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July 14th – 21st 2017 Bantry, West Cork.

Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Mike McCormack, Sara Baume and Alissa Nutting are just some of the guests announced for the renowned West Cork Literary Festival, which runs in venues all over Bantry, West Cork, from July 14th to 21st. Poetry is again well represented with the new Ireland Chair of Poetry 2016-2019, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paula Meehan, former Ireland Chair of Poetry (2013-2016), and former editor of Poetry Ireland Vona Groarke.


Dame Marina Warner will read from her short stories inspired by fairy tales, legends and mythology. Cork author Billy O’Callaghan, recently a Costa Short Story runner-up for The Boatman, will read from his first novel The Dead House, due to be published later this year and Dermot Bolger will read from his latest novel The Lonely Sea and Sky. Visiting from the UK, Ian McGuire and Jon McGregor, both long listed for the Booker Prize, will join us for the festival; as will Sarah Perry, whose novel The Essex Serpent is the Waterstones Book of the Year 2016. Brendan Barrington, editor at Penguin Ireland, and of the Dublin Review, will be attending the festival as Editor in Residence.


Since the Festival’s inception in the late 1990s workshops have been at its heart, encouraging both novice and experienced writers. Alissa Nutting, Dean Bakopoulos, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Vona Groarke, Lara Marlowe, Dave Lordan, John Spillane, and Phoebe Smith are amongst those facilitating workshops. From Writing a Novel to Investigative Reporting Techniques, Playwriting to Poetry, there is a workshop to suit every aspiring, or established writer, looking to spend time in beautiful Bantry honing their craft.


2017 will see a plethora of new novels being published: Carol Drinkwater returns to Bantry this year to read from The Lost Girl and Lisa McInerney will read from The Blood Miracles.


The Children’s Festival remains as popular as ever with events this year featuring Jan Carson, PJ Lynch, Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature, The Book Clinic, and many more special events.



The West Cork Literary Festival runs from July 14th to 21st and is generously supported by The Arts Council, Cork County Library and Arts Service and Fáilte Ireland. Booking on, Telephone: 027 52788/9 LoCall: 1850 788 789.

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One of the most beautiful trails to walk in the country is the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail; this 61km trail extends from the village of Balla in central Mayo to the beautiful village of Murrisk which is nestled at the foot of Croagh Patrick. The trail which is an accredited National Way Marked Way passes through deciduous woodland and across rolling fields and raised bog.

On the weekend of March 10th, 11th and 12th we at the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail are having our annual walking festival, this year we are in conjunction with Mayo Roscommon Hospice who will receive all proceeds, cost is €20 for 1 day and €50 for all 3.


Walkers can register online at

Route & Distance

Friday 10th March – Balla to Ballintubber (20 km).
Registration 9.00am in Balla Community Centre.
Meeting point is the car park in front of Corley’s Pub, Ballintubber at 8.30 am sharp
(everyone will be transported to the starting point in Balla).

Saturday 11th March – Ballintubber to Aughagower (21km).
Registration 9.00am in Corley’s Pub Ballintubber
Meeting point is Aughagower Village at 8.30 am, parking at church.
(everyone will be transported to Ballintubber by bus)

Sunday 12th March Aughagower to Murrisk (21km).
Registration 9.00am Aughagower Community Centre Tea/Coffee.
Meeting Point Murrisk, Campbells Pub. 8.30am sharp, transport to Aughagower.


 For further information contact the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail office at 094 9030687 or email there are also details on our website


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By Kevin Jenkinson

THE ANCIENT Rathcroghan site in Roscommon is on course to becoming a major international attraction with renewed plans to add it to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The old capital of Connacht, where kings and queens were inaugurated, was one of six ancient royal sites represented at a meeting with government officials on January 18 in Dublin – aimed at getting them onto the prestigious list after a seven year delay.

The Rathcroghan complex in Tulsk – the largely unexcavated “Tara of the West” rich with ancient tombs and other monuments – is part of a “serial nomination” for The Royal Sites of Ireland.

rathcroganArchaeologist Daniel Curley, 28, who was one of the people at the meeting representing Rathcroghan, where he manages its popular visitor centre and tours, said they last met in 2015 and that progress was finally made, seven years since the group application was made in 2010.

