sligo walking festival

Sligo Walking Festival Hits the High Notes in 2018

Sligo’s 2018 Hiking season kicked off to a glorious start with a sold -out County wide Walking Festival. Northwest Adventure Tours attracted large numbers of hikers to experience Sligo’s expansive landscape with hikers arriving into Sligo town from Galway, Dublin, Cork and as far afield as the UK, Germany and France. Many confessed to rearranging their travel plans to link in with the festival and with a great turn out of locals the many people visiting Sligo for the first time were treated not only to Sligo scenery but also pure Sligo wit and charm.

On Friday evening eager participants were bundled onto the festival bus at the Riverside hotel in Sligo town and were taken off into the wilderness on their mystery adventure.

It began in Slish wood where the torch lit hike crossed over Ox Mountains to finish at Union Wood. It was a magical evening under the stars with the twinkle of the local village lights far below in the distance.
The walks on Saturday and Sunday were graded as either A, B or C. The most experienced hikers were brought out on walks graded as A such as the Royal Peaks and the Sleeping Giant of the Dartry Mountains. These were for experienced hikers and involved greater distances and more elevation.

sligo walking festival

B walks were for experienced hill walkers or those with a standard of fitness and ability usually gained through regular exercise. These included the iconic tabletop Benbulben Mountain and the Classic Sligo Way.
C-Walkers were brought out to the Gleniff horseshoe on Saturday and to Knocknarea on Sunday. Both were nice 3 hours walk interspersed with snack stops and fascinating facts from Sligo archaeology enthusiast Auriel. The C walks or C-Trails were hosted by Auriel from Seatrails bringing participants on a journey through the hills and history of County Sligo.

William from Northwest Adventure Tours said ‘The festival would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the epic collaborative efforts that is fast becoming synonymous with how Sligo does business. Package deals provided by the Riverside hotel and other local accommodation made visitors experience all that sweeter and support from additional adventure providers such as Seatrails, Wild Wet Adventures, Terra Firma, Call of the Wild and Feehilys Executive Travel made for diverse and engaging walking tours. ‘

Many were visiting Sligo for the first time and got rewarded with incredible hikes and stunning scenery. The weather was perfect as we hiked through a light dusting of snow on the higher peaks and enjoyed wonderful views of the Wild Atlantic Way under moody skies.

Northwest Adventure Tours are delighted with the event and are already making plans for next years event.

Check out Northwest Adventure Tours for more information on upcoming events and tours.

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


January 12th is cut-off date for South Sligo Tourism membership

Local tourism organisation South Sligo Tourism are really hitting the ground running for 2018 with big plans to promote the rural areas of south and west Sligo. The cut off date for membership is 12th January, so if you want your business to benefit, be sure to contact them without delay.

The fledgling organisation printed 10,000 brochures this year and plans to have their new brochure ready for the beginning of the 2018 tourism season. All members will be included as well as a calendar of events, useful for tourists and locals alike. A video, media visits and a sustained social media campaign are all part of the plans for the coming year.

South Sligo Tourism held a couple of very successful networking event and information sessions recently. Over 50 businesses attended these events and even more are expected to join up for 2018.

Chairman Paul Taylor is hugely enthusiastic about the potential for this project and said, “We look forward to driving this project forward in 2018, working in collaboration with Sligo Tourism and neighbouring counties. With this group of committed, enthusiastic people working together, south and west Sligo will soon be firmly on the tourism map.”

South and west Sligo have a lot to offer the incoming tourist but, as is common outside urban areas, the businesses have tended to operate alone rather than in conjunction with one another. By joining South Sligo Tourism, businesses will come together, building a stronger tourism product and benefiting the entire community.

The closing date for 2018 membership is 12 January 2018. Membership is an absolute essential for anyone involved in the tourism business. Contact for further information or visit the website #SouthSligo


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

Strandhill Peoples Market

Sligo Christmas market makes sure the elderly are included in this year’ festive goodwill

The organisers of one Christmas market in an Irish town have come up with a heartwarming way to reach out to the elderly this Christmas.

The organisers behind the Strandhill Christmas Market in Sligo 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’.

“This time of the year can be particularly difficult for the elderly; people who’ve lost their partners, or whose children have moved too far away to visit. It’s easy to forget that the family-oriented holiday season can be the loneliest of times for people with no relatives,” said Allan Mulrooney, founder of Strandhill People’s Market, (SPM) which is behind the Christmas Market.

“That’s why we will have a warming cup of something for those who would like to bring an elderly neighbour or friend along so they can too can soak up some of that nice vibe.”

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.

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.

Visitors to this year’s Christmas market will have a chance to purchase high-quality gifts, and indulge in hearty food from the artisan food and craft producers that will descend on the village for the festive markets.

