The boys are back in town… well, it had to be done hadn’t it? I take all my old friends – this is Marc – from home, to Bruxelles in Harry Street, off Grafton Street, to pose for the picture. And isn’t it poignant to see a framed photo of Phillo’s mum Philomena there now too?

Ireland’s greatest export, of course, after Guinness, and Marc, an Italian-Scot could market them if he ever decided to change jobs, is its people.

And where Irish people go, we sing, and people pay good money to see us.

Ari.Noir might not be a name you’re familiar with but it is a soul/rap duo who kicked off the launch of Star Nation at MusicMaker on Exchequere Street.

It is a new all-Ireland music competition which gives aspiring singer/songwriters and musicians the chance to win €3,000 of music gear from MusicMaker in Dublin, a recording session in Windmill Lane Recording Studios and a chance to play a showcase gig at Whelan’s In Dublin.

And big dibs to Four Star Pizza, Windmill Lane, MusicMaker and Molson Coors Ireland for organising the night.

If Ari.Noir do crack it, and if I were a judge…. then they would join a rich seam of Irish talent who are blazing a trail wherever they go.

Our friends at Icelandair have let us know that three Irish acts have been confirmed to perform at the 21st edition of Iceland Airwaves from November 6-9 in Reykjavik. The three are Dundalk’s Just Mustard and AE Mak and Dublin’s Pillow Talk.

The three acts have also come through the talent contest route and are expected to rock the joint just like Fontaines D.C. did last year.

It’s the music and my music kids that keep me young and this old geezer (sorry) is checking out those dates to see if he can get up to Iceland. Icelandair has packages from €293. Visit http://www.icelandair.com/en-ie/vacations/city-breaks/iceland-airwaves/ie. Also visit http://www.icelandairwaves.ie.

Dog days

It used to break the Scary One’s heart (yes, she has one, although she has only left me on my own today to take off to see George Ezra in Belfast) to leave poor wee Celtic, our cat, at the cattery.

But it had to be done, we’d be off for our annual holiday.

‘Annual’ holiday????? Yes, it was a long time ago.

Now, hoteliers are much more aware of our pet needs. Muckross Park Hotel & Spa, Killarney have a great new set-up at their self-catering apartments for owners and their doggies.

All dogs will be welcomed with doggie treats including Pawsecco wine, in-house Kennel Service menu, pet concierge to answer any questions and a handy map of dog-friendly walks through Killarney National Park.

The Reserve self-catering apartments from €160 per night and can accommodate up to 5 guests, with a first night pet charge of €30 and a nightly €10 charge for subsequent nights.

This obedient Scottish Terrier will be waiting, panting by the door for his owner to get back.

Life is a Cabarnet, old chum

Yes, it had me fooled too. I was imagining Noel as the Emcee (heaven forbid, don’t even think of him donning suspenders and using a chair as a prop).

No, despite the branding it’s not the Liza Minnelli classic but it does look worth putting down the knitting, the book and the broom for.

This year as well as the regulars Roly Daniels, Philomena Begley and David James will be performing.

The Summer Cabaret at Harvey’s Point, Tawnyvorgal, Donegal, runs every Wednesday until October 30. Enjoy a five-course dinner plus two and a half hours of entertainment for €59.

So come hear the music play. Visit http://www.harveyspoint.com.

Canada A

Sky high: Toronto

How we see ourselves will always affect how many visitors come again.

And here in Ireland, we market ourselves as well, if not better, than anyone around the world.

There’s a shop on Dawson Street which sells Paddidas t-shirts which always draws my eye.

Abroad, I always look out for how they like us to see them.

For example when you meet a Canadian, and my brother lived there for eight years, you’ll soon pick up that they finish sentences with an ‘eh’ uplift. Hence the Canada, Eh? branding.

Perhaps living beside the superpower that is America makes them unsure about themselves or defensive.

They shouldn’t. For one they have the better side of the Niagara Falls.

American Holidays offers Toronto and Niagara Falls from €1,0355pp with return flights from Dublin with Air Canada. Travelling March 2020.

Stay four nights at the 4* Chelsea Hotel in Toronto. Stay two nights at the Ramada Plaza, Niagara Falls.

Two day hop-on hop-off bus (and I love them) of Toronto.

Transfers from Toronto Downtown to Niagara Falls and return to Toronto airport.

Visit http://www.americanholidays.com. Or call (01) 673 3804.

2020 vision

My cup of tea: Turkey

2020? Are we getting ahead of ourselves?

No, say our friends at TUI Ireland, and they’re right. You can save money, and that’s what it’s all about, while you may also unearth free child places.

Turkey is one of the great family-friendly destinations… they took the Son and Heir (Ally, though they heard Ali) to their heart on our trip to Bodrum 17 years ago. It’s time we went back.

TUi offers a week in Dalaman Holiday Village Turkey, Sarigerme, 4*, all-inclusive, (family 2+1) from €2,259 (family 2+2) from €3,109.

But if you can’t wait that long…

Try seven nights’ self-catering at the 3* Club Evin, Marmaris from €479pps on July 15.

Visit http://www.tuiholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

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