Calling Irish Makers and Creators Worldwide

“To Be Irish” is calling for all Irish businesses, craftspeople, makers and creators to register their information on the To Be Irish Christmas Gifting and Event Guide. A one-stop shop where you can find the perfect homegrown present for your loved one, or join festive happenings around the globe. To Be Irish is a digital hub for the global Irish family, creates meaningful connections with the Irish diaspora & those who have a grá for Ireland at home and abroad during key moments of the year. Now in its third year, To Be Irish returns to mark the special Christmas season from the 14 – 25 December 2022 presenting a festive programme for everyone at home and abroad to enjoy. Derived from the Government’s new Diaspora Strategy, initiated by Minister of State for the Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D., To Be Irish is an opportunity to showcase events globally that celebrate Irish culture around Christmas; featuring seasonal traditions, community initiatives, crafts, and more. Gifting and Event registration is free and open to makers and creators from around the world with a clear connection to Ireland.

Minister Brophy spoke with Ger Sweeney recently

Red Hugh O’Donnell 420

On 10th September 2022 the 420th anniversary of the death of Red Hugh O’Donnell occurs. Red Hugh died in Simancas and was buried a few miles away in Valladolid. For generations the final resting place of Red Hugh was sought and through persistence from people in both Donegal (where Red Hugh is from) and Vallodolid the mystery was solved. There is a special weekend of commemorations planned for the 420th anniversary in both Simancas and Vallodolid. In this piece Eddie Crawford and Brendan Rohan speak to Ger Sweeney from Donegal and Carlos Burgos joins the conversation from Valladolid to explain what is planned.


Martin Hayes chats with Ger Sweeney

Martin Hayes has travelled the world with his fiddle. His performances and recordings expose his audiences to his personal interpretation of the traditional Irish music that has been handed down from generation to generation. Nights by the fire at home in East Clare as a boy listening to traditional music and playing with the Tulla Céilí Band as a teenager lit the flame of passion. We experience that passion every time we listen to Martin play, in whatever setting.

Recently, Martin and Ger Sweeney chatted for Ger’s Irish radio programme on Spain-based Talk Radio Europe. Here is that conversation.


St. Patrick’s Day in Spain 2022

The Irish Embassy in Madrid has compiled a list of activities happening across Spain to mark St. Patrick’s Day The infromation is below along with details of where further information is available. To add to this please email and your event in Spain can be added here. Ger Sweeney will be promoting these events on his radio programme on Talk Radio Europe on 9th and 16th March. Having all of the information and contact details here in one place will allow him to direct traffic here rather than reading out endless contacts and web addresses that nobody will remember.





This year Iomramh Cultural Association and Irish in Barcelona present the 11th Kingspan Mediterranean Currach Regatta festival to celebrate St. Patrick´s Day, on Sunday 13 March. The race will kick off at 10h from Espigó de la Mar Bella (near Base Nàutica Municipal de Barcelona) and crews that row from the club in Barcelona will compete for the trophy with currach rowers coming from Ireland and the USA. Simultaneously (from 11h onwards), at CEM Mar Bella outdoor space, there will be Irish music, dance, Irish food & drink and plenty of fun for all the family. To view the full programme please click here

The Gran Central Hotel (main hall) will host Nancy Whiskey Irish Band with Gerardi & Anderson Dancers, on Thursday 17 March from 19-21h, and will be performing traditional tunes, Irish dancing and a Ceilí. Entrance is free and everyone is welcome. Celebrations will continue afterwards at The Cottage Irish pub and Gastro restaurant (booking required). On Friday 18 March the same group will play at The Wild Geese Irish Pub. And lastly, on Friday 25 at 22h, Delorgan Deeptap Dance Co. will offer a traditional musical titled “VIAJE A IRLANDA” EL MUSICAL CELTA, about the Irish Diaspora´s journey to America at the beginning of the century. It will be two hours of live music, Irish dance, history and acting. For more information on this please contact 932957900

On Saturday 19 March, the Escola Mediterránia de Dansa Irlandesa are putting on a show in the Centre Artesá Tradicionarius, at 17.30h. Following this there will be ceilidh dancing for everyone to enjoy. For more information on ticket sales please see their website.

The Irish-Basque Association LagunCara have put together a wide range of activities to celebrate St. Patrick´s Day this year. For information on all the events taking place, please consult their website.



La Rioja
The Centre of Irish Studies Banna/Bond EFACIS (European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies) of the Universidades de La Rioja, Burgos, Deusto y Zaragoza, will start their V International Seminar on St. Patrick’s Day (Irish Itinerary 2022): Gender Based Violence and The Art of Storytelling on St. Patrick’s Day 2022. For the full programme which will be open to students, teachers and general public in the Universidad de La Rioja please see here




The Embassy in Madrid was delighted to work with Track Dogs once again on a video clip especially for St. Patrick’s Day, which we will be tweeting (@IrlEmbMadrid) on the morning of the 17 March for you to enjoy! Stay tuned….

