Top 13 Adventure Things to do in the West for Christmas & New Year’s

With all the giving and getting, spending and consuming, it can be very easy to get a little overwhelmed and frazzled at this time of year. Our solution is to get outdoors into this stunning place we call home and give the best gift you can give to friends, family, those in need; your time.

There is nothing like the West of Ireland air to blow out the cobwebs and refresh the mind after all the Christmas indulgence.

If you REALLY want to experience Christmas in the West, dive in! Brave the freezing waters for the traditional Christmas morning swim. Find the perfect gift among the stalls at the Christmas Markets and show off your Gaeilge with a breezy ‘Nollaig Shona Duit’.

Best Christmas & New Year’s Swims

There is NO better way to clear the cobwebs than a teeth-chattering dip in the Atlantic. So get your hip flasks ready and check out our pick of the best Christmas and New Year’s Day swims across the West.

Galway:
1. COPE Galway Christmas Day Swim.


This is the 29th annual Christmas Day Swim organised by COPE, where swimmers gather in Salthill and brave the icy waters together to raise money for the most vulnerable people in our society.
Last year over 450 people took time out of there Christmas Day to take the plunge, raising €28,900 for COPE’s services in Galway. Registration for the Christmas day Swim is €10 for one person or €30 for the family.

Anyone who wants to take the time out of the holiday season to help those who aren’t so fortunate can register online here.

The Christmas Day Swim will take place at Blackrock Pier in Salthill from 10am to 1pm. copegalway.ie/get-involved/events/christmas-day-swim/

2. Inis Mór, Co Galway

The Aran island has a variety of swimming spots, the most famous of which is Pól na bPéist – home to the Red Bull divers in the summer. The island’s population dwindles in winter, there are still plenty of intrepid souls who meet for a post-Mass gathering on December 25th.

3. Sligo: The Christmas Day Splash in Rosses Point

This annual charity swim raises much-needed funds for the MS North West Therapy Centre. The swim takes place from Rosses Point Yacht Club at 12 noon.

25 Dec, Rosses Point, Co Sligo facebook.com/Christmas-Splash-Christmas-Day-Rosses-point-Sligo-121508774625721/

There are a plethora of other charity swims in Sligo including Streedagh, Mullaghmore and Raughley.

4. Roscommon: Lough Arrow Annual Swim
Christmas Day 2018 sees the 18th Lough Arrow Annual Swim in aid of North West Hospice. The swim will start at 1pm at Flynn’s Pier, Lough Arrow and will see participants braving the picturesque Lough Arrow for a Winter dip. There is lots on offer for swimmers and spectators alike with a truly festive atmosphere of family fun on the lakeside including a DJ spinning Christmas tunes, hot whiskeys & mulled wine to warm the cockles as well as soft drinks for children. Events will kick off from 12:30pm Christmas Day with the swimmers going into Lough Arrow at 1pm. The annual swim has raised over €184,000 for the Hospice since it began in 2001. northwesthospice.ie/events/lough-arrow-christmas-day-swim/

5. Donegal
Culdaff, Co Donegal: The New Year’s Day swim at is Inishowen’s largest, hundreds of people from across Inishowen, Donegal and Derry take the annual plunge at Culdaff beach. This year’s swim kicks off 2.30pm on New Year’s Day.

Bundoran, Co Donegal: The Christmas Day swim takes place on the main beach at 12.15pm

6. Clare

kilkee christmas swim

Kilkee is a swimmer’s utopia. Its Pollock Holes are natural deep pools that replenish each time the tide recedes. Newfy (or Newfoundout as its officially called), has two diving boards which Richard Harris used to frequent. The annual Christmas Day swim is on Kilkee Beach at 12.30pm in aid of Kilkee Sub Aqua Club’s search-and-recovery activities.

