Shore Shots

Over 300 outdoor enthusiasts and surfers visit Sligo for the sixth edition of Shore Shots Surf Festival

Over 300 surfers, outdoor enthusiasts and movie buffs made their way to Sligo last weekend for the sixth edition of Shore Shots Surf Festival. Originally held in Dublin for three years, the event now hosts the majority of the content in The Model theatre with a number of fringe events taking place around the town centre and in Strandhill.

 The event, which is now renowned as one of the biggest gathering of surfers in Europe, began on Friday night with a book launch from Donegal native Barry Britton who had correlated over four decades of work in time for the festival.  Music on night one was provided by Jim Carbin & Acoustic Breaks, while inside the cinema festival goers got a chance to see the European premiere of the new Laird Hamilton movie ‘Take Every Wave.’

On Saturday the festival played host to a surf market, talks from some of Europe’s best outdoor photographers including George Karbus, Tim Burrow, and Ian Mitchinson. In the cinema theatre Sligo native Gearoid McDaid introduced his new movie ‘Misery Loves Company’ to a packed audience, while Easkey Britton took home the top prize for her new movie ‘ A Lunar Cycle’, which will now be showcased at the festivals partner event in Vienna next month.  Derry born musician Keith Harkin, who has made a name for himself in the States, flew back for the festival and put on a three hour show in Connolly’s bar as a fringe event to the public before Seamie O’Dowd showcased his Rory Gallagher style show on stage in 5th on Teeling.

Sunday morning of the festival coincided with ‘Earth Day’ and so begun with a beach clean at Strandhill in conjunction with Clean Coasts and a marram grass planting session with climate action officer Gary Tyrrell. As a reward everybody who took part was treated to brunch in The Strand Bar courtesy of festival sponsor Tullamore Dew. Back in the model theatre festival goers attended an ‘Earth Day’ panel discussion on single use plastics pollution in our oceans and attended movies including ‘Smog of the Sea’ and ‘A Plastic Ocean’.

Festival organiser Allan Mulrooney commented “Our attendees traveled from all over Ireland including Cork, Clare, Waterford and Dublin. We also had people travel from the UK, France, Portugal, Germany and a small few from the States which is fantastic.  When we surveyed them on site, it seems 60% had never been to Sligo before. Saturday was a beautiful day with fun waves and sunshine so we’re delighted our guests saw the North West in all its glory. The event was a huge success and we believe it’s the perfect fit for Sligo to showcase the work-life balance, the outdoor lifestyle and the world class waves on our doorstep”. Allan also added that more needs to be done to help small festivals progress and grow in Sligo with no funding, organisational help or structure in place to support grassroots initiatives. “We believe our festival has great value for Sligo and the North West and with more support could grow into an event that attracts three thousand or more in years to come. This structure needs to come from within the local council and tourism board if we wish to see our events grow to attract more beds nights and increase tourist spend here.”

For more on Shore Shots visit

Image Credits: Johnny Frazer


West of Ireland’s Ancient Kings and Queens are Brought to Life by Expedia

It’s the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster or Netflix series as Expedia brings to life some of Ireland’s most ancient kings and queens.

With the help of historians from the National Museum of Ireland, Trinity College, Dublin and Queen’s University, Belfast, Expedia creates a fascinating account of the kings and queens who reigned in Ireland thousands of years ago on their new website: Kings and Queens That Shaped Ireland. This includes a wonderful display of illustrations depicting the different kings and queens, as well as a series of connecting timelines and stories dating back some thousands of years ago.

As you enter the site, expect to be taken on a journey through the lives of some of Ireland’s most notable kings and queens as they battle for power, marry numerous times, and eventually relinquish or pass on their throne.

We, at, are especially delighted to see Queen Maeve of Connacht and Co Mayo’s famous Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley, highlighted in the series.

Going one step further, the site has an array of travel itineraries that connect to each of the kings and queens featured, allowing visitors the opportunity to literally follow in their footsteps. These itineraries feature locations of significant historical importance, including Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo and Donegal, as well as other places of interest across Ireland.

Find out more at – /




st patricks day

Top 5 Things to do in the West for St Patrick’s Day 2018

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 5 Things to do in the West of Ireland this St Patrick’s weekend’. 

1. Sunrise and Pipe Bands (17th March)

Achill Island is famous for its pipe bands and its sunrise tradition. The pipe bands begin to play at sunrise on Achill and will march and perform until sunset.

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.

2018 Schedule: Reveille at 06.00am, marches from 09.00am, Dookinella meet at 13.00pm, then return to villages. >>

St Patricks Day2. Galway’s St Patrick’s Day Parade  (17th March)

2018 marks the 116th anniversary of the Galway St. Patrick’s Day Parade and you can expect a wonderful spectacle of all things Irish with this Year’s Guest of Honour being Galway native and extreme adventurer Gavan Hennigan. 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.

