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Vibrant Ireland

All posts in Wexford

St Patrick's Day beach parade Wexford Ireland vintage tractor
The beach parade in Wexford in 2013. Duncannon’s Parish Priest Fr. Nolan is in a tricolour wig and shamrock Elton John shades aboard one of the best vintage tractors. Pic by Mark Graham

 Paddy’s Day fun throughout county Wexford.

 

It all kicks off with Ireland’s Only ‘Beach Parade’ this St. Patrick’s Day in Duncannon!

St. Patrick’s Day in county Wexford is one of the biggest days of the year, with celebrations and parades taking place in Wexford town, New Ross, Enniscorthy, Gorey and even on a beach in the pretty seaside village of Duncannon. Have a look and see what is on when:

Duncannon

Duncannon beach will host the country’s only Beach Parade this St. Patrick’ Day. The parade will start outside the church in Duncannon at 12.30pm travelling down the Main Street and from there it will go travel along the beach. The parade will be made up of local scouts, girl guides, local sporting clubs, vintage vehicles and top tractors. The Duncannon Sandsculpting Festival will have a float in the parade, as will the local businesses. Entertainment will be on offer after the parade with an obstacle course on the beach and a bungee trampoline for the kids.

 Musical entertainment will be on offer at The Green for the afternoon. According to Cathy Dowling, Parade committee member, St. Patrick’s In Duncannon is a real occasion. “We have been hosting the parade along the beach with the last four years and it is always a fantastic day, we have such a stunning beach here in Duncannon, it’s the ideal place to host the parade for everyone to get a good view of the action. The Grand Marshall this year will be the winner of the GAA Top Farmer competition which will be held in Duncannon the night before St. Patrick’s Day.” Cathy said.

 

Wexford Town

This St. Patrick’s Day Parade is probably the oldest parade in the country starting back in 1917. This year the parade will commence at 11am from the junction at Fisher’s Rowe, William’s Street and weave it’s way through the town to pass the reviewing stand at the Quay Front adjacent to the Bridge. This year’s parade will see many floats and numerous marching bands and will be one of Wexford’s best parades. Groups will assemble from Fisher’s Rowe up to the Green in Maudlintown at 10.15am sharp, while the floats will assemble at 10am from the Mace Service Station in Trinity Street on the right hand side of the road, towards The Talbot Hotel.

 

Gorey

There will be music at the Market House from 2.30pm along with fringe events including ‘Tug o War’ and ‘Barman’s race’. Entertainment and prize giving will take place on Esmonde Street directly after the Parade. Starting at 3pm, the Parade route commences from the Enniscorthy Road at Grattan Street, travelling down the Main Street onto Esmonde Street. 

 

 Enniscorthy

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place at 2pm. Floats, vintage cars, marching bands, Bui Bolg characters and more will take to the streets departing from St. Senan’s Church led by the Army Reserve walk along Templeshannon Quay, cross Seamus Rafter Bridge and passing the reviewing stand at Abbey Square.

 

New Ross

The town’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will get underway from 2pm travelling from Irishtown down the town’s quayside to the viewing platform at the Dunbrody visitor centre. Filled with marching bands, floats and entertainers it’s one not to be missed.

 

So get out your shamrocks, fuzzy tricolour wigs, & maybe even your swimsuit if you’re brave in Duncannon, and have a fantastic St Patrick’s Day in county Wexford!

For more on St Patrick’s Day, present & past, check out these posts.


Gorey Trad Festival Wexford Cheer up your February with a ‘Pulse of Music!’

The 2nd Annual Trad Music ‘Cuisle Cheoil’ is on in Wexford

Gorey in county Wexford is going to bring a bit of zing to what has been weeks of grey stormy weather; they’re hosting some traditional Irish music sessions, a large concert, and workshops. So raise your pulse with Cuisle Cheeoil; ‘pulse of music!’ (Thanks to @SkelligKerry for the heads up on the Irish translation.) Here’s the scoop:

Cuisle Cheoil Traditional Music Festival returns to Wexford for and even bigger and better second year. Some of Ireland’s top musicians are set to feature at this latest addition to Wexford’s festival calendar, which takes place in Gorey next weekend fromFebruary 21 to 23.

Festival-goers can enjoy a series of free ‘Trad’ Music sessions at a variety of venues right across Gorey town, the Cuisle Cheoil Festival Concert featuring performances by some of Ireland’s top traditional musicians and many All-Ireland championship winners including accomplished fiddle player Ciara Ni Bhriain, champion accordion player Cyril O’ Donoghue, outstanding flutist Conor Byrne, international selling singers Colm O’Donnell and Cyril O’Donoghue and Mick O’Brien will play the Uileann Pipes. The concert will be compered by Áine Hensey, who hosts a number of traditional music programmes on Radio na Gaeltachta and RTE1.

