THOSE of you who attended the Bangers and Mash lunch in the Aspect Hotel for the Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge will be delighted to know that 2,000 euro was raised across the two hours.

THOSE of you who attended the Bangers and Mash lunch in the Aspect Hotel for the Amber Kilkenny Women’s Refuge will be delighted to know that 2,000 euro was raised across the two hours.

Now, further cash is to be added to the kitty after the hugely successful follow-up at Royal Spice. The city Indian restaurant threw open its doors to host the occasion last Wednesday and attendees weren’t disappointed.

The event began with a cocktail hour at the Pembroke Hotel and then onto Royal Spice and passed stunning lit fire poles (supplied by Sonix Entertainment) at the door. On entering, a glass of Prosecco was pressed into your hand as your eyes scanned the place for an available seat.

Kapelli Hair Studio’s Aidan O’Dwyer was there to demo Bollywood hairstyles and the women formed an orderly queue, eager to become head models. Danielle Lyons from Mint Health and Beauty was also on hand to pamper while Henna tattooing was available amid traditional attire and musicianship which all hugely enhanced the evening. Added to this Christopher Hetzel from Rudolf Hetzel jewellers opened his showroom for private viewings.

At a table filled with little bowls of various spices, Royal Spice head chef Nuran Ahmed gave a talk for those eager to learn about spice blending and uses, while he and his team also made their mark with the range of dishes they sent out to be tried. Despite the bigger than anticipated attendance there was more than enough to go around, even for seconds and, in some cases, thirds!

What was really striking was that yet again, Kilkenny businesses really pulled together for a great cause and the raffle alone summed up the support. There were prizes donated by Nick O’Keeffe Photography, Rudolf Heltzel Gold and Silversmith, Royal Spice, The Pembroke, Sonix Entertainment, Sabo Shoes and Bags, Mint Health and Beauty spa, milliner Rebekah Patterson, Tipperary Crystal, Diva clothes chop and Kapelli Hair Studio. And the Kilkenny public were equally supportive turning out in droves.

They were rewarded too not just with the night itself, but were sent home with goody bags stuffed with bag of spice and vouchers.

As the money’s being counted it’s great to know that all proceeds will go to the Amber Women’s Project, a voluntary organisation that helps women and children who are experiencing domestic violence. It provides a range of support services and counselling in the Carlow Kilkenny area. As well as offering women and children safe accommodation, there’s a 24-hour help line, drop-in support and information, and education support for children. The charity is currently trying to raise funds to build seven apartments to make communal living spaces for families in trouble.

If you would like to support Amber, they’re always looking for items such as ladies toiletries, towels (both for kitchen and bathroom) and soap for use by those who avail of their services. Big thanks to all who supported this event and here’s to the next!

Stars Of Our Bars

FOR months they’ve been doing battle in their local watering holes and now 20 of Kilkenny’s most talented amateurs hit the stage for the county final of Stars Of Our Bars.

The contest organised by the Vintners Federation of Ireland, and sponsored by Smithwick’s, has been sweeping the nation with heats in participating pubs across the country. Kilkenny was no different and saw many city and county hot spots get even hotter with singing, dancing, comedy and a wealth of other entertainment on tap as each venue held its own heats, followed by a final.

Winners made their way to quarter-finals and now the top 20 have been chosen. They will go into battle this Friday night at the Kilford Arms at an event which will see a select few move onto the regional final.

While various acts have been competing locally, it’s mainly singers who’ve risen to this level, though between them the styles are varied. There’s a dance group through. So competing are Deirdre Gannon (Cleere’s), Tom Kirwan (Ryan’s), Edel Fenlon (Cosy Inn, Graignamanagh), Steve Bailey (Malzard’s, Stoneyford), Aideen Dermody (Malzard’s, Stoneyford), Collette Connolly (Ryan’s), Castle Towers Set Dancers (Rafter Dempsey’s), Mark Stewart (Ryan’s), Eavan Delaney (Hogan Stand, Ballyragget), Claire Fisher (Grogan’s, Callan), Dempsey Walsh (Grogan’s), Lorraine Maher and Nick Campus (Ryan’s), Tara Browne (Rafter Dempsey’s), Ann Marie Coyne (O’Gorman’s), Ellen Stapleton (Cleere’s), Kevin O’Dwyer (Kilford Arms), Natasha Knox (Rafter Dempsey’s), Eugene Dewberry (Pat Carroll’s), The Knox Sisters (The Black Cat) and Paddy Hanrahan (O’Gormans). Judges for the event are Martin Bridgeman, Yvonne Moriarty, John Cleere, Kay Brennan and guest judge Damien Bowe from Irish boyband D-Side. D-Side had three top 10 singles in the UK and No 1 hits in Ireland, Japan and China. Yours truly’s the night’s MC and doors open at 7.30pm with the competition starting at 8pm. Guest artist is 2010 winner Shona Lanigan, who soared through the contest from Kilkenny all the way to take the inaugural top title last year.

