Irish Red Head Convention- Speed Dating for Gingers

Irish Red Head Convention- Speed Dating for Gingers

The 7th Irish Redhead Convention takes place in the beautiful seaside village of Crosshaven in Co. Cork this weekend, 19th- 21st of August and includes Speed Dating for Gingers. They call it a “Conservation Project” ! I love it ! If you are not interested in the dating scene there’s lots more to keep you entertained. Get REDy for an amazing fun filled weekend of freckles and frolics with the Carrot Tossing Championships, prizes for the Most Freckles Per Square Inch, music on the Foxygen and ElectRED picnic stages, seminars and exhibitions on red hair, Redhead only Photoshoots,  Foxy Fitness and lots, lots more! And check out for full programme of events.

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Feeling Good with Karen Underwood at Ballymaloe Grainstore

Feeling Good with Karen Underwood at Ballymaloe Grainstore

Karen Underwood Picture: Miki Barlok


You’ll feel very, very good after ‘Feeling Good’ a night of roof-raising jazz, soul and blues by Karen Underwood and her four-piece band in Ballymaloe Grainstore on Friday 22 April.  The Chicago native has captivated audiences all over Ireland with her powerful, passionate and moving interpretations of the songs of Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse.

Karen’s Feeling Good song list includes What A Difference A Day Makes, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, My Funny Valentine, Let’s Stay Together, Somebody To Love, Natural Woman, Unforgettable, Here Comes The Sun,  Ain’t Got No, You’ve Got A Friend, and many more.

And, of course, the Nina Simone classic, Feeling Good.

Karen was born on the south side of Chicago where she began her singing career in the church and as she says “there were no soloists, no instruments, everyone sang together in four part harmony”. Before she arrived in Ireland she had never sung with instrumental accompaniment or even a band. This changed when she moved to Cork in 1997, found her feet and started playing with The Flying Monkeys in March 2000.
Karen has written and performed four of her own shows that have toured across the country to critical and popular acclaim. She has played a host of Irish venues including The Olympia, Vicar Street, the Gaiety, National Concert Hall and Cork Opera House to name but a few.  She is a regular at festivals including Oxegen, Electric Picnic, Body and Soul, Black Box Festival of Fools, and Cork Jazz Festival. She has appeared live on TV3, TG4 and been guest on numerous radio shows including Pat Kenny, Derek Mooney, Marty Whelan, Miriam O’Callaghan, John Creedon.  Her two albums are ‘Ban the use of Jazz Music’ with Cartoon and her debut solo album ‘Live at the Everyman’ with John O’Brien.
John O’Brien is a classically-trained pianist, conductor, director and composer based in Cork. He serves as Karen’s musical director and accompanies her on piano.  John has worked on more than forty different productions of opera and musical theatre in Ireland, UK and Canada, and has toured with choirs across Europe, Japan and China.

Karen and John will be joined by Eoghan Regan (guitar); David Duffy (bass) and Davie Ryan (drums).

Tickets for Feeling Good with Karen Underwood and her Band in Ballymaloe Grainstore are €25 and can be booked online on or by phone on 021 465 2531.  Early three-course dinner (6pm) in Ballymaloe House and ticket are €70.

Redheads Fly High at Cork Airport

Redheads Fly High at Cork Airport

Historically subjected to witty taunts from ‘ginger nut’ to ‘carrot top’, red hair is being celebrated in a new exhibition of of captivating photographic portraits at Cork International Airport from March 7th – 31st, 2016.

Photographer Jörg Köster has snapped over a thousand individual red haired men, women and children for this portrait project, which features the full colour spectrum, ranging from strawberry blonde to flaming auburn. Red hair is the rarest of all hair colours in the world, and only 0.6% of the global population have naturally red hues.