The town is gearing up for three days of Concerts, Céilís, Workshops and Sessions taking place in various venues around the town plus a monster Trad seisiún.

Following a traditional Irish Mass on Sunday in St. Michael’s at noon, a lecture by Uileann Piper and RTE Radio Producer, Peter Browne takes place, there is also a Set Dancing workshop, and the festival closes with a ‘not to be missed’ Céilí Mór on Sunday night with music by the Ballyellis Céilí Band.

For further details on Cuisle Cheoil see cuislecheoil.ie Gorey Trad Festival Wexford ireland. Child with fiddle


Happy New Year 2014! Daisy Day is on New Year's Day at hook Lighthouse

Happy New Year 2014! Daisy Day is on New Year’s Day at hook Lighthouse

Age Old  New Year’s Day Tradition at Hook Lighthouse:

New Year’s Day Daisy Day, 2014

Hook Lighthouse is amazing. At 800 years old it is the world’s oldest operational lighthouse, and you can even go up in it via the tour! The views are far-reaching, and during the winter whale season you may spot some spouting past. Hook Head peninsula is a fantastic place to visit any time of year, but in many ways winter is special. Besides the whales, the sea is awesome crashing against the rocks and cliffs during wild and windy winter days. We were there just as the Stephen’s Day 2013 storm started to roll in, and it was exhilarating!

 

If you fancy some thing a bit tamer, though, why not  bring the kids to the Lighthouse on New Year’s Day, 1 January for an afternoon of fun, with a traditional daisy hunt and free games.Daisy Day will be at Hook Lighthouse Ireland on New Years Day 2014

At noon there will be an Arrow Ceremony; Councillor Niamh FitzGibbon will  shoot an arrow into the sea, which is a medieval custom symbolizing the port’s authority over the estuary. There will be refreshments and music, and from 1.30 the children’s Daisy Day will begin, including a Kids Party Club, the Daisy HuntDaisy Spin Art and lots more fun activities until around 3.30pm.

As I mentioned, Hook Head and Lighthouse is a good place to spot whales. Bring your binoculars to Daisy Day, or book a whale watching trip for another day. I went on one in February 3013 with off The Hook Whale Watching– it was fantastic!  Find out more about that here. The Irish waters are among Europe’s richest for cetaceans, with an impressive 24 different species recorded to date. November to February is prime whale watching time– an exciting activity at a time when you may think not much is happening in the natural world.

Humpback whale jumping, Hook Head Ireland Photo Padraig Whooley

Humpback whale jumping well out of the water, Hook Head Ireland Photo Padraig Whooley

Stormy or sunny, Hook is a great place to get a blast of sea air & blow away the cobwebs! Why not go? Tours of the lighthouse & the visitor centre are open year round.

Hook lighthouse wexford ireland

Ahh, fresh! Joanne blows away those cobwebs at Hook Lighthouse.

June/July/August 9.30 am to 6 pm
May/September 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
Rest of year 9.30 am to 5 pm
 
Guided Tours of Hook Lighthouse Tower
June/July/August – Every half hour from 10 am to 5.30 pm
Rest of Year – Every hour from 11 am to 5 pm
Adult €6    Senior / Student €4.50   Child (5 to 16 years) €3.50   Child (under 5) free
Family (2X2) €18
Family (2X3+) €20
Pre-booked group (20+) receive 10% discount when paying as a group.

Group bookings by prior arrangement

Access to Lighthouse by guided tour only.

 

For more information, & to download their guide, please visit http://hookheritage.ie/

 

 Happy New Year 2014!


Wexford Christmas marketsFestive Markets All Around for ‘Christmas in  County Wexford’

Around the world there is nothing like the words ‘Christmas’ and ‘markets’ in one sentence to get people of all ages excited. This year county Wexford is joining in the excitement with lots on offer. From the north to the southern tip of Wexford there are an abundance of Christmas, festive food & craft markets to suit every taste and pocket.

In Gorey the sixth annual Magical Christmas Market will be held on the Main Street on Sunday, December 8. The entire Main Street will be closed to traffic and taken over by crafts stalls, festive food stalls, carol singers and much more, with over 70 stall holders there will be lots to see, taste and enjoy.