25 Dec, Kilkee, Co Clare loophead.ie/events/christmas-day-swim-in-aid-of-cancer-research/

Solstice Celebrations

7. Winter Solstice Labyrinth Walk, Loop Head, Co Clareloop head labyrinth
Welcome the return of the light on the eve of the shortest day of the year. Create an intention in your heart and walk the Labyrinth with family and friends this Winter Solstice.

At the centre, is the beautifully crafted statue of Danu, mother Goddess of the Tuatha de Danaan. Danu represents the protector of the Earth. The Triskell on her pregnant belly represents Earth, Sea and Sky.

You are invited to chant the healing mantra with us in the Yoga centre afterward. Donations are welcomed to help the Hope Foundation who support the vulnerable on the Streets of Calcutta. Please rug up well, wear comfortable shoes and bring a torch or lantern. Bring a little jar to hold a tea light.
loophead.ie/events/winter-solstice-labyrinth-walk/

8. Celebrate the solstice in Sligo with a Pagan Adventureseatrails christmas

Celebrate Pagan New Year on the 21st of December with marine archaeologist Auriel from Seatrails.

To mark this important day, you will first explore the interesting Caves of Keash where remains of extinct fauna were discovered at the turn of the 20th Century and a place that is steeped in Irish mythology. You can enjoy fabulous views from the caves out onto the rural landscape.

carrowkeel auriel

Then you will head to the incredible Stone Age passage graves of Carrowkeel, (a most inspiring place to be at solstice) to see the sunset over a majestic landscape and the moon rise lighting up the ancient tombs and the spirits of those who were buried there thousands of years ago. These people were farmers and fully in sync with the pagan calendar year. This was an important time for them as they looked forward to the lengthening of the daylight and the start of Spring, a rebirth of crops and animals and not to forget, a brand New Year!

Finish off with complimentary mince pies and hot chocolate out in nature ‘al fresco’. The cost is €25 for adults and €10 for children. Meeting time is 12 noon. Booking is essential. Dec 21.

Auriel is also running a Christmas ‘Heritage On Horseback’ With Seatrails on 29 December. Full details and booking at Seatrails.ie

Christmas Adventure Festivals and Events:

9. Blow the cobwebs away with a Christmas Paddle on Lough Gill

Here’s a day out with a difference for friends and families – kayaking on gorgeous Lough Gill with Sligo Kayak Tours. The three-hour tours are for everyone; no experience is necessary, and all equipment is supplied. Knowledgeable tour guides bring the lake, its legends and characters to life. A thoughtful stop off at a secluded island for a seasonal mulled wine and mince pies puts the icing on the cake so to speak. It’s a special time of year to be out with family and friends and Lough Gill is a beautiful place to spend a few hours.

Every day from St. Stephen’s Day to New Year’s Day (26-31 December) Sligo Kayak Tours run three-hour paddles starting at 10.30am. The cost is €40 per adult and €30 for the under 16s. Advance booking is essential 086 1999015 or sligokayaktours@gmail.com. facebook.com/SligoKayakTours/

10. Sturrall Headland Rock Climbsturral donegal

Winter climbing in the County of Donegal in the North West of Ireland is quite simply outstanding, alas it has a very fleeting window of opportunity. Due to its coastal position and relatively low lying mountains good winter conditions in Donegal are a rare commodity indeed.  Usually, temperatures have to be below 0 for 5 days consecutively, and down to -5 at night, and an ill-timed dump of snow can spoil it all. To take advantage of these fleeting conditions you have to drop everything, and brave the inevitably appalling road conditions to get there, for rest assured, it won’t last!

The winter light along Ireland’s most remote coastline is incredible. Around New Years Day adventurer Iain Miller visits the summit of the Sturrall in Donegal. The Sturrall Headland is one of the most outstanding sea cliff features in Ireland it is a true monster of a headland sitting isolated and far from the real world. It sits equidistant between Glencolmcille Village to the South and the An Port road end to the North. The ridge is approx 800m long and 180m at its highest point.