The ongoing photography project began five years ago when Jörg Köster, a Cork based advertising, fashion and food photographer by profession developed an interest in redheaded subjects after shooting Irish clothing products for German catalogues. Having started his redhead portfolio, a friend alerted him to the Irish Redhead Convention, a whacky festival which celebrates everything about red hair that takes place in Crosshaven, Co. Cork each August. The organisers welcomed him on board, and the German native set up a photo studio at the event, allowing him the opportunity to photograph hundreds of redheads, a project which would have taken decades had it not been for the usual ginger gathering and one of Ireland’s most unique festivals. His portfolio now documents gingers of all ages and from all corners of the globe who have attended the world-famous freckle festival. Redheads were invited to get their portrait for free, while proceeds from the sales of prints were directly donated to the Irish Cancer Society, a contribution which has amounted to almost € 4,000 to the national charity to date.

“ I am very excited to show a selection of my redhead portraits as large scale prints in a beautiful public space like Cork Airport. In a world of digital perfection, we in the advertising business spend a lot of time manipulating images and distorting reality to create ‘flawless’ subjects.

I wanted my portraits to be natural, spontaneous and pure. By using daylight and a grey backdrop I aimed to bring out the natural beauty of red hair and freckles, which for so long were considered to be a flaw.

It has been a great experience to meet so many proud redheads, hear their stories and receive so many positive Facebook messages from all over the world.” says Jörg

“There is such diversity amongst redheads, yet together there is an amazingly strong sense of community” explains Joleen Cronin, Irish Redhead Convention founder and event organiser. “This project captures the essence of this concept so beautifully and viewers will be enthralled by the details in the differences and the personalities that shine through in each portrait. After all, every ginger tells a story.”

“With over 7,500 people per day expected through Cork Airport in March, this is an exciting project and wonderful local tourism event that we are delighted to be supporting” explains Kevin Cullinane, Head of Communications at Cork Airport. “With Ireland at the forefront of global St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this month, we think this project embodies Irish culture and our people in a unique way”

Cork Airport is the international gateway to the South of Ireland and is uniquely positioned at the start of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East.  It is the country’s second largest and busiest international airport with more choice of routes than any other airport outside of Dublin. More than 2 million passengers travel through the airport each year, flying to top destinations across the UK and throughout continental Europe. Cork Airport’s customer service (as voted by passengers) has won national and international awards.

The exhibition will officially open on Thursday, March 10th at 5.30pm with a reception and a visit from King and Queen of the Redheads Alan Reidy and Grainne Keena.

The Irish Redhead Convention will also feature in the Cork City St Patrick’s Day celebrations and redheads of all ages are invited to join the ginger loving group and take part in the colourful parade. To find out more and sign up to be a part of the group’s “Foxy Float”, visit


Karen Underwood at Sirius Arts Centre

Karen Underwood at Sirius Arts Centre

This event is in aid of Counselling services at Cobh Family Resource Centre and Sirius Arts Centre. 

Cobh is in for a treat on Friday the 5th and Saturday the 6th of February when Karen Underwood takes to the stage at the Sirius Arts Centre .

Karen is renowned for her powerful, passionate and moving interpretations of the songs of Billie Holliday, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse. She will be accompanied by classically trained pianist and composer John O’Brien.

Together these two talented musicians pack quite the musical, and emotional, punch. This intimate event is being held in aid of the Counselling service at Cobh Family Resource Centre and Sirius Arts Centre, tickets (€20) are limited as the venue has a strict 80 seat limit.

Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh

Friday 5th Feb – 8pm (Doors 7:45)
Saturday 6th Feb 8.30pm (Doors 8:15)

Tickets €20

For tickets contact the Cobh Family Resource Centre on 021 481 6103 or the Sirius Art Centre on 021 481 3790/ /

Tourism Ireland: Exceptional +12% growth from overseas for Jan-Sept 2015

Tourism Ireland: Exceptional +12% growth from overseas for Jan-Sept 2015



We’re on track for a record year, as Tourism Ireland continues to roll out its extensive promotional programme around the world. Today’s figures from the CSO (Central Statistics Office) indicate that this was the best ever January to September period for overseas visitors to Ireland, with almost 6.65 million arrivals recorded. Overseas visitor numbers have increased by +12% over the first nine months of 2014 – an additional 737,600 visitors. This is good news indeed, with the increase in visitor numbers from overseas helping to boost economic recovery around the country.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s figures indicate that we are heading for a record year for Irish tourism in 2015, with almost 6.65 million people arriving during the January to September period – an increase of +12%, or an additional 737,600 overseas visitors, when compared to 2014. I am delighted to see that growth has been recorded from all of our markets around the world, with record numbers coming here from North America (almost +14%), Mainland Europe (almost +14%) and long-haul markets (+11%). I also welcome the strong increase in British visitors (+11%), our largest market for overseas tourism.”

