st patricks day

Top 5 Things to do in the West for St Patrick’s Day 2018

It’s one of the biggest days in the calendar and a day for Irish people at home and abroad to celebrate our culture, identity and heritage.

But St Patrick’s Day is so much more than that.

We give you the rundown on the ‘Top 5 Things to do in the West of Ireland this St Patrick’s weekend’. 

1. Sunrise and Pipe Bands (17th March)

Achill Island is famous for its pipe bands and its sunrise tradition. The pipe bands begin to play at sunrise on Achill and will march and perform until sunset.

This schedule allows visitors and spectators to join the bands for a while and then to explore Achill’s other attractions – for the active visitor these include watersports, golf or hillwalking, while for the more relaxed visitor there are always the restaurants and bars to enjoy.

Celebrate Ireland’s national day in traditional style, and follow Achill’s pipe bands on their annual parades.

2018 Schedule: Reveille at 06.00am, marches from 09.00am, Dookinella meet at 13.00pm, then return to villages. >>

St Patricks Day2. Galway’s St Patrick’s Day Parade  (17th March)

2018 marks the 116th anniversary of the Galway St. Patrick’s Day Parade and you can expect a wonderful spectacle of all things Irish with this Year’s Guest of Honour being Galway native and extreme adventurer Gavan Hennigan. The iconic fountain in Eyre Square will even turn green as part of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.  The Parade will start at 11.30am and finish at approximately 1.00pm.

The parade will feature an array of community, cultural, sporting and international groups including Ireland’s pioneering spectacle theatre company Macnas, led by the Macnas Young Ensemble. Recognised worldwide for its quality and innovation, Macnas will be accompanied by a fantastical, flowery giant Macnas owl alongside a cacophony of rhythm passion and purpose from the next generation Macnas drummers.. >>

3. May The Road Rise To Meet You (17th March)

St. Patrick’s Day, with a difference in South Sligo as athletes will once again take to the roads for the Tubbercurry St. Patrick’s Day 10K Road Race.

The first ever Tubbercurry 10K road race was planned for St. Stephen’s Day but was postponed due to snow and ice. It was rescheduled for St. Patrick’s Day 1973 and ever since it has become an annual fixture in the running calendar. Last year saw 375 runners take to the streets of Tubbercurry. >>

4. Go Native in Donegal (17th March)

Since 2005, the people of Burtonport, Co Donegal, and surrounding areas have hosted a celebration of Irish culture on St Patrick’s day.

A formal warning has been issued to all Leprechauns in the area to please stay away from the Burtonport Old Railway Walk in the coming days.

Word has it that a Leprechaun catcher is at work at the minute and has already caught a dozen leprechauns which he has restricted to a cage in a bid to limit their mischief over the run-up St Patrick’s day.

Organisers encourage a ‘Bring and Share’ event where everyone brings along food to share on the day.  Experience home baking, the Irish language, traditional dance, music, food, games and a warm welcome. >> More on their Facebook Page here

St Patrick's Day5. Join Ireland’s friendliest place for the Ennis St Patrick’s Day parade

In excess of 10,000 people lined the streets of the Clare County Capital during last year’s parade, which featured 50 groups representing the many aspects of life in Ennis and County Clare.

The theme for this year’s Parade is ‘Ennis – Ireland’s Friendliest Place’, which the Local Authority says provides participating groups, organisations, bands, schools and members of the public an opportunity to celebrate the recently awarded status. >>


Enterprise Week in the West

It’s Local Enterprise Week from Sunday March 4th to Friday March 9th in the West and to celebrate, Local Enterprise Offices are organising hundreds of events for start-ups and small businesses in the West of Ireland.

To see what events across the West are taking place near you, click on your county button below.

You’ll also find updates and event news by searching #localenterprise on social media!

Check out Local Enterprise Office Explained video

wdc insights

Census 2016: The Western Region’s Labour Market – in pictures!

As the final Census 2016 Profile ‘Employment, Occupations and Industry’ was published by the CSO last week, we now have a pretty good picture of the Western Region’s labour market in 2016.  The Western Development Commission (WDC) has today published an infographic on some interesting facts about the Western Region’s labour market.

This is the second in a series of infographics to be published using data from the Census and focusing on the Western Region – the seven counties under the remit of the WDC.  The aim is to make key regional statistics available in an easily accessible manner.

In this infographic we show that:

  • The Western Region had 17.4% of the State population in 2016, 16.6% of all employment and 19.5% of all self-employment
  • There are over 100,000 retired people living in the Western Region
  • Industry is the biggest employment sector in the Western Region and also enjoyed the biggest gain in employment between 2011 and 2016

You can download ‘The Western Region’s Labour Market’ infographic here

west of ireland work force

See more from the WDC Insights Blog here.

