CELTIC THUNDER'S MUCH AWAITED NEW SHOW 'LEGACY' IS HERE!

Celtic Thunder's new show Legacy, Volume 1 captured for DVD, Blu-ray, CD and vinyl will be released on Friday, February 26, 2016.

“Legacy” is an exciting new live show that celebrates the influence of Irish and Celtic music around the world and the imprint that such music has made. Lively, fast paced and upbeat songs “A Place in The Choir” “Galway Girl” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” represent the fun loving nature of the Irish while the slower classic ballads “ Black Velvet Band” “Noreen” and “Mountains of Mourne” play to their nostalgic and romantic side. Featuring all new recordings, the songs on “Legacy” are varied in style and run the gamut from classic Irish folk songs and ballads such as “Danny Boy” and “Buachaille On Eirne” to the more contemporary hits “Falling Slowly” and “Ride On” and rousing anthems “Caledonia” and “Ireland’s Call”.

Legacy finds Celtic Thunder soloists Colm Keegan, Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly, Emmett O’Hanlon and Neil Byrne reunited with guest artist Damian McGinty, an original member of Celtic Thunder who went on to win Fox’s "The Glee Project before landing a recurring role (as "Rory Flanagan") in the hit series "Glee!"

Legacy offers music lovers a wide variety of solo selections and fan favorites, all newly recorded to reflect the current cast on Legacy. The Celtic Thunder vocalists are backed by the eight-piece Celtic Thunder Band on strings, guitars, percussion, whistles, pipes and more, led by musical director is David Munro, who also plays keyboards in the show.

 

 

PRE-ORDER CELTIC THUNDER'S LEGACY VOLUME I

ON CD, DVD OR BLURAY &

WIN 2 VIP TICKETS TO A CELTIC THUNDER SHOW IN 2016!

Celtic Thunder releases their latest show Legacy Volume I on February 26th 2016 on CD, DVD, Blu-ray and you can pre-order your copy here!

EVEN BETTER! 

Every pre-order automatically qualifies you to enter to win a pair of tickets to a Celtic Thunder show in 2016. Choose the tour and the city that works for you! In 2016 we are touring the Legacy Show in 15 cities in Australia, and 75 cities in the USA and Canada. Pre-order your copy of Legacy Volume I here to enter to Win Tickets to a Celtic Thunder Show.

THE LUCKY WINNERS WILL ALSO RECEIVE  

2 passes to a VIP Artist Event, where you will meet some of the members of Celtic Thunder. 

The Celtic Thunder “Legacy” Australia Tour takes place in May 2016 while the North American Tour will run from August-December 2016, calling on 75 cities across 40 states in the US including NY, MA, PA, GA, NV, FL, TX CA and WA to name but a few, as well as multiple stops in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatoon, Manitoba and Ontario in Canada. For a full list of tour dates and more information on the Celtic Thunder 2016 Legacy Tour click here. 

 

BARNES & NOBLE EXCLUSIVE
CELTIC THUNDER RELEASE “LEGACY” ON VINYL

Celtic Thunder will release “Legacy” Volume I as a Vinyl LP. This is a new departure for CT and will make a perfect addition to any record collection! For this special edition we have partnered with Barnes and Noble and the Vinyl LP will be available EXCLUSIVELY at Barnes and Noble from February 26th 2016. Get it while stocks last!!

 

CELTIC THUNDER RETURNS TO AUSTRALIA

Celtic Thunder will return to Australian shores in May 2016 for an extensive 15 date national tour, visiting both capital city and regional markets across Australia, some of which they’ll be visiting for the first time. Their new and highly anticipated show, Legacy, vows to be even bigger and better than ever before.  

“Legacy” is an exciting new live show that celebrates the influence of Irish and Celtic music around the world and the imprint that such music has made. Lively, fast paced and upbeat songs “A Place in The Choir” “Galway Girl” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy” represent the fun loving nature of the Irish while the slower classic ballads “ Black Velvet Band” “Noreen” and “Mountains of Mourne” play to their nostalgic and romantic side. The songs featured in the show are varied in style and run the gamut from classic Irish folk songs and ballads such as “Danny Boy” and “Buachaille On Eirne” to the more contemporary hits “Falling Slowly” and “Ride On.”

