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

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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 


Irish Sea Sparkle by Vincent Hyland would make a gorgeous gift!

Irish Sea Sparkle by Vincent Hyland would make a gorgeous gift!

Someone in your life love Ireland? Here are some handy Irish gift ideas, for Christmas or anytime.

From an absolutely amazing romantic getaway in a transparent Irish forest dome, to Irish art, books, Aran sweaters and more, you’ll find an online Irish gift you’d love to give – or receive!

Sea Sparkle!

One of the most unusual photographs I came across this year is by artist & photographer Vincent Hyland. He has 2 different prints available of the special natural phenomenon known as sea sparkle, here by the shores of county Kerry. Magical! Have a look at Vincent’s online shop to start you off on your online Irish gift shopping adventure 🙂

Sleep under the stars in an Irish forest dome!

Ultimate Irish gift! Stay in Finn Lough Forest Dome in Fermanagh

Ultimate Irish gift! Stay in Finn Lough Forest Dome in Fermanagh

For the ultimate romantic gift, a getaway to Finn Lough in one of there exclusive Forest Domes can’t be beaten. I’ve stayed here, and I was totally wowed! The food at their Finn Lough Kitchen is so very delicious– do avail of a package that includes dinner! Highly recommended! See more about the Finn Lough resort and their forest domes here.

Learn to Speak Irish!

What if your gift recipient can’t get to Ireland yet but wants to immerse themselves in it in some way? Or do they have a trip planned and would like a bit, or alot- of the native language? Bitesize Irish Gaelic teaches you as much or as little as you want to learn, with a free trial, and monthly or yearly plans. A very thoughtful and unique gift! See more at www.bitesize.irish.

Irish gift idea- Once the Musical, summer 2016

Irish gift idea- Once the Musical, summer 2016

Once more in Dublin!

Romantic Once, the musical, is returning to Dublin this summer! Tickets will make a super gift if you’ll be there between 2 July – 27 August 2016. In case you don’t know of Once:

Based on the movie sensation of the same name, filmed and set in Dublin, Once features music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, including the Oscar winning Falling Slowly, and a Tony award-winning book by Enda Walsh.

Once is about going for your dreams and the power of music to connect us. This funny, moving and life-affirming love story with glorious music has captured hearts around the world. Seeing it where it all began, at home in Dublin, is incredibly special.
8 Tony® Awards including Best Musical, Oscar Best Original Song, Falling Slowly, Grammy® Award Best Musical Theatre Album

You can book Once here to see it at  it’s ‘home’ in Dublin next summer.

The Cat Shepherd and Woolly Irish Pressies!

We have our very own feline farmer right here in Ireland, — Bodacious the Cat Shepherd! He helps his human Suzanna with her flock of Zwartbles sheep, and now he has his very own calendar & postcards! You can see what he gets up to and order postcards or a paw-tographed calendar here. You can shop online for the blankets and knitting wool made from his Irish Zwartbles sheep, here.

Bodacious the Cat Shepherd has fab gifts you can order online from Ireland

Bodacious the Cat Shepherd has fab gifts you can order online from Ireland

Find Your Irish Roots!

Someone on your list interested in Irish genealogy? A subscription to Irish Roots would be a perfect gift!

“Irish Roots magazine is dedicated to helping you to trace your elusive Irish ancestors. Each quarter Irish Roots magazine is packed with lots of interesting, informative and practical articles written by Ireland’s leading genealogists. Irish Roots is a powerful resource tool for all those wishing to trace their family history.”

Irish Roots magazine is published quarterly in December, March, June and September. Subscriptions are: Ireland €25, UK £25, USA $37, Australia $42, Rest of world €27. All prices include postage.

Love Ireland Gifts!

Aw Go On - Classic Father Ted is a perfect Ireland themed online gift from I love Mayo

Classic Father Ted-ism; perfect Ireland themed gift by I love Mayo

On atmospheric Achill Island, papercut artist and painter Jane Steger-Lewis creates items that are perfect for gifts; cards, too. She says:

“I want to make things that bring joy into our homes and that make us smile. My Love Ireland range is all about referencing Irish culture in a contemporary, bright and fresh way, products that fit well with modern homes, I hope you like them.

