Your Irish Adventure – New Blog!

Exciting news readers…I have decided to set up a new website all about adventure in Ireland. Don’t worry, I will still be maintaining this as my main site, especially when it comes to my travel adventures.

The new site is aimed at people living in Ireland looking for fun things to do and places to go in Ireland and is aimed at both visitors to Ireland and locals living here. If you think you fall into either of those categories, or you just want to see what sort of fun adventures there are to do in Ireland, head on over to Your Irish Adventure and give it a follow! :-D

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Take 20: Unique Things To Do In Dublin For Free

Dublin gets a lot of stick for being one of the most expensive cities in Europe, if not the world. Transport, admission fees, pints and food can all seem exorbitant for people visiting and might even put people off. What many people don’t know is that there are endless things to do in Dublin that won’t cost you a cent. From free museums, to beautiful parks and botanic gardens, to beaches, lighthouses and music gigs, if you know where to go you really can have an incredible time in Dublin on a very small budget!

This list was compiled thanks to a collaboration with some other bloggers here in Ireland along with my friends who have loved here for years and know all the best spots. Without them, this post would certainly not be as comprehensive as it is, so thanks to everyone who contributed!

20. Go to a Free Music Gig

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Dublin is famous for its music, but that doesn’t mean you should have to pay to hear it. You can either go to the tourist trap bars in the Temple Bar region and listen to some free cheesy Irish music or head to some of the spots locals go to such as Sweeney’s on Dame street or Whelan’s up on Camden street. Both attract big numbers of music fans each week, and lots of great up and coming musicians. Doyles, near to Trinity College is another great option for free live music.

19. Search for Street Art

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Dublin has some pretty amazing street art – some more obvious such as the murals in and around Temple Bar and the Italian Quarter, and others hidden away on back streets and down side alleys. You could dedicate an afternoon to doing a fun, and free, photo tour of Dublin to find all the best street art.

18. Go for a Cycle

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Darren McAdam O Connell says:

“Cycle out along the canals and have a picnic on the lawn in the quad in Maynooth or in Phoenix Park where there is so much to do.” Note: Once you sign up to Dublin Bikes, the first half hour of each journey is free, This means you can virtually get anywhere in the city for free and bikes are the best way to get around!

17. Visit the Garden of Remembrance

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This beautiful garden in the heart of the city was designed by Daithi Hanly and dedicated to the memory of all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom.  The large sculpture by Oisin Kelly is based on the theme of the “Children of Lir”.  The garden is intended as a place of quiet remembrance and reflection and is a beautiful place to stop by while in Dublin.

16. Check out the Irish Jewish Museum

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Suggested by Lisa Iadevaia Devlin

Another of Dublin’s free museums,The Irish Jewish Museum stands on the site of Dublin’s Walworth Road Synagogue, which was once in the heartland of “Little Jerusalem,” the densely populated Jewish enclave off the South Circular Road. The area was once filled with Jewish kosher butcher stores, Jewish bakeries, Jewish grocery stores, Jewish tailors, Jewish bookstores and many other stores and businesses owned by Jews. It was actually opened by the Irish born former President of Israel Dr. Chaim Herzog on the 20th June 1985 during his State visit to Ireland.

15. Have a picnic at the National Botanic Gardens

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This one is a little out of the city, but totally worth the half hour walk or short bus ride. Located about 3 km North of the city centre, the National Botanic Gardens are an oasis of calm and beauty, and like all the others, entry is free. A premier scientific institution, the gardens also contain the National Herbarium and several historic wrought iron glasshouses. A great place to go in the summer for a picnic or just to try and chase all the cheeky squirrels!

14. A Walk on Dollymount Strand

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Mike O’Keeffe says:

“Go for a walk along Dollymount beach out in Clontarf, with the beautiful view of Dublin Bay, Howth Head and all the way out to Dun Laoghaire, followed by a stroll around St Annes park…great spot for a picnic.” The beach is over 5km long, so a round trip to the end and back would be a pretty great Sunday stroll. If you don’t feel like exercising, you could just spend a few hours watching the skilled kite surfers that flock here when the wind is right.