The parade will feature an array of community, cultural, sporting and international groups including Ireland’s pioneering spectacle theatre company Macnas, led by the Macnas Young Ensemble. Recognised worldwide for its quality and innovation, Macnas will be accompanied by a fantastical, flowery giant Macnas owl alongside a cacophony of rhythm passion and purpose from the next generation Macnas drummers.. >>

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. >>

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.

A formal warning has been issued to all Leprechauns in the area to please stay away from the Burtonport Old Railway Walk in the coming days.

Word has it that a Leprechaun catcher is at work at the minute and has already caught a dozen leprechauns which he has restricted to a cage in a bid to limit their mischief over the run-up St Patrick’s day.

Organisers encourage a ‘Bring and Share’ event where everyone brings along food to share on the day.  Experience home baking, the Irish language, traditional dance, music, food, games and a warm welcome. >> More on their Facebook Page here

St Patrick's Day5. Join Ireland’s friendliest place for the Ennis St Patrick’s Day parade

In excess of 10,000 people lined the streets of the Clare County Capital during last year’s parade, which featured 50 groups representing the many aspects of life in Ennis and County Clare.

The theme for this year’s Parade is ‘Ennis – Ireland’s Friendliest Place’, which the Local Authority says provides participating groups, organisations, bands, schools and members of the public an opportunity to celebrate the recently awarded status. >>


January 12th is cut-off date for South Sligo Tourism membership

Local tourism organisation South Sligo Tourism are really hitting the ground running for 2018 with big plans to promote the rural areas of south and west Sligo. The cut off date for membership is 12th January, so if you want your business to benefit, be sure to contact them without delay.

The fledgling organisation printed 10,000 brochures this year and plans to have their new brochure ready for the beginning of the 2018 tourism season. All members will be included as well as a calendar of events, useful for tourists and locals alike. A video, media visits and a sustained social media campaign are all part of the plans for the coming year.

South Sligo Tourism held a couple of very successful networking event and information sessions recently. Over 50 businesses attended these events and even more are expected to join up for 2018.

Chairman Paul Taylor is hugely enthusiastic about the potential for this project and said, “We look forward to driving this project forward in 2018, working in collaboration with Sligo Tourism and neighbouring counties. With this group of committed, enthusiastic people working together, south and west Sligo will soon be firmly on the tourism map.”

South and west Sligo have a lot to offer the incoming tourist but, as is common outside urban areas, the businesses have tended to operate alone rather than in conjunction with one another. By joining South Sligo Tourism, businesses will come together, building a stronger tourism product and benefiting the entire community.

The closing date for 2018 membership is 12 January 2018. Membership is an absolute essential for anyone involved in the tourism business. Contact for further information or visit the website #SouthSligo


surf donegal

The Insider’s Guide to the the Donegal Surf Scene

The Insider’s Guide to the West Coast Surf Scene is our new series exploring the vibrant West of Ireland surf scene county by county. Your surf guide will be writer, pro bodyboarder and Surf School owner in Strandhill, Seamus McGoldrick.

Seamus began surfing in Strandhill, one of Sligo’s hidden gems, and followed his passion by setting up his own thriving surf business. So, who better to give you the inside scoop on the Irish surf scene?

Kicking off in Donegal, Seamus meets some lucky surfers who manage to chase the dream of surfing all year round on the wonderful west coast of Ireland.

shambles mcgoldrick

Seamus ‘Shambles’ McGoldrick. Image Credit: Pablo Jimenez

Donegal Surf Scene Overview

It is fitting that Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way starts off in Donegal, the county with island’s longest coastline on the island, which is either 400 miles or 1130 kilometers long depending on who you talk to. So, if you have an interest in surfing you have 400 reasons to want to come here to live.

Epic, expansive and wild, Donegal is home to Ireland’s most rugged and beautiful coastline. It was against this stunning backdrop that surfing was introduced to the shores of western Ireland by pioneers like the Britton brothers of Donegal, who were beckoned to the water and the wild by the thundering waves.

In the late Sixties and early seventies, a colourful and brave bunch or Irish men and women took off on legendary Surf Safaris, that started with the thousand of kilometers of endlessly varied surf terrain in Donegal and aimed south.

When the Celtic Tiger hit in 2004 surfing took off. More surf schools opened up to cater to demand and surfer friendly accommodation soon followed. The fact that Europe’s premier big wave challenge – the Mighty Mullaghmore – was pioneered just a few miles down the road in Sligo means that surf tourism in Bundoran, Donegal’s number one surf town, is increasing.

Starting in North Donegal, surfers like to visit Falcarragh, Marble Hill, Dunfanaghy, Dungloe Strand, Rossnowlagh, Tullan Strand and Bundoran.  Donegal was voted number one on The National Geographic Traveller (UK) ‘cool list’ for 2017 for good reason.

