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

All posts in Outdoors & Nature Ireland

Did you see any Super Blood Moon Ireland photographs on Twitter?

We were so lucky in Ireland to have mostly clear skies for the SuperMoon and Blood Moon eclipse!

I’ve gathered up some ace photos from the night so you can see them all in one place. I’ve also a tiny video clip I made in the Storify section below, and if you’d like the see the whole video I’ve popped it in at the bottom of this supermoon photo post 🙂 NOTE: Will pop it in shortly– poor data connection not allowing upload at the minute.


The joys of rural Ireland: 3 videos; snippets of wildlife, farm life, & seaside life 

From the interactions via Vibrant Ireland I know many of you feel that rural Ireland is special. All the amazingly varied shades of green (did you know the human eye can see more shades in green than any other colour?), the abundant rainbows, the animals & the landscape speak to us in a manner that manages to both relax and invigorate.

we see the most shades of colour in green

Lately I’ve started recording some videos; I generally share them on the Vibrant Ireland & Travel Facebook page first (do give it a Like if you haven’t already, thanks!) Here are a few recent clips featuring some delights of the Irish countryside: wildlife in the form of playful Pine Martens, farm life in a modern horse round-up (see if you can spot the rainbows), and seaside life along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way on Loop Head peninsula in county Clare. I hope you enjoy!

Elusive Pine Martens, playing! Video:

“The pine marten is considered one of the rarest and most elusive wildlife species in Ireland. Once common throughout the country, by the 20th century the species had become extinct from the majority of Ireland, surviving only in a few isolated and fragmented populations mainly in the west.” Read more of the information on Pine Martens at mammals-in-ireland.ie  I have been lucky enough to see them a few times this summer, especially this pair here. I think they may be youngsters? Any pine marten experts reading that may know, do tell, thank you! One recent morning we were thrilled to see them playing jump & hide on our wall! Here’s the video clip:

 

Irish Rainbow by Vibrant Ireland

Look up! there are plenty of rainbows in Ireland 🙂

 

Farm Life: horses & rainbows! Video:

Come to Ireland and chances are you’ll see a rainbow at some point. This past week has seen plenty as the weather does its characteristic frequent changes from sunshine to showers to sunshine again. Along our country laneways, under a rainbow filled sky, horses were being moved from one field to another a few miles down the road. Can you spot the rainbows in the video? They are more vivid in person, so when in Ireland, keep your eye on the sky 🙂

 

Seaside Life; Wild Atlantic Way video:

Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way route stretches for 2,500 kilometers along the western side of the country. Lots of you know of the Cliffs of Moher along the route, but did you know that Loop Head has stunning sea cliffs too? And it is very much less crowded than the Cliffs of Moher. If you enjoy getting off the massive tourist-bus track, you won’t go wrong spending time exploring the Loop Head peninsula. Maybe even take the plunge into the sea as these kids & adults did near the natural Bridge of Ross! We brought our dog Jessie along, but she preferred to watch the waves rather than swim. Jessie also wanted to go see the Holy Well on Loop Head, but her big Rottweiler chest was too wide to pass through the gap in the rocks! This photo was taken right after she nearly got stuck– the incident was funny after I got over the moment of panic that she was permanently wedged in!

Jessie wanted to go see the Holy Well on Loop Head, but was too wide to pass through the gap in the rocks. took this right after she nearly got stuck-- was funny after I got over a moment of panic that she was permanently wedged in!

Jessie & Loop Head holy well rocks

This was my first visit to Loop Head, but I’m certainly coming back to explore its wild & wonderful natural life and scenery in the different seasons. Plus, you can go dolphin watching!

TIP: We loved Kilbaha Gallery & Crafts; do stop there for a browse and lovely coffee & cake or bit of lunch. Be warned you will likely be tempted if you love books on the areas you visit- I had to restrain myself; so many with beautiful photos, about the local flora & fauna, history and so on. I was very good and just got one book this trip..and one print from a local artist..and one…well, you get my drift! 😀 The gals there are so very nice, and you can get a flavour for the welcome & friendliness and over on their Facebook page, where you can also check with them if you’ve any questions about opening times as this can vary with the seasons.

