The Blog Awards, The Video, The Aftermath

SATURDAY took myself and a few hundred bloggers on a journey across the country to Galway or the fifth annual Irish Blog Awards. We had the motorway up, the scenic route home and in between had a fantastic evening / night / morning in the Radisson Blu in the centre of Galway, the shindig organised by some mighty fine people, assisted by other allstars, and attended by bloggers from all walks of life (more on that below).

I’ve made it to the awards the last four years, enjoyed two great years of it in Dublin, last year in Cork and this year in Galway. Shows like this take a hell of a lot of ingredients, time, money, the patience of saints, sponsors, promotors, advertisers, volunteers and more. Behind the scenes there’s an army of people making contributions from writing up the awards, judging, submitting videos, laying out chairs, providing props, music, food, goodie bags – the whole nine yards – but it has to be said, when it comes to showtime, everything is so smooth, so energy filled and runs so well that by the time you hit the bed after the awards you’ll be planning and booking for next year.

Or at least that’s my take on it anyway and nominated or not, I’m already looking forward to 2011.

Each year brings new faces, new conversations and given the majority of bloggers (I would hazard a guess) are Twitter users in some capacity, the ability to recognise people across the room has gotten a lot easier too. I could namecheck people for the night given how you couldn’t move 20 feet at times without running into someone for a chat but needless to say, it was a great night out in Galway and one that anyone with a remote interest in blogging would really benefit from attending.

The video above is one myself and Ross put together as one of the category introductions for the night. Sneaking in the door at 8pm I gave up my (what I would deem) traditional front-row-ish seats for one right at the back of the room, making it quite easy to duck out the door if the video went horribly wrong. Alas, the laughs were there, the comments and feedback for the 60-second piece were great and I didn’t have to prop up the bar as much as I had anticipated. If there’s an opening for more videos next year you can chalk us down in advance.

In the aftermath of everything, there were agreements to meet up for pints, talk of organising trips up to Belfast or getting people to Kilkenny for a session. Some of those on my “pint list” I didn’t get to link up with but we’ll do something soon.

I found, as I’ve done the past three years, that a trip to the Blog Awards is a great motivator for your own work. Come January of this year I started making more time for the blogs I’ve authored over the past few years. This one alone has seen more posts in the first three months of the year than the last six of 2009, DeviousTheatre.com is going strong and expanding its arts coverage, KilkennyMusic.com has had a recent facelift and online strategy put in place and it’s all coming up blogging here in Kilkenny. With the Irish Web Awards just over six months away we should get a nice, timely kick in the arse to look after our bigger sites as well.

In summary, my thanks to the Blog Awards Army. That includes Damien, Rick, Darragh, Steph, Anto, Brian Greene (whose 90s set could be heard no problem on the garden rooftop after midnight), all those who put together videos, all those who accepted awards, all those who attended, all those I got to chat to, the Radisson Blu hotel (who do an absolutely fantastic breakfast, welcome you off the elevator AND put a Sunday paper in your hand), the new faces and usernames I picked up, the old faces who continue to be great people, Edwina for this most excellent photo and all those who continue to read, write, comment and rate Irish blogs. Yes. All of you, and that lot, are in that army.

Now, it’s back to work.

Gearing Up For The Irish Blog Awards

Irish Blog Awards

A GUARANTEED good night out, solid entertainment, old faces and new and more have been found at the Irish Blog Awards for the last couple of years. Last year saw the first night to be held out of Dublin when hundreds of bloggers descended on Cork’s International Airport Hotel (cracking venue) and at the end of the month, the annual pilgrimage will be made to the Radisson Blu in Galway for the 2010 Irish Blog Awards.

The long lists came out, then the slightly-longer-that-last-year-short-lists came out and we’ll soon be reading the finalists lists before the awards proper on Saturday March 27th where we’ll find out who the blogging public have deemed the creme of 2009/10 in Irish blogging circles.

Sabrina has details on the L’Onglex Ladies Tea Party, there’s a Galway photowalk being organised, another exhibition from Eolai and no doubt a hell of a lot more.

My last visit to Galway was September 2008 with myself and Ross hitting the road for a Strike Anywhere gig in Cuba. Thankfully this time I won’t have to turn around and drive back to Kilkenny at midnight. If the awards have taught me anything over the last few years it’s if you can stay in the awards venue – stay in the awards venue. The drinking, chatting, storytelling, meeting and greeting never seems to end and as a bonus you get to do it all over again at breakfast the following morning.

