activities such as clay pigeon shooting, archery or off-roading, or just enjoy a scenic stroll around the island and take in the sights.  If rest and relaxation are more your thing why not spend the day recuperating in the Island Spa, availing of our wide variety of treatments including seaweed baths, luxury facials and massages?

We hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you to Lusty Beg during the festive season. To book, call 028686 33300 or email info@lustybegisland.com

Here are a few more photos from our stay at Lusty Beg; our twin room was a perfect size, and we both slept like logs. (Double room & couples spa bath pics courtesy Lusty Beg.) Let me know if YOU have a Lusty Beg Christmas 😀

If you’d like to check out Lusty Beg yourself, head over to their website, lustybegisland.com and if you’d like to see more about Fermanagh’s Enniskillen Castle, and a place to stay in Enniskillen Town, I’ve an article in that link. 


Belfast fun events- having fun

Belfast is great fun!

Belfast is buzzing with events!

We LOVE Belfast, and though it’s under many people’s radar at the minute, that won’t last for long. Visit now and enjoy some fab Belfast events in October.

I’m confident you’ll enjoy a trip to Belfast at any time, but when there is a festival or event on (which is nearly always!) this just adds to your enjoyment. Terry & I’ve spent 2 weekends there this year, and even though we’ve done loads, there are still some Belfast attractions we haven’t yet seen. Crumlin Road Gaol is one still on our list, and it sounds like Oct 16 – 19 2014 is the time to go—IF YOU ARE BRAVE ENOUGH 😀

Crumlin Gaol Paranormal Tours: Halloween Special

Crumlin Road Gaol has been interconnected with Paranormal Activity since it closed its doors in 1996. There have been sightings, noises and unexplained happenings within the walls that have seen 17 men executed over its 150 year history.

This special edition 60 minute tour will take you to the various hot spots of the Gaol where Paranormal Activity has been reported and the guide will tell you off the harrowing stories associated with these areas. The places you will be taken include the condemned man’s cell, execution chamber, the tunnel and the flogging room. Paranormal Tours are carried out in low light conditions and are not for the faint hearted.

You must book ahead for these Halloween tours; times and more information can be found here.

From Bolshoi to Belfast on at Crumlin Gaol; costumesWhile you are at the Gaol,  you may like to check out From Bolshoi to Belfast – The Theatre of Costume, running 17 October to 13 December. It sounds quite interesting: ” The globally recognised Bolshoi has come together with the Russian Museum of Ethnography to curate a show that tells the story of how the traditional costumes of the people are reimaged in the famous 20th century ballet and opera designs. Combining costumes never seen before outside Russia with designs that have been showcased in the fashion capitals of Europe, this exhibition has been created especially for Belfast as part of UK Russia Year of Culture.” You can find out more, and book the £5 ticket online here.

Even if you are too faint-hearted for the Paranormal Tour, on Halloween itself the Metro Monster Mash down on the Titanic Slipways should be good fun. It runs from 5.30-8.30pm on 31 October, and if you haven’t been to the truly fascinating Titanic Museum yet, do go earlier in the day & visit! Even if you aren’t normally into museums or the Titanic you will be impressed! Another tip is to book yourself in for a Segway tour of the area with SegwayNI.

Segway selfie, Belfast Northern Ireland

Segway selfie, Belfast Northern Ireland

Terry & I had the best craic on our Segways! They are a bit weird to ‘drive’ at first, because this is done by body weight & not via the handles, but after the first 15 minutes or so you’ll be zipping around no bother. I wonder if my Segway Selfie would qualify for the ‘Spooky Selfie’ contest mentioned below 😉

 Metro Monster Mash, Belfast’s Titanic Quarter

Come along for the a spooktacular Halloween evening of haunting street theatre, fire jugglers, music and the largest fireworks display in Northern Ireland!

The annual spectacle gets underway at The Slipways, Titanic Belfast with haunting street theatre featuring fire and glow performers, children’s rides and a performance by local band Peach on stage with Cool FM’s Pete Snodden and the Cool crew. The event will close with one of the biggest fireworks displays in Northern Ireland.

A free Metro Ghostbus will be operating to The Slipways leaving Chichester Street in the city centre at regular intervals from 5.15pm-8pm with return journeys until 9pm from Queen’s Road in the Titanic Quarter.

This year, the council is holding a special #spookyselfie campaign in the run up to the event where people can send in their ‘spooky selfies’ via the council’s Facebook and Twitter pages to be in with the chance to win a prize on the night as the audience vote for the spookiest photo. Deadline for entries is Monday 27 October.

Craving a good dollop of culture? Then the Belfast Festival at Queens on from 16 October – 1 November is for you! There looks to be an intriguing programme of works on offer. I know from our visit during Culture Night (amazing fun!) that Belfast folk enjoy culture of all varieties, and if you are a culture vulture like me, I recommend you keep your calendar open for Belfast cultural events. See the Special Short Breaks Offer on for the Belfast Festival here.

The Belfast Festival at Queen’s, 2014

The Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s presents great and diverse works of art from home and abroad, bringing audiences something very special that they cannot see elsewhere, all combining to deliver one unique festival which runs throughout the city from 16 October – 1 November. The 2014 festival features performers from 18 different countries covering classical and contemporary music, film, dance, theatre, talks and visual arts, many of which are EU, UK and Ireland premieres.

