Major boost for the West of Ireland as Ryanair announces new service from Cologne to Ireland West Airport

Ireland West Airport are delighted to announce a major boost for the West of Ireland with the news that Ryanair will commence a new direct service from Cologne in Germany starting in June 2019.
Starting June 1st 2019, Ryanair will operate direct flights to and from Cologne every Tuesday and Saturday until the end of August. Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city and the largest city of the State of North Rhine–Westphalia. Centred on the left bank of the Rhine, Cologne is regarded as Germany’s capital of carnivals reflecting the lifestyle of its inhabitants, who make Cologne the incredibly energetic spot that it is
Enjoy boat trips along the Rhine, leisurely strolls through the old town, afternoons whiled away in one of more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archaeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture.

Cologne is ideally located just an hours train journey from Frankfurt and only 90 minutes from Brussels providing easy onwards travel options for visitors.
This new announcement is a major boost for tourism in the West and North West regions of Ireland as it provides the only direct access to the West Coast from the North Rhine-Westphalia region. Germany is the third-largest market for tourism to the island of Ireland with a record year forecasted in 2018 of over 650,000 German visitors with 50% of German holidaymakers visiting the West and North West of Ireland during their stay.

These new services will generate an additional 10,000 seats to and from Germany in summer 2019 with the potential to bring 5,000 German tourists to the region, generating a spend in excess of €3,000,000 for the West and North West regions.

Joe Gilmore, Managing Director, Ireland West Airport added “We are absolutely delighted to welcome this new service from Cologne with Ryanair. German holidaymakers are Ireland’s most active visitors, exploring our historical sites and engaging in multiple events/activities such as hill walking and hiking while on the island, which ties in perfectly with the airports location as the Western gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way. Our continued objective with airlines is in delivering sustainable services which have the potential to grow and develop year on year with a major focus on delivering tourism generating services for the region. We thank Ryanair for their continued support and their vote of confidence in the airport with this new service and we look forward to working with both Ryanair and Tourism Ireland in promoting the new route and encourage the tourism providers in the region to get behind the new service to ensure it’s a success’.

Robin Kiely, Head of Communications, Ryanair, added “Ryanair is pleased to announce a new route from Ireland West Airport to Cologne, commencing in June 2019, which will operate twice-weekly as part of our Summer 2019 schedule. Irish consumers and visitors can now choose from 13 routes from Ireland West Airport next summer and enjoy even lower fares and the latest “Always Getting Better” improvements. To celebrate we are offering up to €30 off all return flights. This offer is available for booking until midnight Sunday 21st October. Since these amazing low fares will be snapped up quickly, customers should log onto and avoid missing out.”

Welcoming the announcement, Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s announcement is more good news for Irish tourism as we prepare for 2019, offering more choice for German holidaymakers who wish to visit Ireland and bringing them to the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way. We work very closely with Ryanair and Ireland West Airport and we look forward to co-operating with them to maximise the promotion of this new flight from Cologne. As an island, the importance of convenient, direct, non-stop flights cannot be overstated – they are absolutely critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism. 2018 looks set to be another record year for Irish tourism from Germany, with the latest CSO figures indicating almost 560,000 arrivals from Germany during the January to August period – an increase of +21% when compared to the same eight-month period in 2017.”

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WDC welcomes appointment of Minister Seán Canney

WDC CEO Tomás Ó Síocháin acknowledges the contribution of Minister Seán Kyne during his tenure in the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The Western Development Commission has today (Wednesday 17th October 2018) welcomed the appointment of Minister Seán Canney as Minister of State to the Department of Rural and Community Development. The appointment follows the allocation of €500,000 in additional funding to the Western Development Commission in Budget 2019, which will allow the WDC to further its work in key areas to promote the economic and social development of the West in 2019.
The Western Development Commission, established by statute in 1998, advises the Government on policy for the western region, plays a key role in regional development, supports small and medium business through the Western Investment Fund and raises the social, cultural and economic profile of the west through and other initiatives.

The additional funding of €62m for the Department of Rural and Community Development in this year’s budget is to be welcomed. Particularly welcome in the context of the west;

  • Key transport investment projects in the region including completion of the N4 Castlebaldwin-Collooney road, improving connection to the key regional centre of Sligo, and completion of the runway overlay project at Ireland West Airport Knock.
  • Pavement repair and rehabilitation works on regional and local roads which play a crucial role in ensuring connectivity of rural areas.
  • Future Growth Loan Scheme for SMEs and the agriculture and food sector, in the context of preparing for Brexit.
  • Extension of the film corporation tax credit until December 2024 and in particular the introduction of a new, time-limited, regional uplift of an additional 5%, which will support the work of the WDC €2m WRAP Fund.

