€10 Wild Atlantic Way passport

A new visitor passport by Fáilte Ireland and An Post hopes to drive tourists into rural post offices.

27/05/2016 NO REPRO FEE: Pictured at the launch of a new passport for the Wild Atlantic Way are Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O'Donovan with John McConnell, Innovation and quality, An Post, Foyne headmistress Maeve McNamara and Fiona Monaghan, Head of Wild Atlantic Way, Failte Ireland. The joint initiative between Failte Ireland and An Post is designed to encourage greater exploration along the west coast touring route. Photo: Pat Moore.
27/05/2016 NO REPRO FEE: Pictured at the launch of a new passport for the Wild Atlantic Way are Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan with John McConnell, Innovation and quality, An Post, Foyne headmistress Maeve McNamara and Fiona Monaghan, Head of Wild Atlantic Way, Failte Ireland. The joint initiative between Failte Ireland and An Post is designed to encourage greater exploration along the west coast touring route. Photo: Pat Moore.


The hardback booklet can be stamped at 188 Discovery Points along the Wild Atlantic Way, providing a unique souvenir of Ireland.
The passports and stamps are available at over 130 post offices along the coastal touring route, as well as at Dublin’s GPO and the post office on St. Andrew’s Street.

Similar visitor keepsakes are popular on classic tourist routes ranging from Spain’s Camino de Santiago to the Appalachian Trail.
“We want to deepen visitor engagement and encourage those who travel along the route to slow down, dwell longer and immerse themselves in the local towns and villages of the west coast,” said Minister of State for Tourism & Sport, Patrick O’Donovan.

“The local Post Office is at the heart of these communities,” he added.

Ryan Tubridy (above) was one of the first to have his passport stamped today, when he popped into the Buncrana post office during a weeklong series of outside broadcasts forming part of Fáilte Ireland’s summer marketing campaign.

“This colourful, keepsake Passport is a great addition to our range of products and services and will help to drive footfall into rural Post Offices along the route,” said An Post’s Director of Innovation and Quality, John McConnell.
The Wild Atlantic Way has been a massive domestic success since its launch in 2014, with Fáilte Ireland set to invest a further €19m this year.

International awareness of the route remains “modest”, however, as chairman Michael Cawley said at the launch of its 2016 tourism plan earlier this year.
Most overseas visitors surveyed are unaware of the route.

“The passport is also neatly placed to encourage a return trip for those that have part-completed their passport,” said Fiona Monaghan, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of the Wild Atlantic Way.

For every 20 new stamps collected in a passport, visitors can call into Tourism Information Offices to receive a Wild Atlantic Way gift.
Visitors who purchase a passport are also entered into a draw for “a holiday of a lifetime along the Wild Atlantic Way”, Fáilte Ireland said.





EPIC Ireland: Inside Dublin’s epic new €15 million tourist attraction

A deep dive into Irish DNA

Epic-Logo-FingerprintEPIC Ireland is described as an interactive visitor experience celebrating the global journeys and influence of the Irish disapora.
Opening to the public on May 7 after an official launch by Mary Robinson, the attraction is set in the brick vaults of CHQ on Custom House Quay.

It is entirely privately funded, developed at a cost of €15 million by Neville Isdell, former Chairman and CEO of Coca Cola and member of the Irish diaspora.
On a preview tour, my experience was of a bold series of 20 galleries slickly fitted with at times breathtakingly immersive technology-driven displays.

Designed by Event Communications, the award-winning designers of Titanic Belfast, EPIC Ireland aspires to tell the story of “10 million journeys”, with galleries organised into themes of migration, motivation, influence and connection.

epic ireland

Why did people leave? What was their influence overseas? How has the emigrant experience changed over time? All are questions integral to the experience.

“The vision and objective of EPIC Ireland is to be the essential first port of call for visitors to Ireland,” said its Managing Director, Conal Harvey.
75pc of visitors are expected to come from overseas, with 25pc coming from the island of Ireland, according to Dervla O’Neill, its head of marketing.

She described the experience as “a real deep dive into the Irish DNA”.
Visitors receive a passport as they enter the attraction, stamping it at various points before using it to send a virtual postcard as their tour concludes.

Some 70 living characters are included among the galleries, ranging from Magdelene daughter Mari Steed to Graham Norton and President Barack Obama.

A rogues’ gallery evokes characters like Ned Kelly and Typhoid Mary, whilst others celebrate the achievements of scientists like Ernest Walton, musicians like Morrissey, and literary giants ranging from Bram Stoker to Edna O’Brien.


All told, however, this is a much-needed and extremely polished addition to Dublin’s deck of tourist attractions – at a time when the city is badly in need of new competitive edges to re-position a somewhat tiring image.

Tourism Ireland celebrates Season 6 by repurposing Game of Thrones history

Earlier this year, Storm Gertrude ripped up several 200-year-old beech trees from the Dark Hedges, a natural landmark in County Amtrim, Northern Ireland. It’s a landmark that should be familiar to any Game of Thrones fan.

Tourism Ireland saved the fallen trees and will use the wood to make ten doors, one for each episode of Game of Thrones Season 6. On each door, it’ll work with world class illustrators, CGI artists, and CNC engineers who will engrave the doors with artistic depictions of the episode’s storylines. Then each door will be posted at a pub around Northern Ireland, culminating in a country-wide pub crawl of epic proportions.

The first door, for “The Red Woman,” has already been completed and is housed in a pub called The Cuan, near the Castle Ward filming location.. It depicts Westeros itself, and the major powers at play.

Tourism Ireland has more than Game of Thrones-themed doors in mind. Already this week, it’s released its first in a series of limited edition GoT stamps.

05 GOTfullstampsquare-1140x1140

These stamps are being created in conjunction with the Royal Mail—they let you send post from Northern Ireland GoT Territory. As with the doors, a new one will be released each week, and each one will be inspired by current themes on the show.