The Asociación Educativa Oscar Wilde has planned an open day to celebrate St. Patrick´s Day, on Wednesday 16 March from 18-21h, in the Universidad Popular, Avda Baunatal 18 (San Sebastián de los Reyes). You are invited along to tell your story on what links you to Ireland and there will also be some music to enjoy. Everyone is welcome.

Irish Treble, along with some special guests, will be celebrating St. Patrick´s Day with a concert in Sala Galileo Galilei, on Saturday 19 March at 21h. For more information on the event and ticket sales please see here

The Spanish Irish Business Network (SIBN), in collaboration Electrocor Las Rozas Club de Fútbol, are pleased to invite their members and friends to a festive day to celebrate St Patrick´s Day in style! The Madrid Harps GAA, ELC Special Skills and IncluIndus Rugby Social players will be participating with sports activities, together with musical performance by Sunday Cover Sunday and much more fun and games for all the family. It will take place on Saturday 19 March from 13:30h onwards, in Campo de Fútbol El Abajon, C. Comunidad de Andalucía, 53, Las Rozas. Please follow SIBN social media (FB @SpanishIrishBusinessNetwork, twitter @sibnes) for more information

In the Sierra de Guadarrama, the Parroquia de la Virgen del Carmen in Alpedrete will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day from 17-20 March, with a variety of events including a charity race, a market, a barbeque, a concert and many fun activities for kids. The church will be illuminated in green for the occasion. For more information please contact Juan by email

Madrid Hash House Harriers will have their annual St. Patrick´s Day Run on Sunday 20 March at 13h. More details can be found here

The annual St. Patrick´s Day Mass will be taking place in the church of ‘San Patricio‘ in Málaga (C. Abogado Federico Orellana Toledano, 2) on Thursday 17 March, at 11h. Everyone is welcome and you are encouraged to wear something green to celebrate the day

In Benalmádena (Plaza de la Mezquita) the Irish Association of Spain will be organising St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on Thursday 17 March, starting with a mass in the Inmaculada Concepción church at 13h, followed by a parade and much more entertainment. Please check out the full programme here

Lorca will be joining the St. Patrick´s Day celebrations with lots of activities for all the family, from the 11-17 March. You can consult the full programme of events here




Other events of interest to note
Tourism Ireland is launching a distinctive new music festival as part of its global celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday 17 March. The Green Button Festival will connect anyone anywhere around the globe with some of Ireland’s best-loved and up-and-coming musicians.  Ireland is celebrating its legendary St Patrick’s Day festivities live and in-person for the first time in two years.  But for those who can’t be in Ireland personally, the Green Button Festival is an invitation to celebrate Irish heritage, Irish tradition, and Ireland’s national day in a new and exciting way. The unique festival can be viewed wherever you are on St Patrick’s Day, via

The Asociación Española de Estudios Irlandeses (AEDEI) will be launching issue 17 of their magazine to celebrate St. Patrick´s Day this year. It will be available at this link from Wednesday 16 March onwards. You may also wish to note that a new Centre for Irish Studies, Alka-Éire, has been founded in the Universidad de Alcalá.

You may also wish to follow the Irish Embassy on twitter (@IrlEmbMadrid) to keep fully up-to-date with all the activities.

Chatting with The Raines

Described as a Folk/Americana trio, The Raines, comprising Ruth Dillon, Julianna Erkkonen and Yvonne Tiernan are based in Galway. Each is an experienced and talented folk musician so since joining forces in 2019 it is fair to say that they have been making beautiful music that has caught the attention of audiences far and wide. Ger Sweeney spoke to The Raines in December 2021 and this is how the conversation went.

CallyAnna – Singer Songwriter Breaking Through

CallyAnnaIt is never easy being discovered and as Christie Hennessy said many years ago on The Late Late Show it took him about 40 years to become an overnight success. CallyAnna, a hugely talented Mayo-based singer songwriter told me all about her musical journey as she prepares to launch her second studio album. She’s very talented, very hardworking and very enthusiastic. Hear her story here





Camilla Griehsel – From Sweden to Ireland and the Journey Taken

It was during the Covid restrictions so the meeting between Camilla Griehsel and Ger Sweeney was via Zoom but the ensuing conversation flowed as freely as if they were sharing a coffee overlooking the sea in beautiful West Cork.

Camilla is Swedish and has been singing since she was five years old. Her journey to her home in West Cork has taken her via Britain, the United States and South America. She sings in many languages and has been an important part of the Irish music scene for many years. Camilla spoke to Ger for his Irish radio programme on Spain-based Talk Radio Europe. Listen below.



Jim Schofield & His Home-Built Boat for Solo Atlantic Crossing

Jim Schofield is busy working away in the garage beside his house in Blessington, Co. Wicklow at present. He hopes that he will complete it before the summer and his plan is to race it across the Atlantic later this year.

Jim took time out to talk to Ger Sweeney about the project. Hear the interview below and keep up to date with his plan and eventual journey by googling “liffeysailor” to find him on Youtube, Tick Tock and other social media platforms.



President Michael D Higgins’ Christmas Message

President Michael D Higgins has issued his Christmas and New Year message. Read the text or enjoy the video.

