Open Call – Artists Studios Available At The Model 2020

The Model has announced an open call for applications for Artists’ Studios, available to rent at The Model. Studio rentals are available to professional artists for 1 or 2-year license agreements commencing in April 2020.

These purpose-built, light-filled and spacious studios have 24-hour access and measure 7×4 metres.  Monthly rental fees include utilities and broadband.

The Model is one of Ireland’s leading centres for the contemporary arts, and is based in the Northwest of Ireland, with a strong reputation for artistic excellence, cross-community and collaborative practice. The centre is a hub for the creative community in the region.

Closing date for receipt of applications: 12 noon Thursday 20 February. Application criteria and further detail on



Galway Christmas Market

Galway starts Christmas!

The Christmas Season has well and truly begun in the City of Tribes with the opening of the annual Galway Christmas Market.


Now in its 10th year, the Galway Christmas Market runs right through to December 22nd and once again features over 50 seasonal market stalls, the highly popular 32m ferris wheel, Santa’s Express Train and a traditional carousel. There’s a range of entertainment with carol singing and live music throughout the festive period.

Over 30,000 visitors flocked to Eyre Square in perfect weather conditions to watch the lights go on and enjoy the Christmas light gardens, Santa’s sleigh and postbox, the seasonal funfair games, helter skelter and chairoplanes and to try the range of delicious German Bratwursts, Traditional Crepes, Irish handmade fudge, Hungarian goulash and Czech Chimney cakes.

This year’s market features more lighting and decoration than ever before, and you’re bound to pick up some perfect Christmas gifts from the 30+ artisan producers and 10 local charities showcasing their work through the market.

The market is open on:

Monday – Wednesday 12pm to 8pm

Thursday – Saturday 10am to 10pm

Sunday – 10am to 8pm

Hidden gems in the west of Ireland

Hidden gems in the west of Ireland

Mom and Pop stores, as they’re known in the US, are all over the villages, towns and cities of our west coast keeping alive the old traditions and customer service that many of us remember with fondness.


Ainsworth's Butchers Killybegs DonegalRemember those stores? You could run in, get a key cut, buy some milk and a mouse trap, purchase

a television and rent a film for the night amongst a million other things! They still exist throughout the west, and are loved by all in the community.

Many of these stores have great old-fashioned hand painted signage and window dressing that just invites you in.

Anyone who uses them on a regular basis knows well – if you haven’t the right change, you’ll get them tomorrow. If you need advice on what you want, you’ll get an actual expert who’ll either get you what you need, order it in or send you off in the right direction. Sometimes, if it’s something you need for just a one-off occasion, they’ll tell you to drop it back when you’re finished!

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with one or more of these shops, then you know it’s the unique personal touch that makes them work so well.

Ernest Speers Outfitters, Letterkenny, DonegalGraphic Designer, Trevor Finnegan, started a project a number of years ago where he set off on a mission to highlight the beauty of traditional Irish shopfronts, a project he called ‘Our Type’.  Trevor still takes trips around the country in search of new shops to add to the project.  Bring a smile to your face by scrolling through some of the classic shops around Ireland on his Instagram page @our.type.

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


Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture Open Call

Galway 2020 is today issuing an open call for up to 2,020 people from communities across Galway city, county and beyond to be part of Galway’s European Capital of Culture opening ceremony celebrations. Percussionists and chanters are just some of the roles being cast in the seven day-long opening celebrations. All abilities are welcome. If you can clap your hands, stamp your feet or bang a pot and pan together, then you are exactly who is needed

The celebrations will start with a symbolic turf cutting ceremony on St Brigid’s day and fiery festivals will erupt in towns across the county over seven consecutive nights from Sunday 2 of February. Moving ever closer to the city through the first week of Imbolc, with events in Clifden, Spiddal, Tuam, Ballinasloe, Portumna and Athenry, a huge cast drawn from across the community will invade the streets and squares of Galway city on the evening of Saturday 8 of February for the spectacular open-air finale.

