Sligo company designs, constructs and installs six of the 12 pitches to be used at World Cup Finals in Russia


  • SIS Pitches creates most technologically advanced pitches in World Cup history
  • First time a World Cup Final has ever been played on anything but all-natural grass
  • 30 of the 32 World Cup nations will play on SISGrass during group stages of Russia 2018

Sligo-owned global pitch specialists SIS Pitches has installed the pitch for the much-anticipated 2018 World Cup Final in Russia.

SIS Pitches was selected to design, construct and install six of the 12 pitches to be used at the World Cup finals, including at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

The Luzhniki Stadium will host the opening game, the opening ceremony, a semi-final as well as the World Cup Final itself. This is the first time that a World Cup Final has ever been played on anything but all-natural grass. Russia 2018 starts on June 14 – one month from today.

SIS Pitches is a world leader in synthetic and natural sports surfacing and is one of the world’s largest sports pitch companies.

The global pitch specialists lay grass and synthetic pitches and sports surfaces at world-class stadiums around the globe. SIS Pitches was set up in 2001 by CEO George Mullan, who directs the company from Sligo.

The use of the company’s sophisticated reinforced natural turf system, called SISGrass, as well as its revolutionary aeration technology, SISAir, will make the Luzhniki Stadium the most technologically advanced pitch in World Cup history.

The company is in the process of having each pitch independently certified to FIFA’s quality standards before SIS Pitches formally hands over three of the pitches to stadium management, who will handle all of its maintenance. Otkritie Arena, the home of Spartak Moscow, and Rostov Arena have already been handed over and SIS Pitches will continue to maintain Luzhniki Stadium throughout the World Cup, with a crew of five people based at the stadium for the tournament.

SIS Pitches Founder and CEO George Mullan said:

“It was an absolute honour to have been chosen to not only design, construct and install the pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium but at six of the 12 World Cup venues – working on more pitches than any other company. 

 “It’s the first time a World Cup Final has been played on anything but all-natural grass. SISGrass was only launched in 2015 and already it has been installed at a number of world-class stadiums and now the 2018 World Cup Final will be played on it. The quality of SISGrass will ensure that the pitches are resilient in all conditions, and I am sure the 2018 World Cup finals will be one that we will always remember.

“We are delighted with the decision and that our investment in setting up an office in Russia five years ago, combined with completing new stadium pitches for Spartak Moscow and Krasnodar in the last few years has been rewarded. Our Russian staff have done a superb job.”

As well as Luzhniki Stadium, the other five pitches which have been installed — or are in the process of being installed — by SIS Pitches are:

  1. Otkritie Arena;home of FC Spartak Moscow, this 45,000-seater stadium will host Lionel Messi and his Argentinian teammates in their opener against World Cup debutants Iceland.
  2. Rostov Arena;the 45,000-seater stadium, which will host five World Cup encounters including Brazil’s opening game against Switzerland on June 17, is located at Rostov-on-Don.
  3. Kaliningrad Stadium;the 35,000-seater stadium will host four group stage games, including England’s final group game against Belgium on June 28.
  4. Samara Arena;Built specially as a venue for the World Cup, Samara has a capacity of just under 45,000 and will host four first round games, one round 16 match and one quarter final.
  5. Saransk Arena;located in Mordovia, Saransk Arena has a capacity of 45,000 and will host four of the first-round games including Peru v Denmark on June 6.

SISGrass has been installed at all pitches with SISAir at Luzhniki, Otkritie and Rostov.

Some 30 of the 32 teams will play on SISGrass during the first-round games, with Serbia and Demark playing all three opening games on a SISGrass surface. Sweden and Egypt are the only two teams who will progress to the knockout stages without playing on SIS Pitches hybrid technology.

SIS Pitches also installed three training pitches at Luzhniki, one at Samara and one in Tolyatti, which is being used as a base by the Swiss national team.

Outside of the World Cup, the company continues to deliver exceptional sports surfaces for schools, colleges, universities, sports clubs and local authorities in Ireland and around the world.

