Kilkenny goes Green with envy this St. Patrick’s weekend for charity

“Go Green” for the O’Neill Centre Kilkenny

'Kilkenny goes Green with envy this St. Patrick's weekend for local charity, the O'Neill Centre: Tommy Walsh, Kilkenny Hurling Star, Paula Rudkins, Services Manager, Enable Ireland, Arthur Drohan and Waterford hurling star Michael 'Brick' Walsh.

The O’Neill Centre is appealing to the community to support the “Go Green” initiative aimed at raising funds for the O’Neill Centre (Enable Ireland).

Paula Rudkins, Services Manager of Enable Ireland says, “We are asking all businesses in Kilkenny to row in behind us and wear something green on Friday 15th of March and donate €2 to the O’Neill Centre, alternatively they could hold a raffle cake sale or have a coffee morning. We hope people will join in the spirit of St Patrick’s weekend and get it off to a great start by helping a local charity while having some fun.”

As part of the fun, Paula hopes to have a best-dressed team competition and a best-dressed shop window to reflect the theme of the weekend – Kilkenny TradFest 2013. “We will run this competition through Facebook with some delightful prizes even for the best dressed window!”

On a more serious note, Paula explains why such support is vital and how fundraising is the key to provide services to the children of Kilkenny and their families. “The O’Neill centre is not fully funded by HSE and it is vital that we raise between €150,000 to €170,000 every year to ensure that established services here remain untouched, despite the numerous cuts inflicted on the entire health sector.”

She added that the O’Neill Centre is indebted to the people of Kilkenny for their generosity over the years but now more than ever the centre needs our support. All money raised through fundraising in Kilkenny remains here in the Kilkenny services; it is used to ensure that all services and resources are available to the children of Kilkenny who have a physical, sensory or learning difficulty.

So let’s get into the Irish spirit of things this St. Patrick weekend – dress in green, one or all items of clothing, wear green hair or lipstick to “Go Green” for the O’Neill Centre!

Each business interested in joining in will be given a pack to help organise their fun day. You can contact Caroline Long or Paula Rudkins for further details on 056 77 62326

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership ‘Town of Food’ competition deadline beckons

Up to €775, 000 of grant aid and supports available for winning town

COMMUNITIES interested in competing to become Kilkenny’s ‘Town of Food’ are reminded that the deadline to put their name forward is tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6, 2013, at 5pm.

Any rural town or village with a population of over 500 can enter and up to €775,000 worth of grant aid and supports will be available to the winning town.

All that is required for now is that intending competitors email Kilkenny’s Food Strategy Coordinator, Kilian Duignan on before 5pm tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6, giving the name of their community and expressing their interest to compete.

Mr Duignan says he will then work with competing communities, assisting them with building a strategy for their towns application and to fine tune their vision of local food culture. “This is a ground-breaking competition and we’ve had a lot of interest from eligible groups right throughout Kilkenny.

“All a group has to do for now is email me, tell me they are interested. But they have to do it now. I will then go out, work with these competing communities and help them with their submissions which must be made by February 27. The various plans will be presented to our panel of expert judges on March 4 and we will announce the winner on March 6. There will also be a range of supports from Kilkenny LEADER available for the shortlisted, runner-up applicants.

“Community groups shouldn’t be daunted by this procedure. We will help them every step of the way. We want communities to work together on their plans. To be eligible, applicants must be able to demonstrate how the business, community and voluntary sectors can work together to develop a food culture within their community. Lots of communities are doing this already on an informal basis.

“We will help communities develop their vision for their own ‘Town of Food’ and demonstrate the long term viability of their project post funding.”

The supports on offer are comprehensive. The winning town would potentially be eligible for up to €500,000 of grant aid for capital works as well as LEADER support and grant aid of up to €100,000 towards a three year program of food related training and education courses.

The ‘Town of Food’ could also be eligible for marketing costs of up to €75,000 towards the promotion of the ‘Town of Food’ concept and up to €50,000 towards operating the marketing plan over a two year period. Up to €50,000 is also on offer over a 30-month period towards a Coordinator for the project and the winning town will also receive the continued support of the dedicated Kilkenny Food Strategy Coordinator to ensure the success of the project.