He said: “This is a viable way of engendering a pride in our county and our past, which would also have untold social value.

“The often-cited example of the change in employment numbers at Brú na Bóinne before and after UNESCO World Heritage status highlights how beneficial a deliberate focus on heritage and cultural tourism can have on rural areas.

“The research benefits that this would bring to Rathcroghan alone would aid us in further developing our understanding of this royal site and its place in Ireland’s illustrious past”.

He said the meeting was with officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht and that they agreed to meet again on Tuesday, April 11 at the Hill of Uisneach, Co. Westmeath. 

He said they are sending a “technical evaluation” to international peers to review and there will also be a public consultation process so that the opinions of the affected local communities can be heard.

The five sites in the nomination made by the Irish government are Rathcroghan; The Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary; Dún Ailinne, Co. Kildare; the Hill of Uisneach, and Tara in Co. Meath.

Britain’s Department for Culture Media and Sport applied for the Navan Fort site in Co. Armagh and were also represented at the meeting of the ‘Royal Sites Steering Group’ in the department’s Dublin city offices.

A spokesperson from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht said the purpose of the recent meeting was “to review and advance progress on an application to UNESCO to have Ireland’s Royal Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List”.

Mr Curley had sought a detailed plan with positive measures that would ensure that communities and landowners are key stakeholders.

He added: “There are many benefits that UNESCO World Heritage Status could bring to all areas affected, including tourism and employment.

“Leadership is needed to see this through”.

There are currently just two Irish sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Brú na Bóinne since 1993, which includes the Newgrange passage tomb, and the island of Skellig Michael off the Co. Kerry coast since 1996.

Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, Giant’s Causeway in Co.Antrim, was added to the list in 1986.

Countries that have more historic sites on the UNESCO list than Ireland include Britain (30), the USA (23), Netherlands (10), Denmark (8), Finland (7), Germany (41), Spain (45), Israel (9), Lebanon (5) Iran (21), Iraq (5) Panama (5) and Malta (3).

The Royal Sites of Ireland make up one serial nomination on UNESCO’s “tentative”or provisional list, which includes six other applications for Ireland.

The other Irish nominations are The Burren in Co. Clare; The Céide Fields and North West Mayo Boglands; The Western Stone Forts (Dún Aonghusa, Cahercommaun, Caherconree, Benagh and Staigue); the monastic city of Clonmacnoise and it’s cultural landscape in counties Offaly, Roscommon and Westmeath; Early Monastic sites (Clonmacnoise, Durrow, Glendalough, Inis Cealtra, Kells and Monasterboice); the Historic City of Dublin.

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Celtic spring

St. Brigid’s Day on February 1st was one of the most important days of the year for our ancestors as it marked the beginning of Celtic spring and a season of new hope and growth. This spring, the Museum of Country Life is encouraging people to learn more about the ways in which this feast day was celebrated in times gone by. From festive meals of potatoes and butter to straw crosses, Biddy Boys and Brídeógs, there are many fascinating St. Brigid’s Day traditions to explore. Visit the galleries at the Museum of Country Life to view objects, photographs and archival footage related to the customs of this day in the lives of our ancestors.


Biddy Boys workshop

The Museum of Country Life is hosting a free workshop on Sunday, January 29, from 2.30 to 4.30pm, to share the traditional straw crafts associated with St. Brigid. Expert straw craftsman Pat Broderick, of Iniscross Crafts, Limerick, will give a demonstration on the much-loved tradition of making St. Brigid’s Crosses as well as the skills involved in making a Biddy Boys straw hat.

The Biddy Boys traditionally called from home to home on the feast day of St. Brigid each February 1. They dressed in tall straw hats and carried an effigy of St. Brigid, seeking money and food to throw a party in her honour. The workshop is suitable for adults and children, aged seven plus. No booking required. Learn more at


Crafty afternoon

The talented Connacht Textile Crafters return to the Museum of Country Life to share their many skills and varied crafts at a special ‘show and tell’ event on Saturday, January 28, from 11.30am to 3.30pm. Find out more about a range of contemporary and traditional textile crafts. No booking required for this free event. Suitable for all ages.


Viking silver

A temporary exhibition exploring our Viking past in the west of Ireland continues at the Museum of Country Life this January.