  • Overseas visitor numbers are up +12% between January and September 2015 – 737,600 additional visitors.
  • Great Britain: Almost 2.7 million arrivals were recorded from GB, our largest market, representing growth of +11%, about 266,700 extra British visitors compared with the first nine months of 2014.
  • North America: visitor numbers from the United States and Canada are up almost +14%, about 144,800 extra American and Canadian visitors. Ireland now welcomes 10% of all American visitors to Europe – particularly noteworthy given the intense competition from other destinations.
  • Mainland Europe: it’s been another stellar performance from Mainland Europe, with almost 2.4 million visitors (up almost +14% or 284,700 extra arrivals) – with markets like Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Benelux and the Nordic countries all recording really good growth.
  • Australia and Developing Markets (ADM): it’s also been another record performance for arrivals from Australia and developing markets – up +11%, or 41,400 additional visitors.

Niall Gibbons continued: “This was a strong performance and reflects the sentiment we are hearing from our tourism industry partners overseas, including tour operators and carriers, as well as tourism businesses here at home. We are determined to ensure that tourism growth continues. Upcoming promotions, including a significant presence – with about 70 Irish tourism partners – at World Travel Market in London next week will help to keep this momentum going and deliver further success in 2016 and beyond.” 


Click here to see highlights of our autumn campaign around the world.


Action Packed Month for Tourism


As well as announcing the shortlist for Ireland’s Top 10 Tourism Towns, we launched an exciting new phase of the Wild Atlantic Way. The release of the latest CSO figures point to a very strong summer and confirm that 2015 is shaping up to be a record year for Irish tourism. We kicked off our Autumn sales blitz and began using Google Trekker to put Dublin on the map by capturing many of it’s hidden beauty spots with a specialised camera. Ireland’s food appeal was demonstrated to Italian media at EXPO Milan held last week and speaking of food -have you heard about ‘Food on the Edge’ – a two day symposium for chefs and food enthusiasts all around the world taking place in Galway the 19th and 20th of October.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with international media starting off with the Wild Atlantic Way which was showcased to some of the most influential travel media in the world. Eight major US group tour buyers were here to learn more about our new tourism initiative, Ireland’s Ancient East . Top lifestyle media experienced the year of Irish design and finally, we hosted a top-level international media group to showcase and document Ireland’s LGBT tourism experience.

Deadlines: The closing date for applications for the National Festivals and Participate Events 2016 closes on Monday October 12th at 12.00 noon. October 15th is the deadline for statutory accommodation sectors to renew their Fáilte Ireland Quality Assurance for 2016.

As always check out our Friday Favourites – a round-up of some of our favourite tourism stories each week as well as our Monday Morning Memo where we share a host of insights from at home and abroad. You can catch these on our website at on LinkedIn or why not follow us on Twitter @Failte_Ireland. 


New Phase of Wild Atlantic Way Launched

A new phase of The Wild Atlantic Way was recently launched by Minister Michael Ring. A 3.5 million programme of works with photo-friendly marker points and internpretation panels will improve visitor experience along the route.

Read on for more information. 

Fáilte Ireland to ‘Trek’ Down Dublin

We are quite literally putting some of Dublin’s more remote spots on the map as begin to use the ‘Google Trekker’ specialised camera to capture some of Dublin’s many beauty spots which haven’t yet been captured by Google Street View. Our Dublin team are gathering images of some of Dublin’s magnificent views and hidden gems over the next number of weeks which will be made available via Google Maps.

To find out more about this click here.