36 Hours in Galway

Galway might be Ireland’s most charming city: compact, walkable and filled to the brim with independent shops and restaurants that walk the fine line between cool and kitsch. Cozy, old-fashioned pubs showcase the city’s ever-growing selection of craft beers, chefs serve up west-of-Ireland ingredients in creative new ways, and almost every building housing a modern cafe or new atelier has a centuries-old story behind it. It’s not a city in which to hustle; rather, it’s one in which to enjoy a locally brewed pint, relish the excellent seafood and get your fill of views of the rushing River Corrib as it sweeps out to Galway Bay.



1. GO TO CHURCH, 3:30 P.M.

Kick off a Galway visit with a dip into the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, which dates back to 1320 and is still used for Anglican services. The (possibly apocryphal) story goes that Christopher Columbus worshiped here in 1477. Check out the smashed faces of the stone angels, damaged by Oliver Cromwell’s troops in a bout of mid-17th-century vandalism, and note the lovely low Gothic arches. When services aren’t being held, the church is calm; on a recent visit, a solitary man was playing the organ to rows of empty pews.



Coffeewerk+Press is at the forefront of Galway’s nascent coffee scene (Urban Grind, on William Street West, is also good). The multiconcept space opened in 2015, and its ground-floor cafe serves precisely made coffee from Denmark’s Coffee Collective (cappuccino, 3 euros, about $3.35). Up the stairs you’ll find a gallery displaying work by 40 international and local artists — you can buy postcards of their work in the cafe. A second floor hosts a design shop selling everything from colorful cups and saucers from Amsterdam-based Jansen+co to gorgeous modern tweed items by the Galway Tweed Project, which are good protection from the howling winds that come off the bay and are chic to boot.



Opinions differ, passionately, as to where you’ll find the best fish and chips in Ireland, but McDonagh’s is a strong contender. Four generations have been serving fish and chips (€8.50) over the counter to customers who can sit down and dig in at the provided tables and benches. The adjoining restaurant opens at 5 p.m. and has a more formal atmosphere, plus an expanded menu of seafood, but it lacks the old-fashioned appeal of drizzling vinegar over crispy battered cod and a heaping helping of thick-cut chips and eating them with your hands.


4. PINTS IN A SNUG, 7:30 P.M.

Just up the street from McDonagh’s is Tigh Neachtain’s, one of the town’s best spots for happening upon a spontaneous traditional Irish music session. Crammed with snugs (small, partly closed-off sections) and warmed by open fires in the winter, this century-old pub is often standing room only, filled with people sampling one of the more than 100 whiskeys on offer. But that just adds to the cozy atmosphere engendered by the old enamel advertisements and shelves of books. The building itself was once the home of the Earl of Connemara, Richard Martin, known as Humanity Dick, one of the founders of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.




Ard Bia is a well-established local favorite, and for very good reason. The unpretentious, much lauded restaurant takes full advantage of the bounty of local produce in Galway as well as its prime location. Try to get a seat by the window, which looks right out on the River Corrib. It’s got rustic-chic appeal, with simple wooden furniture, a good wine list and a short menu of homey dishes like avocado toast with poached egg and the quintessential Irish lunch: a ham and cheese toasted sandwich (here it’s made with baked ham and Gubbeen cheese from West Cork, with tomato relish). Brunch for two, around €25. From Ard Bia, step across the alley to the Galway City Museum (both are by the Spanish Arch, a part of Galway’s medieval city walls and a local landmark). The compact museum (free) features exhibits on Galway history, including a life-size Galway hooker fishing boat suspended from the ceiling.


6. NUNS ISLAND, 12:30 P.M.

The delightfully named Nuns Island is an easy walk over Bridge Street and home to quiet green spaces, as well as the Galway Cathedral (free). Built on the site of Galway Jail, sold to the Bishop of Galway for £10 in 1940, the stone building was dedicated in 1965, and its 144-foot-high octagonal green dome is a signature part of the Galway skyline. Inside, Romanesque arches and stained glass make this one of the more beautiful modern cathedrals.


7. LOCAL BREWS, 2:30 P.M.

Galway’s craft beer game is exceptional, even in a country where Guinness has in many pubs been displaced by microbrews. Stroll back into the city center by way of the Salthouse Bar, one of the pubs owned by Galway Bay Brewery, and the perfect place to sample a midafternoon pint or two. Try the brewery’s own maritime-themed beers like the Buried at Sea chocolate milk stout, or the Of Foam and Fury double IPA (pints around €5), or let the bartender pour you a few samples of craft beers from around the world and a draft of cask ale.


8. ON YOUR BIKE, 3:30 P.M. P.M.

A cycle down the “prom” (promenade) out to Salthill means taking in beautiful Irish coastal scenery: beaches strewn with seaweed and rocks, a lighthouse and gloriously big sky. Rent a black-and-red bike from one of the 16 Coca-Cola Zero stations scattered around the city center (€3.50 for three hours) and cruise your way west along the curve of Galway Bay toward Salthill, making sure to look out for the Aran Islands in the distance. The town of Salthill has become trendier recently, with a number of hip pubs, but if you decide to stick around until opening hour at 7:30 p.m., head to O’Connor’s. It dates to 1875 and though it seems custom made for tourists, this cramped, antiques-crowded space is patronized by locals and serves up an excellent pint of Galway Hooker (named after the boat, not the profession).


9. LOAM, 6:30 P.M.

Galway’s been building a reputation for imaginative cuisine that’s hyper-focused on local ingredients, thanks in no small part to Loam. It had been open only 10 months when it picked up a Michelin star in 2015, a testament to the detail-driven creativity of its chef, Enda McEvoy. The six-course tasting menu (€60) of deceptively simple dishes changes daily (they characterize their food as “obsessively seasonal”) but is always an amalgamation of west-of-Ireland products, from Connemara air-dried lamb to West Cork cheese. A recent meal included a savory broth of squid, shiitake and beach herbs, and hay-flavored ice cream.


10. GRAB BAG, 9 A.M.

One of the liveliest and most eclectic of Galway’s (and Ireland’s) night-life venues, the Roísín Dubh’s stage has been graced by everyone from Two Door Cinema Club to De La Soul — and that’s in addition to the comedy nights, open mikes, silent discos (a room full of headphone-wearing dancers bopping away to music only they can hear) and D.J.s spinning everything from indie to electro-pop. There’s also a rooftop terrace with city views. The cheerful, laid-back crowd is at least partly made up of some of Galway’s many university students. Saturday nights feature live music earlier on, then D.J.s and dancing until 2 a.m.