Tomás Ó Síocháin CEO of the WDC, welcomed the appointment, saying: ‘I look forward to working with Minister Seán Canney and the Department of Community and Rural Development on further aligning the work and delivery of state agencies in the west. I also want to congratulate Minister Seán Kyne on his appointment as Chief Whip and Aire na Gaeltachta, and to thank him for his commitment to regional development during his time as Minister.’

Read more about the initiatives such as the €2m WRAP Strategic Investment Fund in the audio visual sector in the west and the other work of the Western Development Commission at See what living and working in the west offers on

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Competition: Win Westival Tickets

Westival is the newly relaunched Westport Music and Arts Festival, which runs in Westport, Co Mayo from 24-29 October.

Westival, will continue to foster the thriving local arts and music scene of Westport, but also help solidify and promote the west of Ireland as a destination for significant cultural events, that will attract international talent and attention.

Westival also brings with it a date change, formerly running in September, this year’s festival will take place from 24th – 29th October 2018 incorporating the October Bank Holiday Weekend. The change of dates will be advantageous in attracting a new wave of visitors and activity to Westport after the hectic summer season has ended and is more suitable for engagement with school and college students, enabling the festival to nurture bright budding artists in the community and beyond.


We are incredibly lucky to have a pair of passes to all of the following shows to giveaway to one lucky winner.

Daíthi & Elain Mai (Friday 26th)

Shadows of The Tain (5pm, Sat 27th)

Pat McCabe (7pm, Sat 27th) 

Le Galaxie (11pm Sat 27th), 

To win these tickets**, just subscribe to our eZine and email us your full name and phone number.

Westival 2018 Line-Up

Music: Lisa Hannigan, Le Galaxie, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Daithí + Elaine Mai, Tom Hickox

Theatre: GAA MAAAD, An Evening with Pat McCabe, Shadows of the Táin

Visual Arts: Hy Brasil Light Sculpture, Portrait of a Local, Halloween Lantern Parade, Visual Arts Trail

Family: LEGO Competition, The Salmon of Wisdom, Time Travel Tours

Literature: Six-Word Selfie, Fighting Words, Open Mic and Poetry Competition, Flash Mob Fiction

Workshops: Plein Air Paint-Out, Ukulele Workshop, Stinging Fly Seminar

You can check out the full programme of events and get tickets from the Westival website.

**Terms & Conditions

  1. The winner will be notified by email by Wednesday, 24 October
  2. Entrants must be over 18 and resident in Ireland.
  3. Employees/families/agents of the promoter and its associates are not eligible.
  4. One entry per person/per household.
  5. Details of the winner can be requested.
  6. Prize is subject to availability/may be substituted.
  7. No cash alternative/prize is non-refundable/non-transferable.
  8. The promoter accepts no liability for lost/damaged/incomplete entries.
  9. Proof of entry is not proof of delivery.
  10. The winner may need to sign a statement of eligibility/liability/publicity release.
  11. Third part T&Cs may apply.

Top 10 Things to do in the West of Ireland this Halloween

Autumn is officially here; despite lamenting the passing of an incredible summer we are definitely enjoying the beautiful blue skies and mellow fruitfulness Autumn brings to the West.

With the October bank holiday and Halloween just around the corner, we thought it would be useful to highlight just some of the great festivals and events taking place across the West over the coming weeks.

westival website

1. Westival, Westport Music and Arts Festival, Co Mayo

We are beyond excited to see the brilliant line-up for Westival (Westport Music and Arts Festival ) which in Westport, Co Mayo runs from Wednesday October 24 to Monday October 29, incorporating the Halloween Bank Holiday Weekend.

Westival takes pride in being an Autumnal-Halloween-festival of comfort, many of the events take place during the long evenings, around open hearths of softly-lit rooms, or during dusk where the imagination can play part in interpreting the world with magic and intrigue.

Le Galaxie and Lisa Hannigan lead the line-up for the first ‘Westival’ festival in County Mayo. 24-29 Oct, Westport Co Mayo.


burren food fayre

2. Co Clare: Burren Food Fayre
The Burren Food Fayre kicks off for another year on October Bank Holiday weekend. With Food demos, Farmer’s Market, Burren Bellini & Best stall competition and delicious local, artisan and Wild Food. The theme for this years Fayre is “Taste Without Waste”. The Pavillion, Lisdoonvarna, 28 Oct

