Home of Saint Patrick Festival

Armagh, Newry and Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

March 2017

It was an honour to be asked to take part in a festival celebrating the life of Saint Patrick, held in the landscape that was once his home – Armagh City, Downpatrick, Newry, Loughgall, Dundrum, Castle Ward, Mourne Mountains and Slieve Gullion. We were welcomed to this beautiful country with great kindness and generosity.

I ran workshops in three different arts centres. All offered an astonishing selection of activities and the facilities were second to none.

Afternoons were spent doing demonstrations in four Cathedrals (clockwise from top left: Newry, Downpatrick, Armagh RC Cathedral, Armagh Church of Ireland Cathedral), each with their own distinct character.

I chatted to visitors about illuminated manuscripts and early Irish manuscripts, pigments and gold (with a few conversations about politics and religion, of course!) and worked on an illuminated page specially designed to celebrate the life of St Patrick, seen below. You can read more about it here.

The Life of St Patrick Illumination by Toni Watts

I filmed some video sequences with Tourism Ireland (you can see a little taster here) and was told of so many interesting places to visit that we are already planning to return.

After the Festival we drove down to Dublin to see the beautiful Book of Kells…

…visiting the stone age passage tomb at Newgrange on our way back north.

There are those of you whose memories of ‘the Troubles’ may put you off visiting Northern Ireland. Our experience, however, was entirely positive. You can read about what there is to see and do here.