13. A walk in St Stephens Green

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Rachel Hally says:

“If you’ve heard of Grafton street in Dublin then you will know about Saint Stephens Green. This is a very picturesque park in Dublin city centre. The park is gorgeous in spring and summer covered in many different types of colourful flowers. It’s a peaceful place found in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Dublin. It is the perfect place to take children to feed the ducks and swans or play in the grass or even have picnics. It is also a very peaceful place to lay in the sun with friends or read a book against a tree. It is a stunning place and of course it is completely free.”

12. See the wild deer in Phoenix Park

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Eoin Kernan says:

“For my penny’s worth… go and visit the fallow deer in Phoenix Park. Yes, you can go to the Zoo just down the road and see lots of unusual animals, but at a price. For free, you can see 350 wild ‘Bambi’s’ in their own home, surrounded by wonderful parkland.”

11. Go for a stroll around the city centre 

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Katie Brennan says:

“There are so many beautiful walks to go on around Dublin. Killiney Hill, Dun Laoghaire pier, Marley Park, Dollymount Strand. It’s perfect on a lovely day! I also love wandering around the city centre and doing some window shopping on the weekends. There’s always people busking and performing and a real buzz in the air!”

10. Witness a Court Case

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Fiona Sherlock says:

“If you’re lucky enough to have a few days off during the week, why not head down to see justice being administered in public? Most court cases are held in public (family hearings are usually In Camera), and a quick look at  the legal diary will let you know what’s coming up.”

9. Check out the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) 

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Lorna Garety says:

“The 17th century Royal Hospital Kilmainham is home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the entrance to which is announced by a fabulous giant sculpture of a hare banging a drum. In the 20th Century it fell into disrepair until restored by the State in 1984, its 300th Anniversary, and became the home of IMMA in 1991. It is now surrounded by avenues and ancient chestnut trees, dotted with sculptures from IMMA’s collection.”

8. View some art at the National Art Gallery

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Stephen Hackett Says: “The National Art Galleryexhibits fine art from Ireland and around the world, has a pretty nice cafe and of course it’s free!! It’s also not too far from Trinity College.”

Giselle Campbell says: “National gallery great for kids too. Loads of free workshops, a tour pack and kids corners. Brought my son their last summer. He was only just 2 and we’d a great time!”

7. Host a ‘Supper Club’ instead of eating out

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Karolina Badzmierowska says:

“On a sunny and warm evening in June of last Summer, we hosted our first Supper Club dinner. Some of you might be familiar with this concept; in a nutshell, think fine dining meets casual banter in the safety of your own surroundings. As you send out the invites to friends (or strangers), the only rules are the BYOB and BYOF. Try it yourselves, invite friends, or friends of friends, or strangers. Come up with a menu. Experiment, enjoy and have fun!”

6. Visit the dead at Museum of National History

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Russell O Connor says:

“The Dead Zoo (aka Museum of Natural History), is a small building packed full of all of the excitement of nature. Its a great way to experience what animals are like up close without the fear of them eating you!”

5. Stop by The Little Museum

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Dearbhla McCreesh says:

“The Little Museum on St Stephens green is fab. It’s not always free but there are times during the week when it is. It has lovely staff, interesting artifacts and tidbits..definitely worth the visit.” This museum is a real hidden gem in Dublin and captures the history of Modern Dublin like no other.

4. Walk to the South Wall Lighthouse

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Vinnie Glennon says:

“Walk out to the South Wall lighthouse. It took 50 years to make it and few people know it.” While the wall built to shelter Dublin harbour wasn’t completed until 1795, the lighthouse was actually ready in 1768 and initially operated on candlepower, reputedly the first in the world to do so. The Great South Wall on which Poolbeg Lighthouse stands, extends from Ringsend over 4km out to sea. It was the world’s longest sea-wall at the time of it’s construction and remains one of the longest to this day in Europe.

3. Do some reading in the Chester Beaty Library

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Described by Lonely Planet as not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe, this great free museum should be a must-see for anyone living in or visiting Dublin. Established in 1950, to house the collections of mining magnate, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, the Library is one of the premier sources for scholarship in both the Old and New Testaments and is home to one of the most significant collections of Islamic and Far Eastern artefacts.