11. SHOP STREET, 10 A.M.

Do as the locals do and wander up and down the aptly named Shop Street. This, with the connecting High Street, is the liveliest part of the city, packed with shoppers even on inclement days. Stop by Lynch’s Castle, which dates back to the 14th century and displays beautiful gargoyles, stonework and coats of arms (the Lynches were one of the 14 Galway “tribes,” or merchant families, who effectively ruled the city in the early modern era). The building was restored in 1930 and is now an AIB bank. Up the street is Aunty Nellie’s Sweet Shop, where the shelves are lined with big jars of old-fashioned sweets. Pick up a handful of sherbet limes or rhubarb and custard bonbons (€1.40 for 100 grams) before strolling across the street to Cloon Keen Atelier. This boutique perfumery offers chic fragrances and candles, all made by hand in nearby Spiddal.



Take a jaunt to Moran’s Oyster Cottage, an oversized, thatched-roof “cottage” that sits on the banks of the Dunkellin River and serves up succulent native oysters. A 25-minute drive southeast of the city center, this family-run restaurant serves Irish lobster, seafood chowder and legendary oysters, which are sourced from a nearby estuary and served on a bed of seaweed. Have a pre- or post-lunch drink in the tiny front bar, which doesn’t appear to have changed in a century. Lunch for two, around €60.


15 sci-tech hotspots you have to visit in Dublin

100,000 tourists were expected to visit Ireland last week as St Patrick’s Day looms into view. While many of these holidaymakers travel right throughout the country, the vast majority base themselves in Dublin.

The landmark day alone is expected to bring €70m to the capital city but, rather than go down the paddywhackery route, we’re here with 15 places to visit that showcase Ireland’s science and technology achievements, past and present.


Tour of Dublin: Broombridge (D7)

Quaternion mutterings don’t usually make headlines, or indeed get inscribed in stone. Yet, at Broombridge along the Royal Canal, William Rowan Hamilton’s ‘eureka’ moment is captured in all its tangible glory.
It was here that Hamilton came up with the idea for a revolutionary new form of algebra.

Trinity College (D2)

Sticking to the tangible theme, Trinity College is full of hits. For example, the iron railings along Nassau Street sport the inscription R&J Mallet, which, as all you eagle-eyed engineering historians out there already know, relates to Robert Mallet.He was dubbed the ‘father of seismology’, with his iron foundry business obviously well enough respected for Trinity architects.
Elsewhere there’s the painstakingly boring pitch drop experiment, and plenty more besides when you get indoors.


Science Gallery (Pearse Street, D2)

We love the Science Gallery here at Silicon Republic and, after the wonderful Trauma: Built to break exhibit finished up last month, the team are back in force in March with a new farming show. Check the video!

Makeshop (Nassau Street D2)

Created by Science Gallery, Makeshop is for everyone from novices to advanced makers, young to old. The aim of Makeshop is to provide people with the tools, materials and guidance they need to get making, in a place where creativity is encouraged and everyone is welcome.

Silicon Docks (Grand Canal Dock, D2)

If it’s more of a modern schtick you’re into then check out Dublin’s very own Silicon Valley: Silicon Docks. Home to plenty of software companies you rely on for much of your social media-ing, you could gaze at Facebook’s European HQ, or even watch Google staff out in the wild, getting a coffee at 3fE.

If you want, you can struggle to understand why the red pipes outside the Grand Canal Theatre are supposed to represent trees – come back in the summer to check out Inspirefest these, too. Also, if you’re flush with money and want to invest in start-ups, let out a yell and someone there will be happy to talk to you.

Merrion Square (Merrion Square, D2)

Do you like moderate mistreatment of cats? Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger sure did, at least intellectually speaking. He also took a shine to Dublin many moons ago.
Landing here from England at the outbreak of the World War II in 1939, Schrödinger’s self-described ‘long exile’ was 16 years, during which he became the first professor of physics at the newly-established Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
He also penned What Is Life? during this time, one of the most significant scientific contributions ever made in Ireland. His name adorns a plaque around Merrion Square.

The Little Museum of Dublin (St Stephen’s Green, D2)

The Little Museum of Dublin is, well, little. It’s also a treasure trove of trivial historical artefacts related to the city. Situated on St Stephen’s Green, it’s an easy find. The Irish Times voted it “Dublin’s best museum experience”, with the tours there very enjoyable.

Natural History Museum (Merrion Square, D2)

One of the better cabinet-museums around, Dublin’s Natural History Museum is great and well worth a trip. It holds millions of specimens, with just a fraction on display at any one time. If you can’t make it down there’s always this 3D virtual tour, should you like that kind of thing.

The Zoo (Phoenix Park, D8)

Of course, not everybody likes hanging out with dead specimens, so, if you prefer the real thing, then Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park should sate your appetite. Highlights here include the new gorilla enclosure and the excellent zebra, giraffe, ostrich and rhino enclosures.

Wi-Fi murals (Throughout Dublin city)

Okay, this is a bit of a weird one but, if you occasionally look up from your phone when you’re walking around the city you may succeed in (a) not walking into traffic, bikes or other people and (b) see some of the really cool tiled murals signifying Dublin’s free Wi-Fi.

Croke Park (Jones’s Road, D3)

Right now, Croke Park is home to a whole host of cool pieces of technology. A test bed for internet of things developments, Croke Park is testing everything from micro weather patterns to crowd control.
For example, on the roof, at this very minute, Intel has a tiny little weather centre. In the stands, cameras are monitoring shade levels in minute detail to improve grass growth. The future of stadia, and perhaps cities, is all here.

Botanic Gardens (Glasnevin, D9)

An animal-free alternative for nature fans would be the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. Billed as “an oasis of calm and beauty”, not even dogs are allowed here, so any cynophobia sufferers out there rejoice.
A premier scientific institution, the gardens also contain the National Herbarium and several historic wrought-iron glasshouses.

