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

design west

World of International Design to converge for Design West summer school

Design West is an international summer design school located in the beautiful village of Letterfrack in Connemara, on the West Coast of Ireland.

For two weeks this summer, from June 23rd to July 6th 2018, participants will get the opportunity to work with leading international designers from renowned studios across Europe. Unplugging from our hectic everyday working lives—commuting, cell phones, deadlines, media saturation—participants will immerse themselves in the wild and rugged Connemara landscape and use it both as a mode of research and as a source of inspiration.

Summer is a time for exploration and discovery, for meeting new people and taking on new challenges. It is also a time to get away from the grind of ‘the everyday’ and to reflect upon one’s role and purpose as a designer. Design West offers the perfect environment for studying design in a non-urban environment—away from the noise of the city and the pressures of deadlines. Students will participate in a two-week programme of discovery, learning, reflection, adventure and making.

The course will take place at the GMIT campus in Letterfrack which boasts CAD, CNC technology, laser equipment, robotics and digital, manufacturing all ideal for the realisation of 2D and 3D design expressions. The campus has excellent Wi-Fi connectivity. In the rural setting beyond the campus, connectivity is weaker, an opportunity for students at Design West to ‘unplug’ from the busy world of design and gain new perspectives.

Design West is proud to be listed as one of the ‘most exciting design summer schools of 2018 around the world’

More at designwest.eu. Design West will be doing a social media takeover on our Twitter and Instagram, so check it out there as it happens!

bike buffet

On your bike – Galway’s westend Bike Buffet

Galway’s westend along with Connemara Greenway Alliance are organising a cycle buffet to celebrate the food and cycling cultures of Galway.

The Bike Buffet will take place on Saturday 16th June from 3pm. Starting at 3pm from John Keoghs Gastropub and finishing in Fr Burke Park at 6pm, the 2018 Bike Buffet will explore Galway on two wheels.  Led by the Connemara Greenway Alliance, participants will enjoy cycling safely around Galway and of course some westend food treats.

After the cycle Mr Whippy will be playing summer sounds and Blue Teapot Theatre company will be screening their award-winning Sanctuary.

Working with eateries in Galway westend, there will be three courses served with a starter in John Keoghs, then a cycle to a secret location for an alfresco main course from Dela Restaurant. Then cycle back to the Westend for dessert by Kai Restaurant and an outdoor movie screening which will be served in Fr Burke Park.

bike buffet galway

The westend Bike Buffet started in 2017, it was ran a pilot scheme as part of National Bike week. The event is aimed at locals and tourists and everyone that can cycle can take part so children and adults. Bringing food and activity together is a real way of integrating people. The cycle is very doable so people of all fitness abilities can enjoy.

Food has become central to life in Galway’s westend with every restaurant and pub now very much on the map nationally from multiple award wins.

“We want to bring people into this area to explore it and through food we can do this. This year we will also be bringing in a technical element by screening Sanctuary, by Blue Teapot Theatre Company. This screening would take place in Fr Burke Park in Galway’s westend. It will be the last stop on the Bike Buffet and where Kai Restaurant will serve the dessert on the buffet trail,” said a spokesperson for the Westend Traders Association.

Tickets, €30 for the Bike Buffet are available on www.roisindubh.net or in house from Dela Restaurant on Dominick Street.

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.

 

 

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

 

shopify galway

Shopify – A New World of Job Opportunities for the West of Ireland

With the advent of better broadband and an increasing demand for flexible working options, companies are looking at the potential of remote working for staff.

This is good news for the West of Ireland, with more and more people looking to escape the M50 and work in the West, the potential to work remotely for a large company with great career options is very appealing.

working from home

Shopify in the West

One such company offering just this is Shopify. Shopify is a Canadian e-commerce firm headquartered in Ottawa. It develops software for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. It was originally founded after its owners wrote software for their online snowboard store. The platform is currently used by more than 600,000 merchants who transact more than $34bn in sales volume.

Shopify now employs a large team in Ireland; most of whom are based in the West. All Shopify staff work from home; there is no Shopify office.

Shopify staff are located across the Western Region; with Galway centralised as its hub city. There are already some clusters of staff in towns like Carrick on Shannon, County Leitrim and Boyle, County Roscommon. They also have staff in Sligo, Donegal, Clare and obviously a large cohort in Galway. Staff do get to meet though; Shopify hosts monthly social meet-ups, mostly in Galway but events have also taken place in Sligo and other areas.

We spoke to the Luke Cassidy who works in Talent Acquisition at Shopify, to understand how this works and what their expansion plans are for the West of Ireland.

‘We’ve grown our team 300% over the last few years; from a small team that started in Galway in 2015. The majority of Shopifolk are based on the West coast. The team primarily works in support roles.’

Looking West

galway cityWhen asked why Shopify chose to base their team primarily in the West, Cassidy is effusive in his positivity on the benefits. ‘As soon as we felt the entrepreneurial energy of Galway City, we felt at home. At Shopify, we saw the opportunity to tap into the diverse and skilled workforce, and have a positive impact on the city as a whole.’

Luke also emphasises the importance of the cultural strength of Galway; ‘Galway is a cultural hub with an amazingly inclusive, innovative and engaged population. From Eyre Square to Spanish Arch, and everything in between  illustrated that the passion, spirit and heartbeat of the city is palpable.’

Shopify is a Canadian company and considers itself to be the world’s biggest start-up. They see a very strong cultural alignment between their company’s ethos and the West of Ireland culture; they are champions of diversity.

Remote Work Doesn’t Mean Isolation

Working remotely takes a certain amount of discipline and whether Shopify are recruiting for a customer service role or a more techie position, skills like problem-solving and the ability to think independently are key.