3.  Galway City: Macnas Street Festival

The annual Hallowe’en parade by Macnas (who celebrate their 32nd anniversary this year), will take place on Sunday 28th October 2018 at approximately 5.30pm. The narrative theme of this year’s parade is ‘Out of the Wild Sky’ which celebrates the act of transformation being unleashed upon the city by bringing a world that is hypnotic, intoxicating, mysterious and filled with shadowy and noble things. Expect signature Macnas giant creations and sculptural images, pyrotechnics, bespoke costumes, and epic performances to live and original music. Street-hopping, traffic-stopping excitement and chaos will be orchestrated by the hundreds of performers from the Macnas Young Ensemble, Youth Ballet West, the Macnas Youth Drummers, The Hit Machine and the Public participation programme. Spectators are encouraged to wear costumes too. Galway City, 28 Oct,

4. Sligo Town: Sligo Live Festival

Sligo Live celebrates folk, roots, and indie music. Over the years it has carved out a niche as a relaxed, intimate and enjoyable music festival, attracting visitors from all over Ireland and abroad. Sligo Live is one of the most relaxed, friendly and enjoyable music festivals in Europe, having hosted major international and Irish folk, roots and indie artists in intimate indoor venues for 12 years. Headliners this year include the Boomtown Rats, Lisa Hannigan and Saint Sister. Sligo, 24-29 Oct,

5. ‘Gaeilge Galore ar an Turas Mór’, Sligo

Ceolteoirí Tireragh wishes to preserve and promote the Irish language by undertaking a bus tour of historical sites in the West Sligo region, with an emphasis on the Irish language throughout the journey and sites.

The ‘Gaeilge Galore ar on Turas Mor’ bus tour departs on Monday 29th October, leaving Dromore West Community Centre and visiting six historical sites in the West Sligo area. This event is free to join. Conversation takes place in Irish along the way, with information given at each site and refreshments and an Irish music and song session to end the event. Dromore West, Sligo, 29 Oct. To book a place call 086 876 5545 after 6pm.

carrowmore halloween6. Samhain Sunrise at Carrowmore, Co Sligo

Celebrate the changing of seasons with sunrise at Carrowmore Megalithic tombs in Sligo. The Carromore complex of passage graves dates back to 3,700 BC.

Samhain means Summers End and is also the start of Winter, which starts on November 1st.   The changing of the season is marked in Carrowmore; this is also the last day of our season. All are welcome on October 31, but you need to get there early. 31 Oct, Sligo.

7. Haunted House at Westport House, Co Mayo

Are you ready to scare yourself silly this Halloween?!

Westport House will be hosting it’s annual Halloween Fest from 20th and 21st October as well as the 27th to the 31st of October from 11:00am to 5:00pm.

Get ready for plenty of ghoulish delights, scary stories and creepy fun that all the family will be able to enjoy!

  • Head to the Haunted Estate House, transformed into a spooky old mansion for Halloween Fest.
  • Gather ‘round the cauldron for Scary Story Time, with wicked tales from the White Witch of Westport.
  • Brave souls can visit the dark dungeons, where the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley locked up her prisoners.
  • Carve a creepy pumpkin* and decorate some ghoulish goblin cakes at the Spooky Spoons Workshop.
  • Get your Michael Jackson zombie moves on at the Thriller Dance Class.

Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo

8. Kinlough People’s Market, Co Leitrim

The Kinlough peoples Market is a new venture, and has had it’s first very successful market, but getting into the spirit of things they are now presenting a new Halloween Market, with their wide range of products shown and the ‘Fairy Forest’ for the kids it is a day out for all the Family.

With the Halloween market on the 28th of October, the market will continue on regularly on the last Sunday of each month. 28 Oct, Kinlough, Co Leitrim.

9. Castle Adventure Open Farm Spook Fest, Co Donegal

Family Halloween Event at Castle Adventure Open Farm. Kids haunted House, Face painting, storytelling, spooky disco and much more.

No Booking Required.

lough key halloween10. Lough Key Halloween Spook Fest

A wide variety of fantastic activities will be running from 27th October – 2nd November for the whole family to enjoy this Halloween at Lough Key

All activities are open for the week with some being weather permitted

Join Lough Key this Halloween for the ‘Spoooky Scenes’ in the visitor centre, all the adventures at the Adventure Play Kingdom, the Tree Canopy Trial, the Zipit Forest Adventure, splashy fun at Lough Key Boat Tours and many more fun activities and adventures. An experience like no other for this Halloween. 27 Oct – 02 Nov. Lough Key Forest Park, Co Roscommon.




top things to do in galway

Top 10 Things to do in Co Galway

A large county with attitude to match, Galway has too much to offer; this incredible county and its city are some of the most visited places in Ireland. So given the incredible wealth of things to do in both city and county we have split this list in two.

