Going Wild in Erris!

CoasteeringApologies if if this blog post doesn’t look quite right. I’m in Erris, Co. Mayo at moment so I’m just typing on my phone. I have to tell you about the most amazing day I’ve had though.

I’ve been coasteering with Wavesweeper in Erris. Coasteering is jumping into the sea off the rocks. I never ever thought I’d do this; I’m scared of heights and the sea…and wetsuits! Not only did I do it but I loved it!!! Such an amazing experience. Mark and Seamie, who took me out were just fantastic. I felt so safe and well looked after. I’d recommend this to everyone – such a brilliant experience!! I’ll write this blog properly when I’m home :)

Glencar teaSHED

Glencar Waterfall

I’m delighted that there is a new coffee shop at Glencar waterfall, Co. Leitrim. Many a time I’ve been to the waterfall,usually when it’s raining and I’ve wanted a place to relax and dry off….plus I’m usually always hungry but I’d have to wait until I got back in to Sligo….not anymore!


A big welcome to the teaSHED. It’s a really lovely coffee shop and the cappuccino and scone I had were delicious. It’s a real asset to Glencar.

G;encar Teashed interior

I was tempted to try all the cakes though! They are made on the premises and all looked wonderful.



Latte and Death by Chocolate

There are also a great selection of gifts available, now including some of my prints, calendars and badges and soon there will be a playground open for the children. It’s a great excuse to visit the waterfall even more than I do already :)


So if you are next in the area, it’s well worth paying a visit.

Glencar teaSHED

Bloom in the Park 2015

Bord Bia launches 9th annual gardening, food and family festival
Bloom 2015 Phoenix Park, Dublin May 28th – June 1st
Peter Pan, stiletto heels, WB Yeats, home brewing and botanical beauty provide just some of the inspiration for this year’s Bloom show gardens
Bord Bia has launched its plans for Bloom 2015; a five-day annual event packed full of gardening inspiration, gastronomic delights and good old-fashioned family fun!  Now in its 9th year, the Bord Bia festival has firmly established itself as one of the most anticipated social events of the year, not just for those with green fingers,  but for all who enjoy a fantastic day out in the beautiful surroundings of the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Attracting a nationwide audience – with over 106,000 people attending last year – this year Ireland’s largest garden, food and family festival will run from Thursday, 28th May until Monday, 1st June 2015.
Gary Graham, Bord Bia spokesperson, said; “Bord Bia is delighted to launch the 9th annual Bloom festival, once again taking place in the magnificent Phoenix Park in Dublin this June bank holiday weekend. Our flagship horticulture and food event provides the ultimate platform to showcase our incredibly talented garden designers, food producers, chefs and crafts and design people. Visitors to the event are once again in for a real treat, and can expect to see 25 breath-taking show gardens, sample some of Ireland’s finest food, enjoy wonderful entertainment and witness the passion of some of Ireland’s most skilful craft workers.”