WDC Analysis of Census data: Where people in the Western Region Live and Work

More people living in the Western Region now leave the Region for work – analysis of Census data by the WDC shows

  • 7 out of every 10 workers (71.5%) living in the Western Region, work within the Region a decline since 2011 when 73.2% of workers in the Western Region found work in the Region.
  • Over 4,200 Western Region residents travel to work in Dublin, up by 16.9% since 2011.
  • In 2016 there was a net loss of 17,565 workers who leave the Region to work elsewhere.
  • Compared to 2011, this is an increase in the number of workers leaving the Region to work, when there was a net loss of -14,939 residents working outside of the Region.

Of the workplace destinations outside the Western Region, the five counties of Limerick (7,948), Westmeath (4,500), Dublin (4,258), Derry (2,986) and Longford (1,730) are the most significant workplaces.

Over 4,500 workers living in the Western Region work abroad (4,661).

View some specific county findings: HERE

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Deirdre Frost, Policy Analyst, 086 605 3317


marine businesses

Marine Industry Businesses – Get Listed in the Marine Institute Directory

La Tene Maps has been contracted by the Marine Development Team through the Marine Institute to
compile a complete Directory on Marine Related Business in Ireland to be delivered in Electronic and
Printed format. If you are a marine related business and you would like to be included in this directory please complete this short 5 minute survey HERE .

This information is required to support the work of the Marine Development Team an initiative of the Government to promote and support the development of marine related business in Ireland. This is laid out in the Government’s integrated plan for the marine industry, Harnessing our Ocean Wealth.

As part of this mission it is critically important that there is a single, complete and updated source of information on:

  1. What are the companies active in Marine Ireland
  2. Where are they and what parts of the marine business are they active in
  3. How can they be contacted

La Tene Maps will compile and produce a printed directory whilst the data from the directory will also be made available for free access online by the Irish Maritime Development Office in early 2018.
To help complete this directory please complete this short 5 minute survey HERE. La Tene Maps will keep you informed about progress about the directory.



Top 10 Things To Do in the West of Ireland to get in the Christmas Spirit

We are getting very festive here in LookWest HQ with only two weeks to go to the big day. Each year we are amazed at how many incredible Christmas markets, festivals and events are taking place in the West to get you in the festive spirit. This year’s list is bigger and better than ever.

spm christmas1. Strandhill People’s Market, Sligo Airport, Strandhill

Strandhill People’s Market, now in its fourth year, opened its Christmas market last Friday, 1 December. Based in the unique surrounds of Sligo Airport’s Hangar, the market has become one of the biggest along the Wild Atlantic Way with over 50 stalls to choose from on each date.

The organisers behind the family-friendly venue are constantly looking for new ways to expand its audience and make it an event for everyone to enjoy. In October, they hosted the inaugural Strandhill Food Festival – the first to be held in an actual airport.

This December, they’ve brought back late-night opening at the market –  it’s on every Friday leading up to Christmas. Another new initiative for 2017 – the organisers are encouraging people to offer their elderly neighbours a lift to this year’s market to include them on the festive fun. And those who bring their elderly neighbours along for a welcome bit of festive cheer will be treated, along with their guests, to a free cup of coffee or mulled wine at the market from the unique ‘Driftwood Coffee Cart’.

The market has already proven to have had a significant economic impact on the surrounding area, creating employment, generating visitor spend, and making a substantial contribution to the winter economy in Sligo. See

2. Galway Christmas Market – Until December 22nd
This year’s Christmas Market will take place both in Kennedy Park and on the plaza on the northern side of Eyre Sq.  It is in the heart of what has become known as Galway’s East Village. The 32m high Big Wheel offers spectacular views over the city and Galway Bay and which is wheelchair accessible and also features a VIP gondola for special treats and corporate bookings. 

There’s Santa’s Grotto and a German Bierkeller, a helter skelter and carousel, choirs, story-telling , music and lots more. The market is open from 12pm to 8pm Monday to Wednesday and 10 am to 10pm Thursday to Sunday until Friday, December 22nd.


Galway Christmas Market.

Galway Christmas Market. Image Credit: Reg Gordon

3. The Christmas Experience at Tullyboy Farm, Boyle, Co Roscommon

Down on Tullyboy Farm in Boyle in Co. Roscommon there is a chill in the air and all the animals are tucked up warmly in their beds awaiting the arrival of baby Jesus. The atmosphere is buzzing with excitement. The pudding is being made, Santa’s bags are being packed and the Elves are eager to bring you through the ten stages of the Tullyboy Farm Christmas Experience.