New to this year’s market include:

  • Carrow Coffee. Based on Carrowgarry Farm, Sligo, the new roasting business is run by coffee enthusiasts, Andrew and Paola who used to live in Colombia.

Andrew, whose background is in journalism, spent four years covering the topic of coffee for international news agency Bloomberg News, in Colombia.

After taking a course in roasting, Andrew and Paola decided to return to his family farm in Sligo and set up their own roasting business. Since introducing their coffee at the Christmas market, they’ve been selling out fast.

Also featuring at this year’s market is

  • ‘West-Strand By Nina’ – an Austrian who uses an 18th century Austrian technique to create slippers and other products from 100% wool. The craft — called Doggln’ back in Nina’s hometown of Westendorf, – has proved a hit with visitors to the market.

Strandhill People’s Christmas market takes place every Friday, 5 – 9pm and every Sunday, 11 – 4pm up until Christmas.

More at

the building block

Bank of Ireland’s Startlab goes deep in the West.

Startlab, Bank of Ireland’s unique startup incubator is looking to extend its reach into the West region with its newly formed “startlab remote” programme. Originally based in Galway, the programme runs over a 6 month period and helps fledgling tech startups to scale by providing complimentary facilities including desk space, high-speed Wi-Fi, conference rooms as well as one to one sessions with key coaches and mentors, introductions to investors and support from Bank of Ireland’s Innovation Team. Startlab remote will see Bank of Ireland link up with the growing number of coworking spaces opening in the region such as the, The Leeson Enterprise Centre in Westport and The Building Block here in Sligo. Successful applicants will benefit from the suite of supports the programme has to offer as well as desk space in their locality.

Tracy Keogh, Bank of Ireland’s Innovation Manger for the West explains, “Our startlab remote programme came about from listening to the community and our customers. A move to Galway simply wasn’t on the cards for some of our candidates so we needed to explore how we could still support them. Successful applicants will have their desk space funded and will have access to everything the programme has to offer such as mentoring and access to our network. I would encourage any tech startup with global ambitions to apply”.

Startlab Galway is one of 3 incubators run by BOI with a Fintech focused programme in Dublin and a startlab space in New York to help companies tackle the U.S market.

The Building Block’s Community Manager Karen Foley commented, “Bank of Ireland’s startlab is a fantastic initiative for startups in the West of Ireland and The Building Block, a hub for entrepreneurs and startups, are looking forward to welcoming the successful candidate to join our growing community here in Sligo.”

Head of Bank of Ireland Sligo, Tara Rodgers offers, “Sligo is the major urban settlement in the Northwest after Galway and we’re delighted that the startlab programme is expanding. The student population that the 3rd level institutes attract here make it a breeding ground for innovation and the startup community here is really taking off”. “All aside Sligo is a great place to live and is a must see on the West Cost, according to Vogue magazine no less”, laughs Rodgers.

Applications are open until the 30th of November on

For more information: You can arrange a 1 to 1 meeting with Programme Lead Graham Clarke on the 27th November in The Building Block

dervla pudding row

Sligo Café Takes A Gamble on Wild Atlantic Winter

Chef and proprietor of Pudding Row Café, Dervla Conlon and husband Johny are set to keep the doors open to the cafe for the first time through the winter months. Nestled in the seaside coastal village of Easkey in County Sligo,  Pudding Row opened in the summer of 2015, and has since grown a considerable fanbase of locals and day-trippers alike who venture to the foodie hotspot. 

Boasting a menu of seasonal ingredients, prepared by Dervla and her team in the kitchen, the winter menu features dishes such as ; pan fried goats cheese, maple roasted parsnip and apple salad;flaky pastries and pies; lemon curd donuts and butterscotch buns.

Opening hours for the café this winter are Thursday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm, and also include two Christmas markets on December 14th and 21st from 6 – 9pm.Following a small break for Christmas, Pudding Row will open for a few days between Christmas and New Years Day. The café will reopen in early January straight through to summer.  
Weekly baking classes focused on Yeast and Sweet Breads with dates running throughout November, December and January. 
Speaking about the winter opening hours, Dervla said: “We’ve had a tremendously busy two years since opening the doors to our beloved Pudding Row here in my hometown of Easkey, and we really feel there is momentum to take the plunge and stay open through winter. We have a loyal customer base in our local community coming from across County Sligo, as well as many holiday-makers who stay around the Northwest. Easkey is quite the spot for winter surf as well, and there’s nothing better than warming up over a bowl of free range pork, apple and cider stew or a nice pot of loose leaf tea.”
For further information on classes, Christmas markets and café opening hours, visit or follow @PuddingRowSligo on social media.