leonard cohen yeats

Tower Of Song: From Leonard Cohen To Arcade Fire And Beyond – Yeats’ Influence On Modern Music

The finest verse, according to W.B. Yeats was one which filled the reader with the urge to read it out loud. Inspired by the oral tradition of the ancient Irish bards, he set out to keep his poetry clear of ‘every phrase written for eye’,  leaving only what was ‘for the ear alone’. It is not surprising then that he has inspired so many poets and lyricists over the years, many of whom have been compelled to read his verse aloud (we we are inviting you to do with Your Yeats) , or put it to music. We asked Irish Music Journalist Eamon Sweeney to explore the rich connections between Yeats and musicians the world over.

William Butler Yeats’ influence extends far beyond the world of literature. He remains a true blue pillar of Irish poetry and letters, having crafted some of the most enduring poems about love, life and death ever written. Yeats also profoundly inspires popular culture and modern music.  

In the final line of ‘Among School Children’, Yeats famously asks, “How can we know the dancer from the dance?” Similarly, poetry and lyrics can sometimes be hard to differentiate. 

Lyrics tend to be accompanied by music, while poetry is not, but both constantly blur and cross-pollinate. Singer-songwriter Will Oldham (also widely known as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy) opened an essay for The Poetry Foundation with the reflection, “The difference between lyrics and poetry is that I don’t understand poetry.” 

Leonard Cohen is a classic example of a highly accomplished poet and lyricist. In addition to a peerless canon of timeless songs, Cohen has authored two novels and several collections of poetry. Rufus Wainwright hails Cohen as “the greatest living poet on earth.” Unsurprisingly, Cohen is a massive WBY fan. 

The Canadian icon has been a regular visitor to Ireland since 2008. In summer 2010, Cohen performed two unforgettable concerts at Lissadell House, where he read from Yeats’ ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz’. 

Van Morrison has referenced Yeats numerous times throughout an extraordinarily prolific career. On his 1985 album, A Sense of Wonder, Morrison recorded a musical version of the poem ‘Crazy Jane on God.’ 

Mike Scott and The Waterboys are perhaps the best known modern musical interpreters of Yeats. Their classic 1988 album, Fisherman’s Blues, closes with a well known version of ‘The Stolen Child’ featuring sean nós singer and poet Tomás Mac Eoin

In 2011, The Waterboys released an entire album inspired by Ireland’s most iconic poet entitled An Appointment with Mr Yeats. Mike Scott described the process of making the album “as if Yeats was in the room collaborating with me.”

Several seminal musical heroines have also paid homage to Mr Yeats. American singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist Patti Smith opened a 2012 Abbey performance  alongside Sam Shepard by reading Yeats’ ‘Easter 1916’. Sinéad O’Connor launched her astonishing career back in 1987 with a debut single entitled ‘Troy’, which was inspired by Yeats’ ‘No Second Troy’. You can actually hear O’Connor recite this poem, along with ‘Easter 1916’, in the Yeats exhibition  currently running at the National Library of Ireland. 

Recently, Will Butler of Arcade Fire also cited Yeats as a massive influence. “When you think about it, Yeats’s career is the ultimate benchmark,” he told me in an interview for the Irish Times. “He won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but he continued to get better and kept writing great stuff. It’s a tall order, but that’s my goal.”

The aptly named Will Butler is just the latest musician to tap into Yeats’ rich well for inspiration. You can be sure he won’t be the last. 

This article was originally published for Yeats2015; a year-long celebration for WB Yeats 150th birthday in 2015.

About the Author: Eamon Sweeney (@Swench) is a freelance journalist and writer from Dublin who contributes to The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Sunday Business Post and Hot Press. He is also a volunteer for the Friends of Joyce Tower Society in Sandycove. You can follow Eamon on twitter @Swench and you can read more of his work online here.

Image Credits:
Leonard Cohen image Nathan Wind under Creative Commons
Waterboys image via Kewl Kela under Creative Commons

yeats sligo family

10 Things You Didn’t Know About WB Yeats

Every Irish person will have come across the work of William Butler Yeats in school but here are 10 things your teachers may not have told you.

1.Yeats was fascinated by the occult and mysticism. He joined the Golden Dawn, a secret society which practiced ritual magic, in 1890, progressing to its Inner Order in 1893, and remained an active member for most of his life. He also joined paranormal research organisation The Ghost Club in 1911

2. While Yeats’ unrequited love for Maud Gonne is as famous as his poetry, what is less well-known is that they consummated the affair in 1908 – almost 20 years after first meeting. However, the relationship did not develop further.