As this outing is very weather dependent, to confirm availability it is best to email Iain Miller directly. For more visit Iain’s website at uniqueascent.ie

11. Galway Skates ( 18th November 2018 – 16th January 2019)

Galway Skates brings Christmas Ice Skating on a real ice skating rink to Galway City for Christmas 2018. Visitors can expect to see Galway’s Leisureland transformed into one of Ireland’s premier Christmas attractions with one massive 500m2 ice rink.

www.galwayskates.com

12. Fanore Burren Christmas 2018 – 10k/5k Event

Get ready for 2017 by burning off the Christmas excess at the 6th annual Fanore Burren Christmas 10k/5k starting at 12 from O’Donohues Pub on the R477 “Wild Atlantic Way”. Registration open from 10.30

The Fanore event has built up a reputation for its high-quality finishers medal and this year we have pushed the boat out with a beautiful medal marking the centenary of the Easter Rising. You won’t find a better one.

The 10k course is challenging with a 400-foot climb in the first half – most, of course, is tarmac with 1km on the green road. 5k is a flat course on tarmac suitable for all.

Numbers can be picked up from 10.30 at start. Registration on the day from 10.30 to 11.30 by cash or cheque. Saturday 29 December 2018  active.com/fanore-clare

13. Achill New Years Eve:

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve there is a tradition in many villages on Achill Island in Co Mayo for their pipe bands to welcome in the New Year. A short parade followed by a rally of three or more Achill pipe bands provides a rousing and unforgettable New Year’s celebration for all the family. For the ‘morning after the night before’ how about a bracing dip in the Atlantic at the traditional New Year’s Day swim at Dugort. achilltourism.com/newyear

winter elves

Top 10 Things to do in the West of Ireland before Christmas

Twinkling lights, frosty winter air and festive cheer around every corner – welcome to Christmas in the West.

The most wonderful time of the year? We think so! Think bustling streets filled with festive shoppers, hot drinks enjoyed in front of a roaring turf fire and carol singers belting out your favourite Christmas tunes.

Check out our list of the top things to do in the West this festive season.

Santa with a Twist

1. Santa at the Arigna Mining Experience.  Visit Santa underground at the Arigna Mining Experience in Co Roscommon, a world-class attraction using bona fide miners as guides. Given the rocky authenticity of the surroundings, this Santa visit is like no other. Santa will be in his underground grotto where he will meet all the children. There will be daily entertainment which includse face painting, story telling and lots more fun activities for the kids.Until 22 Dec. arignaminingexperience.ie/santa/

christmas westport house

2. Winter Wonderland at Westport House. Winter Wonderland at Westport House is a magical family experience brimming with Christmas cheer that will leave the kids starry-eyed and the whole family believing in fairy-tales!

Escape the wintery weather outside for the warmth of our open fires in this stunning historic house. Soak up the twinkling lights, lush green garlands and tinsel trimmings spilling festively from every corner of Westport House as the little ones enjoy a fun-filled Christmas experience that they are sure to remember forever.

Until 23 Dec. Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo. westporthouse.ie/event/winter-wonderland-2/

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. tullyboyfarm.com/visitorfarms/christmas/

4. Visit Donegal’s Lapland

The longest running and most popular Christmas show in Donegal is back again for 2018 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 donegalslapland.ie

5. 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.
Until 22 Dec. facebook.com/aillwee

6. 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.

Until 23 December. brigitsgarden.ie

Christmas Markets

Nothing gets people in the Christmas mood more than a colourful market. Eating delicious festive food at markets will get us all warmed up for the Christmas dinner.

galway christmas market

7. Galway Continental Christmas Market

Galway Christmas Market

The Galway Continental Christmas Market makes its return to the City Of The Tribes from 6pm on Friday 16th November until Saturday 22nd December 2018.

The Galway Continental Christmas Market received over 350,000 visitors last year and there were more than 50 wooden chalets located Eyre Square along with the Santa’s Grotto, the German Bier Keller numerous other theatrical delights throughout the four week fair.

This year marks the Christmas Market’s ninth year in Galway, with artisan foods and Christmas present ideas from both local and international traders.