Enniscorthy will be lit up in style this festive season thanks to the town’s new Christmas lights. Enniscorthy Castle is excited to welcome Santa and his helpers this December. This promises to be a wonderful experience for children and adults alike. Santa will be at the Castle from December 1 to December 23. Mrs Claus will be reading from some of her favourite Christmas Stories, and helping the waiting children to make some very special Christmas Decorations for the trees in Enniscorthy Castle.  As you wait in anxious anticipation for Santa, why not play with some of the Roche children’s toys!

Great Victorian Christmas is on offer at Wells House where Santa Claus will be in the great hall and storytelling sessions with Mrs.Claus are on offer at her cottage. A wonderful Christmas Food and Craft Market will take place at Well’s House from December 7 to 23.

Santa will also be nipping over to Johnstown Castle to celebrate Christmas on 7-8 and 14-15 Dec. Santa will be in county wexford christmas markets

In Wexford town,  amongst the twinkling lights festive log cabins have been set up in the Bullring for a market filled with artisan food, drinks, treats and crafts. The Festive Market takes place during December on Saturday and Sunday’s from the 7th to the 22nd plusMonday and Tuesday the 23 and 24th.

In New Ross the Christmas Bazaar promises to ensure that all visitors will get their festive shopping completed at the Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, December 14 at the Scout Hall on marsh Lane from 2pm to 6pm. Santa will be in town also at St. Michael’s Theatre on the each Saturday and Sunday from the 7th to the 22nd.

Santa is set to arrive at Hook Lighthouse on Sunday, December 15 with an escort from Fethard Coastguard at 2pm to his special grotto at the Lighthouse Watch room.

Also on the Hook Peninsula help the it is Santa Versus the Grinch at Loftus Hall, join Santa and help him save Christmas on Saturday, December 14.

On New Years Day at Hook Lighthouse join in the age old tradition that is Daisy Day’ where local children would race to find the first daisies of the year to be rewarded with pennies.

Enjoy the Holidays in Wexford! 😀

For further details on all events see visitwexford.ie

For some wonderful photographs of Wexford at Christmas & other times, too, visit Ger Dwyer Photography. Gorgeous! 


Halloween in Ireland is special.

Halloween in Ireland is spooky!

Halloween in Ireland is spooky! This is Kilkenny Castle.

After all, Ireland is the home of the Halloween tradition. Samhain originated here, and Ireland is an exciting & spooky place to be during October- especially in one of the many ancient castles. You are spoiled for Halloween choice- so many places are haunted– castles, lighthouses, crannogs & more! There’s plenty on, and I’ll give you some highlights.

No matter what your age or how nervous your temperament, there’s probably something Halloween-y on that you’ll enjoy.

If you have the nerve, you could set yourself a fantastically spooky tour of the events & festivals listed here. Do you dare? If you do, let us know in the comments below; tell us YOUR favorite Halloween events/outings/tales/treats.

For the HUGE array of Halloween events for 2015, please click to the newest article here.

Candlelit Halloween Tours of Huntington Castle

One of the Halloween things we did last year was the nighttime candlelit adult tour of Huntington Castle in county Carlow. We loved it! Huntington is about 500 years old and is a castle full of stories; for example did you know it is home to the Temple of Isis? It also is home to lots of screams during the tour– I think mine are still echoing there 🙂 Thank fully there are also family tours for those with kids under 12, and the castle tearoom is open for a cheery restorative Halloween bun & coffee after your frightening experiences. Click Huntington Castle for all the details and to book.

 

Halloween in Ireland: Huntington Castle Ireland

Huntington Castle has a fab, fun Halloween tour

Halloween at Rathwood

At the side of county Carlow (Wicklow border) you’ll find Rathwood. I’ve heard lots of good reports on Rathwood and their falconry centre, woodlands, garden centre, shops & more. Plus, The Chocolate Garden is next door. Now, that’s frightening — for those on a diet! 😉

Renowned for their magical Christmas train experience, this Halloween families can jump onboard the spooky delights of Rathwood’s Halloween train. Travel through the enchanted forest, magical fairy playground and meet some friendly ghoulish creatures. Children and adults alike can enjoy a pumpkin pick and pumpkin carving with Rathwood’s witches. All children will enjoy a complimentary hot chocolate after the Halloween adventure.

Babies (0-12months) go free, €5 per adult and €10 per child. Halloween trains running from October 19th to October 31st. 

For bookings visit rathwood.com

 

Halloween in Ireland Rathwood

Love this pic from Rathwood! The scary face the wee lad on the left is making 😀

 Virginia Pumpkin Festival

Head to county Cavan for the Pumpkin Festival, with events from 25-30 October. There’s the national giant pumpkins competition, Haunted Forest Walk, pumpkin pie contest, artisan food & craft fair, treasure hunt, fireworks, and musicmore happening as well. A great time for the whole family!