For the full programme go to belfastfestival.com

[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNV3KZUwwwM” title=”Belfast%20Festival%202014″]

The MAC is a beautiful contemporary building you won’t forget in a hurry, especially if you lose your partner in it, as I did Terry! The MAC is full of nooks & crannies, so do pick up their map when you go in 🙂 During our last Belfast visit we went to a performance as well as the art exhibitions, and it is a fantastic space for both.

photographing inside Belfast's beautiful The MAC, Northern Ireland

Terry photographing in Belfast’s beautiful The MAC, Northern Ireland

The MAC was designed by local architects Hackett Hall McKnight & has won national and international architecture awards. It is chock full of uses, with 2 theatres, 3 art galleries, the Den for learning and participation programmes, the Family Room, 4 multi-purpose spaces designed for workshops, rehearsals and conferences and dance classes; offices for 4 resident companies; an artist-in-residence studio, and a café and bar. Emm, you can see how I/Terry got lost! From 31 October 2014 through 18 Jan 2015, The MAC will be running the MAC International:

The MAC International

The MAC will host a major exhibition in October following an international art prize competition, offering professional artists worldwide the opportunity to exhibit at the MAC.

The exhibition, which will run across all three MAC galleries from 31st October 2014 until 18th January 2015, will offer visitors the very best in contemporary visual art including sculpture, painting, photography, film, installation and performance. MAC International will build on the innovative visual art practice built up by the MAC and highlighted by the Turner Prize presence in Derry-Londonderry during 2013’s City of Culture.

The MAC is open 10am to late, 364 days a year, with the galleries open from 10am to 7pm seven days a week. 

Find out more on The MAC International here.

To help you plan ahead for your Summer holiday, I want to mention here that the Tall Ships Race will be coming to Belfast 2 to 5 July 2015. Having been to see the tall ships twice in Waterford, and having seen how well Belfast puts on festivals, I reckon this will be a winner even if you aren’t totally ship-mad.

The Tall Ships Races 2015

2 Jul 2015 – 5 Jul 2015
Belfast Harbour and Titanic Quarter

Here’s a video showing a bit of what’s in store for 2015, and for more information you can also have a look at Belfast City’s site here.

[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYSPqZQts80″ title=”Tall%20ships%20Belfast%202015″]

After all this discussion of fab Belfast events in October, I’m sad (sort of) to say I won’t be able to go to any because I will be in Greece at a travel blogging conference (and soaking up some culture, food, & sun!) So if you go to Belfast or any of these events, let us know! Share your photos with us on social media, we’d love to see & share. Have a great time in Belfast!

 

Click these to see: some Belfast tips  and 3 reasons why Belfast is brilliant and a taster of what was on at Culture Night— another great time to visit Belfast. And here is the article I wrote about Belfast over on the Discover Northern Ireland site.

Terry and I were kindly hosted on our trip by the Northern Ireland tourist board, but we love Belfast simply because it is a terrific place to visit!


Lion King, Nutgrove Arts Festival

Put a little sparkle in your Autumn with these fab cultural events on in Ireland

Both North and South of the border, Autumn won’t let you long for the summer– there’s too much to enjoy right now!  (She says, about to jet off to Italy & Greece herself.) But really, I actually am sorry to miss out on these cultural events; especially the Fermanagh Living History weekend, as I’ll have just left Fermanagh’s Lusty Beg! Oh well– will you go & then share your photos with the rest of us? I promise I’ll share mine from Lusty Beg (Which is not what you may be thinking! LOL)

Have a look at what’s on in the cultural scene:

 

Nutgrove Arts Festival 2014

September 25 – October 5 2014 

Nutgrove Arts Festival is an annual celebration of community arts and culture, taking place in the unique setting of Nutgrove Shopping Centre in South County Dublin. Now in its fourth year, the festival has become an integral part of the local area’s cultural events calendar, welcoming a selection of exciting performers, musicians and dancers to take over the centre for ten days each year. The festival works as an informal and exciting medium to experience creativity in all its forms. With a variety of theatre, dance and art workshops there will be plenty to inspire creativity in the local community at any age.                           

Festival highlights include:

Rathfarnham Theatre Group presents an evening of drama and entertainment in the Calypso Café.

Students from The Independent Theatre Workshop will perform scenes and songs from The Jungle King.

All are welcome to take part in Intrepidus Stage School’s great jungle themed dance workshop, fear nothing and challenge everything while having lots of fun. They will also bring you a night of amazing, fun filled and extremely talented young people who aim to entertain you through Drama, Song and

We have an exciting selection of workshops for kids this year. Planit Party will give you a taste of their entertainments available and there will be a fun music workshop by Rainbow Music for Kids. Quaint Baby Art will facilitate a workshop of their unique art work.

The Visual Arts programme features well renowned caricaturist Niall O’Loughlin, whose work will be displayed around the centre for the duration of the festival. Artist Karen Wilson will give a painting demonstration where you can get a taste of what her workshops have to offer. Sculptor Eamonn Heffernan will display his skill in a woodcarving workshop. Artist Christien van Bussel will facilitate a pottery workshop. There will be an exhibition of artist Chris McMorrow’s popular scenes of Dublin and Ireland.

Artist Magda Toth whose workshop was extremely popular at South Fred Street Fest last year has a fruit and veg art making workshop the whole family can get involved with.

An impressive contemporary Music programme featuring Kevin Kerdoc Murphy, Ian James White, Liz Ryan, Lynda Lucas and Melina Malone. Community choir Corús return for another uplifting and inspiring performance.

As part of the Trad for Trocaire week we will have musicians playing traditional Irish music.

Here’s a video preview of the Nutgrove Arts Festival:

[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcnp9Tkg9VA&list=UU6le1bd9siA4WcR78HuTGvA” title=”Nutgrove%20arts%20festival%202014″]

Next up is a really cool weekend where Fermanagh’s visitor attractions such as Belleek Pottery, Enniskillen Castle, and the stunning Marble Arch Caves come to life. I was at several of these places during the Fermanagh open weekend in March, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Fermanagh is a fantastic county, and there is lots to explore there in addition to any cultural events.

Fermanagh Living History Weekend

Friday 26th – Sunday 28th September.