Signature amusement rides will be returning, including a 32 metre high Big Wheel, Helter Skelter and traditional Carousel.
Until 22 Dec. facebook.com/ChristmasMarketGalway/

8.The Mistletoe Market and Frosty Salmon Festival in Ballina.

The Frosty Salmon Christmas Festival returns to Ballina from the 6-23rd of December and promises plenty of festive cheer and seasonal celebrations. Ballina Mistletoe Market is a European style Christmas market which will bring Ballina back to its historic market town origins and will boast a range of local, traditional crafts and artisan food while the festival also boasts a host of concerts, carol singing, street performances at various venues and late night shopping for those last minute gifts.

A major addition to this year’s festival is the inclusion of Ballina on the Coca-Cola National Christmas Truck Tour. Stopping at the Military Barracks in Ballina on the afternoon of Wednesday, December 12, the truck will delight families with its the iconic ‘Holidays are Coming’ jingle, made famous in their Christmas TV adverts. Featuring a glittering winter wonderland setting nestled amongst a festival of lights, visitors will be able to enjoy a can of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, Diet Coke or Coca-Cola Original Taste while enjoying exclusive photography opportunities and creating magical memories that will last a lifetime. This year, Coke merchandise will be available to purchase with proceeds going to St. Vincent de Paul and each truck tour stop will encourage consumers to recycle their cans, in line with Coca-Cola’s World Without Waste global commitment to collect and recycle a bottle or can for each one sold by the year 2030.
Irish Rail’s Polar Express Christmas Train runs on three dates this year – December 8, 15 and 22. Once again this special hour-long trip to Manulla and back with Santa and Mrs Claus on board promises to be a truly memorable experience for children of all ages. Tickets are now on sale from Ballina Train Station priced at €12.50 per person.
northmayo.ie

Strandhill Christmas Market9 Strandhill People’s Market, Sligo Airport, Strandhill

Strandhill People’s Market, now in its fifth year, opened its Christmas market last Friday, 08 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.
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.

Details: December 2, 9, 14-16, 21-23, strandhillpeoplesmarket.ie

galway food tours10. Galway Food Tours Christmas Gift Tours

Shopping local has never been as important, and it is the best way of finding that novel and unique gift. So, Galway Food Tours (GFT) have teamed up with Galway institutions including McCambridges, My Shop Granny Likes it, Tigh Neachtains, Pálás Arthouse Cinema and The Tasting Room (America Village Apothecary) to offer the best food tours with the best local produce. More here.

 

 

atlantic economic corridor

Atlantic Economic Corridor: €500k funding announced for the Western Development Commission (WDC)

Michael Ring, TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, and Seán Canney TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, today (10 December 2018), announced additional funding of €500,000 for the Western Development Commission (WDC) to support the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor initiative and to maximise the use of the Western Investment Fund which provides financing for micro-enterprises and SMEs in the Western region.

Speaking at a meeting of the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, Minister Canney said: “The AEC project is a collaborative initiative, with public and private stakeholders working together to develop the strengths and assets of the cities and towns along our western seaboard, from Donegal to Kerry.”

“The aim of the project is to connect the economic clusters and catchment areas of the region to attract investment, support job creation and improve the quality of life of the people who live there.  The project is overseen by the Atlantic Economic Corridor Taskforce, which I chair, involving key stakeholders from the public and private sectors who share a common vision for the growth of the region.“

Minister Canney continued: “As the AEC initiative develops and grows, the importance of strengthening the collaboration between stakeholders and in communicating our message is paramount.   I have therefore asked the Western Development Commission to take on a co-ordinating role to support the work of the AEC Taskforce and its Subgroups. The support and knowledge that the WDC can bring to the AEC project at regional level will be invaluable to my Department and to the development of the Atlantic Economic Corridor project as a whole.”