“Legacy” is performed by Celtic Thunder, whose male soloists take the awesome power of world music and live performance is to the next level. Their blended vocal harmonies highlight the amazing talents of the vocalists as well as the powerful diversity of Celtic Thunder in the ensemble. Back by an amazing 8-piece band on strings, guitars, percussion, whistles, pipes and keyboards “Legacy” is a perfect blend of entertainment and tradition; offering eclectic mix of songs while introducing music from their homeland and traversing with ease the genres of folk, traditional Irish, adult contemporary, rock and classical crossover.

Tickets for the upcoming Legacy tour are on sale now, with Show Dates & Ticket Links available on the Celtic Thunder Official Website HERE .

 

CELTIC THUNDER’S LEGACY PREMIERS ON PUBLIC TELEVISION IN MARCH

Celtic Thunder’s new show Legacy will premiere on Public Television Stations across the US and Canada during the March 2016 Pledge Drive and stations will be offering viewers the opportunity to pledge for copies of Legacy Volumes I and II on CD and DVD. Legacy Volume II is not due for release until Fall 2016, however because of Celtic Thunder’s longstanding relationship and support of Public Television, we are making Legacy Volume II CD and DVD available EXCLUSIVELY to Public Television in time for the March pledge drive.

Many stations will also offer show tickets and Meet and Greet passes to the Fall 2016 tour. We will post information on airtimes as soon as we receive them from the stations. Celtic Thunder fans should also check their local Public Television March schedule. If you don’t see Legacy on the schedule, then maybe call your station and request that they air it!!

As part of the March pledge drive Ryan and Neil will be on the road in the US visiting stations for live pledge. Many of these stations will host Meet and Greet events on the night of the broadcast. Be sure to check your local listings!

The Legacy special for Public Television was filmed at Casino Rama in Ontario in March 2015 and is a definitive review of Celtic Thunder’s most popular songs to-date. Song selections in the Public TV Special include "Heartland," the group's big opening number, and crowd-pleasing favorites such as "Raggle Taggle Gypsy," "Galway Girl," and "A Place in the Choir" with rousing anthems "Caledonia" and "Ireland's Call."

 

CELEBRATE VALENTINE'S DAY THE IRISH WAY!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt”.
- Charles M. Schulz

With castles and legends, Old World hospitality and indulgent experiences, epic scenery and fairy trees, Ireland is a world of romantic mystique… and while it might not be possible to whisk your Valentine to Ireland this February you can always bring a little bit of Irish romance to your loved one.

We have an amazing collection of handmade chocolates from a top Irish chocolatier. Butler’s Irish Chocolates is 100% Irish owned company that sources the finest quality ingredients, locally produced as much as possible, to enable their chocolatiers to create the best tasting chocolates. Butlers Chocolates is equally committed to The Ethical Trading Initiative - sourcing only ethically traded ingredients of cocoa and coffee.

Established in 1932, Butler’s have long since been Ireland’s favorite luxury chocolatier and have been purveying chocolate happiness for over 80 years!

 

EATING AND DRINKING THE IRISH WAY

Ireland’s famous pastures make for a wide range of fabulous products, notably beef and lamb, while its rivers and seas provide an abundance of fresh fish and seafood. Local produce is a point of pride in the best kitchens everywhere, and a growing interest in specialist production is reflected in the availability of products like hand-smoked fish and meats, baked goods and preserves, plus a wide range of organic vegetables and fruit, many of which are sold at local Farmer’s Markets.

Varied rural landscapes, the natural friendliness of the people, the tradition of hospitality and the unique quality of the food experience make Ireland a wonderful place for a foodie holiday. The unique food experience in Ireland involves far more than just tasting regional specialties, such as air-dried hill lamb from Connemara, eels from Lough Neagh, or blaas (a floury bread roll) from Waterford.

You’ll want to visit specialist shops and food markets to meet with farmers, artisan food producers and farmhouse cheese makers—all of these highly skilled people have a passion for food that has been passed down through generations. And traveling through Ireland, you will quickly appreciate the healthy, verdant landscape as the source of these fine food ingredients.