The products you can purchase here are hand crafted with love, not mass produced in the cheapest labour markets. The emphasis is on quality, originality and care; I’m proud of every package I send out and I want you to be delighted with your purchase.” 

Find Jane’s I Love Mayo online shop here

Koo Koo Sneactha Emma Campbell Art; online Irish gift

Koo Koo Sneactha by Emma Campbell Art

Bright & Beautiful Irish Art!

For a special present that will bring cheer and zing into someone’s home all year round, have a look at the fabulous paintings and prints from artist Emma Campbell. She’s having a 12 Days of Christmas sale on her fine art prints, and many of her paintings come with free shipping. I’m a huge fan of her work, and she’s all types, from whimsical to more abstract. Here’s a fun winter one pictured; she has several different themes. Check out her online shop here – Emma is having a Christmas sale!

Traditional Claddagh, Belleek, More!

If someone on your list would love Irish Claddagh rings, Belleek pottery, or if you are frankly not sure what Irish- themed gift to give, a trip to Gilmartin’s online shop is in order!  A (physically) small traditional family run shop in the little village of Belleek on the Fermanagh/Donegal border, Gilmartin’s has made the leap online with an extensive treasure trove of gifts. Known far and wide for their knowledge and customer service, it is wonderful to see a wee shop like this survive the recession by extending online. Go to their site and click their listings for Himself or Herself & away you go 😀

If you’d like to give an Aran Irish jumper/sweater, click here for my article with buying tips & links to buy online

Pure Shores by Magnum Lady, Val Robus. Belmullet, Sligo, IrelandThe Gift of Irish Summer!

Yes, it’s Ireland, not the Caribbean! See, we do have beautiful weather in Ireland 😀 But it may be wise to capture it like Val Robus, aka Sligo photographer Magnum Lady, has done. Give the gift of a year round Irish summer with this photo print, or peruse Val’s other items over on her MagnumLady Etsy shop.  I think all of us in Ireland could use this gift about now! Wind, rain, flood… that’s been our past few  Nov/Dec weeks!

Give an Irish Outdoor Adventure!

From gentle medieval history based river rafting to exciting white water rafting & more, Boyne Valley Activities in Ireland’s Ancient East probably has something your special someone will enjoy. We took the Medieval river float tour this October, and it was excellent! There’s a plethora of terrific sites in the area from prehistoric right on up; if you’d like to explore more as a gift to yourself do check out the Boyne Valley Area and the outdoor adventures at Boyne Valley Activities. PS, if you are in Ireland in October and your giftee loves Halloween, this is definitely the place to be! The Spirits of Meath festival is fantastic! I went to several of the events and had a brilliant (and scary!) time. I’ll have a full post on it in a few weeks, but til then, keep your eye on The Spirits of Meath running 15 October to 1 November in 2016. And if you’d like to recover from your fun & frights in a beautiful Georgian period suit, check out this video  (will embed video in this article when my internet is better) of when I stayed at the Darnley Lodge Hotel 😀

Nature Lovers!

Did this photo make you say ‘Ahhh, cute!’? If there is a lover of Irish Wildlife on your gift list, then check out photographer Christine Cassidy’s wonderful photos on her In Touch With The Wild Photography page.  Red Squirrels, brilliant turquoise Kingfishers, Irish Hares & more are available as prints. Have a look and then just message her on the page if you’d like to place an order. Enjoy her lovely page!

Book Lovers Bumper Selection of Presents!

Books are a perennial favorite, whether ebooks or physical books. Watch this video to help you choose some special Irish books. Before you do, let me add on one more author I missed telling you about in the video & podcast. Full of wonderful slices of life in the charming Dingle area of Kerry, Felicity Hayes McCoy has  physical books, audio books, and ebooks/Kindle. In regards to Dingle, The House on the Irish Hillside book came first, and is now joined by Christmas at the House on the Irish Hillside, and Enough is Plenty. See more of her books, and purchase, on Felicity’s author page on Amazon, here.

Some of the Irish book ideas include a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in modern Dublin, fun reminiscences of a boy’s getting up to mischief in 1940’s Belfast, a seriously based history of Irish farm wives with some dashings of tongue in cheek humor, a book filled with photos on Irish thatched cottages that will have you dreaming of one of your own, and several more fab books too.