2. Pay your respects at Glasnevin Cemetary

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It might be a bit strange listing a graveyard as a top thing to add to your bucket list, but Glasnevin Cemetery is no ordinary cemetery. Almost 200 years old, over 1 million Dubliners have been laid to rest here and it is home to many historically notable monuments. The graves of many of Ireland’s most prominent national figures such as Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, and Éamon de Valera can all be found here.

1. Enjoy a midnight picnic in the Temple Bar Square

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Liane Hurray says:

“A fun thing to so is to have a midnight picnic on the square in Temple Bar to watch the ladies in high heels try to walk over the wet cobblestone on a night out!” Struggling girls aside, I really like this idea of having a midnight picnic. I bet there are lots of great spots around Dublin for an alcohol free midnight picnic!

Posts you should read:

Most Beautiful Places To Visit In Ireland

Irish Abroad: Top 10 Foods We Miss

Best Places To Visit In Ireland

I love to travel. I love finding cheap flights. I love running away from Ireland. However, at the end of the day, Ireland is my home and I absolutely love it here. Sure, it rains a lot, and we don’t really get a proper summer like most other countries, but when the sun shines there really is no place I would rather be.

From the rugged West coast, to the stunning national parks up North to the long, white sand beaches dotted along the East coast, Ireland has SO much to offer both locals and tourists. In this post, I have asked a handful of brilliant Irish bloggers to write about their favourite places around the country. Here’s what they had to say.

West Clare 

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Suggested by Denise Sweeney

“My favorite place in Ireland is West Clare! From the endless beaches to the Traditional Music to the amazing scenery and many tourist attractions, West Clare has it all! It’s a place that anyone can enjoy,young or old! Its a place filled with happy memories and I always feel nostalgic when I’m there!”

Altamont Gardens, Carlow

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Suggested by Dee Sewell

“My favourite place is Altamont Gardens in County Carlow. From the formal rose walk and herbaceous borders, to the water lily filled lake, boulder strew stream and river walk. Open all year with free entry, garden centre, picnic area and tea rooms, it’s a wonderful place to visit for all ages.”

Galway City

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Suggested by Sean Burke and Amy Loonam

“Galway City for me as it feels like a blend of different cultures with the Spanish arches and tourists from all over the world.”

“I’ve been living here as an art student for 3 years now and it’s my second home,everyone is so friendly, it has such lovely little shops, and it’s just full of music and culture.”

Dunfanaghy, Donegal

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Suggested by Karen Sloane Gribbon

“Dunfanaghy is the diamond in the hills of Donegal. The perfect place for people of all ages. The perfect family haven for us. In the morning, take a dander along the beautiful beach, surf the waves or gallop along the sand dunes on horseback. Then meander through the little tiny square in the afternoon with its dreamy boutiques full of handmade gifts then go have fun in The Workhouse play park. Finish the day crab fishing, then go explore the undiscovered walking trails. Finally top it all off with delicious grub, a tasteful Guinness and a few live tunes.”

Clare Glens, Limerick

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Suggested by Darragh Bourke

“My favourite place in Ireland is the beautiful picturesque Clare glens just outside of Murroe in Co. Limerick. With dozens of waterfalls it makes for a beautiful walk. A fantastic pathway leads you up to a bridge which crosses right by the main falls with a breathtaking trek back down which in parts leaves you standing on the edge of a cliff with nothing preventing a 75ft drop to the Rapids below. Beauty of nature combined with a MAX adrenaline rush.”

Duncannon, Wexford

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Suggested by Sinéad Fox

“20 years after I left my home place of Duncannon on the Hook Peninsula has established itself as my favourite place. I now appreciate the stunning views, the beach, the fresh sea air and the friendly faces in a way my teenage self wouldn’t understand. There’s so much to do in the locality, especially with children and a choice of great places to eat, you should visit!”

Copper Coast, Waterford

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Suggested by Catherine Drea

“I’d have to say the Copper Coast in Waterford. It’s a quiet hidden gem of beaches, wild cliffs and beautiful off the beaten track boreens and I’m lucky enough to live here in the middle of it!”

Dublin

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Suggested by Lorna Garety

“The jewel in the crown has to be my hometown – Dublin. The world’s friendliest city, beautiful architecture, lively cultural scene, deer roaming through one of Europe’s largest city parks, sea and mountains on our doorstep.”