Western Region Audiovisual Producers Fund (WRAP Fund) Guidelines

WRAP is committed to strategic investment that encourages regional production activity across the film, television drama, animation and gaming sectors, to support local talent, create sustainable employment, build the audio-visual infrastructure and contribute to the cultural veracity of the region. The region encompasses counties Clare, Donegal, Galway (City and County), Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo (Region).

These guidelines are intended to assist Content Producers (Producers) in making a submission to the Western Regional Audiovisual Fund (WRAP) for Production Support.

Download the WRAP Fund Production Guidelines HERE

Find our more about the WRAP Fund HERE

Ballina to host Digital Transformations Conference

“There’s a lot of talk about the impact of Digital Tech in a practical sense (what we can do with VR, 3D printing, digital distribution models, etc.), but very little about the ideas, thoughts, morality and ethics underlying it all. We talk about what we can do with the new tools, but never enough about what the new tools will do to us. Most events that combine arts and technology are essentially business-driven, bringing business language and values into cultural discourse, assuming the business culture is a natural environmental fact.” – Scott Coombs, Conference Director

Digital Transformations is a conference bringing together18 speakers from Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and the US, including practicing artists, technologists, leading cultural curators, academics and educators. It is a forum for radical thinking, inspired by the idea that the arts should be leading our transition to this new, profoundly disorienting society – but ironically this new society is one in which art as we know it will struggle to retain its power and influence.

Digital Transformations was conceived by Scott Coombs, an American-born IT Consultant who lives and works in the Northwest. He put the conference together to  “…look at the cultural impacts of the emerging digital society and establish a forum for people to see and react to the big changes in arts, politics and society. ”. One of the other organisers, John O’Brien, added “…this conference isn’t trying to sell the digital society, but to create an open forum where the value of cultural responses take centre stage. Right now the future is in the hands of the technologists, the pseudo rational and the faux scientific and we really need to talk about this. We need both sides of the brain to deal with what’s coming at us.”

Digital Transformations is built around talks, panel discussions, and break-out sessions where attendees can get involved in the debate and formulate a manifesto for the future. Evening entertainment will be provided by the ever-popular trio of Seamie O’Dowd, Kieran Quinn and Joe Kelly.

Gaynor Seville, Arts Officer at Mayo County Council, said “one of the interesting aspects of this project is that the organisers were seeking a location outside the major centres to establish this conference, and I was delighted that they selected north Mayo because I share their belief in the potential of this conference and it confirms Mayo as a place that’s willing to experiment and support new ideas.”

Business leaders from Mayo are also lending their support to this vital conversation and Seán Walsh, director at the Ballina Arts Centre, is confident that the centre on Barrett Street in Ballina has the right mix of size and intimacy to make the conference a successful and memorable one, and “hopefully, the first of many” he added.

Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) launches as European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2018

Ideas are the new world currency and entrepreneurs the new disrupters. Fuelled by innovation and creativity the landscape of traditional industrial and economic growth is radically transforming. Witnessed in the west and northern parts of Ireland since 2012 with a transformative level of new entrepreneurs. Ireland has a new powerhouse that is sustainable, indigenous and inspired by its people.

The Northern & Western Regional Assembly (NWRA) recently launched it’s title, awarded by the European Union, as the European Entrepreneurial Region (EER) 2018. The award of such a title is recognition of the ‘enormous strides’ the region has taken as it transforms the area from ‘adversity to advantage’. It was noted by the awardees that this region has a unique rural fibre intrinsically linked with the urban drivers such as Galway, Sligo, Letterkenny and Athlone.   Throughout 2018, the NWRA are delivering a series of keynote events and initiatives, while actively supporting existing and new job creation, projects and innovation. The launch was part of an international conference titled ‘Beyond Local – Why Going International Makes Sense’, which took place in Lough Eske Castle in Co. Donegal. The conference focused on the growth of small to medium sized businesses through their potential to enter international export markets and the key challenges that a business will encounter through such growth.  Brendan Mooney, EU Programmes Executive, explains the role of the NWRA through the EER as “ I see the accolade of EER 2018 as proof to the tremendous work being carried out in the Northern & Western Region of Ireland to support and nurture an Entrepreneurial Spirit by our business support agencies and industry supporters who help promote entrepreneurship”

International Ambassador for the award Pat McDonagh, Managing Director of Supermac’s said that 2018 is about celebrating and promoting our business people. Encouraging growth and ensuring better recognition for a place that can become not just a western powerhouse but a global powerhouse.  “In 2017 over 130 regional partners from industry, private and public bodies collectively came together and demanded recognition. Recognition for transforming disadvantage into advantage. Recognition for the family businesses, enterprises and small companies that call this region home. Recognition for the innovators, risk takers and entrepreneurs who dream of taking their companies global; going global but keeping the business at home,” Pat McDonagh said.