Meet Arabella as you tour Ireland’s oldest pottery, Belleek Pottery; enjoy Mrs Bridges’ 1900’s cooking as you dine with the servants at Orchard Acre Farm; meet the man who first explored the Marble Arch Caves in 1895, Mr Edouard Martel; explore the traditions of mumming at Aughakillymaude Mummers Centre; enjoy a street performance by the Wartime Living History Association in association with Headhunters Railway Museum, as American GI’s say goodbye and head to war; explore the food, dress and traditions of Enniskillen Castle in medieval times; enlist as Army Personnel recruit at Inniskillings Museum; step back in time to the 1920’s at Florence Court and finally, enjoy a re-enactment of the Children of Lir at the Garden of Celtic Saints. Bring family and friends and learn a thing or two about Fermanagh’s historical past.
With something for everyone it’s sure to be a great weekend for all.

Download the Brochure

Back to Dublin and at the Copper House Gallery you’ll find an Arctic photography exhibit by Daragh Muldowney will be showing. As a huge fan of all things ice & snow, I think this certainly sounds worth a visit!

 

Out Of Thin Air

1 October – 7 November

Out Of Thin Air  by Daragh Muldowney

Out Of Thin Air by Daragh Muldowney

 

The last of the fab 4 cultural events runs both North and South. Neither Either is a collaboration between the Dublin based Liz Roche Company, and the Belfast based Maiden Voyage Dance. Excitingly, they’ll be touring across the whole island, so you may be able to catch them near you. I’ve really enjoyed some of Liz Roche Company’s past work, and I hope next time they will come to Kilkenny, too. (All venue listings at bottom.)

 

Neither Either

29th October – 27th November 2014

 

Neither Either“…the strain of being in two places at once, of needing to accommodate two opposing conditions of truthfulness simultaneously…” Seamus Heaney

 

Two dance companies, one from Belfast and one from Dublin, come together to perform a new dance work that looks at the predicament of living out two conflicting states of mind at once.

 

Neither Either brings together an exciting group of creative artists and stunning dancers who will be performing the length of the island, from Enniskillen to Tralee, and taking in Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s and Project Arts Centre Dublin throughout October and November.

Choreographed by Liz Roche and set to Neil Martin’s score, identities, beliefs, emotions and aspirations are put to the test in this poignant blend of dance, poetry and music.

At the crux of this piece are issues of conflicting identities, habits within oneself, adapting to change and drawing distinctions inspired by Seamus Heaney’s quote “…the strain of being in two places at once, of needing to accommodate two opposing conditions of truthfulness simultaneously…” from his prose work “Place and Displacement” from the collection Finders Keepers.

Nicola Curry from Maiden Voyage Dance says, “Teaming with Liz Roche Company on this project felt right immediately not just because of our companies’ shared history but because Liz Roche is a choreographer whose detailed and fluid work is as articulate as the words from Heaney’s pen. It has also been a great pleasure to introduce Liz to new collaborators including Neil Martin who will produce the score and to Ciaran Bagnall, set and lighting designer. Audiences are to expect an evening rich in movement and music, bathed in sumptuous lighting, set in a stunning design and all of it inspired by the writing of Seamus Heaney.”

“This piece is a real ‘first time’ artistic situation for me,” says Liz. “It’s my first time collaborating with Neil Martin, Ciaran Bagnall and Louise Lowe and with the Maiden Voyage dancers Vasiliki Stasinaki and David Ogle. What Liz Roche Company brings to this co-production are the wonderful dancers Katherine O’Malley and Philip Connaughton and the final member of the creative team Catherine Fay. I’m really excited about what we will find together. We are also really pleased to be presenting a series of talks with various artists on Heaney’s influence curated by Dr.Aoife McGrath who is a lecturer at Queen’s University, Belfast. Our panels will see the likes of poet Maedbh McGuckian, director Jimmy Fay, and composer George Higgs in discussion, among others.”

Neither Either dance eventGilly Campbell, Arts Officer for Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, says, “Neither Either is a great example of two companies from the North and South of Ireland joining creative forces to produce this outstanding new dance work where dance, music and poetry combine to captivating effect. The Arts Council is delighted to support Maiden Voyage and wish both companies every success in touring this impressive production.”

Liz Roche Company is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary dance companies. Known for its own distinctive movement and performance style, the Dublin based company presents the works of choreographer Liz Roche in collaboration with artists, dancers and designers of the highest caliber. The company has produced over twenty original productions since its establishment in 1999 and has performed throughout Ireland and in the UK, Germany, France, USA and China. www.lizrochecompany.com

Maiden Voyage Dance is Northern Ireland’s leading commissioning company for contemporary dance. This Belfast based company, founded in 2001 by Artistic Director Nicola Curry, works with a carefully curated range of national and international choreographers, composers and collaborators. The company have built a highly respected and flexible repertoire for theatre, site specific installation and public space performance and are based in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.  www.maidenvoyagedance.com

PERFORMANCE AND TICKET DETAILS:

Downstairs at the MAC, Belfast 

Wed 29 & Thurs 30 Oct @ 7:45pm Tickets £15/£12

www.themaclive.com + 44 (0)28 9023 5053

 

Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo

Tues 4 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €15/€12

www.hawkswell.com +353 (0)71 916 1518

 

Siamsa Tíre, Tralee

Thurs 6 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €16/€13

www.siamsatire.com +353 (0)66 712 3055

 

Firkin Crane Theatre, Shandon, Cork 

Sat 8 Nov at 8pm Tickets: €12/€10/€8

www.firkincrane.ie  +353 (0)21 450 7487

 

Project Arts Centre, Dublin

Wed 12 – Sat 15 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €18/€14

Preview Tues 11 Nov @ 8pm

Matinee Sat 15 Nov @ 2pm

www.projectartscentre.ie +353 (0) 881 9613

 

Ardhowen Theatre, Enniskillen

Wed 19 Nov @ 8pm Tickets £5

www.ardhowentheatre.com +44 (0)28 6632 5440

 

Market Place Theatre, Armagh

Thurs 20 Nov @ 8pm Tickets £7

www.marketplacearmagh.com +44 (0)28 3752 1821

 

ISLAND Arts Centre, Lisburn

Fri 21 Nov @ 8pm Tickets £10/£8

www.islandartscentre.com +44 (0)28 9250 9254

 

Dance Limerick Thurs 27 Nov @ 8pm Tickets €12/€10

www.dancelimerick.ie +353 (0)61 467 813

Enjoy Autumn in Ireland! There’s lots on!