3. He was nothing if not persistent. After proposing to, and being rejected by, Maud Gonne for the fifth time, he asked her daughter Iseult to marry him – also without success. Shortly after Iseult’s refusal, Yeats, then 52, married 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees in October 1917.

4. He may have been in such a rush to get hitched because he believed it was written in the stars. An astrological chart drawn up through the Golden Dawn found October 1917 was the ideal time for Yeats to marry.

5. Yeats’ introduction to automatic writing began as a sly attempt by Georgie to alleviate his fears about their marriage. The process is said to allow a person to write without conscious thought, acting as medium for the spirit world. During a grim honeymoon, Georgie convinced her new husband that the following was written through her: “With the bird all is well at heart. Your action was right for both.” Yeats took this as Iseult being well and his having made the right choice. He and Georgie went to on produce thousands of pages of automatic script.

6. Yeats served in the first Seanad for six years from 1922. He argued against the ban on divorce, a move he viewed as “grossly oppressive” to the Protestant minority, warning it would “put a wedge in the midst of this nation”. He also spoke out against new censorship laws, and while he promoted Irish-language research, he questioned compulsory Irish.

7. He played a major role in the Irish cultural revival. He was involved in founding the Abbey Theatre and the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, now the Hugh Lane, and supported the Cuala Press set up by his sisters to produce books of Irish interest.

8. WB Yeats was the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”. A year later his brother Jack added to the family medal haul, winning silver in the arts and culture section of the Olympics for his painting The Liffey Swim.

9. Yeats described his last years as a second puberty following a Steinach operation at age 69. Perhaps not coincidentally had several affairs with younger women but also experienced a late burst of creativity.

10. The grave of WB Yeats may contain someone else’s body. The poet died in France in 1939 but was exhumed and brought to Drumcliffe, Sligo,in 1948. However, historian Louise Foxcroft, whose granduncle Alfred Hollis was buried in France on the same day as Yeats, has raised concerns that a mix-up meant Hollis’ body was sent to Ireland instead.

About the Writer: Anne Hayden is a writer and editor who grew up in Cork, studied in Galway and lives in Dublin. She has an MA Journalism from NUIG and is Assistant Chief Subeditor at the Irish Sun. You can follow Anne on twitter @ainenihaodain

Knowing Yeats, Knowing Sligo

It’s well known that Yeats drew inspiration all his life from his time spent staying with relatives in his beloved Sligo during childhood and early adulthood.  We asked another Sligo writer, Nicola Ryan, who moved to the area herself in her teenage years, to recount her relationship with the poet through their adopted home county.

Yeats Country

Image Credit: Raymond Fogarty

It is not for nothing Sligo is known as the Yeats country. If you have even a nodding acquaintance with the poet’s work, you won’t to be there for long without being reminded of lines from the poems. This is far from happenchance, of course as Yeats again and again found his inspiration in Sligo, the beloved landscape of his childhood. His words come to mind easily because he was determined that the syntax would ring true to Irish life and not come from ‘a second-hand culture’ picked up from styles of English literature which had gone before.

I first came to Sligo when I was fifteen and my family moved there from Athlone. Even for a careless teen, more worried about leaving her friends than about the place she was going to, it was impossible to avoid the poet.

I was familiar with him, of course, given that I was studying for my Leaving Cert, and Yeats was our most prominent Irish poet. I even liked him, but he seemed far distant, belonging to a time very much before my own. Yet, within a few years, Yeats and myself would have a house in common – Avena House in Ballisodare. For me, it became our family home a few years after we arrived in Sligo. For him, it was the home of his grand-uncle William Middleton, where he often stayed with his cousins while in Sligo on his holidays, especially George. George was about his own age and had ‘a piebald pony that had once been in a circus’ so that it sometimes walked around in a circle as if it were still in the ring.

The Middletons were happy to associate with the villagers, both in Ballisodare and at Rosses Point where they had their summer home. Yeats credited these excursions into local homes with awakening the lifelong interest in ‘country stories’ and Irish mythology that became so fundamentally important to him. It was in Ballisodare, (in the very kitchen of Avena House according to solicitor and local Yeats scholar, J.P. McGarry) he listened in adulthood to the tales of the gardener, Paddy Flynn, ‘a little bright-eyed old man’, and used many of them in his Celtic Twilight. It was in Ballisodare too he heard an old woman singing the folk song that he turned into his poem Down by the Sally Gardens. (Yeats would have been familiar with the cottage gardens of time, growing willow trees so that the young branches or ‘sallies’ could be used to bind the roof thatch.) Avena House remains a private home to this day, surrounded by walled grounds of almost an acre, at the centre of the village. The Middleton & Pollexfen mills with which it was associated were still there in my time, but are now no more.