For more on the initiative check out
Or contact;
Kilian Duignan, Kilkenny’s Food Strategy Coordinator (056) 77 52111

Calling all children to nominate their local legend!

Forget celebrities, there are people who live all around us who deserve our praise and admiration. Would YOU like to win a VIP fun day out for you and ten of your friends to Tayto Park in Co Meath? TV3′s Ireland AM are asking children of all ages to put pen to paper to tell them who stands out in their community as a legend in their eyes – maybe it’s a local sports star, a school caretaker, a lollipop lady or maybe even a special needs assistant.

Throughout the year, Ireland AM will be visiting every county in Ireland and looking for a local legend, this month they are kicking off the campaign and looking for a local legend in Kilkenny. If you are from the Marble City and you know someone that deserves this title then log on to, fill in the form with a help of a grown up. Tell Ireland AM a little of what makes them YOUR local legend and draw a little picture of what they look like and then post it back to My Local Legend, Ireland AM, TV3, Westgate Business Park, Ballymount , Dublin 24. Ireland AM will be visiting the winner and their local legend in their village /town and the local legend will advance to our National Local Legend Competition at the end of the year. Closing dates this month entries is 8th February

TV3′s Ireland AM team could be visiting you and your nominated legend very soon so get online and print that form!!

Deck the halls with Craft, Food, Music and Holly

Shankill Castle in Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny, opens its doors to host a festive Christmas Fair

Historic Shankill Castle in Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny, will be decking its magnificent halls with craft, food and holly when it throws open its doors for a unique Christmas Fair on Friday November 30th and Saturday December 1st.

The Castle’s splendid reception areas will be taken over by stall holders selling the best of local seasonal food produce, luxury gift items, crafts, books, tweed fabrics, stocking-fillers, gift vouchers and hampers. Visitors will be able to shop in the comfort of grand rooms, with hearty open log fires inflaming the Christmas spirits!

Shoppers can also sip mulled apple juice while wandering the wintery castle gardens, and visiting the Santa’s donkeys with Santa himself! The Castle will open its doors on Friday to the shoppers and on Saturday TV3 Ireland AM’s chef Edward Hayden will demonstrate the best of Christmas baking. There will also with a 30 piece St. Patricks Brass and Reed Band conducted by Norman Cree to provide the festive entertainment.

Shankill Castle, just an hour from Dublin and 20 minutes from Kilkenny City, is steeped in history and the Christmas Food and Craft Fair is a great opportunity to see inside its historic walls. It started as a Butler tower house, but was rebuilt in 1708. In the 19th Century it was enlarged and castellated, and it has been home and studio the renowned artist Elizabeth Cope since 1991.

Visitors to the fair will also have the opportunity to invest in art this Christmas and buy paintings by Elizabeth Cope who will have a series of animal etchings exhibited throughout the house ranging in price from €150 upwards. Elizabeth Cope is having a one man show at the Spitalfield’s Gallery, London opening from 11th January and runs for six weeks.

The glorious two day event will have lots of luxury gift items to suit all budgets. With unique Irish gifts such as Christmas hampers by Ireland’s artisan gift specialist – “Made to Savour” packed with locally made food and craft, buy handmade soaps and alpaca wool blankets from Peru by Simple Things, etchings by Elizabeth Cope and lots more. The first of the Christmas Trees will also be on sale.

There will be some of delicious zingy mulled apple juice, mince pies and food stalls to keep shoppers warm as they roam the stalls or explore the wintery gardens. Also this year enjoy the Winter Barbeque with a hog roast outside.

For the little ones don’t forget to bring your Santa letters, he will be dropping by to feed his donkeys!

What: The Shanhill Christmas Food and Craft Fair

When: Friday November 30th (9.30am to 6pm) and Saturday 1st December (12pm to 6pm).

Where: Shankill Castle, Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny


Admission: €2 and get a raffle ticket for an Elizabeth Cope etching

Businesses in the South East ‘Preparing for Recovery’!

Major forum in Kilkenny to help local businesses expand by up-skilling the workforce

Chief Executive Mark Fielding. Picture Jason Clarke Photography.

A road map for businesses in the South East to expand and develop by taking on unemployed people and accessing other supports will be held in Kilkenny on Friday October 12th.

