Tourism Ireland has launched a new film to help consolidate and promote Derry’s status as the Hallowe’en capital of the world ahead of the 2016 celebrations.
The national tourism body this week launched the 57 second video which is geared towards promoting the city on an international stage.
In Ireland’s Ancient East there’s a castle around every corner, some in ruins, some perfectly preserved and many others now offering luxury hotel accommodation. Here’s a guide to the top 10:
1. Trim Castle, County Meath
The largest Anglo-Norman castle in Ireland, Trim Castle is over 800 years old and has an unusual three-storey keep with 20 corners. It was used as a location in the movie Braveheart.
2. Kilkenny Castle
Kilkenny Castle, another impressive Norman bastion, boasts majestic halls and extensive parklands. Over the centuries it has been extended and rebuilt resulting in a complex structure of various architectural styles.
3. Blarney Castle, County Cork
Most famous for being the home of the Blarney Stone, Blarney Castle has a lot more to explore. The gorgeous grounds, the enchanted rock close, the badger’s cave, the witch stone and the wishing steps are all part of the magic of this castle.
4. Lismore Castle, County Waterford
Dating from 1170, Lismore is a privately owned castle offering luxury accommodation on an exclusive hire basis. It is an exceptional Irish destination, somewhere where you can make your own magic.
5. Castle Leslie Estate, County Monaghan
Set in 1,000 acres of lush countryside dotted with ancient woodland, Castle Leslie hotel offers unusual and enchanting accommodation, authentic castle interiors and old world grandeur.
6. Huntington Castle, County Carlow
Still lived in by descendants of the original builders, a guided tour of this fascinating castle takes just half an hour and brings its history and stories of its occupants to life. The gardens are full of impressive formal plantings and layouts.
7. Birr Castle, County Offaly
The castle itself is not open to the public but it is worth a visit to see the Science Centre housed in the stables and the Great Telescope built in the 1840s, which was the largest telescope in the world at the time.
8. Killeen Castle, County Meath
The history of Killeen Castle dates back to 1181 when it was built by Hugh de Lacy. In the early 19th century it was modernised creating the design for the building which stands today at the heart of the magnificent estate famous for its Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.
9. Slane Castle, County Meath
With the backdrop of the River Boyne and the surrounding parkland, Slane is as famous as a venue for superb outdoor rock concerts as it is a castle. Set in the middle of a 1,500 acre estate in the heart of the Boyne Valley, it’s well worth a visit.
10. Castle Roche, County Louth
The remains of the 13th-century Castle Roche stand on a rocky outcrop from where impressive views of the countryside can be enjoyed. It is reported to be haunted.
An exceptional new rail experience is taking shape in Ireland: launching in 2016, Belmond Grand Hibernian will
be the country’s first ever luxury touring train, lifting travel in the Emerald Isle to dazzling new heights.
Some 300,000 visitors a year expected at centre which will tell story of Easter Rising
Work will begin next month on the General Post Office (GPO) interpret
ative centre, the centrepiece for the Easter Rising centenary commemorations.
Contracts were signed last week with builders PJ Hegarty in relation to the €7.8 million project. The interpretative centre will be 1,650sq m (17,760 sq ft) in size and is expected to attract 300,000 visitors a year.
It will be located in the courtyard which has been out of bounds to the public since the GPO was rebuilt after the 1916 Rising.
The courtyard is at basement level. The main construction piece will be a new podium which will form a large gallery area.
The exhibition gallery will tell the story of the Rising chronologically with exact details yet to be decided. The theme will be ‘The GPO as Witness to History’.
Also central to the project will be a sculptured garden which will include a specific memorial to the children killed during the Rising.
The courtyard restoration work is almost complete, which will allow for the general building works to begin.
It is due to be completed by October next year.
The Government is spending €22 million as part of the decade of centenaries which will include the refurbishment of Kilmainham Courthouse and Richmond Barracks.
The contract to design the GPO interpretative centre was won by Dublin architects Kavanagh Tuite.
Architect Brian Kavanagh said they had been working with An Post for the past 30 years to try to make better use of one of Dublin’s best known buildings.
“We wanted to turn the whole building into active use. There was a poor level of public engagement with the GPO,” he said.
Mr Kavanagh said everything was on schedule. “This will be built on time. All the milestones for the construction are being met.”
The interpretative centre is due to open on Easter Sunday, March 27th, 2016. However, this is almost a month before the centenary of the Rising itself which started on Monday, April 25th, 1916.
Traditionally, Easter Rising commemorations take place at Easter irrespective of when that falls.