Parents and children can warm themselves with hot chocolate and marshmallows and mulled juices/mince pies in the Yuletide Kitchen where you can also help out with stirring the pudding and don’t forget to make your wish. Hear the story of Christmas in front of the big fire in the inglenook fireplace, then up the spiral staircase to Santa’s bedroom to see Santa’s old fashioned bed and the naughty elf.

Visit the Christmas Experience at Tullyboy Farm until 23 December. See

4. Winter Wonderland at Westport House

Visit Mayo’s ever popular Westport House from November 26th and discover a truly magical Winter Wonderland. Packed with festive fun and cheer; this is not just a trip to Santa, but a full Christmas day out! You’ll be welcomed into Santa’s grotto, where Mrs. Claus will enchant children with ‘The Story of Stumpa’ by the fireside. Get your face painted, nibble on yummy gingerbread, as you decorate your own Gingerbread Man; and make your own Yuletide Log.

Then of course comes the main event: A visit to Santa in his magical grotto, where he’ll have a chat with all the children, give gifts, and take photos to remember this special occasion. Santa Sensory experiences are also available.

Kids get to meet Santa in his 18th century grotto, discuss their wish list and get a gift while parents enjoy a seasonal glass of mulled wine.The little ones will love special story-time with Mrs. Claus in the Drawing Room before they decorate their own Yuletide log to take home for the Christmas table. Sing carols with the cheery elves, decorate Gingerbread Men and hop on board the Westport House Express. See

5. Visit Donegal’s Lapland

The longest running and most popular Christmas show in Donegal is back again for 2017 and you do really have to pass the North Pole to get here, we kid you not!

Santa’s Lapland in Donegal includes a live show, with an elf telling the nativity story as it unfolds on stage. Santa arrives down the chimney with a small gift for each child. They move on to Santa’s home, visit the toy factory and sit on his sleigh. There’s a second chance to meet Santa at his home, and have photos taken. See

6. Christmas in Carrick, through December 

The Leitrim town of Carrick on Shannon hosts a month of Christmas celebrations with lots of festive events. Christmas Village markets, Santa’s Grotto, live music and events throughout December. See

7. Sligo On Ice, Stephen St Carpark, Sligo, 
Sligo On Ice opens for the month of December in the central location of Stephen St Carpark in Sligo town. The perfect spot to reconnect with friends and family over the Christmas festivities. (Sligo 4th Dec – 29th January) See 

8. Brigit’s Garden, Galway

If you’d like to take the focus away from presents, you might like Brigit’s Garden in Galway. Their Santa’s Christmas Magic Show includes music and dancing, followed by the lighting of candles, and then the lighting of the Christmas tree – by magic. There are no individual presents for children (though there is a symbolic gift for each family). So if you’re worried about the commercial side of Christmas, this might be the one for you.

ailwee caves9. Santa’s Workshop at Ailwee Caves, Co Clare 

Santa Claus has been taking up his annual residence at Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan especially to meet children and their families since The Millennium. He works very hard as he prepares this unique event.

Along with Mrs Claus and his team of happy Elves, Santa ensures a very special personalised visit for each child. He arranges lots of exciting entertainment for all the family which continues right throughout each day. There is face painting, a puppet show and lots of carnival entertainment to be enjoyed.

Santa Elves are waiting with their LISTS of the boys and girls visiting every day. They will guide everyone along the cave passageways singing Christmas Carols all the way. Santa Claus with his helper will meet and chat with each child and of course have a present for everyone. Mrs Claus is there to greet the grownup with a glass of Hot Punch and a Mince Pie.

Santa’s train is available for rides all day long which will take you to visit the Birds of Prey Centre. There you will enjoy a complimentary visit to meet a Snowy Owl or a Happy Harris Hawk! A visit to Santa’s Workshop at Aillwee really is a unique, thrilling, fun filled day out for every generation of your family.

10. Santa At Arigna Mining Experience 

Visit Santa with a difference as he goes underground this Christmas at the Arigna Mining Experience in Roscommon. Experience the magic of the Christmas underground kingdom with thousands of magical lights which the Elves have put on display to welcome Santa to his grotto. Santa will be in his underground grotto where he will meet all the children.

Visit our Traditional Nativity Scene and see the real meaning of Christmas. Meet Mrs clause who will help you post your  letter to Santa in his special postbox!

