Countries, Ireland, Sport

Kilruddery Thrillruddery in Wicklow

A haven from our everyday toils we tagged Kilruddery Thrillruddery in Co. Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland.

And in the fullest traditions of the best gardens Kilruddery, near my old homestead of Greystones, knows outdoor spaces are for playing in.

Kilruddery Estate has launched a summer of fun… Weekends@AliveOutside.

And it is backed up by the evidence of our eyes.

Which is home to both RTE’s ‘Irelands Fittest Family’ and Hell & Back, Ireland’s toughest mental and physical endurance challenge.

The estate also boasts a newly developed outdoor escape room, Escape from Killruddery.

Day camps for the kids, laser tag and splash zone activities such as water jumps, splashdown slide and pontoon mania!

There is endless fun to be had for all ages and group sizes.

And helpfully, as always, Kilruddery are doing the heavy lifting here by putting flesh on the bones of their summer activities.

Camp summit

1 Day Kids Adventure Camps (Only €35pp)

Making a splash: Camps

The Alive Outside One Day Adventure Camps are for 7-13-year-olds each Saturday and Sunday throughout July and August.

And they’re sure to tire out your kids with obstacle run, bushcraft and splash zone activities.

Great Escape

Escape from Killruddery (Only €25pp)

On the run: At Kilruddery

Of course, you won’t want to, but let’s play the game anyway.’

Set under the canopy of Killruddery Forest, you’ll be racing against the clock to solve challenges and uncover clues.

Laser focus

Laser Tag (Only €25pp)

War games: Get your soldier vibe on

Of course parents would want to get in on this too but we’ll have to leave it to the kids.

Don your combat overalls and face off against your opponent with numerous shelters, huts, cubbyholes and outhouses to stake out in!

Make a splash

Splash Zone (Only €20pp)

Big kids: At Kilruddery

Cool down and enjoy our Water Jump, Splashdown Slide and Pontoon Mania or just chill lakeside.

They recommend that it is a great way to enjoy a hot summer’s day and also try out kayaking.

Overcome the obstacle

Family Obstacle Challenge (Only €22pp)

Forest fun: And anniversary gifts

If you were transfixed by RTE’s hit show, Ireland’s Fittest Family then you can try it yourself.

And take on challenges such as Hang Tough, Backs Against the Wall, Tyre Relay and the gruelling Eliminator!

Sports scene

Sports Club Packages

No pain, no gain: Hell and Back

And remember those team building experiences of your early working days.

Then try the HELL & BACK endurance trial with obstacles including Satan’s Pit, Heartbreak Ridge and finishing on the notorious Finishing Ramp.

All part of the Kilruddery Thrillruddery in Wicklow.

And that will lead you to explore further and take in the wondrous neighbouring Powerscourt

Countries, Ireland, Sport

Rugby Men of Munster

Now you know those historic moments where everybody says they were there, well add to them the Rugby Men of Munster.

The Irish province who defeated Graeme Mourie’s all-conquering All Blacks team of 1978 which beat England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

But not the 15 rugby men of Munster losing 15-0 on a fevered afternoon in Thomond Park, Limerick.

Bry life: Bryan Habana and Joy Neville

All of which propelled that stadium and Munster rugby onto the international conscience.

And which they have built on in the professional era with multiple European competition successes.

Limerick Roar

The rugby pack: At the opening

The Great and Good of rugby were all there for the launch of the six-storey International Rugby Experience.

Including the Sex God himself Johnny Sexton and other Irish greats Paul O’Connell, Rory Best, Keith Wood and Peter Stringer.

And from the women’s game, Joy Neville and Ciara Griffin.

The legendary AB Sean Fitzpatrick (really an Irishman in black), Francois Pienaar, and even greats from the Old Enemy were there…

Martin Johnson, Jeremy Guscott and Matt Dawson.

Tickets are priced at just €10 for children (under 18) and €15 for adults.