To support the WDC in this work, Minister Ring said: “With Minister Canney, I have secured €500,000 in additional funding for the WDC for 2019, which will help them to strengthen their resources, both to support the AEC project and to maximise the impact of the Western Investment Fund which provides investment for micro-enterprises and SMEs in the Western region.  I want to thank the Board and Chief Executive of the Western Development Commission for agreeing to carry out this new AEC coordination role and my Department looks forward to working closely with the Commission to help deliver on the AEC’s objectives.”

The announcement comes just weeks after projects based in the AEC region secured €50 million in investment from three Government funds to support rural and urban regeneration and enterprise development.

Tomás Ó Síocháin, Chief Executive Officer of the WDC, said: “There is significant alignment between the work of the Atlantic Economic Corridor and the goal of the Western Development Commission in building a sustainable future for vibrant communities. The work of the AEC Taskforce will benefit the full length of the western seaboard. The WDC, in co-ordinating business, state and community effort, can bring the benefit of 20 years of investment, development and policy experience to bear in helping the AEC to become a globally competitive region of scale.”

More at atlanticeconomiccorridor.ie

Top 10 Things to do in the West of Ireland this Halloween

Autumn is officially here; despite lamenting the passing of an incredible summer we are definitely enjoying the beautiful blue skies and mellow fruitfulness Autumn brings to the West.

With the October bank holiday and Halloween just around the corner, we thought it would be useful to highlight just some of the great festivals and events taking place across the West over the coming weeks.

westival website

1. Westival, Westport Music and Arts Festival, Co Mayo

We are beyond excited to see the brilliant line-up for Westival (Westport Music and Arts Festival ) which in Westport, Co Mayo runs from Wednesday October 24 to Monday October 29, incorporating the Halloween Bank Holiday Weekend.

Westival takes pride in being an Autumnal-Halloween-festival of comfort, many of the events take place during the long evenings, around open hearths of softly-lit rooms, or during dusk where the imagination can play part in interpreting the world with magic and intrigue.

Le Galaxie and Lisa Hannigan lead the line-up for the first ‘Westival’ festival in County Mayo. 24-29 Oct, Westport Co Mayo. westival.ie

 

burren food fayre

2. Co Clare: Burren Food Fayre
The Burren Food Fayre kicks off for another year on October Bank Holiday weekend. With Food demos, Farmer’s Market, Burren Bellini & Best stall competition and delicious local, artisan and Wild Food. The theme for this years Fayre is “Taste Without Waste”. The Pavillion, Lisdoonvarna, 28 Oct burren.ie/event/burren-food-fayre-4/

3.  Galway City: Macnas Street Festival

The annual Hallowe’en parade by Macnas (who celebrate their 32nd anniversary this year), will take place on Sunday 28th October 2018 at approximately 5.30pm. The narrative theme of this year’s parade is ‘Out of the Wild Sky’ which celebrates the act of transformation being unleashed upon the city by bringing a world that is hypnotic, intoxicating, mysterious and filled with shadowy and noble things. Expect signature Macnas giant creations and sculptural images, pyrotechnics, bespoke costumes, and epic performances to live and original music. Street-hopping, traffic-stopping excitement and chaos will be orchestrated by the hundreds of performers from the Macnas Young Ensemble, Youth Ballet West, the Macnas Youth Drummers, The Hit Machine and the Public participation programme. Spectators are encouraged to wear costumes too. Galway City, 28 Oct, macnas.com

4. Sligo Town: Sligo Live Festival

Sligo Live celebrates folk, roots, and indie music. Over the years it has carved out a niche as a relaxed, intimate and enjoyable music festival, attracting visitors from all over Ireland and abroad. Sligo Live is one of the most relaxed, friendly and enjoyable music festivals in Europe, having hosted major international and Irish folk, roots and indie artists in intimate indoor venues for 12 years. Headliners this year include the Boomtown Rats, Lisa Hannigan and Saint Sister. Sligo, 24-29 Oct, sligolive.ie

5. ‘Gaeilge Galore ar an Turas Mór’, Sligo

Ceolteoirí Tireragh wishes to preserve and promote the Irish language by undertaking a bus tour of historical sites in the West Sligo region, with an emphasis on the Irish language throughout the journey and sites.