In this list, you will find our top 10 things to do in County Galway; this stunning large county of beautiful coastline, islands, culture and craic.aran islands

1. Escape to an Island

For those looking to go remote, Galway has an incredible selection of islands to visit; some of Ireland’s most diverse and beautiful.

The Aran Islands

The three Aran Islands, Inis Mór Island (Big Island), Inis Meáin Island (Middle island) and Inis Oírr Island (East island) are situated at the mouth of Galway Bay. They are famous for their geological formation, historical monuments and their Gaeltacht heritage. The Irish language is still spoken here.

Each of the Aran Islands offers something unique in terms of landscape, culture and heritage. More than anything the best experiences are the ones that involve interactions with hardy souls who live on these islands year round.

Accessible via a short ferry trip from Ros a Mhíl, the three ruggedly beautiful Aran Islands feature ancient ruins of churches and monuments, as well as extremely hospitable locals. Visiting the islands is like stepping back into a time before globalization and commercialization

inis mor

Inis Mór

Inis Mór:

Without doubt a visit to iconic Dún Aonghasa is a must-do for any visitor to the Aran Islands. This extraordinary stone fort stands guard over Inis Mór with its three massive drystone walls that run right up to sheer drops to the ocean below. Situated on the edge of a cliff at a height of 100 meters above the Atlantic on Inis Mór island, it consists of a series of concentric circular walls, the innermost, the citadel, enclosing an area of approximately 50 meters in diameter. The relentless Atlantic Ocean has been hammering away at the cliff face since 1100BC when the first fort constructions were built at Dun Aengus, and the fort is now half eaten by the sea. Believed to be up to 2000 years old, Dún Aonghasa is a world heritage site and one of Ireland’s most visited attractions and as a result one of its most vulnerable.

Inis Meain:

The Aran Islands have long drawn creative and literary types to its inspiring landscape and rich cultural environment. None more so than Inis Méain now famous for being home to the world-renowned author JM Synge who spent five summers here over a century ago.

At the west end of the island, Synge’s Chair is a viewpoint at the edge of a limestone cliff. Take time out here to exhale and drink the wild beauty of the atlantic’s might like the famous author once did.

Inis Meáin’s scenery is breathtaking, with a jagged coastline of rugged cliffs, stunning beaches and fields boredered with the stunning geometry of old stone walls.

While on Inis Meáin we especially recommend a visit to Inis Méain Knitwear and the Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites. One of Ireland’s most in demand luxury guest accommodation.
Inis Bofin:

Inis Bo Finne (Island of the White Cow) lies seven miles off Galway’s coast and was the winner of the ‘Best Island Holiday’ in the 2013 ‘Irish Times Best Place to Holiday’ competition. It is a magical island, with safe, sandy beaches, rocky inlets, a ruined castle, a weekly market in the summertime, a charming museum of island life and a range of places to stay, from hotels to hostels. This summer it even had a cafe on a double decker bus!

It may be home to just 200 souls, but Inisbofin’s pubs, hotels and locals all contribute to its legendary status as a magical destination.

2. Get off the Grid in Connemara National Park:

Immediately southeast of Letterfrack, Connemara National Park spans 2957 dramatic hectares of bog, mountains, heath and woodlands. The park encloses a number of the Twelve Bens including Bencullagh, Benbrack and Benbaun

There are three main walking routes throughout the park each one offering spectacular scenery and wildlife with every step.

Of the six national parks of Ireland, Connemara may well be the most beautiful. The park is noted for its diverse range of birds, which has led to it being described as a bird watcher’s paradise. There are also numerous ancient megalithic and neolithic burial mounds and tombs, which offer a glimpse into Ireland’s prehistoric period.

sky road

Sky Road

3. Journey along one of Ireland’s most scenic routes 

The Sky Road is a 20km (12 mile) jaw-droppingly scenic loop route near Clifden in the wonderful Connemara, Co Galway. Part of the Wild Atlantic Way scenic drive along Ireland’s west coast, the Sky Road peninsula juts out into the Atlantic against the backdrop of the 12 Bens Mountain Range.

Along with the Inagh Valley scenic drive south of Leenane, the Sky Road in Clifden is one of the top tourist attractions in the entire Connemara region. Very few places in Ireland can match the rugged beauty and range of scenery that can be seen from the Sky Road. The route is well signposted from Clifden and easy to find.

misunderstood heron

Misunderstood Heron

4. Visit an Award-Winning Food Truck on an Irish Fjord:

The Misunderstood Heron is a food truck that sits on the edge of stunning Killary Harbour in north Connemara, looking out on one of only three fjords in Ireland. Sitting in the grounds of Killary Adventure Centre, the outdoor picnic benches and the wooden cladded truck blend beautifully into its environment.

