Limerick Gathering Festival


For a number of years this was the official website for The Tailteann Nua Festival, a four day celebration of Irish Culture, featuring music, dance, literature and sport.


Limerick’s first ever Tailteann Nua Festival

By Rose Rushe -August 1, 2013 | /

Linda Stevens, UL with dancers Rachel and Christina Mullins, Sixmilebridge at the Festival launch in Milk Market Picture: Don Moloney / Press 22

FINALLY, Limerick gains its own festival for the August bank holiday weekend with Tailteann Nua. It’s a revival of the early 20th century leagues for sport sand art to lure home the Irish diaspora, and this year, is organised as part of The Gathering.

Celebrating Irish dance, music, literature and sport, the weekend events feature set dancing workshops and céilis, storytelling and book launch, writing workshops, music, arty tours and more.

UL is the central base for activity.

The official opening will take place this Friday 2 at 4.30pm in the Pavilion Club.  The Blue Monk Quartet will get the Festival off to a great start with their repertoire of jazz/ blues numbers, movie themes, ragtime, pop, classical music and some stirring original compositions.

Supported by Fáilte Ireland, this festival has attracted bookings and competition entries from overseas visitors, including a Canadian contingent of 70 Irish dancers and a number of competitors from the UK, Korea, USA, France and Spain.

The ‘Limerick Slam’ competition offers a prize of €1,000 for the best Limerick. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to perform their Limerick on Saturday August 3 where the winner will be announced and presented with the prize.

‘The Curious Story of the Limerick’, a book written by Dr Matthew Potter, local historian and writer, will be launched by Mayor Kathleen Leddin at 4pm also.

This will be followed by ‘Readings from The Well’ with Spanish poet Beatriz Villacañas, poet John Liddy and poet, novelist and translator Liam Liddy.   This is the first ever translation from Madrid to Limerick of the annual literay event that is The Well.

All events will take place in the Pavilion Club, UL and everyone is welcome.

A series of creative writing workshops will be hosted by Limerick Writers’ Centre and will take place on Saturday 3. These include a creative writing workshop with poet John Liddy, a short story writing workshop with award winning storyteller, poet and playwright Fiona Clark Echlin and a workshop on How to Write a Memoir which is facilitated by Sheila Quealey. All workshops  (€10 each) will take place in Plassey House.

On Sunday 4 you can take a tour of the rare books and manuscripts of the Glucksman Library at UL or opt for the Frank McCourt Museum and Angela’s Ashes tour.

Other highlights of the Tailteann Nua Festival will be a special performance by Limerick’s acoustic folk rock band Hermitage Green in The Stables Courtyard on Saturday 3 at 6pm, daily set dancing and sean nós workshops with Pat O’Dea and Mairea Casey, a Family Fun Day with storytelling with Niall de Burca, entertainment, open top tours of the campus, art tours, walking tours and more, also on Sunday.

Your dance moves polished, come along and join in the Céilís every night with the Brian Boru Céilí Band on Friday 2, the Abbey Céilí Band on Saturday 3 and the Céili Mór with the Kilfenora Céilí Band on Sunday 4.  Music sessions will take place in the Tailteann Nua Festival Courtyard throughout the weekend.

The weekend festival is organised by Campus Life Services, University of Limerick headed up by Linda Stevens, with support from Fáilte Ireland as a major Gathering initiative. Tel. Festival Office on 061-234178 with enquiries or email


Limericks Competition 2013

The Tailteann Nua Festival is a four day celebration of Irish Culture, featuring music, dance, literature and sport. The festival offers an opportunity to engage with our Diaspora in the magnificent surroundings of the University of Limerick campus, while also enjoying a weekend of activity and entertainment, craic and ceol with family and friends.

Set Dancing Workshops, a Step Dancing Competition, Storytelling Workshops, Genealogy Workshops, the Tailteann Nua Cup Ladies Gaelic Football Tournament , and an International Limericks Competition are just some of the events taking place from 2nd – 5th August in the University of Limerick

International Limericks Competition


What is the ‘Limerick’ ?

The Limerick is a verse form  which originated in Croom, Co Limerick in the 18th century . It is a verse which must contain the following elements:

  • Five lines
  • Lines 1,2,5 must rhyme
  • Lines 3 and 4 must rhyme
  • A good Limerick will have a clever unanticipated punch line as line 5 will often have puns,word play or a witty feature as part of it.


