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Home of St Patrick Festival returns for 2018

Following the huge success of previous events in 2016 and 2017, The Home of St Patrick Festival will once again celebrate the patron saint across counties Armagh and Down with a global programme of local and international music, theatre, sport, spoken word and spirituality.

The eleven-day festival opens on Thursday, 8th March with a half-day symposium on modern slavery at the Market Place Theatre featuring guest talks, readings and displays.

The full festival programme provides locals, tourists and international visitors with an unrivalled calendar of events, promising to be the biggest, best and most-diverse of its kind in Europe.

Taking in many of the iconic locations, cultural landmarks and sites of historical interest throughout counties Armagh and Down, the festival programme brings together renowned performers, artists, guest speakers and visionaries from around the world.

The programme continues at Down Cathedral on Friday, 9th March with the symbolic unveiling of a 4.5m high replica of the 8th Century St Patrick’s Cross made locally from Mourne granite.


The significance of St Patrick’s influence on the region is not lost with numerous events paying homage to his life, work and teachings. A re-enactment of his arrival in Ireland will take place on March 11th at Inch Abbey on the shores of the Quoile River, Downpatrick, offering a host of family friendly activities including living history demonstrations, live music and free children’s entertainment.

Two guided walking tours, ‘A Way for Seeing’, will provide insight into the lands and terrain Patrick himself would have walked, around Lecale and the Mourne Mountains separately, highlighting points of interest and how the area would have changed since Patrick’s era.



Images of a traditional music session at Saint Patrick’s Festival in Downpatrick, 2016. Credit: Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

Music lovers are well catered for with numerous key events to whet the proverbial whistle. ‘Celebrate St Patrick’ with a choral extravaganza at Armagh’s Roman Catholic cathedral on March 10th in the company of musician and presenter John Anderson for a reflective and celebratory event with choirs from all over the island.


World renowned Portuguese Fado singer and guitarist Carminho will bring her unique sound and energy to the Church of Ireland cathedral in Armagh City on Thursday, 15th March, playing pieces from her award-winning albums and sell out tours.

The Rhythms for the Saint will be heard emanating from the Market Place Theatre in Armagh on March 16th. Drums from across the world will celebrate the diverse rhythms of life in this show curated by percussionist Mark Wilson.

South Armagh Tailteann Games on Saturday, March 10th. Inspired by the ancient Celtic tradition.
The games will feature local teams competing in ancient sports at Shane O’Neills GFC, Camlough from 1:00pm and ending in a themed banquet.


For a very different experience, relax in the luxurious surroundings of the five-star Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle for Afternoon Tea with Joanna Trollope on March 11th. The acclaimed author will be speaking about fiction and autobiography and answering your questions, bringing to life St Patrick’s important literary connection in Confessio, the oldest surviving written text in Ireland.

Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Alderman Gareth Wilson, said;

“We are truly bringing St Patrick home with this world class festival programme of inspirational events and experiences. Any who visit this vibrant and welcoming region will enjoy our hospitality and the international standard of culture and entertainment available across the eleven days of celebration.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for this landmark event, providing such a unique opportunity to share this incredible festival line-up in so many interesting locations and areas of outstanding natural beauty.”

St. Patrick’s Day

On the day itself, Saturday, March 17th, celebrate the first light of St Patrick’s morning with the ancient people of Ulster at Sunrise with Patrick. The event will feature song and story casting an eye back to what life and faith may have been like before the arrival of Christianity. Breakfast is included for all attendees.

Throughout St Patrick’s Day, the areas of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough and Newry, Mourne and Down District Councils will come alive with colour and noise as fantastic carnival processions make their way through the major town and city centres. Armagh, Newry and Downpatrick will host spectacular displays, bringing communities from across the region together with residents and visitors in a celebration of local talent, dance and entertainment.

This Year’s Event

Cllr Roisin Mulgrew, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said:

“This year’s Home of St Patrick programme ensures that our local and international visitors can join with the wider community to celebrate St Patrick in his adopted homeland across counties Armagh and Down.

“With the festival only a matter of weeks away, we are encouraging everyone to log on and book early to avoid disappointment as this astounding line up of arts, food and special events is not to be missed as there is something for everyone to enjoy.”

Unknown by many, St Patrick is also the patron saint of French fishermen and Nigeria. The Food & Walking Tour on March 18th will follow his footsteps around Armagh City, exploring links to fish, Nigeria and Ireland in the 5th Century with specially selected culinary delicacies and beverages. Tours take place at 11:00am and 3:00pm.

After a hugely successful inaugural event in 2016. The collaboration between the District Councils continues to provide an arts and culture extravaganza that provides inspiration, entertainment, and reflection.

The 2018 Home of St Patrick Festival is kindly supported by Tourism NI.

Travel & Tourism

Galgorm Collection Goes for gold in New Partnership with NOW Group

Pictured celebrating the announcement are (L-R): Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group, Laura Millar, Group HR Manager at Galgorm Collection, Richard Magowan, Group Staff Engagement Officer Galgorm Collection and Tiarnán O'Neill, Group Finance Director at Galgorm Collection. Photo Credit: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Northern Ireland’s leading hospitality group, Galgorm Collection, today confirmed a new three-year strategic partnership with the NOW Group which will see the first ever Gold Jam Card membership on the island of Ireland awarded to a hospitality partner.

