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. westival.ie

 

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 burren.ie/event/burren-food-fayre-4/

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, macnas.com

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, sligolive.ie

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. facebook.com/carrowmoreopw/

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 westporthouse.ie/halloweenfest

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. facebook.com/kinloughpeoplesmarket/

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. loughkey.ie

 

 

 

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. inishbofin.com.

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. connemaranationalpark.ie

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. connemara.net/the-sky-road/

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. facebook.com/MisunderstoodHeron

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. kylemoreabbey.com

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. moranstheweir.com

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. yeatsthoorballylee.org

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. cnocsuain.com

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. brigitsgarden.ie

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. connemara.net/beaches

Have we missed something? Let us know!

macnas website

Macnas officially launch naming of the 2018 Parade for Galway

Macnas Artistic Director Noeline Kavanagh announces Halloween Parade 2018, with next generation artists, magical new inventions and an extended route

“Out of the Wild Sky” the 2018 Macnas parade will traverse through the streets of Galway at 5.30pm on Sunday October 28th, 2018. Beginning at its home on the NUI Galway campus the parade will weave its way through the heart of Galway, the Macnas Halloween Parade is the highlight of Ireland’s cultural calendar. It is the largest free event in In Ireland for Halloween with over 54,000 people lining the streets every year to be awed and amazed by this epic scale of storytelling.

This years story celebrates the act of transformation being unleashed upon the city. A world that is hypnotic and intoxicating, glittering, mysterious and filled with shadow and nobility.

Between the white fire of the stars and the whispering woods, you can hear the breath of small kingdoms rising and falling, dreams floating light as moths among the branches of the trees, where sweetness and tangibility flicker amongst the dark hug of time.

Macnas bring “Out of the Wild Sky” to the streets of Galway, packed full of love and magic, as they sculpt a new cosmos into being, where the language of birds and the stars take flight, bells ring out stitches of lightning burst forth as a new horizon lights up the deep and the wondrous and lifts up the sky.

Always a gigantic undertaking, this year’s parade will feature the signature Macnas giant creations and sculptural images, pyrotechnics, bespoke costumes, and epic performances to live and original music. Delivering this wondrous chaos are hundreds of performers from the Macnas Young Ensemble, Youth Ballet West, the Macnas Youth Drummers, the Public participation programme, The Hit Machine and many more.

The Macnas parade includes the work of the Macnas creative ensemble, comprised of 45 professional artists and 300 volunteers directed by CEO/Artistic Director Noeline Kavanagh. The creative wizards behind this years inventions include Orla Clogher and Dave Young on design, Saileog O’Halloran on costume, Alma Kelleher on sound design, The Face on hair and Michelle Ruane is our makeup designer. Eimhin Craddock will head up the Macnas Youth Drummers and Miquel Barcelo is once again at the helm with the Young Ensemble.

“We are very grateful to be supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Galway City Council for our year long programme of creative work. We are delighted to have the support of our partners  Latin Quarter who will co-present this iconic event for the sixth year in a row with Macnas. For the Halloween parade we are thrilled to have the additional support from local Galway businesses patrons: O’Connells Bar Eyre Square, Acorn Life, and Galway Clinic. This year and up to 2021 the Connacht Hospitality Group have jumped on board the Macnas train to support the Macnas Young Ensemble which is terrific “ Noeline Kavanagh

The parade will begin at NUIG (Aula Maxima), and take to the streets along the following route: University Rd, Salmon Weir Bridge, St Vincent’s Ave, Francis St, Eglington St, William St, Shop St, Church Yard St, Mainguard St, Bridge St, O’Brien’s Bridge, Dominick St Lower, Dominick St Upper, Crossing canal, Raven’s Terrace, Claddagh Quay.

Hit the streets of Galway early to catch Macnas 2018, to find out the latest on Macnas check social media for the parade countdown or visit macnas.com for more information.

 

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. visiterris.ieballycroynationalpark.ie

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. wavesweeperseaadventures.com
  • 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. puremagic.ie/achillsurfing 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. belleekcastle.com

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! caferua.com

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. destinationwestport.com

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. museumsofmayo.com/ceide.htm 

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. dunbriste.com
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. museum.ie/en/intro/country-life

BONUS TIP

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. loveconnemara.com/item/doo-lough-valley/
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 info@lookwest.ie

 

 

 

ireland's hidden heartlands

Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands showcasing the heart of the West of Ireland

We are delighted to see Failte Ireland launch their new campaign promoting Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. This new tourism campaign explores the green heartlands of Ireland’s natural beauty, where activity and relaxation are centred around rural communities.

ireland's hidden heartlandsIreland’s Hidden Heartlands covers the ‘heart’ of the Western Region, from Leitrim down to East Clare and extending through Roscommon and East Galway, 

It is especially great to see natural gems from the Western Region getting lots of coverage, including the hills of Drumshanbo as well as Glenade Lough in Leitrim; and Lough Key Forest Park and Cortober in Roscommon. 