We can vouch that the coffee alone is worth the stunning drive into Killary Harbour for. Winner of a Georgina Campbell award in 2018, just get there before it sells out!

Misunderstood Heron, Kilary Adventure Centre.

kylemore abbey

5. Visit Ireland’s Most Romantic Castle – Kylemore Abbey:

Known as Ireland’s most romantic Castle, Kylemore Abbey, located in Connemara, Co. Galway is the No.1 tourist attraction in the West of Ireland.

When Mitchell Henry and his wife Margaret travelled to Connemara in the 1850s they fell in love with the region. Mitchell returned in the 1860s and purchased the estate of Kylemore and built a splendid castle as an gift for his wife.

Home to the Benedictine Nuns since 1920, Kylemore has been renowned as a place of spirituality and education ever since.  Perfect for a family day out and easily accessible from Galway or Mayo, Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Garden offers visitors scenic photographic opportunities as well as woodland walks, garden tours, fascinating history, beautiful architecture, ample shopping in the craft shop and tempting homemade delights in the restaurant and tea rooms.

6. Shuck some oysters at Moran’s Oyster Cottage

Some of County Galway’s finest seafood, including lobster in season, is served in this atmospheric thatched pub and restaurant, set in a quiet cove. Moran’s Oyster Cottage dates back almost 300 years. Today, Moran’s is run by Michael Moran, the seventh generation of the Moran family in the business. It is renowned the world over for its excellent seafood which attracts people from the five continents, and is open all year round.
Moran’s serves smoked salmon, crab, prawns, crab claws, Galway Bay oysters and lobster all day.

Thoor Ballylee

7. Discover the Yeats Connection

Thoor Ballylee, the  fourteenth-century Hiberno-Norman tower in Gort, was once described by Seamus Heaney as the most important building in Ireland, due to its close association with his fellow Nobel Laureate for literature, W.B.Yeats. The tower has recently re-opened again after flooding, and coincides with the launch of the inaugural Yeats Exhibition.

In an idyllic setting by a stream, this 16th-century Norman tower was the summer home of WB Yeats from 1921 to 1929 and was the inspiration for one of his best-known works, The Tower.

8. Cleachtaigh an Gaeilge in an award-winning cultural retreat:

Cnoc Suain is a rural retreat in Spiddal that gives visitors an insight into Irish culture and traditions in a genuine way. Founded and lovingly run by husband and wife team Charlie and Dearbhaill (who is a native of the area), the 200-acre retreat offers an immersion in Irish culture, past and present, in a richly diverse bog landscape. There are 17th century cottages, perfect for an idyllic break; the field room, which hosts music (Dearbhaill is an accomplished musician), song and dance as part of the cultural experience of Cnoc Suain, all situated in luxuriant bog beauty.

brigit's garden

Brigit’s Garden

9. Escape the City in a Natural Playground Sanctuary

Brigit’s Garden takes you on a magical journey into the heart of Celtic heritage and mythology, making it one of the truly outstanding places to visit in the West of Ireland. The award-winning Celtic Gardens are widely regarded as one of the most spectacular in Ireland, set within 11 acres of native woodland & wildflower meadows. In addition to the Celtic Gardens, visitors can enjoy the nature trail, an ancient ring fort (fairy fort), thatched roundhouse and crannog, and the calendar sundial, the largest in Ireland.

Brigit’s Garden is very family-friendly with a kids’ discovery trail, a natural playground and lots of opportunities to explore. Brigit’s Garden is located in Roscahill at the gateway to Connemara, between Moycullen and Oughterard. It is well signposted from the N59 main road,  just a 20-minute drive north of Galway city.

gurteen beach

10: Experience Caribbean Beaches in Ireland

County Galway has some of the world’s most stunning beaches with white sand and crystal clear waters akin to many a Caribbean beach on a sunny day.

Just a short drive from Roundstone village lies Dogs Bay, one of the most spectacularly beautiful beaches in the world.
Dogs Bay is a horseshoe-shaped bay with more than a mile long stretch of white sandy beach. It backs on to Gurteen Bay, and together they form a tombolo which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Equally stunning is Coral Strand near Ballyconneely. The coral sand is, in fact, is in fact detached red calcified seaweed, maërl or otherwise known as coralline algae which form the beach and feels like fine gravel underfoot. Coral Strand is a stunning location for swimming, kayaking, snorkelling and exploring.

