Major funding for Mayo Gaeltacht

Major funding for Mayo Gaeltacht

Eachléim in Co. Mayo is celebrating a major funding announcement by the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring. The €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, a key component of Project Ireland 2040, will provide a tourism hub on the Erris Peninsula in the north Mayo Gaeltacht.

This is a strong Gaeltacht area rich in tradition and culture and Eachléim will act as an orientation point for visitors to learn about the area’s cultural and natural heritage attractions such as Blacksod Lighthouse. The aim is to provide a tourism incubation space and support the development of craft enterprises.

The area has many attractions including extensive unspoilt beaches, with Mullach Rua and Elly boasting Blue Flag status, and a choice of sheltered crystal clear waters off the eastern shore, and a more exposed western shoreline which is ideally suited to wind surfing, canoeing and sailing.

For any businesses thinking of relocating to this amazing area Údarás na Gaeltachta can offer plenty of support with a range of incentives to start up, develop, expand or even diversify in a new direction.


Christmas Markets in Ireland

Christmas Markets in Ireland

It’s that time of year again – artisans, craft makers and all types of cottage industries are feeling the excitement in the run up to the most important business time of the year. This time of year brings the biggest opportunity to welcome both old and new customers. There’s something magical about Christmas Markets so we’ve come up with a guide to help you support these creative cottage industries across their many varied fields.



Top Tips For Christmas Market Visitors

  • Make sure you have cash, credit cards machines are few and far between
  • Bring your own bags for purchases, recycle, recycle, recycle
  • A pram for small children is advised
  • It’s getting chilly so wrap up warm.
  • If the market has a website or social media page, check it before you go so that you can plan what to look forward to.
  • There’ll most likely be food stalls so make them a highlight of your visit.


Here is a list of just some of the many markets in the west













Strandhill People’s Christmas Market

Sligo Christmas Market



Letterkenny Christmas Craft & Food Fair


Green is the new Black

Before you buy anything this Black Friday remember that Green is the New Black


A national campaign encouraging consumers to buy Irish goods on one of the busiest shopping days of the year – the last Friday in November – has been launched. The call to buy Irish, gift green and support Irish-made goods and services this Christmas is intended to keep money in circulation in the local economy, protecting jobs and public services.


As a nation we have enthusiastically embraced the American concepts of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. An estimated €250m is forecast to be spent by Irish shoppers on Black Friday, split almost equally between online and high street retailers. But if the nation chooses Green over Black this year, it will be the small independent shops and manufacturers which will benefit instead of the large corporations.

The  #greenfriday initiative is backed by many trade associations including the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, Retail Excellence and Chambers Ireland.

On November 29th, the Green Friday campaign will ask people to input to the local economy, support jobs and help nurture the country’s creative community, manufacturers and service providers by buying Irish.

If you’re heading into town or shopping online, why not try to support the work and livelihoods of small independent shops, craftspeople and designer-makers from across the west of Ireland.

The Small Firms Association Director, Sven Spollen-Behrens, says that Christmas can add a major economic boost when shoppers back small businesses and help maintain jobs.

He said: “If each adult spent just €20 extra in small local businesses this Christmas, this would amount to an injection of over €73m for small firms and would have a huge, positive impact on local jobs and the vibrancy of town and village centres.”

The DNA of many small towns and villages in the west of Ireland has been affected by online retail which often switches the focus away from local shops and retailers. It’s time to give small producers a big chance and, in the process, help rebuild our towns and villages.

This year, why not make it your Christmas wish that all your gifts are locally sourced?

Customer Services Skills Workshop

Customer Services Skills Workshop

Presented by Anne Conlon of All About Sales, this one day course gives participants the skills to provide excellent customer service and to set a standard for all staff to follow.

Anne has a proven track record of management in Ireland. Her success brought her from the east coast to the west to set up a green field site where she recruited, trained and brought to market a new business. Anne is also the president of Network Mayo, an organisation for women in business, the professions, industry, trades, government departments and the arts.

If you’ve moved to the west of Ireland and are running your own business you may need help in setting up a sales force, this is a great opportunity to leverage off Anne’s experience of making the move while setting up a successful business.

