Get outdoors beat the blues
Just because it's January doesn't mean we need to hibernate indoors until we get paid again. There's a plethora of activities we can do to shake-off the cobwebs and lose the pounds piled on over the season of indulgence, writes TANYA SWEENEY
Everyone knows that after the heartwarming glow and glitz of Christmas and New Year, those weeks in January can be quite the downer. Chances are you're financially challenged, counting calories and trying to take up Bikram yoga to boot. The holiday feeling has well and truly died down.
Yet it needn't be this way. Here's a resolution most people won't have a problem sticking to: making the most of their downtime in 2014.
In January, there are plenty of things happening, from music festivals to comedy events, to help you start as you mean to go on.
Shannonside Winter Music Festival
Sixmilebridge and Bunratty, Co Clare
January 16-20, certain events are ticketed
It's a music festival, but not as we know it. The cowboy hats and inflatable hammers are nowhere in sight as the Winter Music Festival hosts lively sessions, folk concerts, recitals and a ceili out in the bracing open air.
Now in its 15th year, the festival will be abuzz with the cream of Irish trad and even a smattering of Franco-Irish gypsy folk. Expect local favourites such as Billy Teare and Kathleen O'Sullivan, Brendan Walsh, Full Throttle and the Johnny Reidy Ceili Band to be providing the sounds.
And, if you're looking for more bang for your buck, you can bag a family ticket for the day-long festival of music over at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park on Saturday, January 18.
See swm.ie or call 086 157 1847 for
TEMPLE BAR TRADFEST
Temple Bar, Dublin 2
January 22-26, various venues and ticket prices
Capital dwellers needn't miss out on the trad action. More than 200 events make up this weekender, including music trails, a family-friendly programme and performances in venues such as St Patrick's Cathedral, St Werburgh's Church and St Michan's Church.
Heavy-hitters including Stockton's Wing, De Dannan, The Fureys, Bagatelle, Paul Brady, Frances Black and Eleanor McEvoy will be present and correct. If that's not enough trad to keep you happy, pop along to The Goilin traditional singing club, which takes place every Friday through January at the Teachers' Club in Parnell Square (clubnamuinteoiri.com). Tickets can be bought for individual shows online.
Full line-up and more information can be found at templebartrad.com or call 01-703 0709
THE HIGH KINGS
Cork Opera House
Tomorrow, 8pm, tickets €24/€28
Ireland's Folk Band of the Year, The High Kings -- Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey, Darren Holden and Finbarr Clancy -- kick off 2014 in style with a rousing live show filled with long-time crowd-pleasers and some brand new songs.
Further details at corkoperahouse.ie or call 021 427 0022.
THE MIDWINTER FESTIVAL
Town Hall Theatre, Galway
January 17-19, from 6pm, €20
If you go west for your musical fix, the Midwinter Festival is a safe bet. An exhibition exploring relations between modernism, music and art has been curated by GMIT students. A host of classical and jazz musicians has been lined-up, among them British pianist Rolf Hind, Dutch soprano Lenneke Ruiten and the Romanian-Irish ConTempo Quartet.
See musicforgalway.ie or call
091 569 777 for more info
Various gigs at the National Concert Hall
Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin
If you'd rather keep it classical, check out the National Concert Hall, which has a packed programme this month. See the Pasadena Roof Orchestra (tomorrow, 8pm), the RTE National Symphony Orchestra (Friday, January 10, 8pm), violinist Joshua Bell (Tuesday, January 21, 8pm) and pianist David Syme (Friday, January 24, 8pm). Ticket prices vary.
See nch.ie or call 01-417 0000
Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny
January 11-March 2, free admission
The permanent collection of the Butler Gallery really has to be seen to be believed; stuffed as it is with works by important Irish and international artists. And while you're in the medieval city, find out why Kilkenny is the Michelin-star capital of Ireland by trying Lady Helen restaurant in Mount Juliet Estate (mountjuliet.ie) and Campagne (campagne.ie).
