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Festivals

Travel

Carlow Autumn Walking Festival

September 2, 2014

I’ve written a few posts about my home county recently and hope it’s peaked your curiosity to come and visit the hills and villages that surround us? We spent a lovely couple of weeks looking around gardens at the Garden Festival which was quickly followed by a staycation where Mr G and I explored the Carlow hills and rivers, opening our minds to its potential as an eco-destination. Then I helped to put a group of bloggers together for the recent Taste of Carlow festival where we met several local food producers and visited a commercial fruit farm. For now I’m continuing on with the outdoor lifestyle theme and sharing the news about the Carlow Autumn Walking Festival that will be taking place here soon.

Carlow Autumn Walking FestivalWe’ve always considered ourselves fairly fit yet like many our age, as lovers of good, wholesome food Mr G and I have an ongoing battle with the bulges (me more so than himself!). As the years have advanced, it seems to have become increasingly more difficult to lose the wobbly bits so I’ve tried different activities to keep the weight in check. From the local fitness classes and swimming pool to running and boot camps, I’ve tried several forms of exercise.

More recently I’ve doned the lycra and have been cycling around the hills with Mr G and my neighbouring friend Michele, whizzing down the hills, through the forestry then slowly panting our way back up again to our homes, red-faced and hot, and not in a ‘hot’ way that lycra sometimes suggests 😉 However, throughout it all, walking has remained the constant. It’s free, it can be done any time and in any place, and walking for pleasure is a wonderfully grounding way of keeping the mind sane in this slightly mad and busy world.

Carlow Autumn Walking Festival 3rd - 5th October 2014I’ve seen similar leaflets in previous years to the one above for the local Autumn Walking Festival but have never picked one up before now. If I had, I’d have seen that walking festivals include something for anyone like me with an interest in outdoor activities, and this year’s Carlow Autumn Walking Festival is no exception.

From beginners to the super fit, 23 walking activities have been planned over the weekend 3rd to 5th October 2014 as well as other complimentary activities. For anyone not living close by, accommodation deals have been negotiated by Carlow Tourism that include packed lunches for walkers. There will also be a traditional Irish music session in O’Sheas pub and hardware store in Borris.

Carlow Autumn Walking Festival

CARLOW WALKS

The walks have been categorised to help us choose the best ones for our abilities. They include:

Five category A Yellow walks (including an A++ one that’s for eight hours, 33km and a 734m climb) which are for very experienced walkers. There’s a limit of 15 people allowed on this walk.

Twelve category B Blue walks (including a B+ walk that’s for 5 hours, 15.5km with a 735m climb) for experienced hillwalkers and a maximum limit of 20 people.

Six walks for leisure/regular walkers where there are no limits on numbers.

The walks range from between €10 to €20 which covers the cost of experienced guides (up to four on each walk), maps of each route and sandwiches/refreshments at the end of each route as well as transport to start points in some cases.

I won’t list all the trails, some of which sound quite spectacular and something to strive towards and others that sound just plain exhausting lovely. There’s a link to the online brochure here and you can book online here once you’ve decided if or which walk appeals to you. There are however, a few themed walks that caught my eye that you might be interested in as well as other complementary outdoor activities:

Carlow. There's Gold In Those Hills & MountainsIntroduction to Hillwalking

First of all, Walk 16 has been included in the programme to introduce people to hill walking. This is a great opportunity to gain an insight into the skills required for hill walking and coping with difficult situations, something Scouting Ireland cover very well but for anyone not involved in scouting, a skill you may have missed out on and would like to learn more about.

The walk covers topics such as first aid, navigation, emergencies, gear requirements, the environment and Mountain Rescue and when to call it. It’s not a formal course and basic walking gear will be required. The cost is €16.00 and includes transport to the start of the walk.

Carlow Autumn Walking FestivalA Walk Through Time

If you’re interested in the historical aspects of Ireland and Carlow in particular, Walk 20, graded B for the more experienced walkers, is a four to five-hour mountain walk that will explore the history and archaeology of the Blackstairs Mountain area.

Artifcats that can be seen include standing stones, ancient rock art, dolmens, old settlements and aircraft crash site! Cost €15 and places limited.

Blackstairs Eco Trails

A Walk on the Wildside with Mary White, environmentalist and walking enthusiast, will include foraging for delicious edible greens and fungi, learning about the native trees and mammals around the area, identifying wild herbs and checking out the flora and fauna of Kilbrannish Woods. This is a two-hour C graded leisurely walk, costing €10.00 which includes a bus to the woods and back with a walking distance of 7.5km.