This is a crucial time for all businesses in Ireland and such initiatives will have far reaching impacts on business development and economic growth. For further information on the NWRA and EER 2018, please visit

‘Mayo Artist’s Exhibition & Literary Lounge Announced for Mayo Day 2018’

Mayo Day is a day dedicated to the celebration of the arts and culture, vibrant communities, and unquenchable spirit of county Mayo. This year an incredible new flagship event Made of Mayo will take place in the beautifully situated Ballinrobe Racecourse, which will be transformed into a hive of Mayo Day celebration and artistic wonderment.

A key component of the Made of Mayo event will be the Mayo Artists’ Exhibition. An artistic event that will showcase the most interesting captivating and diverse artworks by Mayo artists and artists inspired by their time in county Mayo. The closing date for submissions took place on April 11th and Mayo County Council’s Arts Department are delighted to announce:

“There has been a hugely positive response to the Made of Mayo 2018 Artist Exhibition.  The work submitted is varied and of high quality across all mediums. Patrick T. Murphy RHA director has selected a body of work for the exhibition with consideration to the diversity and character of the work and the space where It will be exhibited. This show at the Ballinrobe Racecourse promises to be an intriguing and beautiful show of artworks, that are made of Mayo.”

Patrick T. Murphy was approached to be the selector of the exhibition due to his incredible experience in the arts in Ireland and during his career to date he lived in County Mayo for many years. He was formerly the Director of the Douglas Hyde Gallery, the Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and since 1999 he has taken up the Directorship at the Royal Hibernian Academy. He has worked on many exhibitions and projects with artists such as, Bill Viola, Charles Tyrrell, Marlene Dumas, Anslem Kiefer, Barrie Cooke and Dorothy Cross.

Pictured at the launch of Made of Mayo, the flagship event for Mayo Day (5th May 2018) in Ballinrobe Racecourse, from L/R Peter Hynes (CEO Mayo County Council), Derek Doohan (The Movement Gym), Donal Vaughan (Mayo GAA), Cathaoirleach Mayo County Council Richard Finn, Sean Kelly (Artisan Butcher), Breda Mayock (Artist/Musician), Patrick T Murphy (Director RHA), Michaela Walsh (Mayo Person Of The Year) and Nigel O’Reilly (Goldsmith). Pic; Michael Mc Laughlin

The Literary Lounge will celebrate Mayo writing and the major successes of our writers in recent years when many have risen to international prominence. This year Mayo Day will celebrate these “Mayo Modernists” who are putting Mayo on the literary map around the world.  From Castlebar’s Sally Rooney who won The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award, to Mike McCormack whose book Solar Bones was named Irish Novel of the Year, from Kilalla’s Kate Kerrigan whose bestselling novels have been translated into 25 languages, to Claremorris’s Elizabeth Reapey whose debut novel Red Dirt won the Rooney Prize for Literature. Mayo writers are at the forefront of writing in Ireland and on the international literary sphere.

Our worldwide diaspora is also part of this writing renaissance with huge successes for Anakana Schofield in the US, while Eimear McBride and Jess Kidd are equally garlanded in prizes and awards in the UK. The lyricism of our poets continues to be widely acclaimed: from the doyen Paul Durcan to other prize winners such as Martin Dyar, Geraldine Mitchell, Michelle O’Sullivan and Sean Lysaght.