The ‘Gaeilge Galore ar on Turas Mor’ bus tour departs on Monday 29th October, leaving Dromore West Community Centre and visiting six historical sites in the West Sligo area. This event is free to join. Conversation takes place in Irish along the way, with information given at each site and refreshments and an Irish music and song session to end the event. Dromore West, Sligo, 29 Oct. To book a place call 086 876 5545 after 6pm.

carrowmore halloween6. Samhain Sunrise at Carrowmore, Co Sligo

Celebrate the changing of seasons with sunrise at Carrowmore Megalithic tombs in Sligo. The Carromore complex of passage graves dates back to 3,700 BC.

Samhain means Summers End and is also the start of Winter, which starts on November 1st.   The changing of the season is marked in Carrowmore; this is also the last day of our season. All are welcome on October 31, but you need to get there early. 31 Oct, Sligo. facebook.com/carrowmoreopw/

7. Haunted House at Westport House, Co Mayo

Are you ready to scare yourself silly this Halloween?!

Westport House will be hosting it’s annual Halloween Fest from 20th and 21st October as well as the 27th to the 31st of October from 11:00am to 5:00pm.

Get ready for plenty of ghoulish delights, scary stories and creepy fun that all the family will be able to enjoy!

  • Head to the Haunted Estate House, transformed into a spooky old mansion for Halloween Fest.
  • Gather ‘round the cauldron for Scary Story Time, with wicked tales from the White Witch of Westport.
  • Brave souls can visit the dark dungeons, where the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley locked up her prisoners.
  • Carve a creepy pumpkin* and decorate some ghoulish goblin cakes at the Spooky Spoons Workshop.
  • Get your Michael Jackson zombie moves on at the Thriller Dance Class.

Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo westporthouse.ie/halloweenfest

8. Kinlough People’s Market, Co Leitrim

The Kinlough peoples Market is a new venture, and has had it’s first very successful market, but getting into the spirit of things they are now presenting a new Halloween Market, with their wide range of products shown and the ‘Fairy Forest’ for the kids it is a day out for all the Family.

With the Halloween market on the 28th of October, the market will continue on regularly on the last Sunday of each month. 28 Oct, Kinlough, Co Leitrim. facebook.com/kinloughpeoplesmarket/

9. Castle Adventure Open Farm Spook Fest, Co Donegal

Family Halloween Event at Castle Adventure Open Farm. Kids haunted House, Face painting, storytelling, spooky disco and much more.

No Booking Required.

lough key halloween10. Lough Key Halloween Spook Fest

A wide variety of fantastic activities will be running from 27th October – 2nd November for the whole family to enjoy this Halloween at Lough Key

All activities are open for the week with some being weather permitted

Join Lough Key this Halloween for the ‘Spoooky Scenes’ in the visitor centre, all the adventures at the Adventure Play Kingdom, the Tree Canopy Trial, the Zipit Forest Adventure, splashy fun at Lough Key Boat Tours and many more fun activities and adventures. An experience like no other for this Halloween. 27 Oct – 02 Nov. Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon. loughkey.ie

 

 

 

ireland's hidden heartlands

Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands showcasing the heart of the West of Ireland

We are delighted to see Failte Ireland launch their new campaign promoting Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. This new tourism campaign explores the green heartlands of Ireland’s natural beauty, where activity and relaxation are centred around rural communities.

ireland's hidden heartlandsIreland’s Hidden Heartlands covers the ‘heart’ of the Western Region, from Leitrim down to East Clare and extending through Roscommon and East Galway, 

It is especially great to see natural gems from the Western Region getting lots of coverage, including the hills of Drumshanbo as well as Glenade Lough in Leitrim; and Lough Key Forest Park and Cortober in Roscommon. 

Ireland's Hidden HeartlandsThere’s an infinite variety of things to do for all ages along the length of the Shannon, by the many beautiful lakes in the area or along the many quiet rural byways that criss-cross this picturesque part of Ireland.