Carlow Autumn Walking FestivalWalking with Wildway Adventures

Green Walk 11, a two-hour leisurely walk with Una Halpin from Wildway Adventures. The 6km stroll will begin at Clashgranny Lock and take in the trees, plants and insect life along the Barrow Way and through the Borris House Estate, ancestral home of the ancient Kings of Leinster, the MacMurrough Kavanaghs. A bus will take walkers to the start point and the cost is €10.00.

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES

Carlow Autumn Walking FestivalSafari Trail on the River Barrow

Three special canoeing events with local business Go With The Flow River Adventures are being planned for all three days of the festival. Trails have been designed with complete beginners in mind and will be led by qualified instructors who have years of adventure experience. Cost is €35 for adults, under 16’s €25, family of four €99. For more information contact Charlie Horan 0872529700 or email info@gowiththeflow.ie.

Bike Rental and Bike Tours

Bike and Hire at Waterside Guest House in Graiguenamanagh offer bike rental and tours in the River Barrow Valley and cater for all ages and abilities including electric bikes, mountain bikes for men and women, tow along and children’s bikes. They can also provide helmets, hi viz jackets and other equipment too. Prices range from €10.00 to €25.00 per day.

If you’re interested in joining any of the walks or activities, it’s advised to book in advance. As mentioned, places are limited on the A and B categorised walks and the deals on the hotels will be snapped up too.

Not quite fit enough….

As much as I’d like to try one or two of the Blue walks, common sense is telling me to choose the Green, C listed walks this year aimed at the more leisurely walkers among us, but make an effort to get fitter and try a harder walk or two next year.

Walking festivals are a great way of meeting people and perhaps for Michele and me, who’ve been talking about taking up hill walking as we gaze over at the mountains every day, the Carlow Walking Festival an introduction to the local walking groups that regularly meet in the Blackstairs and surrounding hills.

Are you a hill walking fan? Are you tempted by any of the activities mentioned?

 

Please note that this post has been written for a Green and Vibrant project that connects bloggers with destinations. See disclosure policy above though would gladly have written it without being involved!

Travel

The 4th Taste of Carlow is coming to town, here’s the lowdown.

August 17, 2014

Taste of Carlow Festival, 31st August 2014Ireland is known for its festivals and Carlow isn’t shy about holding them in its town and surrounding villages. The County is still glowing from the successful 11 day Carlow Garden Festival and with it fresh in mind, are about to have an afternoon of ‘Food, Craft & family festival fun’ with the upcoming Taste of Carlow Festival on Sunday, 31st August. This will be closely followed by several events during Heritage Week, The County Carlow Golf Classic and then the excellent sounding Carlow Autumn Walking Festival, though I might be biased about that one as a walker and not a golfer 😉

The Taste of Carlow is a food and craft fair that will be taking place from noon until 6.00pm on the River Barrow Promenade, Barrow Track and Carlow Town Park. In its 4th year, #TasteCarlow will feature local craft and food producers as well as food demonstrations by Carlow chefs, tasting menus, bungee trampoline, kite flying, face painting, water activities and musical/family entertainment.

For just six hours we’re promised lots of festival fun by the picturesque River Barrow.

Taste of Carlow Food & Craft Fair, Here's the LowdownWe’ll be able to see, smell and taste artisan food displays with cheeses, juices, jams, chutneys, crepes, beverages, home baking, fresh meat, organic fruit and vegetables, organic home-made burgers and chips, ice cream and mouth-watering chocolates. Cheese making demonstrations will be delivered by Tom Burgess of Coolattin Cheddar and the Carlow Bee Keepers Association will give an insight into the fascinating world of honey (I’m looking forward to that one!).

The 4th Taste of Carlow

Alan Foley

Alan Foley, winner of the Bridgestone 2013 Chef of the Year and Head Chef at the Step House Hotel, Fiona Dillon author of Food from an Irish garden and Dympna Maher of Healing Herbs will provide insights into the delights of good cooking and healthy foods.

Paul Stock from the newly opened SMOQUE Restaurant and Tapas will offer mouth-watering Tapas Carlow Style and Imelda Byrne from the ICA Bootcamp will also be in attendance.

