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

 

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

 

http://www.wdc.ie/publications/reports-and-papers/

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.

 

surf donegal

The Insider’s Guide to the the Donegal Surf Scene

The LookWest.ie Insider’s Guide to the West Coast Surf Scene is our new series exploring the vibrant West of Ireland surf scene county by county. Your surf guide will be writer, pro bodyboarder and Surf School owner in Strandhill, Seamus McGoldrick.

Seamus began surfing in Strandhill, one of Sligo’s hidden gems, and followed his passion by setting up his own thriving surf business. So, who better to give you the inside scoop on the Irish surf scene?

Kicking off in Donegal, Seamus meets some lucky surfers who manage to chase the dream of surfing all year round on the wonderful west coast of Ireland.

shambles mcgoldrick

Seamus ‘Shambles’ McGoldrick. Image Credit: Pablo Jimenez

Donegal Surf Scene Overview

It is fitting that Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way starts off in Donegal, the county with island’s longest coastline on the island, which is either 400 miles or 1130 kilometers long depending on who you talk to. So, if you have an interest in surfing you have 400 reasons to want to come here to live.

Epic, expansive and wild, Donegal is home to Ireland’s most rugged and beautiful coastline. It was against this stunning backdrop that surfing was introduced to the shores of western Ireland by pioneers like the Britton brothers of Donegal, who were beckoned to the water and the wild by the thundering waves.

In the late Sixties and early seventies, a colourful and brave bunch or Irish men and women took off on legendary Surf Safaris, that started with the thousand of kilometers of endlessly varied surf terrain in Donegal and aimed south.

When the Celtic Tiger hit in 2004 surfing took off. More surf schools opened up to cater to demand and surfer friendly accommodation soon followed. The fact that Europe’s premier big wave challenge – the Mighty Mullaghmore – was pioneered just a few miles down the road in Sligo means that surf tourism in Bundoran, Donegal’s number one surf town, is increasing.

Starting in North Donegal, surfers like to visit Falcarragh, Marble Hill, Dunfanaghy, Dungloe Strand, Rossnowlagh, Tullan Strand and Bundoran.  Donegal was voted number one on The National Geographic Traveller (UK) ‘cool list’ for 2017 for good reason.

Meet The Surfers

The Local

killian o kelly

Bundoran Native Killian O’Kelly

Killian O Kelly is Bundoran born and bred. Killian is one of the original local crew of surfers at ‘The Peak’ – the world famous premier European surf spot located right in the centre of the town.

Killian has had a long love affair with the Donegal coastline. He spent his childhood exploring the county’s different beaches, he sea-kayaked around Donegal Bay and began surfing aged sixteen. In addition to being a Bundoran lifeguard for many years, Killian is a volunteer on the local RNLI lifeboat.

Killian established Turf n Surf – one of the friendliest and coolest surf hang outs in Donegal – in 2006 with his wife Mary on Bundoran’s West End with a premises overlooking The Peak, of course. This family run tour company, hostel and activity provider is one of the largest adventure activity providers in the northwest.

Killian O’Kelly also helped set up the Irish Gap Year company to cater for students coming over from the US for various cultural and leadership programs, which provides employment during the off season. Since most surfers simply suffer financially through the off-season hoping to catch the perfect wave, Killian realised early on that surfing alone wouldn’t get him through the off-season

“We diversified out of surfing along time ago to make the business work.” explain Killian.

Turf N Surf now offers accommodation, surfing, sea-kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and blo-karting.

More at turfnsurf.ie and irishgapyear.com

kate turf n surf

TurfnSurf Instructor Kate Gaffey

The Surf Instructor

One of the most common ways in which surfers can make their living in Donegal is working as a surf instructor. Several of the surf schools like Surfworld, Bundoran Surf Co. and Finn McCools also have surf shops and accommodation businesses which offers extra employment options.

Wicklow woman Kate Gaffey was between jobs in 2012 when she completed a surfing instructor course in Bundoran.  After living on the west of coast of Donegal for a few weeks, Kate decided to turn her back on the nine to five office lifestyle beckoning her in Dublin. The natural surrounding beauty in Donegal is what enticed her to stay here to live.

“Donegal is not just a beautiful part of Ireland,” says Kate, “it is one of the most beautiful parts of the world.”

Next, she met Killian and Mary at their Turf N Surf Halloween party – dressed as a human weather map. Kate called in a few months later (in regular clothes) with her new surf instructor qualification and, to her delight, was hired.

“The people are so welcoming in Bundoran, whether you’re here for a night, or for life.” affirms Kate.

Bundoran is a cosy and compact town where you can easily walk from one end to the other. Bundoran’s Main Beach and Tullan Strand are within walking distance of each other. The famous Rougey Cliff Walk and the West End walk have some of the best views of the summer sunsets or the dolphins jumping. In the winter,  there are numerous prime views of the raging Atlantic hammering the coast.