Gallery of Ledges

Ross boss: Ross O’Carroll-Kelly

Individuals and families can discover what it takes to Become a Legend.

Others will have been following how cult hero Ross O’Carroll-Kelly has been doing it… although for him this is enemy territory.

Visitors will move through six, awe-inspiring stages inside the state-of-the-art building.

Jock Peggie, Head of Education, Laws and Compliance at World Rugby (must be one of ours) is in charge of the interactive experience.

And being six floors there are 360-degree views of Limerick city centre from the sixth floor Legends Gallery.

As is the way with everything in Limerick, multi-millionaire JP McManus’s largesse has played a big part in the project.

The not-for-profit venture was initially funded via a €30 million investment by the JP McManus Charitable Foundation.

The International Rugby Experience tours, gift store and cafe will be open seven days a week; 9.30am to 6pm, with the last tour starting at 4.30pm.

And remember Munster men and women will tell you Real Ireland is out here.

And you can find out for yourself by flying into nearby Shannon Airport… give it a try.

Countries, Ireland

Zipping through Dublin Mountains

You need a good run at it which is why thrill-seekers will love zipping through the Dublin Mountains.

For me my past zipping experience has been so fleeting it’s been over shortly after it’s begun.

The zip lining (behave yourself)!

We’d been promised a ride through the Swiss Alps.

Only for time and sense on the part of our hosts to push on to the next activity… scootering.

But did get around to it in varied backdrops above the promenade of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

On a right royal party in the English Channel… to Old Las Vegas.

And I never tire of retelling how a Travel colleague got stuck above Fremont Street.

Because he was too light and had to be rescued, a la a dangling Boris Johnson, from his harness.

Trail of the lonesome pines

Wheeee: Ready for the zip line

All of which meanderings came back to mind as news reaches us of the opening.

Of the Zip Trail at Coillte’s Tibradden Wood in the Dublin Mountains.

Zip Trail consists of 18 treetop elements including 12 ziplines totalling over 500 metres in length.

They say it is suitable for anyone aged 12 or older and, of course, the pre-teens will whizz by you.

Zip Trail can also be booked as an add-on for just €10 per person when purchasing a session on the high ropes course.

Walk the line

The history lesson is free.

The concept of ziplining was originally a mode of transport in alpine and jungle regions.

Yet it was only in the 1970s that the experience caught on with adventurer Donald Perry’s inventive way of exploring the Costa Rican Jungle.

The first commercial zip line opened in Costa Rica in 1995.

And now ziplining has become part of experiential tourism worldwide.

And to this great collective we can add Cool Running Events.

This could: Boris Johnson

A Cork-based event management company which specialises in recreation experiences in Ireland.

Cool Running Events have been creating unique experiences in Ireland since 2007.

And they have already given us Ireland’s largest ice rinks with Cool Running Events.

In August 2021, Cool Running Events acquired Zipit Forest Adventures – Ireland’s biggest high ropes course company.

With courses located in Tibradden Wood, Dublin (that’ll be the zipping through the Dublin mountains) as well as Cork and Roscommon.  


Countries, Culture, Europe, Food & Wine, Ireland

Joyce lived la vita bella in Trieste

James Joyce lived la vita bella in Trieste and began charting Leopold Bloom’s course there.

Probably eating crispy frico lollipops, Toc’ in braid, Spring asparagus orzotto and soft frico bites on a roasted polenta tartlet.

While he put Dublin fare and choice words in the mouth of Leopold.

Upper crust: Pinocchio’s

The inner organs of beasts and fowls, thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs and fried hencods’ roes.

While most of all Joyce tells us ‘he liked grilled mutton kidneys.’

Pinocchio’s by a nose

Odyssey: At Pinocchio’s

Thankfully the good folk of Trieste had the senza to showcase their city in an Italian setting at Pinocchio’s in Temple Bar with best Italian fare.

