Shannonside Winter Music Festival

Shannonside Winter Music Festival January 2015

Bunratty and Sixmilebridge

Saturday January 15th


Bunratty and Sixmilebridge

Bunratty and Sixmilebridge


The Shannonside Winter Music Festival takes place on Saturday January 17th 2014 from midday until 5 pm.

Tickets available online or at admissions on the day.

For full festival details at



Midday Concerts

Bluegrass/Folk – The kellehers   Castle Main Guard

Trad gig – The Kirby family            Castle Basement

Classical – Athenry Youth Concert  The Corn Barn



12:30 Concerts

Sixmilebridge Folk Club (Trad Session)    Mac’s Bar


1.00pm Concerts

Cajun – The Boat Band UK            Castle Great Hall

Famenco – Citron Bros Flamenco USA     Castle Main Guard

Trad – The Doyle Family UK          Castle Basement

Bluegrass – Niall Toner Band        The Barn


2.00pm Concerts

Vocal group – Acafella’s Castle Great Hall

Bluegrass – Jig Jam           Castle Main Guard

Tim Rodgers & Clew Bay Critters (45 min)              Castle Basement

Cajun – The Boat Band UK            The Barn


3.00pm Concerts

Trad Session – Colonel Blueshot rides again         Mac’s Bar

Progresive Trad – Cross Harbour UK         Castle Great Hall

Bluegrass – Niall Toner Band        Castle Main Guard

Trad – The Kirby Family Castle Basement

Famenco – Cintron Bros Flamenco USA The Barn


4.00pm Concerts

Trad – The Doyle Family UK          Castle Great Hall

Blues Concert – London Dixieland Jazz Band UK  Castle Main Guard

vocal group – Acafella’s  Castle Basement

Trad/Bluegrass Jig Jam   The Barn

Top ten historical sites within 25 KM of Shannon Airport




Bunratty, County Clare.


One of Ireland’s premier tourist attractions, Bunratty Castle can be busy and rushed during the peak season…but don’t let that put you off. Latch onto a guided tour to make the best use of time.

The castle dates back to the early fifteenth century when the McNamara clan constructed it on the site of earlier castles built by the Normans. The castle changed hands over the centuries, and for a while it was the home of the Earls of Thomond who were direct descendants of King Brian Boru.

The Folk Park contains a variety of homes and buildings from Ireland’s more recent past; including a home cottage transplanted stone by stone from Shannon Airport’ s runway in the early days of flight navigation.

There is also a nineteenth century village street in the centre of the park.

The castle hosts frequent banquets and traditional Irish nights. Advance booking is advised.

Admission : Adult €10, child (6-16) €8. Online prices and may vary.

OPENING TIMES : 09:30 with last admission at 16:00

Closed December 24,25 and 26th.

TIP – tour castle first.




Quin, County Clare.


Dating from the middle of the fourteenth century, Quin Abbey was the stronghold of the McNamara clan. A member of the ‘Office of Public Works’ (OPW) is on hand to guide you through the centuries of toil and turmoil. The is restoration work in progress at the moment so there are restrictions to access.


Admission : Free


April – October Last entry 16:00

Closed Mondays

Closed Monday & Tuesday in October.

Closed November – April.

Tip : try not to touch anything…in front the OPW official anyway!




Newmarket on Fergus, County Clare.


Nestled into a quiet wooded area, this is one of Ireland’s hidden gems on the outer ridge of the Dromoland Castle Estate. There are a series of Bronze Age Hill Forts dating back three thousand years and it was the source of Western Europe’s greatest gold treasure find back in the nineteenth century. Most of the booty was melted down and sold, but 29 objects remain in the care of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Mooghaun hoard is included in Fintan O’Toole’s ‘A history of Ireland in 100 objects.’

Admission : Free



Site access still restricted from storm damage earlier in 2014.

Tip – bring good walking shoes!


CRAGGAUNOWEN (Ireland’s Living Past…)



Kilmurry, County Clare


This park is near Knappogue Castle and well worth the visit.

There is a reconstructed Crannog, (island dwelling) , fort and various practicalities of Irish lifestyle over thousands of years depicted throughout the trail that leads to a replica  of St Brendan’s boat.

This boat was navigated by explorer Tim Severn via the Aran Islands and across the Atlantic to Canada. The objective was to prove that it was possible for St Brendan to have taken the voyage back in the 6th Century.

Craggaunowen Castle (McNamara construction) was at one time the home of ‘Honest’ Tom Steele who helped Daniel O’Connell to win a seat in Parliament and bring forth Catholic emancipation in Ireland.

ADMISSION : Adult €8. Youth €4.50 Online rates and subject to change.


Seasonal opening from Easter Saturday until August 31st.

From 10 AM daily with last admission 16:45

Tip…mild incline to trek.