Guinness Storehouse (St James’ Gate, D8)

What is a widget? It’s a Guinness creation that floats about in some cans of beer and stout, keeping the drink’s make-up relatively natural. If you take a tour of the Storehouse – Ireland’s most popular paid tourist attraction – you’ll hear all about it.
There’s far more cool stuff inside the building, too, like the pint-glass-shaped interior and some of the biggest steel beams you’ll see in the country.

Teelings Whiskey Distillery (Newmarket, D8)

We could recommend the Jameson tour in Smithfield but, given it doesn’t actually produce any whiskey, we’ll plump for Teelings. Take a tour, learn about whiskey and enjoy your samples. Simples.

The Digital Hub (Thomas Street, D8)

Right beside the Guinness Storehouse sits a hive of start-up activity, with the Digital Hub and the Digital Exchange home to businesses like Slack, Emaint, Tibco and even, eh, Silicon Republic.



Lonely Planet reveals its Top 21 Irish attractions

Lonely Planet has just published the 12th edition of its Irish guide. Here are its Top 21 things to do in Ireland.

 1. Dublin

“From world-class museums and entertainment, superb dining and top-grade hotels, Dublin has all the baubles of a major international metropolis. But the real clinchers are the Dubliners themselves…”

2. Connemara, Co. Galway

“A filigreed coast of tiny coves and beaches forms the beautiful border between the Connemara Peninsula and the wild waters of the Atlantic… inland, the scenic drama is even greater.”

3. The Pub

“Every town and hamlet has at least one: no matter where you go, you’ll find that the social heart of the country beats loudest in the pub.”

4. Traditional Music

Western Europe’s most vibrant folk music…”

5. Galway City

“Join the locals as they bounce from place to place, never knowing what fun likes ahead, but certain of the possibility…”

6. Dingle, Co. Kerry

Fishing boats unload fish and shellfish that couldn’t be any fresher if you caught it yourself, many pubs are untouched since their earlier incarnations as old-fashioned shops, artists sell their creations at intriguing boutiques, and toe-tapping trad sessions take place around roaring pub fires…”

7. Glendalough, Co. Wicklow

“St. Kevin knew a thing or two about magical locations…”

8. Rock of Cashel, Co. Tipperary

“Soaring up from the green Tipperary pastures, this ancient fortress takes your breath away at first sight…”

Rock of Cashel
9. Links golf

“If Scotland is the home of golf, then Ireland is where golf goes on holiday… and the best vacation spots are along the sea.”

10. Cork City

The Republic’s second city is second only in terms of size… in many other respects, it will bear little competition.”

11. Walking & hiking

Yes, you can visit the country easily by car, but Ireland is best explored on foot, whether you opt for a gentle afternoon stroll along a canal towpath or take on the challenge of any of the 31 waymarked long distance routes.”

12. Brú na Bóinne, Co. Meath

“Looking at once ancient and yet eerily futuristic, Newgrange’s immense, round, white stone walls topped by a grass dome is one of the most extraordinary sights you’ll ever see.”


13. Ring of Kerry

“Driving around the Ring of Kerry is an unforgettable experience, but you don’t need to limit yourself to the main route…”


14. The Causeway Coast

“County Antrim’s Causeway Coast is an especially dramatic backdrop for Game of Thrones filming locations…”


15. Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, Co. Sligo

“What makes a visit here truly fascinating is the ongoing process of discovery, as archaeologists continue to excavate new monuments and piece together clues as to the site’s deeper meaning…”

16. Kilkenny City

“From its regal castle to its soaring medieval cathedral, Kilkenny exudes a permaneence and culture that have made it an unmissable stop…”

Kilkenny Castle

17. Titanic Belfast

“The experience is heightened by the use of photography, audio and – perhaps most poignantly – the only footage of Titanic still in existence.”

Belfast - Titanic Belfast
18. Donegal Coastline

“Depending on what direction you travel in, the craggy, crenellated Donegal coastline is either the wildly dramatic finale of the Wild Atlantic Way, or its breathtaking beginning.”

19. A Gaelic football or hurling match

“Attending a match of the county’s chosen sport is not just a unique Irish experience, but also a key to unlocking local passions and understanding one of the cultural pillars of Ireland.”

20. Derry

“A city filled with a restless creative energy, expressed in its powerful murals, vibrant music scene and numerous art galleries – not to mention the guarantee of a good night out.”

21. Clare Coast

“Bathed in the glow of the late afternoon sun, the iconic Cliffs of Moher are but one of the splendours of County Clare…”


A guide to Dublin’s rebel museums for the 1916 centennial

This year, 2016, marks the centennial of the Easter Rising, the seminal event in Irish revolutionary history, which led, in six short years, to the establishment of today’s Irish Republic.

The Rising lasted only six days, from Easter Monday to Saturday, but the brutal British reaction to it galvanized the Irish people into action. Initially, the Rising was unpopular with the locals. Many Dubliners had close ties to the British establishment, such as the “separation women,” the wives and family of Irishmen off fighting in the Great War for Britain. But the swift British military trials and executions of the leaders shocked the Irish people and turned the fifteen martyrs—Sir Roger Casement, the sixteenth and last rebel executed, would be hanged on August 3 in London—into national heroes.

In Dublin today there are nine museums—including three new ones—and landmarks dedicated to the men of 1916 and the heroes of the War of Independence. Their efforts eventually secured 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties from the British for the first time in 700 years—a David and Goliath quixotic feat that still amazes a century later.