With Friuli Venezia Giulia chef Manuel Marchetti creating pizzas especially for the occasion.

With toppings consisting of San Daniele Prosciutto and alpine smoked ricotta.

And for dessert, creamy tiramisù, a dessert born in Friuli Venezia Giulia, and Strucchi (no us neither but was gorgeous).

Grazie Ryanair

You dancer: Ryanair

Using Joyce as an entry point Trieste presented the new Ryanair seasonal route.

Available twice weekly until 28 October, with one-way fares start from €19.99pp.

And how Giacomo Joyce as he styled himself in Trieste could have done with a low-fare airlines then.

Portrait of Trieste

Io sono Italiano: Joyce

Joyce had taken a circuitous route to Trieste where he penned A Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Man.

To take up a job as a tutor to a young girl Letitza, daughter of Jewish writer Ettore Schmitz.

Whom it is said he based Leopold Bloom around.

With Joyce also so smitten with Ettore’s wife Livia that he remodelled her as Anna Livia a representation of the River Liffey.

Alongside which today’s tourist hub and stag and hen central Temple Bar flows.

Vino de vici

Chin chin: Il vino

As indeed did the Italian wine. No Leopold Bloom glass of Burgundy ecco grazie on Pudding Row.

No, Ireland’s greatest author. Si, si… it was how Joyce lived la bella vita in Italy.



Countries, Ireland

Easter Reprising

Perhaps it’s testimony to how Modern Ireland has moved on that a fellow exec on the Irish paper I worked on didn’t know the rebels’ names… so for him here’s the Easter Reprising.

Another who worked for me thought that King Billy had won the Battle of the Boyne and passed that off jokingly as a lack of interest in history.

Ireland’s history, of course, would have been very different had its people and those of its neighbours left history where it was.

But then God did give his greatest creation a rewind button and the Irish (most of them) use it more than the pause or fast forward.

A new age

A city fights back: Dublin in 1916

This time of year, Easter, is particularly poignant in the Land of Saints and Scholars.

With holy observance and the end of 40-day Lenten fast with family fun, beer and chocolaty children.

And remembrance of those who made a symbolic (and real) sacrifice by laying down their lives for the holy grail of Irish freedom.

Now the whys and wherefores of those six days from Easter Monday, 1916 have been addressed ever since that day.

With many considering Ireland’s unofficial poet laureate WB Yeats encapsulating it best in his retrospective piece Easter 1916.

Tour de force

Prisoners of history: Kilmainham Gaol

Of course the Irish being the loquacious and oratory people they are.

It will surprise nobody that there is an Easter 1916 tour in Dublin for you.

Well, a number, but we’re picking out one just for you when you visit the Fair City.

Like all the best Irish tours it starts in a pub, the International Bar on Wicklow Street.

Where Scots-born James Connolly was shot dead by a British firing squad.

And you’ll finish where the heroic rebels ended their days., Kilmainham Gaol.

Tied to a chair on account of his gangrenous leg.

Walk through Dublin on any given day and you will find plaques of the fallen from those six days.

Lorcan good

Date night: With Lorcan Collins

And tour leader and writer on the Rising Lorcan Collins will walk you through it all.

It’s all an Easter Reprising for visitors who want to learn about the birth of the Modern Nation.

History nuts, and locals who should have listened at school and appreciate the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives for the Republic.


America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Dragging up the statue debate

News that 70,000 fans have signed a petition to have an erection of Paul O’Grady (he’d appreciate that) put up in his hometown Birkenhead sees us dragging up the statue debate again.

Whether the proposed O’Grady statue over the Mersey from Liverpool would be of pets’ pal Paul with a beloved pooch.

Or his beloved alter ego, Lily Savage, a celebration of this towering figure would be most welcome.

We make no apologies for dredging up this contentious subject again because simply put statues are a fixture of every tourist’s city break trip.

And it is our mission to redress the balance.