The free, morning ‘Preparing for Recovery’ Forum at the Pembroke Hotel will focus on how businesses can sustain and create employment by tapping into the wealth of experience that exists amongst people who are currently unemployed.

‘Preparing for Recovery’ is an initiative from the Kilkenny LEADER Partnership’s employability strategy and supported by State Street Corporation. State Street Corporation’s grant making arm, State Street Foundation, works with charitable partners around the world that build sustainable futures for local communities, focusing on education with an emphasis on workforce development. This exciting forum is aimed at retraining unemployed to fill valuable rolls that are needed by existing business in the area.

The forum, which runs from 8am to 12.30pm, is the next critical step in the Kilkenny LEADER Partnership ‘Kickstart’ Programme – which links unemployed men and women right across the south east with employers and gives participants specific, hands-on training to bridge key industry gaps.

ISME chief executive Mark Fielding and Bobby Kerr of coffee chain Insomnia are among those who will address the forum and discuss topics including:

• Barriers to growth including rural broadband, childcare costs and welfare versus work

• Improving competitiveness by taking advantage of state training and employment support

• Revenue incentives to develop your workforce

Mark Fielding said: “Employers need to have more of an input into how training programmes are offered and run and this forum offers businesses a unique platform. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

“Kickstart has been a phenomenal success in the south east. It has given its first group of participants life-long skills, confidence and hands-on experience which greatly boosts their chances of finding work. It is up to us now to throw the net a little wider, get more businesses involved and get Ireland back to work.”

To date ‘Kickstart’ has placed 12 unemployed in companies in the region to carry out specific work while getting industry-relevant training. Several of the original recruits are now working both with placement employers on a part or full time basis or in the new industry using the skills. Another dozen recruits are now ready to be matched with companies in the region who need projects completed to sustain and grow.

It is hoped that the Kilkenny LEADER Partnership Kickstart programme will roll out on a regional basis in 2013 as a way of matching precise industry needs and skilled personnel while providing life-long skills to those formerly unemployed.

According to Ann-Marie Mc Sorley of Kickstart: “Kickstart specifically targets those who are mid-career and have a wealth of experience but often lack the precise and up to date skills currently required by industry. Our placement programme is very different from existing jobbridge and other FAS and VEC programmes.

“We’re not working with graduates looking for experience. Our participants are experienced, mid-career unemployed men and women who want to learn new skills. Many of them lost their jobs in the boom. We link them with businesses which need a project done and we create a customised course of project-led training to help our participants get that project done.

“Kickstart works for our participants and it also works for employers, several of which have since employed our first group of participants to help grow their business even further. Working with businesses, we now hope to take it one step further, to measure the need and demand for a new approach to training and unemployment within the workplace with a view to rolling out Kickstart across the country” she added.

Kilkenny hotelier and businessman John Ryan is one of the dozen employers who participated in the first phase of Kickstart. “We are delighted to support Kickstart. It is a very focused and tailored initiative that trains participants for a specific job opportunity and gives them the best possible opportunity of securing work.

“I’d encourage more employers to get to know more about the scheme and to see how we can help it,” he said.

The views and concerns expressed by delegates about the need and demand for new approaches to training will be fed directly back to key decision makers such as FAS, VEC’s and other organisations.

Demands of maintaining a stately home uncovered in new television series

Borris House features on BBC 2’s new ‘Antiques to The Rescue’ series tomorrow, Wednesday, night at 8pm

The financial and emotional demands of owning and maintaining one of the country’s finest historic homes is to be revealed in a new television series which begins tomorrow, Wednesday night on BBC.

Borris House in Carlow is the ancestral home of the MacMorrough Kavanaghs, High Kings of Leinster. The stunning, 16th Century home, on 650 acres, is the only Irish property to feature among three historic houses which are the focus of the BBC’s new ‘Antiques to The Rescue’ primetime series.

The programme, which starts on BBC2 at 8pm tomorrow, will show Morgan and Sara Kavanagh selling certain objects, the proceeds from which have since been used to finance urgently-needed repair and restoration works in their 50-roomed home which has been the seat of the McMacMorrough Kavanagh clan for 550 years.

Remaining funds will also help finance an exciting Borris Lace Family Heritage Centre originally developed by their ancestors during the Famine era to provide critical local employment and incomes.