This course will be focusing on good customers service as it’s vital for all businesses both large and small. It impacts directly with sales and profit of any business. It will also provide the participants with the knowledge, skill and attitudes necessary to provide excellent standards of service. You will also learn the difference between face-to-face communication and telephone communication.

There are a couple of spaces left so come along to the Leeson Centre in Westport on Wednesday 27th November from 9:30am to 4:30pm. To ensure a place book click here

Science Week Festivals 2019

Science Week Festivals 2019


This year Science Week is running regional festivals offering a range of opportunities for the public to engage with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEAM). The festivals will feature family open days, schools outreach events and public talks.


Each festival involves a programme of events which celebrates science and research in the community. All festivals will be running numerous events so it’s guaranteed there will be something for everyone. It’s always a great event.

In Galway check, out the Galway Science Exhibition Day on Sunday 24th November, in NUI.
It’s a fantastic one day celebration and promotion of STEAM with over 80 interactive stands, 30 shows and workshops. In here you’ll find Lego, Chemistry, DNA, Teddy Bear Hospital, Star Domes and animation to name but a few of the activities. Well worth a trip! You can book tickets here.

The Sligo Science Trail is running until Sunday 17th November. The IT Sligo Faculty of Science have this year teamed up with Green Campus to pose Climate, Environmental Science and Technology questions.

The trail runs through the city centre with science objects and clues in shop windows, you need to pick up a map from any of the shops or, if you’d prefer, download it here and start the hunt. Can you find all the clues and complete the trail? After you complete the trail, drop your maps into Fabio’s Ice cream shop in Quayside Shopping Centre to enter the prize winning draw for an Oregon Home Weather Station.
While you’re there you should ask Fabio about The Science of Ice. An ice cream is actually quite a complex and multi-faceted composition, it should be solid, yet soft, and should stay that way while melting slowly. The reasons for the delicate and mesmerising nature of ice cream is ultimately a matter of food chemistry! Just ask Fabio.

Exciting Plans are underway at this year’s Mayo Science and Technology Festival. Culminating with a Family Open Day in GMIT, Castlebar on Sunday 17th from 11.30am. The Open Day will feature an exciting blend of fantastic interactive shows such as The Animal Encounter Zone at the National Reptile Zoo, The Scientific Dilemmas of Dippy the Dinosaur, Scientific Sue, The Exploration Dome and industry demonstrations where you can try out the exciting ‘Dream Flyer’, hands-on workshops such as Madlabs, Our Sun and Other Stars, Building Robots, presentations such as ‘How to Speak Gorilla’ and ‘Drone the Future and Satellites’, plus loads of free-giveaways.

There’s something for all the family here and all events are Free of Charge with free parking on the day.

Galway company wins ‘Irish Times Innovation of the Year award 2019’

Galway company wins ‘Irish Times Innovation of the Year award 2019’

We have a look at the life of Brendan McCormack, Vice President of Quality with Atlantic Therapeutics, the company which just won two prestigious awards at the ‘Irish Times Innovation awards’ 2019.

Like all success, this hasn’t come from nowhere. Galway based Atlantic Therapeutics – a spin-out from the Bio-Medical Research Group, the company behind the well-known global brand Slendertone – are currently operating in a range of European markets such as the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy.

They recently finalised distribution deals in Scandinavia and are making massive inroads in the US. The company develops medical devices, related software, apps and connected health technologies and won this prestigious award with their breakthrough device, Innovo.

Brendan and Jenni on their wedding dayBrendan tells us why his move to this ground breaking company has been such a good one for him professionally and personally: “Before I made the move to Atlantic Therapeutics two years ago, I was working for a different medical devices company and living between Dublin and Limerick. My career path at that time looked like taking me to either Dublin full-time or London. I felt I was being swallowed up into the city and it was something I wasn’t really into. Around this time, on a night out, I met what turned out to be the love of my life and my future wife, Jenni. She was based in Galway and entrenched in its local scene. The more time I spent in Galway with Jenni, the more I saw what I was missing out on and I thought – ‘I only have one life, I can’t let it pass me by.'”