If you’re planning on heading along on the night, you’ll need to register in advance. Tickets have also gone on sale for €15. A pre-show text message on Wednesday told me I’d be shortlisted under Best Technology blog, something I’m delighted to see. The second round of judging, where the shortlists become the finalists, gets underway from today but nominated in the end or not, you’ll find me in Galway on the 27th.

Wouldn’t miss a night like it…

Last Day For Blog Awards Nominations

Today is the last day for nominations for the 2010 Irish Blog Awards. This year the awards are hitting the road again, taking place in the Radisson Blu in Galway on Saturday March 27th.

As usual I’m leaving it until the last minute to get the nominations in, and if you’re like me then you’ve got until 3pm today to get yours in.

Of course if you’re looking for a nice arts and culture blog, take a gander at The Devius Theatre Company 😉

Check out the Blog Awards site to make your nominations.

Surprises and Familiar Faces at the Irish Blog Awards

Blogging in the lobby of the 2009 Irish Blog Awards hotel in Cork

It’s back to grindstone this morning after a great weekend in Cork at the 4th annual Irish Blog Awards. Whether you’re nominated for an award or not, it really has become one of the “must attend” nights of the year in Irish web circles. The extra perk for me was in representing The Devious Theatre Company who had been shortlisted for Best Arts & Culture Blog, the gong going to Fiona of Pursued By A Bear.

I had debated on Twitter all my transport options – train, bus or drive via Waterford or via Clonmel, turns out the best way (suggested by Bernie and Mike) to get to Cork from Kilkenny is heading out the Urlingford direction. You don’t get into Urlingford but hop on the M8 a few minutes outside the town, motorway all the way to Mitchelstown, a hop skip and a jump on the N8 before linking back up with the M8 into Cork. If going down was quick, coming back was great, leaving about 12:30pm only to be sitting in the Newpark for lunch by 2:10pm. One of the top roads the country has to offer at the moment.

I’m hoping the 5th ‘Blog Awards return to Cork. My God, that hotel is great. Quirky, funky design, great rooms, great staff, great selection of 90s music playing in the restaurant, top notch food (had dinner in the restaurant) and they were willing to let 300+ bloggers and friends have the run of the entire downstairs for the night. There aren’t many places who would do it! Then again, was there anyone staying in the hotel that wasn’t there for the awards? I’d heard at one stage that 130 of 150 bookings were for the awards, with only 2 rooms in the hotel by midnight. If it gets announced for Cork again, get the bookings in early! Plus, breakfast rocked the following morning as well and I’m looking at staying down there in May before heading away for some foreign wedding celebrations.

Across some of the categories I felt there were a few surprises, a few blogs I also didn’t know or read (yet) and one or two firm favourites coming to the front. Nialler9 made it three-in-a-row for Best Music Blog (can he make it four, or do you duck out after three as others have done?), Blacknight bagged Best Blog of a Business, Trust Tommy nicked Best Newcomer and Suzy Byrne took the gong for Best News/Current Affairs Blog before going on to scoop the Grand Prix prize for Best Blog.

There were recognition awards too for Brian Greene and Damien Mulley, without whom nights like the Blog Awards just don’t happen.

I did manage to avoid the dancefloor and resist the temptations of giant Twister (rather adamantly), spending part of the second half of the night swanning (sitting) around the lobby. The expanse of the hotel did make for a different atmostphere. Compared to memories of 2008 and 2007, things seemed a lot more spread out, creating a much relaxed atmosphere as things got later into the night. People were able to find their own corners, start their own conversations and take their own space.

It was great to catch up with the usual suspects of Darragh, Darren, Niamh, Deb, David, Liz, Anto (I DO know Anto), the Belfast connections of Phil, Andy (proper pintage next time around), Keith and more besides with Niall, Campbell, Jason, Robin, Conn, Johnny (who I didn’t get back to after, sorry!) and everyone else I managed to get to say hello to in the run of the night before sneaking off about 1am. Also, after two years of looking to say hello to the man it was high bloody time I said hello to Pat Phelan (and cheers Keith) who had his snazzy Google phone on display. I want! If you’ve heard about the intro videos, but haven’t yet seen them, they’re all available now in glorious technicolour. Surprised to see my own face in one of them… grrr.

Some great conversations, some great introductions – not as many as I would have liked to have made or had but such was the scale of this year’s event that it really was hard to get to everyone you wanted to see. That said, I’m going along to Bizcamp in Dublin on March 7th for the day where hopefully I’ll get to catch up with a few more people.

A full list of winners in each category and links out to all nominated blogs can be found here.