Meet The Surfers

The Local

killian o kelly

Bundoran Native Killian O’Kelly

Killian O Kelly is Bundoran born and bred. Killian is one of the original local crew of surfers at ‘The Peak’ – the world famous premier European surf spot located right in the centre of the town.

Killian has had a long love affair with the Donegal coastline. He spent his childhood exploring the county’s different beaches, he sea-kayaked around Donegal Bay and began surfing aged sixteen. In addition to being a Bundoran lifeguard for many years, Killian is a volunteer on the local RNLI lifeboat.

Killian established Turf n Surf – one of the friendliest and coolest surf hang outs in Donegal – in 2006 with his wife Mary on Bundoran’s West End with a premises overlooking The Peak, of course. This family run tour company, hostel and activity provider is one of the largest adventure activity providers in the northwest.

Killian O’Kelly also helped set up the Irish Gap Year company to cater for students coming over from the US for various cultural and leadership programs, which provides employment during the off season. Since most surfers simply suffer financially through the off-season hoping to catch the perfect wave, Killian realised early on that surfing alone wouldn’t get him through the off-season

“We diversified out of surfing along time ago to make the business work.” explain Killian.

Turf N Surf now offers accommodation, surfing, sea-kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and blo-karting.

More at and

kate turf n surf

TurfnSurf Instructor Kate Gaffey

The Surf Instructor

One of the most common ways in which surfers can make their living in Donegal is working as a surf instructor. Several of the surf schools like Surfworld, Bundoran Surf Co. and Finn McCools also have surf shops and accommodation businesses which offers extra employment options.

Wicklow woman Kate Gaffey was between jobs in 2012 when she completed a surfing instructor course in Bundoran.  After living on the west of coast of Donegal for a few weeks, Kate decided to turn her back on the nine to five office lifestyle beckoning her in Dublin. The natural surrounding beauty in Donegal is what enticed her to stay here to live.

“Donegal is not just a beautiful part of Ireland,” says Kate, “it is one of the most beautiful parts of the world.”

Next, she met Killian and Mary at their Turf N Surf Halloween party – dressed as a human weather map. Kate called in a few months later (in regular clothes) with her new surf instructor qualification and, to her delight, was hired.

“The people are so welcoming in Bundoran, whether you’re here for a night, or for life.” affirms Kate.

Bundoran is a cosy and compact town where you can easily walk from one end to the other. Bundoran’s Main Beach and Tullan Strand are within walking distance of each other. The famous Rougey Cliff Walk and the West End walk have some of the best views of the summer sunsets or the dolphins jumping. In the winter,  there are numerous prime views of the raging Atlantic hammering the coast.

Bundoran boasts great pubs, nightlife and cafés. There are  many beautiful places to explore outside of Bundoran too so you can really make the most of your time off.

Kate says there are all sorts of ways of making a living in Donegal for surfers and non-surfers alike, “If you are willing to work there is work. You’ll find it in hotels, bars, restaurants, cafés, supermarkets that all take on extra staff in the summer months.”

“If you have a job where you can work from home, you’ve hit the jackpot.”

The busiest time for Donegal’s surf school is from June until August.  In the winter months places like Donegal Town, Letterkenny, and Sligo all offer plenty of work that is not reliant on the season. Kate believes the highlights of the surf scene in Donegal varies depending on what level surfer you are.

“For the hard core, the winter months are always welcome, with the consistent, powerful swells rolling in. For the thrill seekers, the huge swells at Mullaghmore would be without doubt a highlight. That is a sight to behold, whether you are one of the surfers braving it in the waves or just there to spectate with your heart in your mouth from the cliff at Mullaghmore.”

“But for me, sometimes the highlights can just be that sneaky evening surf, when its glasses off and you’re catching waves in the most beautiful of surroundings, wondering why you’d ever want to be anywhere else.”

“Traffic jams are mostly non-existent and the work commute could almost be described as a pleasure. How many people can say that! With all the time you save not being stuck in traffic on the M50 you can get in a morning or evening surf. With the beach on your doorstep your quality of life can only be improved.”

Read a great article about big wave surfing at Mullaghmore on MagicSeaweed here.

The Pro

noah lane

Professional surfer Noah Lane

Noah Lane is a professional surfer and surf coach from Rainbow Beach on the east coast of Australia who now lives in Donegal. Noah surfed professionally through his younger years and could have made a living from his talent as a skilled athlete anywhere in the world: Hawaii, Fiji, Brazil. So why Ireland and Bundoran in particular?

“Bundoran is a hub for the sport in Ireland.” Noah explains, “Surfers travel from across the country and from around the world to access the ocean off Donegal’s coastline simply for the opportunity to use the ocean in some of the more beautiful and remote areas of Ireland.”