Bundoran boasts great pubs, nightlife and cafés. There are  many beautiful places to explore outside of Bundoran too so you can really make the most of your time off.

Kate says there are all sorts of ways of making a living in Donegal for surfers and non-surfers alike, “If you are willing to work there is work. You’ll find it in hotels, bars, restaurants, cafés, supermarkets that all take on extra staff in the summer months.”

“If you have a job where you can work from home, you’ve hit the jackpot.”

The busiest time for Donegal’s surf school is from June until August.  In the winter months places like Donegal Town, Letterkenny, and Sligo all offer plenty of work that is not reliant on the season. Kate believes the highlights of the surf scene in Donegal varies depending on what level surfer you are.

“For the hard core, the winter months are always welcome, with the consistent, powerful swells rolling in. For the thrill seekers, the huge swells at Mullaghmore would be without doubt a highlight. That is a sight to behold, whether you are one of the surfers braving it in the waves or just there to spectate with your heart in your mouth from the cliff at Mullaghmore.”

“But for me, sometimes the highlights can just be that sneaky evening surf, when its glasses off and you’re catching waves in the most beautiful of surroundings, wondering why you’d ever want to be anywhere else.”

“Traffic jams are mostly non-existent and the work commute could almost be described as a pleasure. How many people can say that! With all the time you save not being stuck in traffic on the M50 you can get in a morning or evening surf. With the beach on your doorstep your quality of life can only be improved.”

Read a great article about big wave surfing at Mullaghmore on MagicSeaweed here.

The Pro

noah lane

Professional surfer Noah Lane

Noah Lane is a professional surfer and surf coach from Rainbow Beach on the east coast of Australia who now lives in Donegal. Noah surfed professionally through his younger years and could have made a living from his talent as a skilled athlete anywhere in the world: Hawaii, Fiji, Brazil. So why Ireland and Bundoran in particular?

“Bundoran is a hub for the sport in Ireland.” Noah explains, “Surfers travel from across the country and from around the world to access the ocean off Donegal’s coastline simply for the opportunity to use the ocean in some of the more beautiful and remote areas of Ireland.”

“The coastline here is one of the best in the world. I’ve been at one beach and felt like I was in Norway and driven less than ten minutes and felt like I’m back in Australia.”

Surf Art by Barry Britton

From East coast Aus to West coast Donegal is a big jump but it is unsurprising given Bundoran’s famous hospitality and incredible surf. Noah relocated to Bundoran four years ago where he met his partner Tara Mc Guinness, a local Donegal surf artist.

As well as a thriving surf scene, Donegal is also home to world famous arts scene and an incredibly talented music scene. Noah says, “Musicians like Cian O’Donnell, Kevin Lowery and bands like the Wolves of Youth are all heavily involved in the surf scene.”

There are a number established surf artists in the area including Barry Britton, Gavin McCrea and Tara McGuinness. Gavin and Tara have painted colourful oversized surf-themed murals throughout Bundoran. And legendary Silver Surfer Barry Britton has painted numerous posters and artwork for some of the most prestigious surf contests in the world, including The Pipeline Masters.

Compared to Australia the surfing industry in Ireland is quite small so year round trade is a problem. The harsh winter weather makes the primary business of beginner surf lessons in the off-season that bit more challenging, although these challenges are being overcome with improved wetsuit technology and steady growth in the surf industry in the last decade.

Noah Lane

Professional surfer Noah Lane doing what he does best. Image Credit: Ian Mitchinson

“I know it is cliched, but surfing really is a lifestyle,”  Noah elaborates, “and most surfers that I know find ways to get by and to continue doing what they love.”

Noah feels very fortunate to be supported by surf companies like Finisterre and Globe, “That helps through the winter months and allows me to chase waves. Along with that I work on a surf magazine called Backwash, which keep me busy through the winter months.”

“Having surfed around the world there really is something special about surfing in Donegal. It’s hard to put your finger on it. It might be a combination of the volatile weather, beautiful coastline and amazing people but whatever it is, it’s unique and captivating.”

Follow Noah’s adventures @noahlane_

The future of surfing in Donegal.

surf donegal

Photo credit: Ian Mitchinson

Surfing is growing in Donegal, but so is recreational boat ownership and activities like kayaking, diving, wind surfing and jet skiing. Maritime events are very popular and have the potential to draw large amounts of visitors to Donegal in the future.

Marine tourism in general around the globe is forecast to grow substantially, which bodes well for Donegal and her world class coast. To be sure, Donegal County council are committed to promoting Donegal as a marine tourism destination of excellence and are committed to developing a unique marine tourism visitor experience.

