More whiskey a go-go

It was 12noon, the mother-in-law had been here for a full day and a half so nobody could blame me for hitting the whiskey.

Thankfully I’ve got a brand new distillery down the road in one of my favourite spots here in Co. Wicklow, Powercourt Estate.

I’d heard all about what they were planning when I stayed over a year last Spring and am delighted to say that it is a fantastic addition to the hotel, the gardens, the centre… heck, everything,

There’s a tour for €20 which will let you in on the whole distilling process and I dare say that there will be whiskey at the end of it.

There’s also a fantastic and well-priced cafe too and a shop where you can buy the water of life and various whiskey-related products.

And the uisce bertha… well, I tried the Fercullen 14-year-old single malt (€92.95) which Niall told me was smoky. I’d say its not as peaty as Connemara or my own favourites the Islay whiskies and had a slight sweetness but it was certainly what the medical man ordered.

Before I developed my palate and got a few bob in my pocket I was wont to drink a Scotch blend Bell’s which was in every supermarket and off that you’d go into.

So I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to pull an imaginary rope on a very real 18th century outside the old Mill which is now the distillery.

Visit http://www.powerscourtdistillery.,com. And Powerscourt House & Gardens And Powerscourt Hotel.

And get out to the rest of the county.

And now that I’ve warmed myself up I’m digging out my review from Powerscourt from last year. in a new tab) And the gardens

Now this might be a case of drinking down to the top of the label.


Holidos and don’ts: does the shoe fit?

Holidos and don’ts: does the shoe fit?
— Read on

A customer tries on a pair of shoes and tells the assistant they’re too tight. ‘Try them with the tongue out,’ suggests the assistant. ‘Thhhhey’re thtill thoo thight,’ rasps back the customer. Today’s the day for Holidays and Don’ts from your Travel Editor of the Year.


Holidos and don’ts: does the shoe fit?

No, it’s not an excuse to show off my sarong. Although!

No, the prep notes are clear to anyone who goes out to the Maldives… it’s a sandy island so don’t wear stilettos. Flat shoes or flip-flops please.

But, of course, some just didn’t listen, putting fashion sense before common sense.

So buckle up, here’s your guide to what to wear, and where, around the world.

On the beaches

Sounds obvious doesn’t it?

It has to be flip-flops.

Yes, but what do you do when you want to go for a swim and have to step out on the warm sand.

I’m reminded of the day off we took after 30 days working in Boston to spend at the beach in Manchester, New Hampshire, only to then burn our feet.

Why not go for rubber beach shoes instead?

They’re actually quite stylish now, not just those opaque ones we remember from our childhood. Visit

Walking around town

We all love to shop (or is that just The Scary One)?

But don’t fall for that old adage about breaking in a pair of shoes.

You might be dying to try on those killer heels, Mediterranean leather shoes or designer trainers, but you’ll end up dying with pain.

The Son and Heir has great memories from his first trip to New York but while he might have chosen to forget that he had to limp around Manhattan the rest of us get shivers thinking back on it.

Liking Hiking

My Donegal Uncle Danny, who emigrated to New York, always insisted that there were only two lessons in life.

Good shoes and a good bed… you’ll spend half your life on your feet and the other half in your bed!

The best boots I have on my shoe rack are my North Face hiking ones.

At not much more than €100 nearly four years ago they have walked me 100kms along the Camino, and the same along the Via Francigena into Rome.

Who am I kidding? It was more like 250kms… I kept getting lost!

But they will be on my feet when I set out on another trek, this time in Tenerife in September. Visit Or

Your shoe salesman

Travel writing’s gain is shoe salesmen’s loss.

My first job when I was at school was as a shoe salesman.

Where I learned among other things that customers don’t like getting two left shoes, two different style of shoes or two different-sized shoes.

You’ll know this anyway but a quick reminder:

Ireland and UK: 6,7,8,9,10 etc.

European; 38,39,40,41,42 etc.


And I’ll leave you with one for the road from a sign outside a shoe shop:

Buy one, get one free.

Holiday Snaps La Sagrada Familia

Some things were never meant to be finished… take The Scary One (please). She is always finding things that still need to be done to the house.

Word reaches me that Antoni Gaudi’s magnus opus, the Sagrada Família, first begun in 1882 but only a quarter completed by the time of his death in 1926, has hit another snag.

And just when they looked like getting over the line after Barcelona’s city authority granted La Sagrada Familia’s first building permit. I’m not even asking under what terms they built what’s already up.

Seventy per cent is done (so they had chipped away at it at some point since the Great Man died).

Eight of its proposed 18 spires have been completed and the plan is to have it all finished by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

But I guess nobody counted on the 3,000 residents living in the nearby apartments and their objections.

Watching the cranes above the psychedelic spires while draining a jug of sangria recently I couldn’t help wondering whether Antoni had been on something.

And whether they shouldn’t just tear it down and start all over again.

Make up your own mind. Barcelona is a great city for a ramble… or rambla. Visit Aer Lingus and Ryanair both fly to Barcelona.

La Fete National

You dancer: Paris. Photo by Carolline De Souza

I hope you’re having a good one. I won’t wish you Joyeux Quatorze Juillet, or Bonne Bastille, as the French don’t really do that in the way the Americans wish you Happy Fourth of July.

If you want to find out more French nuances then pop by the French Corner in Dublin where Alliance Francaise Dublin and the French Library with the French Embassy will be putting on free workshops and games and face painting for l’enfants.

From 11-5pm today. City Spectacular, Merrion Square, Dublin.