1. Kilmainham Gaol


There is probably a no more solemn place to begin a tour of rebel Dublin than at Kilmainham Gaol. The jail is a stark, bleak monument to 18th century penology. (Ironically, its dreariness and creepiness makes it one of the favorite places for movie-makers in all of Ireland.) It was here that 14 of the sixteen leaders were executed. They surrendered on April 29 and the executions began on May 3, and continued unabated until May 12, 1916.
The guided tour, which takes about 45 minutes, brings you throughout the jail. One of the first stops is the Catholic Chapel where Joseph Mary Plunkett, one of the signatories of the Proclamation and a Commandant-General in the Irish Volunteers, married his fiancée, Grace Gifford. Within the hour he was taken out and shot. The tour also shows you the cells where many of Ireland’s prominent rebels—Charles Stewart Parnell, Padraig Pearse and Eamon de Valera among them—were held. Perhaps the highlight of the tour is a walk in the breaker’s yard, where the 1916 rebels were executed. One cross marks the spot where thirteen men were shot standing and another cross marks the spot where the socialist labor leader James Connolly, severely wounded in the leg during Easter Week, was executed sitting in a chair. Besides the tour, there is an impressive museum with many artifacts from 1916.
Kilmainham is about a 10-minute taxi ride from the center of the city and can also be accessed by bus. During the summertime there are long lines and it’s a good idea to get there early.

2. Arbour Hill Cemetery


After visiting Kilmainham it might be fitting to grab a waiting taxi and take a short ride across the River Liffey to Arbour Hill, the final resting place for the executed leaders. Arbour Hill was a British military installation, prison and cemetery. After the executions the British were wary of the Irish propensity for celebratory funerals for their rebels (the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa is a prime example) and under the cover of darkness brought the bodies to an open pit at Arbour Hill and poured quicklime over them—insuring there would be no parades in their honor.

Today the area is serene as the long mass grave of fourteen rebels sits quietly in front of the Irish Tricolour. The name of each rebel is marked on the side in both Irish and English. President Kennedy, on his visit to Ireland in 1963, laid a wreath here in honor of the dead martyrs.

3. Visitor Centre at Cathal Brugha Barracks


One of the hidden historical treasures of Ireland is located at Cathal Brugha (formerly Portobello) Barracks in Rathmines, a short taxi ride from the city center. The barracks is named after Ireland’s first Minister for Defence, yet its visitors center is a monument to Brugha’s arch enemy, General Michael Collins, the first leader of the Irish Army after independence. Collins was perhaps the greatest revolutionary of the 20th century, the inventor of urban guerrilla warfare, whose ruthlessness—his personal squad, “The Twelve Apostles,” assassinated the British Secret Service in Dublin in one morning—and political savvy in negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, brought the modern Irish state into existence. He is admired by such diverse international personalities as Mao Tse-Tung, Yitzhak Shamir (the seventh Prime Minister of Israel), and Nelson Mandela.
The small museum, which was originally a military jail, has a sordid history of its own. Francis Sheehy Skeffington—nationalist, pacifist, feminist—was murdered here, along with two other men, by a crazed British officer during Easter Week 1916. The bullet holes are still evident in the bricks of the small courtyard.
In the museum itself there are several artifacts belonging to Collins. The desk he used at 5 Mesphil Road is there (the marks from the British jimmying the drawers remain) as is one of his Colt revolvers. Behind the desk on the wall is the tricolor flag that covered his coffin in 1922. There are also weapons used by his notorious Squad. The rest of the museum is a history of Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Defence Forces Ireland, from 1922 to the present day.
The reason this museum is such a secret is that admittance is by appointment only. It is only open Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Appointments can be made by contacting the Barracks Adjutant at 353-1-804-6362. The tour is conducted by a member of the Irish Army and usually, if time permits, he is happy to take you around the grounds and show you the buildings that Michael Collins used as his residence and offices just before his death in 1922.

4. Pearse Museum


Padraig Pearse, the “President” of the Provisional Government during that fateful Easter Week, was the first to be executed on May 3, 1916. For good measure, the British also executed his brother, Willie, although Willie had little to do with the planning of the uprising. Padraig Pearse was picked as the “face” of the revolution by Tom Clarke, the incorrigible Fenian, because of Pearse’s writing and speaking skills. His speech at the grave of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa at Glasnevin Cemetery in 1915 marked one of the pivotal moments in the march to revolution. He is also the author of the 1916 Proclamation, Poblacht Na hÉireann, the equivalent of America’s Declaration of Independence.
At the time of their deaths the Pearse Brothers were running St. Enda’s, a progressive Irish school in Rathfarnham, which is about 20 minutes from the city center either by the #16 bus or taxi. The school is located on the grounds of the Hermitage, where United Irishman and famed Irish patriot Robert Emmet is said to have secretly romanced his sweetheart, Sarah Curran.

Recently the 18th century building has been faithfully restored and serves as a museum to the Pearse brothers. In it you can see the dorm where the students lived, plus Padraig Pearse’s office. There are also several sculptures by Willie Pearse on display.

5. National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks


The National Museum of Ireland has a long tradition of exhibitions relating to Easter Week 1916. The Museum will put on show one of the largest display of materials from this period in a new exhibition entitled “Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising” at the Museum of Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, opening on March 3, 2016. Many of the exhibited objects have never been on public display before while others, such as the Irish Republic flag which flew over the GPO, have been specially conserved.

Through the combined effect of the objects, words and imagery of the period, visitors to the exhibition will be confronted with the physical reality of the events of Easter Week, following the stories of those caught up in the events of that momentous week—civilians, combatants and survivors alike. Collins (formerly the Royal) Barracks is located off Wolfe Tone Quay at Benburb Street and is a short taxi ride from city center. It is also accessible by Luas Tram or foot. On the second floor is a separate exhibit remembering those who fought in the War of Independence.

6. Glasnevin Cemetery


For some reason the Irish have a great affinity for cemeteries and one of Dublin’s most fascinating places is Glasnevin Cemetery—the afterlife home of over one million Dubliners. It features the world’s first cemetery museum and offers a guided tour of the cemetery where so many of Ireland’s heroes are buried. Over 75,000 people visited the cemetery last year, making it one of the most popular—and unlikely—tourist destinations in Ireland.

As you walk in you’ll see the grave of Sir Roger Casement, the only 1916 martyr buried here. Next to Casement is the grave of Kevin Barry and the other “Forgotten Ten,” young men who were executed by the British in the period between November 1920 and the Truce in July 1921.

Behind these graves is the appropriately named “Republican Plot” where some of Ireland’s most famous rebels are buried. Here lies Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, John Devoy, Cathal Brugha, Harry Boland, Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz and the GPO nurse who led Padraig Pearse to surrender, Elizabeth O’Farrell, among others. On its outside ridges you’ll find the grave of Eamon de Valera who, for 50 years, was either Taoiseach (Prime Minister) or President of Ireland.