My Ballisodare connection was in the unknowable future, of course, on the day we first arrived in Sligo, following the removal truck to our temporary home in town. I remember we crested the hill at the top of Pearse road and there I recognised ahead the unmistakable shape of ‘bare Benbulben’s head’. It was just as the poet had described it when he asked to be buried in its shadow, beside Drumcliff church, his grave marked by a simple limestone slab.

In his lifetime, Yeats was fascinated by Benbulben’s significance in the country tales. He called Drumcliff a ‘gentle’ place, meaning the people still knew and respected the old ‘faery’ ways. He wrote in Celtic Twilight of a particular limestone flag on the mountainside that marks the entrance to faeryland: ‘No mortal has ever touched it with his hand; no sheep or goat has ever browsed grass beside it.’ From here the fabulous Shidhe emerged for their night hunts, and if there was a new bride or new baby in the mortal community, a watch must be kept to make sure they had not been stolen away! More readily visible to mortal eyes on Benbulben is the cave said to have been the last resting place of the ill-fated aristocratic lovers, Diarmuid and Grainne.

Knocknarea is the other guardian of the entrance to Sligo. Visible from some miles out, it rises cleanly from a flat landscape of green fields, and is crowned on top with the unmistakable profile of Maeve’s cairn. I have walked up the mountain from the Glen Road side many times, unaware until recently that I was literally following in the footsteps of the poet – hillwalking not being an activity one would generally associate with Yeats! In selecting Knocknarea as the setting for his quasi-Celtic hero, Red Hanrahan, Yeats didn’t realise what an extremely ancient site it was. ‘Maeve’s cairn’ is a vastly earlier construction than was dreamed of in the poet’s lifetime; it’s not just that it predates the Celts, it probably pre-dates the pyramids, and is most likely about five thousand years old. Staying in Ballisodare as a youth, Yeats thought he had seen bright lights dancing up the mountainside; how fascinating that archaeologists are now speculating Knocknarea was in ancient times a sacred place of pilgrimage. They have discovered the remains of what was possibly a ceremonial route. It runs along what was until now thought to be a natural ridge circling the summit, so there may well have been torchlit processions along its slopes.

In Athlone, ‘lake’ meant the mighty Lough Ree, shoreline 192 km, to be sampled in measured bites. We soon found that Lough Gill was the perfect size for a Sunday afternoon spin- a round-trip of about 35 km/22 miles.

The viewing point for Yeats’ Lake Isle of Inisfree is approximately 8 km out of town. A short detour off the main road (signposted), down a lane, and there it is – a small, tree covered island seeming not that far away across the water. At the end of the lane there’s a little jetty. Standing there, the light-gravelled shore is surprisingly close to the road. It was a delight to find the lakewater actually does lap along it with that ‘low’ clear sound that Yeats heard in his ‘deep heart’s core’.

When he first thought of living on the island, ‘alone in the bee-loud glade’ Yeats was a teenager. He had been very taken by the ideas of Henry David Thoreau, and dreamed of living in a cabin on Inisfree, like Thoreau did on Walden pond. The closest he managed to get to this was to spend a night in the open in Slish wood overlooking the lake. In his Autobiographies he writes that he walked out from his uncle George Pollexfen’s house in Thornhill one beautiful evening and stayed in the wood from which he could see ‘my island’, until dawn. He had intended to sleep, but found he was so worried that he might be caught by the forest ranger, he passed the night thinking of excuses he could offer for trespassing! However, he did have the pleasure of seeing Inisfree as the dawn broke, and hearing the birdsong. He then walked back ‘unimaginably tired and sleepy’ having covered, he says, around thirty miles in total!

By the time he wrote the poem, he was starting to give up on his youthful dream of seeking wisdom by living with Nature. One day in Fleet Street, he was feeling miserable and very homesick for Sligo. Fortunately for us, the tinkling of a miniature fountain in a London shop window brought Inisfree viscerally to mind, and inspired his evocative poem of loss, and longing for place. Fortunately for me, I get to return to Sligo whenever I want to – which is often.