Mayo Day will honour these and many more Mayo writers, the Mayo County Library will convert one of the buildings at the race course into a “Literary Lounge” which will tell the story of this unique success. It will feature pictures and biographies of each Mayo writer, a bookshop selling only Mayo books, and a host of book-related events; signings, readings, talks and of course, story-telling and a puppet show for the little writers of the future. The line-up includes Elizabeth Reapey, Terry MacDonagh, Helen Falconer, Faith Hogan, Ger Reidy, Bernard O Hara, Anthony Broderick, Eamon Henry and Michael Mullen with many more to follow.

To add to the celebration of our literary landscape, Mayo Library will display an exhibition of never-before seen photographs from the Liam Lyons collection. These will be accompanied by a display of old maps of the Ballinrobe area which the library has restored and will be on view for the first time.  Made of Mayo’s Literary Lounge, a once-off opportunity to get a unique insight into Mayo’s past and vibrant literary present and future!

To connect with us on social media like & follow:  and follow #MayoDay  &  #MayoDay2018 


Two New Bursary Programmes for Flmmakers based in Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon.

As part of a new partnership Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils have come together with filmmakers from the three counties with a view to enabling the film sector here to grow and develop.​

Each of the three local authorities involved in this project recognise the value of film as an artform and the contribution that film can make to the region – socially, culturally and economically. In adopting a regional approach, we recognise that we can achieve a lot more by harnessing the capacity, resources and energy of agencies and practitioners of all three counties.

Find out more about the SLR Film Development Project at Leitrim County Council Website HERE

The closing date for both opportunities is 30th June 2018.

Courtesy Leitrim County Council

Rising Tide Presents New Season of Music for Sligo 2018


Rising Tide, a new promotions collective formed by like-minded musos, record label owners and promoters, has tasked itself to bring new music to Sligo.

Following its first run of successful gigs in early 2018, Rising Tide now presents its second quarter of live music gigs featuring RnB group Super Silly on April 27th, Dublin group The Bonk on May 18th, and Paddy Shine on June 15th.

Tipped for great things in the year ahead by the likes of Nialler9, Goldenplec and The Thin Air, the Super Silly quartet of Whodis, Glory, Solbas and Grooves began a run of releases for 2017 in March with ‘Not Ready To Leave’, a track that mixed classic soul and RnB, modern hip-hop and the joyous energy of their gospel roots.

It was accompanied by the band’s first ever music video and was followed a number of festival and club shows across Ireland. Last summer also saw them collaborate on a remix of ‘No Pressure’ with Australian producer Odd Mob for their first international release, hitting some of the key Spotify dance playlists and receiving radio support from the likes of Triple J.

Super Silly’s first release for 2018, ‘Here’, once more marries the band’s classic influences with a sound that is very much of the moment – marking them as artists ready for the international stage – and will see them play shows around Ireland before a headliner at Dublin’s Button Factory in May.

“A suave mix of modern R&B, soul and pop…” (Nialler9)

“What has us particularly brimming with excitement is their ability to move between singing and rhyming at will and their penchant for a killer chorus….” (GoldenPlec)

“A prospect that slices through the doom and gloom and offers acute relief….” (The Thin Air)

Super Silly will perform live at Tricky’s McGarrigles, O’Connell Street, on Friday, April 27th. Tickets, just €8, are now on sale from, Liber Bookshop and Tricky’s McGarrigles.

LiveTiles to create 50 jobs in Sligo

Global software company LiveTiles announced that it will establish an Intelligent Innovation Centre in Sligo to support the further development of its design and artificial intelligence (AI) products.

The project is supported by the Irish Government through Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Ireland, with LiveTiles planning to create up to 50 jobs. This includes a number of key roles such as AI developers, marketing, management, presales and a new product solutions team that will create industry-specific digital platforms that incorporate AI.

Speaking at today’s announcement, LiveTiles Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Karl Redenbach said: “This is a wonderful opportunity, and we’re really excited to establish a new centre in Sligo. There is an up-and-coming technology scene here, and we look forward to working with technology businesses, universities and Microsoft in Ireland to expand our AI agenda.”

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys TD welcomed the announcement saying: “I warmly welcome this announcement by LiveTiles to establish their new Intelligent Innovation Centre in Sligo, creating 50 quality jobs initially. This wonderful regional investment is a great vote of confidence in Sligo and the North West region. I have no doubt that the company will thrive and prosper here in Ireland, aided in no small way by our rich talent pool. I wish them well for the future.”