Culture Night in Belfast pic via Visit Belfast
Culture Night in Belfast pic via Visit Belfast

Roller Derby? Yep!

Choral Evensong? Yep!

Family Fun? Yep!

Culture Night Belfast? YEP!

Belfast has become an exciting city for cultural events of many varieties, and Belfast Culture Night is a rainbow of choices; from calming to zingy & everything in between.

Culture Night Belfast 2014

 

Afterparties   Dance   Family   Film   Music   Street Culture  Theatre   Visual Arts   Words & Ideas   Workshops

Those event genres give you an idea of the fabulous choices on offer, and if you’re anything like Terry & me, you’ll be trying to figure out how you can twin or even quadruple yourself so you can see all you’d like. Or perhaps you’ll find you’re tempted to figure out how to grab a bit of holiday time so you can book a visit to Belfast. Never fear, though, if you can’t make it to Culture Night Belfast 2014, you can get a taster of it in a few different ways.

Muriel's, Belfast.

Muriel’s, Belfast. We had fab cocktails & eats there last visit. Bril Gin menu!

Photos galore will be shared, I’m sure– definitely so by me! I’m chuffed to tell you that on Culture Night (Sept 19 2014,) and that weekend of the 20th-21st, I’ll be live tweeting on the Discover Northern Ireland twitter account! Follow it on @DiscoverNI, and the hashtag #DiscoverNI.They are trusting me with their Twitter account even though I’m hoping to have a gin or two of Northern Ireland’s own Shortcross Gin on the night. LOL! 

During Culture Night another hashtag to keep your eye on is #cnb14. Belfast Culture Night has their own twitter account, @CultureNightBel, which should be a good one to follow, too. I’ll also be sharing over on the Vibrant Ireland Facebook page, and checking into places & sharing publicly over on my personal profile that weekend, too. Hopefully you’ll get a nice wee taster of Belfast through these channels, as well as Vibrant Ireland’s Instagram

Culture Night Events are happening all around the City (and the whole island!) but I think Terry & I will base ourselves be in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. There’s several events in the area that we don’t want to miss. Roller Derby’s one of them:

Belfast Roller Derbyroller derby

18:00 – 21:00 Every half hour at Writer’s Square

Live demonstrations of full contact roller derby. At this year’s Culture Night, The Belfast Banshees and Norn Iron Maidens will be swapping the flat track for Writer’s Square as they demonstrate how this hard-hitting, fast-paced sport, which is growing rapidly in popularity, is played. Like what you see? Why not watch the Banshees take on Limerick Roller Girls on September 20th or ask about our upcoming recruitment session in October!

Dancing, and a good natured competition of a less bruising nature, is also on in Writer’s Square; Boys v Girls will do their dancing thing via Swing Belfast from 8-8.30 pm. You’ll see them ”lindy hop, triple step and strut their way through this dance off, in a flurry of polka dots, petticoats and dapper chap braces.” And you won’t be left out, because after the dance off, Swing Belfast will be teaching everybody a fun & easy Charleston. Bring the kids & give it a go!

A bit less physical is the Poetry With Personality(ies) over at the MAC. From 4pm to 10pm there will be readings on the hour and half hour, and they sound quite interesting!

poetry quotePoetry With Personality(ies)

Pop in, join in & be surprised by our readers & the poems they love. Be part of a project that promotes reading for pleasure and connecting with people in a new way. Poetry readings on the hour and half hour – brought to you by Reading Rooms, a programme of shared reading based at the Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts in partnership with the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry. Readers include Anna Lo, Hong Kong-born NI politician; Tony Dunlop, boxing coach, Kronk Boxing Gym; Linda Ervine, Irish language development officer in East Belfast; Jo Egan, playwright; Katy Radford, Senior Researcher, Institute for Conflict Research; plus musicians and sports people.

Another event which all ages can participate in is Growing, Preparing, Sharing seed bombing with Root Soup over at Cathedral Gardens. There is so much on that is interactive as well as things to watch/hear; I am very impressed with the Belfast Culture Night line up.

seed-bomb-growing via thinkgeekGrowing, Preparing, Sharing

by Root Soup

17:00 – 22:00 Seed Bomb Sessions every half hour

Interactive field-2-fork activities & seed bombs! Help us to plant the crop that will become our soup, then roll up your sleeves and get your hands mucky with our interactive seed bomb workshops. Hop on our blender bike and help us to blitz some of our famous, ethical and locally produced soup! Buy some ‘Suspended Soup’ and help someone more needy than you…

I can’t quite get my head around some of the events on offer. Like, what in the world is a Slow Bicycle Race? We’ll have to go see for ourselves! UPDATE: I came across this tweet from @TheFredFestival- organizers of the SLOW BIKE RACE:
“sign-on 6.15pm
4 bikes per race
RND 1: 4 races. 2 slowest go into:
SF: 2 races. 2 slowest go into to final.
F: 1st takes all!” 😀
A bicycle thing I can understand though, is a bike tour, and this next one sounds very tempting. And you know, all these events are FREE, so take up these great opportunities if you can! This twilight bike tour  leaves from St Anne’s Square at 5pm.