If that gets you in the mood for a bon vacance… remember that Aer Lingus has a range of offers to French cities from €45.99. Visit

Wu Wu… savings

Cherry amour: The Cherry Blossom in Japan. Photo by Bagus Pangestu

My old friend Wendy Wu is tempting us with discounts on her 2019 and 2020 Asian tours.

She’s giving us an Early Bird saving of €200pp if booked before August 5.

So you love the Cherry Blossoms and the Autumn Leaves. As a sample of the many Asian offers, how about Discover Japan, 13 days from €7,090pp. Twin share.


Every day is the 11th July

Wall, what is it good for? A gable end with King Billy

As I revealed in one of my random Did You Knows yesterday, the Battle of the Boyne was on July 1 and when converted to the Gregorian Calendar became the 12th of July when it should have been the 11th of July.

Of course we were more interested in commemorating another royal victory this week on the 11th.

The final piece of the Game of Thrones tapestry has been woven in at the Ulster Museum in Belfast to mark the end of the saga.

Before it gets taken to Bayeux where it will be exhibited from September to December.

The Ulster Museum is one of the best cultural and historical museums on this island. And it’s free. Visit it.

I’m heading up to Royal Portrush on Sunday for the final day of The Open Golf Championship.

I’m thinking they should start a tapestry to Northern Irish golf royalty… McDowell, Clarke, McIlroy. Visit,

Windsor Lego Castle

Queen lives here: Windsor Castle. Photo by Kris Schulze

Back in the day when I first started this scribbling lark, I found myself in the Royal County of Berkshire… where I found myself a wife.

Then where Legoland now is was Windsor Safari Park. Nothing to read into that, just saying.

Berkshire, to the west of London is a great location in its own right for its royal history and quaint villages and is also ideally situated for the Big Smoke.

And that makes it great for families. Cassidy Travel knows it and has put together a great Legoland and football package to keep everyone happy.

If Mum doesn’t fancy the footie, and these days it’s more likely it would be Dad, the shopping in London is unparalleled.

Stay in the 3* Travelodge Windsor Central and choose between Arsenal v Burnley or Chelsea v Leicester City. Package from €379pps based on four sharing. Includes a day pass to Windsor Legoland Resort.

Flight departs Friday, 16 August. Call Cassidy Travel (01) 8395000. Visit

For a few levs more

Greet value: Bulgaria. Photo by Pixabay

They were low-maintenance for two teenage girls.

All they wore for the whole fortnight we were in Bulgaria was their football tops and trackie bottoms.

I think they had a few changes of the same outfits. It was the wrong team they supported but they were sweet girls and their grandparents were nice too.

Bulgaria is still remarkably good value as evidenced by a Sunway survey in conjunction with the UK Post Office.

They compared the cost of holiday essentials including a bottle of beer, a coffee and a three-course meal for two with a bottle of wine in 20 European beach holiday resorts.

Sunny Beach on Bulgaria’s Black Sea comes in at €44.44 for nine items. The most expensive is Sorrento at €159.40.

Sunway offers seven nights B&B at the 3* Hotel Kudadasi for €399. Visit for this and other great holiday offfers.

And Holiday Snaps is just about to get snappier with an extra day of the snappiest snaps in Snaptown, Snapetonia.

Watch this space… and…


The real King Billy

The 12th of July… the day King William III’s triumphs are celebrated in Northern Ireland and among all peoples for whom his victory at the Battle of Boyne protected their values and traditions.

But how much do we really know about King Billy?

Well, Malahide Castle can reveal all.

Firstly that iconic image of King Billy on his white charger may be misleading.

He was really rather small, and asthmatic. Though probably not as small as this image is shown here… it’s bigger in the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast.

Our guide on our visit to the Castle pointed out that the painting in the dining room shows that the heroic figure on the horse is probably a general and not William as he is not wearing the royal garter.

Fourteen members of the Talbot family, who built the castle, died at the battle fighting for the Jacobites.

William would also have probably been further back from the battle.

And not on that horse. His was more likely to be brown as white would have made him more of an easy target. And he would more than likely have walked across the Boyne rather than ride across it.

And ouch, worst of all, we’ve missed the real date. That was July 1, 1690. Somebody made a mistake when they changed to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 and with the new dates it is July 11.

Of course it’s best to do your own homework so visit Malahide Castle.

Or learn more about the murals in Belfast with Paddy Campbell’s Black Cab Tours.

And maybe also take in the Orange Museum in Belfast which has a green frontage.

And also visit

Sweet Moon Alabama

No, you didn’t misread that!

In another one of Bandanaman’s revealing Did You Knows?… did you know that Alabama, not Florida nor Texas was where they built the rocket that took Neil, Buzz and Michael to the Moon.

And so Huntsville is justifiably known as ‘Rocket City’.

That’ll be the 363ft Saturn V rocket you’ll see in the city.

The big anniversary date is July 20, and Huntsville which has been in party mood all year is really ratcheting it up next week.

So what’s on the agenda?

A Guinness world record attempt at the most simultaneous rocket launches, An Apollo Homecoming Dinner and dancing in Courthouse Square.

And to tie it all up, a concert on Moon Landing Day.

I found a €1,174 return flight from Dublin with Delta to Huntsville via Dulles. Visit


Flyday Friday

Flyday Friday
— Read on

Transatlantic pioneers Norwegian, Vive Fly France with Aer Lingus, Ryanair rooms and who flies Broomstick class? Flyday Friday, your must-have flying companion from your Travel Editor of the Year.