Killaloe, Clare

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Suggested by Margaret Griffin

“My favourite place is Killaloe in Co. Clare on the Shannon and Lough Derg. Cross the bridge and you are in Ballina, Co Tipperary. A foodie paradise on water. Fabulous cafes, restaurants, craft shops, scenery. Absolutely wonderful for a summer weekend or longer.”

Skellig Michael, Kerry

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Suggested by me

“Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to one of the oldest Christian Monastic settlements in the world – founded sometime between the 6th and 8th century. It is also home to a vast range of wildlife, including Puffins, Seagulls and over 50,000 gannets. It is one of the most magical places you will ever set foot on. Not bad for a tiny island off the coast of Kerry!”

St Patrick’s Day Festival Seoul in Photos

Sadly I was too busy on the day to take lots of photos like I usually do, but I thought I would share the few I did take anyway. For a full review of the day, check out THIS POST.

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A fusion of cultures – St Patrick’s Day in South Korea

Listening to an American Military Brass band open an Irish Festival in South Korea by singing Ireland’s call on a day that many will remember for Ireland’s Six Nations victory, was not something I will easily forget.

Speaking on stage at the 14th Annual Seoul St. Patrick’s Day Festival, The United States Army 2nd Infantry Division band said they were delighted to be there and saw the festival as an excellent opportunity to strengthen the partnership between America, Korea and Ireland.

The US Army 2nd Infantry Division Brass Band. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

The US Army 2nd Infantry Division Brass Band. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

A sea of green and smiles and laughter. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

A sea of green and smiles and laughter. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

The event, which took place at D Cube City in Sindorim last Saturday, was an incredible fusion of Irish and Korean music and culture and while there are over 1,000 Irish living in Korea, many of whom were no doubt present on the day, it was the presence and participation of so many non-Irish residents that made the festival so unique.

To watch an Irishman on stage speak fluent English, Irish and Korean to an equally stunned and impressed audience, was a true example of what the festival is all about. It is not simply about showcasing and promoting Irish culture abroad, but it’s about being excellent representatives of how welcoming, friendly and adaptable the Irish people are and how open we are to other cultures.

It was great to see so many Korean kids enjoying the festival. Photo by Michelle Marie Jenkins

It was great to see so many Korean kids enjoying the festival. Photo by Michelle Marie Jenkins

Some of the finalists in the Costume Competition. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

Some of the finalists in the Costume Competition. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

While Ireland and Irish musicians were well represented on the day, there were also musicians and dancers from Korea, the United States and even China. Listening to Bard, a group of Koreans who play traditional Irish music, play some classic Irish tunes while young kids danced in circles in front of the stage and 1,000’s more soaked up the atmosphere and basked in the first of the spring sunshine really encapsulated the theme of the day.

Other highlights included; watching the crowd look on in awe as Tap Pung, a Korean Irish Dancing troupe, took to the stage and gave Riverdance a run for their money; watching hundreds of waygooks (foreigners) form a human train in front of the main stage while Sweet Murphys Fancy belted out some drinking songs; watching professional photographers click furiously with the knowledge they were getting incredible shots as the finalists of the costume competition lined up near the stage and danced around in a last-minute bid to impress judges and lastly seeing big groups of Korean school children sitting in the audience, delighted with the green balloons and the hilarious Jameson branded “leprechaun” hats which had been given to them for free, smiling and laughing despite not having a clue what was going on!

A beautiful Korean-Irish Fusion dance directed by Nannah McGlennon. Photo by Stephanie Anglmyer

A beautiful Korean-Irish Fusion dance directed by Nannah McGlennon. Photo by Stephanie Anglmyer

Tap Pung, Korean Irish Dancers on the main stage. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

Tap Pung, Korean Irish Dancers on the main stage. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

St Patrick’s Day has always been my favourite holiday of the year, even surpassing Christmas and Halloween in my personal popularity chart, and this year was no different. I have always been a very proud Irish citizen, and this pride seems to multiply whenever I’m actually outside of Ireland.

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Korea this year, however, felt extra special and yet I can’t exactly pinpoint why that is. It could be  that it was my first time being involved in the behind-the-scenes organization of the festival, which took 6 months of hard work and dedication by a team of volunteers who were delighted to see their hard work pay off on the day. It could have been the fact that I was volunteering on the day so had a different perspective from the rest of the crowd.