 


Cows Dunbrody Abbey at sunset in Ireland Summer Solstice 2014

Cows graze along the ruins of Dunbrody Abbey, sunset in Ireland Summer Solstice

Midsummer’s Day in Ireland was spectacular.

The longest day rejoiced with sun; the Irish Summer Solstice was a beaut. Check out the photos!

walking on Baginbun beach Ireland seaweed forage on summer solstice

Not a Summer Solstice cloud as we foraged seaweed at Baginbun, Wexford

Ireland has some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Due to its position high up in the Northern Hemisphere, Irish sunrises and sunsets are lingering; not blink and you’ll miss it affairs like near the equator. Of course we haven’t the equator’s heat and reliable sun, but we do have very long summer days. In fact on Midsummer’s Day Ireland’s day length was just 2 minutes shy of 17 hours: 16 hours and 58 minutes.

Love daylight? Well, if you factor in the hours when there is still light, (dawn & dusk, which are also known as ‘civil twilight’,) Ireland Summer Solstice sees only around 5 hours of darkness. Sunrise and Sunset has handy info, here’s Ireland 21 June 2014:

 

Morning civil twilight 04:07
Sunrise 04:58
Transit 13:28
Sunset 21:57
Evening civil twilight 22:49

calf last of summer solstice sunPhotographs of the Ireland Summer Solstice from sunrise to sunset tweeted by folks around the island are gathered in the Storify below.

First, though, are a few I took as we drove home from foraging seaweed on a Wexford beach.

If you enjoy sunrise/sunset photos, you may like these posts with Irish sunrise photos, here and here, and also here. They’re mostly from winter, when late sunrises make photographing them easier! There are some autumn sunrises here.

Here are some wonderful photos from people on Twitter who have more than camera phones to snap with! Enjoy, and have a happy rest-of-the-summer 😀

Bloom 2015; Dublin, Ireland

Bloom 2015; Dublin, Ireland

Bloom!

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Bloom 2015 fun for all ages!

Bloom 2015 fun for all ages!

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

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

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

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

Bloom 2015 will inspire you to garden!

Bloom 2015 will inspire you to garden!

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

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

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

Bord Bia's Bloom 2015

Bord Bia’s Bloom 2015

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

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

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

 

For more Bloom 2015 information and tickets, visit www.bloominthepark.com –kids go free!

Follow Bloom 2015 on www.facebook.com/bloominthepark or join the conversation on Twitter @Bloominthepark @bordbia and #bloom

 

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

Large Gardens:

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

Medium Gardens:

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

 

Small Gardens:

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

See you at Bloom!


Waterford Country Fair at Mount congreve gardens

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

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

Inaugural Country Fair destined for Waterford’s Mount Congreve Gardens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Altamont Gardens tulips


Does Santa fly along the Christmas Eve Northern Lights to Ireland

Does Santa fly along the Christmas Eve Northern Lights to Ireland

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

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

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

 

As well as the first lambs being born, county Kilkenny was an exciting place to be as Kilkenny.com filmed 3 Wise Women as they came to the end of their long journey… 


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

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

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

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

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

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

Campagne Kilkenny Ireland- Michelin star desserts!

Campagne Kilkenny Ireland- Michelin star desserts!

 

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

The Ireland you’ve dreamed of

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

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

Kilkenny Ireland sheep traffic jam

Kilkenny Ireland sheep traffic jam

A world- class friendly city: Kilkenny, Ireland

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

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

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

You want ancient ruins?

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

Kells Priory Kilkenny Ireland sheep

Kells Priory Kilkenny Ireland sheep

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

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

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

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

 

Rent the beautiful Larrys Barge in Ireland

Rent the beautiful Larrys Barge in Ireland

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

You want tasty artisan Irish food?

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

You want to experience an authentic traditional Irish pub?

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

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

Inside of Doyles, Graiguenamanagh Kilkenny Ireland

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

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

You want Irish crafts?

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

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

Prepare for that Irish weather!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


The Barrow Valley, Ireland

Walk the Barrow Valley & Blackstairs Mountains, Ireland

Breathe that fresh mountain air. Ahhh!