Belfast twilight nighttime cityscape

Belfast twilight cityscape

Magical Mystery Twilight Cycle Tour

by Belfast City Bike Tours 17:00 – 20:00

A twilight tour which gets to places others can’t! A guided magical mystery Belfast cycle tour – includes twilight bike-lit river crossing, spectral alleyways and mysterious venues with Belfast tapas enroute – all at a leisurely pace on our comfy City Cruiser bikes with Intelligent Sensor Technology and cool and quirky co-riders.

Culture Night in Belfast generally starts at 4pm on 19 September 2014, and there are around 100 different events. By the way, the calming Choral Evensong I mentioned at the beginning is on at 5.30 -6.10pm in St Anne’s Cathedral. You gotta love the contrast with the boisterous Roller Derby! We’ve only been to Belfast the once, but this is an example of what we loved about it; the mix of things, and the way this mix is becoming a very interesting and more harmonious whole. The people we met during our visit had in common a welcoming friendliness and a love of their city & the great strides it has made. They made us smile and laugh, and yes, they did make us fall in love with Belfast– even though we didn’t really expect to.

Belfast city hall at night

Belfast city hall– extra beautiful at night!

After our first Belfast trip in May, Terry & I hoped to visit again on our own steam this Autumn. (The first trip was courtesy of the NITB as part of filming the Belfast videos we featured in.) The problem was choosing when, as so many fantastic events were on in the Autumn, like The Belfast Festival 16 oct- 1 Nov, and the Belly Laughs Belfast Comedy Fest 25 Sept- 5 Oct. Luckily, it turns out we didn’t have to thrash out what dates to choose, as NITB (that’s the Discover Northern Ireland crowd– Northern Irish Tourist Board) contacted us asking if we’d like to return for Culture Night weekend. OF COURSE WE WOULD!

What I’m going to say next may come back to bite me, but… Terry & I both rather prefer Belfast over Dublin. I think this is because Belfast is a smaller City, and just as friendly as Dublin, but perhaps Belfast is a bit more exciting to us as visitors. Plus, 15s!!! Who wouldn’t adore Belfast after eating one of their signature tasty and so-decadent treats. I’ll be sure to photo some for you this time. Last trip they just went into our mouths too quickly for pics 🙂

The MAC Belfast

Visiting The MAC is high on our list this trip

We are thrilled to bits to be returning to Belfast as guests of the NITB. Maybe after last time our hopes for a brilliant Belfast experience are *too* high, but we’ll see! I’ll be sharing photos & tips on visiting, both on the social media mentioned up above, and as blog posts later on here on Vibrant Ireland. Terry’s going to fire up his tweet machine, too, and you can follow his Belfast tweets at @FurnaceFitness.

We’d love YOUR tips on what to see/do/eat/drink! In addition to soaking up all we can on Culture Night, we’ve also a few ideas ourselves: see art at The Mac, visit & gobble up some award winning CoCouture Chocolate, see a show or 2, check out the Ulster Museum, Material Subversion craft exhibition, the Autumn Fair in the Botanic Gardens & who knows what else! There will be culture! There will be fabulous local food! There will be gin! There will not be drunken tweeting! But, there will be fun. I hope you’ll  join in and #DiscoverNI 🙂

See a full listing of Culture Night Belfast events 2014

See ideas on visiting Belfast in Autumn

See videos & more about our Belfast trip in May

Check out crowd-sourced tips on Belfast from our 1st visit 

Here’s a mini-summary of our last Belfast trip.


Love to Bike?

Check Out These Exciting Northern Ireland Mountain Bike Trails!

These trails really sound thrilling! Nial is going to tell you about them, though, not me, as he is a real active-pursuits type of person, whereas I am what is known as someone who likes ‘soft adventure.’ 😀 There actually are a couple of trails here for the likes of us soft adventurers and young families, but as this is Nial’s home turf & he has the cycling bug, I’ll let him do the writing. (And the uphill cycles, and the exciting careening downhill like a madman 🙂 ) 

 

Mountain bikes a plenty as cyclists head for Newry & Mourne

Cycling in Northern Ireland- Rostrevor

Mountain biking in Northern Ireland. Image: Discover Northern Ireland

Having always been a destination for lovers of the great outdoors, it will come as no surprise to many that Northern Ireland is quickly building a reputation as a must visit destination for mountain bike enthusiasts. There has been great investment over the past 12 – 24 months in the mountain bike scene in Northern Ireland, with some breathtaking trails now available throughout the province.

One particular area of Northern Ireland that has captured the hearts of mountain biking enthusiasts is Newry and Mourne. With its spectacular scenery (including views of the Irish Sea, Mourne Mountains and Carlingford Lough) the area of Newry & Mourne not only offers visitors some amazing and natural areas of beauty, it also offers you three challenging mountain bike trails. For the cycling enthusiasts among you or for those of you who are looking for an activity packed getaway with plenty to do and see, get on your bike and visit Northern Ireland.

Over the next few months I will be reviewing some of the great mountain bike trails in Northern Ireland and particularly those in the area of Newry and Mourne. Northern Ireland boasts 4 national trail centres, one regional centre and one local centre.

National mountain bike centres in Northern Ireland:

Rostrevor (Co. Down)
Castlewellan (Co. Down)
Davagh Forest (Co. Tyrone)
Blessingbourne (Fermanagh)

Regional mountain bike centres in Northern Ireland:

Barnett Demesne (Belfast)

Local mountain bike centres in Northern Ireland:

Tollymore Park (Co. Down)

With six mountain bike centres in Northern Ireland for varying skill levels, there really has never been a better excuse for getting on your bike and hitting the trails. For the adrenaline junkies out there, each track does have its difficult trails and for those of you just looking to enjoy the views and take in all that Mother Nature has to offer, there are easier trails suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

If you don’t have a mountain bike but would like to hit the trails, there’s no need to panic as you can rent a bike and any other essential equipment at the various bike trails across the centre.  I have regularly gone out with cyclists who have rented equipment from the Life Adventure Centre in Castlewellan. The bikes are perfect for the terrain you will be on and the cost is inexpensive.

