The Business of Literature – Major Literary Tourism Initiative Set to Enhance Commercial Capacity in Northern European Region

Major new three-year literary tourism pilot programme set to launch across four Northern European countries this Autumn.

Spot-lit is a new three-year project that aims to grow the literary tourism sector in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region by supporting the organisations and businesses in this culturally-rich region to grow collaborate and better engage audiences together. Literary Tourism is an emerging niche sector within the wider cultural tourism sector, where places with literary heritage offer author and fiction-related literary tourism opportunities along with opportunities arising from literary festivals, trails and book shops.Funded by Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme, the regions participating in the Spot-lit programme area are Western Ireland, Northern Ireland, Eastern Finland and South-West Scotland.

All share a number of common features such as low population density, low accessibility, low economic diversity, abundant natural resources, and high impact of climate change.
Collectively, the region is home to world-class literary icons and landscapes, however, research suggests there is potential for this sector to work together and grow significantly. Current low levels of joined-up literary tourism activity in the Northern Periphery and Arctic Region make it a sector that is ripe for development.

Spot-lit addresses the need for shared development and marketing of existing assets and the development of new ones, which respond to emerging literary and cultural consumer needs. This will result in a better cultural tourism offering and deliver greater economic impact than projects developed in national isolation.

The programme will include the development of a cluster network across the regions, a series of support workshops, the development of 20 new literary products or services and shared learning and transnational marketing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the Spot-lit partners at a recent partner meeting in Scoltland (left to right) Filip Sever, Mary Keaveney, Minna Mustonen, Helena Aaltonen  Marlene Kohllechner-Autto, Shane Campbell.

Speaking on the occasion of the launch of the project, CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin of the Western Development Commission said: “We are delighted to launch this programme today following an extensive period of research and development. Spot-Lit has the capacity to deliver tangible benefits to under-tapped regions across Europe through the literary tourism sector which we know has the potential to be a major economic driver. We encourage any organisation or business in the literary tourism sector to visit our website and sign-up for our information roadshows in early October.”

This Autumn, the Spot-lit partners in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Finland will deliver a series of workshops for businesses interested in Literary Tourism development.

Workshop 1: Building Successful Literary Tourism Experiences for Visitors
Workshop 2: Designing and developing your Literary Tourism product or service
Workshop 3: Knowing and growing your market

Following on from the workshops, businesses will be invited to participate in a Literary Business Support Programme. The programme will be open to SMEs, social enterprises, community groups and literary associations with a unique idea for the development of Literary Tourism in their area. This bespoke programme will involve a series of monthly engagement workshops, learning journeys, business advice clinics and individual mentoring supports. The programme will engage with 5 businesses in each country and will include a €10,000 innovation voucher. The focus of the business idea/product will be for the development of Literary Tourism.

The project will officially launch on September 25th with a new website at http://www.spot-lit.eu, dedicated social media channels @spot_lit_eu, followed by a call out for literary businesses and organisations to register their interest for upcoming events and workshops.

cerebreon donegal

Donegal Success Story: Kenneth Doherty and Gillian Doyle, Cerebreon Technologies Ltd

Home is where the support is 

The cost of living and attracting quality employees was behind the move to Co Donegal for husband and wife team Kenneth Doherty and Gillian Doyle who founded a technology company.

“We were looking for an affordable place to set up Cerebreon Technologies Ltd and Ken is from Donegal originally, so he really pushed for the move here,” explains Gillian Doyle.

“I wasn’t sure at first, but we’d spent eight years in Belfast, and we were in Dublin before that, so it was time to give Donegal a try.”

“The cost of living in terms of rent and other major services is much cheaper in rural Donegal which helps reduce financial stress in the early days of a start-up.”

“We’re renting a house in Narin and its 75% cheaper than the equivalent would be in Dublin and 60% cheaper than Belfast. We had to reduce our salaries to the point of survival and setting up in Donegal gave us more time to get the company off the ground,” says Kenneth.

Set up in 2016, Cerebreon Technologies Ltd is based in Ardara, just down the road from Kenneth’s hometown of Narin, where his parents still live. Cerebreon provides an intelligent debt recovery platform for credit providers and advisors needing to drastically increase money recovered whilst meeting regulatory requirements.

“We renovated the premises which has space for 10-12 employees. There’s five based there now, but we chose a building with room for growth as we are hoping to expand in the near future, and we want to keep our headquarters in Donegal.”

cerebreonThere are seven staff members (excluding Gillian and Kenneth) based in three different offices – Donegal, Dublin and Birmingham. Cerebreon recently set up the UK office to shield itself from currency fluctuations that may result from Brexit.

“Lots of people ask when we will move our HQ to Dublin, but we don’t want to and we’re trading with the UK, so there’s no need for us to be in Dublin. We’re very happy with our set up here in Donegal.”