Ireland's Hidden HeartlandsThere’s an infinite variety of things to do for all ages along the length of the Shannon, by the many beautiful lakes in the area or along the many quiet rural byways that criss-cross this picturesque part of Ireland.

The water offers leisurely boat trips, water sports and great fishing, while numerous walks, cycle trails and pony trekking trails allow you to take in the views, or explore the rural heartlands and small villages in this quiet, relaxing part of the country. 

Ireland's Hidden HeartlandsWe look forward to seeing these beautiful areas in the heart of the West of Ireland thriving with lots more visitors from this great campaign.

For more visit Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands website.

Marble Beach, Donegal

Best West of Ireland Heatwave photos

The summer of 2018 is the summer that keeps on giving. We can’t keep up with the amount of Caribbean-esque shots we have seen of the stunning beaches we have right across the West of Ireland.

Is anybody feeling a little bit smug about where they live now?

Here are our top Insta picks from the heatwave so far.

With the current forecast, we think we will have to do Round Two next week. If you would like your shots to be included, please tag us @lookwestie and include #lookwest on your shots!

Co Clare:

Hands down one of the best #cliffsofmoher shots we have soon. There are over 400,000 on Instagram so that is quite an achievement @reeyco

Co Galway:

Where do we start with Galway? The shots from SeaFest alone could feel a whole article. Then those Connemara beach shots!!

Seriously though how stunning is this shot of Lettergesh Beach in Connemara?

Having all the bants in Salthill!

With thanks to @kokine009 for #repost: “☀When it’s summer in Galway ☀”

A post shared by Barnacles Hostels (@barnacleshostels) on

 

This one is an old Red Bull shot from Poll na bPéist, couldn’t not include it!

Connemara

A post shared by Aidan Maguire (@aidanjmaguire) on

Co Mayo:

Baywatch eat your heart out!

Wowza, having all the craic in Louisburgh!

Co Leitrim:

Zen-est sheep in Ireland award goes to?

Co Roscommon:

Blogger Magnumlady nails the Gaelic Chieftain at sunset.

Gaelic Chieftain sunset #roscommon #Ireland #irish #heatwave #statue #sculpture

A post shared by Val (@magnumlady) on

Co Sligo:

Sligo photographer Mark Capilitan seems to have the work-life balance nailed. Follow his feed for lots more stunning shots!

If it wasn’t for the beach & kayak, you’d think this water was a swimming pool!!

A post shared by Mark Capilitan (@markcap_photo) on

Its gonna be another one of those weeks 🌞🌞🌞

A post shared by Mark Capilitan (@markcap_photo) on

 Beautiful children at sunset shot from John Keating in Sligo.

Co Donegal:

South African photographer Ian Mitchinson’s feed is always a stunning feast of adventure shots from the North West. This Bundoran shot is a cracker!

 

Featured Image: Marble Hill Beach, Co Donegal via Ireland’s Content Pool

shells cafe cookbook

Iconic Sligo surf café launches its new Good Vibes Cookbook.

Inspired by travel, surfing and a healthy outdoors lifestyle, the Good Vibes Cookbook is the latest publication by the authors of the Surf Café Cookbook and Surf Café Living. Packed with delicious, nutritious recipes using ‘clean’ foods, it beckons you to enjoy vibrant, tasty dishes that are good for you.

Based on the West Coast of Ireland, authors Jane and Myles are behind the successful surfside café, Shells, in Strandhill. Here they have tried and tested all the recipes in the book, to bring you the best locally-produced, easy-to-make food. Having travelled the world in search of surf, foodie delights and diverse cultures, this book brings together a variety of influences from their global travels and their lifestyle at home in Ireland.

shells cafe cookbookYou’ll find the pages stuffed with nourishing, mouth-watering recipes that will enrich your diet and make you feel great. Wake up to energising snacks such as the Super Green ‘Superman’ Smoothie, Buddha Breakfast Bowl, Ricotta Hotcakes and Coconut Butter Coffee. Learn how to create amazing dishes like Asian Slaw, Pea and Trout Salad, Slow Poached Coconut Chicken and Hazelnut Lamb Koftas. Feed your sweet tooth with healthy Elderflower and Raspberry Cake, Deliciously Decadent Doughnuts and Vegan Chocolate Ice-cream.

This will encourage you to spend more time in the kitchen, fuel your body the right way and ensure that you feel the good vibes every time you flick through the pages of gorgeous recipes in this cookbook.

From this book, you will be inspired to live a more fulfilled life packed with great food, outdoor living and a taste of the ocean. Get the good vibes!

shells cookbookAbout the Shells Café Team

Food and the outdoors are Jane and Myles Lamberth’s great passions.

Myles learnt his cookery skills in unique locations around the world: he’s cooked on campfires in Africa while river guiding, been a chef at exclusive chalets in the French Alps, and worked for a top catering company in the US where he cooked for musicians like Annie Lennox, The Gypsy Kings and even Snoop Dogg. Jane, meanwhile, began her career in marketing but her love of travel soon took her away from the city to destinations that offered surf or snow.