*Please note the following rules for entry:

  • We welcome a maximum of  three Limericks per entrant
  • The competition is free to enter
  • The closing date is midnight (BST) on 31st July 2013. Late entries will not be accepted
  • Online entries are accepted (through the online entry form on at only)
  • Submitted entries MUST be original and conform to the Limerick rhyme scheme
  • Entries will be judged on the quality of the Limerick (form, humour, punch line etc)
  • The judging panel will adjudicate entries and select a longlist of 40 Limericks. This longlist will be announced in due course and the authors of those Limericks chosen will be notified to give them the opportunity to compete in the heats of the competition in August at the University of Limerick
  • A series of heats will take place during the Festival and the top three winners of these heats will compete in the final
  • Only those who can attend the competition in Limerick will be eligible to compete in the heats/final. Therefore, the final prize of €1,000 will only be available to those who attend the Festival at the University of Limerick.
  • There will be one winning prize of €1,000
  • The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into

Best of luck!



Tailteann Nua Festival gets underway in UL

3 Aug 2013 |

FROM Irish dance, music, literature and sport, the University of Limerick is preparing to host up to 1,000 participants across a range of activities for the Tailteann Nua festival this weekend.

Organised as a key event in the Limerick Gathering calendar by Campus Life Services in the University, the festival will run until Monday, with organisers believing it could grow into a major weekend for Limerick.

The festival will welcome Irish dancers, musicians, writers, ladies footballers and visitors from worldwide for a weekend of Irish culture and fun.

The programme features set dancing, step dancing, music, writers workshops and readings, genealogy, storytelling and more and all events are open to the public.

Supported by Fáilte Ireland, the festival has attracted bookings from overseas visitors, including a Canadian contingent of 70 strong Irish dancers and a number of competitors from the UK, France and Spain.

Daily set dancing and sean nos workshops with tutors Pat O’Dea and Mairead Casey will take place over the weekend with classes available for beginners, families and advanced dancers.

The Abbey Ceili Band and Kilfenora Ceili Band will perform this Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Limerick band Hermitage Green are also to perform on Saturday night.

A wide variety of other events will take place over the weekend, launched by special guest Mary Kennedy Presenter of RTE’s Nationwide on Friday.

In a first for Limerick, the festival’s ‘Limerick Slam’ competition will take place this Saturday with a top prize of €1,000 and historian Matthew Potter will launch his book The Curious Story of the Limerick.

For full details and a programme go to

What’s On

Music - Irish musicians will gather to showcase Irish sessions,  instruments and song. Workshops will take place to show how the music of Ireland has shaped Irish culture. As home to the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance the University of Limerick is the ideal place to experience the best of Irish music.

Dance - We have got a fantastic line up of dancing events taking place as part of the Tailteann Festival. A feis will offer participants the chance to compete, set dancing will give guests the opportunity to try out the famous Walls of Limerick and the Ceili Mor will offer all visitors a display of Irish dance.

Sports - Looking to the history of the Tailteann Games, the Tailteann Nua Festival will feature a competitive round robin tournament, featuring All Ireland winners from London ‘The Parnells’.

International Poetry Competition - What is famous about Limerick? ‘The Limerick’.  This witty 5 lined poem will be celebrated with an international‘Bring Your Limerick’s to Limerick Competition’. You will be invited to do battle for the title of ‘Best Limerick in the World 2013′.

Main Festival Courtyard - This festival courtyard will be the meeting place for all visitors featuring musicians, food stalls and craft displays. Contact for more information



The McConnell Dancers at the launch of the Festival.


About Us

Since the launch of the Gathering initiative, the events team at University of Limerick has been working to create an ambitious Limerick Gathering Festival on campus for August 2013 which will offer an exciting event to actively engage with our Diaspora in a four day celebration of Irish culture featuring music, dance, and sports.

The festival

Offers you the opportunity for a summer holiday celebration at the Universitys spectacular campus where you can participate in music workshops, dance competition and gaelic games. For those who just want to enjoy a weekend of activity and entertainment with their family or friends, music sessions, concerts, storytelling and a superb line up of musicians will be on offer. For visitors who want to actively participate theres a choice of workshops, a dancing competition, set dancing and ladies Gaelic football. For those who just want to spectate and enjoy the celebration theres storytelling for adults and children, water sport activities on the River Shannon, heritage tours, music sessions, family events and concerts for all to enjoy. So whether you are an active participant in Irish culture or just want to enjoy it with family and friends we have put a fantastic line-up together for all to enjoy.