Donegal has always had its own unique identity. Part of it is geographical. Part of it is historical. The economy of Donegal will be particularly susceptible to currency fluctuations of the Euro against the Sterling and is ground zero when it comes to Brexit. I guess this will just add to the edginess, chaos and wildness that already characterises Ireland’s northernmost county.

surf donegalPhoto credit: Ian Mitchinson

Donegal Surf Scene Facts

  1. Donegal has one of the most established surf scenes in Ireland
  2. Over one hundred people are directly employed in surfing in Donegal.
  3. Surfers, amateur and professional alike, travel from all over the world to visit Donegal for its famous surf.
  4. Donegal’s buzzing surf scene boasts half a dozen surf shops, surf hostels and surf cafes.
  5. Donegal is home to over twelve surf schools, including seven in the Bundoran area, employing dozens of surf instructors
  6. A building boom during the Celtic Tiger means there is plenty of affordable accommodation in Donegal.

Who To Know

  • Irish surfing founding father Barry Britton barrybritton.bigcartel.com
  • Surfer, scientist, artist and adventurer Easkey Britton is trail-blazing a path for Irish female surfers and activists. @easkeysurf

  • Saffa photographer Ian Mitchinson‘s feed is constantly inspiring us to explore more of our own backyard @ianmitchinson

  • One of Ireland’s bravest and youngest big-wave surfer Conor Maguire hails from Bundoran @conormaguiree

Don’t Miss:

  • Ireland’s largest surf and music festival in Bundoran – Sea Sessions (22 – 24 June)
  • The Irish National Championships where the nations top surfers battle it out at the world famous contest location of ‘the Peak’ in Bundoran. All competition details and dates via Irish Surfing Website.
  • The classic Intercounties surf contest in Rossnowlagh, which has been running for fifty years! The Intercounties will take place in Sept 2018.
  • Liquid Therapy’s AS Open that brings together volunteers and surfers with special needs for a fun day’s surfing.
Sea Sessions

Sea Sessions Festival in Bundoran

Surf’s Up

From Ireland’s longest coastline, the next coast we will reach on our epic surf safari south will be the Leitrim coast, which is the shortest. Some people say bigger is better but when it comes to the super short and super surf rich Carbury Coast bridging Donegal and Sligo, I would beg to differ.

Image Credits:

A huge thanks to Ian Mitchinson Photography for the stunning photos

santa

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 strandhillpeoplesmarket.ie

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.

See christmasmarketgalway.com

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 tullyboyfarm.com/visitorfarms/christmas/

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 westporthouse.ie

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 donegalslapland.ie

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 facebook.com/christmasincarrick/

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 facebook.com/sligoonice/ 

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. aillweecave.ie/santas-workshop

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 arignaminingsantaexperience.rezgo.com

Coolaney Mountain Bike

Multi-million Euro Funding Boost For West of Ireland Tourism Projects

Outdoor recreation in Ireland is to get an €11m boost, with funding now allocated for projects coming under the government’s Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme for this year. The West of Ireland has done particularly well with all counties benefiting including some large infrastructure projects in Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.

The grants awarded will go to a mix of smaller local measures, with grants of up to €10,000 each (Measure 1), and larger projects will have a significant national or regional impact (Measure 3), receiving grants of €100,000 to €1m.

Winning West: Where the Funding is Going

In Sligo almost one million euro in funding has been announced for out-door recreation facilities, including a grant of €840,285 for Coolaney National Mountain Biking Centre.
The funding for Coolaney National Mountain Bike Trail will facilitate the development of this amenity, and will provide for its connectivity with other major initiatives, including the Wild Atlantic Way and the Sligo Way Walking Routes.

Leitrim County Council has been granted €1 million to complete a Greenway and Cycleway from Carrick-on-Shannon along the river Shannon to Drumshanbo. The plan is to have a connected water and land based track from Carrick-on-Shannon through Leitrim Village to Lough Allen in Drumshanbo, giving visitors the option of services on either end with links to other greenways, walks and activities along the route.Carrick on Shannon Blueway

County Mayo is to get iconic way-mark way as part of €11m investment; the Clew Bay Trail is to get €984,000.

In Roscommon the Miners Way and Historical Trail got €5,520, Doon Shore amenity, Lough Key, Boyle got €10,000 and Killukin Cascade Waterfall in Carrick-on-Shannon will receive €8,000.

Donegal has been allocated €66k for rural recreation projects designed to maintain and improve outdoor facilities in the county, it has been revealed. Under this funding release outdoor recreation facilities in Ballybofey, Glenties, Termon, Urris, Glencolmcille, Ballyarr, Letterkenny and others will benefit.”