Unlike some of the next Halloween highlights- for adults only!

Loftus Hall- the Devil Visited!

Loftus Hall in county Wexford, where the devil is said to have visited, does have a children’s event listed, but it also has a tour for over 21’s only! How scary must that be? Too scary for me, that’s for sure. They also have an adult only murder mystery night running on Friday the 13th of December. Click the link above to find out more, if you dare…

Halloween in ireland: Loftus Hall

I’m not! Are YOU? Loftus Hall is spooky!

Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm

Another adult only Halloween event is the over 16’s only Haunted Spooktacular Horror Farm in county Meath. I’m a big scardy-cat, so I’ve not been to this, but here’s a 30 second video of the scares. They do have a family friendly day on Oct 27th, Halloween Bank Holiday Monday…that may be more my speed 🙂

[youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpErZ_vI6gs” title=”Haunted%20Spooktacular%20Haunted%20Farm%20Ireland”]

 Shankill Castle: Midnight Halloween Tour

Shankill Castle in county Kilkenny has events for both over 15’s– accompanied by an adult- and for families. The candlelit tours bring you through the most haunted parts of the castle, and also out into the graveyard. The tours start running 18 October, and there is to be an extra-special one at the witching hour of midnight on Halloween. They are also having 2 murder mystery nights, which include a 4 course meal as part of Savour Kilkenny. To find out more about all the events Shankill Castle is running, click here.

Children: Get ready for Halloween!

In Kilkenny City, the 16th century Rothe House is holding events for children ages 5-12 on Halloween day:

11.00 – 12.30:  Get creative, and make your Hallowe’en mask and lots more scary stuff.

12.30 – 1.00:  Break (bring your own lunch)

1.00 – 2.00:   Michael Moylan of Irish History Live brings past Hallowe’ens to life, with scary stories.

€6.00 each session (morning and afternoon), or €10 for both. To book: +353 56 7722893 or  info@rothehouse.com 

Thank goodness this sounds nice and non-heartstopping! I was getting the creeps just writing about all the very scary Halloween events. I’m sure there are others, but I’m too scared to write about any more 😉

Right; now all I have to do is go and suit up for the Vampire Hunt at the Bram Stoker Festival. Stake; check. Holy water; check. Garlic…uh oh…hubby cooked with it..  Find out more on the Vampire Hunt and the festival, here.

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?

Will you need this vampire hunting kit at Bram Stoker Festival?

 


Duncannon Sand Sculpting festival creature 2014

Duncannon Sand Sculpting festival creature 2014

The 2014 Duncannon Sand Sculpting Festival is on 15-17 August 2014

Duncannon is a lovely spot, and busy, too!

Both this weekend and next; first the Sand Sculpting Festival will be on, then the Hooked Kite Fest & Kitesurfing Championships on 23-24 August 2014! I didn’t get much info on the sand sculpting this year, but here is a blurb & the picture has the program of events schedule.

UPDATE: I’m just back (Sat afternoon) from the festival & I have to be honest and let you all know there are only 2 sand sculpture mounds, and tho quite nice, I had expected more. It is €3 pp or €10 a family to go in to see the sculptures. Hopefully there can be more sculptures next year, or perhaps something like Fun in the Sand would be more fitting as a festival name?  There will be amatuer sandsculpting tomorrow (Sunday) 2-4, but for people visiting on Saturday the name seems a bit misleading, and I just wanted to let you readers know. 

Family fun filled weekend, from kids beach party Friday with spectacular fireworks, games and activities all weekend on Duncannon beach, ranging from teddy bears picnic to bungee trampoline and of course our amatuer Sandsculpting competition, plenty to do and see for all the family.   

duncannon sand sculpting festival programme 2014

Duncannon sand Sculpting festival programme 2014

Head over to the lovely sandy beach along the charming village of Duncannon, Wexford this weekend for their annual sand sculpting Festival!

***Below is from last year’s post on the Sand Sculpting, much of it similar to THIS year, too***

Professional Sand-sculptors will create giant sand-sculpted masterpieces under the 2013 theme of ‘Water Safety’. The festival will begin on Friday with a free Sports Active event on Duncannon Beach from 11am to 3pm for ages 8-14. A giant beach party will mark the grand opening of sand sculptures from 7:30pm with music by DJ Noel Lynch, Kids Party Club and a huge fireworks display after dark.