A short stroll away is the grave of Michael Collins, just outside the museum’s café. His grave is covered with flowers and notes from admirers. After visiting Glasnevin it’s not a bad idea to exit through the south gate and enjoy a pint at one of Dublin’s great drinking spots, John Kavanagh’s Gravediggers Pub. Glasnevin is 15-minutes from the city center and can be reached by #9 bus or taxi.

The newest rebel museums

7. Richmond Barracks


Richmond Barracks will officially open on May 2, 2016 to commemorate the centennial of when the first Easter Rising rebels were marched through its doors. On July 31 they will celebrate “Francis Ledwidge Day” in honor of the poet/soldier who died in the Great War. Richmond Barracks is close to Kilmainham Gaol and one may want to visit both of them on the same trip.
After the rebels surrendered at the end of Easter Week they were brought to Richmond Barracks in Inchicore for classification. The big shots like Padraig Pearse and Tom Clarke were quickly condemned to death and removed to nearby Kilmainham Gaol for execution. The British then had to separate and evaluate the rest of the rebels according to their importance. (It was at this time that Michael Collins famously and casually walked across the room and joined a contingent of far less dangerous Volunteers, saving himself a stiffer sentence.)

The insurgents were fingerprinted, but no mug shots were taken, which would turn into a big problem in the years to come when no one in the British Service knew what Collins looked like. Richmond Barracks was also the destination of teenage rebels like Seán Lemass, future Taoiseach of Ireland, and Vincent Byrne, a shooter in Collins’ Twelve Apostles who, ironically, would be the commandant in charge of the Barracks by 1922. Many women of the Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army were brought here including the Countess Markievicz and Elizabeth O’Farrell who arranged, along with Pearse, the rebels’ surrender.

8. An Post GPO Witness History


The General Post Office on O’Connell Street remains the most iconic building in Ireland and now it has a museum of its own. “An Post GPO Witness History” is an engaging, interactive visitor attraction bringing history to life through technology, video, sound and authentic artifacts—many previously unseen.

An immersive semicircular audiovisual space puts visitors right inside the GPO during the five days in which it was both the military command center, and the seat of the Provisional Irish Government. A digital recreation of Dublin as it was in 1916 provides both an immersive street level experience, and a “God’s Eye” strategic overview of events, to highlight the difficulty of coordinating a national revolution from the GPO, in a city under siege from overwhelming Crown forces. It reveals dramatic instances of shocking violence, and inspiring courage, shown on all sides. Visitors undergo the full terror of the devastating British artillery bombardment that reduced the center of Dublin to smoking ruins. The exhibit opens on March 29th and the tour is open 365 days a year, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m

9. 1916 Rebellion Museum at 16 Moore Street


By Friday of Easter Week the rebels had to abandon the burning GPO. They came out on Henry Street and made their way to Moore Street. After tunneling through several buildings, men like Pearse, Clarke, Plunkett, MacDiarmada and Connolly—five of the seven signatories of the Proclamation—assembled in #16 where they decided to surrender.

By 2000 numbers 14, 15, 16 and 17 Moore Street were in danger of being destroyed as gentrification threatened Moore Street, which, with its fish and vegetable mongers, has remains much the same in the 21st century as it was in the time of Joyce and O’Casey. Then the “Save 16 Moore Street” came to the rescue. After much wrangling the Irish government bought the buildings and they were saved from destruction. Even today there is much controversy surrounding the project and although slated to open at the Rising’s centennial in April, the project may run late.


Golf in Ireland awarded!

In this post you will find 2 Articles: one good news and some ideas based on golf along the Wild Atlantic Way

  • Royal County Down named as the new number one golf course in the world
  • Golf along Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way’

Royal co. Down

Royal County Down named as the new number one golf course in the world

46 of the Top 100 are courses on seaside venues. That includes Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down, a surprising though deserving new No. 1…
Much as life on earth, golf first emerged from the sea, taking root on sandy deltas and shorelines, what golfers now call linksland, where it remained for generations before moving inland. As the game moved closer to population centers, those who staked out golf holes sought sandy soil whenever possible, for good reason: Sand would sprout springy turf, which bounced the golf ball and quickly drained after heavy rain.

Invariably, where there was sand, there was wind, pushing and shaping landscapes onto which golf holes logically fit, carving out dips and hollows that served as bunkers. Wind was also an essential element. Without it, golf was simply pub darts.

Grand early courses clung to the coastlines. Those that couldn’t tried to emulate the look, feel and experience. That changed in the middle of the past century, when courses became a major sales tool of housing developers on ill-suited sites. The game became aerial and heroic, over chasms and lakes, down rocky hillsides and canyons. Architects used bulldozers as their pencils, some producing layouts with no more artistry than road builders.

That dark period is behind us, halted by the collapse of the housing economy and by a new generation of golf architects who are endeavoring to bring golf back down to earth. They seek seaside settings for their work, and though precious few are still available in the United States, elsewhere on Planet Earth, ocean waves lap against some of the most gorgeous layouts ever seen.

That’s clearly evident in Golf Digest’s second biennial ranking of the World 100 Greatest Golf Courses. Forty-six of the Top 100 are courses on seaside venues. That includes Northern Ireland’s Royal County Down, a surprising though deserving new No. 1, replacing New Jersey’s Pine Valley, which has plenty of sand but no ocean and is now No. 3 on our exclusive list. Royal County Down, on rugged, windblown topography along the Irish Sea and beneath the Mountains of Mourne, features snarling bunkers edged by marram grass and dates from 1889.

The course hosted the Duty Free Irish Open last year, which was also sponsored by The Rory Foundation.

Golf Digest noted that Royal County Down was a “surprising but deserving new number one.”

They said: “Royal County Down, on rugged, windblown topography along the Irish Sea and beneath the Mountains of Mourne, features snarling bunkers edged by marram grass and dates from 1889.”

Tourism Ireland were delighted at the announcement.

Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, said: “It is a fantastic accolade for Royal County Down to be voted number one golf course in the world – beating other world-renowned courses such as Augusta National, venue for the US Masters, and Pine Valley, New Jersey.”

“And I am delighted to see another local course, Royal Portrush, come in at number 27 on the same list.

“This wonderful endorsement presents Tourism Ireland with another invaluable opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland to golfers and prospective visitors around the world.”



Source /


Downhill par-3 at Portstewart GC-2

Golf along Ireland’s ‘Wild Atlantic Way’


Two years ago, when I first discovered Irish links golf and Ireland in general, I knew I wanted to return someday. I just didn’t realize how much.

After six mostly gorgeous July days of breathtaking scenery, great food, inordinately friendly people and bucket-list golf, I know that now. Trust me on this: golf in Ireland, and the country as a whole, is an adventure that only makes you want more of it.

Checking the savings account, and … yep. I’ll be back.

My first experience came in 2013, at the behest of John Garrity, a golf writer/correspondent with Sports Illustrated and one of the nicest (and tallest, at 6-7) sports writers around. In 2009, he wrote “Ancestral Links,” about searching for his family roots in Belmullet, a village of 3,000 on a wild, windswept portion of the western Irish coast in County Mayo. He also discovered Carne Golf Links, a fabulous, rustic and otherworldly course that, along with all 3,000 locals who know him, keeps him coming back year after year.

In 2013, I was one of a dozen golf writers who spent five days with Garrity touring a tiny portion of what is now billed as Ireland’s “Wild Atlantic Way” (www.wildatlanticway.com), a 2,500-kilometer (1,600 miles) stretch of the Atlantic coastline that Failte Ireland (Tourism Ireland http://www.ireland.com) promotes as a largely unexplored, spectacular tourist destination. We played three days at Carne, two rounds at other courses – a mere taste.

This time, we would see and enjoy more. Following the Open Championship at St. Andrews, I flew to Belfast to join nine others on the tour bus and play six links courses in as many days, on a route wrapping around the northwest corner of Ireland. Based on the amazing views, that stretch encompasses some of the wildest parts of the Wild Atlantic Way.

At the end, Carne remained my favorite; it’s hard to ignore your first love. But the previous stops – Portstewart, Ballyliffin, Portsalon, Rosapenna and County Sligo – all are now on my must-see/must-play list. And there are another 25 links courses along the Wild Atlantic Way, running south to Kinsale near the city of Cork, meaning more discoveries remain.

So here’s one itinerate writer’s report on what a fellow bus rider called “the golf trip of a lifetime.” To which I replied: Hopefully, only until the next one.



Looking for a missing taxi in Belfast International Airport is hardly the ideal way to start a trip, but a friendly young man with a cell phone helped find my ride, and I was on my way to meet the others at Portstewart, just up the road from its more famous cousin, Royal Portrush. Stevie, my loquacious cabbie, kept me entertained for the 90-minute ride, which ended with me scrambling to get to the first tee on time.

Thanks to Kevin Markham, an Irish writer whom I met in 2013, a spare set of his clubs awaited me. Kevin – whose book “Hooked: An Amateur’s Guide to the Golf Courses of Ireland,” is a must-have guide to all 350 18-hole courses – also had the dubious pleasure of playing along with and watching me spray balls into Portstewart’s towering, grass-covered dunes.

In “Hooked,” Kevin refers to Portstewart as “Ireland’s Front Nine,” and the view from the elevated first tee – with the ocean and nearby village off to the right – confirmed that designation. We hit our tee shots down into a dunes-lined, dogleg left valley – the first of eight doglegs in the opening 11 holes – and were off.

While the first few holes seemed one up-and-down trek after another, the course eventually offered more gentle slopes, but no less penal rough. I lost too many balls in six days to count, and Portstewart claimed its share. But the par-5 seventh hole was site of my first warm Irish memory: driver, 5-iron, 8-iron to an elevated green, and a 30-foot putt that dropped for a birdie.

We had our first taste of Irish weather (cold, sideways rain) – the rest of the trip would be, remarkably, almost rain-free and around 60 degrees Fahrenheit – and several of us skipped the final two holes to see the end of the delayed Open, watching Zach Johnson’s playoff win while our rain gear dried out. A beachfront joint for fish and chips (and sticky toffee pudding for dessert), and we were off to our hotel. One day down, five to go.



John Farren, Ballyliffin’s general manager for 11 years, has been a club member “all my life,” so he knows his course – actually, courses; the Old, established in 1973 (when a second nine was added to the original nine, which dates to 1947), and the Glashedy, a 1995 project by Pat Ruddy, an architect with many renowned Irish courses to his credit, including the European Club near Dublin.

The original course was built after a dozen farmers sold 367 acres of dunes land to the club’s founding members, who designed the course with advice from the late Eddie Hackett, the godfather of Irish golf architects. Ruddy has updated Glashedy’s bunkers in recent years, and Sir Nick Faldo did an upgrade of the Old in 2006.

Farren would love to see more tourist rounds played – 20,000 of 80,000 annually; the rest are played by the 1,000 members – up to 35,000. “This club is the main economic driver in the area, and a major tourist attraction,” he said. “You can play the courses every day of the week, and they’ll be different (due to) wind, rain and the contouring of the course.”

Of the courses on the itinerary, Ballyliffin was perhaps the most consistently visually spectacular. Climbing one uphill par-5, you could look at the green set between two towering dunes, then look behind you at the island-sized Glashedy Rock in the bay, and imagine a giant “bowling ball” plowing through the dunes and down the fairway before sinking halfway into the water.

Ballyliffin is Ireland’s northernmost golf club, Farren said, yet the two courses are open 365 days a year. “We’re the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way,” Farren said. “The gates to Heaven.” It’s difficult to disagree.



By now, you may have figured out that course names can be confusing. Many Irish courses are identified by both the club and the course names (similar to Scotland’s Royal & Ancient, the club, and the Old Course). Portsalon calls its course Cathal, and it held trip honors for both the narrowest fairways (and perhaps the thickest, nastiest rough areas) and the friendliest membership.