See butlergallery.com or call 056 776 1106
Phil Collins at The Model Gallery
The Mall, Sligo town
Until January 19, free
Not to be confused with the follically-challenged Genesis drummer, this particular Phil Collins is a visual artist who grew up in Britain in the 1970s and 80s. Over the years he has collaborated with disco-dancing Palestinians, young people from Baghdad, Turkish and British reality TV participants and teachers of Marxism-Leninism in the former East Germany, among others.
See themodel.ie or call 071 914 1405
Chester Beatty Library
Dublin Castle, Dame Street, Dublin
Until March 31, free
If Belle Epoque fashion is more your speed, make haste to the gorgeous surrounds of the Chester Beatty, where you'll find more than 150 Belle Epoque fashion illustrations for your delectation.
See cbl.ie for the lowdown
TAKE IN A SHOW
There's nothing like the bright lights of a musical or theatrical show to blow away those January cobwebs. The perennially popular musical 'Wicked' -- the full story of the land of Oz -- is still going strong at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin (until January 18, tickets €35 to €60, 01-647 2407, bordgaisenergytheatre.ie).
Later on in the month, that all-time family favourite 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' takes to the stage in the same venue (January 27 to February 1, tickets €20 to €43).
Elsewhere, there's much to look forward to if you're a fan of home-grown productions. Druid Theatre Company presents its production of Dion Boucicault's 'The Colleen Bawn' at the Hawk's Well Theatre in Sligo from January 15 to 17 (tickets €25, see hawkswell.com or call 071 916 1518).
The same production goes to the Gaiety Theatre, South King Street, Dublin from January 21 to 25 (tickets are €30 to €42.50, see gaietytheatre.ie or call 0818 719 388). The Gaiety also welcomes Martin McDonagh's darkly comic 'A Skull in Connemara', part of his famous Leenane Trilogy, from January 27 on (tickets €19.65 to €33.50).
Across town, The Abbey is hosting 'The Risen People', a collaboration between film-maker Jim Sheridan and director Jimmy Fay. 'The Risen People', written by James Plunkett, is a fresh production marking the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout (tickets €13 to €45, see abbey- theatre.ie or call 01-878 8222).
Meanwhile, in Cavan, Pat Shortt fans can catch the comedian's new show, 'I Am The Band', at the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Dublin Road, Saturday, January 25 (tickets €30.50, see cavancrystalhotel.com or call 049 436 0600).
Head to the races
'Tis the season to get all dressed-up and have a flutter at racecourses across the country.
Get your bets on at Dundalk (January 10 and 31, dundalkstadium.com), Mallow (today, corkracecourse.ie), Naas (tomorrow and January 18, naasracecourse.com), Thurles (January 6, 16 and 30, thurlesraces.ie), Gowran Park in Kilkenny (January 23, gowranpark.ie) and Punchestown in Naas, Co Kildare (January 11, punchestown.com). Enjoy another great weekend meet back at Leopardstown on January 25 and 26 (leopardstown.com).
Catch a comedy show
Brendan Grace fans are in for a treat as the Dublin comedian is embarking on a 38-date nationwide tour in January, hitting venues in Cork, Clonmel, Portlaoise, Navan and Arklow among others (see brendangrace.com for venues and ticket information).
Vicar Street, in Dublin's Thomas Street, has established itself as the go-to venue for big comedic names, and sure enough Jason Byrne will be in residence this month (January 11 to 18, tickets €28, see vicarstreet.ie).
If you're in Dublin and on the hunt for laughs-a-plenty, you could do worse than check out The Laughter Lounge (6 Eden Quay, laughterlounge.com), the Capital Comedy Club (at the Ha'penny Bridge Inn, Wellington Quay, capitalcomedyclub.com) or the International Comedy Club (Wicklow Street, international-bar.com).
- For more details of events taking place throughout the country in January, see discoverireland.ie