Duncannon sand sculpture, photo from visitwexford.ie

Duncannon sand sculpture, photo from visitwexford.ie

Saturday morning from 10am with the Sand-Sculpture exhibition opens to visitors. Family fun events on beautiful Duncannon beach take place throughout Saturday offering, a teddy bears picnic on the beach, music from the Barrack Street Marching Band and the Ballindaggin Pipe Band in the village, amateur sand-sculpting sessions, a children’s puppet show and disco, fancy dress competition, outdoor wrestling from Irish Whip Wrestling, and music from ‘Kobi’ in the Strand Tavern in Roche’s Bar.

Sunday  the Sand-Sculpting exhibition continues from 10am, rugby training with Leinster Rugby, amateur sand sculpting on the beach, Street Theatre with the Madcaps in the Village, Freeway at the Strand Tavern and Eat the Peach in Roche’s Bar. Other Activities include Water Zorbing, Tug O’War and Beach Games.

Get your sun cream & come to Duncannon!


 Battle of Vinegar Hill. Pictured at Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford where the Rebels take to the hill in preparation for the upcoming Vinegar Hill Battle reenactment over the August bank holiday weekend. Pictured are Seamus O'Leary, Paul Murphy, Des Murphy and Seamus Corrigan getting the cannon ready. Picture: Patrick Browne Vinegar Hill Battle reenactment, Enniscorthy

Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford where the Rebels take to the hill in preparation for the upcoming Vinegar Hill Battle reenactment over the August bank holiday weekend. Pictured are Seamus O’Leary, Paul Murphy, Des Murphy and Seamus Corrigan getting the cannon ready. Picture: Patrick Browne

This will be exciting!

The 2nd annual reenactment of the Battle of Vinegar Hill is set to take place at the historic Enniscorthy location this Saturday and Sunday, August 3rd & 4th. It looks to big a big one, with 100’s of re-enactors on board!

Here’s what’s happening:

 

Sat, August 3:

 A Rebel encampment will take over the grounds of the National 1798 Rebellion Centre in Enniscorthy with Rebel commanders on the lookout for talented young Pikemen and women to train before the ensuing fight.  The Blacksmith will also be on hand, shoeing horses, making pikes, swords and other weapons for the upcoming battle and demonstrating the age-old skills.

The Redcoats will commandeer Enniscorthy Castle and demonstrate infringement punishments such as floggings. The Redcoats will be revealing their battle plans to their fellow Generals and the public the day before the battle commences. The highpoint of the day will be a skirmish between the Rebels and Redcoats at 1 pm at Duffry Gate to Market Square which will recreate the insurgents’ initial capture of Enniscorthy Town in 1798. 

 Battle of Vinegar Hill. Pictured at Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford where the Rebels take to the hill in preparation for the upcoming Vinegar Hill Battle reenactment over the August bank holiday weekend. Pictured is Paul Murphy on Vinegar Hill with the Rebel Flag . Picture: Patrick Browne

Paul Murphy on Vinegar Hill with the Rebel Flag . Picture: Patrick Browne

Sun, August 4:

 Both forces will amass their strength at the Fair Green at 1pm and parade through the town on their way to Vinegar Hill for battle at 2pm. Visitors are invited to watch the two armies fight amidst gunfire and explosions, pike charges and cannon fire on the notorious battle ground overlooking Enniscorthy.  The crown forces will also include cavalry and three cannons to launch their assault on the hill.

The Battle of Vinegar Hill, which was fought on June 21 was an engagement during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.  Over 10,000 crown forces launched an attack on Vinegar Hill, which was then occupied by over 20,000 rebels and camp followers.  This was the largest rebel camp and headquarters of the Wexford United Irishmen and their supporters. It marked a turning point in the Irish Rebellion of 1798 as it was the last major attempt by the rebels to hold and defend ground against the crown forces / the army of King George III. The battle was actually fought in two locations: on Vinegar Hill itself and in the streets of nearby Enniscorthy. The Battle of Vinegar Hill was the pinnacle of this Rebellion, and was the last major battle on Irish soil.

See visitwexford.ie for further details.


Active Family Vacation in Ireland: swimming & on the beach Dunmore East

Active Family Vacation in Ireland: Fun on the beach Dunmore East

Looking for ideas for an active family vacation in Ireland?