Have we missed something? Let us know!

tomas o siochain

New CEO Appointed to the Western Development Commission as the WDC welcomes renewed focus on Regional Development

The Western Development Commission has announced that Tomás Ó Síocháin has been appointed by the Board of the WDC as Chief Executive Officer. Tomás joins the organisation from NUI Galway, where he was External Engagement Programme Manager, having previously spent more than 14 years as an editor and journalist with RTÉ and TG4.

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

  • Investment in the region – Since 2010 the WDC has sourced and directed over €13M in total funding towards regional enterprise and employment development
  • Regional Policy and analysis – in critical areas such as census analysis, broadband rollout and the creative economy
  • Western Investment Fund – 2700 direct jobs and 5000 in total (indirect and direct) supported by the WDC in the region in recent years
  • EU project work to total value of €12m (FY2017) in areas such as renewable bioenergy, the creative economy, cultural tourism and micro and SME enterprises
  • The appointment is timely, given the renewed focus on Regional Development as part of the National Planning Framework and the announcement of €4 billion in funding under the Ireland 2040 project. These developments build on the establishment of the Department of Rural and Community Development, and the appointment of a new Board to the WDC.

Dr Deirdre Garvey, Chair of the Board of the WDC, welcomed the appointment saying; “On behalf of the Board, I am delighted to announce the appointment of the CEO and welcome Tomás to the WDC. It is a time of significant opportunity for the WDC in context of the National Planning Framework. I look forward to working with Tomás and the staff as we build on the success of the WDC and develop these opportunities for the Western region.”

A native of Co. Clare and living in Co. Galway, Tomás Ó Síocháin sees first-hand the opportunities for the policy, development and financial support offered by the Western Development Commission: ‘In terms of work-life balance, opportunity and physical beauty, the west of Ireland has few if any parallels on a global stage. I am privileged to lead an organisation that has done so much in facilitating and supporting growth in this region. A significant opportunity now exists to build on the work of the WDC and others in a collaborative and cohesive way; supporting economic, social and cultural growth, not only for those who currently live and work here but to help to inform the decision making of those that will ‘look west’ and choose a better quality of life in the future.’

Read more about the work of the Western Development Commission at or what living and working in the west offers here on

Get appy with Galways westend

Galways westend along with Boon Agency has developed their own interactive app to bring the Galway neighbourhood to life on people’s smartphones.

Irish consumers use their smartphones an average of 57 times daily with some heavy users admitting to checking their devices more than 100 times every single day, according to new study published by Deloitte.

Smartphone Technology is where people are getting their information, through searches on phones, Google and on social platforms people are deciding where they will go to eat, drink and to stay. This Galway neighbourhood has decided to make life easier for people visiting Galway and their neighbourhood by developing an app which brings the area to life on your phone.

The app gives you insight into where you should stay, where to eat, where to drink, enjoy a coffee or a sweet treat. The westend app is about informing people of #wherethelocalsgo, that and so much more. This app then steps it up a gear with interactive walk map trails that bring you through the area and inform you via interactive audio links of key places of interest and historical and cultural points.

“The recordings were made using people living and working in the westend, so it’s a pure Galway take on an app. Once the app is downloaded and you pass a point of interest, you simply scan a QR code and the story of that place can be heard through your phone. We want to encourage people coming to Galway to cross the bridge in the westend and experience life here. Our businesses are owner-occupied, so you get to meet the people who run and operate each business when you visit. It makes the area safer, we care about where we are working because we live here and have such a connection to the neighbourhood,” explained Malachy Duggan of Galway’s westend.

Galway’s westend is home to A Michelin Star and A Michelin Bib Gourmand Restaurant, award winning gastropubs and restaurants, music venues, grocers and bars. This coupled with one of Galway’s best loved traditional music bars, book and vinyl store, The Galway Arts Centre as well some of the countries best seafood restaurants. The westend has speciality wine bars, a tasting room, a house full of the worlds best beers or if you fancy a pint of Harp, it’s there. The app brings all the magic of this city neighbourhood to life on your smartphone.

“We looked at our area and knew we needed to help people travelling to Galway and indeed living here to know all that is going happening on the other side of the river. This app allows people to connect with the people, the businesses and the things you need to be doing in real time when you get here. The app will allow you to never miss a trick, meal, gig or event in Galway’s westend,” said Lisa Regan.

The Galways Westend app is available for download on all smartphones, simply download and explore. For more information get social with Galway’s westend across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Wild Atlantic Way Yoga Retreat at Salt & Soul Yoga Studio this October

Strandhill Yoga Studio announces new Autumn retreat from October 12th – 14th, Includes 2-night stay in 4-star accommodation.  Bookings available from

From surfing to seaweed baths, the bustling surf village of Strandhill is home to many well-being activities, and since its opening in 2016, the Salt & Soul Yoga Studio has welcomed thousands of visitors from across Ireland and beyond to enjoy a host of yoga classes and events.

