David O’Connor wins Best Folk Award at Irish World awards in London.

Mary Byrne and Sinead O’Connor honoured too


David O’Connor, the Irish tenor from Wexford, was awarded the prestigious Best Folk Singer by The Irish World newspaper in London on Saturday night. At the glittering gala awards night, host Daithi O’Se presented the award to David who beat off stiff competition to earn the gong. Also receiving awards on the night were Mary Byrne for most original voice, Lisa McHugh for Best Female Country Singer and Sinead O’Connor for a lifetime achievement to music.


David performed two songs which were well received by the capacity crowd of 800 people in the Novolel Hotel in Hammersmith, London.


David’s debut album, ‘Shores of Somewhere’  is being launched on Thursday 22 November in The Courtyard in Ferns where he will perform and sign copies of his CD. One of the songs, If wishes were horses, is to features in a new US romantic comedy film ‘Love a la Carte’ to be released this Winter in the US.


For more information, please visit www.davidoconnor.ie












Zara’s Planet, the Irish owned equestrian travel company, is launching a pre-Christmas promotion with great value and an opportunity to help support Limpopo Valley School, a tiny Montessori school run by Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris for their staff and children. The school http://www.limpopovalleyschool.co.za/caters for ten children between the ages of two and six and is a free service.

The Limpopo safaris are for seven nights and are available for three dates in December; 13-20, 20-27 and 27 Dec to 3 Jan and in February one is departing every Sunday. The Limpopo safari operates from the Mashatu Game Reserve at the eastern tip of Botswana. Mashatu is 30,000 hectares and is well known for great herds of elephant (some 800 live there), numerous big cats, leopards, lions, cheetahs and cerval. The area is known as The Land of the Giants because of the magnificent Baobab Tree (of The Little Prince fame), huge sandstone outcrops, magnificent plains and the Mashatus trees.

The area is perfect for horse riding, with many natural ditches and logs to jump, regular game sightings including antelopes, wild dogs, jackals, bat eared foxes and giraffe. It is not uncommon to canter with herds of zebra and wilderbeast across the plains.

Most safaris are tented and mobile and cost from €2,694 per person sharing for seven nights. http://www.zarasplanet.ie/holiday/limpopo-safari-20

Intrepid holiday makers are invited to bring out school materials (books, writing implements, toys) in exchange for a free night in the December safari.

Alternatively, holidaymakers can bring out a no longer needed saddle which would be donated to the villagers, and will be given a free night in exchange, these can be checked in as sporting equipment as no extra charge to the holidaymaker.

Closer to home, holiday makers who share Zara’s Planet facebook page with 100 friends can also avail of a free night.

Finally, anyone taking a holiday in December or February can avail of 50percent off their next visit to Botswana in 2013.

For more information, please visit www.zarasplanet.ie



As the bewitching Halloween Festival approaches, children of all ages are being entertained in a novel Hallowscream Train at Rathwood, just outside Tullow, Co Carlow. The Hallowscream Train is running from Sat 20th Oct until Wed 31st.  The popular adventure is serious business says managing director, James Keogh, “This year our Rathwood fairies have been captured by a Pooka (or bad goblin to you and I) and we need lots and lots of brave boys and girls to help us find them. The rumour is that the Pooka has imprisoned the fairies in Pumpkins and brought them to his hut deep in Rathwood forest.  Wanda Witch, will lead the search on Rathwood’s Hallowscream Train and she will entertain the adventurers as they embark on their quest,” he says.

Passing the Enchanted Tree and reaching the Bridge of Invisibility the adventurers will then quietly and bravely walk to the Pooka’s Hut.  Here each child will pick a pumpkin and carry it back to the safety of the train.  Ready and waiting then for our returning heroes are Rathwood’s costumed characters that will assist in the carving of each pumpkin and, with the magic words a captured fairy is released.

It is only fair then to give each child their pumpkin to bring home and relay the tales of adventure and excitement of the day with embellishments of course.

Both parents and children are encouraged to arrive in fancy dress and there is a prize on each train for best dressed.  The Hallowscream Train can be booked by ringing Rathwood on 059 9156285 with tickets costing €10 per Child and €4 per Adult.

For more information on times and tickets contact www.rathwood.com

Rathgall Painters Guild exhibition opens in Rathwood on Saturday 29th September

Rathgall Painters Guild launches their second exhibition of oil paintings in the Shillelagh Room in Rathwood Home and Garden World on Saturday 29th September at 2.30 pm. The artists are mentored by Jacinta Crowley-Long, an internationally known painter who specializes in rural landscapes and equine and canine portraiture.

Rathgall is the site of a Bronze-age Hill Fort which, from the evidence of archeological digs, was home to craftsmen and artisans from at least the Bronze-age period. The Rathgall Painters Guild continues this tradition in the visual arts.


The group, many of whom have been painting for a number of years in the Rathgall Coolkenno area, approached Jacinta in September 2010 with view to attending master-classes in oil painting, to seeking encouragement in facilitating their ambitions in becoming a vibrant and working Arts Society and furthering their careers in the arts.

The painters meet up on a weekly basis for tuition, appraisal of work and group discussions on the visual arts in general. Over two years they have achieved a prodigious output of highly polished works to a professional standard, learnt how to frame their pieces appropriately and promote themselves and their artwork. This year they have also painted en plein air and are further gaining confidence and in technical ability. Dr. Jacinta Crowley-Long will again mentor the group this autumn with exciting new projects in mind.