Established in 2000, the NOW Group is a social enterprise focused on supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future. The group’s JAM Card Gold Membership is awarded to businesses that demonstrably place diversity and accessibility at the heart of business.

Through the programme, Galgorm Collection will place its full team through rigorous training to become JAM Card friendly, which means that guests requiring additional time and patience can discretely alert team members and ask for ‘Just A Minute’. It is hoped that the new initiative will help to support guests and visitors with learning difficulties, autism, or communication barriers to experience its full five-star service.

Galgorm Collection has also committed to creating at least five new jobs for people living with autism and enrolled with NOW Group’s employment service. The new jobs cover a range of hospitality roles throughout Galgorm’s collection of properties in Belfast, Ballymena, Crawfordsburn and Templepatrick.

Tiarnán O’Neill, Group Finance Director at Galgorm Collection, said:

“As a responsible business and major local employer, Galgorm Collection is deeply committed to excellence and inclusivity which is firmly embedded within our business. We’re delighted to be the first hospitality partner on the island of Ireland set to achieve Gold Jam Card Membership status and affirm our commitment to supporting our communities.

We continually strive to exceed customer expectations and offer an unforgettable service across our collection of award-winning, luxury hotels and restaurants and I’m delighted that this partnership will enable us to deliver this to all guests.

We’re also thrilled to confirm a new three-year strategic partnership with the NOW Group to really drive our credentials in the area of diversity and inclusion and to provide new employment opportunities to those living with autism or learning difficulties, which we hope to build on throughout the partnership.”

Photo Credit: Philip Magowan / PressEye

Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group, said:

“We are thrilled to confirm Galgorm Collection as our first strategic hospitality partner and to work with the group in achieving Gold JAM Card Membership which represents our top mark for diversity and inclusion.

Since launching the JAM Card initiative in 2012, the scheme has been a resounding success with more than 1,800 organisations across the region participating in the training programme. We’re delighted to now build upon that momentum by announcing a new strategic partnership with Northern Ireland’s leading hospitality group which will take the programme to the next level.

Galgorm Collection is a key strategic partner for us and we’re excited to work closely with the group to deliver upon this new programme. Not only will this partnership create new employment opportunities for our service users, but it will allow Galgorm Collection to lead the hospitality industry in terms of neurodiversity and how it supports vulnerable customers.

We hope that this programme will encourage other organisations across all industries to see the benefits of joining us in committing to support those with visible and hidden disabilities through our JAM Card initiative.” 

In addition to the new jobs created, Galgorm Collection will further support the NOW Group’s social enterprise Loaf Pottery. Located in Crawfordsburn, the café and ceramics shop sits directly opposite Galgorm Collection’s newest venture, The Old Inn, which was acquired by the group earlier this year.

Through the partnership, pottery and ceramics crafted from the shop will be made available for sale across Galgorm Collection’s properties, reaching an expanded customer base and promoting the enterprise to new audiences from near and far.

For more information on the Gold JAM Card Membership or JAM Card Initiative, please visit or

For more information on Galgorm Collection’s commitment to communities, please visit

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Travel & Tourism

Embrace A Unique Art Experience On Picturesque Farm On The Causeway Coastal Route

Perched just a couple of hundred yards from The Gobbins Cliffs, Audrey Kyle offers a unique art workshop, helping people learn the skills of painting as well as connecting with nature.

Folklore and the landscape of the Islandmagee peninsula, shaped by the sea, offers a stunning backdrop to learn art away from the daily hustle and bustle of modern life.

Audrey Kyle Art operates on a simple premise – learning a new skill in a tranquil setting.

It is a concept Audrey developed after re-discovering her affinity for painting.

“I had been working in the corporate world in HR, but eight years ago I took a change in direction and haven’t looked back,” she explained. “I began painting, started to get commissions and my new career started from there”

Audrey opened the Gobbins Studios to showcase her own work, but has since opened the studios for classes.

This Saturday August 1 from 12pm – 4pm, Audrey will be hosting an open studio where she will be displaying some brand new pieces that incorporate organic materials.

“What is offered is quite different to what other art classes offer,” she said. “As well as learning the skills of watercolours it is very much aimed at creating a relaxing, mindful experience.”

It also helps that the studio is part of a working farm with a livery stable and a flock of 50 Suffolk ewes.

“Where we are situated means we have a stunning landscape and an active farm,” Audrey said.

“There are so many aspects that can be drawn upon. And, as it changes through the seasons it offers many different inspirations.

“For example, in the summertime we do watercolour workshops and experience days where the people that visit can go for a walk through the meadow and through the woodland, we collect wild grasses and wildflowers and then they come back to the studio and paint them.”

Most classes last for three hours and can accommodate up to six people. However, there are also special summer sessions.

“In summer I host experience days, which last for five hours including lunch, and woodland and cliff top walk along with the watercolour practice.

“This enables the folklore to be incorporated to build experiences of the folklore of Ireland and really embrace the spirit of this remarkable area.”

Art Fans are welcome to join Audrey Saturday August 1 at The Gobbins Studio from 12 pm- 4 pm to view some of the artist’s latest work.

You can find out more and book classes at or contact Audrey directly on 07712464966

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