Glasnevin Cemetery

This week we had a day trip to Dublin. Lucy and Jono wanted to look around the shops and as I’m not a shopper it was the perfect opportunity for me to go off exploring. The Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum has been on my ‘to do’ list for years so it was great to finally get there.

Walking in the rain

I went briefly to the Botantic Gardens first but the weather was so bad I gave up trying to look around. The gardens are right beside the cemetery and there is a walkway between the two which is dead handy (pun intended). Both are free to visit but if you want the guided tour of the cemetery there is a charge. You’d make a grave mistake if you didn’t take the guided tour because it’s just brilliant.

Graves

I’m always quite dubious of guided tours as I have a short attention span and while I like to know a bit about the place I’m visiting I don’t want to feel like I’m back at school and that there will be a written exam at the end of it all. I’m happy to say that the cemetery tour was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about a few of the 1.5 million people buried in Glasnevin. There are more people there than there are living in Dublin at the moment!

Daniel O'Connell's Crypt

Dara was our tour guide, he was both informative and witty. We started our tour in the crypt of Daniel O’Connell, who established the cemetery in 1828. He has a huge crypt which we got to stay in while we heard all about the man. It was a welcome shelter from the downpour. As I didn’t go to school in Ireland my Irish history is almost non-existent and while it would be hard not to have heard anything about Daniel O’Connell (after all there is a street named after him in every town!) I didn’t know much about him. He did so much for Ireland and changed the history of the country and it was fascinating hearing just part of it. Daniel died on his way to Italy and we were told his dying wish was “my body to Ireland, My heart to Rome, My soul to God.” 

His friends took him literally and cut his heart out placed it in a silver box and took it to Rome where it was placed in the wall of a church and concreted over. Years later the church was moved and when they went to take Daniel’s heart from the wall it had gone, probably stolen for the silver box, so his heart is somewhere in the world. Daniel is resting alongside some of his family members and you can see their coffins in the crypt.

Passage way to the tower

Leading off from the crypt down a short passage way is the round tower. It’s the first thing that you will see before you even arrive at the cemetery and is a very imposing structure. The winding wooden staircase that once ran up the centre of the 168ft-high tower was bombed by loyalists in 1971. There are plans to build a new staircase, which was meant to have been done this year but there’s no sign of it starting yet.

Looking up inside the Round Tower

Blimey this is a long blog post! Anyway after spending some time with Daniel O’Connell we headed back out into the torrential rain and got to see some of the other graves. I’m not going to tell you all about them because you’ll really have to go on a tour yourself, so I’ll just tell you about a few more highlights.

Parnell

There was an interesting story about Charles Stewart Parnell, although he was no longer in government when he died because of his affair with Kitty O’Shea, his funeral was one of the largest ever. It took them 8 hours to get his coffin the 2 and a half miles from the city centre to the cemetery because he was so well thought of by the people of Ireland. Maud Gonne was a journalist covering the story of his funeral and she recorded a flash of light at the very moment the coffin was lowered into the ground. It was later verified that this was a comet!

Speech re-enactment

At the grave of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa we got to hear the now famous speech delivered by Padraig Pearse: “The Fools, the Fools, the Fools! – they have left us our Fenian dead – And while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”  This oration roused Irish republican feeling and was a significant element in the lead-up to the Easter Rising of 1916. This was re-enacted by an actor dressed as Pearse in full uniform and takes place at 2.30pm daily until mid-September.

Michael Collins

The final grave I will tell you about is Michael Collins. I could tell you all about him but this would turn into a book instead of a blog post so you can read more here. His was the only grave we saw that was covered in flowers, not only do members of the public bring flowers to his grave but we were told about a French lady who regularly sends flowers. Apparently she saw the film Michael Collins and fancied Liam Neeson who played him! She looked up Michael Collins himself and fancied him too so the flowers continue to be sent!

Cemetery tour

I have to say that despite battling with a dying umbrella and getting drenched the Glasnevin Museum was one of the most interesting places I’ve visited in Dublin. The tour was around an hour and a half and so interesting, even if like me, you aren’t well up on Irish history. Dara the tour guide bought these characters to life and in a way it was like stepping back in time. I would love to go back again on a dry day as I was very limited to the photos I got to take. You can find out more about Glasnevin Museum here.