Carlow enjoys an abundance of original, hand-made crafts that includes woodturning, pottery, ceramics, knitwear, art, embroidery, enamels and jewellery and a Taste of Carlow is a great opportunity to meet local artists and craftspeople. Whether you’re there to browse in a riverside atmosphere or buy a gift, the craft fair promises to be something to enjoy.

Children will be entertainment throughout the day with face painting and musical entertainment as well as bouncy castle, bungee trampoline and a craft area. While here make sure and visit Carlow Town Park, immediately adjacent, a wonderful amenity for all the family which features a safe and secure children’s playground that I spent many hours in with our own children when they were smallies.

There will also be river demonstrations by Carlow Sub Aqua and Carlow Rowing Club and Civil Defence and a foraging talk by Mary White.

So if you’re not at the Electric Picnic and are looking for an afternoon out in the south-east, Taste of Carlow promises to be a fun afternoon and with no admission fees and free parking, a good opportunity to take a picnic to the park or simply browse the many stalls there for some treats or gifts.

Maybe we’ll see you there!

Taste of Carlow Festival, 31st August 2014

Please note that this post has been written for a Green and Vibrant project that connects bloggers with destinations. See disclosure policy above.

Travel

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

July 26, 2014

 

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Carol & Dee

Carlow Garden Festival has begun and what a fantastic way to open it with none other than the queen of plants-women, Carol Klein. If I gush a bit during this post I hope you’ll forgive me as having spent two days at local garden related events with another nine in store, it’s difficult not to!

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Carol’s cat

 

The ballroom in the Woodford Dolman hotel in Carlow was packed with young and old who’d come to see and hear Carol talk about her cottage garden at Glebe House in Devon and we weren’t disappointed.

Carol is inspirational and so very down to earth and the way she talked us through her slides with her friendly Lancashire lilt clearly showed us all that her enthusiasm of plants and nature isn’t just for the telly.

Carol lives and breathes this lifestyle and her warmth and humour shone through. If anyone there hasn’t been watching Gardeners World up until now, I’m sure they all will be in future. Despite the exhausting schedule she found herself under since arriving in our county, Carol took the time to chat, sign books and autographs, as well as answer any questions thrown at her and have her photo taken with whoever requested one during the evening.

I enjoyed reading Irish Farmerette’s thoughts about the evening too which mirrored my own. It was also good to finally meet up with the younger horticulturists of Waterford IT as well as David Corscaddon of the Beyond The Wild Garden blog who I’m sure will be sharing his experiences of the evening and garden festival soon. Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Eileen O’Rourke, the extremely hardworking CEO of Carlow Tourism introduced Carol and admitted that even she has now begun incubating plants as a result of being amid so many beautiful gardens in Carlow. It’s hard not to take an interest when surrounded by so much inspiration.

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Never mind the stretch limo when there’s a bench

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Inspiration Garden at Arboretum

Which leads me to the first of the day time talks of the garden festival that took place at Arboretum Lifestyle and Garden Heaven, where Ireland’s very own Dermot O’Neill gave his tips on successful container gardening before giving a guided walk through the Inspiration Gardens. There’s a reason this garden centre has earned it’s Five Star rating and I’m not only proud to say I spent many weeks there under the guidance of plant experts Eamon Wall and Ger Heary undertaking my horticulture work experience, with over 70 people on their books, Arboretum is one of our largest local employers.

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Dermot O’Neill talk at Arboretum during the 2014 Carlow Garden Festival

The garden centre itself is bursting with flowers, plants and trees of such good quality it’s difficult not to spend any money there and hours can be lost winding your way through all the pathways, gazing at the displays, trying to decide what and how to plant up your garden.

Carlow Garden Festival Opens – We’re in for a treat!

Arboretum

Not wanting to overload you with too much information now, I’ll be attending a few more talks and demos over the coming days, starting with Helen Dillon at Huntington Castle which I’m really looking forward to attending (click the link and you’ll see why).

I’ll keep you posted about what you can expect over the next few days if you decide to visit Carlow and its surrounding villages for this or future festivals.

Oh and before I forget to mention it, we still have two more competitions running this week. Take a look at the end of this post linked her for more information on those.

Have you visited any talks or gardens in Carlow? Are you planning to see what we have on offer here this year?