In the new seriess , John Foster, who is a familiar face from BBC 1′s Antiques Roadshow, uses his 20 years experience as a fine arts and antiques auctioneer to find and sell treasures, squirreled away in three large country houses.

Filming for the series was at times intrusive, particularly as it coincided with the birth of their youngest son Charlie, Sara Kavanagh admitted. But she hopes it will spur more paying visitors to come through their gates.

“This is our ancestral home and we are very, very privileged to live here. But maintaining it and financing its upkeep isn’t easy. We host weddings, civil ceremonies and concerts, corporate, social and sporting events and give house tours to help finance the upkeep of our home. It’s great to live in a house like this. But it also certainly poses major challenges, particularly with four young children. We’ve got tremendous support from both the Heritage Council and Carlow County Council and really appreciate their continuous help.

“This property has 130 windows. Half of them need painting and washing them is no mean feat. When other people do a spring clean it might take a day. When we do one, we’ve to get scaffolding up to clean away the cobwebs. We need a cherry picker to clean several of the top windows,” Sara revealed.

Choosing which antiques to sell was difficult. “We chose very carefully. It wasn’t easy. We are delighted that this programme was about lots more than antiques – it also allowed us to pay tribute to the great characters that have lived here and whom we hope will never be forgotten.

“The feats achieved by Arthur MacMurrough-Kavanagh who was born without arms and legs were immense. Several other ancestors and silent Victorian heroes will all be immortalised through this programme.”

As well as caring for their four children – Minna (7), Eliza (5), Ellie (3) and Charlie who is just six months – Sara and Morgan farm. They have close to 900 sheep and host numerous events annually to help contribute towards the upkeep of the property, which costs up to €250,000 a year to maintain and run.

“We’re delighted we did the programme. It was great to have the experts in to help with the ongoing restoration and to take a fresh look at the history and the significance of what we have here. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of all of this it is hard to see the wood for the trees.

“We hope the programme will spur more people to come and visit Borris House, share in its history and its significance. We are more determined than ever now to get the Borris Lace project off the ground and restore an industry which disappeared in the 1950’s and was so important to this entire region.”

Antiques to the Rescue

Carlow to honour pioneer of Hollywood Silent Movies

“Taylorfest” to celebrate life and work of Carlow native, William Desmond Taylor

Marc-Ivan O'Gorman, Director of TaylorFest which runs at the Visual Centre for Tontemporary Art and the George Bernard Shaw Theatre in Carlow from September 21 to 23.

· “Huckleberry Finn” to premier in Ireland 92 years after it was first screened

A movie based on the Mark Twain classic “Huckleberry Finn”, and directed by a Carlow-born film director, is to premier in Ireland – 92 years after it was first screened in Hollywood!

The 1920’s black and white silent film will be seen for the first time by an Irish audience at Taylorfest, a festival celebrating the amazing life and work of one of the pioneers of the Hollywood silent movie era, William Desmond Taylor, on the 140th anniversary of his birth.

TaylorFest will run in Carlow Town from September 21st – 23rd and is expected to spark fresh debate about Taylor’s still unsolved murder in Los Angeles in 1922.

Taylor was born in the area now known as The Elms on the Athy Road in Carlow in 1872. He moved to America when he was 18 and to Hollywood in his late 30s. He acted in 27 movies and directed 60 during the golden era of the Hollywood silent movie.

He directed the first film version of ‘Huckleburry Finn’ in 1920, followed by ‘Soul of Youth’, a film about a young orphan which takes a wide ranging look at social problems that confronted such teenagers. This is the precursor for the noted James Deane movie ‘Rebel without a Cause’.

The book Huckleberry Finn was first published in 1884, and has never been out of print. The character of Huck Finn has appeared in over 40 films, starting with the 1917 version of Tom Sawyer, also directed by William Desmond Taylor.

Less than two years after finishing Huckleberry Finn, William Desmond Taylor’s body was discovered lying on the floor of his living room by his butler with a bullet wound in the back. A major investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department followed, but to this day the murder remains unsolved.

Tylorfest is the brainchild of Carlow man and filmmaker Marc-Ivan O’Gorman, who believes the memory of William Desmond Taylor deserves to be honoured. While his compelling story continues to fascinate Hollywood, it remains more or less unknown here.

