Photo log from Dublin

Metro Rush Hour

Dublin Metro Rush Hour

The Dublin metro is a speedy and reliably way to zip around the city. Locally called the “Luas,” this light-rail tram can take you from the pedestrian friendly city center, past the medieval mummies of St. Michan’s Church at Four Courts stop, and all the way to the Guinness Storehouse at James’s on the other side of the River Liffey.

Rainy Afternoon puddles 

Rainy afternoon puddles in Dublin, Ireland

One of the best spots in Dublin for quiet reflection is Trinity College. With its protective walls and tranquil courtyards, the 400 years of history at Trinity College are alive and tangible at this calm oasis within the city.

Walking the streets of Temple Bar

Temple Bar district in Dublin, Ireland

The Temple Bar district has a high concentration of colorful pubs and narrow streets. Exploring this area and drinking at the traditional pubs is one of the quintessential experiences for any visitor to Dublin. Temple bar is alive with music and people all throughout the night. The atmosphere is joyous with people singing and mingling. It’s the only place you can walk into a bar, start to sing a song, and the entire place joins in!

Early Morning Silence

Dublin's famous O’Connell Street

O’Connell Street is the main artery of the city north of the River Liffey. In the early mornings the stillness and quiet here can belie the fierce history that took place on this street. In 1916 the General Post Office building was taken over by Irish Rebels and led to intense fighting with the British. Many believe that this conflict helped build wider sympathy for the fight to gain independence from Great Britain. The bullet holes from this battle can still be seen in the pillars today.

Magnificent Dublin Library

Magnificent Dublin Library

Nestled within Trinity College is the Old Library, where the gorgeously illustrated Book of Kells is kept. In addition to this 1,000 year old manuscript the library also includes the Long Hall, which is a magnificent tribute to writing. It has a rich smell of old leather and oak and will give you that strong sense of wonder that traveling is all about.

~ By Joy Hmielewski. Joy is an ex office worker with a love for adventure. A few years ago she picked up a camera and learned everything she could. She never wanted to spend her days in a cubical so she started a photography business and traveled anywhere she could go for cheap. She now travels extensively with a backpack and a small budget. 

Happy St Patrick’s!

Photo courtesy of Daniel Sklar

Saint Patrick’s day seems to be a big holiday here in the US. The grocery stores are stacked with green cupcakes, decorations of shamrocks hang everywhere and parades are held in downtown’s around the country. Children are told traditional Irish fairy tales while adults go out on beer drinking binges. But do we really know what this day is all about?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, the saint’s religious feast day and the anniversary of his death. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years and it falls during the Christian season of Lent. St. Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He is credited with bringing Christianity to the people of Ireland. St. Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity and that’s how the shamrock came to become an integral symbol of St. Patrick’s and the Irish.

St. Patrick’s Day is the official feast day celebrated by the Irish. It’s interesting to know that the first parade held to honor St. Patrick’s Day took place not in Ireland, but in the US. On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as with fellow Irishmen serving in the English army. Over the years, patriotism spread to other cities and now more than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States every year.

So, the tradition continued and here we are today…

Experience Ireland in Atlanta

I had the fortunate opportunity to attend an event held by Tourism Ireland in Atlanta, Georgia on April 28, 2011.  The event was held specifically for travel agents who send clients to Ireland and the media who write about traveling and destinations.  Titled “Experience a Flavor of Ireland”, the evening was filled with Irish entertainment, information, and food.  Tourism Ireland partnered with fourteen other organizations, ranging from tour operators to hotels and B&Bs to Dublin Tourism, to sell Ireland as a wonderful destination and to share details about travel and accommodation offerings.

I had recently visited Ireland at the beginning of April and wrote a post about my key learnings there.  This event was a wonderful opportunity to relive my experiences and gain new insights about the country and the island.

What impressed me the most about this event was the professionalism and the creativity.  How do you share information so that it is meaningful, memorable, and exciting?  How do you keep an audience engaged for over three hours?  Tourism Ireland did it with structure and with the senses of sights, sounds, tastes, and smells.

They began with registration and cocktails.  In the cocktail area, stand-up tables were manned by each of the fourteen partners.  This gave the partners one-on-one speaking opportunities to introduce their products and services to the attendees.  Brochures and other literature were offered at this time.  Live Irish music was played in the background.

This was followed by the core program in the main room.  Three large screens, professional lighting, an audio/visual team, and a stage up front hinted at the entertainment that was to follow.  After brief introductions, the female duo violinists from Sephira delighted the audience with their brand of Irish music.  This duo debuted in 2007 and has performed with Celtic Thunder and other musical groups.  You can check them out at their website.
The information from the partners was delivered via a two hour “skit” led by two professional actors.  One actor played a U.S. based travel agent arriving in Ireland to check out the destination, the tour operators, accommodations, food, and other amenities.  The other actor played an Irishman to help the agent get the information he needs.  The partners played themselves.

This approach was creative and entertaining, and it kept the audience engaged.

– The use of professional actors made it work.  They were natural, delivered their lines well, and kept the flow moving at a nice pace.

– The script was perfect.  Humor was used throughout the skit.  The questions asked by the travel agent actor were the type a regular travel agent would ask.

– The large screens gave the right visual clues all along the way.  Maps of Ireland indicated where hotels and other properties were located.  Images flashed on cue with the script, showing pictures of the outside and inside of hotels, the transportation vehicles, the golf courses, and the scenery.

– The partners played themselves well.  They are salespeople and they know their material.  This skit format allowed them to share the information in an entertaining way rather than behind a lecturn.

Wade Murphy, billed as one of Ireland’s top chefs, represented one of the hotel partners (he is the head chef at that hotel).  At the end of the skit, the attendees were led to an Irish food tasting prepared by the chef.  Samples included:  cheeses of Ireland; fish and potatoes; beef and mashed potatoes; salmon; and desserts.  While the attendees ate, live Irish music continued until the end.

It was a marvelous evening.  I hope to go back to Ireland to visit the places mentioned that I did not see during my recent trip.

– By guest blogger Daniel Sklar