In 2013 my family and I was visiting Ireland to search for some information about my father's family. I had planned the trip to coincide with the Limerick Gathering Festival held at the University of Limerick. There are approximately more than one million Irish-born people living abroad with about 70 million Irish links and connections around the globe. I knew my father's family history had them emingrant from Ireland during the Potato famines. The 2013 Gathering was just another way of bringing all of these people together and celebrating Irish culture. There were festivals all over Ireland but I was particularly interested in the Tailteann Festival

Drawing inspiration from their cultured past, Limerick aimed to have a week long celebration of Irish Culture from August 2 – 5 in 2013. Originally noted as the Aonach Tailteann Games and tracing back as far as 632 BC, the games provided a platform for celebration of Irishness. The Tailteann Games took place in 1924. The games were routed in friendly competition. In history the games lasted a week and was attended by kings, chieftains and noble men.

The Tailteann Games was unique in that it combined sports competition with cultural competition. Sports featured in the original games varied from Athletics, swimming, boxing, Gaelic Football, Hurling, Camogie, Gymnastics and others. There were also Irish dancing competition, poetry competitions, drama, music and famous Irish story telling sessions. Competitive events were organised in Irish dancing, poetry, prose, drama, oratory and storytelling (all in Irish and English).

The Tailteann Nua was even better than I could imagine. My kids thoroughly enjoyed the four day event. They met 3rd and 4th cousins once removed that they didn't even know about. We all entered our limericks,learned some Irish dancd steps, are new foods and took in all the activities.

On the second day of the festival I broke the circular frames of my glasses. Fortunately I had brought a second pair. I didn't really fret since I knew I could easily get a replacement from my favorite online glasses frame store where I always find my Ray Bans. They have a great selection - visit the site to see what I mean. I have visited their brick and motor store in Westport Conn. where we live. But it's much easier to just order replacement frames online. I often will shop online and then visit their Westport store or their West Hartford store for a fitting.

One of my Irish cousins was so smitten with my glass frames, I told her I would buy the exact frame and mail it to her when I returned to the states.

The Limerick Gathering Festival was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so glad we were able to make that 2013 trip.


University Campus

The venue for the festival is the spectacular University campus located in both counties Limerick and Clare on the banks of the Shannon River. It offers a range of music and dance venues, four Club Bar Restaurants and attractive cafes offering great value food for all tastes. The attractive en-suite accommodation is ideal for families, singles and groups of friends as our festival villages offer 4 and 6 bedroomed en-suite apartments, suitable for group getaways, family reunions and individuals who want to be a part of the Gathering.

Campus Attractions include:

  • Superb sports facilities with a gym, National 50 metre indoor pool, tennis courts and the Gerard Hartmann sports museum collection
  • The Self Portrait Collection and the Irish Water Colours Society Collection
  • The Glucksman Library with its special collections or rare books
  • The National Dance Archive
  • The Living Bridge Irelands longest pedestrian bridge







As part of the Tailteann Nua Festival, we have developed a literary programme that caters for all tastes.

For budding writers, we have writing workshops including sessions for those interested in crafting poetry, fiction or memoirs. If you enjoy hearing poetry with an international feel we have Readings from The Well with renowned poets John & Liam Liddy and Beatriz Villacañas.  For those of you who think that they have what it takes to win an international Limerick competition with €1,000 for first prize (its not as easy as you might think)!

Storytelling Workshops with  Niall de Búrca

Niall de Búrca is one of Ireland’s finest traditional storytellers. He was raised in Galway and displayed a talent for narrative from a young age. At home he has featured in theatre, radio and at many festivals including Féile Earraai, the CS Lewis Festival, and The National Childrens Book Festival. Abroad he has performed and held workshops in countries as diverse as Poland, Argentina, Italy and The Netherlands.

Niall also spent many years living in New Zealand. His experiences as an emigrant there have had a major influence on his work and performance style.

Recognised for the diversity of his stories and with an ability to  reach all ages; Niall is a familiar figure to many Irish children through his innovative school programmes. His “Storytelling As A Tool Of Education” workshops are highly recommended by educators. In  May 2002 he received a Medal Of Excellence from the Heidleberg  school district in Germany for his work with young authors.

Another important aspect of his work is the interpretation of museum and art gallery exhibitions. These include performances  on the life and works of Max Ernst and kinetic sculptor Len Lye.

