- 22 Jan 24
"It’s Kildare’s time to shine, and be highlighted on a national scale, to celebrate its culture and heritage," says Sarah Sexton, Intel Ireland's Community Relations Director
The Wonderful Barn – an awe-inspiringly unique, historical structure in Leixlip, Co. Kildare – is about to become a key part of the Brigid 1500 celebrations kicking off this week: playing host to two star-studded special events, featuring some of the biggest names in Irish food and music. The events, taking place in the afternoon and evening on Saturday, January 27, are being supported by Intel, whose campus is in Leixlip.
Both ticketed events come under the umbrella of the Nothing Compares series – presented by Hot Press and Kildare County Council – which will provide unique and joyful ways to celebrate Irish women creatives. The entire Brigid 1500 programme promises to be a very special celebration of the legend of Brigid – a Pagan goddess and a Christian saint who is symbolic of the power, strength and independence of women in Ireland.
Kicking off proceedings at 12pm in The Wonderful Barn on January 27 is Mother Earth: A Food Happening. This culinary delight, with an emphasis on sustainability and food quality, will feature a host of talks, workshops and demonstrations, starring leading Irish women in food.
It promises to be an unmissable event for food experts, enthusiasts, and curious newbies alike – featuring Dee Laffan, Catherine Cleary, Ali Dunworth, Aisling Larkin, Chantelle Nicholson (Apricity), Jess Murphy (Kai Restaurant), Julia Hemingway (Julia's Lobster Truck), Jane Russell (Jane Russell's Handmade Sausages), Edizemi Onilenla (Mama Shee), Darcie Mayland (The Lost Valley Dairy), Rose Greene (4 Hands Food Studio), Majken Bech-Bailey, Sinead Moran (Gleann Buí Farm), Holly Loftus (Loftus Knives), and Dr Karen Ward.
Later that evening is the sold-out Mother Earth: The Wonderful Barn Show – an evening of performances featuring songs on the theme of 'Mother Earth', with a line-up that includes the legendary likes of Denise Chaila, Gemma Hayes, Una Healy, Róisín O and Tolü Makay.
In the run-up to the two Wonderful Barn events, Sarah Sexton, Intel Ireland's Community Relations Director, emphasises the importance of celebrating the community of Leixlip and wider Kildare – an area Intel Ireland has called home for the past 35 years.
"Events like these help to encourage a sense of pride in place," Sarah tells us. "Leixlip has this hugely rich historical context – and as our hometown, we’ve come to understand and appreciate that. That’s also true of the whole of North Kildare, and the wider county. So to be able to celebrate that is important. It’s a really unique celebration of someone who has such significance to this area, and it's an important time for people to reflect on the significance of Kildare throughout history. It’s Kildare’s time to shine, and be highlighted on a national scale, to celebrate its culture and heritage."
"Also, it's great to support anything that gives the community an opportunity to come together," she adds. "We really like the fact that these events have that family focus, and can be shared as a celebration for local families."
Over the decades, Intel have become deeply involved in many aspects of the community in the towns of Leixlip, Celbridge and Maynooth, as well as further afield – from their Community Advisory Panel, to funding local projects.
"Each year we have a Pride of Place competition, specifically for North Kildare," Sarah explains. "Community organisations across the three towns can apply for grants to do projects that enhance the community, or provide a resource for the community. That includes things like funding local arts groups, new basketball nets, and the regeneration of the Tea Lane Graveyard in Celbridge.
"There's also a really nice volunteering initiative, where our employees can register places where they volunteer – like a school, a charity or a sports group – and log their hours that they spend there," she adds. "Then Intel will give a matching grant to the tune of $10 for every hour that they volunteer, and that goes to the organisation. A good number of those organisations are in the local area, so there’s a substantial amount of funding in Kildare."
In September 2023, Intel also opened its new Fab 34 facility in Leixlip – the launch of which included the announcement that the company were making a million-euro donation for a legacy project for the town.
As Sarah tells us, being "able to celebrate different aspects of culture and art" is something Intel are particularly passionate about.
"In the past number of years, we have embraced this increased focus on STEAM – integrating arts into science, technology, engineering and maths," Sarah notes. "We’ve been looking at ways we can contribute to that kind of creative thinking. We redeveloped a building here on our campus, called Nelson’s Cottage, to be a STEAM space. So there’s art rooms, music rooms and quiet spaces where people can write or read. That’s really important to us, especially given that so much of what we do relies on technical disciplines – but technical disciplines that have that freedom of creativity.
"So when we saw what the focus of the various different events were, and that they were a celebration of arts, we were really keen on getting involved," she continues. "We really value the opportunity to contribute to the cultural fabric of Ireland. When you’re here for a long time, and you’re really trying to give back to the place that gives you so much, you think, ‘Where can we enhance the culture, or support the heritage?’ That’s why events like these are so important."
Mother Earth: The Wonderful Barn Show is now sold out – but there are a limited number of tickets remaining for Mother Earth: A Food Happening, kicking off at 12pm on Saturday, January 27.
Tickets for Mother Earth: A Food Happening are €22.50, and are on sale now:
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