The water offers leisurely boat trips, water sports and great fishing, while numerous walks, cycle trails and pony trekking trails allow you to take in the views, or explore the rural heartlands and small villages in this quiet, relaxing part of the country. 

Ireland's Hidden HeartlandsWe look forward to seeing these beautiful areas in the heart of the West of Ireland thriving with lots more visitors from this great campaign.

For more visit Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands website.

Marble Beach, Donegal

Best West of Ireland Heatwave photos

The summer of 2018 is the summer that keeps on giving. We can’t keep up with the amount of Caribbean-esque shots we have seen of the stunning beaches we have right across the West of Ireland.

Is anybody feeling a little bit smug about where they live now?

Here are our top Insta picks from the heatwave so far.

With the current forecast, we think we will have to do Round Two next week. If you would like your shots to be included, please tag us @lookwestie and include #lookwest on your shots!

Co Clare:

Hands down one of the best #cliffsofmoher shots we have soon. There are over 400,000 on Instagram so that is quite an achievement @reeyco

Co Galway:

Where do we start with Galway? The shots from SeaFest alone could feel a whole article. Then those Connemara beach shots!!

Seriously though how stunning is this shot of Lettergesh Beach in Connemara?

Having all the bants in Salthill!

With thanks to @kokine009 for #repost: “☀When it’s summer in Galway ☀”

A post shared by Barnacles Hostels (@barnacleshostels) on

 

This one is an old Red Bull shot from Poll na bPéist, couldn’t not include it!

Connemara

A post shared by Aidan Maguire (@aidanjmaguire) on

Co Mayo:

Baywatch eat your heart out!

Wowza, having all the craic in Louisburgh!

Co Leitrim:

Zen-est sheep in Ireland award goes to?

Co Roscommon:

Blogger Magnumlady nails the Gaelic Chieftain at sunset.

Gaelic Chieftain sunset #roscommon #Ireland #irish #heatwave #statue #sculpture

A post shared by Val (@magnumlady) on

Co Sligo:

Sligo photographer Mark Capilitan seems to have the work-life balance nailed. Follow his feed for lots more stunning shots!

If it wasn’t for the beach & kayak, you’d think this water was a swimming pool!!

A post shared by Mark Capilitan (@markcap_photo) on

Its gonna be another one of those weeks 🌞🌞🌞

A post shared by Mark Capilitan (@markcap_photo) on

 Beautiful children at sunset shot from John Keating in Sligo.

Co Donegal:

South African photographer Ian Mitchinson’s feed is always a stunning feast of adventure shots from the North West. This Bundoran shot is a cracker!

 

Featured Image: Marble Hill Beach, Co Donegal via Ireland’s Content Pool

film shoot

West of Ireland-set thriller with Cosmo Jarvis and Barry Keoghan to begin shooting in Galway and Clare

‘CALM WITH HORSES’, the feature debut of Nick Rowland starring Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan and Niamh Algar which is set to shoot in the West of Ireland in May in co-production with Element Pictures.  Altitude Film Distribution will partner with Element Pictures Distribution for the film’s release in the UK and Ireland.  Film4 will finance production along with the Irish Film Board and the newly announced Western Region Audiovisual Producer’s Fund (WRAP Fund).

DMC Film, the production company founded by Michael Fassbender and Conor McCaughan, and producer Daniel Emmerson have developed the project with Film4 as Nick Rowland’s feature directorial debut following Slap his BAFTA and BIFA-nominated short film.

CALM WITH HORSES is based on a novella from the acclaimed collection of short stories Young Skins by Irish writer Colin Barrett from Mayo. The collection won The Guardian’s first book award and the Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize. Writer Joe Murtagh has adapted the screenplay and has collaborated with Rowland since they studied together at the NFTS. Rowland, Murtagh and Emmerson have all featured in Screen International’s Stars of Tomorrow showcase.