“The coastline here is one of the best in the world. I’ve been at one beach and felt like I was in Norway and driven less than ten minutes and felt like I’m back in Australia.”

Surf Art by Barry Britton

From East coast Aus to West coast Donegal is a big jump but it is unsurprising given Bundoran’s famous hospitality and incredible surf. Noah relocated to Bundoran four years ago where he met his partner Tara Mc Guinness, a local Donegal surf artist.

As well as a thriving surf scene, Donegal is also home to world famous arts scene and an incredibly talented music scene. Noah says, “Musicians like Cian O’Donnell, Kevin Lowery and bands like the Wolves of Youth are all heavily involved in the surf scene.”

There are a number established surf artists in the area including Barry Britton, Gavin McCrea and Tara McGuinness. Gavin and Tara have painted colourful oversized surf-themed murals throughout Bundoran. And legendary Silver Surfer Barry Britton has painted numerous posters and artwork for some of the most prestigious surf contests in the world, including The Pipeline Masters.

Compared to Australia the surfing industry in Ireland is quite small so year round trade is a problem. The harsh winter weather makes the primary business of beginner surf lessons in the off-season that bit more challenging, although these challenges are being overcome with improved wetsuit technology and steady growth in the surf industry in the last decade.

Noah Lane

Professional surfer Noah Lane doing what he does best. Image Credit: Ian Mitchinson

“I know it is cliched, but surfing really is a lifestyle,”  Noah elaborates, “and most surfers that I know find ways to get by and to continue doing what they love.”

Noah feels very fortunate to be supported by surf companies like Finisterre and Globe, “That helps through the winter months and allows me to chase waves. Along with that I work on a surf magazine called Backwash, which keep me busy through the winter months.”

“Having surfed around the world there really is something special about surfing in Donegal. It’s hard to put your finger on it. It might be a combination of the volatile weather, beautiful coastline and amazing people but whatever it is, it’s unique and captivating.”

Follow Noah’s adventures @noahlane_

The future of surfing in Donegal.

surf donegal

Photo credit: Ian Mitchinson

Surfing is growing in Donegal, but so is recreational boat ownership and activities like kayaking, diving, wind surfing and jet skiing. Maritime events are very popular and have the potential to draw large amounts of visitors to Donegal in the future.

Marine tourism in general around the globe is forecast to grow substantially, which bodes well for Donegal and her world class coast. To be sure, Donegal County council are committed to promoting Donegal as a marine tourism destination of excellence and are committed to developing a unique marine tourism visitor experience.

Donegal has always had its own unique identity. Part of it is geographical. Part of it is historical. The economy of Donegal will be particularly susceptible to currency fluctuations of the Euro against the Sterling and is ground zero when it comes to Brexit. I guess this will just add to the edginess, chaos and wildness that already characterises Ireland’s northernmost county.

surf donegalPhoto credit: Ian Mitchinson

Donegal Surf Scene Facts

  1. Donegal has one of the most established surf scenes in Ireland
  2. Over one hundred people are directly employed in surfing in Donegal.
  3. Surfers, amateur and professional alike, travel from all over the world to visit Donegal for its famous surf.
  4. Donegal’s buzzing surf scene boasts half a dozen surf shops, surf hostels and surf cafes.
  5. Donegal is home to over twelve surf schools, including seven in the Bundoran area, employing dozens of surf instructors
  6. A building boom during the Celtic Tiger means there is plenty of affordable accommodation in Donegal.

Who To Know

  • Irish surfing founding father Barry Britton
  • Surfer, scientist, artist and adventurer Easkey Britton is trail-blazing a path for Irish female surfers and activists. @easkeysurf

  • Saffa photographer Ian Mitchinson‘s feed is constantly inspiring us to explore more of our own backyard @ianmitchinson

  • One of Ireland’s bravest and youngest big-wave surfer Conor Maguire hails from Bundoran @conormaguiree

Don’t Miss:

  • Ireland’s largest surf and music festival in Bundoran – Sea Sessions (22 – 24 June)
  • The Irish National Championships where the nations top surfers battle it out at the world famous contest location of ‘the Peak’ in Bundoran. All competition details and dates via Irish Surfing Website.
  • The classic Intercounties surf contest in Rossnowlagh, which has been running for fifty years! The Intercounties will take place in Sept 2018.
  • Liquid Therapy’s AS Open that brings together volunteers and surfers with special needs for a fun day’s surfing.
Sea Sessions

Sea Sessions Festival in Bundoran

Surf’s Up

From Ireland’s longest coastline, the next coast we will reach on our epic surf safari south will be the Leitrim coast, which is the shortest. Some people say bigger is better but when it comes to the super short and super surf rich Carbury Coast bridging Donegal and Sligo, I would beg to differ.