This article was originally published for Yeats2015; a year-long celebration for WB Yeats 150th birthday in 2015.

About The Writer: Nicola Ryan lived in Sligo and was a journalist with The Sligo Champion from 1971 till until 1987.   She also compiled and edited ‘Femforum’, a weekly women’s page for the paper.  She now lives in Dublin with her husband Philip and in recent years completed a degree in History of Art and Architecture.  In keeping with her Sligo interests, her thesis concerned the architecture of Lissadell House. She recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin.

Image Credits: Colin Gillen at Framelight Studio.

Go Atlantic Blue to celebrate our Atlantic Ocean on World Oceans Day (8 June)

Famous buildings and landmarks across Ireland will ‘Go Atlantic Blue’ over the weekend 7-10 June to celebrate our connection to the Atlantic Ocean, as part of World Oceans Day. The global day (Saturday 8 June) connects people worldwide in celebrating the ocean, its importance in our lives and how each of us can protect it, no matter where we live.

In Ireland, more than 20 different landmarks are expected to participate in the day by lighting up their buildings. Businesses, shops, schools and homes across the country will also ‘Go Atlantic Blue’ on the day. Everyone’s participation will highlight the strong connection that people in Ireland have with the Atlantic Ocean and the multiple ways that it affects and enriches our daily lives.

‘Go Atlantic Blue’ is being spearheaded in Ireland by the Marine Institute-led AORA-CSA (Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Co-ordination & Support Action) against the backdrop of SeaFest 2019 (7-9 June) and Our Ocean Wealth Summit (9-10 June), both taking place in Cork. SeaFest is Ireland’s national maritime festival and Our Ocean Wealth Summit is Ireland’s flagship event for the marine sector, bringing together Irish and international organisations to create innovative and sustainable solutions to drive our Blue Economy.

It’s the first year to ‘Go Atlantic Blue’ with the aim of raising awareness of the vital role that the Atlantic Ocean plays in the lives of Irish people, no matter how near or far they live from the Atlantic coastline. Amongst the activities that AORA (www.atlanticresource.org) promotes through its work are the development of an ‘Atlantic community’, made up of citizens of countries that neighbour the Atlantic Ocean, and also exploring, observing and mapping the remainder of the Atlantic Ocean floor (which AORA calls “the Last Great Exploration Campaign on Earth”).

Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, said,

Our ocean is our greatest natural resource and we see that most directly in Ireland with the vital importance that the Atlantic Ocean plays in our daily lives – from influencing the weather to facilitating our trade industry and from seafood to surfing off the coast. The Marine Institute is proud to support the ‘Go Atlantic Blue’ initiative from 7-10 June, particularly at SeaFest and Our Ocean Wealth Summit, and we encourage & welcome everyone to come onboard.”

Director of Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance Co-ordination & Support Action, Dr Margaret Rae, said that the initiative gives people all around the country a chance to show their appreciation for the Atlantic Ocean.

“In Ireland, the Atlantic Ocean means so much to us. It’s our largest natural resource and we draw so much from it – our livelihoods, food, bounty, beauty, imagination, inspiration, song, poetry, health and wellbeing and much much more,” she said. “Going Atlantic Blue is a way to draw attention to how each and every one of us experiences the Atlantic, what we love about our Ocean and how we can be that generation that makes a difference.”

Some of the Landmarks around Ireland Going Atlantic Blue

• Dublin Airport
• Shannon Airport
• Cork Airport
• Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
• King John’s Castle, Limerick
• University of Limerick
• CIT Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork
• St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
• National University of Ireland Galway
• University College Cork
• University College Dublin
• Dublin City University
• Trinity College Dublin
• GMIT, Dublin Road, Galway
• GMIT, Letterfrack
• Iveagh House, Dublin (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
• Government Buildings (Merrion Square, Dublin)
• Galway Bay Boat Tours
• Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara, Galway
• Galway Atlantaquaria, National Aquarium of Ireland
• Tyndall National Institute, Cork
• Port of Galway
• Cork City Hall
• Berwick fountain (Grand Parade), Cork
• Bishop Lucey Park, Cork
• St Peter’s, North Main Street, Cork
• St. Luke’s, Cork
• Roche’s Point Lighthouse, Cork
• Baily Lighthouse, Dublin
• The Great Light (Titanic Quarter, Belfast)
• Port of Cork
• National Maritime College of Ireland (NCMI)
• Marine Institute
• One Albert Quay, Cork
• The Capitol, Cork
• Western Development Commission
• XOCEAN, Co Louth
• VOYA and VOYA Seaweed Baths, Co Sligo
• Carbery Group, Cork
• Murphys Ice Cream, Nationwide
• Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, Co Kerry
• Blennerville Windmill, Tralee, Co Kerry
• Seavite
• Science Foundation Ireland
• Údarás na Gaeltachta
• Seal Rescue Ireland in Wexford
• Milish Bakery, Bundoran, Co. Donegal
• Met Éireann
• Donegal Airport
• CBE, Claremorris, Co. Mayo
• Martina Hamilton Jewellery, Sligo
• Cat & the Moon, Sligo
• Fishy Fishy Restaurant, Kinsale