By the time club captain Paul Armstrong had gifted us with caps, club histories (two volumes) and club ties with the distinctive boar’s head crest, memories of lost balls were forgotten. Kevin Markham designates Portsalon (pronounced Port SAL-on) as one of his “Top Ten Must Play” courses, and views of mountains and water alone justified that.

“We’re rising in the (Irish golf) rankings” – 22nd; Golf World rates the course 31st – “and we have to do it with light resources,” Armstrong said. The course dates to 1891, and was bought in 1896 by the Barton family (whose crest is the boar’s head) for the equivalent of 64,000 euros (about $70,000 U.S.).

One Irish golf tradition is that the game’s best players stay involved with the country’s courses, and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley (whose father, Mick, has local ties) has advised Portsalon on needed changes, including widening a few fairways.

Armstrong says clubs such as his in the sparsely-populated northwest have to band together to survive. “(The Wild Atlantic Way) gives us that mechanism,” he said. “This will allow those of us under the radar to increase awareness of our courses.”

One unique Portsalon feature is the large engraved stone alongside one fairway, dating from the British occupation, which translated from Irish/Gaelic read: “On this place, holy mass was celebrated at the time of penal laws,” 28 prohibitions that kept Catholics from exercising their religion and their rights as citizens.

Wow: golf and history, all in one spot.



If you’re a single-digit handicapper, or someone who enjoys the cruelties the game can throw at you, Rosapenna is the place. For many of us on the writers’ tour, it was simply too much: too much elevation change, too much wind, too much gnarly rough. That doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy it, but we had to work at it.

The club has great bloodlines: Old Tom Morris laid out the original course in 1891, and Harry Vardon and James Braid added length and bunkering in the early 1900s. The club’s second course, Sandy Hills – the one we played – opened in 2003, another Pat Ruddy design, and Golf World ranks it 11th in Ireland, second only to No. 10 Carne on this adventure.

We saw a statue of Old Tom near the first tee, and the joke was that we could beg him for sympathy, but he wouldn’t listen. How tough was Sandy Hills? One member of our crew, Craig Smith of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, tore a calf muscle climbing to one of the elevated greens. Interestingly, the only hole on the front nine where I recorded a usable score was the par-5 eighth – the site of my second (and last) birdie.

As at Ballyliffin and Carne, the towering dunes and winds are Rosapenna’s claim to fame, as well as its undulating, devilish greens. Our calm, low-key Irish guide, Rory Mathews, rolled one putt just past the hole, then watched (and uttered a few angry oaths) as his ball continued off the green into a bunker.

That said, Rosapenna’s resort hotel is fabulous, the rooms larger (and nicer) than apartments I once rented. Mine had a porch overlooking the beach, a good spot to relax – and, after the golf, recover.



In the U.S., we’d call it, oh, maybe “Flattop Mountain.” Here, it’s the Benbulbin, a massive land formation that looms over every view of County Sligo/Rosses Point, which Kevin Markham designates a “Top 10 Links” (Golf World rates it No. 12 in Ireland). Not quite as hilly as Ballyliffin or Rosapenna, its fairways are flanked by large (but not huge) dunes and views of Drumcliff Bay, including an offshore lighthouse visible beyond the green at the 12th hole – which is named, fittingly, “The Lighthouse.”

After we survived the brutal par-4 17th (a severe, uphill dogleg left) and the blind-tee-shot 18th, club general manager David O’Donovan explained how the course – originally built by Harry S. Colt in 1894 and redeveloped by Pat Ruddy, who “played here as a kid” – was deemed too short for modern equipment and a candidate in 2014 for lengthening and toughening.

“Pat met with 196 members, and 191 voted for the changes,” O’Donovan said. Those were made “on a shoestring,” a common lament for northwest courses, and were helped by an overseas benefactor. Tourists account for 12,000 rounds a year, a number he’d like to see climb to 23,000.

O’Donovan is a natural promoter, saying Irish golf is a perfect destination for U.S. golfers, given the strength of the dollar to the euro (almost one-to-one) vs. the UK pound. He believes County Sligo should be ranked with Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Lahinch and Ireland’s other world-class courses.

“Our golf courses are just as good,” he said. The Wild Atlantic Way initiative is helping inform visitors of that, he said. “They come for the tourism, and they find the golf,” he said. “We’re a hidden gem, but we don’t want to be hidden.”



Most of the writers’ tour departed for Dublin after County Sligo, but three of us followed John Garrity and his buddy, Philadelphia writer Mike Kern, to Belmullet to stay overnight. Two – Craig Smith and Greenville freelancer Trent Bouts – would be seeing Carne for the first time; I was making an eager return.

I wrote about the pleasures of Carne two years ago, so suffice to say, the 27-hole course puts the “wild” in Wild Atlantic Way. The dunes are the largest in Ireland; the winds are capricious; the fairways and greens are rustic but smoother and more manicured than my last visit. It is like golf nowhere else.

Three of us (Smith rode along in a cart, or “buggy”) played the original Eddie Hackett-designed back nine and the Kilmore nine, built by Scotsman Ally McIntosh. You stood on the first tee of both nines and aimed at fairways set between towering dunes that made you think of the Himalayas. You hit a tee shot, headed off after it – and didn’t stop smiling the entire round.

There were other delights discovered over six days. The tiny pub, McFeeley’s, in Clonmany, near Ballyliffin, where Eamon Sweeney, town councilman and local butcher, treated four of us to 12-year-old Jameson whisky (not “whiskey”); the pub owner who drove all of us to our hotel after we closed his place one night; the huge, delicious dinner at Fun Bobby’s in Belmullet, where the chef, John Comry, is a former “Ireland Chef of the Year” who moved back from Dublin because he missed his hometown; the fish chowder that makes a meal by itself; the sticky toffee pudding (in two restaurants) that we declared the greatest dessert on earth; and always, the scenery.

You could not play a single round of golf, and still fall in love with Ireland – but why would you do that? It’s a different game than in the U.S., and a fantastic difference at that.

Once every year or so, however often one’s finances can afford it, players owe it to themselves to discover that – or, even better, rediscover it.