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Experience Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage at Ballyhoura Country festivals

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Two 2023 Ballyhoura Country festivals promise a fantastic weekend, bringing together the natural beauty and the magic of music and history

Two wonderful festivals come together in the heart of Ballyhoura Country, where the countryside unfolds like a storybook

Mayor of Limerick Cllr Gerald Mitchell pictured with Members of Ballyhoura Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCE) at the launch of Ballhoura Walking Festival and & Joyce Brothers Music Festival 2023. Two 2023 Ballyhoura Country festivals promise a fantastic weekend, bringing together the natural beauty and the magic of music and history Pic: Don Moloney

The Ballyhoura Walking Festival and Joyce Brothers Music Festival promise a fantastic weekend, bringing together the natural beauty of the landscape, the great outdoors and the magic of traditional music and history. Join us from October 5 to October 8, 2023, for an unforgettable experience! 

The autumn evenings may be starting to close in, so there’s no better time to get your walking boots on for the 27th Ballyhoura Walking Festival.

Established as Ireland’s first-ever walking festival back in the day, it provides an opportunity to explore some of Ballyhoura Country’s stunning scenery. 


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Many of the walks are led by members of the Ballyhoura Bears Walking Club–who have in-depth knowledge of the area and its heritage, history, flora and fauna–and are suitable for all abilities, from the enthusiastic well-equipped walkers who relish the challenge of the A & B level walks to the gentle ramblers who are out to enjoy pleasant C walks.

For the third year in a row, the Walking Festival is collaborating with The Joyce Brothers Music Festival, which complements and enriches the walking programme with its own jam-packed schedule; it promises a weekend of music, song, history and workshops, celebrating the wonderful legacy and remarkable lives of brothers PW and Robert Dwyer Joyce, natives of Glenosheen, who were renowned for collecting and documenting Irish music and songs.

The Cultural Food Fair 2023, organised by Kilfinane Community Council, returns once again this year. The fair brings together local and international members of the community as they prepare traditional dishes for people to sample, and takes place on Saturday, 7th October at Ballyhoura Apple Farm from 2-4pm.

Amongst the walking programme’s highlights are the ever-popular Moonlight Walk to Castlegale on Friday evening, Saturday’s breath-taking Sunrise Walk to Seefin (the highest point of Ballyhoura Mountains) as well as Ballyhoura Highest Peaks Hike for those who like a little bit of challenge. Blackrock Trail will take you to the summit of Seefin through woodlands, forest paths, and the Palatine village of Glenosheen.

Those who would like an easy stroll can experience the tranquillity of the Coolfree Loop, taking in a variety of terrain and stunning views of the Ballyhouras and surrounding countryside. History buffs will also have an opportunity to explore Mitchelstown’s rich history on a heritage walk led by Seamus Fox of Irish Family Search.

As evening sets in, immerse yourself in Irish folklore and mythology with Eddie Lenihan at O Céallachairs Pub in Kilfinane. And finally, evening walkers can embrace the moon’s gentle glow during a peaceful night walk through the local woods of the Clovers and the Wilderness.

Two 2023 Ballyhoura Country festivals promise a fantastic weekend, bringing together the natural beauty and the magic of music and history
Mayor of Limerick Cllr Gerald Mitchell pictured at the launch of Ballhoura Walking Festival and Joyce Brothers Music Festival 2023. Two 2023 Ballyhoura Country festivals promise a fantastic weekend, bringing together the natural beauty and the magic of music and history Pic: Don Moloney

Sunday offers a relaxing Mystical Yoga Walk by Yoga Walks Ireland and Forest Bathing Walk by Forest Bathing Ireland. However, if your walking boots are still on a quest of discovery, you’ll have several opportunities on Sunday to satisfy them! Discover the local history, heritage, folklore and archaeology at Lough Gur, Kilmallock, or join a guided tour of Doneraile Park & Gardens. Families can embark on a captivating journey into the world of bees, insects, flora, and fauna at Family-friendly Bug Safari at Griston Bog.

Thursday’s Joyce Festival Gala Opening Night features a celebration of the history and life of the Joyce Brothers through music, song, and dance, led by Ciarán Ó Gealbháin and Angela Hennessy with special guests. On Friday, a traditional concert featuring Tom Doorley, Liam O’Connor, Donal Clancy and Frankie Gavin with Catherine McHugh highlighting music from the Joyce Brothers Collection.

Saturday afternoon schedule includes a series of workshops, in which the music and songs of the collection will be taught by masters of tradition including Seán Ó Fearghail, Benny McCarthy, John Faulkner, Liam O’Connor and more. This is followed by the Sean Nós Dancing Workshop suitable for dancers of all abilities.

The Whistling Walk, led by Anita Bennis is a great addition this year and it will teach the skill of whistling a tune while walking. This will be followed by an evening concert in the Chapel Rooms – Featuring ‘Hup na Houra’ with John Faulkner, and Miscellany of Folk and renowned puppeteer Des Dillon. Traditional music sessions will be taking place in local pubs across all weekend and are free to attend!

On Sunday afternoon, historian Angela Hennessy will guide a Walk from Ballyorgan to the Joyce Homestead, Glenosheen, with two more traditional sessions taking place to close the 2023 Joyce Brothers Music Festival.

Find out more here.
Read more festival news here.

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.