The co-founders say Donegal attracts high-calibre employees looking for long-term jobs. “We don’t get a huge volume of job applications, but we get really high-quality ones, so we find ourselves in a great position as employers,” explains Kenneth.

“A lot of tech staff in Dublin are job-hopping on a 12-month basis, whereas here the cost of living is much more affordable, so we get more experienced people looking to return to the Northwest with their families,” says Gillian.

“No one here is losing two hours a day commuting, so the staff tends to be happier as well and if you’re into outdoor activities, it’s a great place to be.”

Donegal offers the perfect work-life balance, but as founding members, Gillian and Kenneth find themselves working every hour under the sun.

“Our staff have the work life balance and we get the hours get back to do more work,” says Gillian. “We spent most of our time on the road commuting when we lived in Belfast, so it’s great to be able to use that time more productively now.”

Being a Donegal native, Kenneth tries to escape from the office and enjoy the local scenery every now and again. “I like to take advantage of my surroundings whenever I can, so I sometimes go golfing after work, or nip out for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean whenever there’s some downtime.”

Gillian and Kenneth have found their entrepreneurial experience in Co Donegal to be very positive. “Overall, Ireland is an amazing place to start a business and Donegal, in particular, has been very good to us,” says Gillian.

“This is my first time to live in rural Ireland and I was surprised by how much the community backs you. They want to know what you’re doing and how you’re doing. It’s been very positive and encouraging.”

To read more about the Cerebreon story visit cerebreon.com

 

 

 

st patricks day

Top 10 Things To Do In The West For St Patrick’s Day 2019

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 10 Things to do in the West of Ireland this St Patrick’s weekend’. 

1. Sunrise and Pipe Bands (17th March)

For traditional Irish St. Patrick’s Day festivities there’s no place like Achill on the rugged west coast of Ireland. In many villages on Achill there is a tradition of pipe bands, and on St. Patrick’s Day these colourful and compelling bands play a central role in celebrations.

From a 6am reveille, the bands march for most of the day – surely one of the longest St Patrick’s Day parades anywhere. For visitors, a thoroughly enjoyable day can be had following the Achill pipe bands, pausing for refreshments of course and taking time to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Achill Island. In the evening, traditional and modern entertainment is offered in many of the local hotels and pubs.

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.

2019 Schedule:

8.00am – Dooagh Pipe Band starts. Molly’s, Keel West.
8.00am – Keel Pipe Band starts. Minaun View Bar, Keel.
8.30am – Pollagh Pipe Band starts. Dooagh NS, Dooagh.
8.45am – Dookinella Pipe Band starts. Achill Head Hotel, Pollagh.
9.00am – Afreann Gaeilge (Mass in Irish). St. Patrick’s Church, Pollagh.
10am – all bands play. St. Patrick’s Church, Pollagh.
10.30am – begin march from Pollagh to Dookinella.
12noon – Mass @ Dookinella Church.
1pm – bands play individually, then collectively. Dookinella church. Bands then commence march back to their own villages.

>> AchillTourism.com

St Patricks Day

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

2019 marks the 117th anniversary of the Galway St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 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.

This year’s route is changed to previous years. The Parade will start at 11.30am from NUIG and wind its way down University Road, over Salmon Weir Bridge, up Eglington Street street, and past the viewing stand in Eyre Square finishing at approximately 1 pm on Bothar Na mBan.

Macnas will be bringing their magic to the Galway St Patrick’s Day Parade for 2019. Macnas Artistic Director is delighted to showcase next generation Macnas; the Macnas drumming troupe aged 15 -19 which will be led, under the stewardship of Éimhín Cradock and Debbie Wright, will perform a celebration of the dance between shadow and light to the city streets.

They will be joined by the Macnas Young Ensemble, led by Miquel Barcelo, who will bring a performance inspired by the animal energy in flight and fight with the human spirit. This troupe will pioneer new beats on the street with the Macnas signature high octane performance.

Costume will be designed by Cherie White, makeup by Michelle Ruane. >> 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.

St Patrick’s Day 2019 will see the 15th annual community celebration of Irish culture take place between 12 – 2 at St Columbas Community Centre in Burtonport, Co Donegal.

This is an indoor event suitable for all the family. The event, which has become an annual fundraiser for 3 local causes – The Local Lifeboat fund, St Columbas Community Centre & The Burtonport Festival is packed out each year with individuals coming from far and wide to enjoy some Irish Stew, traditional music, Irish dancing, marching bands, taditional games, children’s FREE raffles & art and craft, refreshments and much much more.