Stop by the ‘Elves Workshop’ to check if your name is on ‘Santa’s Naughty or Nice List’, receive your special certificate from the Elves – (be sure to be extra good to get your name on the ‘Nice List’). Join the Elves singing their Christmas jingles as they work in their toy factory. Visit their wonderfully talented face-painters Veronique and Anke who will work their ‘magic’ for you, no request is too much from princesses to butterflies, Spiderman to Rudolph.

For more visit

green door leitrim

Green-Door Festival of rural architecture and design is back this Autumn

The fourth Green-Door Weekend of rural architecture and design returns to counties Leitrim and Sligo this 28th September – 1st October.

Thirty nine homes with sustainable features and ways of living, many self-builds, renovations and extensions, will be open to the public over the two days.

This is a unique opportunity to meet home owners and builders, architects and suppliers to get first hand, honest information about the whole process of sustainable planning, designing and building, the choices made, the highlights and the lowlights.

The weekend is full of talks, workshops, exhibitions and demonstrations, with the aim of stimulating and inspiring the weekend’s participants.

  • The weekend kicks off with talks and debate which aims to give a backdrop to the weekend. The theme: ‘Building, Living, Dwelling’ will be discussed by the following speakers at The Dock Arts Centre in Carrick on Shannon.:
  • Jingru Cyan Cheng : A Split Household: Contemporary Rural Home for China’s Floating Population; Marcus Donaghy and Will Dimond : Material Knowledge ; Deirdre McMenamin :  Configured Rurality Models of Rural Habitation and will be chaired by  Dominic Stevens
  • All day Saturday 30th : 15 homes throughout South Leitrim open to the public. FREE From a cob house to an architect’s garden to a heritage rectory.
  • All day Saturday 1st Oct: Exhibition: ‘Thinking, Living, Dwelling’ is a major new exhibition curated by Sarah Searson and designed to underpin the Green-Door festival (running until Oct 14th) A whole day of talks and clinics at the Dock to include a cob clinic, Healthy homes by Pat Barry IGBC.  Architecture-based drawing and painting workshops for adults and children.
  • 11-5pm Peter Cowman from Living Architecture will be giving talks and demonstrations based on his econo-space, in Leitrim Village.
  • Film Night: Microtopia, La Maddalena Chair and Sensing Spaces are films about architecture and homes at The Glens Centre in Manorhamilton. This is a chance to unwind and catch up with other people.
  • All day Sunday 30th: over 20 homes in North Leitrim and Co Sligo  FREE
  • Including artists’ homes (Max and Anna-Maria, Matt Jones, Charlie Easterfeild) new build builds (Frank Albrecht) and renovations (Brian and Jane)
  • Bike tours of some of the homes around Dromahair led by architect Colin Bell.
  • Exhibitions, demonstrations and workshops at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre

Green Door Festival Programme:

You can download the Green Door Brochure here or visit

For more information


Tel: 087 778 1914



Twitter @ihleitrim



inside craft

Inside [Craft] – new craft trail initiative launches to promote Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon 

Inside [CRAFT], an ambitious new craft tourism initiative, is set to raise the profile of counties Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon as a creative place by showcasing the work of craftspeople, designers and artists living and working in the region.

As part of a long-term creative strategy “Creative Connections”, pioneered by the Local Enterprise Offices of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon, Inside [CRAFT] will embark on a collaborative series of pop up-events, craft trail open studios, a new website and social media activity over the next six months.

The network launch will take place this Thursday August 3rd in the Virginia Show Centre, Co. Cavan and will be officially launched by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD. The first of the Inside [CRAFT] pop-up retail events will open the following day from 10am to 5pm, on Friday 4th to Monday 7th August, and again from 8am to 5pm on Wednesday 23rd August.

Located between the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East, this new initiative aims to tell the stories of crafts people working and living in this dynamic region to a much wider audience.

Failte Ireland research suggests that the “Culturally Curious” visitor to Ireland is seeking out unique cultural experiences such as ‘meet the maker’, connecting with locals who offer authentic stories; visitors who engage with Inside [CRAFT] will get to experience the work involved in producing craft, design and art through open studio visits, interviews, and digital experiences captured online through video and social media.

Participating Roscommon crafts people include: Anne Rigney, Frances Crowe, Geraldine Beirne, Irish Felt Fairy, Kate Oram, Michelle Made This, Naomh Padraig Handcraft, Rachel Feeley, Siobhan Cox, Smyth Knives, The Claypipe Visitor Centre and Una Bhan Tourism & Crafts.
frances crowe inside craft

Roscommon Artist Frances Crowe

Participating Leitrim crafts people include: Angela McManus, Arrowe Ceramics, Artwood, Cormac Lynch, Graham Reid, Huga, Leitrim Design House, Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Lichen Ceramics, Lucy’s Soak Kitchen, Mrs Doyle’s Vintage China, Natalie Hanlon Descheres, Natural Ireland, New Ballagh Centre, Wood-turner Roy Humphries, Sharon Dollar, The Betty Studio, The Dock and Solas Art Gallery.