[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-E0r0jSSiY” title=”Ireland%20books%20gift%20ideas%20to%20buy%20online”]

If your internet is a bit slow for video (mine often is *sobs*) have a listen to this podcast instead 🙂

 

I could go on; in fact I might! I know I’ve forgotten some Irish gifts that I’d love to mention, so check back periodically 😀 Susan


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!


You may be able to explore inside the largest Loughcrew megalithic tomb via Loughcrew Megalithic Centre

You may be able to explore inside the largest Loughcrew megalithic tomb via Loughcrew Megalithic Centre

What the heck is choreosonography? How can I visit a locked 5,000 year old megalithic tomb? Some November events events & ideas for cultural adventure in Ireland!

This is the first in a series for the more adventurous person; not as in bungee jumping or skydiving kinds of adventure– this is for those of us who enjoy being a bit adventurous in the areas of Arts & Culture. Are you a cultural adventurer Check these out! 

In this week’s suggestions we have 2 cultural adventures that involve the outdoors, a challenging piano concert, a charming book and tour idea, plus several tips for enjoying Ireland’s very first City of Culture, Limerick. 

Let’s start off with some ‘easier’ adventures. Irish thatched cottages are the darling of many a postcard, but they are actually an endangered architectural species, with less than 1,600 left on the whole island. Many are private homes, but some are open to the public; one such one can be found at the Loughcrew Megalithic Centre. I visited it last week, and the young men reviving this family cottage are a delight, as is the cottage itself. I’ll have more on the centre in an upcoming article focusing on county Meath, but it’ll pop up again here when we explore the 5,000 year old megaliths. In an example of perfect timing, this landed on my desk:

Map of Irish Thatch Cottages by Emma Byrne

Map of Irish Thatch Cottages by Emma Byrne

A charming book to inspire gentle adventure.

Irish Thatch by Emma Byrne Provides a rich visual theme for a gentle adventure round Ireland. Emma and her husband Johnathan live in a county Wexford thatched cottage, and the author is well versed in the joys and judders of living under thatch in a 200 year old cottage. (Fancy water pouring out of a ceiling light, anyone?) In her book, Emma brings you through the history & craft of Irish thatched cottages, and on a charming pictorial tour of these traditional beauties throughout Ireland. She took to the open road (or, winding road as the Irish case may be,) visiting these cottages herself; the book contains over 350 photos and an illustrated map listing thatched cottages open to the public. The thatched heritage cottage at Loughcrew was not yet open at the time of the book’s writing, so you’ll have to pencil it in yourself. You can purchase Irish Thatch at many bookshops, or order online from O’Brien Press.

 

This November, why not dream up a journey centered around Irish Thatch Cottages? Book by Emma Byrne

This November, why not dream up a journey centered around Irish Thatch Cottages? Book by Emma Byrne

While we are on the subject of thatch, let’s just also have a spot of Seamus Heaney, which is always a good idea 🙂

Thatcher

Bespoke for weeks, he turned up some morning
Unexpectedly, his bicycle slung
With a light ladder and a bag of knives.
He eyed the old rigging, poked at the eaves,

Opened and handled sheaves of lashed wheat-straw.
Next, the bundled rods: hazel and willow
Were flicked for weight, twisted in case they’d snap.
It seemed he spent the morning warming up:

Then fixed the larder, laid out well honed blades
And snipped at straw and sharpened ends of rods
That, bent in two, made a white-pronged staple
For pinning down his world, handful by handful.

Couchant for days on sods above the rafters,
He shaved and flushed the butts, stitched all together
Into a sloped honeycomb, a stubble patch,
And left them gaping at his Midas touch.