Taylorfest 2012 will spark a fresh look into Taylor’s murder and possibly unravel one of the great murder mysteries of the controversial Hollywood 1920s era. It is also hoped it might spur someone to come forward with information about his ancestors.

Taylor’s murder, along with other Hollywood scandals such as the Roscoe Arbuckle trial, led to a frenzy of sensational and often fabricated newspaper reports which almost brought down the entire Hollywood film industry.

The 1950s drama Sunset Boulevard is thought to be based on Taylor’s murder. It starred Gloria Swanson who played Norma Desmond – a reference to both Taylor’s middle name and his friend and movie star, Mabel Normand, who was the last person to see him alive.

According to O’Gorman it is important to recognise William Desmond Taylor’s contribution to Hollywood. “The Irish had as much of a role in the creation of Hollywood as the Jewish Moguls or any other group. William Desmond Taylor was one of the era’s most prolific film makers and his murder remains one of the biggest scandals of the early Hollywood era.

“I’ve lived and worked in LA and am very interested in Hollywood history. Through films like Chinatown, LA Confidential, Sunset Boulevard, Singing Rain, they love to construct stories of their past. What fascinates me is the real story of the people who make up Hollywood.”

O’Gorman said he came from the same street in Carlow as Taylor and Taylorfest and his Who Killed Bill radio documentary/drama have been passions of his for several years. Coincidentally, that production has just been shortlisted in the best radio drama category of the imminent PPI Radio Awards.

“It would be great to find a living relative and get a little closer to the truth to exactly what did happen on that faithful day.”

Opening on Culture Night on September 21st , TaylorFest will be a celebration of silent films and 1920’s glamour. As well as films it includes talks, art exhibitions, musical performances and photo exhibitions.

Highlights over the weekend include:

- The premieres of “The Soul of Youth” and “Huckleberry Finn” in the Geroge Bernard Shaw Theatre on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22, both starting at 8pm. Both will be screened in their original form with live musical accompaniment.

- A tribute to Taylor through narration and monologues from key characters in his life by Carlow Little Theatre Society on Friday, September 21 at 1pm

- An exhibition ‘In the Time of Taylor’ in the Carlow County Museum on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22

- An exhibition by artists in the monochrome palette of Taylor’s films in Visual all weekend

- The ‘Taylor-festival Club’, a prohibition-style speakeasy with performances of folk and jazz music of the era running into the early hours nightly at the Pembroke Club d’Art.

- The screening of ‘Hugo’, Martin Scorsese’s multi-award-winning film, about silent movie pioneer Georges Melies at Visual on Sunday, September 23 at 3pm.

Taylorfest runs at the stunning Visual Centre for Contemporary Art and The George Bernard Shaw Theatre, and at various break-out locations including the Carlow County Museum and Carlow County Library.

The Festival is supported by Carlow County Development Partnership.

Booking can me made online on or at 059 917 2400 and many of the events are free.

For more on TaylorFest check out or

VisionID sets its focus on saving manufacturing and pharma industry time and money

VisionID's Gavin Smyth, Account Manager for South Leinster and Connaught and Andrew Daly, Account Manager for Munster demonstrate the COW at the company's headquarters in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

Computers on wheels get thumbs up from industry giants EMC and Janssen Biologics

LEADING mobile computing, barcode and data capture solutions specialist, VisionID, has come up with a wireless Computer on Wheels (COW) which has been tried and tested and received rave reviews from manufacturing and life sciences industry giants in Ireland, EMC and Janssen Biologistics.

The top Tipperary technology firm has linked up with UK-based product designers RPD to provide the custom solutions which save time and money for Ireland’s critical manufacturing and pharma sectors.

The units supplied encompass all the components of a desk in a moveable, ergonomic workstation. Each COW is tailored and configured to the individual customer’s requirements and is adaptable to meet their changing needs.

Cathal Murtagh, Sales Director for VisionID, says the response from industry has been nothing short of phenomenal and so encouraging that it plans to expand its workforce in Clonmel from 21 to 25 in anticipation of a peak in demand

“Clients are looking for big screen data capture and data entry on a mobile workstation for on-the-job applications of inputting information into an ERP systems such as SAP or an MES (manufacturing execution system). The screen size of a typical mobile computer is unsuitable to accommodate such work.