In October 2001 he produced the first storytelling series for the  Museum of Country Life at Castlebar, County Mayo. At present he is creating a new collection of tales based on objects in the  Museum’s collection.



Writing Workshops

Plassey House, University of Limerick

Saturday 3rd August 2013  10.00am 4.00pm

 As part of  The Limerick Gathering Tailteann Nua Festival a series of creative writing workshops will be hosted by The Limerick Writers Centre to coincide with the Bring Your Limericks to Limerick International Poetry Competition which takes place Saturday 3rd August. The workshops start from 10.00am and run until 4.00pm and take place in Plassey House. The fee for each workshop is €10.00.

Booking is advisable as places will be limited.

Please contact Dominic Taylor at to book.

 POETRY/CREATIVE WRITING – 10.00am 12.00 noon

This workshop, facilitated by John Liddy, is designed to inspire writers to discover/extend their poetic voice. Existing poets may explore new directions while those seeking to write poetry for the first time will find a springboard for their ideas and style.


Award-winning storyteller, poet and playwright Fiona Clark Echlin will lead this innovative fiction-writing workshop, which is designed for experienced writers as well as those with nothing more than a will to write. You are invited to bring along work in progress or simply your ideas, enthusiasm and hopes.


How to Write a Memoir. This workshop, facilitated by Sheila Quealey, is a survey of the memoir genre and will give the writer practical advice on how to begin to record stories from their life.

The Facilitators

John Liddy’s poetry collections include Boundaries (1974); The Angling Cot (1991); Song of the Empty Cage (1997); Wine and Hope (1999); Cast-A-Net (2003); The Well: New and Selected Poems (2007); Gleanings from the Margins (2010).  He is the founding editor along with Jim Burke of The Stony Thursday Book, one of Ireland’s longest running literary reviews (1975- ) along with Cyphers and organizes The Well/El Manantial, a weekend festival of poetry in Madrid with Matthew Loughney of The James Joyce Pub and The Embassy of Ireland.

Fiona Clark Echlin, an experienced and inspirational teacher of literature and creative writing,  Fiona Clark Echlin is an award-winning published writer of short stories, poetry and works for the theatre.

London-born Fiona has lived and worked in London, New York, Istanbul and not least, Limerick. Her recent solo volume From the Rib (Revival Press, 2012) a collection of sonnets and villanelles, has attracted much attention on the poetry circuit in Ireland, the UK and Australia. As well as being a poet, Fiona Clark Echlin is an award-winning playwright and story teller. Her poems, plays and stories are all coloured by her background, which has strong roots in the theatre.  She taught for many years in London and Cambridge and now teaches Creative Writing, Communication Skills, Poetry and Drama in Limerick.

Sheila Quealey (MLA) teaches creative and memoir writing courses in various venues around Cork, Limerick and Tipperary.  She is employed by both Limerick City AES and Tipperary AES and teaches in community education programs around Limerick city.  Sheila also teaches an advanced creative writing workshop at the Excel Theatre in Tipperary Town and at Friars Gate, Kilmallock, Co.Limerick.  Sheila feels passionately about the need to record personal histories for posterity and as historical and cultural documents.


Genealogy Workshops

Genealogy Workshops

The Irish Ancestry Research Centre based at University of Limerick is providing customised workshops for the duration of the Tailteann Nua Festival. Workshops will take place on Friday 2nd August from 11.00 1.30pm. Spectators will be introduced to genealogy, discover family history, have the opportunity to trace Irish ancestors and become familiar with methods of online searching.
IARC skills-based genealogy workshops are tailored for all levels of experience and focus on key areas such as:

  • how to locate online genealogical sources, both free and subscription based;
  • how to search online archives and records;
  • learn to access and search the 1901 and 1911 Irish census;
  • how to use Griffith’s Valuation;
  • learn how to construct family records and create your family tree

Ever wondered about your Irish ancestors? Curious about where your family came from and why they emigrated? Or do you simply want to trace your Irish family tree and discover how you ended up being where you are today?

Even though our little country is small (about 6 million people, north and south!), up to 70 million people all over the world now claim Irish ancestry. More and more people are turning to genealogy research to find their Irish ancestors.

Genealogy is the study of a family’s lineage. People might use genealogy to trace out their family trees, or simply to find a specific person in a family’s past and connect him or her to other members of that family.