Kristi @TheMountainSun was, & asked me for suggestions. So, like I did for Leah over on this post about eating in Kilkenny City, I’m going to give you all a few ideas, thanks to Kristi’s question. She and her family are coming in Summer and want to go south & west. Here are some ideas for her, and you, here in the sunniest part of Ireland 🙂

Sunny Southeast of Ireland

The sunny southeast of Ireland is a wonderful place to be, especially in summer. The mountains and river valleys are not filled with big tour buses, but are filled with beauty & outdoor activities! There are loads of clean beaches, several of which are quite magical– coves surrounded by cliffs, caves and rock pools, uncrowded. Our favorite is the stretch of coastline from the 13th century ruins of Tintern Abbey, Co. Wexford all the way to through the Copper Coast in Co. Waterford. Along with swimming, rock pooling, & enjoying the riverside/seaside in general, in the sunny southeast of Ireland there are family adventure activities, horse riding, cycling, mini farms, kids’ power kite-ing, and The Magic Road. (There’s a map with the places I mention at the end of the post.)

Diving in Graiguenamanagh: Active Family Vacation in Ireland

Diving in Graiguenamanagh

Enjoy the Barrow River Valley

The Barrow river valley of counties Kilkenny and Carlow, nestled under the Blackstairs Mountains is a hidden gem.  There, all in the vicinity of the non-touristy medieval village of Graiguenamanagh Co. Kilkenny & Tinnahinch Co Carlow, families can rent bikes and, as I did in, take an easy cycle along the river tow path

Or also in the same area, what about a family river canoe trip or some kayaking? You can also take a guided nature walk (minimum 5 for this) or swim & dive off the diving board in the river. Whew!

You could also take a half day or longer trip on the most gorgeous barge in the world, Larry’s Barge. You can see it moored on the river near beautiful St Mullins, Co. Carlow’. And of course, you can just walk along the paths & trails in the area, too. If you are in the area for the Graiguenamanagh Traditional Regatta on the August Bank Holiday Sunday you may want to try your hand at tub racing, diving for plates, climbing the rope across the river, & more!

Head out to the Coast

Continuing on down by the Barrow, you’ll come to the town of New Ross, Co Wexford. There you can tour on the old emigrant ship, Dunbrody. Ok, it isn’t an adventure activity, but children often find it cool to be on an old Tall Ship &  they really do seem to enjoy this bit of  history, as the tour is done as a live re-enactment. From New Ross if you’d like to take in a beautiful ruin you can head to Tintern Abbey & roam that 800 year old ruin and walk the wooded trail to find another hidden ruin or two on site. From there you can go to Hook Head Peninsula & Hook Lighthouse. At the far west of County Wexford is the lovely seaside village of Duncannon. Here Hooked Kitesurfing offers a power kite lesson to children, and there is a big sandy beach that hosts a Kitesurfing Festival- 17 August  2013, & Sand Sculpting competition 12-14 August 2013.  Historic Duncannon Fort is also there, and may be of interest if there are military fans in the family. I’ve not been, nor know anyone who has, so I can’t comment. (On to-do list!) Duncannon is also where off The Hook Whale watching goes out from in winter. ( Have done & is FAB!)

Hook whalewatching trip

On our Hook whalewatching trip

Oh, Where’s This Go?

From Duncannon the quickest way over to county Waterford is by the little ferry that leaves from Arthurstown/Ballyhack. It goes every few minutes, & the first time we encountered it was by accident on one of our  ‘exploring’ drives. We asked where it was going, in case it was headed off to Wales, but it only goes 5 minutes across the bay over to Passage East 🙂 That’s another gorgeous little fishing village.

 Full of Fun

From there you can go to one of our absolute favorite seaside villages, Dunmore East. It is a great place for families. There on the main strand you can swim, high tide or low, and there are lifeguards.  There’s not a huge amount of beach left at high tide just at the jetty, but you can always get a drink at The Strand Inn just above the beach and watch the boats go by 🙂  There are more beaches in the area, too. Tip: the fish n chips, and the chicken n chips from O’Shea’s take-away (up the road inland from The Strand, 2 minutes walk) are very good. The village is rather large, and down by the fishing harbour is Dunmore East Adventure Centre, where all sorts of activities are available. My husband, who had been very nervous of the sea, did a day’s mini sail boat course with them and loved every minute.

sea stacks & sunshine Copper Coast, Waterford

Along the Copper Coast, Waterford

From Dunmore East, you may want to head farther west along Waterford’s unspoilt Copper Coast. The next town is Tramore, home to sandy beaches,  & with a busy family seaside holiday feel. Here is  Tramore Surf Shop & School, where in the Summer kids can have a surf lesson at either 10am or 2pm. There are also family lessons & more. If you need a break from getting wet,  in the Tramore area are Lake Tour Stables, where you can do a horse trek suitable for the family. You can go several times a day, all year, and is suitable for beginners & up. (There’s an all day Copper Coast trek, too–I’d love to do that!) The Copper Coast is full of magical wee beaches, and it is well worth taking a leisurely drive along it & investigating the strands & coves (and if the younger children need a visit to something  just for them, Copper Coast Mini Farm may fit the bill) before reaching Dungarvan Town & heading inland a bit to the The Magic Road (great fun!)