Image Credits:

A huge thanks to Ian Mitchinson Photography for the stunning photos


Top 10 Things To Do in the West of Ireland to get in the Christmas Spirit

We are getting very festive here in LookWest HQ with only two weeks to go to the big day. Each year we are amazed at how many incredible Christmas markets, festivals and events are taking place in the West to get you in the festive spirit. This year’s list is bigger and better than ever.

spm christmas1. Strandhill People’s Market, Sligo Airport, Strandhill

Strandhill People’s Market, now in its fourth year, opened its Christmas market last Friday, 1 December. Based in the unique surrounds of Sligo Airport’s Hangar, the market has become one of the biggest along the Wild Atlantic Way with over 50 stalls to choose from on each date.

The organisers behind the family-friendly venue are constantly looking for new ways to expand its audience and make it an event for everyone to enjoy. In October, they hosted the inaugural Strandhill Food Festival – the first to be held in an actual airport.

This December, they’ve brought back late-night opening at the market –  it’s on every Friday leading up to Christmas. Another new initiative for 2017 – the organisers are encouraging people to offer their elderly neighbours a lift to this year’s market to include them on the festive fun. And those who bring their elderly neighbours along for a welcome bit of festive cheer will be treated, along with their guests, to a free cup of coffee or mulled wine at the market from the unique ‘Driftwood Coffee Cart’.

The market has already proven to have had a significant economic impact on the surrounding area, creating employment, generating visitor spend, and making a substantial contribution to the winter economy in Sligo. See

2. Galway Christmas Market – Until December 22nd
This year’s Christmas Market will take place both in Kennedy Park and on the plaza on the northern side of Eyre Sq.  It is in the heart of what has become known as Galway’s East Village. The 32m high Big Wheel offers spectacular views over the city and Galway Bay and which is wheelchair accessible and also features a VIP gondola for special treats and corporate bookings. 

There’s Santa’s Grotto and a German Bierkeller, a helter skelter and carousel, choirs, story-telling , music and lots more. The market is open from 12pm to 8pm Monday to Wednesday and 10 am to 10pm Thursday to Sunday until Friday, December 22nd.


Galway Christmas Market.

Galway Christmas Market. Image Credit: Reg Gordon

3. The Christmas Experience at Tullyboy Farm, Boyle, Co Roscommon

Down on Tullyboy Farm in Boyle in Co. Roscommon there is a chill in the air and all the animals are tucked up warmly in their beds awaiting the arrival of baby Jesus. The atmosphere is buzzing with excitement. The pudding is being made, Santa’s bags are being packed and the Elves are eager to bring you through the ten stages of the Tullyboy Farm Christmas Experience.

Parents and children can warm themselves with hot chocolate and marshmallows and mulled juices/mince pies in the Yuletide Kitchen where you can also help out with stirring the pudding and don’t forget to make your wish. Hear the story of Christmas in front of the big fire in the inglenook fireplace, then up the spiral staircase to Santa’s bedroom to see Santa’s old fashioned bed and the naughty elf.

Visit the Christmas Experience at Tullyboy Farm until 23 December. See

4. Winter Wonderland at Westport House

Visit Mayo’s ever popular Westport House from November 26th and discover a truly magical Winter Wonderland. Packed with festive fun and cheer; this is not just a trip to Santa, but a full Christmas day out! You’ll be welcomed into Santa’s grotto, where Mrs. Claus will enchant children with ‘The Story of Stumpa’ by the fireside. Get your face painted, nibble on yummy gingerbread, as you decorate your own Gingerbread Man; and make your own Yuletide Log.

Then of course comes the main event: A visit to Santa in his magical grotto, where he’ll have a chat with all the children, give gifts, and take photos to remember this special occasion. Santa Sensory experiences are also available.

Kids get to meet Santa in his 18th century grotto, discuss their wish list and get a gift while parents enjoy a seasonal glass of mulled wine.The little ones will love special story-time with Mrs. Claus in the Drawing Room before they decorate their own Yuletide log to take home for the Christmas table. Sing carols with the cheery elves, decorate Gingerbread Men and hop on board the Westport House Express. See

5. Visit Donegal’s Lapland

The longest running and most popular Christmas show in Donegal is back again for 2017 and you do really have to pass the North Pole to get here, we kid you not!