Update: more links to come in a bit…

Irish Blog Awards: Technology Bloggers

The short lists for the Irish Blog Awards have been announced thanks to the trojan work being put in by the judging group for 2009. On average each blog shortlisted was scored by seven judges. Having seen KilkennyMusic.com and my own blog here drop off at the long list stage (i.e. not shortlisted), I’ll be delighted to “fly the flag” for Kilkenny as The Devious Theatre Company have been shortlisted in the Best Arts and Culture category.

The top drawer of Irish technology bloggers this year contains

As in previous years, each individual shortlist has turned up some gems. There’s some regular appearances by certain blogs in their respective categories again joined by several new faces, a great indication of growth in blogging in Ireland and the quality of output of those blogs.

I’ll be in attendance at the Awards myself on Saturday night and I’m staying over in the hotel so there’s

A Beginner At The Irish Blog Awards

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Creative Commons License photo credit: harry-m

They know what a blog is. They’ve read blogs as references. They might have even given thought to starting a blog at some stage, if they had time to do it. They know that podcasts exist. They know the power of the web.

They don’t blog. They’ve not really heard of, seen or used Twitter. Online video is another world away, but there is a realisation that it works.

They’re not on Facebook. They’re not on MySpace.

It’s their first time going to the Irish Blog Awards or any award ceremony that recognises those working with blogs or the wider world of the internet in Ireland.

I’ve spoken to people at the Irish Blog Awards over the last two years who were in the same situation. Some of them have gone mad altogether.

What advice would you give such a person?

Irish Blog Awards Nominations – Have You Made Yours?

Irish Blog Awards - morning tea following the 2008 IBAs in Dublin

The nominations are still open for the 2009 Irish Blog Awards, but not for much longer with 6pm Wednesday the deadline to get your nominations in.

Guilty as charged, I’ve yet to make my own but they’ll be in for this evening. The night recognises the talents and voices of the Irish blogging community across all genres. In the past I’ve been lucky enough to see nominations for some of my blogs in Best Technology, Best Music and have nominations in one or two other categories as well.

But it’s not just about technology or music, there’s the arts, business, pop culture, photography and a whole lot more.

The awards themselves are changing location this year. After three years in Dublin (having made the road trip the last two years) I’ll find myself driving to Cork and this great venue for the awards. Having experience two years at the Blog Awards and a fantastic night at the Irish Web Awards in October, the real fun of the night isn’t competely in the awards ceremony itself but in the craic before and afterwards (and all through the night).

In saying that, I’ve booked into the hotel already so there’ll be no looking for Burger King at 2am.

I’m looking forward to the night, catching up with those I’ve not seen or spoken to in a while and hopefully get the chance to match even more faces to names from the web. Hit the awards as often as you like, when there’s a few hundred people in the room it can be tricky to talk to everyone you want to!

Nip along to Awards.ie and get your nominations in before Wednesday.

The Blog Awards Rocked. Fact

Morning After Tea

At last year’s Blog Awards (2007), myself and the rest of the KKM crew had to cut the night short just after the awards ceremony to cover a few gigs in Dublin. This year, the crew was cut in half, there were no gigs to cover so myself and Ross found ourselves immersed in the 2008 Blog Awards at the Alexander Hotel in Dublin last night. Early in the door (my raffle ticket was 1-5!) and late back to the hotel (some time around 3am possibly?).

While I’ve already posted the list of winners from last night, I did want to flag a few things – mainly being the people I ran into on the night.

The Irish Blog Awards was full of legends. A huge room packed wall to wall with legends. The people in the room are the reason you don’t have to read the newspapers. They are the technology writers, photographers, musicians, food critics, fashion divas, arts lovers, business gurus, political thinkers, sporting enthusiasts and so much more. One cannot get over the sheer power of the Irish blogging community and the respect in which everyone is held amongst their blogging peers.

Loudervoice.com's Conor O'Neill with KilkennyMusic.com's Ross Costigan (oss237)After missing out on RedMum’s photo walk around Dublin, and failing to hook up with Phil and Andy in Wagamama (due to getting in late, trying to find the hotel and getting ready for the Awards) we did eventually arrive at the Alexander bang on 6:30pm.

Who did I get to talk to?

Paul Browne for a start. About bloody time as well, having missed out on a chat and pint at last year’s Awards. That can of Guinness is still in my filing cabinet and I swear I’ll remember the name of that river! Talk of the night ahead and kayaking over the west was had before being introduced to the first round of beers for the night with Darren Byne and Darragh Doyle – two of the soundest guys you could meet.