This year’s show will include 25 captivating Bloom show gardens, often referred to as the jewel in the crown of the Bord Bia festival. The designers have continued the tradition of repeatedly raising the bar on previous years, to develop beautiful, imaginative and thought provoking designs. Organisations such as Pieta HouseThe Ronald McDonald HouseGOALThe Atlantic Youth TrustITB Blanchardstown & Fingal County Council have also teamed up with designers to create gardens with powerful messages around social and cultural issues.
This year’s bespoke garden creations will include; Yeats Secret Garden in Sligo, which is part of the 2015 celebration of WB Yeats, and is based on his well-known poem, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’, Beauty Full, a wonderful garden creation from Bloom veteran Fiann Ó Nualláin which aims to highlight the amazing botanical and plant-based beauty treatments which can be found in the garden, Water In The Air, a ‘dry aquarium’ which will give visitors a unique underwater feeling whilst coming alive with colour at night, Saison, a garden partnership between designer Breffni McGeogh and master brewer Alex Lawless inspired by the current trend towards craft beer, Footfall, a concept garden which will see over 144 pairs of stiletto heels used to dramatic effect andThe GOAL Garden – What you call a slum, I call a home!, a  garden created to present a ‘slum’ from a different perspective that highlights the work and intitiatives of aid agency GOAL.
Returning to Bloom is designer Niall Maxwell, who will create The Pieta House Garden – Darkness into Light, to shine a light on attitudes towards mental health issues. Husband and wife Liat and Oliver Schurmann will create The PAN Garden, inspired by the upcoming Peter Pan movie by Warner Bros.
The gardens will vary in size from large, medium and small gardens, each developed with a unique theme and style to inspire those who wish to create their own garden at home (for a full list of details on the gardens, see Notes to Editor). For the third year, Bloom will also feature a number of Postcard Gardens designed and constructed by passionate amateur gardeners from all around the country. This year the gardens will once again be judged by experts renowned in the world of horticulture. They include Andrew Wilson (award-winning garden designer, lecturer and writer), Mark Gregory (winner of 55 Chelsea medals), Karen Foley (landscape architect and educator) and Paul Maher (curator of the National Botanic Gardens). They will be joined by guest judges, award-winning landscape architect and garden designer Feargus McGarvey, Francis MacDonald, a regular columnist with Irish Gardening Magazine and shadow judge Sally Brown, a landscape architect and garden designer based in New Zealand.
A new feature at this year’s festival will be Bloom in Transition (BIT), showcasing the creative expression of transition year students via installation/projects in the fields of agriculture, food science, horticulture, environmental and ecological management, human health or societal issues. Facilitated by ongoing mentorship of Fiann Ó Nualláin and a number of experts associated with the project, the aim of the scheme is to promote the areas of horticulture, agriculture and health with 15-17 year olds and to create a space within Bloom for them to explore concepts in garden design, gardening as pastime, economic botany, food, nutrition, health, biodiversity, climate change, food security from a teenage perspective.
The Banter at Bloom marquee is another new and exciting feature for this year’s festival.  At Banter, they talk… a lot! Chaired by Jim Carroll, the Banter marquee will host a series of discussions, talks, and conversations on topical issues around food, sustainability, agriculture, and everything in between.
This year’s Floral & Nursery Pavilion will showcase the very best of plant nurseries in Ireland. The marquee will house over 50 exhibits from some of the country’s top floral artists. The AOIFA Floral Art Stage also returns to Bloom, offering advice and demonstrations on the techniques and artistry required to achieve a perfect floral display at home. For those with green fingers, theGarden Expert Stage will provide a comprehensive range of expert advice from leading experts in horticulture, gardening and floristry. Speakers will include Gerry Daly of Irish Garden Magazineand Michael Kelly of GIY. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment at the Picnic Area and visit an Irish Craft Village hosted by the Craft and Design Council of Ireland. Following its recent launch,GroMór experts and Ambassadors will host gardening expert talks daily from the Plant Village podium. GroMór experts will also be on hand throughout each day to answer your questions and help you get the most out of your garden space.
Bloom has always been popular with children, and this year will be no exception! ‘Budding Bloomers’, as the children’s area is called, will host a vibrant mixture of family friendly features to keep children entertained and active, from toddlers to fifth classers. We want children to play, learn and grow at Bloom. There is no entry charge for children under 16 years of age.
Home to even more gastronomic delights and palette pleasers, the Food Village at Bloom will offer a wide range of artisan produce on sale and onsite dining options. Guests can also dine at Bistro Bloom restaurant, café and seafood bar, or visit the all new Country Crest Food Fayre, a 370-seater restaurant. Visitors can also try a wide range of tasty handcrafted Irish beers and spirits in the Bloom Inn.

For those in need of foodie inspiration, the Quality Kitchen stage is a must, with a number of cookery demonstrations taking place throughout each day with Ireland’s top chefs, including Neven MaguireCatherine FulvioRory O’ConnellThe Lazy Chef Simon Lamont, David and Stephen Flynn (The Happy Pearand Fiona Uyema, to name but a few.  They will be demonstrating their culinary genius and showcasing exciting new recipes made from Bord Bia Quality Assured products and the best of local ingredients. Well-known TV personality Ella McSweeney will act as MC and will also introduce Bloom visitors to some of Ireland’s top food producers live on stage. There will also be daily competitions in the Quality Kitchen, with visitors encouraged to drop by from 10.30am each day for the first demonstration to be in with a chance to win daily prizes.
For more information and tickets, visit www.bloominthepark.com –kids go free!
Follow Bloom on www.facebook.com/bloominthepark or join the conversation on Twitter @Bloominthepark @bordbia and #bloom

Giving Voice – Mary Robinson Exhibition

Mary Robinson's Home

Mary Robinson was the first female president of Ireland and was born in Ballina, Co. Mayo. Plans are underway to open the Mary Robinson Centre at her childhood home, Victoria House, Emmet Street, Ballina.