This Autumn, Salt & Soul hosts its first Wild Atlantic Way Yoga Retreat from October 12th – 14th.

The new autumn yoga retreat at Salt & Soul takes inspiration from the studio’s unique seaside location along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and as well as yoga classes, there will be extra time for beach walks, seaweed baths and visits to some of the award-winning local eateries.

Commenting on the retreat, founder of Salt & Soul Rachel Mulrooney said: “Autumn is a great time to recharge and our new retreat this October offers the perfect opportunity. Led by some of our studio’s leading teachers, we will have a series of yoga classes and guided meditations from Friday evening through to Sunday morning, with attendees staying in the four-star Strandhill Lodge and Suites here in the village.”

Prices start at €299 for a double room, with options for single rooms also available.

Bookings for this retreat can be made through Salt & Soul’s website or on their smartphone app.

Top 10 Things to Do in County Mayo

County Mayo has mountains and sea; pristine beaches, stunning landscapes and some of the proudest people you will ever meet.

When we asked for your favourite things to do in Mayo; the response was overwhelming.

With ancient sites, picture-perfect beaches, plunging mountainsides, and unspoiled wilderness, it’s the perfect place to visit or live in.

1. Climb a Mountain:

Not just any mountain of course. One of Ireland and Mayo’s most famous landmarks, Croagh Patrick is located just outside of the beautiful and vibrant town of Westport and is known as the place where St. Patrick spent 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting during his years in Ireland.

County Mayo’s third Highest mountain, Croagh Patrick is known by some as Irelands Holy and Sacred mountain and is perhaps the most famous and certainly one of the most climbed of Ireland’s mountains with up to 1 million people climbing the majestic peak of Croagh Patrick each year.

Generally, it is best to climb in Spring, Summer, and Autumn (March-October). Occasional showers blow in over the bay so raingear is advisable. Croagh Patrick rises to a height of 2510 feet/765m above sea level.

Normally, it takes about two hours for the average person to reach the summit, and one and a half hours to descend. croagh-patrick.comcroagh patrick

2. Visit ‘The Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland’.

The mountain-rippled barony of Erris is undoubtedly off the beaten track.

Stretching from Ballycroy National Park to the Mullet Peninsula, it is covered with blanket bog for its two thirds and has white sandy beaches, wind-swept coasts, and stunning cliffs.

Erris is a real heaven for surfers, walkers and all enthusiasts for sea-sports. On the other hand families will find ideal beaches where children can play safely and have a swim in the clear and crystal water or have fantastic boat trips and maritime adventures.

Mayo Top 10

Doonamo Point, Erris. Photo: Christian McLeod via Ireland’s Content Pool

3. Get an Adrenalin Fix

County Mayo is bursting with adrenalin-filled activity options. With its rugged coastline, mountains and seas, it has long attracted fresh-air heads seeking to push the boundaries of adventure activities.

Our pick includes:

  • Coasteering in Erris with Wavesweeper Sea Adventures; a family-run soft adventure company based on the Erris Peninsula in North West Mayo.
  • Ask anybody about adventure activities in Mayo and they will know Francois at Pure Magic in Achill. So if you want to try kitesurfing, SUPing, or a whole host of other adrenalin filled options, check out Pure Magic on stunning Achill Island. mayo

4. Get Stuffed

Mayo is a foodie lover’s dream. With a burgeoning food-produce industry (check out Achill Sea Salt for starters) and a wealth of formal and informal food establishments, there is something for every palate.

Our readers have highly recommended checking out Jack Fenn’s Courtyard Café in the courtyard of the stunning Belleek Castle in Ballina.

Also always worth a detour to Castlebar; Café Rua’s cafe and separate deli are family-run, award-winning foodie destination that entirely lives up to the hype!

5. Visit Ireland’s Largest Island

Achill Island: Ireland’s largest island is arguably our most beautiful. You could spend weeks exploring the pristine beaches of Keem Bay, surfing at Keel beach or snorkeling at Keem (via @kevlsmith on Instagram)achill island

6. Spend a week in Westport; ‘Ireland’s Best Place to Live’

Westport town has long been synonymous with being one of Ireland’s best holiday destinations. In 2012 The Irish Times awarded it the prestigious accolade of also being the ‘Best Place to Live’

From the culture of Westport House & Clew Bay Heritage Centre to cliff jumping into the wild Atlantic and all things in between, such as, soaking in the atmosphere of the bars & restaurants, cycling the Great Western Greenway or tracing the footsteps of our Patron Saint to the top of the Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick.

