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

networking west

Top 5 Networking Events in the West this Spring

It’s the new year and it’s time to get out there and promote your business, get inspired and expand your network.

There are so many great networking and business events taking place across the West of Ireland; we’ve rounded up our list of the ones not to miss.

1. Leveraging Ireland West Airport, How can your Business Benefit? BOI Workbench, Galway, 18 Jan 2018

Ireland West Airport had a record-breaking year as the airport’s passenger numbers increased by 7pc or 48,000 to 733,869. How can your business benefit from that, and even create more demand for those routes?. Join an interactive talk with Donal Healy, Head of Marketing & Route Development. This event welcomes hoteliers, tour companies, local business owners and anyone who can add value to the west region’s airport. Learn about the routes in place for 2018, the demographic of people through the airport into the west region, and how you can target cities of origin. All welcome!

Register at

2. Hackaholdem, The Building Block, Sligo, 03 & 04 February

sligo hackathonHackahold’em – a gamified version of a hackathon is set to take place in The Building Block, Sligo on February 03-04 2018.
Bringing together up to 40 programmers, designers and product developers, the event will take place over a 24 hour period with 5- 7 teams set to participate.

The event is for developers, designers and all-rounders in the digital space and our aim is to bring the fun and community feel back into hackathons, while providing a space for participants to network and build something cool together.

Sign up now!

3. Digital West, GMIT, Mayo, 30 January

Emerging trends and careers in Digital Media and how companies can stay competitive will be the focus of a public seminar in GMIT Mayo on Tuesday 30 January, delivered by leading professionals and academics in digital media, marketing and technology.

Organised by the Mayo campus academic staff in collaboration with the Innovation Hub, the “Digital West” event will include topics on Digital Media Strategies, Bots & Automation, Google Analytics, Automation of Digital Media, Blockchain, and more.

This Dynamic FREE event will focus on emerging trends in Digital Media and how they will affect companies and individuals in 2018 and beyond.
As the digital media landscape rapidly evolves with the introduction of new technologies such as AI, analytics, automation and a movement towards high definition video communication, companies are finding it increasingly hard to attract and maintain talent.
More at

4. Open Talent Speed Dating, Galway, 06 April

Open Talent Galway

Open Talent is a two-part event where people of all backgrounds come to Galway city over two days in April for a sweep of 1-1 interviews, and speed dating events with local businesses. Want to get straight to interview?

Register at

5. Startup Weekend West (Ire): Future of Towns, Achill Island, 27 April

Keel Beach

Keel Beach, Achill

Achill Island, Co. Mayo is the destination for the upcoming Startup Weekend West taking place on Friday, April 27, 2018. The theme is the future of towns.

This unique Startup Weekend will bring together designers, developers, county councillors, urban planners, founders, and much more to conceive ideas and build solutions that will bring life and economic vitality back into Irish towns.

The weekend costs just €60 to attend, and that includes all meals each day, a t-shirt and some cosy accommodation.

On Friday, some of the attendees will pitch an idea for 60 seconds. The best ten ideas (voted for by attendees) will progress to build a team and then through to pitch at the final. On Saturday, mentors and coaches (who are established business owners or experts in their area) will be brought in to help guide the teams through execution. On Sunday, the event will finish with the final pitches and winners announced. There’s also a cracking after-party.

TechStars Startup Weekend is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

Full details on how to get involved at


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



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

the cube

The Cube – New desk space facility in Roscommon

A brand new facility in Roscommon providing shared flexible deskspace is now available for innovative entrepreneurs and start-up enterprises at the new Civic Offices in Roscommon town. The measure is an important milestone in Roscommon County Council’s aim to provide strategic infrastructure to foster the next generation of innovative enterprises across the county. This is another step in fostering and retaining the best entrepreneurs in the county, especially the many graduates that the county produces, who often have to leave in search of work opportunities or the necessary modern infrastructure to assist them to establish their own businesses.

The hotdesk space has a capacity of 14 desks aimed at new and existing enterprises and workers who require a modern, professional environment with advanced connectivity to set up and operate their businesses. The facility provides access to high speed broadband, IP telephony, meeting rooms and other support services.  Very attractive rates are available for users depending on their needs, stage of business development and support required to bring their ideas to fruition.

Managed by WestBIC in partnership with Roscommon County Council, the facility also provides extensive networking opportunities and linkages to the range of enterprise and innovation supports from the Local Authority, Local Enterprise Office, WestBIC and other agencies in a one-stop shop environment.

To assist entrepreneurs and innovative enterprises, WestBIC, the official EU Business & Innovation Centre in the region, provides applied innovation support services which includes investor-grade business planning with hands-on support to access start and growth capital and provides access to growth opportunities through its extensive EU networks and programmes. WestBIC also assists Roscommon County Council with its strategic and innovation planning, EU programme delivery and international partnering needs.