Santa’s Lapland in Donegal includes a live show, with an elf telling the nativity story as it unfolds on stage. Santa arrives down the chimney with a small gift for each child. They move on to Santa’s home, visit the toy factory and sit on his sleigh. There’s a second chance to meet Santa at his home, and have photos taken. See

6. Christmas in Carrick, through December 

The Leitrim town of Carrick on Shannon hosts a month of Christmas celebrations with lots of festive events. Christmas Village markets, Santa’s Grotto, live music and events throughout December. See

7. Sligo On Ice, Stephen St Carpark, Sligo, 
Sligo On Ice opens for the month of December in the central location of Stephen St Carpark in Sligo town. The perfect spot to reconnect with friends and family over the Christmas festivities. (Sligo 4th Dec – 29th January) See 

8. Brigit’s Garden, Galway

If you’d like to take the focus away from presents, you might like Brigit’s Garden in Galway. Their Santa’s Christmas Magic Show includes music and dancing, followed by the lighting of candles, and then the lighting of the Christmas tree – by magic. There are no individual presents for children (though there is a symbolic gift for each family). So if you’re worried about the commercial side of Christmas, this might be the one for you.

ailwee caves9. Santa’s Workshop at Ailwee Caves, Co Clare 

Santa Claus has been taking up his annual residence at Aillwee Cave in Ballyvaughan especially to meet children and their families since The Millennium. He works very hard as he prepares this unique event.

Along with Mrs Claus and his team of happy Elves, Santa ensures a very special personalised visit for each child. He arranges lots of exciting entertainment for all the family which continues right throughout each day. There is face painting, a puppet show and lots of carnival entertainment to be enjoyed.

Santa Elves are waiting with their LISTS of the boys and girls visiting every day. They will guide everyone along the cave passageways singing Christmas Carols all the way. Santa Claus with his helper will meet and chat with each child and of course have a present for everyone. Mrs Claus is there to greet the grownup with a glass of Hot Punch and a Mince Pie.

Santa’s train is available for rides all day long which will take you to visit the Birds of Prey Centre. There you will enjoy a complimentary visit to meet a Snowy Owl or a Happy Harris Hawk! A visit to Santa’s Workshop at Aillwee really is a unique, thrilling, fun filled day out for every generation of your family.

10. Santa At Arigna Mining Experience 

Visit Santa with a difference as he goes underground this Christmas at the Arigna Mining Experience in Roscommon. Experience the magic of the Christmas underground kingdom with thousands of magical lights which the Elves have put on display to welcome Santa to his grotto. Santa will be in his underground grotto where he will meet all the children.

Visit our Traditional Nativity Scene and see the real meaning of Christmas. Meet Mrs clause who will help you post your  letter to Santa in his special postbox!

Stop by the ‘Elves Workshop’ to check if your name is on ‘Santa’s Naughty or Nice List’, receive your special certificate from the Elves – (be sure to be extra good to get your name on the ‘Nice List’). Join the Elves singing their Christmas jingles as they work in their toy factory. Visit their wonderfully talented face-painters Veronique and Anke who will work their ‘magic’ for you, no request is too much from princesses to butterflies, Spiderman to Rudolph.

For more visit

scattery island

Scattery Island who wins Top EU Recognition as Cultural Destination

Scattery Island in County Clare was today honoured as the Irish winner of the 2017 EDEN (European Destination of Excellence) Award recognising it as the destination in Ireland which has best used its local tangible cultural assets to grow visitor numbers. The EDEN award was officially presented today by the Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, at a ceremony in the Vandeleur Walled Garden, Kilrush, Co. Clare.

This prestigious EDEN competition, which Fáilte Ireland manages in Ireland, is staged every two years in each EU country along a specific shared theme, is designed to encourage and promote a more sustainable form of tourism development and Scattery Island was one of three Irish destinations shortlisted under this year’s Tangible Cultural Destination theme. The two runner-up destinations were Ceide Coast, Co Mayo and The Norman Way, Co Wexford.

Uninhabited since 1979, Scattery Island – also known as Inish Cathaigh – is located approximately one mile from Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary and is home to a monastery founded in the early 6th century by St. Senan. The island features the ruins of six churches and one of the highest Round Towers in Ireland at 120 ft. high.

Speaking at the ceremony today, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD said –

“The standard of finalists this year was exceptionally high. During the onsite assessments, Scattery Island, as well as the other shortlisted destinations – Ceide Coast, Mayo and The Norman Way, Wexford, clearly demonstrated that tangible culture has taken a central role in their tourism offering while also sustaining their local environment.

“I am sure that this new accolade will go a long way to attracting even more visitors to the region, and indeed to The Wild Atlantic Way”.

The EDEN Competition, which this year focused on Tangible Cultural Tourism, provides a platform for international recognition to destinations which have a unique tourism offering. Tangible cultural assets include such features as traditional historical or archaeological monuments/sites, industrial sites, museums, theatres, galleries, contemporary architectural sites and modern urban districts of towns.

Winners of the award are recognised as careful developers and proponents of the tourism impact for Scattery Island and the supporting region. The EDEN network will provide them with the opportunity to foster links with other Irish and European destinations of excellence in a collaboration which can lead to significant economic and social benefits.