Statistics from Fáilte Ireland show that in 2014 close to 1.2 million visitors to Ireland took part in hiking or cross-country walking, spending about €915m in the Irish economy during their stay, while 286,000 visitors took part in cycling activities with a related spend of some €268m. The two sectors generated revenue for the economy of €1.2 billion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please also see http://cor.europa.eu/Pages/welcome.html

and http://nwra.ie/

 

Fin's Fit Foods

Surfer, chef and photographer selected to share stories abut living and working in Donegal at SeaFest

Three Donegal creative entrepreneurs have been selected to represent the West of Ireland at SeaFest, Ireland’s national maritime festival.

Easkey Britton, Ian Mitchinson, and Finn NiFhaolain will speak about their individual experiences of living and working in Donegal at a dedicated LookWest.ie Marquee.

SeaFest, which takes place in Galway from June 30 to July 2, will highlight Ireland’s abundant maritime resources and transform Galway Harbour and Docks into an open-air sea world for three days.

LookWest.ie, an initiative of the Western Development Commission (WDC), will be hosting its own Marquee at SeaFest and treating visitors to three days of exciting and inspiring events focusing on creative business and lifestyle in the West of Ireland.

Easkey, Ian and Finn have all been selected to tell their inspiring stories at the LookWest.ie Marquee which will host a number of keynote speakers, fun performances and a showcase of brilliant West of Ireland products and businesses all inspired by the sea and surfing culture.

Each of the three speakers from Donegal is passionate about the Wild Atlantic lifestyle and they will be showcasing the best of what is happening in Donegal.

Ian Mitchinson

Ian Mitchinson is a photographer and creative explorer with a passion for surf and the landscape of the Wild Atlantic Way. Ian was living and running a photo studio in Cape Town and was planning to move to Australia to raise his young family.

He says:

“One day, I caught a glimpse of life and the surf along the West coast of Ireland through a video on social media and it intrigued me. I was amazed at the quality of the waves and the unique beauty. I felt drawn to that kind of lifestyle, culture and the idea of the Wild Atlantic Way slipped into my system quickly; I couldn’t get it out.

“I never thought I’d emigrate to the West of Ireland or even live in a rural area. But within six months I had relocated my family from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town, to sleepy Bundoran.

“Moving to the North West was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Although I came for the surf, I discovered an extremely rich and diverse culture with people living outside the traditional format I was used to. I found a world of open opportunity that is perfect for a person with an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s an open landscape with the freshest of air, endless beauty and ancient history all fused with the cutting-edge modern outlook of today’s world.

“Although moving to the West Coast is no small feat, and by no means easy, it is a life-changing decision. I’d never want to go back, nor can I think of a different place I’d rather have gone to. I am able to rest easy knowing my children are growing up in a slice of Atlantic paradise with a world of opportunity. Exciting adventures await us all.”

Fins Fit FoodsFinn Ni Fhaolain is a surfer, chef and blogger. She is passionate about food, health, education and living in the West of Ireland. She holds a degree in Ocean Science and a Masters in Marine biology and published her first book, Finn’s World, earlier this year. www.finsfitfood.com She says:
“Although I set up my business while still living on the periphery of Dublin, I left to complete a culinary arts course in Sligo. I had lived in Bundoran years before while I completed my MSc thesis and absolutely loved the community and the surf culture there. When I got the chance to move there again while I was completing the culinary course I was so excited.

“After completing the course, I stayed for the quality of life. My day-to-day life is so much better: no long commute, lots of friends close by — as most of my friends from Dublin had emigrated — and the connection with the outdoors. The beach is right outside the door and the mountains are just a few minutes drive away.”

The third Donegal representative is Easkey Britton, a big wave pro-surfer from County Donegal with a doctorate in Environment and Society. Co-founder of Waves of Change, a not-for-profit organisation, which uses the power of surfing as a social medium for change. She works to help empower girls and women across the world through sport.

As well as opportunities to ‘meet and greet’ speakers and businesses in LookWest.ie’s showcase area from 10am – 6pm each day, there will be some great prizes and giveaways on offer too.

LookWest.ie is also partnering with the Irish Surf Festival, Shore Shots, to celebrate the very best in surfing, film, ideas and discovery on the west coast. Unique and inspiring films and videos produced along the West Coast by filmmakers and videographers will be shown at the LookWest.ie Marquee throughout the three days.

Karen Sweeney of the Western Development Commission said:

“We are delighted to be part of the SeaFest 2017 experience for what is set to be an exciting, fun and educational weekend.

“We pride ourselves on promoting the West of Ireland as a great place to live, work and do business through our LookWest.ie campaign. The West of Ireland is known for its creativity, beauty, lifestyle and, of course, that Wild Atlantic coastline but also as a place where businesses can thrive and grow.

“Come meet us at our LookWest.ie Marquee; each day we will have a bumper schedule to educate, entertain and encourage people to dream their own big move to the beautiful West.”

For more information, visit our SeaFest section