After scoffing a few Black Jacks courtesy of the LouderVoice.com sweet bag, I finally managed to shake hands with Conor O’Neill. It’s been too long a time coming! It wasn’t long too before running into David Maybury. Having first met in Kilkenny late last year, I’ve to thank David and Deborah for the aftershow party in Burger King somewhere in Dublin around 2:30am. I say “somewhere” as there was a lot of walking, plenty of joking, and next thing you know I’m sitting down to a burger of some description.

There was chat with RedMum, Phil O’Kane and Andy GoodOnPaper.

Johnny Beirne is a man I’ve to catch up with again and finish the conversation that never really got off the ground – we’ll do it again. I also decided that Marcus Mac Innes is a legend as well. Some mad conversation at the end of the night I’m having trouble piecing together. Needless to say there was a lot of laughing. Plus, I gave him one of the 5 mustaches I won which can be here.

Mustache's are the new thing... seriously!I got to catch up with Nialler9 (who did the double on the Best Music Blog) who capped off what’s been a terrific week, all things considered. AoifeMc bagged herself a gun on the night courtesy and it was nice to make the introduction before the night ran out. The same too goes for Sinead Gleeson, twitter / sunday cooking 2.0 cohort Alexia Golez (who is even nicer in real life as much as she in online, plus she had a kick-ass Thundercats tee on) and Paul Walsh.

I managed to snap Ina on video rummaging for a holiday break… 🙂 How did that work out in the end? Went looking for Sabrina Dent before the night was out – mission accomplished too. There was some strange tattoo checking with The Humble Housewife? After that, things get a little bit hazy.

I can go on, but in fairness I think I wound up talking to an absolute ton of people there on the night. God, I even made the dance floor for the last part of the night – big thanks to Brian Greene for the absolutely solid music through the night. No thanks to whoever kept laying on the tequila…

Mr Mulley certainly throws a solid bash, but it’s the Irish blogging community on a whole that make it happen and make every second worthwhile on nights like last night.

You can catch a selection of pictures I took on the night here on Flickr (will get them on Pix.ie shortly, I was told I’d be killed otherwise).

For the moment, it’s onward towards CreativeCamp this coming Saturday.

Those Irish Blog Awards Winners

Partly for my own reference for later on, and to give some link love to the winners, here’s the list of those who walked away with the trophies last night.

I had been featured under Best Technology Blog for kenmc.com while KilkennyMusic.com was included in the Best Music Blog, those categories going to Robin and Nialler9 respectively. Couldn’t go to two nicer lads! Fair play!

I’m currently shaking off a hangover, getting sorted with some photos from last night as well as the list of names of people I spoke to – yes, I saved them to my phone “just in case” the pints kept flowing. The pints, and shots, flowed until we were pretty much the last ones out the door so I’m glad I kept that list!

Full flashback / summary later this evening…

There Was Blogging, There Was Drinking, There Were Cheers…

Irish Blog AwardsThat’s how I imagine tonight will run, but not exactly in that order.

The 2008 Irish Blog Awards are taking place tonight in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin with kick off scheduled for 7:30pm. Having been to the Awards last year I can say that the Alexander is a great venue and anyone going is bound to run into some fantastic people.

The blog finds itself nominated for in the Best Technology Blog category amongst the likes of Tom Raftery’s Social Media, Donncha O’Caoimh, Alexia Golez, Michele Neylon’s Pensieri, Michelle Gallen, Dave Northey, Inside View from Ireland, Robin Blandford’s ByteSurgery, James Corbett and Chris Horn.

Word has that list gets shorter again tonight before the awards are announced but it’s been a pleasure to have kenmc.com nominated for the very first time. I’ll also be there with Ross as KilkennyMusic.com found it’s way on the music shortlist though a betting man would put money on Nialler9 doing the double. Not a bad way to round out a week with Super Extra Bonus Party bagging the Choice Music Prize too.

According to Ross…

Ken will be the guy to talk to if you basically want to talk about anything from music to technology, sport, you name it. I’ll be standing beside him, the guy with the mohawk, consuming copious amounts of free alcohol and saying things like “what the hell is a blog anyway!?”

Says he leading the way for staff bloggers at KKM. Either way, we’re going to go and have a bit of craic, wind down after a few hectic weeks on all fronts and mingle with the very best the Irish blogosphere has to offer.

While having two phones might make me a terrorist, I’ll also be concealing my new Nikon Coolpix S200 so if you’re talking to me, jump in for a picture, sure why not!

See all y’all tonight.