-Seamus Heaney

Explore the 5,000 year old ‘Hill of the Witch’ megalithic tombs at Loughcrew

With amazing views of approximatly 11 counties, and built around the same time as their famous neighbor Newgrange (which is now complete with fancy visitor center and a steady stream of huge tour buses), the cairn complex at Loughcrew near Oldcastle in county Meath is a very large, and much quieter, site. The feeling of wildness, of being generally ‘untamed’ by the OPW & tons of health and safety regulations, is strong. To get the most out of your visit to, arranging for a guide is best; usually your guide can get a hold of the key so that you may actually enter into the largest cairn on Slieve na Calliagh (The Hill of The Witch/Hag.) This ancient tomb/ritual place is home to the Hag’s Chair, and one the largest amounts of megalithic art in Ireland. At the autumn and spring equinoxes the rising sun sends its rays into the chamber, illuminating the back stones and rock art. A powerful sight! The aforementioned Loughcrew Megalithic Centre can give you updates on what equinox events may be happening, and as they are also open all year they’re super handy for a cuppa tea or coffee with cake or lunch in their cafe. Needed after the fairly steep walk up to the cairns! (Note; the way up to the cairns is not wheelchair friendly at time of writing; all steps.)

Guide: I had Malachy Hand as my guide– what a treasure trove of info and stories this gentleman is! You can contact him at malachyhand@hotmail.com 

Loughcrew Megalitic Centre: The two young men running it are Niall and Fechin. Theirs is a real labour of love, and as well as the thatched heritage cottage and cafe, they also provide camping & hostel accommodation. Shoot them an email at info@loughcrewmegalithiscentre.com and I’m sure they’ll be happy to answer any enquiries you may have.

 

Float Through Time! A Medieval River Tour of Trim

You can do a Medieval Float Through Time in Trim, Ireland

You can do a Medieval Float Through Time in Trim, Ireland

On a raft but no real paddling required! It’s all play and not really any work required as you float downstream on the river Boyne. I reckon you’ll love this fascinating and just oh so pretty journey through medieval Trim offered by Boyne Valley Activities. We went last week; the autumn leaves where ablaze and the hour & a half gentle float was just gorgeous. James knows tons of interesting facts and stories that you probably won’t find out elsewhere, so listen up! If you don’t capsize the boat anywhere (I imagine that would be pretty hard to do!) at the end of the river tour you’ll call into the tiny 14th century pub Regan’s at the riverside for a sip of what you fancy before the van brings you back to the centre. At the time of writing this, the Medieval River Tour is priced at €25 per person, and I feel that this is a terrific bargain & perhaps even a bit too low for all the work that James puts into it. Don’t miss this wonderful cultural adventure in Trim, county Meath! I’ll have more on this in my upcoming Meath article, too.

Tip: Depending on the state of the river & weather, this tour may not run in the wintery months. Contact James at info@boynevalleyactivities.ie to check. Do have a look at their other activities too! boynevalleyactivities.ie

Challenging the boundaries of music and dance

Figures, by Óscar Mascareñas

Figures is a new work for piano conceived, devised and directed by Irish-based, Mexican-born composer Óscar Mascareñas in collaboration with Mexican dance artist Nora Rodríguez. The work is the result of eight years of research in sound and movement that Mascareñas has been undertaking at the University of Limerick in Ireland.The aim of this project is to transform somatic forces into sounds through an exploration of the relationship between the piano and the body; the former not only seen and understood as a musical instrument, but also, and most importantly, as a space where the body moves, plays and interacts with its physicality and its sonic potential.  To describe the work, he coined the term choreosonography, a concept that involves the physicalisation of sounds and the sounding of physicality. A choreosonography is both a process and a work.

This conceptual work is the first of its kind, and represents a unique, innovative, state-of-the-art proposal that aims to challenge the boundaries of music and dance, as well as to provide a space for collaboration between artists of different disciplines, creating a discourse that will eventually change the way we approach, think about and experience composition and performance.

Óscar Mascareñas began to collaborate with Nora Rodríguez in September 2014  as part of their work at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, in the University of Limerick, and have worked on Figures since the beginning of 2015.

The full work will consist of seven to ten studies for piano, with a projected programme duration of one hour.

When? Thursday, 12 November, 8pm

Where? Tower Theatre, Irish World Academy, Univeristy of Limerick (see map below the video)

How much? Free

What else is in Limerick to see? Plenty! The Hunt Museum is always a good choice for the culture lover; have a look here for the Hunt’s current exhibitions. Until the 19th of November, there will be works by Brian MacMahon  on view, amongst others. You can check out the talks on at the Hunt Museum here. Just up O’Connell Street from the Hunt is Ormston House, another arts venue worth checking.  Also see another music event here, farther below. 