Giving Voice Exhibition

At the moment there is an exhibition at the Ballina Library: ‘Giving Voice’  runs until the end of October, 2015 and gives a glimpse into the Mary Robinson archives.

Mary Robinson U2 ticket

You can read more about the exhibition here.

Giving Voice Exhibition

A quiet weekend

Rainbow over Lough Gill

It’s been a very rare quiet weekend for me this weekend. I have a list of adventures I have to complete but with the weather being more like November than May and the fact I’m as sick as a small hospital these have been put on hold for the time being.

I’m never usually ill but since Tuesday I’ve felt pretty rough, I thought I was getting over it but my throat is burning today and I’m sounding like a budget version of Bonnie Tyler. I put it down to the fact I have been soaked to the skin so many times over the last few weeks and I reckon it’s given me a chill.

The weekend has been spent with me sitting in front of the telly watching the result of the referendum – I’m just imagining how fabulous some of the weddings will be from now on! I also watched ‘Stalking Laura’ – an old movie – who knew John Boy Walton could be so scary! Then the Eurovision Song Contest – which felt like it went on for two weeks! I’m delighted Sweden won though, I really like the song and the special effects were fantastic. I liked the Serbia song too. Poor old Ireland didn’t get into the final at all – we should have entered Jedward again ;) As for the UK…I’d better not say anything!


Magical Mystery Tour of Leitrim

Nuala at Ladies Rest

Recently I went off to explore Leitrim with the lovely Nuala from Tawnylust Lodge as part of my Wild Atlantic Wayfarer project. It really is a great idea to have a local guide with you if you aren’t sure what to see or where to go. Nuala was very knowledgable about the area and took me to see some places I’d never heard of before and certainly wouldn’t have found without her.

Lough MacNean

I saw some really beautiful places on our journey around Leitrim. The two photos above were taken at the Glenfarne Demesne which is situated on the shores of Lough MacNean. The lake marks the border of Leitrim, Cavan and Fermanagh. It’s a really beautiful area with lovely forest walks and a sculpture trail. The Demesne used to be owned by the Tottenhams who had a house there, although now only ruins remain and the forest belongs to Coillte.


“Reflectress” is one of the sculptures, it’s by Anna Macleod and is sited at Ladies Rest, where the ladies of Tottenham Hall used come to swim and relax. The sculpture represents the hooped skirts of the period and the glass panels echo the colour of the water.

The Ballroom of Romance

After our visit to the forest and lake we went to The Rainbow Ballroom – The Ballroom of Romance. The Ballroom first opened it’s doors in 1934 and over the years many dances were held there and various show bands and bands played there including The Dubliners. It’s recently been refurbished and looks lovely.

Fowley Falls

Another stop on my tour of Leitrim was Fowley Falls. I did get there before (and got drenched). It really is stunning place and one that not many people know about. Nuala was telling me that she does guided walks of Leitrim plus she is involved in ‘Big Days Out in Leitrim’ – which I think is a great idea.

Ballagh Centre Windows

We also stopped off at the Ballagh Centre, which is a thriving community centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim. It’s an old restored Church of Ireland chapel and it has the most beautiful stained glass windows that I’ve ever seen. The windows were created by Sharon and Maureen Byrne.

Lisdarush Iron Age Fort

Next stop was Lisdarush Ring Fort which is an Iron Age Fort – I would never have found this without Nuala. It is signposted from the main road but when you get to the lane it’s located on there isn’t a mention of it. The views from it are beautiful.

Kiltyclogher Holiday Centre

We also visited Kiltyclogher, which is a place I’ve never been to before. There is a holiday centre there so if you are looking for a clean, reasonably priced place to stay in lovely Leitrim this might be for you.

Seán Mac Diarmada

Seán Mac Diarmada was born in Kiltyclogher, he was an Irish political activist and revolutionary leader. He was one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. He was executed in Kilmainham in 1916. He statue is in the centre of the village.

Sean MacDiarmada Home

Sean Mac Diarmada’s homestead is just outside Kiltyclogher village and is open to the public by appointment.

View from Tawnylust Lodge

After my tour of Leitrim we headed back to Tawnylust Lodge for a quick cuppa. The lodge is in a beautiful location with stunning views, it’s a really peaceful place. My sincere thanks to Nuala for being such a great guide and very generous with her time.