Brendan started to look around to see what was available in his industry and after a short while he was asked to Join Atlantic Therapeutics as Vice president of Quality, a promotion from his previous work. He still travels the world, but he has a great home to come back to. With both the city and the motorway on his doorstep while still in the countryside, Brendan enjoys the best of both worlds.

Now with a home and garden that would be hard to equal in Dublin or London, Brendan is able to enjoy his down-time properly when he gets it!

Brendan enjoying the west“You’ve got to love it. I live in Kinvara, I’m only a twenty minute drive to work, where I can park on my doorstep. I’m down the road from the culture hot-spot that is Galway with its abundance of restaurants, theatre and gigs and I just have to stroll out the door to some great walks.

I love the positive impact of a rural community, there is a vibrancy and a quality to life that is completely different to anything else. I love the fact I didn’t have to take a step backward to be here, working with Atlantic Therapeutics has been absolutely the perfect step forward in my career”.

Two of the top five Irish Times Awards were won by finalists in the west of Ireland, it’s just another example of the wealth of opportunity in the west, not only for entrepreneurs, but also for those hoping to join already established firms in a large variety of employment.
The other winners were, PEL Waste Reduction Equipment, based in Balla, Co Mayo, who won the ‘Manufacturing and Design’ category for their innovative solar-powered compacting litter bin, BriteBin.

Lead picture credit:
The West of Ireland inspires some wonderful creativity

Galleries in the west


The West of Ireland inspires some wonderful creativity so make sure you don’t miss out on some of the stunning galleries around our counties. Many of them are housed in beautifully renovated buildings with a history all of their own, and act as a community arts hub, bringing alive the arts scene in towns across the west. See for yourself…


The Russell Gallery

From an old stone ruin to a local landmark

This old 18th-century house in Newquay, Burren has been restored from an old stone ruin into a beautiful three-storey building to house the Russell Gallery and, for those who want to relax and reflect some more, a shop, café and wine bar. Gallery owners Andy and Stefania Russell regularly host exhibitions and works by Irish artists, including the Raku ceramic works of Andy himself which reflect the beauty and wildness of the nearby Atlantic and the natural landmark, the Burren.

The Russell Gallery, Newquay, Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland, +353 65 7078185

Image courtesy of The Russell Gallery


The Russell Gallery

The 1940’s bookshop which hosted Salvador Dalí

The Kenny Gallery began life as 1940’s bookshop in Liosbán, just outside Galway. But when owners Des and Maureen Kenny saw the potential of the local artists and crafters exhibited in the bookshop, they decided to convert their own living room into a gallery to give their art its own space. One of the first exhibitions to be held at this new art venue was a selection of paintings by the renowned Irish artist Sean Keating and over its 70 years, has hosted works by greats such as Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol.
Nowadays, the gallery is a thriving centre of the arts, still run and owned by the family and a definite tick on any art lover’s list.

The Kenny Gallery, Liosbán Retail Park, Tuam Road, Galway, Ireland, +353 91 709350

Image courtesy of The Kenny Gallery


The Whitethorn Gallery

The hub of Clifden arts

Nestled near the stunning twin spires of Clifden is the Whitethorn Art Gallery. Directed by award-winning painter Anne Merrins, it hosts an eclectic mix of tranquil watercolours, textured oil paintings and delicate bronze sculptures. The space attracts Irish and other key European artists.

Clifden itself is also a blossoming hub of artistic activity, with a growing art community who support the renowned annual Clifden Community Arts Festival.

The Whitethorn Gallery, Main Street, Clifden, Co. Galway, Ireland, +353 87 2275171

Image courtesy of  The Whitethorn Gallery


Linen Hall

From Lord Lucan’s Linen Hall to the west’s most important Arts Centre

The Linenhall Arts Centre is in the westerly coastal town of Castlebar. It occupies the landmark old Linen Hall built by Lord Lucan in 1790 for the busy linen trade of Mayo and was reincarnated as an Arts Centre in 1986.

Since then, it has grown with support from the Arts Council of Ireland to become one of the most prominent and important Centres for the arts, not only in the West of Ireland but throughout the country.

In addition to supporting local artists in their work by providing workshops, talks and exhibitions, the Linenhall is also a venue for national and international music, theatre, cinema and opera.