In darkest rural Ireland, ex-boxer Arm has become the feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family, whilst also trying to be a good father to his autistic five-year-old son, Jack. Torn between these two families, Arm is asked to kill for the first time, and his attempt to do the right thing endangers everyone he holds dear.

Cosmo Jarvis starred in the BAFTA nominated breakout success Lady Macbeth released by Altitude as well as Alex Garland’s Annihilation.

One of the industry’s rising screen stars, Barry Keoghan recently starred in Lance Daly’s Black 47 which premiered in selection at Berlin.  Altitude is also representing the film for international sales and distribution in the UK.  Keoghan can also been seen in Bart Layton’s Sundance Grand Prize-nominated American Animals, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

Niamh Algar won the Best Supporting Actress at the Irish Film and Television Awards (2017) for her performance in Nick Kelly’s The Drummer and the Keeper, and is known for her lead role in Lorcan Finnegan’s Without Name which received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (2016). She will also star in Shane Meadows’ upcoming TV series, The Virtues.

About The WRAP Fund

The Western Regional Audiovisual Producer’s Fund (WRAP Fund) is a new initiative of the Western Development Commission and Galway Film Centre in association with the local authorities of Clare, Donegal, Galway City, Galway County, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo along with Údarás na Gaeltachta, set up to support film, television, animation and gaming industries in the Western region of Ireland. The WRAP Fund is committed to strategic investment that encourages regional production and development activity across the audiovisual sectors, to support local talent, create sustainable employment, build the audio-visual infrastructure and contribute to the cultural veracity of the region.  Launched in late 2017, CALM WITH HORSES is the first project supported by the WRAP Fund. The production will film in two WRAP counties – Galway and Clare.

 

 

Expedia Lists Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare as Top Historic Site to Visit in 2018

Located in the heart of The Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark, Poulnabrone Dolmen is one of Ireland’s most iconic archaeological monuments, and second only to the famous Cliffs of Moher in terms of most visited attractions in County Clare. Situated in the limestone dominated Burren area, Poulnabrone Dolmen is thought to be Ireland oldest megalithic monument, dating back some 6,000 years.

During an archaeological excavation in the 1980s, the remains of over 20 people dating back to the Bronze Age were found. This included a mix of adults, children and a newborn baby, with the bones indication arthritis and the signs of wear indicating that physical labour was part of everyday life for those living in The Burren region thousands of years ago

Find out more at : Historic Ireland  

Content & Illustrations Credit Expedia.ie

Image Credit Failte Ireland

West of Ireland’s Ancient Kings and Queens are Brought to Life by Expedia

It’s the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster or Netflix series as Expedia brings to life some of Ireland’s most ancient kings and queens.

With the help of historians from the National Museum of Ireland, Trinity College, Dublin and Queen’s University, Belfast, Expedia creates a fascinating account of the kings and queens who reigned in Ireland thousands of years ago on their new website: Kings and Queens That Shaped Ireland. This includes a wonderful display of illustrations depicting the different kings and queens, as well as a series of connecting timelines and stories dating back some thousands of years ago.

As you enter the site, expect to be taken on a journey through the lives of some of Ireland’s most notable kings and queens as they battle for power, marry numerous times, and eventually relinquish or pass on their throne.

We, at LookWest.ie, are especially delighted to see Queen Maeve of Connacht and Co Mayo’s famous Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley, highlighted in the series.

Going one step further, the site has an array of travel itineraries that connect to each of the kings and queens featured, allowing visitors the opportunity to literally follow in their footsteps. These itineraries feature locations of significant historical importance, including Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo and Donegal, as well as other places of interest across Ireland.

Find out more at – http://blog.expedia.ie/irish-kings-queens /

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KingsQueensIre/

Twitter: twitter.com/KingsQueensIre

 

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. >> AchillTourism.com

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.. >> galwaytourism.ie/event/St-Patricks-Festival

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. >> facebook.com/SouthSligoAthletic/

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. >> facebook.com/ennisparade