Winner on Friday will take home 1,000 euro with those placed second and third getting 500 euro and 250 euro respectively. The top four will also go on to the regional final, which takes place in The Forum, Waterford on May 27. But back to the Kilkenny final, tickets are 10 euro with proceeds on the night going to Enable Ireland/ The O’Neill Centre. Tickets are available from the Kilford or ring 087 9582127.  


Sheridan, Spillane et al

IF music be your interest then you’re spoiled for choice this week. A range of artists will entertain at various venues across the next few days, beginning tonight (Wednesday) at Set Theatre with the wonderful Ryan Sheridan.

The solo singer and guitarist from Monaghan took his first onstage steps in pubs and clubs of Manhattan’s Lower East Side before moving onto Glasgow and back to Dublin. Once part of three-piece rock outfit Shiversaint, he took some time out to run a bar before returning to first love of music with Polish percussionist Artur Graczyk. As a songwriter, he has crammed a lot of living into his days, and this is reflected in his expressive and accessible approach to words and music.

It’s this which lead to a record deal and a series of gigs including with Rodrigo y Gabriela, Mark Lanegan and Wallis Bird and spots at Oxegen, Electric Picnic and Benicassim in Spain.

To the wider audience Ryan’s probably best known for debut single Jigsaw which was an immediate hit both on air and on iTunes.

And from one of Kilkenny’s newest venues to one of its oldest, on Friday The Hole in the Wall hosts local boy JP Ryan with UK bassist Andy Baker. JP boasts one of the county’s most distinctive voices and it’s one that’s not gone unnoticed. He played support for Rod Stewart, Natasha Bedingfield and a host of acts at the Source festival at Nowlan Park. He’s also won the AC category of American Open Door Songwriting Contest and was finalist in the International UK Songwriting Contest, an international event judged by a panel of expert music professionals and a highly recognised platform for emerging songwriters.

The only negative associated with JP is that we don’t get to hear enough of him. But that looks set to change with the promotion of album Dancing with Anima. For this he’s teamed up with Baker for the month of May to tour across the country to promote JP’s album which will be released this month. You’ll be most familiar with single Colours Everywhere while second single Leave the Radio On will be heard from mid-May.

But you can hear them all live this Friday at the Hole in the Wall. And if you somehow miss the session note that they return to Kilkenny on June 3 to play Castalia Concert Hall. You’ll also catch them at various venues across the country.

The music baton stays with the Hole in the Wall for Saturday night when the renowned John Spillane returns to Kilkenny. The multi-Meteor award winning Corkonian’s nestled himself into the hearts of many here and always gets a great turnout wherever he plays. Most recently, he has taken to the road with Eleanor Shanly, Mick Hanly, Frankie Lane and Paul Kelly to perform a series of Folk the Recession concerts across the country.

The only thing that’s for sure is that whether from the emotive tunes he whisks you on a journey with or his dynamic playful Cork wit, at the end of a John Spillane show there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Briefly Up Close

Bachelorette of the Year

Kilkenny may have picked a great Rose in Sinead de Buitlear over the weekend but now the focus shifts to find the county’s top singleton. The Bachelorette Of The Year 2011 was launched on Thursday night last. Seven girls will do battle for the title in a couple weeks time and we’ll be introducing you to them all in detail next week.

Edward Hayden

Hot on the heels of the recent launch of his second book Food to Love, Graignamanagh chef Edward Hayden was back showcasing his talents over the last few days. One of his stops was at Stone House Books at MacDonagh Junction on Saturday afternoon where he showed just how easy it can be to whip up some great deserts. Lemon and ginger cheesecake, chocolate biscuit cake and multiseed scones were all turned out in quick succession with friendly banter and tips discharged just as fast. Even speedier was the length of time each slice and scone disappeared as those who attended were invited to sample the dishes. If you’d like to try your hand at some of the recipes then get yourself a copy of Food to Love, available at all good bookstores.