Today, Ireland produces and exports grass-fed meat (beef, lamb, pork, wild boar and venison); dairy is also an important industry, with Irish milk, butter and creamery-produced cheese sold around the world. You only have to stand at the piers in Killybegs, County Donegal; Kilkeel, County Down; or Dunmore, County Waterford, and watch foreign buyers frantically trying to outbid each other for the day’s catch to understand the importance of Irish fish and seafood.

Bushmills and Jameson Irish whiskeys are also well-traveled; likewise, there are few who wouldn’t instantly recognize an Irish stout in the guise of Guinness, Beamish or Murphy’s, while Bulmer’s and Magners Irish ciders and liqueurs such as Bailey’s Irish Cream are as familiar worldwide as they are at home. The history of Irish whiskey can be traced on guided tours through any of the Irish whiskey visitor centers: The Irish Whiskey Corner in Dublin, Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim, and the Jameson Heritage Centre in Midleton, County Cork. In addition to these internationally recognized gems, small batch distilleries are opening up around the country such as the Dingle Distillery in Co. Kerry, which uses all local botanicals in it’s popular Dingle Gin. The distillery will release its first batch of Dingle Whiskey (barreled in 2012) later on this year.

 

RELIVE EPIC MOMENTS IN THE HOME OF THRONES

With the Season 5 DVD set for release in February and the much awaited Season 6 ready to air this April, Game Of Thrones® fever is running high not just around the world but back in its Northern Ireland homeland.

As all five seasons have been primarily filmed there, Northern Ireland looms large in every episode of the HBO smash-hit TV series.

The Game Of Thrones® production is centred at its Titanic Studios headquarters in Belfast, and some of the most spectacular indoor sets in the history of television have been constructed for the show in this studio space, which is now the largest in the world.

Known locally as the Paint Hall, it is situated in the former shipyard where the Titanic was built and sits next to the world’s biggest Titanic exhibition.

Outdoors, well-known and undiscovered locations around Northern Ireland’s Jurassic coastlines, crumbling castles, stately homes, mountains, forests and lush landscapes have also proven the perfect setting for the epic story and crucial to the runaway success of the series.

 

 

IRELAND FEELS 'THE FORCE'

An island off Ireland’s south west coast is wowing audiences at screenings of Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.

Unveiled in the film’s closing minutes, this closely guarded secret ending to Episode 7 was filmed in September 2014 on Skellig Michael Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 1977, the record-breaking movie franchise has travelled through many galaxies, and this time, director JJ Abrams along with cast and crew jetted into a little village called Portmagee, County Kerry, on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. From here, they travelled eight miles (12 Km) by sea to a dream film location, Skellig Michael.

Locals were told a documentary was being filmed but were amazed when they realised that Star Wars was being filmed in their community. Gerard Kennedy of ‘The Bridge Bar and Moorings Guesthouse’ in Portmagee, said “It’s been so hard to keep this secret! It was such a weird and wonderful experience for our small village to be part of the Star Wars story. We enjoyed evenings of music and dance in our bar with the cast and crew. Mark Hamill even learned how to pull a pint with our barman, Ciaran Kelly!”.

 

 

THE IRISH CONNECTION

Imagine, you’ve just walked onto a film set and you’re surrounded by Y-Wings, AT-ST Scoutwalkers, R2D2, Actors, Stormtroopers, and even the dark lord Darth Vader himself.

At Invasion Dublin, you don’t need to imagine, you’re already there.

Featuring life sized replica props and sets from the original and new Star Wars trilogies, and costumed characters so lifelike that David Prowse (Darth Vader) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) commented were even better than the original. The Emerald Garrison brings Star Wars to life in a way which amuses, informs, entertains and educates.

With guests including the iconic Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) Mike Edmonds (Logray) Invasion Dublin will host the European premiere of James Arnold Taylors, (the voice of Obi Wan Kenobi in The Clone Wars and literally hundreds of other voices throughout the film, cartoon and gaming world) one-man show ‘Talking to Myself’.

Keeping things local, Cork Native Will Sliney completes the line-up. Sliney was one of the animation team on the 3D release of The Phantom Menace as well as drawing some of the Star Wars comics. He’ll be doing daily workshops entitled ‘How to draw Star Wars’.