Entry to the event is BY DONATION and we do encourage you to bring some money to take part in the raffles that will be going on throughout the day. >> facebook.com/St-Patricks-Day-celebration-of-Irish-Culture-319144684795563/

St Patrick's Day

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

Thousands of people are expected to line the streets of the Clare County Capital on Sunday, 17 March for the 2019 Ennis St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

This year there will be prizes awarded for the entrants that provide the “Most Musical & Colourful Spectacle” (1st Prize – €500, 2nd Prize – €300, 3rd Prize – €200).

The parade commences at 11.00am from Clare County Council’s Headquarters at Áras Contae an Chláir before proceeding via New Road, Newbridge Road, Club Bridge, Abbey Street, O’Connell Square, O’Connell Street, with participants finishing in the grounds of the Holy Family School, Station Road. >> clarecoco.ie/services/arts-recreation/news/countdown-to-2019-ennis-st-patrick-s-day-parade.html

6. See the Quaker City String Band at Kiltimagh St Patrick’s Week festival:

Since 1989 in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, St. Patricks day has evolved to become a week-long celebration of Irish tradition and culture.

The Quaker City String Band from Philadelphia has visited Kiltimagh for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on many occasions, adding to the international flavour and colour of the week.

Visiting bands from Europe also join with various Irish Bands to create a fun-filled festival for everyone.

The highlight of the festival is the parade, and with over 40 floats and many bands, our St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the biggest and best in the West. 3pm, Sunday 17 March >> facebook.com/pg/kiltimaghtourismfestivals/

st patricks day

7. Join Sligo’s ‘Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Leprechauns World Record’ attempt

Sligo’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the only event which has run in Sligo every year since 1971.

2019 celebrates 49 years of Parades in Sligo Town! This year It’ll be Leprechauns-a-Go-Go on the Sunday streets of Sligo when the St. Patrick’s Day Parade joins with local volunteers in an attempt at the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Leprechauns World Record. it’s time for a new World Champion Town of Leprechauns and is calling on everyone attending this year’s Sligo parade to come dressed in a leprechaun costume. >> sligostpatricksday.com/

8. Fun for all the family at Boyle’s St Patrick’s Day Parade

Boyle St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019 will start at 3:30pm on Sunday 17th March. If people would like to enter a float, please assemble out in Mockmoyne for registration at 2:30. Best float wins €500. facebook.com/Boyle-St-Patricks-Day-Parade-1041573416026164/

9. Carrick on Shannon’s St Patrick’s Day Parade 2019

The lovely people of Leitrim can attend the Carrick on Shannon parade on Sunday 17th March starting at 12.45pm. mycarrick.ie/428/St+Patrick’s+Day+Parade

10. For something different: Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes

On Monday 19th of March at 3 pm at the Hawk’s Well Theatre in Sligo, enjoy the wonderful anarchic work of children’s favourite Roald Dahl with storyteller and artist Wayne O’Connor as famous fairy tales are reimagined in a suitably revolting manner. >> hawkswell.com/events/event/roald-dahls-revolting-rhymes

 

Red Bull Storm Chase 2019 Windsurfing Contest comes to Donegal

The Red Bull Storm Chase, the world’s toughest windsurfing contest, is currently on in Magheroarty, Co Donegal with eight of the best windsurfers on the planet.

After three years of watching and waiting, the perfect storm is hitting the West coast of Ireland this week. The Red Bull Storm Chase team has mobilised and have travelled to Donegal where massive winds and waves are arriving over the next few days.

Storm Chase approaching Ireland's West Coast on 12 March.

Storm Chase approaching Ireland’s West Coast on 12 March. Image Credit: Magic Seaweed

The organisers and safety crew examined the rough, jagged Irish coastline to figure out just where the optimum spot for the competition would be.

All over the world, contestants were notified, bags were packed and flights were booked as the world’s best windsurfers traveled to Donegal in search of the ultimate storm.

And it all kicked off on Sunday morning in Donegal, with pictures and videos of windsurfers in action already.

(L-R) Philip Koeser of Germany and Ricardo Campello of Venezuela perform at the Red Bull Storm Chase in Magheroarty, Ireland on March 10, 2019.

(L-R) Philip Koeser of Germany and Ricardo Campello of Venezuela perform at the Red Bull Storm Chase in Magheroarty, Ireland on March 10, 2019.

Philip Koester of Germany performs at the Red Bull Storm Chase in Magheroarty, Ireland on March 10, 2019.PhotographerSebastian Marko/Red Bull Content Pool

CONTEST FORMAT

Red Bull Storm Chase is a windsurf contest unlike any other in the world. Restricted to neither time nor place, the contest only happens when a suitable storm develops, with enough advance warning for the riders and crew to get to a safe location to hold the contest as the storm strikes.

When the perfect storm arrives, eight riders – four finalists from the last Red Bull Storm Chase, and four riders selected for this year – mobilise to the event location. On-site, the judges will determine the best multi-heat format for competition, with a keen eye towards safety. They’ll be rewarding points for height, style, creativity, wave size, and more as they determine who is the best storm sailor on the planet. The competition will take place over two days as conditions permit.