Craic Attack

The search for Ireland’s best new comedy talent is coming to Cleere’s Pub Kilkenny this Thursday from 8pm. Catch your local fledgling comics sweating it out on the stage to win a place in the All-Ireland Grand Final and perform at the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival which takes place from June 2-6. Hosted by Andrew Stanley and Damian Clark, entrants will perform five to seven minutes of original material. All genres of comedy are welcome including, but not limited to, stand up, group, sketch and musical. Overall winners from each heat will go on to battle it out for the top prize in Dublin on 25 May 25 at the Grand Social venue. Tickets are available at 

Women’s Health Night

A Women’s Health Night takes place from 7pm this Thursday at the Newpark Hotel in aid of the Building of Hope charity. Two hundred volunteers will return to Mombasa, Kenya, in early 2012 to build accommodation and revamp a school for blind children in the area. To help raise money for the venture the local night will consist of a number of stands where people can avail of the tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, glaucoma, carbon monoxide level and percentage body fat, BMI, height and weight. You can ask questions and get advice at a range of health related stands including smoking cessation, cancer screening, mental health, diet, osteoperosis, incontinence, and there’ll be various alternative therapies which can ask about and try out including herbal medicine, EFT, iridology, acupuncture, aromatherapy massage, homeopath and reflexology. You can also partake in some beauty treatments including mini facials, hand massage, nail painting while other areas like accessory advice, Colour Me Beautiful, Curves, Health Store, Foot Solutions, Spec Savers and psychic Mystic Moira will all be on hand. The event will be rounded off with a Zumba lesson at 9.30pm while attendees get goodie bags and light refreshments. Admission’s 10 euro, with an additional charge for Mystic Moira. For more see 


Entrants for a Company Quiz in aid of the Aislinn Adolescent Addiction Centre must register by tomorrow (Thursday). The Aislinn Centre offers skilled and extensive drug counselling and treatments to young people, aged 15 to 21, whose lives have been affected by alcohol, drugs and gambling. They also assist families by offering an addiction awareness programme and a respite/therapy for both parents and families. The Rivercourt Hotel will host the fundraising quiz on May 19 from 7.30pm for which cost is 10 euro per person with a maximum of five people on each team. Please email or phone 056 8833777 to enter your team before tomorrow (Thursday).

The Promise

To celebrate the launch of their debut album The Promise, The Willoughby Brothers will perform very special concert in Mount Wolseley Hotel, Tullow on May 19 from 8pm with a host of special guests including Michael English, Tony Kenny, Joe Cuddy and The Conquerors. Six brothers, with just over a decade between the eldest and youngest, singing in harmony is what makes this act all the more special. Together their released debut album The Promise on May 6 while single Where the Blarney Roses Grow is attracting a lot of airplay on radio stations across the country. Tickets for the Carlow gig are 20 euro and are available from Mount Wolseley Hotel, Horan’s Maxol Service Station Castledermot, Expressions by Una Carnew, Coolboy Post Office, Top Twenty Naas and Newbridge.

Table quiz

A table quiz to raise money to help build an orphanage in Kamuzinda, Uganda, takes place in Kilkenny on Monday. Ryan’s Bar will host the event in aid of UGAIRISH. The night begins at 9.30pm with tables of four costing 20 euro. There’ll be a prize for the winning team, a raffle and finger food while Eamonn Corcoran will be quizmaster. All support will be appreciated.

Pat Hayes and Larry Cunningham

Kilkenny Man Pat Hayes and Country legend Larry Cunningham are set to join forces to perform at the Watergate Theatre on May 21 in a bid to raise cash for Pat’s local GAA Club in Windgap. Pat has had many hit songs over the years, but none better than his current new single Tell Lorrie I Love Her, which is charting very well on radio stations both in Ireland and UK. Larry Cunningham needs no introduction to the followers of country and Irish music, having been entertaining people for five decades. He’ll sing all his major hits of yester-year and, given that he’s decided to cut back his live shows to just a handful each year, a visit to the Watergate is a must if you are a fan.


Football fans get ready to get retro. A ’70s and ’80s disco takes place at Set Theatre this Friday night in aid of Freebooters Schoolboys. There’ll be a raffle, door prize and finger food at the event which starts at 9pm. Admission’s 10 euro.


Drakelands Nursing Home is celebrating the Bealtaine Festival (creativity in older people) for the month of May. Soprano Carmel Cashin and pianist Michael O’Reilly are on the cards as are three workshops offering the opportunities to learn to speak French, to be a potter or a wood carver. The event, which falls on Thursday, is free and all are welcome.

The Actives

One city gym will this weekend reward hard workers. The Actives are the annual award ceremony and members barbecue for Kilkenny Active at Hotel Kilkenny. During April the centre held a number of challenges, open to all members. The accolades this year will be handed out this Saturday from 7pm.


If you want to include information in Up Close and Personal or the Gig Guide you can ‘phone 086 8628626, email or leave a note at All items must be forwarded by 6pm on Sunday to be considered for inclusion.