By putting up more cultural figures on pedestals to match, replace or overtake the mystery military statues that look down on us.

Who’s a hero?

A horse, a horse: Stonewall Jackson at Manassas

Statues was all the talk in of all places Barbados a few years ago.

When the Ski Club of Virginia made their annual pilgrimage down to the Caribbean.

And our new friends from the Deep South were alerting us to the gathering storm.

Over the statues of the Confederate leaders proliferating there.

Which I saw for myself when I went out to Virginia.

Colossus: Martin Luther King in DC

And visited Manassas, site of the first fighting in the Civil War, and home to Stonewall Jackson.

And alas the fighting was to resume not long after on the streets again.

I was fortunate to illicit the opinions of those on both sides of the divide through further adventures in the Deep South.

And meet the likes of Dr Martin Luther King and his unfinished statue in Washington DC.

And Fannie Lou Hamer, the little big woman who got tired of being tired in Mississippi.

The extraordinary ordinary

In the name of dog: Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh

Of course for every celebrated soldier, conceited king or quaffed queen there are real heroes and heroines who have rightly been placed in marble and stone.

Such as Anne Frank in Amsterdam, Workers’ champion Jim Larkin in Dublin or devoted doggie Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh.

Ah yes, you’ll see the message we’re sending out here, more children, women, working-class heroes and animals.

Gay giants

Stone in love with you: Oscar Wilde

And LGBTQ+ champions and more drag queens.

Our trawl of statues turns up unexpectedly and disappointingly precious few of either.

Again our beloved Ireland leads the way somewhat and in spite of its repressive Catholic past.

With the louche and lounging statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square.

Drag race: Marsha P Johnson

While he is lauded and lipsticked in his gravestone in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, his last resting place.

Where Wilde led, the likes of Harvey Milk, the ‘Mayor of Castro Street’ in San Francisco.

Whose bust smiles at us from its plinth in City Hall, followed.

And Greenwich Village in New York, spiritual home for the Gay Liberation Movement, made a statement with a bust to Marsha P Johnson.

All of which makes the case for more statues which truly represent the people who live among them and represent them.

Redressing the balance

Sit down next to me: Alan Turing

Alas, here in the UK as in most places representation is in short supply.

With only Alan Turing, the decoder who helped defeat Hitler, represented long after he was vilified and criminalised for his homosexuality.

So let’s hear it for the real heroes and heroines of our society.

Those we can identify with and look up to.

And that’s who I want to be looking at it on my city breaks.

And why I’m dragging up the statue debate again.





Countries, Flying, Ireland, UK

Prayer Lingus

You’ll know when you’ve been on a pilgrimage flight aboard Ireland’s national airline carrier Prayer Lingus.

Because of the clatter of the rosary beads and chatter of the Angeluses.

And I heard it too for myself on my way out.

To Santiago de Compostella with Camino Ways for the Camino, Lourdes and Fatima.

And which was the backdrop for every car journey I took with my Donegal mammy from Glasgow back to God’s Own County.

It worked too as we surely had divine intervention to keep us safe with my Mum’s driving.

And how distracted she was as she passed by every town and pointed them out to me.

Knock on Heaven’s Door

Saint that a plane: With my Aer Lingus pals

All of which rubbing away at rosary beads and penitent pilgrims will be in rich supply.

On the back of Aer Lingus‘s new route from London Heathrow to Knock-Irl West.

Back in the day you could only get to Knock in Co. Mayo in the East of Ireland by road.

Unless, of course, you were Our Lady, Saint Joseph, Saint John the Evangelist, angels and Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God.

Who, of course, had their own transport at hand.

Spending my summer holidays as I did with my Dublin cousins out in Galway

Days were also set aside to visit Knock which set me off on a lifelong interest in pilgrim sites.

Now as much as Ireland changed with the Celtic Tiger the ‘saints’ part of the moniker The Land of Saints and Scholars is still upheld.