For more visit redbullstormchase.com

Image Credits: All images from Red Bull Content Pool

Wrap Fund Development Loan

A development loan of up to €15,000 is available to support the development of a feature film, television drama, animation or game at any stage from treatment to pre-production.

Who Can Apply?
A WRAP development loan is available to teams where at least one Producer/Developer has a company located/established in the Region (Clare, Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo).

The team must have:

  • For Feature Film/Television/Animation: a Producer(s) and Writer(s) attached. A Director(s) must be attached in the case of a documentary but is not mandatory in other genres.
  • For Games: a Developer(s), Designer(s) and Programmer(s) attached.
  • an eligible project in the English or Irish language that they wish to develop or co-develop;
  • have secured clear access to the necessary rights in any material that is to be adapted for the screen.
How to Apply

Please ensure that you have consulted the relevant WRAP Development Funding Guidelines (Film/Television/Animation or Games) in advance of a submission.

Applicants wishing to apply for Games development funding are asked to complete the application form and submit along with the requirements by email to wrap@galwayfilmcentre.ie by 5pm on Friday 08th March 2019. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Please note that a new deadline for WRAP Development Funding  (Film/Television/Animation) will be published shortly. 

WRAP Development Funding Guidelines (Games)
WRAP Development Funding Application Form (Games)

WRAP Development Funding Application Form
WRAP Development Funding Guidelines (Film/Television/Animation)

 

wdc

Western Development Commission Welcomes Funding For Digiwest Working Hubs In Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon and Mayo

The WDC will lead the project working in association with the local authorities in Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon and Donegal

The Western Development Commission (WDC) has welcomed the announcement by Minister for Community and Rural Development, Michael Ring, TD of funding of €644,734 for the Digiwest regional economic development project to develop digital working hubs in Stranorlar, Co. Donegal, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, Tulsk, Co. Roscommon and Swinford, Co. Mayo.

The funding is part of €62m in funding for Rural Regeneration and Development projects across the country, and aligns with the on-going work along the Atlantic Economic Corridor, as set out in the National Planning Framework. The Atlantic Economic Corridor seeks to develop the Atlantic Coast counties from Donegal to Kerry to ensure balanced regional development in Ireland to 2040.

WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin said, ‘the Digiwest project is an excellent example of regional collaboration as set out in our forthcoming strategic plan where four local authorities, working with the Western Development Commission will be enabling and supporting communities to work in the digital economy. The collaboration will offer facilities and services that will meet both community and business needs, to maintain and develop vibrant communities in the Western Region.’

Further information contact: Caroline Coffey, WDC 094 9861441 |info@wdc.ie

Note for editors:

The Western Development Commission, established by statute in 1998, advises the Government on policy for the western region, plays a key role in regional development, supports small and medium business through the Western Investment Fund and raises the social, cultural and economic profile of the west through lookwest.ie and other initiatives;

  • Investment in the region
    • €51m invested in growth since 1999
    • 5,000 jobs supported in 155 projects since 1999
    • Policy analysis
    • Output in 2018; 10 reports | 9 submissions | 7 insights
    • EU project work
    • €13.5m in ongoing EU project funding

 

Read more about the work of the Western Development Commission at www.wdc.ie or what living and working in the west offers on www.lookwest.ie

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 Climb

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

Energise Your Business – how to take your innovation to the next level

You are cordially invited to
FREED Project Event
Tuesday 16th October 2018

9:30am – 2pm
Registration & Refreshments from 9:30am | Event Start 10:00am | Lunch & Networking 12:45pm

DETAILS
Is your start-up business or SME struggling to get an energy innovation to the next level? Then join us to hear from companies that have succeeded in this with the help of the  FREED Project.
Getting your ideas from the blueprints into the markets can be a long, difficult journey, which all innovations and companies are not be able to complete. Various business support organisations and enterprise agencies offer support for starting entrepreneurs and companies, but they do not target energy innovations in particular. However, these are the ones that are sorely needed, as energy is a key driver of climate change.
Funding Resources for Innovation in Energy Enterprise Development (FREED) is a three year project funded under Interreg’s Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. FREED has been supporting SMEs and start-ups working on energy innovations with the aim of getting the innovations faster into the real world, where they can make a difference. The experiences of these SMEs and the support mechanisms developed in the project can help other innovations make it too.

During this event you will hear from:

  • SMEs who have been receiving support from the FREED Project and how it has helped them progress
  • Public Funding Specialist Ian Brannigan (Western Development Commission)
  • Business Angel Investor Nick Lyth (Green Angel Syndicate
  • You will also learn about the FREED Service platform – a funding match-making platform for SMEs, Investors and Enterprise Agencies.

To attend this event please Register HERE