The Linenhall Arts Centre, Linenhall Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland, +353 94 9023733

Image courtesy of Linen Hall


The Model, home of the Niland Collection

Home of the Niland Collection

Built in 1862, Sligo’s Model School has since been transformed into the progressive The Model arts centre which is seen as the heart of contemporary Irish art in the west of Ireland.
It houses the impressive Niland Collection of Art, which includes works from some of the most famous Irish artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Louis le Brocquy and Paul Henry. The Model has also made a name for delivering experimental, progressive and critically acclaimed art programmes.
The building is a vibrant space with a restaurant and coffee dock, a bookshop, a wonderful gallery circuit, a purpose built performance space, and a suite of impressive artist studios on the top floor with enviable views of Sligo town and County.
The Model, home of the Niland Collection, The Mall, Sligo, Ireland, +353 71 9141405

The Model, home of the Niland Collection © The Model

Image courtesy of The Model


Ross Fine Art Gallery

Where Irish and International art meet

Tucked away from the Lough Swilly inlet in the northerly town of Ramelton, the Ross Fine Art Gallery is the Donegal specialist in contemporary art from both Irish and international roots. Opened in 2007, works by Jack B. Yeats and Norah McGuinness have graced its walls. The gallery also promotes the works of local Donegal artists, creating a diverse mix of artistic creations. The gallery is the brainchild of fine artist Janet Ross, whose own work is a regular fixture here.

Ross Fine Art Gallery, The Mall, Ramelton, Co. Donegal, Ireland, +353 74 9151926

Halloween 2019

Lots to do across the west this Halloween

From the dark dungeons of Westport House to the tombs of Carrowmore Cemetery to the much less spooky streets of Letterkenny, there’s lots to do in the west this Halloween. We’ve rounded up a few of our frightening favourites…

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery

Creep your way round Carrowmore

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery is one of the most magical places to be on Halloween as the sun lights up many of the sites at dawn on 31st October. The site will be open at 7.15am in time for sunrise and a talk about sacred Neolithic journeys at 8am. There’ll also be tea and buns to keep you in the present!


Lose your head in Letterkenny

Lose your head in Letterkenny

It’s party time on the streets of Letterkenny with their annual Halloween Fest kicking off at 12.30pm on 31st at the Market Centre. You can try out the trick or treat trail, scream room or the games and storytelling session before taking part in the big parade!


Glendeer's Spooktastic Halloween Event

Hang out with the Roscommon witch

Roscommon’s Glendeer Pet Farm has turned ghoulish for Halloween from 26th October – 3rd November with an eerie maze and Pumpkin Passage through the Forbidden Forest past skeletons, ghosts and ghouls. You can hang out and cast spells with the scary witch and toast marshmallows over an open fire – but it might be spookier than you think!

Dare the dark dungeons of Westport House

Down in the basement of Westport House this Halloween, you can explore the dark dungeons and gather round the cauldron for some wicked tales from the White Witch of Westport. You can also get stuck onto the Pirate Adventure Park which has less frights and more thrills! See their video here

Get spooked at the Burren Nature Sanctuary

The haunted barn at Burren Nature Sanctuary has been kitted out to host a scary mix of spooky characters and some eerie ghost stories. If you don’t look scary enough to join in, get your face painted as your favourite character and see if you can spook your neighbour!

Unwind on some of our favourite hikes

Turn off, tune out and take a hike

Ever dream of just unplugging from the world and wandering where no WiFi can find you? Maybe we can help!

It’s great to be digitally connected but what’s even better about living and working in the west is that when you’re ready to take a break from the day to day grind, you have all sorts of hikes on your doorstep.

We’ve rounded up a few of our favourites here:

Diamond Hill

Diamond Hill Loop, Galway

You’d imagine the best scenery in Ireland would take a lot of effort and uphill struggle – not at Diamond Hill Loop. This easy trek follows a 445 metre descent, providing you with some epic scenic moments like Kylemore Abbey and the Twelve Ben mountains.

Slieve League Cliffs

Slieve League, Co. Donegal

Test your inner dare devil here by walking across the famous ‘one man pass’.  A 400-metre long ridge with steep drops to the Atlantic Ocean either side, it’s a  beautiful scenic hike – just steer clear on a windy day!