“Our COW offers a wireless solution around the factory floor, using real time communication through WIFI on a choice of thin client, touch computer, laptop or full desktop PC. All are powered from the base battery pack, giving six hours operational time after a full charge.

“The peripherals or accessories that can be attached to suit the best work practices are standard monitor, touch monitor, corded or cordless scanner and a local or wireless barcode printer.

“Because a ‘standard’ PC can be used on the move, this will potentially save a lot of time and expense in the Life Sciences industry, as generally, full validation of the solution is not required,” Murtagh added.

RPD also recently added computer wall mounts to its product portfolio, accessories that are also available to industry exclusively through VisionID. This has allowed it customise solutions for computing in tight spaces, in corridors, outside freezer and quarantine areas as well as booking goods in and out of these locations.

“VisionID are the exclusive supplier of RDP carts or COWs in the Irish market to manufacturing sector and we are delighted to work with a precision engineering team such as RDP. RDP have the ability to customise bespoke projects in both the COWs and the wall mounts to suit each customer’s operational needs and applications.

“These mobile computer carts have been successfully tried and tested in a number of different locations by our key customers, including EMC and Janssen Biologistics,” Murtagh revealed.

In EMC the COWs are being used as part of the logistics operation, allowing the user to move freely when processing inbound and outbound consignments. According to EMC Cork “We needed a solution that was mobile but that could also facilitate a lot of data entry and barcode scanning into our ERP system, and allow us to print labels on the move. The MD5 cart solution provides us with this functionality. We find them excellent and they totally met our business requirements.”

Similarly Janssen Biologistics needed a mobile solution for integration with their Manufacturing Execution System (MES). According to Janssen Biologics, “Our MES system is the backbone of our manufacturing process here in Janssen Biologics. A lot of our processes require monitoring and user input of information via barcode scanning of material and equipment information.

“The MD5 mobile carts give us the ability to move our EBR’s (Electronic Batch Records) with our process and also to scan barcode information directly into our MES software. Given that we are using standard PC technology, no extra validation was required. We also can view EBRs in view screen, allowing us to review every detail, which is imperative in our industry.”

Trail Kilkenny plans to spook visitors with a new Ghost Trail

Trail Kilkenny is exploring the possibility of adding a hi-tech, spine-chilling Ghost Trail to its suite of leisure and activity routes around County Kilkenny as part of its latest rural tourism initiative.

The group is gathering ghost stories from around the County and plans to bring these to life via a smartphone app and video technology which should entice visitors to explore the County and visit the historic locations where these spooky events are reported to have occurred.

The idea is to develop a new and intriguing way to uncover Kilkenny’s rich heritage and varied history. But what makes this concept really interesting is how these stories will be delivered, according to Trail Kilkenny and Kilkenny Leader Partnership’s Eoin Hogan.

As well as a traditional printed trail guide and signage, Trail Kilkenny is investigating the use of cutting edge technology to lead you along the trails. Visitors will download an app to a smart phone or similar device through which a storyteller will narrate ghost stories; using the latest augmented reality techniques to visualise the story at some locations.

“Essentially a ghostly occurrence will be recreated using video at a historic site and this video will be activated when the visitor scans the scene at a particular location using a smart phone,” Eoin Hogan explains.

“This is history with a difference. Visitors are being encouraged to explore Kilkenny’s heritage by presenting it in a light, entertaining way that uses ghost stories to tie history with heritage sites around the County.

“This should have broad market appeal and we also plan to incorporate elements into the trail product to attract school tours market, families and visitors to Kilkenny.

“Other destinations market ghostly tours very successfully. Edinburgh’s Witchery Tour for example is a must for visitors. But this is a very innovative project. Nobody has developed something quite like this; using technology to add an exciting dimension to a County heritage tour.”

Trail Kilkenny are collaborating with Thomastown based Glass Eye Productions on this project which is currently in its scoping phase and its feasibility and proposals for the development of the ghost trail will be reviewed before Halloween!!!