Lifestyle, Travel

10 Fun Eco Friendly Things To Do In Sligo

June 16, 2014

Sligo Beach & Mountains

We’ve lived here for 15 years but had never made it as far north as Sligo, a county in the north-west of Ireland that’s doing it’s best to tick the boxes and encourage a more sustainable approach to tourism. However, having now seen the beautiful coastline, the striking mountain range and the passion of the people who are proud to live in this historic county, it won’t be the last time.

Vegetable Soup & Connacht GoldCounty Sligo, (home of Connacht Gold, a company that has over 1,000 diary farmers supplying them with milk), and just one of several counties marked on the Wild Atlantic Way, offers lots of activities that cater for all ages, abilities and budgets with a more eco conscious ethos.

Whether you’re looking for some adventure or quieter meals and walks there are lots in Sligo to keep you occupied.

10 Fun Things To Do in Sligo

1. Sea Trails

Auriel Robinson of Seatrails

Auriel Robinson of Seatrails

Auriel Robinson, a qualified maritime archaeologist, is a font of local, historical, maritime knowledge which she’ll happily share with you in various ways. From prehistoric walks to more rugged treks, you’ll find yourself swept away and more interested in Irish history than you might possibly have imagined. Auriel accompanied us on the horseriding trip, sharing tales of three ships from the Spanish Armada that were wrecked on Streedagh Beach.

It’s one thing learning about this historical invasion in school text books, quite another when you can picture the scene in front of you. She also takes local groups out on regular beach clean ups, something that’s becoming more necessary as the big storms sweep ocean litter up onto the beaches.Take a look at seatrails.ie for more information on the variety of interesting tours available.

Damien Brennan2. The Yeats Experience

I covered the Yeats Experience in another blog post but this unusual dinner party encompasses so much of the what defines the responsible traveller.

Damien manages to weave art, history and poetry alongside the natural beauty of the surrounding hills and lough, while his wife Paula and her helpers, present guests with locally sourced, home cooked food.

3. Walking Tour of Sligo Town

Walking Tour of Sligo With our Guide NiamhSligo tourist office can give visitors with a signposted walking tour map of Sligo that points out all the interesting parts of the town itself.

If you’re visiting during the summer months however, I’d urge you to take a two-hour walk with Niambh (the time flies by) who will open your eyes to the trouble and strife the town faced during the days of the cholera epidemic in the 1800’s.

She might also regale you with tales of what might have inspired Bram Stoker to write the scary Dracula story he’s famous for. The tours leave daily from the Tourist Office. See here for more details.

Photo Courtesy: Isle Magazine

Photo Courtesy: Isle Magazine

4. Horse Riding on Sligo Beach

If you like horses, a trip to the family run Island View Riding Stables in Grange is a heavenly treat. With horses, ponies, guides and instructors available to cater for all experiences, as well as hats, boots and chaps, the stable will make sure everyone on the ride gets a taste of what they’re expecting.

From a slow, gentle walk, to a more bouncy trot or a hearty canter along the sandy beach, you’ll be well looked after. Island View offer a range of riding experiences, from half hour rides to B&B Holidays. For more information take a look at their website here.

Lough Gill, Sligo

5. Stand Up Paddling & Guided Canoe Tours

Stand Up Paddling is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and if you fancy your chances of balancing on the loughs, it’s available in Sligo from the Perfect Day SUP School.

Everywhere we went people were recommending we try this unusual form of travel but time didn’t let on this occasion. I don’t think I’ll be trying the yoga poses pictured in some of the literature but a gentle paddle sounds tempting. For those of you who prefer a more relaxed time on the water, Adventure Gently offer guided tours in Canadian canoes that might be more to your liking.

6. Seaweed Foraging

If you want to use seaweed in your kitchen or garden it’s essential that you harvest it sustainably and just like hedgerow foraging, it helps to know what you’re picking. As a life long seaweed forager, Prannie Rhatigan is a real expert in this field. Keep an eye out for her workshops. From the brief time we spent with Prannie, I can guarantee you’ll come home armed with enough information that you’ll want to cook with seaweed as much as possible.

Seaweed Foraging

7. Seaweed Baths

If you’re looking for a relaxing activity, the Seaweed Baths in Strandhill might be for you. Luxuriate in the healing waters and feel all your troubles drift away as the essential oils are released. Afterwards you might like to pop next door into the award-winning Shells Seaside Bakery, Shop & Cafe for a delicious juice or a slice of home-made cake..