Covering a wide breadth of creative disciplines, Inside [CRAFT] has to date attracted a multitude of designer-makers; sculptors, book-makers, mixed-media artists, wood-turners, ceramicists and fashion designers. An on-going drive to signup new members will continue via the website

Positioning the region as a place for creativity, Inside [CRAFT] is focused on making craft and creative businesses more visible to visitors to Ireland and the wider public; it will drive support for small enterprises operating in this region, creating a sustainable craft network which will in turn grow sales, ensuring a connected and vibrant creative community across the four counties.

The initiative is funded under the umbrella of USEFE – the Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy, a regional collaboration for economic development between the four counties of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon.

For further information, visit or follow online Twitter: @Inside_Craft, Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest: InsideCraft

European Union names Ireland’s Northern and Western Region as Entrepreneurial Region 2018

The European Union will tomorrow (WEDNESDAY) name Ireland’s Northern and Western region as European Entrepreneurial Region 2018, recognising the ‘enormous strides’ the region has taken to foster entrepreneurship and reverse decades of decline.

The award, to be made a ceremony in Brussels, is a huge boost for a region, the EU’s Committee of the Regions said, that has developed policies that are transforming the area ‘from adversity to advantage’, making it one of the most resilient and ambitious places in Europe.

The European Entrepreneurial Region 2018 designation will be marked with a series of keynote events and initiatives all through next year to support and build on existing and new job creation projects and innovation across the Northern and Western region.

The award comes at a crucial time for the region as looks for ways to insulate itself from the unpredictable impacts of Brexit and offer an alternative economic focal point to Dublin and the east coast.

Commenting, Mr. Marc Kiwitt of the Committee of the Regions, the EU’s assembly of Regional and Local Representatives, said: “The European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) is a project that identifies and rewards EU regions and cities which show an outstanding and innovative entrepreneurial policy strategy, irrespective of their size, wealth and competences. The Northern and Western Region must be congratulated on the successful achievement for 2018.”

In 2015, Northern Ireland was named European Entrepreneurial region. Other previous winners have included cities such as Glasgow, Barcelona and Lisbon. All have used the year to establish successful programmes and schemes to encourage innovation and job creation.

David Minton, director of the Northern and Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) today accepted the award on behalf of the NWRA region which comprises seven counties; they are Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim and Cavan.

He said: “This is an amazing honour and an opportunity for a part of Ireland that has been traditionally marginalised to emerge stronger and more attractive as a place to live and work for our young people, a viable alternative to living on the hugely overburdened east coast.

“The past eight years has seen regional and national policy invest in innovation; invest in people; and invest in education.  Eight years ago, employment levels in the construction industry were decimated due to economic stagnation. Out of this stagnation has emerged a commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past’. In committing to resilience and investing in sustainability, this region has become truly entrepreneurial.”

Ian Brannigan, CEO, WDC said this spirit of entrepreneurship was driven by the efforts of a collaborative alliance to nurture regional entrepreneurship. This included unique offerings like the WDC western investment fund ( which has supported 2700 jobs ), innovative regional promotion platforms (, a regional focus and a network of collaborative Local Enterprise Offices supporting over 45,000 businesses. The concept of ‘entrepreneurship as a career’ has also come from smart programmes such as Young Entrepreneur of the Year and New Frontiers, Enterprise Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme for innovative, early-stage startups.

The Government has warmly welcomed the award. Commenting today, Minster for Community and Rural Affairs Michael Ring TD said: “For me this award is about recognizing the risk taker – from entrepreneurs, to small business owners and indigenous enterprises growing in scale. The Northern and Western region is now finally being recognised as one of the most vibrant, responsive and entrepreneurial places in Europe. Innovative and creative entrepreneurs across the region have led the way for young people, inspired a generation and now are operating at a global level; all from the west of Ireland. This is just one example reflected in every corner of this region.”

“2018 will be an incredible opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurship as a career – not just for some people but an opportunity for everyone. Ireland has produced some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and business people. They are in every sector and industry. This award is another opportunity to tell their story.”

For more information, contact Ciaran Byrne at StoryLab on 01 685 3029 or 086 173 9523.

Please also see