Quin, County Clare


Knappogue Castle is yet another McNamara Castle set in rolling green fields near Quin Village. The castle itself is compact and a guide is unnecessary. There are information posts throughout the building which highlight the castle’s history right up to modern day, along with details of importance of the McNamara family through a thousand years of local history.

The pretty walled garden is worth a visit and is easily accessible from the car park.

The castle also hosts banquets and private functions.

Admission : Adult €8, youth €4.50. Online rates and they may vary.


May – August.

Last admission 16:00




Shannon, County Clare

Home of Gleeson Goldsmith with its unique ‘Burren Collection’ of locally inspired jewellery, Ballycasey Craft Centre is a small retail outlet with a range of handcrafted gifts and souvenirs.

Candles, family crest specialists and small café with home made produce make for stress free last minute retail therapy session in the stables of the historic Ballycasey farmhouse.



King John

Limerick City, County Limerick


King John’s Castle has had a multi million euro investment with a state of the art interpretative centre.

The  13th century castle’s modern day touchscreen technology brings local history back to life and scenes from the infamous siege of Limerick are depicted in the courtyard.


Admission Adult: €8.00, Youth €4.50 Online rates and subject to change.

OPENING TIMES: April–Sept 9:30am with last last admission 4.30pm. Oct–March 9:30am with last admission 3:15pm.



Lim George

Limerick City, County Limerick


No. 2 Pery Square dates back to 1830 and its meticulous restoration ensures guest a detailed Georgian experience.


Monday to Friday 10:00 – 16:00, with weekend opening by appointment.




Ennis, County Clare


This is a 13th century Franciscan Friary founded by the O’Brien clan.

Restoration work is in progress but the impressive sacristy with its vaulted ceiling and image of St Francis are all visible.



Easter to September 30th

10:00 with last admission 17:15

October 1st to 23rd 10:00 with last admission 16:15




Ennis, County Clare


Dromore Woods is a 1,000 acre nature reserve nearby Ruan (Ennis.)

There is a 17th century O’Brien Castle by Dromore Wood’s lake edge. There is also Cahermacrea Castle, Kilakee Church, two ring forts and a lime kiln.


Barrier closes:

Summer 19.30

Winter 18.00

Visitor Centre:  May:

Wed – Sun  10.00 – 17.00

June – August

Daily  10:00 – 17:00

TIP…Length of Visit: 1 hour

Partial access for visitors with disabilities




Ballycasey Carft Centre; history and retail in a new town


Ballycasey House, Shannon

Ballycasey House, Shannon

Ballycasey House

John Miller gained ownership of Ballycasey House in the eighteenth century. He was a man of poor means until he married Anna Riggs a Cork woman who came from a long line of wealth. Her mother’s homestead; Chetwynd Hall, Shropshire, England and it spawned the town’s local ghost story that spanned centuries and would later become the model of Charles Dicken’s home of Ms Havisham in his novel ‘Great expectations.’

After John married Anna , he didn’t stay around too long in Ballycasey Houuse. They built a mansion in Batheaston and the John became john Riggs Miller. The couple lived their lives frivolously on the fringes of literary circles and John claimed the title of Baronet of Ballycasey (Ballicasey) in 1778. On her death John remarried and gained a reputation as a notorious gossip in London society.

The Craft Cente.



The old stables of Ballycasey House were altered to facilitate retail in the 1980s by Shannon Development. There is still, to date, a boutique collection of unique stores that offer a range of choice from children’s clothing to a customised goldsmith’s outlet.


The Rowanberry Restaurant is a low key café with chef Linda Donlon at the helm. Value for money cooking and homemade scones are the order of the day.


Gleeson Goldsmiths.


Gleeson Goldsmiths is the local jeweller of choice for a unique design. The range includes ‘The Burren Collection’ which is inspired by the landscape of north County Clare.


Bunratty Candles, Angel Flowers and Curran’s Heraldry, who produce a wide range of merchandise with popular Irish surnames embossed on the surface are all open for visitors to Ballycasey Craft Centre.


Knappogue Castle Pier – an English or Irish mile?



The hand on the right pier of Knappogue Castle points firmly.

Quin, Ennis and the horse fair of Spancil Hill could be the only destinations for a traveller along this windy (R469) road heading north.

Although there is no ambiguity in the direction, the distance might be confusing - and in the days of horse drawn carriages a few miles might result in missing out on a deal in Spancil Hill.

Below the ‘E’ on the pier, the distance to Spancil Hill indicates 6 1/4 miles. This is the distance in English miles.

The distance to Spancil Hill is 5 Irish (‘I’) miles.

Historically, a mile referred to the thousand steps it took to reach that distance.

By the seventeenth century an Irish mile was 25% longer than an English.

The Irish mile was legally abolished in 1824.