The Hoard and the Sword exhibition includes a display of rare Viking silver artefacts and lots of interesting information about Mayo’s Viking heritage. Artefacts include an impressive hoard of silver Viking armlets found in Kilmeena in 1939 and a Viking warrior sword dredged from the River Moy in 1963. The exhibition is suitable for adults and children. Admission to the galleries is free.


The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, and Sundays from 2 to 5pm. Closed Mondays. Admission free.


FURTHER INFORMATION: Frances Toner, Marketing Executive, National Museum of Ireland – Country Life. Telephone (094) 9031773 or email

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The organisers Lil Fitzpatrick  (0207-251-0870) and Denis Costelloe (08960-308886)  regret that the Annual Social due to be held on Sunday February 5th has had to be postponed this year, due to circumstances  beyond. There was a notice on this event on the Letters Page of the New Year Annual.

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dermot-oleary1One of Britain’s biggest stars, X Factor host Dermot O’Leary, is appealing for people to back the London Irish Centre’s special Christmas appeal for vulnerable members of the Irish community in the city.

O’Leary, whose full name is Sean Dermot Fintan Michael Gerard O’Leary, Jr. was born to Wexford-born parents Sean and Marie. He wears his Irish heritage with pride and is an avid supporter of the Wexford hurling team and Irish soccer team and more recently he has become the patron of the London Irish Centre.

‘It’s a big honour for me to be patron of the London Irish Centre. I’m very proud of my Irish heritage, my parents were part of the post war generation of immigrants who came to London to find a new life, so the London Irish community is one that is very close to my heart. We want and need the Irish community to support this important work for the Irish in most need.’

While there are no shortage of success stories of the Irish in London, there are also many who emigrated who find themselves lonely and vulnerable, especially during the Christmas period. Social isolation, mental health problems, addiction, family breakdown and homelessness are among the many issues faced by some emigrants, with older people being particularly vulnerable. 

For over 60 years the London Irish Centre, located in the heart of Camden, has offered a safe and warm sanctuary for many of these people. It provides a diverse range of community services, cultural programmes, advice services, and outreach activities. The centre also organises social activities and journeys to Ireland for long-term emigrants, some of whom haven’t been home in decades.

The London Irish Centre is appealing for much needed funds to continue this work while also reminding people to consider contacting any overseas relatives they may not have heard from in years.

Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for many emigrants and this issue hit the headlines in 2013 when 85 year old emigrant James Gray from Cork placed an ad in the Irish Post looking for companionship at Christmas. After his ad went viral online James was eventually inundated with invites from throughout the UK and Ireland.  (Reference: )

‘For most of us, Christmas means friends and family, presents and looking forward to a great New Year.  But, for many vulnerable Irish people in London, it means loneliness, a long hard winter and, and with ongoing welfare cuts, a grim time in 2017. This appeal helps us to provide support and advice services to those in most need.’   
Seán Kennedy, CEO London Irish Centre

The LIC is asking for donations through JustGiving online at or go to For those in Britain or Northern Ireland you can text Text LICC40 and the amount to 70070. E.g. Send ‘LICC40 £20’ to 70070.

As part of the seasonal campaign, there will a special Irish community gathering and Christmas carol session at the London Irish Centre on Dec 12th at 7pm. Expect carols, live music and community.

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Brand New Retro

Irish Pop Culture 1950-1980

An exhibition at the Little Museum of Dublin, October 6th 2016 – January 8 2017

It was the cult publishing sensation of 2015. And now it’s back… as an exhibition. The Little Museum is proud to present Brand New Retro, a colourful and candid celebration of pop culture in Ireland.

Featuring hundreds of images, articles and advertisements on subjects such like fashion, music, nightlife, lifestyle and youth culture, Brand New Retro shines a box of mobile disco lights on how Irish people lived and loved from the optimistic days of the late 1950s to the (slightly more bleak ones of) the 1980s. The exhibition is accompanied by a specially-commissioned essay by Pat McCabe, the iconic Irish novelist.

Culled from Brian’s McMahon’s ever-growing collection of vintage Irish magazines, and featuring household names like Johnny Logan, Gay Byrne and the Miami Showband, this brilliant new show reveals a traditional land wrestling with the inevitable attraction to modern life.