Fáilte Ireland unveils plan to put Merrion Square on the Map

-Dublin’s finest Georgian square celebrating its 250th anniversary-

Failte Ireland unveils plan to put Merrion Square on the Map. Pictured: Dylan Jones and his sister Ruby Jones helping Failte Ireland launch an initiative to awaken and promote Dublin's Merrion Square as a unique and vibrant cultural destination and tourist attraction. Merrion Square is celebrating its 250th anniversary.Photo Chris Bellew / Copyright 2012 Fennell Photography.

Fáilte Ireland today (Thursday August 9th) launched an initiative to “awaken” and promote Dublin’s Merrion Square as a unique and vibrant cultural destination and tourist attraction.

Merrion Square, located in the heart of Georgian Dublin, has an exciting cultural and events programme happening this year which is sure to position it as a “go-to” place for national and international culture seekers. Enabled by Fáilte Ireland, the stakeholders and community around Merrion Square are coming together to build awareness of its rich history and heritage, and to stimulate civic pride. This is especially apt for 2012 as Merrion Square is celebrating its 250th anniversary.

A Merrion Square Open Day will be held on August 25th followed by September On The Square, a month long series of events bringing visitors on an exciting journey of discovery through art, literature, music, history, architecture and family activities.

Last year the museums and institutions on Merrion Square attracted 1.6 million visitors but Fáilte Ireland believes there is huge potential to increase this number.

Launching the Merrion Square initiative today, Fáilte Ireland Chief Executive, Mr Shaun Quinn, said globally cultural tourism is the fastest growing tourism segment.

“Merrion Square has all the elements necessary to make it a strong, vibrant and important cultural tourism centre. Right now Merrion Square is asleep and many of its treasures are hidden from view. Through this project Fáilte Ireland, along with the Merrion Square stakeholders, will promote the Square. Nurturing Dublin’s heritage and cultural assets in this way is critical to the long term prosperity of Dublin.

“We are delighted to be working with the stakeholders in Merrion Square in order to reveal the inaccessible culture and heritage that is waiting to be explored.”

This initiative has emerged from ideas that were generated during the Merrion Square Innovation process where 37 stakeholders came together to unlock the potential of Merrion Square as a key cultural destination in Dublin for local, national and international visitors.

Speaking today, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, Sean Rainbird, said –

“Promoting the Merrion Square cultural quarter is a very important development that will create awareness of and enhance the public’s access to art, history and heritage.”

Merrion Square has an abundance of strengths from its strong Georgian heritage, cultural institutions, leisure facilities, and its political, social and scientific history. Mapped out 250 years ago in 1762, it has fine Georgian Houses on three sides and the garden of Leinster House and The National Gallery and Natural History Museum on the 4th.

Today many of the houses are predominantly used as office space but there is a wealth of history attached. Oscar Wilde lived as a child at 1 Merrion Square, where Bram Stoker also spent a lot of time attending Lady Wilde’s salons, while W. B. Yeats lived at No 82, and Daniel O’Connell at No 58.

The Square is well known for its Sunday Open Art Gallery and is home to diverse organisations such the National Maternity Hospital, the Irish Traditional Music Archive, the Irish Architectural Archive, the Irish Georgian Society, the Society of Antiquities, the College of Anaesthetists and the Irish Red Cross. It has a stunning public park and is looking forward to welcoming increased Dublin visitors over the coming weeks.

The September in The Square activities will include walking tours, mid-week lunchtime music performances and talks in key buildings as well as special events on Culture Night on Friday September 21st. The programme will give people the opportunity to see inside key buildings on the square, and experience events in some of Dublin’s most beautiful rooms.

Events during the month will include:

• A series of Weekend Wonders with themed programmes, all with a spirit of discovery to uncover the secrets of Merrion Square and its unique character.
• A dedicated Family Trail free of charge to encourage the young at heart to uncover Merrion Square’s secrets.
• A series of pop-up evening events giving the opportunity to experience Georgian Living on the Square, the great period of socialising, ideas and culture that the Square was expressly developed to meet.
• Specific Sunday events will include a Wilde about Words day, where great thinkers, poets and innovators will come together inspired by the spirit, and writings, of Oscar Wilde and his family
The month will conclude with a Weekend Wonder on Sunday 30th September designed to get behind the personalities and characters of the individual buildings and their histories.

Many of the events will be free of charge. See for more information