 How you can ‘Go Atlantic Blue’

  • Decorate your business/home/school with an Atlantic blue colour – add dark blue filters, fairy lights or blue light bulbs in outdoor lights
  • Dress in Atlantic blue clothing e.g. T-shirts, wear a blue wig or paint your face dark blue
  • Organise your own ‘Atlantic Blue’ themed event

 Share how you ‘Go Atlantic Blue’

  • Take a photo or video of how you’ve gone Atlantic Blue and share it on social media platforms. Feel free to share what makes the Atlantic Ocean special to you
  • Tag your social media posts with #WorldOceansDay and #GoAtlanticBlue to link with a community of fellow ocean appreciators!
  • Tag AORA in your tweets (@AtlanticAll) and also tag @Seafest_ie and @OurOceanWealth if you’ve room!

 Find out more HERE

Check out www.atlanticresource.org and video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uktwQre4O2M

Image Courtesy of  https://www.atlanticresource.org/aora/site-area/news-events/press-releases/go-atlantic-blue-world-oceans-day 

wdc strategy

Western Development Commission’s new five-year strategy ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ launched in Galway

Growing and developing the West of Ireland by investing in tech, connecting digital working hubs, and promoting the region’s unmatched quality of life, is at the heart of the Western Development Commission’s new five-year strategy ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’, which is launched today.

Under the strategy, almost €50 million in structured supports will be offered in investment and lending to companies and businesses, with a focus on innovative or tech businesses that are developing or have the potential to develop a global niche.

Speaking at the launch today in Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Sean Canney TD, also announced that €1m in Dormant Accounts Funding will be made available to create a network of Enterprise Hubs and Digital Spaces from Co Donegal to Co Kerry.

The centres, powered by fibre broadband, support the growing trend towards remote working, community hubs, and offer a lifeline for early stage rural-based companies and entrepreneurs

The Western Development Commission’s ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy will build on the growth of remote working and facilitate innovation within a globally competitive region that offers a quality of life that’s among the best in the world.

The strategy has three pillars; Regional Promotion, Regional Leadership and Sustainable Enterprise, with short-term, medium and long-term goals.

  • Regional Promotion will focus on the further development of the WDC’s jobs and lifestyle portal called lookwest.ie and engaging with communities in Clare, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal
  • Regional Leadership will see the continuation of WDC policy analysis, supporting the Creative Economy and the WDC’s role as co-ordinating agency for the Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) project, set out in Project Ireland 2040. The AEC covers the spine of Ireland’s western coast that includes the counties from Co Donegal to Co Kerry
  • Sustainable Enterprise will take a longer-term view, continuing to invest in new ideas and build on the success of the Western Investment Fund, the on-going promotion of Social Enterprise and over a ten year period working with higher education institutions, other agencies and departments to identify one or two sectors that will deliver a competitive advantage for the region at a global level.

Minister Canney revealed today that the WDC has grown, through investment and lending, the original state investment of £25m (€32m) in the Western Investment Fund to a current portfolio value of €72m. The organisation now has €48m of that fund available for investment and lending across a number of areas.

A key goal of the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better strategy’ will be to take a ’10-year view’ by investing the €48 million in the Western Region in early stage businesses, micro-loans for communities and significant investment in one or two key sectors – which can build a competitive advantage for the region.

The new €1m fund for Enterprise Hubs and Digital Spaces will help raise the profile of the hubs, the work they do and a build a single online point of access for public, private and community hubs along the Atlantic coast. The fund will also help Centre Managers to grow the business, learn from each other, offer clear routes to further supports and, in the longer term, build a pipeline of innovation in communities.