7. Visit a Field System older than the Pyramids:

There are few places in Ireland where the feeling of being surrounded by the truly ancient is more profound than at the Céide Fields in Belderrig, Co. Mayo, home of the oldest known field system in the world.

Located along dramatic 360-foot high cliffs and looking straight out onto the Atlantic Ocean, the Céide Fields (or Achaidh Chéide meaning “flat-topped hill fields”) is a remarkable neolithic site first discovered in the 1930s. 

8. Explore Mayo’s ‘Camelot’

Continually named among the world’s best hotels, Ashford Castle reached world fame in 2017 when it became the wedding venue of choice for Rory McIlroy and his fiancée.

Situated on grounds covering 350 acres, Ashford Castle overlooks the beautiful Lough Corrib in Cong, County Mayo. While the room rates might be a little steep for some, exploring Cong and the grounds of the castle offer a truly magical, majestic experience. ashfordcastle.comashford castle

9. Get Gobsmacked at Downpatrick Head and Dún Briste:

Downpatrick Head is a majestic heritage site found about 5km north of Ballycastle village.

Jutting out into the ocean and rising almost 40m above the waves, it provides unparalleled views of the Atlantic, including the unique collection of islands known as the Staggs of Broadhaven.

You can also spot the nearby Dún Briste sea stack, with its different coloured layers of rock and nesting seabirds.
downpatrick head

10. Experience a bygone way of life at the National Museum of Ireland Country Life

A visit to the National Museum of Ireland Country Life is a great day out for the whole family, with plenty to see and do for everyone.

Home to the national collection of objects representing the traditional way of life in Ireland since 1850, the National Museum of Country Life is set in modern exhibition galleries in the spectacular grounds of Turlough Park House and surrounded by magnificent gardens and lake. As well as the Museum Galleries and the 19th-century Victorian Gothic house, the extensive grounds of Turlough Park feature gardens, woodland walks, a river and lake all overlooked by an ancient round tower.


11. Visit a Lost Valley

We couldn’t finish at ten; there were too many good ones to leave out. This one is definitely a hidden gem.

The Doolough Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in Ireland. The area is bogland which is uninhabited except for the intrepid sheep who seem quite content to have it to themselves.

Poignantly it is also home to a memorial of the Great Famine;. The memorial itself is a plain stone cross engraved with the words ‘Doolough Tragedy 1849’. A yearly walk is held along this route in memory of the Doolough dead and to highlight the starvation of the world’s poor still today.
doolough valley

Other Insider’s Tips:

  • Visit the Nephin Whiskey Emporium in Lahardane on Lough Conn
  • “Louisburgh for surfing and fishing. Mweelrea for mountain top views. Wild camping at Silver Strand. Cliff diving at old head and coasteering at Clare Island.” – Nora Gibbons.
  • Blogger Val Robus recommends glamping at Belmullet Coast Guard Station. This was voted one of the Top 50 places to stay along Ireland’s coastline by The Irish Times.


A huge thanks to all contributors. If you think we have missed something from this list please let us know




‘Great Fjord Swim’ to provide a great tourism boost for the West

The Great Fjord Swim will see over 700 swimmers taking the plunge on Saturday the 6th of October, the highest number of swimmers since the inception of the Great Fjord Swim in 2012. The event is offering all things magical about open water swimming in the Killary Fjord, Leenane, Co. Galway. It proves to be the perfect setting for rounding off the swimming season this Autumn in the heart of Connemara.

great fjord swim

Offering three distances – 750m, 1.5km, and 3.9km – The Great Fjord Swim is an amazing event for swimmers of many levels. The full Ironman Distance of 3.9km is aimed for experienced swimmers who want to test their limits. The 2km route sees swimmers start their swim with a jump off the catamaran and swim back to the shore. To round off, a 750m swim from Co. Mayo all the way to Co. Galway including a trip on a fishing trawler.

Ireland’s biggest open water swim event is looking to sell out this year. Wave 1 of the 2km distance is already sold out and places for all other distances are filling fast. Mona Purcell, the race director at Killary Gaelforce, on the popularity of the Great Fjord Swim: “This swim is extraordinary. The Great Fjord Swim is nestled between the hills of the Killary Fjord, creating a majestic backdrop. But also, more importantly, it means that it is a sheltered open water swim – a rare combination!”

The record numbers taking part in 2018 bring a great boost and extends the local tourist season. The population of the village of Leenane will almost treble during the weekend of the swim.

The Great Fjord swim is part of the Global Swim Series, attracting a more international crowd than ever this year.

More details at

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