Find out more HERE

Courtesy of Galway 2020

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

Get smart: create your own marketing videos at the touch of a button

Get smart: Create your own marketing videos at the touch of a button

Creating video content has become a huge part of every business’s marketing plan.  And you don’t have to be an expert to deliver simple but effective videos to promote your business using your very own phone.

Barry Murphy’s half day training course will walk you through filming and editing footage on your smartphone. You’ll learn what and where to shoot, how to add voiceovers, text and music and how to use editing software such as VideoShop and Filmora to produce a fully-fledged marketing video for your business. He will also show you how to upload your video to YouTube and give tips on how to ensure your video gets seen.

The training will take place at The Hive, Carrick on Shannon on Thursday 31st October and Thursday 7th November from 2pm to 5pm. Admission is only €20.

To find out more click here

Lynn Kenny at work

Lynn Kenny tells us how ten minutes in the car around beautiful Lough Derg beats sitting in traffic on the M50!

From learning her craft in inner city Dublin to honing it amongst the forests and lakes of rural Co Clare, artist Lynn Kenny feels the west of Ireland is the perfect fit for her, her business and her family.

Lynn grew up in Dublin and loved the buzz and creativity of the city. But when she hit her 30s, she had an urge to leave her teaching job and the night life behind for a gentler pace of life. “I worked mainly as a facilitator in adult education across Dublin and always had an art studio in city centre communal studios. Teaching was my main income as I built up my profile as artist/designer.

Lynn Kenny - JugsI realised I wanted to get out of the city for a slower pace of life, settle down and move with my then boyfriend, now husband to the West. I used to love visiting my grandmother and relatives in the midlands and always fantasised about ‘returning to my roots’ – I always thought it would suit me.”

They made the move 13 years ago and settled in the pretty Clare village of Killaloe, near enough to Limerick for her husband’s work, and rural enough to deliver a real change to their lifestyle. 

This move meant Lynn was able to focus her energies on her art, producing quirky, playful products and artworks for the giftware market: “I started to focus on my own creative work so that my business began to really take off. I supplied several outlets nationwide, including the Kilkenny shops and Carraig Donn, and started to become a recognisable brand. This gave me greater brand awareness and, when I had kids, I pulled away from producing volumes for retail and started selling directly to my customers online.” 

Lynn Kenny - Cups The digital set up in the village and the local government support meant Lynn was not alone and her business was able to expand. She said: “There are many resources and a lot of help for SMEs in the West that can be tapped into. I received an online trading voucher from my local Enterprise Board and had an online web shop built, which has meant that for the past few years, I have been able to sell mainly directly through my online shop. I still have time to develop new products – just this month, I launched 40 new products on my website shop in time for the Christmas period. Living in the West has given me the space to develop my business and make it work for me and I’m not tied down to a 9-5 job to pay the bills.”

And it’s not just about the business. Lynn says the local community is one of the best things about living rurally: “It has definitely enriched our lives as a family and I find I have a fantastic local customer base – they are so supportive.”

Lynn Kenny - PaintingWhat living in the West also gives Lynn is the time and space for family life: “We have busy lives like most families but because I work from home and my husband only has to travel 10 minutes to the local village, we all spend less time in the car stuck in traffic, giving us more time and meaning less stress. Ten minutes in the car around beautiful Lough Derg beats sitting in traffic on the M50!

Being self employed means having flexibility so I’m there for my kids most afternoons if needed. Living rurally doesn’t mean we have less activities for the kids either. We are really spoilt for choice on sports activities, we get our cultural stuff locally in festivals and go to Limerick for shows and gigs.

The weekends are the time to wind down, there’s the usual sports that you get with having two young boys, but we spend time catching up with friends, working on our land, going for nice walks, visiting the local market and whiling away afternoons in great local cafes.”

Lynn Kenny with her products in the woods
The family have recently gone that bit more rural and have set up home ten minutes outside Killlaloe where Lynn finds the views and sounds of the country around her both relaxing and inspiring. The land means she has studio space to hold creative workshops which provides another revenue stream and a space to hold stock.