Mar Uachtarán na hÉireann, as President of Ireland, may I send each and every one of you greetings and my warmest wishes for a peaceful and Happy Christmas.

What a year we have had, a year in which we have lost so many to this pandemic and during which the lives of so many of our people have been changed utterly as we made our shared efforts to protect each other.

In 2020, as we came together to meet the challenge of a global pandemic, we were called on to undertake a demanding adjustment to our way of life, one that has required considerable resilience, self-sacrifice and compassion from us all.

May I, as President, say how gratifying it has been to see the great expression of generosity that has been demonstrated throughout this difficult time.

We all have been so fortunate, to have delivered for our welfare, countless examples of self-sacrifice on the part of essential workers, neighbours and family members, all doing their utmost to lessen the isolation and disruption that this year has brought.

When we reflect on our recent experiences this Christmas this spirit of solidarity can be our guiding light as we proceed onwards towards a new year that will offer us our challenges but which we can approach with hope as a result of what we have been doing together. 

Working together on this project of controlling COVID-19, as it impinges on our lives, requires the best of us all.  We need not only to speak the language of citizenship, but to deliver it and to share it, as we encourage each other to have a vision of the light that will surely come if we work as one, renewing and redoubling our efforts to suppress the Coronavirus.

Invoking solidarity requires us, of course, to understand the vulnerability of others.

For all of us, 2020 has been a challenging year.  For vulnerable groups, however, the impact of Covid-19 has been greatly magnified.

May I suggest that the compassion, care and empathy we extend to such groups will define how history will recall these times. 

We have learnt in recent months that kindness is a precious commodity reflecting a collective concern for all with whom we share a mutual space.  We have seen so many examples of good citizens placing the common good above their own wants, making sacrifices as they think beyond the self in the protection of others.

The Christmas story of a journey to Bethlehem is a founding story of a long and difficult journey, and is invoked as the source of a new dawn and the birth of a new and better world for all.

Christmas has always signified a moment of hope, and the revival of hope, a moment to find encouragement, even in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.

Today, we share in the grief of those who have lost loved-ones this year.  We share, too, the pain of those whose lives and livelihoods have been changed, and who face uncertainty for the future, and we stand with our friends, family members and neighbours who have experienced isolation and being separated from those who previously sustained them.

We also remember, this year, in a special way, the many who have been unable to travel to be with loved-ones but who, I know, will be connected in spirit during the festive season.

Let us, however, continue to journey forward in a spirit of hope and solidarity.  As we stand at a defining moment in our nation’s history, let us choose together how we wish to write this next chapter; how we wish to shape a new Ireland waiting to be born.    

It is an Ireland which can be the better for our reflection on what it is that we wish to value, an Ireland that can better address our shared existence, our shared vulnerability and our interdependence, all of our relationships. 

Today, as we move beyond the Winter Solstice towards the longer, warmer days to come, let us renew our sense of wonderful possibilities yet to be realised and resolve to journey forward in a spirit of solidarity, of sensitivity to memories to be recalled, and of forgiveness sought and offered so that together we can navigate our way safely and with joy towards that shared and brighter future.

I wish you once again a Happy Christmas, and a New Year of hope and promise.

Nollaig Shona daoibh go léir.

Beir Beannacht.

Book about Limerick City’s Shops and Shopping Launched

“Are you Going Up Town” is the title of a wonderful book that explores the shops of Limerick City through the years, and the Limerick shopping experience there that was so special. Written by Hélène Bradley Davies, Ursula Callaghan and Maura Cronin, the book is a result of them asking “Where do we shop and why do we shop there?” Simple questions really, but the response varies from – ‘That’s where my mother went’, to ‘They have the best selection’, to the simple fact of the particular shop’s closeness to home.

The book is full of wonderful pictuers of Limerick from the 1800s onwards and charts the development of shops and of shopping in the city, showing how retailing animated the thoroughfares and the fine buildings of the new town, as well as the medieval streets and lanes of the older parts of the city. The authors write about, and have pictures of the shops of bygone days and the wide array of goods that they offered while also featuring the shop owners, their employees, and the shoppers. A major strength of the book is the use of memories recounted by the shoppers, shop owners and assistants who were interviewed for this project. The clarity and vibrancy of their reminiscences are astonishing, with interviewees able to remember entire streets of shops that are long gone, their proprietors and their employees

The book describes historical trends in the range and type of goods being sold in shops, as well as changes in the organisation of retailing, such as the rise of the department store and the retail chain store or “multiple”, and the decline of the small family shop. As well as the history of local shops and shopping, the authors expertly delineate various aspects of the geography of retailing. It is clear that shopping in all periods was a different experience for different social classes, and in different parts of the city.

This is not just a social history. As well as leading the reader on a fascinating journey through the city of yesteryear, it provides an important reference point for current debates on the future of Limerick. As the city wrestles with profound changes in retailing, in particular the rise of on-line shopping, the book invites us to think seriously about the future of the city centre.

Ger Sweeney spoke to one of the authors, Dr. Ursula Callaghan about the book. The interview was heard on his Irish radio programme on Spain-based Talk Radio Europe. Their chat can be heard below.