 

Limerick Docks by Brian MacMahon

Limerick Docks by Brian MacMahon

Any other tips? Whenever I’m in Limerick, I love to spoil myself by either eating or staying at One Pery Square in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter. (The Limerick City Gallery is just across the street.) One Pery Square does wonderful Afternoon Teas– and if you really want to indulge, how about an Afternoon Tea combined with a Thermal Spa? AHHHH! Check out their daytime menu with Afternoon Teas here. If you’d like to explore the Georgian Quarter a bit more, get in touch with Declan, over on Limerick Walking Tours. He’s great! He also does Medieval & Angela’s Ashes tours.

What’s for lunch? Well, there’s lots; if you are visiting the Hunt Museum their cafe is good, and just a wee stroll up O’Connell Street is one of my favorite Asian places, the award winning Aroi. Check out the Eat In Limerick guide map here.

Artists Biographies

Óscar Mascareñas (PhD) (Mexico/Ireland) is a poet, composer, performer and musicologist. He has given concerts, conferences and master classes extensively in Ireland, the UK, Slovakia, Hungary and Mexico. He is the founding course director of the BA in Voice and Dance, and was acting and assistant director of the MA Ritual Chant and Song at the Irish World Academy. Óscar is also founding director of the Irish ensemble HIBERNIA, and founding chair of the Cage-Cunningham Professorship in Contemporary Performance at the Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey in Mexico. His forthcoming poetry book ‘[Sketches for] A Poetry of Desire’ will be published at the end of the year by the University of Nuevo León press in Mexico. He currently lectures and researches in music and contemporary performance at the Academy.

Nora Rodríguez (Mexico) is a versatile dance artist based in Limerick, Ireland. Her main interest is to develop live performance and video. Since 2009 she has been exploring the notions of corporeality, emotion, memories, space and sound. Nora has presented and performed work internationally. She is currently Dance Co-ordinator of the BA in Voice and Dance programme at the Irish World Academy in the University of Limerick. Nora is continuously engaged in the development of interdisciplinary projects. She is currently working with Óscar Mascareñas on a series of musical explorations between movement and sound, and on her piece (ALLOW) EVERYTHING SOMETIMES with actor Kevin Kiely Jnr. and poet Shane Vaughan.

Info via Limerick 2020, do give their Facebook page a like as they often share interesting cultural events happening in the city.

Trailer for Figures, by Óscar Mascareñas:[youtube_sc url=”https://youtu.be/eHGBgW8dcpE” title=”Figures%20″]

ART SONG – AN EXPLORATION OF BEAUTY, NATURE AND LOVE

Also in the area that day, you may also like to check out this free daytime performance by Eve Stafford (soprano) and Yonit Kosovske (piano,) which is based on four elements: poet, composer, singer and pianist.

“An art song strives to be the perfect combination of music and text. Songs become a marriage of exquisite music and beautiful poetry.”

This programme features works by renowned Irish, English and other European composers, including Michael Head, Haevlock Nelson, Hector Berlioz, Hugo Wolf, Hubert Hastings Parry, Eric Coates, Armstrong Gibbs and Roger Quilter.

Soprano Eve Stafford has won numerous competitions at the Féile Luimní, including ‘Voice of Féile Luimní’ (2013), in operatic solo, art song, lieder and sacred music. She won prizes at Feis Maitiú Corcaigh in early music, show songs and the soprano soloist category.

While specializing in classical repertoire, she sang Rosalia in West Side Story, her first musical to date, with the Cecillian Society. A student of Olive Cowpar, she enjoys a freelance performance career and has sung in various venues throughout Limerick, including the Hunt Museum and the University Concert Hall.

When? Thursday 12 November, 1.15pm

Where? Irish World Academy of Music & Dance, University of Limerick, Limerick

How Much? Free

What can I eat nearby? La Cucina Italian isn’t far, and is very tasty! Tis only small inside, but they also do a top notch Italian takeaway menu; check that out here.

So, which cultural adventures do you fancy doing? If YOU know of or have an event, book, tour, etc that you think would fit in well with the Vibrant Ireland cultural adventure articles, get in touch! You can email hello AT vibrantireland.com Thanks!


Spectres at Halloween at loftus Hall  Pic by Gerry Browne

Spectres at Halloween at Loftus Hall! Pic by Gerry Browne

Loftus Hall stirs Samhain spirits!