Beetroot, Carrot & Apple Juice at Shells in Strandhill, Sligo

Beetroot, Carrot & Apple Juice at Shells in Strandhill, Sligo

Sligo Surfing

Sligo Surfing – photo credit Val Robus

8. Surfing on the Atlantic coast

Sligo is apparently the 4th best location IN THE WORLD for big surfing waves and has one of the most consistent swells in Europe. Whether you’re a beginner or a fan of the giant waves, there are several kite surfing or general surfing schools dotted around the Sligo coastline, or just bring a board and find out where all the locals are surfing. For more information check out the Sligo tourism page.

Pranie's Guide To Edible Seaweed9. Relaxing on a Green Coast Beach

Sligo boasts five Green Coast Beaches and they really do live up to their awards. Unspoilt and scenic, they’re the perfect place to spend some time if you’re looking for a beach that’s not surrounded by chip shops and souvenir shops. Bring a picnic and grab a copy of Prannie’s seaweed guide as these are the places you can carefully harvest seaweed for a home bathing or cooking experience.

Flowers in Sligo10. Secret Gardens of Sligo

There are several hidden gardens nestled in Sligo from large to small, privately owned and open to the public on various dates throughout the year to raise funds for various charities. There’s no admission charge but all donations greatly appreciated. Take a look at the Secret Gardens of Sligo website for more information.

Where to stay in Sligo

From Dublin you can pick up a train or bus that will take you directly there, but from Carlow or Kilkenny it isn’t the easiest place to travel to.. It would have several taxi, bus and train changes to get us there, so I car shared with Susan from Vibrant Ireland for this trip.

The Wine BuffWe stayed in the very groovy 4 star Glasshouse Hotel in the centre of Sligo town, which meant we were within walking distance of local shops, restaurants and bars.

Notable were Donaghy’s, famed for their chicken wings among other dishes, Osta Cafe & Wine Bar who can serve you up a tasty tapas on the riverfront, and the very helpful Wine Buff who can recommend exactly what wine’s to taste with which cheese, handy if you’re self catering.

The Glasshouse Hotel Sligo

The Glasshouse Hotel Sligo

 If visitors haven’t done their homework, they might be in for a surprise when they walk into the family owned but very contemporary designed Glasshouse hotel, unlike any other I’ve stayed in! I had a peek online before we traveled and loved my orange room with river views, smart television and family sized bed. The rooms were spotless, the service friendly and the car park free for residents.

Eithnas By The SeaWhere to eat in Sligo

If you visit Sligo during a festival, it’s likely you’ll be able to choose from over 25 local food establishments that take part in the Food Trail, with each one offering a signature dish for just five euro.

Outside of the town we dinned in Eithna’s By The Sea, a delightful seafood restaurant in Mullaghmore, where we sampled the delicious tasting menu, with plates piled high with locally sourced lobster and mussels, seaweed salads and king prawns.

I hope that’s given you a flavour of some of the things you might experience if you have the opportunity to spend a few days in Sligo. If you have any other tips about places to see or visit there, please leave them in the comments below as I’m looking forward to returning sometime soon with my family and it’s great to hear about places you may have been.

Finally, if you’d like to read more about some of the things Sligo has to offer, check out magnumlady.com blog for some great insight and photos.

Disclaimer: This trip was sponsored by Connaght Gold who want to share and shout out about all the lovely things their County has to offer. The fact that the trip was sponsored has in no way influenced anything I’ve written, as the one thing I hope you’ve come to expect from my blog is honesty and transparency. See here for my full disclosure policy. 

Travel

Celebrating WB Yeats In Sligo

June 13, 2014

This is the first of two or three posts I’m looking forward to sharing with you about my recent short trip to County Sligo, one of many destinations here in Ireland that are perfect for Eco tourists looking to take a more natural, responsible approach to holidays. With images and poetry, this post may help to give you an idea for a destination to visit that apart from offering the usual festival, fun, celebrates the life of a celebrated Nobel Laureate, William Butler Yeats.

WB Yeats Statue, Sligo

William Butler Yeats ~ Statue in Sligo Town

Yeats Day

June 13th is Yeats Day, a celebration of a time in 1865 when WB Yeats was born in Ireland. I’ve always been attracted to the poetry of WB Yeats and the evocative and accessible way he weaves our language, helping us to smell the apple blossom, or picture an island full of growth and wildlife that he longs to be close to. It was a delight therefore, to find Yeats celebrated in so many places in and around Sligo, the county he spent his formative years.