Commenting today, Minister Canney said: “I welcome the opportunity to launch the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy on behalf of the Western Development Commission. In particular, the establishment of the Atlantic Economic Corridor offers a significant opportunity for both the region and the WDC to grow and meet the needs of communities all along the Atlantic seaboard. I want to acknowledge the commitment and engagement of the Board and staff of the WDC in taking on this new role. This new strategy offers a clear opportunity to raise the profile of the work the WDC does for the west, in the west, and is to be welcomed.”

Chair of the WDC, Dr Deirdre Garvey, acknowledged the role played by those who engaged with the WDC in creating the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ strategy. “This process has been very helpful in ensuring that the WDC continues to deliver for the Western Region, meeting the needs of key stakeholders, but ultimately the needs of those who live in the West, and seek to ensure that they can offer a future of equal, and greater opportunity for the next generation.”

Speaking at the launch, Western Development Commission CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin, said: “Regional development is a priority issue. In the context of significant technological change and the need to move to a low carbon economy, it’s vital that we ensure balanced development as we grow to 2040. This strategy acknowledges the work of the WDC team to date and sets out a clear ambition to position the region as global leaders in one or two key areas over the next 10 years.

“These projects are of vital national importance and the WDC welcomes the opportunity to play a key role in making these goals a reality. These goals can be achieved through continued collaboration with communities, as well as with State and industry in the Western Region. Work Smarter, Live Better aligns with the Government’s broader ambition as set out in Ireland 2040 and in particular the Atlantic Economic Corridor.”

wdc strategy

More on the ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ Strategy 2019-2024  at https://www.wdc.ie/about-us/wdc-strategy/


Five EU Regions Come together to Create an International Business Mentoring Solution for Local West of Ireland SME’s

Minna Järvinen, Corporate Communications Officer at Finnish Business mentors, was in Galway to share the expertise of supporting over 1,400 clients in 2018, to access mentoring services in her native Finland with attendees from the West of Ireland and beyond.  Minna was speaking as part of the launch events for the Bizmentors EU funded initiative launched by the Western Development Commission (WDC) and SCCUL enterprises in the historic Aula Maxima in NUIG.

In 2018 the WDC and SCCUL were successfully awarded EU funding to develop and pilot an SME mentoring support project with partners from Finland, Iceland, and Northern Ireland. The project is a three-year (2018-2021), transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) with a total budget in the region of €1.3m. It is aimed at supporting SME growth in the NPA region through accessible, open access, tailored mentoring for businesses. “For the WDC it is intended that the EU Bizmentors project will result in a novel capability to provide Trans-national, bespoke, mentoring to allow our SMEs to both survive and indeed thrive”  said Ian Brannigan , Head of Regional Development at the WDC.

For more details on the NPA, see www.interreg-npa.eu

Annette Hassett, Bizmentors Programme Manager for SCCUL Enterprises CLG, stated:
This is an exciting step for Bizmentors from humble beginnings based on the East Side of Galway City with a focus on the Galway area to this collaboration across 5 EU regions providing trans-national business mentoring solutions”.

The development of such a transnational offering to local SME’s is the main deliverable. Such a model compliment’s existing national mentoring models and is intended to facilitate mentoring for even the most peripheral SME’s in the region

The BizMentors model, developed by SCCUL, has been proven to support individuals and businesses in a community setting in Galway since 2012. It relies on the local support of established business people to provide free guidance to those seeking it in a structured and low cost way. To test the new model, the partnership will focus on the Agri-Food sector. Having identified 587 existing businesses in the partner regions initially, the project will support end users to take advantage of the unique natural capital, innovation capacity and markets that remains untapped in the region. The mentoring model developed will be piloted in each region participating in the project

The project in the West of Ireland is implemented by the Western Development Commission and SCCUL enterprise CLG.





Project Officer Vacancy at the Western Development Commission

Purpose of Post (Fixed Term Contract)

Blue Circular Economy (BCE) is a new project which is funded under an EU transnational Interreg programme called the Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (NPAP) 2014-2020.
BCE aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) offering products and services within fishing gear recycling solutions in the NPA region to attain a greater market reach.

Building on the network developed under Circular Ocean (2015-2018), the project will set up a multi-level cluster to connect and catalyse SME’s in the region. The cluster formation will be used as a hub, multiplier and network enabler where knowledge and experience is developed and shared, while adopting an inclusive gender-equal approach.

The cluster establishment and operation will be done in collaboration with academia, industry and government agencies following a triple helix approach. BCE will therefore contribute to sustainable development in the NPAP region at the economic, environmental and social levels.

