Spring is well and truly here and Ireland is bursting with festivals and events that take place across the country every week. It is all right here on your very own doorstep, depending on what you fancy. Check out www.discoverireland.ie for more information on the ‘must do’ festivals, but for now, here are some of our favourites.
Go green with St Patrick’s Day festivities
Ireland’s literary heritage will be celebrated throughout the five-day St Patrick’s Festival from March 16 to 20. A short story titled ‘Brilliant’, written by Roddy Doyle, was used as the inspiration for the parade to honour Dublin’s designation as UNESCO City of Literature.
Dublin’s UNESCO honorary title will also be celebrated in style on March 18 with an array of Irish greats from Seamus Heaney to Damien Dempsey at a unique event called ‘Dublin Swell’. What better way to celebrate our stories than an evening in the spectacular Convention Centre Dublin basking in the company of Irish greats from the various worlds of literature, music, film and theatre? www.discoverireland.ie/dublin
Wexford has been chosen as the location for this year’s spectacular National Lottery Skyfest, taking place on Saturday March 19. ‘Making Magic Happen’ is this year’s theme with a whopping 1.6 tonnes of fireworks, five tonnes of firing equipment, 6,000 pyrotechnic effects and the largest pyrotechnic waterfall ever fired in Ireland! www.discoverireland.ie/wexford
Or for something a little bit quirky, and a lot of fun, check out the National Leprechaun Hunt in Carlingford, Co Louth on March 27, where people are invited to come and hunt for leprechauns. To participate in the hunt, a licence must be purchased for €5, which entitles a person to prospect on the mountain for up to 50 leprechauns. Each Leprechaun will carry a reward, the value of which is written under his heel. Hunters will not be allowed to hunt in the area of the Wishing Well and Slate Rock as this area is now protected under the European Habitats Directive which allows for the protection of flora, fauna, wild animals, and Little People! www.discoverireland.ie/dublinsdoorstep
Make the most of March with some fantastic music festivals and events taking place.
The Gathering takes place under the roof of the Kingdom of Kerry from March 2 to 6, and offers visitors the choice to enjoy the finest of Irish culture, from céilís to concerts, from set-dancing to sessions. www.discoverireland.ie/kerry
Why not follow the beat down to Waterford New Music Week Festival from the 7 – 12 March, where the programme will feature contemporary classical, jazz, traditional and world music? www.discoverireland.ie/waterford
NYAH Traditional Music Festival takes place in towns throughout Co Cavan from March 10 to 18 and promises a programme bursting with opportunities for visitors to get involved in a wide range of arts activities, concerts and workshops. This unique festival invites people to ‘forget the recession and enjoy the session’. www.discoverireland.ie/lakelands
Lastly, Thin Lizzy fans are in for a big treat, as The Phil Lynott Exhibition takes place from March 4 to 31 in Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, Dublin, and is the biggest ever collection of memorabilia, song lyrics, exhibits, paintings, tributes and photographs of the late Phil Lynott to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of the rock legend. www.discoverireland.ie/dublin
A must read in March
Book lovers can become engrossed in a good read this March, and if they can tear themselves away from their book, perhaps a trip to an Irish literary festival too.
The Dublin Book Festival takes place from March 4 to 6 and showcases Irish writers and publishers in an entertaining and accessible environment that reflects the creativity and personality of the Irish book scene. www.discoverireland.ie/dublin
The Ennis Book Club Festival takes place from March 4 to 6 and is a social and literary gathering bringing book club members and readers together. The three-day festival offers sessions on running book clubs, advice on reading lists, and readings by international authors. www.discoverireland.ie/shannon
The Waterford Writers Weekend Festival takes place from March 18 to 20, and features an exciting line up of poets, writers, and journalists. Events range from a literary breakfast, comedy, poetry readings, workshops, sports writing debate to performance poetry with jazz. www.discoverireland.ie/waterford
Now entering its 16th year, DLR Poetry Now Festival, Ireland’s biggest poetry festival, hosts readings from some of the greatest Irish and international poets of our era. The festival runs from March 24 to 27 and offers plenty of opportunities to get involved with workshops and panel discussions. www.discoverireland.ie/dublin
March this way
There is nothing quite like a refreshing spring walk to blow away those winter cobwebs, so why not get your boots on and join one of the many walking festivals taking place around the country this month? www.discoverireland.ie/walking
The Tain Walking Festival takes place on March 5 and 6 in Carlingford, Co Louth, and gives visitors the chance to explore the wonderful walking terrain of the scenic Cooley Peninsula.
The three-day Croagh Patrick Walking Festival takes place from March 18 to 20 along the Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail in Co Mayo, taking in castles, standing stones, ancient villages, and abbeys.
The Nire Valley Comeragh Mountains Bogtrot is a marathon hill walk taking place in Co Waterford on March 27. The challenging 25km walk takes in the Comeragh Mountains, the Mahon Falls, and the Comeragh Plateau.
Culture and cuisine
The Só Sligo Food and Culture Festival takes place in Sligo Town from March 17 to 20, and is comprised of food trails and cookery demonstrations with world class chefs, local specialities, and artisan markets. A particular highlight is the World Irish Stew Championship. www.discoverireland.ie/food
The Dingle Film Festival is a boutique festival that takes place in Dingle, Co Kerry, from March 17 to 20. The festival is home to the Gregory Peck award for Excellence in the Art of Film. Previous recipients have included Stephen Frears, Jim Sheridan, and Ireland’s cultural ambassador, Gabriel Byrne. www.discoverireland.ie/kerry There are events to cater for couples, families, and groups of friends. For more information on festivals and events taking place throughout the country, or to check out some of the great value special offers, simply log onto www.discoverireland.ie