Keem Bay, Achill Island, Co. Mayo

Croaghaun, Co. Mayo

At 668 metres, Croaghaun is the smaller of Achill Island’s two peaks, but it’s the one with the best views of the sheer drop to the sea. This is where you’ll find Ireland’s highest corrie lake, Bunnafreva Lough West, which is always a great photo opportunity especially with the distinctive Keem Bay in the background.


Benbulbin, Co. Sligo

Undoubtedly Ireland’s most distinctive mountain, Benbulbin is located in the Darty Mountains. Don’t get fooled by the summit height of 526 metres – this mountain is a tough hike and takes about four hours to complete. You’ll get a more accessible climb if you start from the south of the mountain and the breathtaking views of Yeats country from the summit are worth the effort.

Kilkee Cliffs

Kilkee cliff walk

The Kilkee cliff walk is every bit as mesmerising as the cliffs of Moher, just without the crowds, or the fencing!  Some of the key attractions of this 8km cliff walk are the Pollock holes, Diamond Rocks, and Intrinsic Bay. A great starting point is at the Diamond Rocks Café. There are no walls between the walkway and the cliff’s edge, so you’ll get your daily dose of adrenaline just by walking. Just be careful!

Lough Glenade

Eagle’s Rock, Co Leitrim

This glacial formation is an awe-inspiring centrepiece on a tough but rewarding walk.

Located in the breathtaking Dartry Mountains, Eagle’s Rock is Ireland’s highest free standing tower and one of the most iconic landmarks in the Glenade Valley and North Leitrim.

Rainbow over Roscommon 134

Suck River Valley Co Roscommon

The majority of the route is through low-lying farmland, incorporating the boglands of the river Suck, lakes, drainage channels and callows, which are wet grasslands.

Stop along the way at the ‘Nine Friendly Villages’ before heading off to encounter some of the bird and plant life typical in Irish boglands. Really beautiful.

Thanks to Ireland’s Content Pool for the lovely images.

The Business of Literature – €1.9 million Fund Set to Unlock the Potential of Literary Tourism sector

  • Three-year literary tourism pilot programme launches across four Northern European countries this Autumn
  • €80K Fund Available to Support Literary Tourism Enterprises in Ireland
  • Organisations and businesses encouraged to sign up to November workshops.

The untapped potential of literary tourism is the focus of Spot-lit, a new three-year project spearheaded by the Western Development Commission in Ireland, that aims to grow the literary tourism sector in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region. The new programme will support 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. In Ireland, this would include literary rich locations such as Sligo, synonymous with the poet WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Bellaghy in Derry, Cuirt International Festival of Literature in Galway, Doolin Writers’ Weekend in Clare.
Funded by Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme 2014-2020, the regions participating in the Spot-lit programme area are the West of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Eastern Finland and South-West Scotland. 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.

In November, Spot-lit Partner, the Western Development Commission will deliver a series of workshops for businesses interested in Literary Tourism product development:

  • Building successful Literary Tourism experiences for visitors
  • Designing and developing your Literary Tourism product or service
  • Knowing and growing your market

Visit to find out more.

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 and support 5 businesses and will include €10,000 business development support. The focus of the business idea/product will be for the development of Literary Tourism through literature, place and performance.

In tandem with the Literary Business Support Programme, a new Literary Tourism Model will be developed and will include a €25,000 business support – the model will be developed by identifying a programme of potential performances linked to the Wild Atlantic
Way and its literary assets.

Speaking on the launch of the SME Businesses Support Programme, CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin of the Western Development Commission said:
‘The west has a fantastic story to tell; an area of arresting physical beauty, centres of innovation and economic growth, however Spot-Lit is an opportunity to focus on some of the stories as yet untold. I would urge communities, groups and SMEs to engage with the Literary Business Support Programme, one aspect of the work of the WDC in supporting the Creative Economy.’

The project launched on September 25th with a new website at, dedicated social media channels @spot_lit_eu. The NPAP region in Ireland includes all coastal counties from Donegal to Cork. Literary businesses and organisations in these counties are encouraged to register their interest for upcoming events and workshops.
The project will run until September 2021.