While you’ll get all the benefits of working from home, but with a solid structure. Staff work in set shifts, typically between 7am – 3pm or 10 am – 6 pm. And although you’ll be working remotely-  you won’t be lonely. “We schedule by team, so when you are working your whole support network are online too,” Luke explains.

And you’ll also get plenty of opportunities to meet your team members face-to-face. “There are meet-ups happening organically and then once a month we have a team meet-up.”

Meet The Team:

shopify team

Luke Cassidy and Veronica Patton of Shopify

Veronica Patton is a ‘Support Onboarding Trainer’ working with Shopify. She divides her time between Galway City and her native home in Donegal. We spoke with Veronica to get an insight into her experience of remote working for Shopify.

What did you do before you worked for Shopify?

‘I worked in many different areas before Shopify. My background was in Town Planning and most of my experience was in that field. I was a Heritage Officer for a local authority, then a tourist advisor for a while. Directly before Shopify, I was working for a distribution company in the West.

How did you find your job?

‘I was introduced to Shopify in April 2015 when a recruitment agency I had used before got in touch with me and told me about an exciting Canadian company that was looking to hire people in the Galway area. I didn’t really have any commerce or IT experience but the mission and values of the company drew me in. .

I also really enjoyed the interview process, from the “Life Story” interview to the technical interview (aptly called the Gauntlet!) I can honestly say that my life has changed for the better since joining Shopify.

I joined as a Customer Success Guru and loved every minute of it. I had never learned so much in any role previously. It was challenging work, but thanks to an amazing team, I was able to embrace the change and excel. I spent over a year as a Guru, then moved into the Squad Lead role and now a Support Trainer.’

What are the pros and cons of remote working?

‘One of the biggest pros for me has been the flexibility it has offered. I can work in Galway until 4pm on a Monday, hop in the car after work and drive to Donegal and work from there for a few days without it impacting my role. I have been able to spend more time with my family and friends than I ever did in any previous role. I can work from my home office or meet up with colleagues where we work together for the day.

I’ve noticed such a difference in my work-life balance. You have more time to spend doing the things you enjoy rather than sitting in traffic trying to get home. You’ll also save money on work clothes. Remote working makes you more proactive and independent – which has definitely helped me both inside and outside of work.’

remote working

So are there any negatives to remote working?

Veronica struggles to find any large negatives in her experience of remote working. ‘Personally, I find it hard to think of too many cons of remote working. I have definitely found more pros than cons, it has had a such a positive impact on my life.

It can sometimes be easy to continue working past your scheduled finishing time or opening the laptop on a weekend to check something else but you end up reading emails. It’s important to be aware of these kind of habits. You’re not really getting proper downtime if you are constantly on. Luckily Shopify has resources in place to help with this. Teams have daily check-ins as well as weekly meetings with your team lead – both are so supportive and always offer great advice. We also have allowances to support your mental and physical health, which let me expense the running shoes I had been looking to buy for months and help inspire me to be active. I’ve also tried my hand at a few meditation classes for the first time! Communication is different on a remote team, we mostly communicate via our internal chat (Slack) or by using video call.’

A huge thanks to Luke and Veronica from Shopify for sharing these insights with us. If you like the sound of a role in Shopify, the good news is they are hiring!

Shopify Roles Open Now:

Customer Success Guru Role (Fluent in German)

For more info, visit shopify.com/careers/

GMIT ‘New Frontiers’ Enterprise Programme

New Frontiers is Ireland’s national entrepreneur development programme, delivered locally by Galway Mayo Institute of Technology and funded by Enterprise Ireland.

If you have an innovative business idea with a plan to establish your own company, or you are already at an early stage of development, the New Frontiers Programme can provide you with funding, help and support to develop your new business. Participants can remain in their own office, enterprise centre, start-up hub, work from home and/or avail of the GMIT Innovation Hubs.

How Does The Programme Benefit Entrepreneurs?

Expertise in all areas of business including investment, market research & validation, business model, patenting, product development, sales and marketing.

Mentoring from experienced business advisers and practitioners.

Office space (if needed) and other business incubation facilities.

€15,000 funding to cover full-time participation in the second phase of the programme.

Networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs and business development agencies.

Introductions to seed and early-stage capital investment networks.

Access to entrepreneurship best practice – both national and international.

Peer group learning from participants in this region and across the country.

Access to the expertise in Enterprise Ireland through the Market Research Centre.

Expertise from GMIT and the supportive environment of the Innovation Hubs in Galway and Mayo.

Ideally Applicants Should:

  • Have an innovative idea
  • Be capable of building a new company
  • Create employment
  • Generate sales revenue
  • Have export potential

New Frontiers is Delivered in Three Phases:

  • The First Phase will test the feasibility of the proposition. It is the shortest phase (6/8 weeks) and will be conducted on a part-time basis. It will focus on the promoter, product/service, market opportunity, business model and feasibility study.
  • The Second Phase is much more intensive. Participants on this phase must commit on a full-time basis for 6 months. €15,000 funding will be available to all eligible participants. Expert modules, workshops and mentoring will be provided.
  • The Third Phase is built around the business success and growth, getting to the market, exporting, generating employment and attracting investment. This will be full-time over 3 months.  A €14,000 award fund sponsored by KPMG (€10,000) and AIB (€4,000) will be available for the best emerging companies on the programme.

Apply early as places are limited.  First preference places will be offered to those who return their applications by Friday, 16th March.

Planned start date for Phase 1 is 7th April.

Email Trisha Carrick trisha.carrick@gmit.ie for an application form.

Additional information:  www.gmit.ie/new-frontiers or www.newfrontiers.ie

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.