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The pleasure list: Making much of the medieval past


Bringing history to life: Model Karen dresses in period costume to celebrate Medieval Week which takes place in Kilkenny until April 26th

Bringing history to life: Model Karen dresses in period costume to celebrate Medieval Week which takes place in Kilkenny until April 26th

Maven boutique

Maven boutique

Bringing history to life: Model Karen dresses in period costume to celebrate Medieval Week which takes place in Kilkenny until April 26th

The development of Ireland's Medieval Mile is a fantastic new undertaking in Kilkenny, stretching from the castle to St Canice's Cathedral -built in the 13th century, a showcase of the era's ornate stonemasonry skills and the second longest cathedral in the country - and making the most of the city's rich heritage.

This is also the inspiration behind a charming notion: Ireland's Medieval Week, part of Kilkenny 2015. This is the only event of its kind, and offers an opportunity to see and understand far more about the city and country's medieval past. Expect a host of events, including a medieval rooftop tour, glass blowing, food workshops, music sessions, craft workshops, a witch's story and medieval games, along with tours of the Cathedral Close and St Canice's beautiful stained glass windows, and an introduction to Irish heraldry. A great day out for all the family, offering fascinating insights for professional historians and keen amateurs alike. Continuing until next Sunday, Ireland's Medieval Week is a rare chance to dress up and learn in a fun and memorable way. Bringing history back to life never seemed so easy, or worthwhile.


Orwell, gospel, songs and seafood at Howth

Of all the many festivals that dot our cultural and culinary landscape, one of the most entertaining and delicious has to be the annual Dublin Bay Prawn Festival, taking place in Howth between next Friday, April 24 and Sunday 26.

Each year, to celebrate the bounty of the sea and the particular affection in which we hold the Dublin Bay prawn, the restaurants and cafes of Howth come together to host a variety of fine experiences, including a food village in a marquee, serving impeccably fresh and delicious seafood, cooked in a variety of imaginative ways. It's not all about food though. There is also an impressive cultural and historical agenda, including music sessions - the traditional sea shanties are particularly appealing, as is the Howth Gospel Choir - storytelling and, as a one-off, Phelim Drew's one-man show of George Owell's Down and Out in Paris and London.


Chef Karl Breen key to new look at Locks Brasserie

It's all change at Locks Brasserie, with a new menu, new look and new head chef in place. Since Kirsten Batt and S├ębastien Masi of Pearl took over here in 2010, improvements have been steady and serious - including of course a Michelin star.

Most recently, Karl Breen, formerly with The Greenhouse and Gregan's Castle, has taken over the kitchen and put together a new menu, emphasising all that is seasonal, fresh and local, using ingredients like wild garlic, stone bass and octopus prepared over 12-hours, for the revised table d'hote and tasting menus. Let's hope he's found a place for his famous potato bread too. As Karl says, "My food philosophy is not to over-complicate dishes, but allow the natural flavours of seasonal ingredients to shine through." On the interiors front, cheese trolleys and a bijoux bar are enhanced by plush new mink-coloured carpets upstairs, linen tablecloths, gorgeous floristry and warm plum tones, all of which combine to provide a cheery but luxurious setting.


Much more at Maven

Sharon Beatty studied fashion at the Grafton Academy, before heading for NYC and setting up her own label, sold in boutiques around the East Village. One piece caught the eye of Sandra Bernhardt, who wore it in a music video, while Patricia Fields, costume designer for Sex and The City, was also a big fan.

In the late 1990s, Sharon came back to Dublin and set up Maven boutique on Wicklow Street in 2008, which has since established itself as the ultimate go-to for savvy lovers of stylish clothes, accessories and jewellery. Along with her own line, Ms Beatty, based around the idea of simple designs in beautiful fabrics, Sharon stocks a constantly evolving range of clothes and more. New this season are French labels IKKS and One Step, which Sharon has put together into a collection focussing on fabrics that are easy to wear and flattering, along with Irish jewellery designer Simon Phelan, whose new collection reflects the art forms found in microscopic life. Make a date, make a detour. Get there.


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