Flights of angels

Holy smoke: Knock

Not least at Aer Lingus who give every plane a saint’s name and christen it before it takes flight.

All of which will ensure you double protection.

The inaugural Aer Lingus flight EI916, operated by an Airbus A320, departed from Ireland West Airport at Knock for Heathrow at 1.05pm yesterday afternoon.

Welcoming the new route, Judith Cassidy of Tourism Ireland said: “This means that GB visitors can travel directly from London to Ireland’s dramatic Wild Atlantic Way coastline in less than two hours.

 “Here they can experience and enjoy the rugged beauty of the west coast of Ireland.

“As seen in the Oscar nominated Banshees of Inisherin.”

And it’ll be well worth the €253.03 sample return fare we found on the website.

Particularly when you factor in the priceless blessings you’ll garner at Knock…

We don’t call them Prayer Lingus for nothing.






Countries, Ireland

Mum’s the world

Like us all my mum’s the world to me not just today on Mothering Sunday but every day.

Being of the Irish variety travel is in the genes for 94-year-young Teasy.

And she has set foot on every continent on Earth apart from the icy one at the bottom.

China in your hands: The Great Wall

Teasy’s travels really began in earnest when she empty-nested.

And a Saga played out across Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

With the over-50s holiday specialists who had shown their wisdom by employing a willing young man back in the day in Aberdeen.

Camel ye

One hump or two: Mum on her camel

Teasy, of course, sharing the love of the craic, would always be front and centre of any group.

Nor would she flinch from any adventure, whether a camel ride or a helicopter trip above Mount Everest.

My more cautious Dear Old Dad would often sit out the more daring excursions.

Fancy dress: On honeymoon in Germany

But Teasy’s enthusiasm rubbed off on him as it did us all.

She had been bringing him out of himself from when they first met in their 20s.

Whether it be climbing hill or glen in the old Irish homestead.

Or playing dress-up on their honeymoon holiday trip to France and Germany.

Then there was three then two

Beach time: With Mum and Dad

Of course there were the family holidays too and being the baby of the family that meant the three of us after my brothers grew up.

And after my Dear Old Dad had taken his final trip meet-ups on our beloved Ireland.

Where are the flowers? An early card

And an unforgettable adventure in the New World in New York for a family world.

Where of course she was in her element with her brothers’ family.

Yes to all mothers from all the children all the love because mum’s the world.


Countries, Ireland, UK

London’s Paddy’s Day

And it’s a racing cert that an English market town is awash with Guinness mid-March but what of down the road and a history of London‘s Paddy’s Day?

We’re all recovering from the last few days when half the population of Ireland got jinglier of pocket through four days at the Cheltenham Festival.

When their favourite, in this case Gallopin des Champs, comes romping home.

Norah’s story: Norah Casey in Trafalgar Square in 2002

Of course Paddy‘s Day has become something of a misnomer over the years.

What started out as a one-day break from Lenten sacrifices when us youngsters got to eat sweets has grown.

A weekend bender

The craic: The Irish rule in Cheltenham

And in these more heathen days it’s a bevvy-up that stretches out over a whole week.

Which is why Cheltenham designated March 16 as their Paddy’s Day which, of course, extended into the real day.

While March 18 at the start of Paddy’s Weekend, has become a recurring celebration of Irish rugby excellence.

Or whenever it lands.

When Ireland win the Grand Slam and in the best possible style with victory over the Old Enemy, England.

Of course, you don’t have to be sporty to indulge in Paddy’s Day revelry.

And Daddy’s Little Girl has been living it up in the Dublin of her youth (insert your own city in here).

Paddy’s Day, of course, has been celebrated around the world by ex-pats for hundreds of years.

The London Irish

Green for go: Ireland regularly win around St Paddy’s Day

But London’s St Paddy’s Day celebration is oddly and shamefully no long-held tradition.

And only within this Fiftysomething’s lifetime.

Its history too is tied up with an old travel companion and Irish businesswoman par excellence, Norah Casey.