Monks; a culinary retreat in Ballyvaughan



The small harbour village of Ballyvaughan on the northern tip of County Clare’s coastline might not seem like an obvious destination for foodies; but there’s lashings of choice at any time of the year.

Monks’ Pub is the long standing establishment perched by the pier that cuts into Galway Bay; having endured chequered management style through the past tempestuous decades.

We visit shortly after Christine, Brigid and Ruth had wreaked havoc along the coast. Ballyvaughan had missed most of the action and apart from the odd sandbag there’s little evidence of the damage endured by the neighbouring towns and villages.

The heat from roaring log fire in the centre of the room gives Monks its welcome flavour from the early March air, but its the homely menu choices that make it the sort of place you want to kick off your shoes and chow down for the evening with good friends.

Locals sit at the bar and watch our arrival with a passing interest; and the service is prompt and down country friendly.

The crab claws are fresh and succulent ; as expected. What Monks did with them was refreshingly simple. They’re peppered with garlic and lightly marinated in butter and fried to perfection and  tossed into a warm zesty salad.




The hake lies on a bed of potatoes with a side order of fresh vegetables and mussels. This order is all about simplicity. Monks release the ocean’s flavours by lightly garnishing the fish and steaming the vegetables.

The less adventurous of our party had fish and chips.

The fish was breaded and fried; but there texture was spot on – the chips are added by demand.

By the time we finished the bar and restaurant was pretty much full to capacity off season, so the summer season makes it a hopping choice.

Get in early or late.


Meal cost for five main courses accompanied by a drink amounted to €110.

Distance from Shannon – 46 miles (1 hour driving.)







International Women’s Day 2014; Lady Sophie (Mary) Heath.



In recognition of international Women’s Day 2014, Lady Sophie Pierce Heath was a pioneering aviator and local woman. She was the first woman to fly Cape Town to London solo, first woman to fly on a parachute (into a football match) – and the first woman to be awarded a commercial pilot licence in Britain.

Sophie was reared in Newcastle West, County Limerick by her grandfather and her aunts; having endured a traumatic start in life.

She studied at the Royal College of Science in Dublin and she was a regular contributor to the student magazine.

In 1919 she married her first of three husbands husband; Capt William Davies Eliott Lynn.

She immediately signed on with the War Office as a dispatch rider before returning to Ireland to complete her studies.

Sophie and William moved to East Africa, where they had acquired a coffee farm and during this time she became a pioneer of women’s athletics and a founder of the Women’s Amateur Athletic Association.

After  William’s death she married Sir James Heath in 1927, aged 72. She was 31.

It was in January 1928 that she flew an Avian aircraft from Cape Town, SA to London – a flight that made her name worldwide.

She worked with KLM for a while and lectured extensively in Canada and America USA and in 1929 her career ended with an accident while testing a plane during the National Air Races in Cleveland.

She married a Trinidadian jockey in 1930 and died in London nine years later having fallen from a tram, penniless and unknown.

However her memory is kept alive at the Foynes Aviation Museum, Shannon Airport and at the Oakwood Arms Hotel in Shannon where  a fifteen foot painting stands in pride of place in Sophie’s pub.

Doolin to Aran Islands service due to recommence for 2014 season.



The ferry service companies in Doolin are on the crest of rebooting the crossing to the Arans for 2014.

Doolin Pier took a hammering during the recent weather conditions but work looks set to be complete by next Saturday, March 8th 2014.

Expect full service on board in the week ahead…



The Miller of Sixmilebridge.

smb photo



There were two roads to Limerick City from Sixmilebridge; both apparently six miles in distance and that’s how the village got its name.

It was once a thriving town with oil mills, a soap factory and brewery with nautical trade from The Netherlands. Its strategic location along the river made it an ideal point of access to Limerick for imports and exports.


The miller’s statue in the village centre emerging from the O’Garney River pays tribute to this industrious past.

Ballycar Cillín; a homage to the forgotten children.



This high cross was erected in Ballycar, close to the village of Newmarket on Fergus. It’s the site of a Cillín / Killeen (an unconsecrated cemetery), for children who died before Baptism, suicide victims and strangers to the area.

This high cross was dedicated to all those who were lost or forgotten in Cillíns throughout Ireland


Doolin Coast Guard Station



The Office of Public (OPW) has undertaken the development of the new coast guard station to serve as a base for the volunteer Coast Guard Operation. The construction took a hammering during the recent flooding; but work appears to be back on track.

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar approved the €1.8 million  construction which has been overseen by the Office of Public Works.

The Doolin Volunteer Coast Guard unit is one of the busiest units in the country and it responds to over 40 call outs each year. The 24 member team operate a cliff rescue and they are supported by seven additional volunteers located the nearby island of Inis Oirr.