Who: Suzy Byrne, MamanPoulet.com
What: With a beady eye always cocked for politicial contradictions, the sharp insight and thoughtful commentary on Maman Poulet makes it a must-read blog, especially at election time.
“Maman Poulet is my bit of the internet. It’s the playground where I play with other people, have a laugh – and get angry.”
Who: Cian O’Flaherty, editor of IrishElection.com
What: O’Flaherty heads up a diverse group of Irish political bloggers who use the site as a central space for debate and independent commentary. While a few of the links are old, the body of the content is bang up to date.
“It is full of writers, readers and commentators who have their own views and it leads to a lot of healthy discussion around the issues of the day and some of the angles and aspects that are not picked up elsewhere.”
FASHION AND BEAUTY
Who: Annmarie O’Connor, iblogfashion.blogspot.com
What: Drool over the frocks, bags and shoes of fashion writer O’Connor, be amazed at her ability to pack four kilos of jewellery for a beach holiday in Spain and pick up tips for the hottest new trends and Irish designers in this smart and funny look at a life in fashion.
“I Blog Fashion is a lighthearted tome – part diary/part ‘hey look what I found today!’ When I’m old and grey (which, let’s face it, isn’t too far away) I can look back and say ‘Shoes! So that’s what I wasted all my money on!'”
Who: Kirstie and Aisling McDermott, Beaut.ie
What: Can’t find the perfect mascara? Searching for that discontinued lipstick shade? Need some grooming tips for the fella? The girls at Beaut.ie have it all covered, along with a sassy attitude that says you don’t have to be brainless to care about how you look.
“Beaut.ie is a blog very specifically for Irish women with a focus on beauty. Because of that Irishness, we don’t take things too seriously, so it’s very irreverent and we like to have a bit of a laugh as well as provide news and accurate, honest product reviews.”
LIFE AND HOMESTYLE
Who: Sharon Hearne-Smith, friendlycottage.blogspot.com
What: Hearne-Smith shows off her pretty home complete with colourful vintage kitchenware, old lady wallpaper, garden projects, and crafty house renovations.
“For me, home is everything and ‘homemade’ even more so. There is no place else on earth I feel happier than at home, being myself, pottering around creating lovely surroundings and then relishing in its comfort. My Friendly Cottage blog is all about my adventures in creating my ‘no place like home’.”
Who: Imen McDonnell, marriedanirishfarmer.com
What: McDonnell brings a fresh eye – and stylish sensibility – to farm life in Co Limerick as she discovers traditional farmhouse pursuits like gardening, butter making and beekeeping. It’s not often you come across a mention of Carrie Bradshaw at the start of a piece on artificially inseminating cows.
“I Married an Irish Farmer is a personal and lifestyle blog on modern Irish country living with a fresh American twist.”
Who: Shane Culloty, thetorturegarden.blogspot.com
What: Although the name might not get past the web nanny at work, it’s worth persevering with as the lyrical prose and brilliant choice of music on this mp3 blog really stand out. Best read, and listened to, late at night with a large glass of red on hand.
“The Torture Garden is about different songs and bands I like, with a particular emphasis on Irish bands and lesser-known musicians in general. I try and write about them in a way I find interesting. It’s a nice, unusual blog with a poorly-chosen title.”
Who: Niall Byrne, nialler9.com
What: Five years on the go and getting better all the time, this influential blog is a one-stop shop for anyone interested in independent music. Discover new artists, listen to his brilliant podcasts, argue with the ‘best of’ choices and be the first to hear about the next big Irish thing.
“Put simply, Nialler9 acts as a filter for a lot of people’s music taste these days. There’s so much out there that you need other people to help you focus on what’s good.”
Who: Lorraine Fanneran, italianfoodies.ie
What: An Irishwoman’s take on Italian food, with step-by-step photos of recipes like Penne alla Vodka and Mackerel with Sage Butter, real life tales of working in the Irish food industry (check out her “a rant & a recipe” post) and insight into Italian family life.
“I’m not an expert, all I know is what I’ve taught myself, what Bruno’s mother has taught me and from travelling [in Italy]…The blog makes me keep up to date, try new things all the time and come up with different ideas.”
Who: Donal Skehan, donalskehan.com
What: Simple, tasty food. His carefully-styled images will grab your attention from the get-go but you’ll have to stick around for his Swedish Cinnamon Buns and Roast Garlic Shepherd’s Pie. Watch out for the cookbooks too.
“The beauty of what I do is that it’s all home cooked food, stuff you can do at home, using the storecupboard, not something that takes a million ingredients. It’s all attainable and that’s what food blogging is all about.”