Helpful Apps & Sites

Knowing the high/low tide times is quite helpful, as some beaches (like Bannow Bay, a wild, pebbly stony beach good for birdwatching) will nearly disappear at high tide. If you have a smartphone, a tide app is useful. I have Tides Near Me – Free  (Android,) & there’s also a version for iphones.  A good website to visit is Irish Water Safety, it will also list beaches which have lifeguard cover. If you enjoy nature identification, there are free apps on Android for Irish Butterflies, plus bees, and mammals. Another good app is Ireland Green Travel, for Android and on itunes.  As well as outdoor activities, it has info on green places to stay and so on. It isn’t free, but is certainly worth the couple of euros. Specifically for families is Are We There Yet Ireland, very handy for just over €2!! Android  and itunes. Also, feel free use the search function to search my site, as I’ve  posts on other things to do, eat, etc, particularly in Kilkenny and Graiguenamanagh.

Here’s a map I made of the places mentioned, move it around to see ’em all. Click on the pins for more info on each.

View Sunny Southeast Active Holiday (family friendly) in a larger map  

Hope you’ve gotten some ideas you’d like to pursue. Have fun! 

 


JFK 50 years celebration photo reflected in the Dunbrody Ship polished granite sign

JFK 50 years celebration photo reflected in the Dunbrody Ship polished granite sign

  New Ross’ celebration of JFK 50 years on 22 June is action packed!

You likely know how much JFK  meant to the majority of Irish people- his picture was often hung in Irish homes, in pride of place along with other special figures like the Pope. (See photo further below, from Mrs Meaney’s  traditional cottage, just a 20 minute drive from JFK’s ancestral home.) He was the first Irish Catholic US president, and his ancestors hailed from county Wexford.

This connection is very much alive in New Ross, Wexford. New Ross is home to the Kennedy Homestead, the Kennedy Summer School, the Dunbrody emigrant ship– like JFK’s ancestors would have left for America on-  and now the JFK 50 years celecbrations on Saturday, 22 June. There’s lots on, and LOADS of big names! I’ll be heading down on the day, and here’s the line up & traffic info so you can go too (along with over 30 members of the Kennedy family!)

 

JFK50 Homecoming celebrations Saturday, 22 June 2013

An ‘American Themed Community Parade’ taking to the streets of New Ross at 3pm. The parade involves local and visiting groups, including street theatre company Bui Bolg presenting a production focussing on the emigrant story. The parade will start out from lower Irishtown at 3pm travelling along a route to the historic Three Bullet Gate, down Cross Street along South Street to the Quay via Charles Street arriving at the Quay for 4.45pm.

Local musical and dance acts 1.30 to 4pm on the stage on the Quay prior to the commencement of the main event.

 Just before 6.00 p.m. the arrival of the Irish Naval Ship the LE Orla in full colour on the New Ross quayside will herald the main event 

JFK 50 years celebration

JFK 50 years celebration

The Emigrant Flame will be taken ashore from the LE Orla by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, sister of President Kennedy and will be received by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny  signalling the commencement of the national event with a line up of Irish and international performers continuing until 8pm.

Wexford Ambassador Anne Doyle and George Hook will jointly compere the event and will welcome the artists to celebrate the memory of President Kennedy and to celebrate all Irish American links.  Colm Tobin will express his recollections of the 1963 visit by President Kennedy.  Recorded video footage of the lighting of the Emigrant Flame from the ‘Eternal Flame’ at President Kennedy’s graveside at Arlington National Cemetery will be shown on screens along the quayside.  Another Wexford Ambassador, tenor Michael Londra, will perform for the first time a song specially commissioned for the occasion ‘A Song for John’. Extreme Rhythm ( Note: I’ve seen them before & they are some craic!) under the leadership of Wexford man Nicky Bailey will generate great excitement as they perform a Celtic percussion piece.  There will also be a screening of video footage of the 1963 visit of President Kennedy to Ireland.

New Ross and District Pipe Band current world Pipe Band champions will perform beside the Emigrant Flame and a special performance by Valda, an acappella group based in Wexford town will perform a surprise piece for the Kennedy Family. American Grammy award winner Judy Collins will also entertain the audience with songs from her vast repertoire and The American Spiritual Ensemble, a critically acclaimed group composed of some of the finest singers in the classical world will perform on stage.