Launching the new centre recently, Leas Cathaoirleach Nigel Dineen spoke about the pro-active nature of the Council working in partnership with other organisations and the importance of developing facilities to attract the next generation of innovative enterprises. “The Cathaoirleach and Elected Members have provided their rooms to develop this new space.  Funding was also provided to develop facilities in Castlerea to support local food industries. As part of the 3 year Capital Plan the Elected Members voted for funding to be made available for a new Innovation Centre and I know the Chief Executive and his team hope to proceed with plans later this year”.

For those wishing to avail of the new facility, they should contact James at WestBIC in the new Civic Offices, tel. 090 6625196 or email:

More info at


Top 5 things to do in the West this weekend

It’s a bank holiday and the West is buzzing with ghoulish and creative things to do. Here are top tips to get out and about this weekend:

  1. Macnas Galway Halloween Parade: The world-famous Macnas parade returns to the streets of Galway on Sunday, 29th of October 2017, as giants and otherworldly performers descend on the city for a night of mischief and mayhem. This world famous street theatre company will premiere some truly incredible new work Port na bPúcaí, as the 2017 Macnas Parade comes home to the streets of Galway’s Latin Quarter.

fright night

2. Fright Night at Craggaunowen: The prehistoric park in Co Clare, is hosting a new Fright Night, where there will be spooky tales and exploration of the creepy woodlands, October 28th, 4pm-9pm; family €25. Delve deep into the dark and spooky setting of Craggaunowen for a jaw dropping & spine tingling Halloween experience like no other.

3. Get to a Gig at Sligo Live: The Irish Folk, Roots & Indie Festival enters its 13th year on the Wild Atlantic Way between October 25-30. Imelda May, who will be performing shows throughout Ireland this month, will headline the Festival’s Friday night, 27th October 2017 in the Knocknarea Arena at 8.30 pm. sligolive.iesligo live

4. Connemara Sea Week: runs all this week, and celebrates the marine heritage of the area. Expect kite making workshops, story and song nights, guided shoe walks, sean nos dance workshops, readings and, of course, sean nos nights throughtout the area. There will be three live weekend concerts in the Gothic Church at Kylemore Abbey (booking essential, tickets €10). A highlight is the fire-filled “After the light” parade which brings myth and magic to Letterfrack on Wednesday, October 25th, at 7.30pm. sea week

5. Have a Spook-tacular time at Lough Key Forest Park: Don’t miss the LOUGHSPOOKEY HALLOWEEN FEST 2017 at Lough Key Forest Park in Co Roscommon. See full details at

The Spool Factory

The Spool Factory is a state of the art new modern co working hub and event centre located in Boyle, Co. Roscommon.

10 hot desks are available for daily, weekly or monthly rental along with serviced office suites, designed to your requirements.

The top floor conference facility can accommodate up to 110 people in theatre setting with 100mb wifi, stereo surround sound, 6ft automated screen and projector.

Rooms are also available for smaller numbers if required.

Catering can also be provided on request and on street free parking is available outside the building with a private car park to rear and the town car park (free) opposite the building.

The Spool Factory is one of Ireland’s newest co working hubs with exciting plans for future development.

If you would like to avail of co working space or to hold a meeting or conference in our Event Centre in the scenic town of Boyle, please call Brian on 086 2575032 or email


You can find out more on or by following us on Facebook.


inside craft

New Craft Initiative to host 3-Day Pop Up Event in Lough Key Forest Park this weekend

Culture vultures are in for a treat this Culture Night in Roscommon as the new Inside [CRAFT] tourism initiative hosts its next pop-up retail event in the stunning surrounds of Lough Key Forest Park Visitor Centre. The pop-up event will open for Culture Night this Friday September 22nd from 4pm and continue throughout the weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 5pm.

The retail event is set to introduce the new Inside [CRAFT] network and will be an excellent opportunity to meet the craftspeople, hear about what inspires them and their work, and browse some of the unique items for sale, all set against the beautiful surrounds of Lough Key Forest Park.

Crafts people participating include Angela McManus, Kate Oram, Kirsteen O’Keefe, Frances Crowe, Ronan and Orla Ward and Roy Humphries.

Inside [CRAFT] was officially launched in August 2017 by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, at the Virginia Show Centre in Co. Cavan, and is the culmination of planning by the Local Enterprise Offices across Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon.

Covering a wide breadth of creative disciplines the network attracted a multitude of designer-makers; sculptors, book-makers, mixed-media artists, wood-turners, ceramicists and fashion designers. 28 craftspeople are now members of the network from across Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon. The Inside Craft website ( showcases profiles of each member along with links to their own websites and creative products.

Positioning the upper-Shannon region as a place for creativity, the network 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 LEO Competitive Funds, 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

Event Details:

Inside Craft Pop Up Retail Event
Lough Key Forest Park
Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Fri 22nd Sept 4pm – til late
Sat 23rd & Sun 24 Sept  10am – 5pm