Adventures in Northern Ireland, Part 4 – Glenarm/Dalriada Festival

(note..this post is quite long, so you may want to skip to the bits that interest you the most, although I hope you read it all of course!)

The village of Glenarm dates back to the Norman era and is the oldest village in the Glens.  A twenty-five minute drive from Larne and 40 minutes from Belfast, it is worth visiting just for the beautiful coastal scenery alone along the way! The picture above was taken in Glenarm Marina, it’s one of my favourite pics I took whilst on holiday, I love boats 🙂

My initial reason for deciding to visit Northern Ireland was because I wanted to attend the Dalriada Festival, where two of my favourite singers were headlining.  Once I’d got my ticket I decided it would be great to turn it in to a proper holiday, I’m glad I did 🙂 (see first three parts!)

Glenarm Castle (see above pic) has been the family home of the Earls of Antrim for 400 years.  The castle is occasionally open to visitors, whilst events are held in the grounds all through the year.  There is also a walled garden, Ireland’s oldest, which is open between May and September.

Originally the castle grounds were host to a two-day highland games event, it was then decided to transform it in to festival incorporating the games, along side fine food and music.  The result of the restructure was the Dalriada Festival, which now spans a two-week period, with the main event held over the last weekend.

The main festival days were 13th and 14th July.  I was lucky enough to experience nice weather during the first few days of my holiday and was pleased to see it carrying on for the day I was at the festival.

It was an interesting mix of  sport, food and music, some of the sights were quite unusual too!  The pic above is from the highland games caber tossing, which was definitely an interesting spectacle!  There were also helicopter rides near the castle which must have been a very impressive experience! Here is a programme of the rest of the events from the weekend.  The main headlining event with Sharon Corr and Ronan Keating was held in blue big top close to the entrance. More of that later in this post.

Before the concert I decided to explore Glenarm Marina/Harbour and village as it looked such a beautiful place, I wasn’t disappointed.  The restored limestone harbour is seen as the entrance to the village and has around forty berths for yachts and boats, which is ideal for anyone travelling to and from Scotland’s Western Iles by boat.  I would love to be able to do that 🙂

The short walk in to the village is lovely and very picturesque, read here about its history.  Below are some of my photos from around Glenarm, which includes Glenarm Friary.


Once I had finished exploring I went back to the festival for food and drink and got in the queue for the main event 🙂  I was seated in the middle by the main aisle which was a good viewing point. It was a fantastic atmosphere and the lovely Sharon Corr was great which helped to build up the anticipation and excitement in the crowd even more.

Ronan Keating was amazing as usual, his gigs are always fun to be at and the atmosphere was electric. I have no photos or videos as both my phone camera and my other camera are hopeless for taking pictures/videos at concerts.  There are of course plenty of brilliant ones on twitter and youtube, the video below is my favourite. It’s 17 minutes long and captures the atmosphere, fun and brilliance of the gig well.

Of course some people had a different experience of the evening and may not have enjoyed it as much but I think you get that at most gigs, especially when most want to stand and some prefer to sit. Also, the event was ‘first come first served’ so some people who got their tickets early, when they first went on sale, still ended up further back than they would have liked.

I have seen the positive/negative comments made on the Dalriada Festival Facebook page and thought I’d leave my comments here on my blog.  My experience of it was that it was a brilliant night and would like to travel back in time and go again 🙂  It was obvious that Ronan Keating enjoyed it too and was feeding off the amazing atmosphere.

He sang all the crowd pleasers (the crowd were very pleased!) and a couple of songs from his soon to be released album ‘Fires’  I was hoping he would sing his new single, the title track from ‘Fires’  He didn’t but it is now being played on radio so it has been heard at last 🙂

Also just want to say that the festival staff were lovely 🙂

I would also like to mention the taxi firm that I used to take me there and back.  As I was on my own I wanted assurances that no-one would claim my taxi.  I saw Van Morrison at Audley End, afterwards people were jumping in taxis whether they had ordered it or not, it was a nightmare! The firm could not have been more helpful, they made sure I could wait in a safe place after the gig and the taxi drivers were lovely.  On the way there the driver pointed out landmarks to me, on the way back the other driver gave me a CD by his friend he had been playing and I had enjoyed.  If you need a taxi in the Larne area, ask for LA Taxi’s.

If you got this far, then thank you for reading…I told you it might be long 🙂


About Maria Explores...

Blogger and Freelance Writer
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