 

 

THE LOBSTER - THE MOVIE

The Lobster is an unconventional science-fiction love story set in a dystopian future where single people are against the law. According to the laws of The City, they are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in 45 days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

The movie was filmed in none other than the small town of Sneem, Co. Kerry. Ireland has become something of a filming magnet in recent years for both the big and small screens. Its rural landscapes, urban centres and movie studios mean that the island can cater for almost any kind of production. Even the most isolated areas are accessible and within a few hours’ drive from the nearest town.  Sneem is a town on the Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry, and is sometimes called “the knot.” It is part of the Ring of Kerry, a 179km loop starting and ending in Killarney and is also part of the Wild Atlantic Way – the longest coastal touring route in the world (a mere 2,500km that stretches along the coastline from Muff in Donegal all the way down to Old Head of Kinsale in West Cork.)

Ireland’s very own Colin Farrell stars in the movie alongside Rachel Weisz, John C Reilly, Ben Whishaw (Q in Bond movie Spectre) and Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour). Farrell has been quoted as saying: “Being Irish is very much a part of who I am. I take it everywhere with me.” Since his breakout in Tigerland in 2000, Farrell has starred in countless blockbusters (Minority Report, Miami Vice, Total Recall), award-winning dramas (Crazy Heart, Saving Mr. Banks) and Irish comedies (Intermission, In Bruges). He has an estimated net worth of $30 million, and his highest-earning roles include Alexander, Miami Vice ($10 million each) and S.W.A.T ($5 million).

 

 

'BROOKLYN' MOVIE WINS A SLEW OF AWARDS

Brooklyn is a coming-of-age tale, based on the cherished 2009 Colm Tóibín novel, traces Eilis Lacey, a 1950s Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) who sets sail for America, soon finding herself torn between the new life she's created and a loyalty to her homeland. While attending a dance, Eilis meets a sweet Italian boy (Emory Cohen) who gives her purpose outside of the department-store job she maintains and the boarding house where she resides. When she returns home after a family death, Eilis mourns how deeply her mother (Jane Brennan) longs for her -- a sentiment that's heightened by the presence of a charming new suitor (Domhnall Gleeson).

Both of the main stars in Brooklyn are Irish and Saoirse Ronan, who plays a young Irish immigrant in the movie, has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress, is widely tipped to get an Oscar on Jan 14th.

Saoirse [Seer-sha] Ronan was born in New York, but moved back to Ireland with her Irish parents at the age of three. Ronan felt compelled to work on Brooklyn because the story of a young woman leaving Ireland was so similar to her own. Raised in Carlow, she now lives in Howth, where she’s a steadfast fan of the famous Leo Burdock’s fish and chip shop. Her first name is Irish and means 'freedom'. In 2007, she became one of the youngest ever Oscar-nominated actors, receiving a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the age of 13 for her role in Atonement; she was nominated for a BAFTA and Golden Globe for the same film.

 

 

GALWAY GETS UNESCO CITY OF FILM STATUS

Galway on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way has been designated a UNESCO City of Film, one of only five cities in the world to achieve the much sought-after title.

It joins Sydney, Australia, and Galway’s twin city of Bradford in the UK as a City of Film, bringing the highest internationally recognised standard of excellence in the creative industries to the West coast of Ireland.

The title, announced in Paris by UNESCO director-general, Irina Bokova, is permanent and also includes membership of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

A total of 63 cities around the world were in the running for City of Film status during a competitive two-year campaign.

The designation gives Galway immediate access and links to a global platform of major metropolitan and cultural centres such as Sydney, Seoul, Shanghai, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Berlin and Edinburgh and boosts the city’s and county’s already impressive film and TV industry.

 

 

TRADITIONAL IRISH FOOD

Italy has pasta, Spain paella, America has burgers and France has escargot. So what about Ireland?

Aside from Irish stew (which has always been a hit), our island’s food hasn't exactly been famous throughout the world. Now, though, the island’s smartest eateries and best chefs are rediscovering Ireland’s culinary heritage, with respected artisan producers are turning out everything from award-winning black pudding (Kanturks) to acclaimed raw milk cheese (Durrus).