If you saw my article on the many events on for Halloween this year in Ireland, you saw me mention spooky all-year-round Loftus Hall. They’ve given me some more information on the spectral goings on, as well as the adult tours for Halloween at Loftus Hall. Check it out!

Spectral phenomena expected at Loftus Hall’s Halloween experience

Loftus Hall, in Co. Wexford, will celebrate Samhain, and as Ireland’s most haunted house, you can expect to experience some eerie encounters and hear some ghostly tales from Loftus Hall’s past.

For many of us, Halloween conjures up images of trick or treating, dressing in ghoulish costume, pumpkin carving or bobbing for apples.

However, these contemporary Halloween activities are based on practices dating back to the darker origins of Halloween, or Samhain.  Around 2,000 years ago in Celtic Ireland, Samhain was the division of the year between summer and winter.  During Samhain, the divide between this world and other domains was at its thinnest which gave spirits greater opportunity to pass through to this world.

Frightening goings-on at Loftus Hall, Ireland. Pic Gerry Browne

Frightening goings-on at Loftus Hall, Ireland. Pic Gerry Browne

Nestled on the Hook Peninsula in Co. Wexford in barren and austere surroundings, Loftus Hall’s heritage dates back 665 years to 1350. It is now a magnet for tourists, historians, and paranormal enthusiasts, who continue to document evidence of frequent paranormal activity in the house. Highlighting some of this activity, Loftus Hall will feature on TV3 this Halloween, with a fascinating account of an Irish Ghost Hunters Investigation.

According to Aidan Quigley, Owner of Loftus Hall, Loftus Hall is a very special, but unpredictable, place to be during Samhain. “We observe strange phenomena in the house throughout the year, but at Halloween, the house often surprises us.”

“At Loftus Hall, there is no need for overstated gory props or effects.  The house has a very twisted and tortured history, and so naturally speaks for itself. We have had reports from many ghost hunting groups and spectre seekers who recount rather unsettling results, such as significant temperature drops, particularly in the Chapel and Tapestry Room, and spikes in electro-magnetic fields, indicating an unseen energy source. Visitors to Loftus Hall continually experience and qualify these findings, and many encounter things that they can’t quite explain. ”

The Loftus Hall Samhain Tours open to the public from October 17th and visitors should expect some strange and inexplicable goings-on.

It’s not only ghost hunters who have documented ethereal activities at Loftus Hall.  Following last year’s viral “ghost photo” which hit the international headlines when tourist Thomas Beavis snapped what appeared to be a ghostly apparition in the porch way of the Hall, another visitor to Loftus Hall, Tara McMeel also captured some strange ghostly apparitions in a “selfie” shot.

The continuous visitor feedback regarding unnatural experiences, and tangible captures of evidence such as this, keeps world-wide curiosity rife about Loftus Hall and its ominous past.

Mr. Quigley revealed, “Without giving too much away about the newly designed family or adult Samhain tours, I can confirm they will both feature the re-enactment of the much heralded, infamous “dark stranger” episode. Charles Tottenham Loftus, the then custodian of the Hall in the 18th century, invited a stranger to play cards.  During the card game, as his daughter Anne who was captivated by this stranger, bent to retrieve a fallen playing card, she discovered that the invited guest had cloven hooves.  The stranger flew into a fiery rage, crashing through the roof leaving in his wake a smell of sulphur and brimstone, and the very same roof has been irreparable ever since. This Legend is synonymous with Loftus Hall, and is a fundamental part of the houses spectral history.”

If you want to experience Samhain in an authentic haunted house, Loftus Hall Hall’oween tours commence from October 17th with a range of family tours each day, adult night tours on October 24th, 25th, 30th and 31st, and the ultimate Halloween Paranormal Investigation Lockdown on the 7th November.

 

To find out more about the Daily Halloween Tours, Adult Night tours, or the Loftus Hall Halloween Lockdown at Loftus Hall visit www.loftushall.ie or call 051 397728

I’m going to a tour for Halloween at Loftus Hall myself on Saturday the 23rd, but it will be a daytime one, suitable for children & scardy cat adults! Will let you know how I fare. 😀 Keep an eye on my Twitter @VibrantIreland and Periscope @VibrantIreland


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!