About LiveTiles

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in New York, LiveTiles is a Microsoft partner that is defining the market for the Intelligent Experience Platform (IXP) – with no code, ‘drag and drop’ technology giving business users the tools to create easily adoptable dashboards, portals or corporate intranets that can be heightened with personalized artificial intelligence and analytics features.
LiveTiles began as an Australian startup company in 2014 and has expanded rapidly, with a customer list spanning all major verticals and some of the biggest organisations in the world such as PepsiCo and the US Department of Defence.

Job Applications

For more information/to apply for the new roles go to

Survey on the Access to Finance of Enterprises from the Cultural and Creative Sectors

Access to funding is one of the key barriers encountered by entrepreneurs and companies working in CCS. The EC is exploring the level of ‘finance gap’ for CSS companies, and the potential need for public intervention to support their financing needs – reviewing their experience and which financial instruments might be best suited to meet their needs. The EC has commissioned an independent study being led by economic consultants SQW, to gather evidence on this.

As part of this study, a Europe-wide survey of CCS companies is being undertaken. Information is being gathered on: the types of finance considered and sought by CCS companies; the amounts sought, how much was obtained; any reasons why finance was not offered or taken up; and any reasons for being discouraged from applying for finance.

SQW would appreciate your participation in this short survey which takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Your responses will help inform policy decisions by the EC in the provision of any future financing for CCS companies like yours. Please complete the survey by Thursday 19 April 2018.

Your responses will be treated in strict confidence – aggregated and reported in anonymised format. If you would like any further information on completing the survey, please contact Mark Bradshaw at SQW (

To start the survey click here

queen maeve

Follow in the footstep of Queen Maeve through Roscommon and Sligo

Take a journey back in time and follow in the footsteps of the kings and queens that shaped Ireland for centuries. The online travel company Expedia has recently launched a website that tells the stories of eleven historic Irish Kings and Queens, from the great Brian Boru to Mael Muire, the first non-Celtic Queen of Ireland.

Who Was Queen Maeve of Connacht?

The warrior queen of Connacht, Queen Maeve (or Medb, the old Irish spelling) is most famous for battling it out at the Táin Bo Cuilnge (Cattle Raid of the Cooley), a story told as part of the Ulster Cycle. She was supposedly born in Rathcroghan (in Irish Ráth Cruachan, meaning ‘fort of Cruachan’), County Roscommon and legend has it that she died and was buried in Knocknarea. Today, visitors can take the Queen Maeve Knockerea Trail and see the site of her supposed burial place.

In the many stories cataloging Maeve’s life, she is described as a goddess and brave queen, but in others as feisty and difficult.

Maeve is believed to have taken over from her father who was the King of Connacht, when he went on to become High King of Ireland. Maeve’s first husband was Conchobar mac Nessa, the High King of Ulster, with whom she had a son, Amalghad. Maeve supposedly left Conchobar after taking a disliking to him and is said to have gone on to marry four other kings during her lifetime.

The mystery that surrounds Maeve is probably what makes her such an interesting character. To some, she was a goddess and impressive woman, and the reason behind most of her husbands becoming kings. For others, a feisty and belligerent character who set out to cause trouble. Whatever her true character, Maeve will certainly be known as a unique and memorable part of Ireland’s history and culture.

Today, visitors can make up their own mind about Queen Maeve at the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in Tulsk, County Roscommon, where an exhibition takes you through the story of Maeve and how she ruled over Connacht.

You can make up your own mind about Maeve on a visit to the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in Tulsk, County Roscommon, where an exhibition will take you through the story of Maeve and how she ruled over Connacht.

Follow In Queen Maeve’s Footsteps

Expedia has created a driving route following in the footsteps of Queen Maeve, the famous warrior queen, through counties Roscommon and Sligo.

Check out Maeve’s 2-Day Itinerary on the Expedia Kings and Queens website as part of a trip to the west of Ireland.

Historic Ireland –

Content & Illustrations Credit:

Dumhna Selga Video by Copter View Aerial Productions