Cycling in Newry & Mourne:

With three bike trails to take on, Newry & Mourne really is a must visit destination for cyclists visiting Ireland. If bikes aren’t your thing but you like the adventures of an outdoor getaway then rent a bike for the day and take your time going round the trails. You’ll find so much on offer with various difficulties of trail routes available.

Rostrevor Mountain Bike Trail:

Of all the bike tracks in Northern Ireland, Rostrevor is perhaps the most challenging but also offers the most in terms of things to do.  Rostrevor not only offers two challenging courses that total 46km but it also offers two epic and fun-filled downhill trails that will really put your bike handling skills to the test. Be warned, of the two trails in Rostrevor it is the black trail that certainly pushes your mountain bike skills to the limit and is recommended for experienced mountain bikers.

The red trail offers beginners and intermediates of mountain biking a challenging but enjoyable journey with some awe-inspiring views of the nearby Carlingford Lough that separates Rostrevor and Warrenpoint (Northern Ireland) and Carlingford and Omeath (Ireland).

Cycling in Northern Ireland- Rostrevor

Mountain biking in Northern Ireland- Rostrevor. Image: Discover Northern Ireland

Rostrevor has firmly established itself on the UK and European bike scene with visitors coming from all over Europe to test themselves on the course.  Rostrevor also recently played host to the Red Bull Foxhunt, where 400 downhill cycling enthusiasts where chased by World Cup Downhill legend Gee Atherton. This is just one of the many events you can expect to see take place at Rostrevor in the coming years.

With a mouth watering 27km red trail and a hair raising 19km black trail, Rostrevor is believed by many to be the top spot for mountain biking in Ireland. The addition of the two downhill tracks just adds to Rostrevor’s appeal to cyclists of all ages.  You can hire bikes and arrange for transport to the top of the downhill trails with East Coast Adventure who also provide tuition and mountain biking guides in Rostrevor for beginners.Eastcoast Adventure Bike Rental Biking Northern Ireland

Castlewellan Mountain Bike Trail:

If Rostrevor sounds like it may be a little beyond your cycling ability at the minute, have no fear, Castlewellan bike trails are just what you are looking for. Located about 25 minutes from Rostrevor and 45 minutes from Belfast, Castlewellan bike trails are located in the picturesque Castlewellan forest park. With stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and the surrounding area, these trails will literally take your breath away. Castlewellan offers three trails (green, red and black) all suitable for varying abilities on the bike.  This means that whether you are new to mountain biking, have a young family with first time cyclists or are an experienced cyclist, you’ll find a trail that is perfect for you.

The green trail is 4km long and shouldn’t last any longer than one hour. It is a gentle trail that runs parallel with the lake in the park, creating yet more perfect scenery. With one slight incline, you will also sweep past the beautiful Castlewellan Castle as you complete your journey.

Biking Northern Ireland

The next trail you can attempt is the more challenging but equally doable blue trial.  Lasting around 2 hours this trail is 4.5km long and finishes on the same path as the green trial. This is the perfect route for those seeking something more challenging as you go in and out of trees and face a number of steep inclines on your journey.

The final route is the most challenging and see’s you climb Mount Slievenaslat on your journey. Lasting 19km’s, this route is one for experienced cyclists and involves a number of speedy descents and also includes some black trail options within it for more experienced cyclists. As with Rostrevor, the mountain bike trail in Castlewellan is extremely popular among cyclists in the UK and Ireland and is starting to really make a name for itself with European cyclists. Castlewellan will be hosting the 2014 Single Speed European Cycling Championships.

Biking trails Northern Ireland

One thing is for sure, cycling in Newry & Mourne and indeed Northern Ireland as a whole continues to prosper and 2014 promises to be another big year.

Giro D’Italia visits Northern Ireland:

2014 promises to be a massive year for cycling in Northern Ireland with the second biggest cycling competition in the world, the Giro D’Italia, scheduled to kick off in Belfast in May. This is a great coup for cycling in Northern Ireland with the route starting at the wonderful Titanic Belfast on day 1 and 2 before finishing in the centre of Belfast at the City Hall. Day 3 then sees the competitors head from Armagh to Dublin in a 187km journey before departing for Bari, Italy for a gruelling 18 further stages of the tour. The race for the pink jersey begins in Belfast and with over 100,000 visitors expected to the city it promises to be the highlight of a great year of cycling in Northern Ireland.

With so many great hotels in Belfast, you’ll be spoilt for choice when visiting one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar in 2014.  Be sure to enjoy the wonderful scenery of Northern Ireland and try to take in one of the great bike tracks in Newry & Mourne as you travel from Belfast to Armagh to watch the professionals at work.

Look out for my next article on mountain biking in Newry & Mourne where I will take you on a pedal by pedal tour of the Castlewellan Bike Trail. Who knows, I may even have to take on the elements of sleet and snow. Now that would be an adventure.

Biking trails Northern Ireland

Nial Toner is a Northern Ireland native and lives in Newcastle, Co. Down where the mountains of Mourne sweep down by the sea. Nial loves to take weekend breaks around Ireland and Europe with Dublin, Galway, Barcelona and Budapest among his favourite destinations. A keen sportsman Nial participates in soccer and Gaelic football and is also a huge fan of rugby and golf. He’s recently caught the cycling bug and is a big fan of hitting the bike tracks around Newry & Mourne. Nial is also kindly working with me as I plan my own trip to Northern Ireland in 2014 to try to discover more about my Irish roots! 