Fáilte Ireland manages the EDEN competition in Ireland and Paddy Mathews, Head of Innovation for Fáilte Ireland, today emphasised –

“This year’s theme focused on small, emerging, non-traditional destinations located off the beaten track that offered an authentic tourism experience. This is something Ireland has in abundance which made for a close and fiercely competitive competition.

“During the adjudication, Scattery Island demonstrated a strong commitment to balancing the preservation of archaeology, environment and cultural heritage along with pursuing opportunities for exploration and enjoyment by visitors.”

Scattery Island now holds the European accolade of “Destination of Excellence 2017 –Tangible Cultural Destination” and will receive marketing assistance in the form of a dedicated photo shoot of the destination – as well as a certificate of achievement. Also, the EU will profile the winning destination from each Member State on and will offer each winning destination, participation in the EU EDEN network.

Accepting the award, Ian Lynch, Scattery Island Heritage and Development Group said:

“We have always recognised Scattery Island as the jewel in the crown for local tourism and it’s a fantastic product with a wealth of culture and history. This award is recognition of the amazing experience a trip to Scattery Island is but also an acknowledgement of what can be achieved through collaboration of community groups and state bodies such as the OPW and Clare County Council who have supported, protected and developed the Island over the years.

The award will bring international recognition to Scattery Island enhancing its profile and increasing awareness. This in turn will spring board Scattery Island and the greater area of Kilrush and West Clare as a family friendly tourist destination. Providing us locally with the opportunity to manage the product in a sustainable manner to creating jobs and enhancing and develop the local economy.

Scattery Island was chosen as the winning destination following on-site assessments by a panel of expert adjudicators who were looking for a destination that could provide examples of good practice, opportunities to improve the visitors’ cultural experience, a platform for the development and promotion of cultural tourism, an understanding of the challenges faced in the development of such tourism and a forum for networks to share knowledge.

EDEN is an EU project promoting sustainable tourism development across the European Union and is currently held every two years in 29 member states.  Previous Irish winners include the Burren Food Trail (Tourism & Local Gastronomy), the Great Western Greenway (Tourism & the Regeneration of Physical Sites) and Loop Head (Aquatic Tourism).

More at


sligo walks

Let’s Get Sligo Walking – New Promotional Campaign Showcases over 60 Sligo Walks

“Let’s not only get Sligo walking, let’s get the world walking in Sligo,” were the final words spoken at the launch of the new Sligo Walks website and video at Sligo Airport, Strandhill on Friday last. Those words were spoken by Deirdre Lavin of the Sligo Sport & Recreation Partnership, who were among the many organisations, groups and other stakeholders present at the event, which also included a short but symbolic walk in glorious sunshine along the nearby Killaspugbrone Looped Walk in Strandhill. is a new website which has detailed walking information on over 60 waymarked walks throughout Sligo, and this along with a viral video which shows some of Sligo’s most iconic walks – will encourage people to use the wonderful natural amenities on our doorstep, as well as providing an opportunity to promote Sligo much further afield. Illustrated maps by artist Annie West provide walkers with eye catching reference points of many of the walks and are free to the public from locations such as the local Fáilte Ireland tourism office in Sligo.

“The video we are launching , the new information leaflets published,  the new website being introduced today, will all greatly enhance our tourism product, and could well be the catalyst for the development of further marketing and promotion campaigns centered on our exceptional facilities,” said Councillor Séamus Kilgannon, Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, at the launch event.

Many of Sligo’s walking and outdoor clubs were represented at the launch and several of them spoke, describing the many positive benefits that they and their colleagues have received from walking in Sligo, from both a physical and mental health perspective. Jim Newman spoke on behalf of the Sligo Walking Club, Alan Sayers on behalf of the Sligo-Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team, and Goretti Brennan described the huge growth in popularity in walking with community groups such as the North Sligo Walking Group, which now has approximately 100 members.  “The walks are meant to be enjoyed as we interact and meet up with old friends, making new ones along the way. It has also become apparent that fitness levels have improved with confidence as initially some of our group were shy or reluctant to go the distance,” she said.
Dorothy Clarke, Director of Services at Sligo County Council, said that a huge amount of investment has been made in providing walking infrastructure in Sligo, and now a great opportunity awaits for local people to get involved in walking, whether informally or as part of a group. And as walking is a pursuit which can be done at any time of the year, the message is to get walking, stay healthy and to get the word out that by visiting you’ll find all of the information you need to get started.
For more information, visit or follow @SligoWalks.
inside craft

New Craft Initiative to host 3-Day Pop Up Event in Lough Key Forest Park this weekend

Culture vultures are in for a treat this Culture Night in Roscommon as the new Inside [CRAFT] tourism initiative hosts its next pop-up retail event in the stunning surrounds of Lough Key Forest Park Visitor Centre. The pop-up event will open for Culture Night this Friday September 22nd from 4pm and continue throughout the weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 5pm.