The result? Our produce is hitting the shelves in some of the world’s most salubrious delis and department stores (Fortnum & Mason in London; Dean & Deluca in New York), and a wave of Irish chefs are reawakening traditional recipes.

“In recent years there has been a renaissance on the Irish food scene,” famous Irish chef Darina Allen told the Irish Independent newspaper. “Irish chefs have become more adventurous and many have a greater appreciation of quality Irish produce, giving them the confidence to serve Irish food proudly.”

Foods that have been ignored for years are being revived and served up in hip cafés and restaurants all over the island, with regional specialties.

 

 

BLACK PUDDING IS THE NEWEST SUPERFOOD

The first week into 2016 and we’ve got a new food ‘trend’. A total misnomer because the food in question has been around for centuries!

Black pudding was hailed early this week as a superfood. The description of that title being a food that is superior to other foods in the diet, for its nutritional values.  Superfood status is given to this humble blood pudding because of its rich iron and protein content. It made headlines this week in newspapers here and across the water.

A traditional and long standing ingredient of the Full Irish breakfast now brought to the attention of the foodie fashionistas as a healthy food to be eating more of this year. As a result, sales have already rocketed in the UK.

We can’t help but think, in the wake of this news, of the well-heeled and lipsticked seekers of the latest bites, perched elegantly at tables in hipster restaurants all over the land, picking their way through a hearty black pudding dish as if it was something they were raised on. An image hard to shake, when you think of the incongruency of modern culinary trends which highlight the foods we have known and loved forever.

 

EATING OUT IN IRELAND ON A BUDGET

Eating out can weigh heavily on your wallet, but it needn’t be that way on the island of Ireland.

Want to find the best budget food on the island? Just follow the locals. After all, they’re the ones that know all the tips and tricks to hunting down a wallet-friendly dinner, from excellent farm-to-fork feasts in traditional pubs to upscale burger joints to fabulous picnic spots. Here’s a few suggestions to get you started.

Farmers’ markets, a profusion of delis and ever-accessible countryside means picnicking in Ireland is a natural pastime. And food halls such as Cork’s English Market and George’s Market in Belfast are essential stop-offs.

Grab some top-class artisan cheeses and salamis, fresh bread and homemade apple juice from a local deli or farmers’ market and head for one of the island’s fabulous scenic spots. And it’s not hard to find a scenic place to chill out, from harbourside piers, to beautiful urban parks and sun-dappled canal banks.

The early bird is an institution. Most good restaurants now offer an early bird menu, where you can eat at a fraction of the a la carte price, midweek between certain hours (usually between 6pm and 7pm). What’s more, over the last couple of years most savvy eateries have started to put on “early-bird”-style menus all night from Monday to Thursday, and in some places up until 7pm on Friday, with similarly value menus on offer lunch.

In the big cities, you’ll find new restaurants that have made affordable eating a cornerstone of their philosophy. Crackbird in Dublin has gone from being a quirky pop-up concept to being a mainstay on the urban eating scene, Rocket and Relish in Belfast is fast food with an gourmet slant thanks to chargrilled Northern Irish beef burgers for under £5, or check out lunch at the Ard Bia café in Galway’s historic Spanish Arch.

 

 

DINGLE DISTILLERY WINS AWARDS

DINGLE GIN AWARDED AT DINGLE FOOD FESTIVAL PLUS INFORMATION ON FOUNDING FATHERS EVENT AND WHISKEY SCHOOL

Dingle Distillery is thrilled to announce their success at the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards at the Dingle Food Festival 2015. The distillery’s artisanal Dingle Gin walked away with the Gold award for the Spirits White category.

The Dingle Distillery recently held its annual Founding Fathers Party in August, which was attended by Italian Ambassador to Ireland Giovanni Adorni Braccesi and Mexican Ambassador to Ireland Carlos Garcia De Alba. Also in attendance were some of the Founding Fathers of the distillery, which include singers Joe Elliott and Brian Kennedy, footballer Andy Reid, chef Derry Clarke and Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains, who took the opportunity to fill his own personal cask for maturing. The two-day event on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 August began with welcome cocktails at the distillery of gin and vodka before the party enjoyed the best arts, entertainment and nightlife Dingle has to offer including the Dingle Regatta.