Serious hikes, serene strolls, river safaris and sure-fire craic is in store for you at the Carlow Walking Festival 2014!

You can choose from 23 guided walks that range from leisurely historic walks & nature walks, all the way through to a hard & fast 8 hour A++ hike through Ireland’s heather -covered Blackstairs Mountains. Transport to & from the walks is provided, and each walk has several guides but limited numbers of walkers in order to give you the best experience possible. There are even refreshments afterwards, and evening trad sessions in O’Shea’s fabulous pub/hardware shop that you really shouldn’t miss!

 

Trad music in Carlow voa carlowtourisim.com

Trad music in Carlow via carlowtourisim.com

 The Walking Festival runs 3-5 October 2014, and sadly, (ok not sooo sad!) I’ll be in Italy during it, so I’ll miss out myself; but if I was in Ireland I’d also be very interested in some of the complementary outdoor activities on offer during the festival too.

River Safaris

Go With The Flow are running a Safari on the River Barrow each day of the walking festival, suitable for absolute beginners and families. The Barrow is a great river for spotting otters & kingfishers– I know because I’ve seen several here myself, and it is such a thrill each time!

Cycling along the River

Cycling is another brilliant way to spot Irish wildlife. A gentle cycle down the towpath which runs alongside the Barrow is just the ticket. Terry and I rented the bikes & did this ourselves, and the wide towpath is lovely and flat for those of us on the un side of fit 🙂 That flatness also makes it more family friendly, so a cycle along the river, with perhaps a stop for cake & coffee in St Mullins or Graiguenamanagh makes for a lovely and easy outdoor adventure. You can rent bikes from Waterside Bike & Hike, €15 a day for adults, €10 for child. Don’t miss the stone chair of the robber Freney along the lefthand side of the Barrow towpath a few km down from Tinnahinch if you cycle to St Mullins. Picturesque seat for stopping to take a breather!

Carlow walking festival brochureNight Walk

Walking in Ireland’s mountains at night is magical. One of the B rated walks (#1) is at nighttime, lead by experienced local guides. When I lived in Donegal I used to walk a bit of the mountainside at night, and believe me, it is something special. If the stars & moon are out it is even more so, but regardless, if you are in the category of  ‘experienced hillwalker’ this is a walk not to be missed. And if you’d like to learn more about that B level of ‘experienced hillwalker,’ check out Walk 16, which is an informal Introduction To Hillwalking for B level walkers.

Fabulous Views

Brandon Hill is just one of the walks giving you fabulous views; see the the photo below for one beautiful view over the Barrow Valley– and how about that carpet of purple heather! Terry did this hill walk with his friend last week, and you can do it too; it is a B level walk, #6. It takes around 4-5 hours and you can usually easily see the Wicklow Mountains and several counties. I think Terry will be doing some of the Carlow walks whilst I’m away in Italy, and he is under instruction to take photos to share with you all!

#WalkCarlow

The Festival is using the Twitter hashtag #WalkCarlow, so you can follow along & enjoy some beautiful views even if you aren’t here. As part of Green and Vibrant I’m organizing the hashtag and bringing a blogger or two in to experience & share about this lovely Irish walking festival, so they will be tweeting photos too– when mobile coverage in the countryside allows 😀

Do share YOUR #CarlowWalks photos & if you’ve any walking tips, because we’d love to see & share them. 

There are SO many fabulous walks in Carlow, do have a look of the full Festival listings & brochure hereCarlow Autumn Walking Festival 2014 .

Purple heather, stunning views even on a cloudy day; enjoy Carlow Walking Festival in 2014!

Purple heather, stunning views even on a cloudy day; enjoy the Carlow Autumn Walking Festival 2014!

And DO book early, places are limited; the link to book walks is here. Walks are between €10-€20 to cover costs. Carlow Walking is a well regarded walking festival, with many walkers returning each year-maybe you will too 🙂

PS: If you’re travelling to Carlow, several hotels have Walking Festival offers; see them on the brochure, linked above.

For even more Carlow events, like the Feile an Fhomhaie 2-9 October, see http://carlowtourism.com

Enjoy your Walks & Outdoor Adventures in Carlow!