The retail event is set to introduce the new Inside [CRAFT] network and will be an excellent opportunity to meet the craftspeople, hear about what inspires them and their work, and browse some of the unique items for sale, all set against the beautiful surrounds of Lough Key Forest Park.

Crafts people participating include Angela McManus, Kate Oram, Kirsteen O’Keefe, Frances Crowe, Ronan and Orla Ward and Roy Humphries.

Inside [CRAFT] was officially launched in August 2017 by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, at the Virginia Show Centre in Co. Cavan, and is the culmination of planning by the Local Enterprise Offices across Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon.

Covering a wide breadth of creative disciplines the network attracted a multitude of designer-makers; sculptors, book-makers, mixed-media artists, wood-turners, ceramicists and fashion designers. 28 craftspeople are now members of the network from across Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon. The Inside Craft website ( showcases profiles of each member along with links to their own websites and creative products.

Positioning the upper-Shannon region as a place for creativity, the network is focused on making craft and creative businesses more visible to visitors to Ireland and the wider public; it will drive support for small enterprises operating in this region, creating a sustainable craft network which will in turn grow sales, ensuring a connected and vibrant creative community across the four counties.

The initiative is funded under the LEO Competitive Funds, a regional collaboration for economic development between the four counties of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon.

For further information, visit or follow online Twitter: @Inside_Craft, Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest: InsideCraft

Event Details:

Inside Craft Pop Up Retail Event
Lough Key Forest Park
Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Fri 22nd Sept 4pm – til late
Sat 23rd & Sun 24 Sept  10am – 5pm

5 days of Musical and Artistic Delighted at Carrick Water Music Festival

The 13th annual Carrick Water Music Festival is just around the corner, commencing July 12th, bringing 5 days of musical and cultural discovery to Carrick-on-Shannon. An exciting and innovative line up is planned with something to please all tastes.

The highlight of the Festival and in their only Irish summer show of 2017, The Waterboys play the Landmark Central on Sunday 16th July.  A unique magic between Mike Scott and Steve Wickham and their strong connections to the North West of Ireland make this concert a rare treat for Carrick-on-Shannon. From the Celtic, gospel, country and rock on the classic Fisherman’s Blues, to the rootsy, funky Modern Blues, this is a night not to be missed!

“People should expect the unexpected from The Waterboys,” says Mike Scott. …

Joining Mike Scott on vocals, guitar and piano and Sligo’s legendary Steve Wickham on electric fiddle, are great Memphis keyboard player and showman Brother Paul, ace drummer Ralph Salmins, legendary Muscle Shoals bassman David Hood and sharp Austin guitarist Zach Ernst.

Support on the night comes from Sligo-based singer songwriter Miles Graham, known for his distinctive blend of indie-soul-funk. 2017 has been a great year for him, garnering much attention on the UK and Irish scene, a firm favourite with top radio presenters including, Graham Norton and Cerys Matthews. His soulful voice and songwriting style inspired by Van Morrison, Otis Redding and James Morrison marks him out as one to watch.

There’s lots of lunchtime entertainment including concerts from award winning classical musicians Jessie de Bellis (14th July) and South Korean born Young-Choon Park (16th July) to the hilariously funny multi-instrumentalists and comic performers The Von Drip Duo performing a free family street show (15th July).

Evening shows bring to town some of Ireland’s foremost contemporary music with Crash Ensemble presenting new work with ‘CrashLands’ (12th July), while lovers of operetta and the Silver Screen will enjoy “Will You Remember?” A Celebration of MGM legends Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy performed by Sandra Oman and Simon Morgan.

The Dublin Gospel Choir (Friday 14th July) bring their legendary live show to the atmospheric surroundings of St George’s Church; and the music continues at the Late Night Festival Club, featuring indie rising stars on the homegrown scene including Come On Live Long (14th July) who’s new album ‘In The Still’ was chosen as The Irish Times Album of the Week in May; and prepare to be bewitched by the sultry indie Nick Drake and Patti Smith influenced sounds of Naoise Roo (15th July).

Families will love an outdoor screening of the Oscar-nominated animated film Song of the Sea featuring a musical introduction by members of Kila; there’s also Jazz cruises planned featuring The Cadillac Quartet ft. David Lyttle, a MOBO Award-winning Jazz drummer (16th July) and The Original Guinness Jazz Band (15th July), music masterclasse, an art and curios market and much more, Carrick-on-Shannon will entertain you each and all day of the Carrick Water Music Festival 12th -16th July.

Full programme:

Tickets: now on sale at the Festival Box Office – The Dock Arts Centre – phone 071 96 50828 web: – 10% discount when pre-booking for 2 events, 15% for 3+ events.