Walkway

Five Glens Arts Festival

Manorhamilton Castle

Yesterday I went along to Manorhamilton for the Five Glens Art Festival. It was a varied programme of events with something to do for all ages. I thought the Vintage Afternoon Tea sounded delightful so I went along to check it out.

Afternoon Tea

It was set in the Castle Cafe which is in the grounds of Manorhamilton Castle and enjoyed my afternoon tea listening to the vintage songs and taking in the atmosphere. Thanks to JoAnne for being so welcoming.

Teapots

I also had a look around the art exhibition in the Castle Cottage. There was also poetry and music taking place there but it is a very small cottage so there wasn’t room for everyone to get inside. As it was a lovely day (for a change) I’d have loved to see the music set in the castle itself, it would have been a wonderful setting, but the castle seems to be only open by appointment and wasn’t open yesterday.

Flea Circus

I loved the flea circus that was also on yesterday. What a brilliant idea and so funny and entertaining for children of all ages! This would be perfect for a party. You can check find him here.

A flea

After watching the fascinating fleas I watched the Glamourhamilton Hoop Group, what a great name, they make hula hooping look very easy and so did the people who joined in. I was tempted to try it but I didn’t want to show myself up as I’m lacking in the coordination department!

Glamourhamilton Hoop Group

Onwards I went to see the Loveliest Tree competition and another art exhibition just behind the Leitrim Sculpture Centre. This was a diverse and interesting exhibition and I enjoyed looking at it.

Five Glens

Thank you to the lovely lady who hopped on the swing in the exhibition for me :)

The Five Glens Art Festival continues today, you can find out what’s on here and the rest of my photos here.

Summertime Sadness

Sunset

A bit of a misleading blog post title as I’m still waiting for summer and I’m not really sad but it’s feeling like the end of an era.

The Sligo Summer Festival is over, the Fleadh Cheoil is over and all the adventures leading up to my Wild Atlantic Wayfarer exhibition are over so I’m feeling a bit redundant at the moment and not quite sure what’s around the corner, if anything. Oh dear this sounds like I’m complaining but I’m not, just feeling a wee bit at a loose end. Although I’m very much looking forward to popping along to the Five Glens festival tomorrow and having Afternoon Tea at Manorhamilton castle :) There’s a lot going on over the weekend and you can find out more about the festival here.

 

Faces of the Fleadh

This year I was volunteering for the Fleadh Cheoil but as always the camera comes with me. I didn’t want to take the same old shots as I did last year, although I did take some which you can see here.

I was talking to the lovely and very talented photographer Ciara Drennan before the Fleadh started and she came up with a ‘Faces of the Fleadh’ idea which I thought was great. I talked to some people I met during the week-long event and asked them their thoughts about the Fleadh. I didn’t get to talk to as many people as I’d have like to, I’m really quite shy when I’m out of my comfort zone and I don’t usually take people pics so I had to push myself a bit. You can see the whole album here and I’ll post some on this blog.

John Creedon

“I’m a regular visitor to Sligo and to the showgrounds and I love the place. The architecture is wonderful especially the Ulster Bank and City Hall. I also love the old shop fronts like Mullaney Brothers and Hargadons. I’m amazed at the wealth of talented musicians in the Sligo including The Wranglers and Old Hannah, Steve Wickham and No Crows and the amazing Moxie. In my opinion Sligo has been the best venue for the Fleadh.”

John Creedon, broadcaster and presenter

Lucy Robus

“I’m happy to be taking part this year and lending a hand. The great nightlife doesn’t hurt either!”

Lucy Robus – volunteer (and my daughter)

Mick Healy

“I haven’t missed a Fleadh since 1963. I even went to Boston for one. I’m here to play music, I play the melodeon and harmonica.”

Mick Healy, Roscommon.

Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain

“I’m here interviewing people for a TV programme. It’s great fun and lovely to meet everyone.”

Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, TV presenter

Ryan Sheridan

“I grew up playing the fiddle at various Fleadhs around the country. I’m happy to be playing in Sligo this year for Fleadh TV.”

Ryan Sheridan, musician

 

Record Crowds At Comhaltas All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil In Sligo

Crowds

It was an exciting and successful weekend of competitions, concerts, céilithe and sessions as the Comhaltas 64th Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann was celebrated by an estimated 400,000 throughout Sligo. The biggest event to have ever been hosted in Sligo, organisers estimate that attendance was up 30% on the previous year. Sligo seemed to pulse with Irish rhythm and revelry as age-old traditions were celebrated by fresh generations.