Disclosure: I decided to work with Nial after several lengthy email chats with him as well as my own online research. I think Nial has good information & experience with the biking trails that will be helpful to you– otherwise I wouldn’t accept his post! This is the first time I’ve ever received payment for working with someone, and it is important to me that I am upfront about it. I now do Vibrant Ireland as my living, and in some ways that makes it even more imperative that you can trust, enjoy and use what you read here– or you’ll stop reading & I’ll be on the bread line. So, thank-you for reading! And don’t worry; the vast majority of posts on Vibrant Ireland will always be my own— hopefully I’m right in thinking you like it that way! 🙂


Crescent moon over the lovely Belfast City Hall

Crescent moon over the lovely Belfast City Hall

Belfast is brilliant! Yup, the vibe is excellent!

When we went for a Belfast weekend break, we had no idea that it was such a fabulous, friendly, foodie, artsy city. Here are 3 videos & 3 reasons you’ll love it:

1. The People and Atmosphere.

Wow! Everyone was so friendly. The city was clean and buzzing with fun & positivity. We didn’t expect to love Belfast so much, but we did. We feel it combines the warmth of Dublin (friendly, funny people) with the exciting vibe of London (lots of new, trendy places & arts, especially in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.)

 

2. The Culture & Food

So much culture happens in Belfast! The weekend we visited there were 2 festivals on as well as the play in Lyric theatre. Plus, exhibits in the art and craft galleries, all sorts of gigs in pubs, and of course the myriad of fantastic places to eat as well the delish food in St George’s Market. In the Market our Belfast Food Tour guide Caroline tempted us with the sinfully good and uniquely Belfast treat called a ’15’–OMG yum! ( Don’t worry, I’ll reveal more in upcoming Belfast posts. Well, maybe I won’t reveal the calories in a 15!)

 

3. The Amazing Surroundings

From buildings old to buildings new, there is plenty of beautiful and exciting architecture to be seen. Belfast is also a waterfront city, and if you take a short drive, rolling green countryside and sandy beaches are there for you to explore. The Giant’s Causeway is also just an hour away!

I think you’ll love having a holiday in Belfast. And of course, from Dublin, Belfast is less than 2hrs drive, or by train just 2hrs 20min– handy for a day trip. But I think once you visit you’ll be like us and want a longer Belfast vacation too. Perhaps we’ll see you there! 😀 If you’d like to see what we got up to on our trip to Belfast, this link brings you to all the places we went, and below are a series of videos. PS: LIAM NEESON ALERT! *swoon* 

This is a 2-minute video of our visit, I hope you enjoy it 🙂

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4QKtRVBp4I” title=”Susan%20&%20Terry%20Discover%20the%20City%20Vibe%20-%20Belfast”]

Before I show you the other 2 videos, here’s the So You Know: I had been hoping to go check out Belfast  in 2014, and when I got a chance to do so via NI Tourism I jumped at the chance. Terry & I were guests of  AVB Group/NITB, agreeing for the visit to be filmed in these videos & TV ads, but everything we said is unscripted and what we really thought. We had a fab time, and plan to return as soon as we can. It will be nice to go back without a video crew so I don’t have to eat on camera! Trying to eat salad gracefully & without green bits on your teeth is hard! I suppose that’s why that part got cut 😉  Good thing Liam Neeson was only narrating & not actually there!

This one is our 30 second ad for (Belfast) Northern Ireland:

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTp9gj2pZvA&feature=youtu.be” title=”Discover%20the%20City%20Vibe%20with%20Susan%20and%20Terry-%20TV%20Advert%20Belfast”]

And this last one is a 1 minute ad (showing in ROI) we & others are in, about some of the People & Places of Northern Ireland:

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOvoJTdzidk&feature=youtu.be” title=”Discover%20the%20Drama,%20Discover%20the%20City%20Vibe,%20Discover%20the%20Legend…Discover%20Northern%20Ireland”]

 

 


Enniskillen Castle, Ferma Northern Irelandnagh,

Enniskillen Castle stands proud at the riverside

Fermanagh’s Lake district is a wonderful area to explore.

And an excellent base for doing so is Enniskillen– a town on a river island complete with castle!

Enniskillen Castle is 600 years old, and was built by Gaelic chieftains, the MaGuires. They had control from the 1400s until the 1700s, when the castle became an English Garrison. Military history throughout the ages is well represented here, and there is lots to see.

Military museum displays, Enniskillen Castle

Military museum displays, Enniskillen Castle

Even if you are not particularly interested in the military, some of the displays are moving, like the story and illustrations of Henry Lamb in the 1st World War. And if you are quite interested, you’ll be thrilled! I saw one older boy moving through the displays at a snails pace, enrapt.

Fermanagh County Museum is also on-site, and is full of natural history & history displays; very child friendly, too. At entry, kids get a booklet, and if they complete it they receive a prize!

The castle, later buildings, & military equipment in the castle yard make for interesting photos. I took a rake of photos of cannons & guns even though they aren’t my thing at all!

Mon 2 – 5 &  Tues – Fri 10 – 5

Sat (Apr – Oct) 2 – 5 & Sun (Jul & Aug) 2 – 5

Bank holidays; see website. 4£ adult, kid 3£ 

Fermanagh Museum Enniskillen castle

The Fermanagh Museum at Enniskillen castle

Home is your castle, whether it is an actual castle, a cave a la the Fermanagh Museum, or a temporary home–your hotel. When you are busy exploring an area, afterwards you want to go ‘home’ and relax, sleep like a log, and then head off to explore anew. I spent 4 days discovering the Fermanagh Lakelands and I still didn’t see all I wanted to. I want to go back, and yes, I’d return to the hotel where I stayed: Belmore Court. [note: Belmore Court is a hotel in Enniskillen, not the Castle itself. I think a few commenters just skimmed this post and were confused. ]

If you’re like me and love good value but also want special comforts, Belmore Court is the place to stay in Enniskillen!