And she has plenty of plans for the future “We’ve got two acres and are thinking about how we can grow our own food and plant a native Irish broad leaf forest. We want to get more animals too to add to the dog and cat – hens, maybe a Llama, donkeys, sheep, pig – we’re currently working through pros and cons!”


You can find out more about Lynn’s work at

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.

Macnas to ‘Danse Macabre’ through the streets of Galway on 27th October

Macnas to ‘Danse Macabre’ through the streets of Galway on 27th October

Ireland’s largest free Halloween event set to unleash curiosity, fear, grief, love, laughter and party onto the streets.

Macnas will bring their epic storytelling to the streets of Galway on Sunday 27th October with the acclaimed annual Macnas Halloween Parade – the largest free event for Halloween with over 70,000 people young and old out in force every year for a highlight of Ireland’s cultural calendar.

The 2019 event – titled ‘Danse Macabre’ – will kick off at 5.30pm from Macnas’ home on the NUI Galway campus and will weave its way through the heart of Galway city unleashing curiosity, fear, grief, love, laughter and party onto the streets of Galway.

Macnas to ‘Danse Macabre’ through the streets of Galway on 27th October‘Danse Macabre’ will take audiences on a journey with a boy called Conor and will see Macnas, the ultimate guardians of the unpredictable, conjure a magical-realist world brimming with fizzing light, infusing the streets with spices and aromas, wafting and roaming around dense dark corners that rise to meet the transcendental and magical. It promises to be strange, unpredictable and utterly mesmerising. Always a gigantic undertaking, this year’s parade will feature the signature Macnas giant creations and sculptural images, pyrotechnics, bespoke costumes and epic performances to live and original music.

The delivery of this wondrous chaos is the work of the Macnas Creative Ensemble, comprised of 45 professional artists and 300 volunteers. Creative Director of ‘Danse Macbre’ Dan Colley is joined this year by Dave Young (Lead Design); Saileog O’Halloran (Costume Design); Alma Kelleher (Music & Sound Design); as well as hundreds of performers from the Macnas Young Ensemble (led by Miquel Barcelo); Youth Ballet West; Macnas Youth Drummers (led by Eimhin Craddock); Macnas Public Participation Programme; Macnas Brass Ensemble (led by Donal McConnan) and many more.

Macnas to ‘Danse Macabre’ through the streets of Galway on 27th OctoberMark O’Donnell, Executive Director of Macnas said – “We are very grateful to be supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Galway City Council for our year long programme of creative work. In 2019, we are delighted to have the confirmed support of our platinum supporters Smyth’s Toys and our golden business patrons: O’Connell’s Bar Eyre Square and Acorn Insurance.  This year, the Connacht Hospitality Group continues their generous support for the Macnas Young Ensemble which is terrific, and we look forward to working with our partners in the Latin Quarter again this year to deliver the iconic Halloween parade.”

Speaking ahead of this year’s Macnas Halloween Parade and looking forward to the European Capital of Culture, Noeline Kavanagh, Artistic Director of Macnas said –

”2020 will see Macnas present a dramatic new version of the world’s oldest surviving story, the epic of Gilgamesh, staged outdoors, indoors and online across the four seasons. The legend of Gilgamesh inspired heroes such as Cú Chulainn, Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Odysseus and this will be an adventure that will take our audiences on a rollercoaster ride, like nothing they’ve ever experienced.”

‘Gilgamesh’ is a tyrannical king, two- thirds god, one-third human, whose rule is challenged when he meets his match in a wild man and hero called Enkidu. The story follows their exploits against a backdrop of love, loss and adventure.  Get ready for Macnas in 2020 as ‘Gilgamesh’ takes over the city streets, comes into in your homes, is staged in the Black Box Theatre and roams beyond our city walls!

For more information on the Parade and all things Macnas check out

Photos by Julia Dunin