International Journalists were in Ireland to Learn about LGBT Tourism

Following global media coverage of the recent referendum on same-sex marriage, a top level international media group, including The Guardian, BuzzFeed UK and The Huffington Post arrived in Ireland to document the Irish LGBT tourism experience. The group also attended ‘The Outing Lisdoonvarna’ – the world’s first and only LGBT matchmaking and music festival, and took in some of the west coast’s most iconic experiences.

For more information on this click here.

Global Audience for Wild Atlantic Way

The Wild Atlantic Way was awash with some of the most influential travel media from across the globe, as they undertook tailored itineraries in an overseas media blitz, designed, hosted and managed by Fáilte Ireland, in collaboration with Tourism Ireland.

For more information on these trips click here. 

Food on the Edge – A Two Day Symposium for Chefs and Food Enthusiasts

Fáilte Ireland are supporting ‘Food on the Edge’ – a two day symposium taking place 19th and 20th October in Galway. The event is a coming together of chefs and food enthusiasts to listen, talk, debate and network over two days on the conversational theme: ‘The Future of Food’.

For more information on this event click here.

Autumn Sales Blitz Begins for Tourism
Over the next six weeks Irish tourism businesses will engage in almost 8,500 one-to-one sales meetings with 275 key international tour operators. This is all part of our Autumn Sales Blitz – a series of six regional events designed to allow Irish tourism businesses to pitch to overseas tour operators.
To find out more click here.

Ireland’s Food Tourism Appeal on the Menu at EXPO Milan

The four Irish finalists of the 2015 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN Awards) joined Fáilte Ireland to demonstrate Ireland’s food appeal to the Italian media at the EXPO Milan.

For more information on this event click here. 

Top Lifestyle Media in Ireland to Experience Year of Irish Design

Eleven travel and lifestyle journalists with a combined reach of over 6 million were in Ireland to explore our rich heritage of craft and design in this very special year of Irish design. The international media undertook a bespoke itinerary, designed by Fáilte Ireland, showcasing the highlights of contemporary Irish design in Kilkenny and Dublin.

Read on for more information. 

Major US Group Tour Buyers to Put Ireland’s Ancient East on ‘Must-Visit’ Itinerary.

Eight major US group tour buyers including arrived in Ireland to learn more about our new tourism initiative, Ireland’s Ancient East. This is just one of a number of events designed, hosted and managed by Fáilte Ireland, in collaboration with Tourism Ireland, to promote our newest tourism initiative.

For more information click here.

Closing Date for National Festivals and Participate Events 2016

The application process for the National Festivals and Participate Events programme opened in September and the closing date for submission of applications is Monday 12th October at 12.00 noon. Only application forms submitted via the online system will be accepted.
For more information on this click here.



CATALPA at Ballymaloe Grainstore

Ballymaloe Grainstore

Sunday 11 October, 8pm


 “Exhilarating, magical, a triumph, a joy and a delight” – Irish Times  

Ballymaloe Grainstore presents Catalpa on Sunday 11 October at 8pm.  A classic of modern Irish theatre, it is based on the true story of the daring 1875 whale ship rescue of six Irish prisoners from Fremantle penal colony in Australia.


Catalpa is about heroes and visionaries, political intrigue and personal loyalty, with hot romance, mixed-up rebels and battles at sea.  A celebration of the power of live theatre, The Washington Post calls it “a soaring rip-roaring one-man adventure.” The Irish Times says it is “exhilarating, magical, a triumph, a joy and a delight.”


Since its premiere 20 years ago, Catalpa has toured the world to high acclaim, including New York, Chicago, Paris, Geneva, Helsinki and Harare.


Catalpa is written and performed by Donal O’Kelly with live music by Trevor Knight.


“A masterpiece…searingly satirical, comic, tragic, profoundly sensitive.” –  The Scotsman


“Inspired creativity… should not be missed.” – Sunday Independent


Tickets for Catalpa are €20 and may be booked on or 021-465 2531.  Ticket and pre-show dinner in Ballymaloe House (6pm) is available for €65.

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