Painting by Jack Yeats

Painting by Jack Yeats

There are several ongoing exhibitions in Sligo of Yeats’ life, family and poetry. Amongst others, the Sligo Museum houses a small exhibition about Yeats which includes his Nobel Prize Medal and The Model Gallery is hosting an art exhibition of his brother Jack’s work.

From statues and museums, to recitals and trails there are lots to keep Yeats fans happy indoors and out.

Rumour has it that during 2015 everyone in Ireland will be able to share a national celebration of Yeats life, with festivals and events being arranged around the country.

The Yeats Experience

The Yeats Experience

In the meantime however, if you’re planning to visit Sligo or even if you live there and are looking for an evening or lunch with a difference, I’d highly recommend a visit to the home of Damian and Paula of The Yeats Experience, located near Carraroe, where you can wine, dine, listen to the history and poems of Yeats in a casual environment of mixed and friendly company.

Good conversation at The Yeats Experience

Good Company at The Yeats Experience

This is a unique experience where dinner parties take place in the couple’s private dinning room, overlooking breathtaking views that those familiar with Yeats work will recognise.

Catering for around twenty-five on the evening we arrived at Broc house (but can cater from 10 to 50 people), Damien talked us through Yeats lifetime, which took place in some very turbulent times of Irish history, transfixing us with tales and love poems he recited to us between dinner courses.

SorbetAs a rural vegetable grower who’s new to bee keeping, this is a particular favourite Yeats poem…

The Lake Isle of Innisfree by WB Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

A spellbound Guest at The Yeats Experience

A spellbound Guest

If you’re even remotely interested in poetry, film, art, music, good food or history, the 11th to the 15th June for the Só Sligo Food & Cultural Festival is the place to be as they celebrate with a packed and varied programme catering for all tastes and ages (see Vibrant Ireland’s blog for more details).

However, if you’ve missed the festival or have never been to Sligo and are thinking of doing so, you won’t be disappointed… Within a very short space of time, we fell in love with this beautiful county that has more than it’s fair share of unspoiled beaches and hill climbs, lakes, cliffs and forests. There’s so much to do I can’t wait to return with Mr G and spend longer exploring it.

Tourist Tip: Do pack midge/mosquito repellent as the lake water attracts these irritating little pests. I’ve found Dr Vogel’s Herbal Insect Repellent to be very effective once I remember to pack it!

Over the coming days I’ll be sharing our bloggers tasty seaweed experience as well giving some tips on how you might like to spend a couple of days as an eco/responsible tourist in Sligo.

With thanks to Connacht Gold and the organisers of the  Sligo Food Cultural & Food Festival that’s taking place in Sligo right now, some fellow Irish bloggers and I were able to experience a snippet of some of the cultural, food, sporting and natural attractions that Sligo has to offer this week and beyond. Keep an eye out for posts from Vibrant Ireland, The Burlesque Chef, Irish Food Guide, Isle Magazine, Magnum Lady and Oonagh Eats, bloggers covering several areas of interest, for more information about the Festival.

Travel

Food Festivals, Foraging and Fun to be had in Sligo!

May 31, 2014

One of the drawbacks of being a vegetable grower is that since we began growing our own food, we rarely get to take breaks away together. Partly perhaps, because we don’t want to leave the vegetables we’ve carefully natured over the past few months, but also finding minders for our chickens, pigs, dogs and cats for more than one night can be difficult.

Strandhill, Sligo

Photo Credit: Val Rubus – Strandhill, Sligo

Thankfully, living on an island means that’s not too much of a problem. In four hours we can be standing at the water’s edge of Donegal or in under an hour walking in the Wicklow mountains. We may not be guaranteed weeks of blue skies, but we’ve fantastic scenery, superb food, wildlife, big seas, star filled skies, friendship, fun, faeries and festivals every weekend, all on hand to entertain, unwind and help us relax.

Holidays in Ireland

My first trip to Ireland and the one that sowed the seed to up anchor and move all my worldly goods here, was spent as a pillion passenger on a large motorbike. I shared my perch with the driver (naturally) a tent, sleeping bags and enough camping gear to make sure we stayed dry and comfortable. We travelled across the southern half of the country from Tipperary to Cork, Kerry and back to Dublin again. We found caves and mountains, hot warm dinners and wet windy roads and I spent hours on the back of the bike in a world of my own, lost with desire to spend more time here.