 

 

DISCOVER ERRIS

Erris… so undiscovered even the locals’ find hidden gems every now and then.

Celebrated for its engaging balance of culture and beauty, this beautiful County Mayo peninsula is one of the most westerly points in Europe and a superb unexplored slice of Irish isolation.

For centuries the locals have been proud that the next parish over is New York; they know their wild Atlantic remoteness offers a trip into a traditional and unspoilt Ireland.  Just waiting to be explored, Erris is home to a host of beautiful Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) towns and villages, Ballycroy National Park, stunning landscapes and uncrowded Blue Flag beaches that offer the chance to enjoy sun, sand and surf in clean Atlantic waters.  On offer too is a wide variety of leisure activities. Erris can be about walking trails, great golf, water sports, horse riding, nature, wildlife, sculpture trails, music, arts or whatever takes your fancy.

But no exploration of Erris could be complete without a boat trip to its islands – highly recommended, especially when accompanied by local skippers who are descendants of the islands, or an Erris born and bred tour guide.

You’ll find endangered species, grey seals, birdlife and the ruins of ancient monasteries and wells and tombstones. And one, Inis Gluaire (Inishglora), is the reputed final resting place of the fabled Children of Lir. There is a full range of accommodation options in the area, including Claggan Island luxury glamping pods, which overlook the Mullet Peninsula, Achill Island and the main coastlines of Erris.

This tiny Claggan Island is linked to the mainland by a narrow sandy causeway and is surrounded by beautiful beaches in every direction.  It also offers another self-catering option at Belmullet Coast Guard Station. Managed by the Howard family, who run a working farm, this old coast guard station has been renovated with all mod cons.

 

 

10 EXCITING IRELAND EVENTS FOR 2016

The island of Ireland is awash with great events all year round. But how to do you choose which ones are for you?
Use our quick guide to 10 of the most exciting events on the Emerald Isle in 2016 to narrow down your options.

2016 is going to be a stellar year in Northern Ireland, especially if you love food! For 366 days we’ll be showcasing and developing the best of our food and drink and the people and passion that goes into rearing, making, cooking and serving it.

Around every corner you’ll find food trails and farmers markets, beer tastings and bake offs and restaurants and recipes. Every month has a theme and there will be no shortage of things to keep your mouth watering and your taste buds tingling.

So, get ready to celebrate what everyone already knows, when it comes to growing, breeding, catching, crafting and cooking we are second to none and when it comes to enjoying what we eat, well... that’s up to you!

It is hoped the year will increase export sales to £30m, lead to a 5% increase in visitor satisfaction and gain £10m in positive PR.

 

 

TOP 10 PLACES FOR A VALENTINE'S KISS

Legend has it that kissing Ireland’s world famous Blarney Stone in County Cork endows the kisser with the gift of the gab, or great eloquence and skill at flattery…

…Well that’ll come in very handy when it comes to wooing the love of your life on Valentine’s Day.

A trip to Blarney Castle could be just the thing to help swing things should the sweetheart need talked into love, engagement, marriage, relationship or even just a kiss.

But lovers have gone to Ireland for eons. Romance is ablaze in the landscapes, the legends and the ancient customs and traditions, so Blarney is but one of a thousand places to conjure up a Valentine’s kiss in Ireland of the Welcomes.

Here’s a quick guide to the Top 10 places on the Emerald Isle for a more delicate touch of lip upon lip.

The remains of the patron saint of lovers lie in Dublin. Yes, Saint Valentine’s Shrine is in Whitefriar Carmelite Church, Aungier Street, and is a mecca for couples especially around the saint’s big day. How kiss-worthy is that?

The Shrine to St Valentine is found on the right hand side of the church as one enters the main body of the church. The casket sits beneath the marble altar in a niche which is protected by an ornate iron and glass gate. Above the altar stands the life-sized statue of the saint set into a marble mosaic alcove. The saint is also barefoot. The casket is wooden and on top bears the papal coat of arms of Gregory XVI along with two large gold plates which have the letter of Cardinal Odescalchi inscribed in English upon them. Between these two plates and beneath the papal crest is a smaller plate with the inscription: This shrine contains the sacred body of Saint Valentinus the Martyr, together with a small vessel tinged with his blood.