Key Responsibilities

The Project Officer is a newly created fixed-term post for the duration of the EU Interreg funded BCE project.  The position will last for a limited time period for the duration of the project and reports to the Head of Regional Development.

The Western Development Commission (WDC) is responsible for two Work Packages (WP) in the BCE project:

  1. Clustering
  2. Communications

The WDC is also a partner in other work packages and will contribute to other project activities.  The two WP’s that the WDC will lead, and other work package participation, account for a large percentage of the total project budget and workload.

The following are the main tasks to be undertaken by the BCE Project Officer:


  • Implement the Communication Strategy which defines the methodology & protocol for internal and external communications of the project and the three year action plan.  The communications strategy will ensure that project partners disseminate its main messages and results to beneficiaries, citizens and stakeholders.
  • Measure, review & report on the effectiveness of Communications Strategy
  • Create an internal & external communication support platform across the partners
  • Build on the existing Circular Ocean approach and transition towards B2B models of engagement to raise awareness
  • Develop promotional material, website, social media channels and publications, including project reports, project newsletters etc.
  • Organise events, training, and workshops for internal and external communications
  • Adhere to EU and mandatory programme publicity requirements
  • Oversee production and financing for quality, professional communication tools
  • Identify risks associated with communication activities


  • Lead the Clustering work package, with the Norwegian partner, NTNU.  Develop one large scale, one small scale and one overarching Innovation cluster.
  • Leverage expertise that exists across the partnership
  • Secure further resources from stakeholders in Ireland
  • Conduct regional investigations & development in Ireland
  • Build partnerships & stakeholder networks in Ireland, Norway & across the partnership
  • Prepare reports on the cluster development, with a view to policy contributions.
  • Investigate the economic development opportunities for fishing net recycling with SME’s in Ireland
  • Facilitate the sharing of knowledge share by drawing on the lessons learned from Norway


  • Prepare NPAP reports & funding updates
  • Draft policy documents
  • Prepare & give presentations
  • Administer procurement process for service providers where applicable
  • Organise and host at least one partner meeting and coordinate attendance at other partner meetings
  • Participate in monthly project conference calls, partner meetings and internal communication forums
  • Project monitoring & evaluation
  • Completion of all project claims, project reports and deliverables
  • Please note that this post will involve international travel.

Key Requirements

  • Experience of successfully submitting project claims to EU funding bodies
  • Experience of developing and maintaining robust record keeping and filing systems
  • Excellent organisational skills, ability to schedule tasks and meet on-going deadlines
  • Ability to work as part of a team and to use own initiative
  • Excellent interpersonal and communications (written, verbal and presentation) skills with good attention to detail
  • Experience of using modern digital communication platforms to manage and promote projects e.g. Social media channels, Websites, Webinar platforms, Dropbox etc.
  • Ability to support and interact with a diverse project team in order to achieve common goals
  • Preferably a Level 7 NFQ qualification (an Ordinary Bachelor Degree see https://www.qqi.ie/Articles/Pages/National-Framework-of-Qualifications-(NFQ).aspx for more information) in a related discipline, or equivalent experience.
  • Preferably 3 years’ experience in a similar role
  • Proven track record of working autonomously
  • Willingness to travel intermittently in support of the project

Desirable Experience

  • Previous experience of EU co-funded projects
  • Previous experience or demonstrated interest in the project subject area
  • Proficiency in MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint
  • Interest in learning from other regions and countries


This post is a full-time, fixed term contract to 30th September 2021, subject to a six-month probationary period.

The WDC Head Office is in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon. WDC staff are also located in Galway and Sligo. The successful candidate may seek to be located in Roscommon, Galway or Sligo in line with the remote working policy of the WDC.

The salary scale for this post will be equivalent to that of the Civil Service Executive Officer Standard Scale:

 Personal Pension Contribution (PPC) Pay Rate: The salary for this position, with effect from 1st April 2017 is as follows: €29,609, €31,329, €32,460, €34,364, €36,071, €37,720, €39,364, €40,974, €42,600, €44,181, €45,812, €46,891, €48,427, €48,4271 €49,9602

Please note: The starting salary for the person appointed to this post will be the first point on the above scale unless the successful application has previous reckonable public sector experience.

To Apply

Please clearly state the project name and role you are applying for in the subject line of the email, submit a cover letter and CV (of no more than four pages) detailing your experience, qualifications and any other relevant information, to:

Patricia Teatum, Head of Corporate Resources, WDC, Dillon House, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon or careers@wdc.ie  

 Applicants can also apply through www.publicjobs.ie

Closing date for receipt of applications is Friday, 1st April at 5:00 pm

Interviews will be held during the week commencing 8th April 2019.