Below these photos of the castle’s, cave’s, & hotel’s views, is a my review of Belmore Court and my tips:

Belmore Court Executive room, Enniskillen

Belmore Court Executive room, Enniskillen

The value! I stayed in an Executive room, and it was quite smart. Yet prices can start from just 68£ on special offer. Belmore Court has a wide range of rooms, all affordable. There is also the 50’s retro Motel section which has mini kitchens and family apartments.

The Special Offers! I always look for the special offers on hotel websites, and you should too. Belmore Court has plenty of offers all of the time.

The Executive room. Calming, spacious, good looking, had a nice flat screen TV with a pretty wide choice of channels, a great bunch of brochures & info on the area, a big comfy bed with wonderful, smooth & soft  sheets and–>

Nespresso!! LOVED this touch in the executive room. Many other 4 star hotels in Ireland & Northern Ireland still don’t have Nespresso.

The Wi-Fi. It was strong!

The bathroom. Spotless, good shower, great hot water for the bath, and the room was never chilly.

Birdsong. There was birdsong in a nearby hedge in the mornings, and the view from my room over the town to Cuilcaigh Mountain was nice. Some Executive rooms have a balcony.

The friendliness! Everyone in all staff areas was friendly and helpful, and Belmore Court has just won The Reception Staff Of The Year Award in Northern Ireland. I know why!

The cleanliness. This should go without saying, but some accommodations aren’t as tip top. Belmore Court was spotless.

Green Policy. I really like that Belmore not only has a Green Policy, but constantly renews it. They’ve also got an Electric Car charge point in their car park!

Car park. Plenty of spaces, on site & free. And for seeing all the Fermanagh Lakelands has to offer, you do want a car. So much to discover! Do visit the website above- there are lots of brochures you can download, and apps, too. 

Breakfast Belmore Court

Breakfast Belmore Court

Location. Just a wee walk to Ardhowen Theatre to see a show, Tesco to get some ready-to-eat grub for those of us on a tight, no-eating-out budget (moi!)  Also only a 20 min walk to the lovely Castle Coole House & grounds, and the same walking time to Enniskillen Castle. You’ll be in the very centre of town with lots of restaurants in about a 10 minute walk.

Here’s Belmore Court’s Website.

Other bits of info & tips:

The Belmore Court breakfast buffet is mainly cereals, fruits, breads (scones, croissants, bagels, toasts,etc) and yogurts and so on.There is a good selection of these things most of the morning, but if you get there quite late on busy morning as I mention in the photo, some yummies like the chocolate croissants may be gone. Handily, Belmore has breakfast busy-ness times & days posted around the place to help you plan 🙂 There are also hot sausages & bacon, but they weren’t anything to write home about.  The breakfast foods are quite handy for grab & go if you are in a rush– I put together a cream cheese bagel & take away coffee one rushed morning. BUT, please note below:

Coffee lovers may struggle in Enniskillen, and I also struggled in a lot of the Lakelands area, too. I couldn’t find a good coffee anywhere. I really tried. Part of me wonders is it the limey water building up in machines? The only really enjoyable coffees I had were the Nespressos in my room at Belmore Court. They are not at the breakfast buffet, so coffee-up before you go down to breakfast if you’ve a Nespresso room. And if you don’t, if you are a coffee lover, I’d skip coffee at the buffet. I tried both the pour & the machine & didn’t like.

enniskillen castle museum animals

Castle museum animals watching out like hawk for good coffee 😉

(Can you help? What do others think of Enniskillen coffees? Am I just a total coffee snob now? I’d be happy to hear if the coffee improves in the Belmore breakfast buffet, and in Enniskillen in general. What coffee places do you readers recommend in the Lakelands area? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!)

I ALWAYS suggest silicon earplugs. No matter where you stay, there may be noise. Better to be looking at ’em than for ’em is my motto. You won’t always need them, but you don’t want to be without them. Belmore Court is in a good sized town, and is by roads. I wouldn’t say the road was particularly noisy, and I never heard noise from any other rooms, but silicon (not foam) earplugs will really muffle any sounds you are not used to. (Except if you are in a room with no soundproofing directly over a live band in a pub. Needless to say I won’t ever be recommending that place!) If you aren’t sure what silicon earplugs are, here’s a link to the ones I get in Boots.

I had no idea how much there is to see & do Fermanagh before I went, and I totally recommend at least a few days’ visit there. Also,to be perfectly transparent, I want to tell you that I was a guest at Belmore Court so that I could afford to stay and explore the area over more than one day. This does not change my opinions, and as you know if there things I don’t like I will write honestly about that, as I did in my Paddywagon post.

I hope you enjoyed the photos as well as the info; they are my Instagram photos! Each Thursday, the hashtags #IGtravelthursday (& #IGTT on Twitter) show photos from peoples’ travels all around the world- local travels and far flung. Use the hashtag & join in! If you are a blogger, you can also join in with a blog featuring one of your trips/visits and your Instagram photos from it (like in Satu’s Italy post), or how you use Instagram to plan travels. Read the rules of joining in here on SkimbacoLifestyle.
[inlinkz_linkup id=399884 mode=1]


Great tips from those in the know.

Belfast, it looks like you’re worth several trips in May alone! A fab Festival of Fools is on this weekend & Giro Start on next!

But I’ve tips here for anytime, too:

 

Here’s that ace video I mentioned, it really shows off Northern Ireland well– AND makes you gulp at some of the bike tricks!