My second trip many years later involved landing at Dublin airport with a friend and a backpack, climbing onto a bus destined to Galway, and spending most of the week sleeping in hostels and exploring all the lively pubs that we were able to find in the vibrant city that inspired many a tune.

Jump forward several more years and my next trip over the Irish sea was with the man who was to become Mr G. We took the time to tour around, visiting the peninsulas and wild Atlantic coast, falling in love with Beara and dreaming of owning a campsite and surf shop, somewhere we could grow old, living a self-sufficient beach life by the ocean’s edge.

Sligo Surfing

Sligo Surf – Photo Credit: Val Robus

Settling Down

It’s now 16 years since we finally made the move over, choosing instead a small holding life on a hilltop rather than the wilder one we’d envisaged. Over the years we’ve taken several short breaks to various parts of this beautiful island that we now call our home, almost always under canvas, and not nearly as many as we should have given how close we live to all the places we still want to see!

Unlike Mr G, the one place I’ve yet to visit, the place that everyone talks about with a slightly wistful air, is Sligo. But that’s about to change.

So Sligo 2014 Food Festival

so sligo imageWith thanks to the So Sligo 2014 Food Festival team, a few bloggers that include Vibrant Ireland, Irish Food Guide, Sligo Secrets, A Taste of Ireland and Isle Magazine among others, have been invited to Sligo to experience a fabulous sounding couple days that will be showcasing everything Sligo has to offer.

The festival starts on Wednesday 11th June and continues until Sunday evening with things happening all over the county. Starting with Sligo town, the Só Sligo Food Trail has over 30 tapas sized house specialities available for €5 each.

I’m particularly looking forward to the seaweed walk and hope to share some of the tips I learn with you. There will also be urban foraging, fermentation and cheese making workshops as well as lots of food demonstrations and talks by local and celebrity chefs.

During the festival JP McMahon will be bringing a pop up version of his award-winning Aniar Restaurant in Galway to The Model on Friday and there will be a Yeats Nobel Dinner by Alan Fitzmaurice on Thursday 12th (the eve of Yeats Day which is also being celebrated in Sligo).

Other events include the World Irish Stew Championship, something that everybody is encouraged to enter by bringing along two portions of stew (they have facilities to heat & serve), as well as several events for children too. A food village will be setting up from 1pm on Friday to Sunday evening, and before wrapping it up, there’ll be a Street Feast where people can bring their own food – or buy it from the stalls and food outlets, enjoying together!

I’ll be reporting back how my trip goes and am particularly looking forward to horse riding on the Sligo beaches and the eco-tourism side of things, something that Ireland can offer in abundance.

Sligo Horseriding

Photo Credit: Val Rubus

If you think the festival sounds interesting and would like to head along, check out the So Sligo website for full details and be sure to find me on any of the social media channels and say hello if you’re in Sligo.

Photo’s for this post have been reproduced with kind permission from Val of Magnumlady.com, a Sligo photographer who captures life there so well.

 

Community Gardens

Sunday Snap ~ From Seed to Sale at Savour Kilkenny

October 27, 2013

Feeling very proud of the Kilkenny Community Gardeners this weekend who’ve worked so hard to get this far

Kilkenny Community Gardens Pickles & Preserves

Kilkenny Community Garden Network Pickles & Preserves

Well done to everyone involved in Callan and Goresbridge community gardens who’ve seen their produce grow from seed to sale.

And a big thank you to Savour Kilkenny 2013 and Kilkenny Leadership Partnership for giving us the opportunity to tell our story and allow us all to learn a myriad of valuable lessons.

This is just the beginning…

 

Travel

Bloom 2013 – another perspective

June 2, 2013

bughotel.jpgI began attending Bloom Garden and Food Festival four years ago – initially as a regular punter, secondly as a volunteer, last year as a speaker on the main stage and finally this year as an exhibitor due to my involvement with the Community Garden Network postcard garden.

Being on the other side has been a rollercoaster experience but already my mind is contemplating the logistics of entering a design and actually pulling it off in the designer garden area. The Postcard Garden experience has been a real teaser, so who knows – watch this space!

In the meantime I took the opportunity to have a little look around at some of the show (too much to see in the limited time I had!) and here are my favourite bits. I was told off last year for not including enough pictures in my post so there’s a few more.

As Dorothy from An Taisce surmised (I can’t remember her exact words but something like…)

“Bloom this year has been such a welcome relief after an 11 month winter. It’s full of smiles, sun and warmth and boy didn’t we need it!!”