Michael Flatley will narrate the journey of the Emigrant Flame before the lighting ceremony at the Emigrant Flame monument. The flame will be carried along the newly developed boardwalk in a relay involving members of  Special Olympics Ireland, the Peace Corps, members of the community and New Ross Town Council.   The flame will then be handed to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Caroline Kennedy daughter of President Kennedy and Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith who will light the Emigrant Flame.

Following the lighting of the flame Judy Collins, to the accompaniment of Michael Londra, Valda and the American Spiritual Ensemble, will perform ‘Amazing Grace’. In the skies above New Ross there will be a fly past salute from the Irish Air Corps.

JFK on the wall of  Mrs Meaney's traditional cottage

JFK on the wall of Mrs Meaney’s traditional cottage

New Ross town manager Eamonn Hore told us, “The Homecoming Event will be a unique occasion, never before has permission been granted to take a flame from the Eternal Flame at President Kennedy’s graveside. The lighting of the Emigrant Flame here in New Ross will be a special moment. This flame will burn in perpetuity on the Quayside to cement and sustain the links with all of  those who have left our shores for different futures.”

Earlier in the day An Taoiseach will have officially opened the new visitor centre at the Kennedy Homestead and planted a tree in a ceremony to re-dedicate the John F Kennedy Memorial Park. (This is a beautiful arboretum, and if you enjoy nature & trees, consider a visit.)

Important if you are driving in: 

On June 22 the N25 along the Quay in New Ross between O’Hanrahan Bridge and the junction with Marsh Lane will be closed to all traffic between 12.00 noon and 10.00pm.  The O’Hanrahan Bridge N25 will be closed to HGV’s from 9.00am  to 10.00pm... HGV’S heading to Wexford/Rosslare, Waterford, Kilkenny and Enniscorthy via New Ross will be subject to diversions via Thomastown and Inistioge.   O’Hanrahan bridge will remain open to all other vehicular traffic with local diversions in place.

For more on all events taking place on June 22 & throughout the year for the JFK50 see jfk50ireland.com.


Did you know that Ireland is a good place to see whales?

The sky & sea are incredibly beautiful- whales or no!

It is, and here in the sunny southeast some of the best months are Nov- Feb, when you can often see fin whales. They are a big whale, on average around 65 ft long. And we saw 11 of them!

How did we do it? And what else did we see?

Rebecca C & Duncannon harbour

I got in contact with Martin Colfer, who runs Off The Hook Whalewatching, and arranged for myself & some friends to go out with him on his boat the Rebecca C.

Martin needs a certain number to go out, but if you are an individual or small group you can get added in with others- do give him a ring & chat about it 353 (0)87 265 7177 or email him info@charterangling.ie

We were out from 9am to 2pm, costing €40 per person, and it was worth every penny!

Be sure to dress warmly, & waterproofly (Is that a word? It needs to be!)

It ended up being quite choppy the day we were out, so another tip is to take some seasick pills before hand, just in case. I ‘visited’ the side of the boat few times myself…thankfully it didn’t ruin my day.

Luckily I was upright for this pic! Looking for whales.

We all had our cameras, but the sea spray is lethal to them, so don’t have them out- keep ’em in plastic bags & use only when boat is not kicking up spray.

I found that looking through a camera made me feel ill- looking at the horizon is really the best thing for funny tummy.

Also, we all agreed: don’t worry about photos if it’s your 1st time seeing whales. They are so quick you’ll miss seeing them properly if you’re trying to snap pics. Enjoy the experience instead.

Look at us, not your camera! Curious seals watch us on the boat

As the boat took off from Duncannon Harbour, we passed the historic Duncannon Fort, and later Hook Head Lighthouse in the distance. First the dolphins came, jumping and playing in the water. There were guillemots and gulls flying and diving.

Then seals bobbing about, relaxed and curious. All the time we were also looking for the spouts of water or gatherings of seabirds that Martin had told us would alert us to the whales.

Suddenly- spouts! Whales!

For at least an hour we were seeing loads of whales— it was magical. Quite a few times they were close to the boat; magnificent.

Mostly, we didn’t take photos, we just marveled. But Suzanna did take some, and kindly shared with me for this post. I hope you enjoy them. I highly recommend taking a whale watching boat trip!

We went to The Strand Tavern after, & had good food, hot drinks & warmed ourselves by the fire. The service was excellent, and they catered to the coeliac in our group with no problem. It was the perfect end to a wonderful outing. 

Fin whale by Suzanna Crampton
Whale watching with Martin Colfer, Off The Hook Whale Watching, Wexford, Ireland. FANTASTIC To find out more about whales and dolphins in Ireland, visit the website of the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group