McMahon’s career started a hundred yards from the Little Museum in 1979, when his band, The Scheme, supported U2 in the Dandelion Market. Now the curator of award-winning website, McMahon brings the cream of his collection to this show, including many new discoveries. “I’m really excited,” he says, “about sharing the jewels of this archive with the people of Ireland.”

Little Museum curator Simon O’Connor says, “This incredible collection shows us a pre-internet Ireland, another world where men had unfeasibly thick heads of hair and people took pills to put on weight. It captures a nation trying to burst its way into the modern world, a society that is picking up the radio signals of American and British pop culture and transforming itself accordingly.”

Brand New Retro will be opened on October 5th by author Pat McCabe, and will run in the Ireland Funds Gallery at the Little Museum until January 8th 2017.

For photographs and interviews, please contact Simon O’Connor on 01 661 1000 or email

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Wife and mistress, Mrs. Laura Mary Cross (Stephanie Shine) and governess, Effie Skinner, (Geraldine Barry Murphy) who will perform along Patrick Bergin who plays the lead role of Dr Philip Cross in ‘Murder at Shandy Hall, the Musical’ in the Riverside Park, Macroom, Co Cork on October 13, 14, 15, 20, 22, 23 and in Cork's Opera House Thurs. 27th October. REPRO FREE - NO REPRODUCTION FEE

BIG screen legend Patrick Bergin is set to star in Ireland’s first musical murder mystery and an adaptation of a best-selling book written by Michael Sheridan.

‘Murder at Shandy Hall’ is the first major production to be hosted by The Briery Gap Theatre in Macroom, County Cork, since the building was damaged by fire in May. The musical opens in the company’s temporary home, The Riverside Park Hotel in the town, on Thursday, October 13 and continues over 6 nights. It also runs at Cork’s Opera House for one night only on Thursday, October 27.

Bergin is renowned for his roles in The Patriot Games, Sleeping with the Enemy and more and plays the role of Dr Philip Cross. Speaking as the cast gathered for one of their first rehearsals, he said. “This is a wonderful, mysterious story in a wonderful setting with wonderful people involved.”

The musical is set in Cork in June 1887 when, against the tranquil rural backdrop of the sleepy village of Dripsey near Coachford, a sensational Victorian murder is played out, with a potent mix of love, lust, betrayal and ultimately, naked hatred.

The entry of a young and beautiful governess into Shandy Hall, the home of retired British Army surgeon Dr Philip Cross, acts as a catalyst for an act of horror that prompts suspicion, an exhumation and a charged courtroom drama that grabs newspaper headlines all over the world.

The fall-out at Shandy Hall, Dripsey, sparked off a firestorm of gossip, scandal and international media coverage in the 1880s. Cross’s family history, abrasive personality and involvement in a sexual liaison with a much younger woman – not to mention the murder of his wife, the mother of his children – ensured public outcry and Victorian moral outrage.

The historical facts of the story give rise to wonder in the 21st century. The doctor’s naiveté, perhaps arrogance, in thinking he could get away with such a ham-fisted murder; the speed with which he was brought to court and convicted and his execution by hanging within a year of his crime are amazing to an audience who expect legal procedures to take years if not decades.

The cast of real characters includes a cruel killer cloaked in respectability; a beautiful and naive governess 40 years younger than Dr Cross; a blameless wife; a brilliant young pathologist; a canny and clever murder detective; two accomplished courtroom adversaries; a caring judge and a notorious hangman.  The supporting cast includes a myriad of servants, villagers, neighbours and witnesses in the investigation and trial, all underscored by great music and song.

Michael Sheridan’s ‘Murder at Shandy Hall’ has been cleverly adapted to the stage by the author, with music and lyrics by local singer- songwriter, Alan Kiely, and Cork native Kevin Connolly with the support and encouragement of the Briery Gap’s Artistic Director Anne Dunne and the board of the iconic arts centre.

The concept was developed by Alan Kiely with the intention that the musicians and cast would be drawn from the very locality in which the real life story was set and to bring to life a drama with universal themes which was embedded in the history of the area.

Author, screenwriter and award-winning theatre director Michael Sheridan said: “I am thrilled that this, Ireland’s first musical murder mystery, is going to be produced in and by the community in which the story is set.