The Irish Ancestry Research Centre has the expertise to guide you through all stages of your family history research.

IARC provides computer demonstrations for workshop participants on using 1901 and 1911 Census records; Birth, Marriage and Death indexes and Griffith’s Valuation.  These are accessible online and via subscriptions available for use at IARC. Participants will be given the opportunity to search for their own grandparents or great grandparents or other family members using these resources.

Creating a family tree is a great way of documenting your family history. It can have two branches up to any number of branches depending on how much information you have. Attendees will be provided with blank charts to fill out while at IARC so that they can start to trace their own family tree.




During the festival there is a fantastic line up of bands to hear including:

Hermitage Green

Saturday 3rd August @ 6pm Stables Courtyard, University of Limerick

Limerick’s own Hermitage Green to play at the University of Limerick this August Bank Holiday weekend

One of the many highlights of the Tailteann Nua Festival at the University of Limerick this August Bank Holiday weekend will be a special performance by Limerick’s acoustic folk rock band Hermitage Green.

Hermitage Green formed in July 2010 in a locked back room of the Curragower bar, Limerick. What started out as a spontaneous jam session between friends, soon developed in to a strong acoustic outfit with an original sound, for which the band have credited their contrasting musical tastes. These interests range from traditional irish and folk music to metal- and have formed the basis of an entirely unique approach in how the band deliver their material. In their first 12 months together they have played with several notable Irish acts such as Sharon Shannon, The Stunning and The Saw Doctors.

Seeing Hermitage Green live, you can expect hard hitting rhythm sections driven by the tribal combination of bodhran and djembe, rhythmic guitar lines with dobro melodies and four part vocal harmonies soaring over the top.



Tailteann Festival Courtyard

The festival courtyard will be a hive of activity throughout the weekend, alive with music, Irish food, craft and entertainment. Guests can sit out in the courtyard or indoors in the restaurants and bars dotted around the courtyard. Traditional sessions, street theatre and ‘Rambling House’ entertainment will be going on throughout the day. The courtyard is situated adjacent to other spaces programmed for events.


Tailteann Nua Festival 2013

Monday August 26, 2013 |

A wide variety of Irish themed events and activities took place at the University of Limerick from August 3 - 5 as part of Limericks first Tailteann Nua festival. Inspired by the ancient Tailteann Games people came from all over the world to participate and compete in some of Irelands best known traditions.

Some of the weekends highlights included an exhibition of gaelic football with one of the UKs best teams against one of Irelands, an International Limerick Poetry competition which saw entries from over 16 countries, An international feis in the 1000 seater concert hall, A BBQ with Hermitage Green, Storytelling and some very rare tours of our special art and book collections.

Congratulations to Amy Maher from the Ryan School in Tipperary who won the inaugural Tailteann Nua Cup and congratulations to Cathriona Robinson, UK who won €1000 in the Bring Your Limericks to Limerick Competition.

The events team at UL would like to extend a special thank you to everyone who got involved to bring the festival to life.


Tailteann Nua Ladies Gaelic Football Tournament

Intermediate All Ireland Club Championship Winners Parnells Ladies Football Club are going to be joining us on campus from August 2 – 5, 2013. The Parnells added an all Ireland trophy to their list of achievements in 2012 when they beat the Munster Champions, Cahir of Tipperary. Women’s teams from the UK and worldwide are invited to join in a ’round robin’ tournament over the weekend of the Festival to compete for the inaugural competition of the Tailteann Nua Cup.

The Tailteann Nua Cup goes in search of teams… Representatives from the University of Limerick travelled to an International Tournament held at the Emerald GAA Grounds, London last week, to show their support for the Limerick Exiles, who were sponsoring the tournament.  They also took the opportunity to promote the Tailteann Nua Cup tournament, which is taking place at the University on the August Bank holiday weekend. Teams are invited from Ireland, Britain and Europe to play in this inaugural 9-aside competition, which is to be held on the 3rd & 4th August as part of the Tailteann Nua Festival. With world class sports facilities and superb accommodation, the University is the ideal venue to host such an event.

A full programme of activity is being provided for the weekend, so teams
are guaranteed great entertainment with lots of craic!


Over the Festival weekends there is an opportunity for golfers to join in a Tailteann Nua friendly tournament in the nearby Castletroy Gold Club. Golf can also be arranged in some of the local premier golf courses on request, e.g. Adare and Dromoland. For further information please e-mail