They met in 2004, whilst working at the prestigious 5-star Headland Hotel in Cornwall. They spent their summers by the sea and winters in the Alps, before eventually putting down some permanent roots in Strandhill, on the beautiful coast of northwest Ireland, where they opened Shells Café in 2010 and they haven’t looked back since. Ireland’s Atlantic coast is fast becoming one of Europe’s top destinations for surfers with some of the best waves in the world and it’s the perfect place for Jane and Myles to create great food and live the outdoor lifestyle they love. The restaurant quickly gained a loyal following and in April 2014 they won the Best Casual Restaurant Award at the regional final of the Irish Restaurant Awards.

In 2012 Jane and Myles decided to write a book about their experiences, and so The Surf Café Cookbook was born (also published by Orca Publications). It has since been a runaway success. Jane and Myles received glowing reviews and have subsequently made appearances on James Nesbitt’s Ireland (ITV), Ireland AM (TV3) and Nationwide (RTE). Their next book Surf Cafe Living (2014) aimed at home dining with family and friends. Nowadays Jane and Myles have young Arlo in their lives but it hasn’t slowed them down at all and they continue to travel the world being inspired by great food. The result of which is their new book Good Vibes Cookbook out worldwide on 1st July.

More at ShellsCafe.com

strandhill

Ambitious New Tourism Campaign set to Extend Tourism Season for Strandhill

From some of the hippest eateries in the West to some of the most inspiring landscapes and walking trails, surf breaks, and seaweed baths, Strandhill is a surf mecca along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

With a busy tourism season throughout the summer, the local Strandhill Community Development has leveraged funding from the government’s Town and Village Renewal Scheme to support an integrated tourism marketing campaign to extend the tourism season, and encourage return visits in Autumn to the Strandhill and Coolera Peninsula.

The new campaign was launched at a Swell Sligo training event earlier in June. The breakfast event took place in Strandhill Golf Club with a packed line-up of speakers on sustainable tourism, digital marketing, and PR.

Speakers included Cillian Murphy of Loop Head Tourism and Lisa Regan from Galway’s West End who both spoke about sustainable tourism in the West of Ireland.

The campaign is set to extend the tourism season into Autumn, as well as increasing the length of bed-nights per person and spend per head by initially targeting young families and social energisers – two tourism audiences who want action-packed days as well as fun-filled nights.

strandhill

Adopting three strategic thrusts for the marketing of Strandhill this summer, the initiative includes an integrated marketing campaign to share all the inspiring moments of the day from dawn to dusk using the hashtag #StrandhillMoments on social media, incentivising return visits in Autumn, and enhancing the delivery of the overall tourism message to include heritage assets like Carrowmore Megalithic Tombs, walking trails on Knocknarea and Killaspugbrone, as well as the well known activities of surfing and water sports.

The campaign includes a revamp of the tourism website GoStrandhill.com, featuring an interactive map with attractions and local businesses, Strandhill package deals and featured itineraries for families and groups, as well as marketing, training and mentoring support for local tourism businesses.

Commenting on the launch, Cllr Sinead Maguire said, “This is a unique example of the community coming together to promote our local businesses. It is based on the premise of one supports the other and all will benefit, at the heart of this campaign is a wish to have a comprehensive campaign for the peninsula as a whole. We are incredibly fortunate with the array of tourism opportunities we have on offer from beach to mountain to one of the most significant archaeological sites in Western Europe and we as a community were delighted to get the opportunity to promote them.”

strandhill

Strandhill Beach. Photographer: Mike Searle

A team of local creative professionals was commissioned to work on the campaign; a new media bank of photos has been commissioned and will be available to support the campaign through online channels and in print media. A new series of promotional videos have also been created and will be released across the Summer and Autumn months.

An overarching goal of the campaign is also to promote responsible and sustainable tourism development while safeguarding the unique culture, heritage and biodiversity of the peninsula through cooperation with all stakeholders in the wider community.

The campaign will also tie in with Failte Ireland’s promotion of the Northwest coastline as the Surf Coast along the Wild Atlantic Way, and the new tourism strategy launched by Sligo Tourism recently.

For further information on the campaign, see gostrandhill.com or follow the hashtag online #StrandhillMoments

ben bulben

Stunning new Ben Bulben Video from Sligo Walks

Sligo Walks is the online home of Sligo’s walking trails and routes. With over sixty trails to chose from, this website showcases a wide variety of routes with information on the grade of walk, terrain, length and local knowledge about each walk.

Boasting unspoilt scenery and landscape steeped in mythology and legend, Sligo’s walking offering provides the ideal destination for a day trip or walking holiday. With walking festivals taking place across the seasons and walking clubs and groups out every week, there really is something for everyone and every ability here.

Sligo Walks has just released a new video showcasing the Gortarowey trail around the majestic Ben Bulben forest loop. The trail takes just 1.5 hours so no excuses not to get out there.

To watch the beautiful new video, visit the LookWest.ie Facebook page here.

For full info and maps of this trail visit the Sligo Walks website here.

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 shoreshots.ie

Image Credits: Johnny Frazer