 

 

PLACE TO STAY - KILLARNEY PARK HOTEL

The Killarney Park Hotel is one of the finest luxury hotels Ireland has to offer. Perfectly located in the heart of Killarney town center, set in mature grounds and framed by the legendary surroundings of Killarney National Park, this is a Five Star Hotel really like no other.

This proud Leading Hotel of the World member offers a welcome retreat for guests in search of exceptional comfort with all of those little extra touches that turn a very good hotel into a really great one.

Old-world elegance meets modern day luxury in the family-owned Killarney Park Hotel, where you can look forward to the warmth and comfort of a real log fire and the very best of Killarney hospitality and flawless service after your journey.

When you arrive at the Killarney Park Hotel, you really know you’re at a Five Star hotel. Killarney Town is famous for its warm Irish hospitality, and this welcome is showcased at its finest here at the hotel. You have a range of stylish accommodation to choose from, with each of the beautifully appointed 69 Rooms and Suites offering views either of the Hotel gardens, the steeples of historic Killarney town, or the spectacular Killarney mountain ranges beyond.

 

PLACE TO EAT - DOYLE’S SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

Originally a small pub built in 1790,Doyle’s was established as a restaurant in Dingle over 25 years ago and was one of the first in the town and is now renowned for good eating places, Doyle's Restaurant specialises in fresh seafoods & local produce.

This multi award-winning restaurant is located on John Street in Dingle town, a small picturesque fishing town on the west coast of Ireland. This elegant restaurant is now being run by chef and proprietors Sean Roche and Anna Scanlon.

Having trained in some of the best restaurants in Ireland and Europe, Sean now creates an array of modern dishes with a combination of robust and integral flavours.

Doyle’s Seafood Restaurant endeavours to serve great food in a relaxed and friendly setting and continues to maintain a strong commitment to the sourcing of sustainable seafood, working very closely with the local suppliers to serve the best of local and seasonal produce.

 

PLACE TO SEE - SKELLIG MICHAEL

The Skellig Rocks, Skellig Michael (also known as Great Skellig) and Little Skellig, are towering sea crags rising from the Atlantic Ocean almost 12 kilometers west of the Ivereagh Peninsula in County Kerry. Located at the western edge of the European landmass, Skellig Michael was the chosen destination for a small group of ascetic monks who, in their pursuit of greater union with God, withdrew from civilization to this remote and inaccessible place. Some time between the sixth and eight centuries, a monastery was founded on this precipitous rock-giving rise to one of the most dramatic examples of the extremes of Christian monasticism.

The monastic community appears to have moved to the mainland by the thirteenth century but the island continued to be venerated as a place of pilgrimage in the following centuries. In the nineteenth century, two lighthouses were built on Skellig Michael, establishing its importance in Ireland’s maritime history.

Skellig Michael is also one of Ireland’s most important sites for breeding seabirds both in terms of size of colonies and diversity of species.

The well-preserved monastic remains have retained a strong spiritual after-life, which appeals strongly to the human psyche. Visitors cannot but be awestruck by the physical achievements of these early monks which, when combined with the sense of solitude, ocean and bird sounds evokes a quiet sense of magic. This is beautifully expressed by George Bernard Shaw who, following a visit in 1910, described this ‘incredible, impossible, mad place’ as ‘part of our dream world’.

 

 

MYTHS & LEGENDS - THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE

The Roman Martyrology commemorates two martyrs named Valentine (or Valentinus) on February 14 which seems to indicate that both were beheaded on the Flaminian Way, one at Rome the other at Terni which is some 60 miles from Rome.

Valentine of Rome was a priest who is said to have died about 269 during the persecution of Claudius the Goth (or Claudius II Gothicus). The other Valentine was allegedly Bishop of Terni, and his death is attested to in the Martyrology of St Jerome. Whether there were actually one or two Valentines is disputed. One possibility is that is two cults – one based in Rome, the other in Terni – may have sprung up to the same martyr but that in the mists of time his true identity became confused.

In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno - the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia. At the time the lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl’s name from the jar and they would then be partners for the duration of the festival. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry. Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns.

 

 

IRISH POETRY - SCAFFOLDING – SEAMUS HEANEY

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me