“From the first time myself and Alan pitched the idea to Anne Dunne and the board of the Briery Gap we were convinced that Macroom was both the only and ideal location for the premiere of a very exciting project which will also involve the incredible cast from the surrounding area, including Coachford, Dripsey, the Briery Gap Players and a fantastic group of Cork musicians assembled by Alan.”

Artistic Director Anne Dunne said it has been a difficult few months for The Briery Gap but said the community has rallied together and she looks forward to a fantastic run. “This production promises to be one of the greatest theatrical events Macroom has ever staged. Performance will take place on October 13th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 22nd & 23rd at 8:00pm at Riverside Park Hotel Macroom, the temporary home for Briery Gap Theatre.

“It is brilliant for all concerned that we get to bring the show to Cork’s Opera House on Thursday, 27th October. This is a great boost to the local cast and it is fantastic to be hitting the big stage with a brand new musical.”

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A new play commemorating the Carlingford Lough tragedy which occurred on 3rd November 1916 is currently making headlines in a cross border presentation of the event. The play premiered in Greenore and has since been performed in Rostrevor and Warrenpoint to packed houses and future venues include Kilkeel, Omeath, Newry and culminating in an invitation to perform on board the ferry to Holyhead in September and a major presentation as part of the commemoration festivities planned for Holyhead itself on 17th and 18th September.

Only one survivor lived to tell the tale of the greatest disaster recorded on the East coast of Ireland when the mail boat SS Connemara was rammed amidships by the incoming collier The Retriever on the night of November 3rd 1916 with the loss of 97 souls. War time restrictions prevented the full passenger capacity of 800 thus reducing the comparison to the death toll of both The Titanic and The Lusitania. The play is preceded by a short film which was arranged by a descendant of one of the passengers who was lucky to cancel his trip at the last minute and complements the subsequent portrayal of passengers and crews of both ships in a memorial to all who perished on that dreadful night.

Further information from    

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Paul Howard (aka Ross O’Carroll Kelly), Liz Nugent, Mark Pollock, Vanessa Ronan, Noel Rock, TD, and Laureate na nÓg PJ Lynch will be among 50 readers raising funds for child and adult refugees in Calais on Thursday 18th August with a nine-hour continuous reading in the window of Grafton Street’s Dubray book shop.

Also scheduled to appear are Louise Kennedy , Rosita Sweetman, and Lauren Foley; playwright Gavin Kostick and Fair City scriptwriter Kevin McGee; young adult author Brian Conaghan ; poets Colm Keegan , Katie Donovan and Angela Carr; journalists Aoife Carrigy and Sam Tranum; actors Aisling O’Sullivan , Una Kavanagh and Eleanor Methven; and Dublin Youth Theatre. The Crocosmia writing [and gardening] collective in the Direct Provision system will also be taking part, along with a few great kids and some (extra) ordinary book loving Joes.

Fundraising is being carried out in association with the Irish Refugee Council , and will help child and adult refugees at the L’École Laïque du Chemin des Dunes in Calais . Collectors will be present on the day and donations can also be made at until 31st August.

Each reader will read a tenminute extract on the subject of travel: ancient odysseys, fantasies, seafaring epics, solo adventures, tales of displacement, of close escapes, of language barriers and cultural encounters, of strange and wonderful beasts and new beginnings in foreign lands.

Organiser Fiona McHardy , who teaches French at Mount Temple Comprehensive School, said, “I was meant to be teaching at the school this summer, but circumstances forced me to change my plans, so I’m organising this instead. I wanted to do something interesting, that didn’t generate waste and that would create awareness of the situation. We’re currently witnessing a heartbreaking refugee crisis, which has seen people of all ages displaced, at risk, without a home and without security. I know so many people want to help – and we’re so grateful that this fantastic group of readers has assembled to raise money through ‘Odyssey’. The theme of ‘travel’ chimed well with the event because it’s so rich and evocative and, in this fraught context, so tragically loaded.”

Maria Dickenson, MD at Dubray , said, “We are delighted to help raise funds for such an important project. Communication is key to survival for refugees, and that the money is being raised via the spoken word is very fitting. ‘Odyssey’ will prove to be a very powerful and moving event.”

TO DONATE: The fundraising is being carried out in association with the Irish Refugee Council. Collectors will be present on the day and donations can also be made at until 31st August.