For those of you lucky enough to still live in Ireland.

Norah is instantly recognisable from Dragon’s Den.

But she also more than made her mark in 22 years in Britain and at the helm of the Irish Post.
Not least in leaving her legacy with the first St Patrick’s Day Festival in London in Trafalgar Square in 2002 and which you can pencil in your diary for next year.

Livingston, we presume

Greening it up: Global Paddy’s Weekend celebrations
Which she organised with the-then Mayor of London Ken Livingston.
Norah informs us that it had been written into the bye laws of Trafalgar Square that no Irish gathering was to be held there.
Nor was an Irish flag permitted to fly in the square where Nelson looks down on us all.
Maybe the Admiral’s revenge for blown to smithereens on O’Connell Street, Dublin.
It had been written into the byelaws of Trafalgar Square that no Irish gathering was to be held there, nor was an Irish flag permitted to fly.
And so back in 2002 tens of thousands of Irish packed the square to hear The Dubliners and Mary Coughlan sing to the crowds.
As Norah so poignantly put it: “I don’t mind admitting that I cried.. but so did Ken and the whole team.
“Along with everyone else there, I felt so proud that finally we could celebrate being Irish in London.”
So if you’re in Trafalgar Square today as I was last week, and celebrating Ireland’s victory over England and their Grand Slam just remember.
What Norah and Ken and countless others did to ensure you enjoyed your London’s Paddy’s Day.


Countries, Ireland

St Paddy’s dish of the day

And we all know what we’ll be drinking on March 17 but what about the St Paddy’s dish of the day.

It’s fair to say that our eating and drinking habits have changed since his day back in the 4th century.

When we’re reliably informed that Paddy would have ate meat and venison and drunk wine imported from the continent.

Before he was captured from the then-Wales, probably more Cumbria in the north-west of modern-day England.

And transported to Ireland where oatmeal gruel (think the cereal Ready Brek) and a mixture of fruit, nuts and oaks (think muesli).

Paddy himself helps us with mentions of two foodstuffs he did eat… 

Wild honey (he was after all a beekeeper) and deer.

While the drink of the day for the regular Irish native would have been a light barley ale.

Jar of porter

Paddy Shamrocks: On his Saint’s Day

Whisper it but the fashion for stout or porter began in London and was transported by Arthur Guinness to Dublin where he took a lease for a thousand years and tapped into the waters of the Liffey.

Guinness has of course gone on to become the world’s most famous stout and anyone who visits the Irish capital should avail themselves of the Guinness Stew, in any of the fine hostelries there.

The next best thing, of course, if you can’t get over for Paddy’s Day, and it is rammers around Dublin City Centre is to make your own.

And we have Beanies Irish Cream coffee (sounds delicious) to thank for giving us some ‘St Patrick’s Day: Delicious Recipes to Help You Celebrate’.

And they, of course, advise that we should add Beanies to any coffee cake we make.

The creamiest cream though is what settles at the top of you Guinness and your lip.

And Beanies have done the hard work for us with this recipe rundown.

Guinness stew

Somewhere over… the pot of stew

Traditionally made with lamb, this meal can also be prepared with beef.

And while it doesn’t traditionally involve alcohol, it can include Guinness to help
deepen the flavour of the beef.

1 pound of Beef
1 cup of Guinness
4 cups of broth, beef or vegetable
1 tbsp tomato paste
6 cloves of garlic
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp flour, to thicken

For a thicker stew, you can reduce the amount of liquids, increase the flour or add corn starch, or increase the meat and vegetable volume.

For a thinner stew, increase the liquid contents. And depending on your personal tastes, you can play around with the levels of broth to alcohol, with some recipes also including red wine alongside the Guinness.

Simply brown off your meat and leave all the ingredients in the slow cooker, with a perfect stew ready in a few hours.

And that in a nutshell is your St Paddy’s dish of the day.