Ballina Fringe Festival – A Brand New Festival of Words, Art & Music for North Mayo

It’s “thumbs-up’ from Ballina Arts Centre Manager Sean Walsh as Ballina and its renowned Salmon Festival add yet another dimension to its outstanding community festival programme with an impressive artistic Fringe Festival to be held in junction with the town’s festival week. Attending the launch of the Ballina Fringe Festival – with all its outstanding artistic events – were main sponsors Pearse Farrell and Bernie Keogh of The Ice House Hotel Ballina, pictured with Mayo North’s Anne Marie Flynn, Ballina Municipal District’s Leas Cathaoirleach Cllr. Michael Smyth and tourism & marketing consultant Susan Heffernan. Picture Henry Wills.

Summer is here and it’s festival season again.  And the good news this year is that Ballina has a brand new festival coming to town!  Ballina Fringe Festival is a fledgling week-long arts festival has been curated to run from 6-15 July alongside Ballina’s flagship Salmon Festival, now in its 54th year.

Ballina and North Mayo have a proud heritage in the arts, and our rugged wild Atlantic landscape has inspired countless artists through the years.  Ballina Fringe Festival will channel this creativity and hopes to bring high-quality arts content in Ballina and North Mayo in an ambitious, sustainable way over the coming years, attracting locals, national and international tourists to North Mayo, making Ballina Fringe Festival an unmissable event on the festival calendar.

The inaugural Ballina Fringe Festival has a focus on how North Mayo, its landscape and heritage have set foundations for ambitious and creative arts in many media.  The flagship event of the festival, Crossing the Firebreak: An Exhibition by Donald Teskey is a rare Mayo exhibition of Teskey’s 40-year artistic career, much of which has been inspired by his residencies at Ballinglen Arts Foundations and along the Wild Atlantic Way.  This exhibition, in association with the Oliver Sears Gallery runs 6-27 July at Ballina Civic Offices.

Also in the mix is a diverse and engaging programme of evening entertainment, blending a very special evening of live music by Paddy Casey (12 July) and an eclectic variety performance based on his newest novel Heartland by the always entertaining Patrick McCabe (13 July).  Poets Vona Groarke, Tom French and Eamonn Grennan from the Gallery Press stable will bring their award-winning work to Ballina Arts Centre on 10 Jul.  The inimitable Paddy Cullivan will shine a light on events of 1798 in his show The 10 Dark Secrets of 1798 – we always knew of the extraordinary tale of General Humbert and French Mayo, but what other secrets of that revolutionary year has history been hiding?

Full festival details are available on and Facebook, with tickets on sale now.


A Dawn Paddle in South Sligo

Today I was up and about with the dawn chorus at 4am. I love exploring and when I heard that Wild Wet Adventures were doing a dawn kayak at Temple House Lake in South Sligo I booked my place.

The rain was gently falling when I arrived but this is Ireland so you expect rain at some stage. The best thing is that the weather can change in a few minutes and put a whole new perspective on things.

It was an amazing morning, just us and the swans on the lake, the sheep watching us from their neighbouring fields, fish jumping and the sounds of bird song and the gentle lapping of the water. If ever you want some time to just relax this is the perfect way to do it.

Heading into the blue, alone in my thoughts, just enjoying the moment. What a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning – or in fact any morning.

Under Temple House bridge which I have driven over hundreds of times but seeing it from a completely new angle. John from Wild Wet Adventures told us some of the history of the place and pointed out places of interest along the way.

When we arrived back at base I was surprised to see a gorgeous breakfast laid out for us including croissants, fruit, biscuits and tea and coffee.

Thanks so much to Celine for such a lovely, unexpected touch.

Wild Wet Adventures have a Summer Solstice kayak planned for Thursday, June 21st. You’ll be finished in time for work and I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a morning.

The Hobby Workshop – Sligo Leader

Yesterday I went to a Hobby Workshop hosted by Sligo Leader. It was a very informative couple of hours. We heard from people involved in different hobbies and how it enhances their lives, we also heard how certain hobbies can help with finding a job. What stayed with me though was the personal stories.

Before the event I got chatting to a lovely lady who I would have known briefly. She told me she quit the day job and is now running courses exploring hobbies – there is a lot more to it than that. This got me very excited because it’s only recently I’ve discovered art and this lady was telling me we are never to old to try something new. That’s exactly right. I’ve signed up for her course 🙂

Two other speakers told similar stories. Both quit their day jobs and turned their hobbies into a business. One man was in IT and got burnt out. He said from a financial point of view he was doing really well but not from a mental health point of view. So he quit, retrained and now combines his love of music, history and tourism into running tours for visitors.

A lady told us how she trained in social care and spent years working in that sector but in her spare time she was always in the garden. She had people telling her she should set up a gardening business.

“When one person tells you something you don’t really pay any heed but when all your friends tell you there must be something in it. I did what I call the Rocking Chair, I imagine myself as an 80 year old and look back on my life thinking of the things I’d regret if I didn’t try things. So I quit the health service and set up my own gardening business. I’ve never looked back.”

Listening to these people reinforced my theory that when you are working at something you love it’s never a chore. This is why I started Sligo Hub. For many years my passion has been promoting Sligo. One day Kate from not only listened to me but she teamed up with me. To have the support of one other person makes a tremendous difference and even though Sligo Hub is very new to have the support of sponsors who also believe in me makes it all worth while.

One day I hope that Sligo Hub will provide a wage so that at least I can buy petrol and carry on exploring the county I love so much and telling the world about it. One day I hope I will be the person standing up in front of a room telling them my story. For now it’s just a dream but one day it might be a reality.

Blooming fail

I’ve been trying to win tickets for Bloom and I’m failing. I know I could buy a ticket but when I factor in travel costs and lunch etc it works out to be an expensive day so at the moment I’m not going. It’s a great day out so if you are near Dublin it’s well worth a visit.

I love looking at the gardens, there are such talented people involved. I also love the food section that features some of the best food producers in Ireland.

There’s also things for the little folks to do and kids go free – I wonder if I can pass for a child? 😉 If you are interested in crafts  you can meet some of the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland members plus there’s music and more.

If you want to find out more about Bloom the website is here.