Finally, and this could be the real answer, it could be because it was my first time in celebrating St Patrick’s Day sober in over a decade. Whatever the reason, pride and joy was simply flowing through me like a fast-flowing river on Saturday and no amount of negativity or difficult situations was going to dampen my spirits on my favourite day of the year!

A snapsot of the colorful crowd. Photo by Stephanie Anglemyer

A snapsot of the colorful crowd.

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Myself and Michelle taking a short break from our volunteering duties!

Myself and Michelle taking a short break from our volunteering duties!

Big shout out to the Irish Association of Korea for organizing such a  memorable festival and to all the incredible volunteers who helped out on the day. It was the perfect way to welcome the spring to South Korea and another excellent showcase of why everyone loves the Irish!

To see more photos from the day, check out Stephanie Anglemyer’s photography website at: http://www.anklebiterphotos.com/

Generation Emigration – St Patrick’s Day in South Korea

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Each day this week on the Irish Times website, members of Irish communities around the world will be sharing plans for St Patrick’s Day where they live. Today, I had the opportunity to share my experiences in South Korea and to write about Seoul’s 14th St Patrick’s Day festival, taking place this weekend.

To read the article on the Irish Times website, click here.

Back home in Ireland, preparation for St Patrick’s Day does not involve too much planning, aside from stocking up the fridge, planning crazy green outfits with friends and deciding how early is too early to start the festivities. This year, all that changed for me.

On arrival in South Korea last July, I was asked to join the Irish Association of Korea (IAK), a not-for-profit organisation which promotes Irish culture in Korea. As well as hosting events for the Irish community, it also provides the opportunity for Koreans and other expats to experience and learn more about Irish life. The main event of the year is the St Patrick’s Day Festival in Seoul, now in its 14th year, with up to 10,000 spectators showing up on the day.

Being a part of this active and engaging organisation has given me incredible behind-the-scenes experience of what it takes to plan a St Patricks’s Day Festival abroad. It takes months of hard work by an extremely dedicated team of people. Over the last few months, much of the committee members’ free time has been tied up at meetings, fundraising events and sponsorship talks. I could never have imagined how much time and effort goes into organising one day of craic agus ceoil until I was involved myself.

Now that all the ground work has been done – sponsorship secured, a perfect venue located, great musicians, experienced Irish dancers, story-tellers and local volunteers recruited – we are all very excited for the event to begin.

The festival here Seoul is known for the keen participation from members of both the Irish and Korean community, and this year will not disappoint with traditional folk dancers and musicians playing Irish music, both traditional and popular rock, coming from all over Korea to perform.

Musicians from Ireland will also feature heavily on the bill and the festival will offer an opportunity for the public to get involved, with traditional ceili-dancing, which has grown in popularity every year, taking place at the main stage. There will be face painting and story telling for children.

No festival promoting Ireland and Irish culture would be complete without the GAA present and thus a display of Gaelic football will be hosted by the one of the most successful teams in Asia, the Seoul Gaels Gaelic football team. The Seoul Gaels will also be using this opportunity to seek new recruits for their upcoming season, which starts in April.

The Seoul St Patrick’s Day Festival is the perfect opportunity for people living in Korea to experience Irish culture and get a feel for the wonderful array of Irish talent living here. March 17th is a day when we all think of Ireland and its rich history. To be able to celebrate that here in South Korea shows the extraordinary power of the Irish abroad and I am very proud to be a part of such a great expat community.

Ireland, as drawn by Korean Kids

My first class of the day is with 2 very cute Korean brothers who come to me simply to improve their English conversation skills and to expose them to a native English speaker. They will be moving to China soon as their father’s got transferred there for work and they will be attending an International school. As one boy is 6 and the other is 8, with very different levels of English (think very, very basic!!) an hour long class can be quite difficult to plan.

I have quite a lot of leeway in what I teach them, so last week each day we would learn about a different country. I had great fun teaching them all about Ireland and teaching them some traditional Irish songs. When we were finished I asked them to make a poster that represented Ireland and below is what they drew. I have to say I LOVE their version of Saint Patrick and that they think he led the ‘snacks’ out of Ireland! Plus the fact that they drew Guinness as ‘Black Beer!’ is priceless. Kids are just the cutest.

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