The Fleadh Cheoil featured a week-long festival of fun with over 250 events and in excess of 8,000 competitors taking part in the All Ireland Fleadh competitions. Sligo spared no effort ensuring an entertaining event-packed programme that brought the world’s premier festival of Irish traditional music to a whole new level that will long be remembered by all who witnessed it. Each year, the Fleadh provides a cultural meeting place for those who carry the great traditions of Irish music, song and dance in their hearts.

At the core of the Fleadh are the competitions that see traditional musicians, dancers and singers of all ages and backgrounds competing at All Ireland level, following victories at regional competitions. The standards were high and the music more than lived up to the expectations of judges who had a very difficult job choosing winners for each category and competition.

All of the Fleadh Cheoil results were live-tweeted and shared instantaneously through social media channels, making the contagious excitement of the competitions accessible both around Ireland and further afield. Over 200 accredited journalists attended the Fleadh to witness the revelry first hand, with some travelling from the UK, France, Germany and America, opening up the festivities to new audiences around the World.

President of Comhaltas Ceoltόiri Éireann, Ann Finnegan said, “This year’s competitors have taken the standard of Irish traditional music to a new level. It was delightful to see so many young people at the festival this year proving that the passion for traditional culture, song, dance and Irish language is as strong as ever.”

Bartley Gavin

Chair of Fleadh Cheoil 2015, Bartley Gavin said of the event, “It’s been another incredible week of music in Sligo. We thought that last year couldn’t be beaten, but in terms of community involvement, positive interaction with visitors, and huge numbers on the streets, it’s surpassed all our expectations.”

Ard Stiurthóir of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Labhrás Ó Murchú said of the event, “Fleadh 2015 will rank as one of the great Fleadhanna of all time. It was a wonderful celebration of Irish culture involving people of all ages, from all parts of Ireland and many parts of the World. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the organising committee who worked tirelessly to ensure a successful Fleadh”.

Volunteers

 

Head of Volunteering at Fleadh Cheoil 2015, Anne Gorby said, “We put out a call for additional volunteers in 2015, and people really did deliver.  We had an incredible 2,000 volunteers this year, these people were everywhere, helping out in every way possible – they were outstanding. Sligo people really embraced the Fleadh this year and we look forward to seeing many of this year’s visitor’s return to Sligo again in the future.”

The week leading up to the Fleadh included Scoil Éigse, which comprised of a week of workshops and classes of Irish traditional music, song and dance.

The Fleadh Cheoil brought to a close an incredible summer which saw Sligo take centre stage with a number of great events including; the visit of Prince Charles, the Yeats 150 celebrations and the recovery of the Spanish Armada cannon at Streedagh.

Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann 2016 will be hosted by the town of Ennis in Co. Clare, taking place from 14th – 21st August next year.

 

For all the results and further details on the Fleadh and competitions, visit www.fleadhcheoil.ie

Proud to be part of the purple army

Volunteers

This year I’ve been a volunteer at the Fleadh Cheoil, it’s the second year that we’ve had the Fleadh in Sligo and I was so impressed by all the volunteers last year that I decided to join them. I’ve been a street ambassador which involves greeting people and helping them. Mostly it’s been giving directions, telling them where various shops are or where the nearest place to hear music is. It’s been wonderful to do this as I’m so proud of our beautiful part of the world and it’s great to be able to share local knowledge with all the visitors.

I knew I’d like being an ambassador but as I love meeting new people but what really surprised me is how much I’ve got out of it. There are volunteers of all ages and all walks of life taking part. We are part of a team and everyone in a purple shirt has a word of encouragement or a cheery hello for the others. The team leaders are on hand first thing in the morning when I’ve signed in with a warm welcome and a friendly smile. It’s also a wonderful way to be part of a magnificent event and to see all the community pulling together.

If you want to play your part in the Fleadh there is still time as Sligo is getting ready for the busiest weekend of the year. Even if you can only spare a couple of hours between 12 noon and midnight on Saturday or Sunday call or text this number: 086 0231252 or call into the Fleadh volunteer centre which is in the Presbyterian Hall.