The WDC is an equal opportunities employer

                                               Canvassing will disqualify                                                     

Ba bhuntáiste é líofacht sa Ghaeilge


Leitrim’s Lena’s Tea Rooms wins Bronze at the World Marmalade Awards

Deirdre O’Connell, of Lena’s Tea Room, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim is celebrating this week as her Pink Grapefruit and Cranberry marmalade won the Bronze Award for “Marmalade for Savoury Food” at the prestigious World Marmalade Awards. The ceremony took place over the weekend at Dalemain Mansion, a stately Georgian home on the outskirts of Penrith, in Cumbria, England.   Founded in 2005 by Jane Hasell-McCosh, the World Marmalade Awards seek to preserve and expand the tradition of making marmalade. The Artisan Awards promote small scale marmalade makers using the open-pan method and the winners were decided by an esteemed panel, which included Pam Corbin (River Cottage) and Dan Lepard (The Guardian). Deirdre was one of two Irish winners of the Artisan section of the awards.

Lena’s Tea Room is a vintage inspired tea room in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. Every Christmas, Deirdre prepares a limited quantity of festive chutneys, preserves and dressings that are sold exclusively in Lena’s Tea Room. For Christmas 2018, Deirdre decided to prepare a Pink Grapefruit and Cranberry Marmalade, following an interesting recipe she discovered. This is only the second time Deirdre has tried her hand at making marmalade.

“I thought The Pink Grapefruit & fresh Cranberry marmalade was a quirky recipe and that it could be lovely for breakfast or could go well with dark meats such as duck or pheasant”, said Deirdre. “As a small business, we can make only small batches and this marmalade is no exception. Before it sold out completely, I reserved two jars to enter into The World Marmalade Awards.   And It was a spur of the moment decision! To win an award is absolutely amazing and a huge honour. This is especially more so as in two weeks myself and my 8 team members – who are the best people to work with – will celebrate 8 years since we first opened the doors at Lena’s Tea Room”, explained Deirdre.

Lena’s Tea Room is a vintage inspired tea room, where all goods are made and baked on a daily basis.  Over the years, Lena’s Tea Room has accumulated numerous accolades, among which Goodall’s Best Scone in Ireland Runner Up – 2015 and Today FM ‘Best Café in Ireland’ – Overall winner – 2014. The Pink Grapefruit & Cranberry Marmalade is available to purchase in Lena’s Tea Room.

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


Double Victory at the Hills of Connemara 

Unpredictable spring weather has really shown us her smile at the Gaelforce Mountain Run in partnership with John West this weekend in Leenane, Co. Galway. After thunder and lightning in the early hours of the morning, things calmed down for the race. The Mountain Run offered spectacular views of Connemara and gave runners unique access to some of the most stunning peaks in the region.

With trail running and mountain running taking the world by storm the Gaelforce Mountain Run lived up the promise of a tailored race to fit a wide audience from novice mountain runner to experts with many competitors coming over from Europe and America.

The Gaelforce Mountain Run proved an amazing event for runners of many levels, offering three difficulties – 12km Introductory, 13km Intermediate, 22km Expert.

The 22km Expert route follows another ascent and a steep descent to keep it interesting. This distance is an UTMB qualifying race – The UTMB is Europe’s most prestigious trail running event through the Alps. Big congratulations to Ricki Wynne who claimed first price in the male category with a time of 2 hour 24 minutes. Rachel Nolan and Elizabeth Wheeler who finished the race together with a stunning time of 3 hours and 7 minutes. Both women decided to donate the prize money of 250 Euro to the Galway Rape Crisis Centre in honour of International Women’s day.

The 13km Intermediate offered stunning views from various peeks varying from 320 to 562 meters in elevation. Bernadette O’Neill was the first female over the finish line at 1 hour 54 mins and Aidan Buckley came first in the male category at 1hour 44 mins.

The 12km Introductory Mountain/Trail Run saw Vernon Walsh take first place in the male with a time of 1 hour and 3 minutes and Emer O’Connell being the fasted woman on the route with 1 hour and 13 mins.

As well as taking part in the event, participants, especially from overseas, had a great time exploring the West of Ireland and took in some of the famous sights between Clifden and Westport such as Kylemore and the Connemara National Park during this spring weekend.

You can find out more on www.gaelforceevents.com/en/gaelforce-mountain-run-info