The exhibition will be officially opened by Jillian Godsil well known author and PR consultant.

Rural areas can prosper online, says Wicklow based author

Rural areas can prosper online thanks to remote and location-independent work, according to Phil Byrne, author of the ebook ‘Head in the Clouds: The Location Independent Office – How to take your business or job online and work remotely from wherever you please!’.

In his book ‘Head in the Clouds’, Byrne outlines the methods, software and online techniques that can enable individuals to turn their work or business totally location-independent.

“The book shows how to take almost every aspect of your business/job online and give you the freedom to perform your tasks from whatever location you choose,” he explains. Byrne believes there are plenty of jobs available online and most jobs today could be done remotely. He also thinks that rural communities, where jobs tend to be scarce, could really prosper if more people move to location-independent work and businesses.


Topics covered in the book include: communications, storage, backup, meetings, agreements, hiring of staff, invoicing and payments – all online using the latest ‘cloud’ based software and web applications. Byrne, who is originally from the UK and now lives in County Wicklow, has tried and tested the techniques he shares in his book, having previously lived in Argentina, the US, Portugal and Spain.

“I’ve learnt so much, met so many people in so many places and most of all, I’ve have been lucky enough to do all of this whilst fully maintaining my working life. I am passionate about remote working and the freedom it can bring into our lives,” he says. “Whether you wish to explore the world, or simply enjoy more quality time in the place you call home, remote working can change all of our lives for the better.”

Head in the Clouds is available from Amazon: http://amzn.to/ToTYmv

For more information on remote working www.liveworkabroad.com

Santa looking for 85 elves

Rathwood Christmas jobs for enthusiastic helpers 

Carlow, Ireland… Santa will be back in Rathwood this winter and he is looking to recruit 85 enthusiastic elves and helpers for the popular Rathwood Santa Train Experience.

New activities are being included in this year’s Rathwood Santa Train which means Santa’s team of elves is expanding from 45 in 2011 to a team of 85 jolly helpers. The new elves and helpers must have a range of talents and skills.

“Santa is looking for helpers who love children and animals, as well as being enthusiastic and outgoing,” explains James Keogh, from Rathwood, who will be carrying out the selection process on Santa’s behalf. “Santa and Mrs Claus will be very busy sorting out presents, meeting children and getting everything ready for Christmas day. They need helpers that are organised, helpful and have a gift for entertainment so they can make the kids’ visit to Rathwood a memorable one.”

Located in the Carlow/Wicklow border, shopping and activity centre Rathwood employs 55 part-time and full-time staff on a permanent basis. For the Christmas season, Rathwood staff members are joined by a growing team of Santa’s helpers and elves. Over 30,000 people visited Santa at his woodland retreat in Rathwood last year, making it one of the most popular Santa visits in the country.

The Elf positions include:

-Santa’s personal helpers: assisting Santa in his Christmas duties.

-Mrs Claus personal assistant: helping Mrs Claus in her Christmas duties and storytelling.

-Woodlands elves: interacting with parents and children. The must know the way to Santa’s cabin.

-Teacher elves: they will help children with Elf School and must know well their elfabet!

-Postman elves: they will organise all the letters to Santa.

Requirements and Elf Skills:

-Good with kids and animals

-Theatrical/Entertainment/Storytelling skills

-Enthusiastic/Outgoing/Upbeat personality

-Ability to work as part of a team in a busy Christmassy environment

-Must love Christmas

-Reporting directly to Santa and Mrs Claus

*All the elves will be on hand to assist visitors – and will all be trained in ‘elf and safety.

Deadline for applications is Sunday 30th September.

Elves and Helpers will start working as part of the Santa’s Christmas team at Rathwood in late October.

Tickets for the Rathwood Santa Train go on sale on Thursday 1st September at www.santatrain.ie

Rathwood’s Santa Train tickets cost €8 per adult and €15 per child.

More Information on Rathwood’s Christmas Jobs

More Information on Rathwood’s Santa Train and tickets

For more information on tickets or how to be part of Santa’s team at Rathwood:

santa@rathwood.com  (mention: Santa Helper Job in the subject line if applying for a job with Santa).

The Olympic euphoria of London 2012 could be about to rekindle this week, as the Paralympic games start on 29th August. If the Paralympic games are half as popular and excite the public as much as the Olympic games remains to be seen. At the Practice PR office we enjoyed the games very much (particularly the Katie Taylor win) but we can’t help feeling a bit confused by the closing ceremony and all its finality and symbolism.

The Olympic cauldron was put out, dismantled and each petal given to one of the competing nations. Beautiful, indeed, if it wasn’t because the games aren’t really finished yet… or are they?

The closing ceremony does what it says on the tin: it puts an end to the celebrations. The party is over. The flame moves on. We got a few samba moves and a taste of Brazil to show us we are already en-route to Rio 2016.

But what about the Paralympics? Personally, we think the closing ceremony should have taken place after the Paralympics are finished, to celebrate the effort and quality of all athletes, equally. It would send a message that both events are an equally important part of London 2012. It would also maintain the momentum and help keep the public’s Olympic enthusiasm alive and ready for the Paralympics.

For many people, it will be hard to get back to the original excitement two whole weeks after the closing ceremony but we hope we all rekindle the Olympic flame to support and cheer as enthusiastically for our Paralympic athletes – or as the brilliant Channel 4 ad calls them, the ‘Superhumans’. They deserve it.

*A group of Irish musicians has released a track to raise funds for Ireland’s Paralympians