Countries, Ireland

Once upon a time in fairytale Wicklow

I’d always tell everyone of its magical qualities and it seems the message has got back to the good people at Disney+ so without further ado… once upon a time in fairytale Wicklow.

The Garden county of Ireland where I flourished for 13 years and my children bloomed into adults is the backdrop.

Every Irishman’s home: The oul’ castle in Co. Wicklow

For the musical comedy Disenchanted, starring Amy Adams, the sequel to the box office hit Enchanted.

Bobby Ewing, no less (or his alter ego Patrick Dempsey at least), and Maya Rudolph, James Marsden, Jayma Mays and Idina Menzel all talk up the county.

In a Tourism Ireland short video which is going around the world.

A corner of New York State

Forty fields of green: Greystones in County Wicklow

In Disenchanted, Enniskerry represents ‘Monroeville’, a fictional suburban town in upstate New York.

Monrroeville is then magically transformed into ‘Monrolasia’, a fantasy and magic-filled version of the town.

And what’s even better is that an 1850s period house in Greystones was the location for Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and Giselle’s (Amy Adams) ‘Monroeville’ home.

With timing being everything we must have just missed out then in offering the homestead we lived in.

In our days in the beautiful town of Greystones.

You might have seen Adrian Dunbar extol about in his most recent travelogue.

The Power of Ireland

Roll back the years: Enniskerry

Filming also took place at the Powerscourt Waterfall and Powerscourt Estate.

And, of course, that is a favourite romantic getaway for the great and the good, and obviously ourselves.

A word from the sponsors

Twirl power: With Patrick Duffy

Speaking about Ireland, Patrick, who plays Robert, said: ‘It’s just breathtakingly beautiful.

‘You see the woods and the fields.

‘and the architecture of all of that is very magical. It really lends itself to a fairy-tale life.’

While Maya Rudolph, who plays Malvina, added: ‘I feel like I got in on a little secret of such an incredible place and I’ve just fallen in love.

‘It feels like a fairy-tale.’

All roads lead to… Greystones

And my old pal Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, naturally was delighted to bring the Hollywood cast to Wicklow.

He said: ‘The fact that ‘Disenchanted’ was filmed here is a fantastic coup for Irish tourism.

‘Following the success of ‘Enchanted’, this highly anticipated film is a great way to bring Ireland.

‘And, in particular Wicklow, to the attention of viewers around the world.

‘We are delighted to share this behind-the-scenes video with our fans and followers on social media, celebrating the film’s connections with Ireland.’




Countries, Ireland

Adrian Dunbar in Greystones

Jesus, Mary and Joseph and his little donkey… is that Adrian Dunbar in Greystones, my old stomping ground?

Adrian has long been a national treasure in Ireland, and much loved too now in the UK on the back of his award-winning performance as Hastings in cop series Line of Duty.

All of which Tourism Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Northern Ireland naturally know and have got behind him as he promotes the island in his latest venture.

Harbour delights: Greystones and Da Boss

Adrian Dunbar: My Ireland is the Fermanagh actor’s new series which goes to air on Channel 5 this evening, 23 November (8pm).

The two-part series will follow Adrian, who introduced the wider world to some choice Irish phrases such as the above, as he returns to his hometown of Enniskillen.

We’ll join the ever-likeable Adrian as he visits places that hold fond memories for him.

And he will also check out some places he has always wanted to visit but has never before found the time.

Garden of Ireland

Power of Ireland: Powerscourt

And I guess that is where the word went up of Adrian Dunbar in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland.

Mind you there have been one or two celebs there over the years, Ronnie Drew out of the Dubliners, Damian Rice and ahem, yours truly.

Of course, we didn’t need any steer that Adrian was visiting the jewel of Wicklow.

As we recognised straight away the train, its destination and the platform.

From almost 14 years of standing on it… and that’s not far off as the DART (the Dublin Rapid Transport) is notorious for its poor efficiency.

But friendly staff, and I got to know the guards there well.

Dart and craft

On our way to the train: Greystones

So much so that they shared their idiosyncratic Irish wisdom with me on my first Christmas works do.

When I turned up at the DART station at 6pm one evening and booked a return ticket to Dublin, 15kms away.

The guard was insistent that I should get a taxi home or stay the night in Dublin as the last train back was 11.30pm.

Back to Adrian and he will kick off by visiting the towering cliffs of Slieve League, Glenveagh National Park in my mum’s own Donegal and Devenish Island in Lough Earne.

While the world will be his, well… he’s off to the Carlingford Oyster Company in County Louth and visit MacNean House & Restaurant in Co. Cavan in the midlands.

And meet celebrity chef Neven Maguire.

Train of thought

The world’s our… Carlingford

In episode two, which will air on 30 November, he will meet artist Jim FitzPatrick in Howth and another well-known chef, Richard Corrigan – who will give Adrian a tour of his Virginia Park Lodge.

Viewers will see Adrian visit prehistoric Newgrange, verdant Powerscourt Estate and the remote Hook Lighthouse.

They’ll also see him taking that trip on the DART in Wicklow… and remember Isambard Kingdom Brunel (and Michael Portillo) were all over the Bray-Greystones tunnel along the Irish Sea.

And he will cycle across the Kilmacthomas Viaduct on the Waterford Greenway.




Bruges to Mayo

It’s been more than a decade in the making but Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are back together again for another black comedy from Bruges to Mayo.

Of course we all of us will be hoping the bromance, or brom com if you will, does the same for Mayo as it did for the medieval Belgian canal city.

And well done for Brendan in persuading Colin out to see its charms.

Although both being gangsters we thought they would have wanted to see the fabric of the cloth Joseph of Arimathea used on Jesus in the Basilica of the Holy Blood.

Canal city: In Bruges

Film buffs and proud natives of Mayo will, of course, tell you that the Maritime County is already on the cinematic map.

With Cong drawing fans of The Quiet Man to its village religiously.

And Linnane the setting for The Field among others.

Of course Tourism Ireland are all over the possibilities from Mayo being showcased on our big screens.

And in conjunction with Searchlight Pictures they have created a behind-the-scenes featurette.

ith footage shot during filming for The Banshees of Inisherin.

All Ireland

I have a hunch: Colin Farrell

Director Martin McDonagh, Farrell (Pádraic), Brendan Gleeson (Colm), Kerry Condon (Siobhán) and Barry Keoghan (Dominic) all talk us through the locations.

The Banshees got a 14-minute standing ovation at the Venice International Film Festival.

And it is expected to do the same when the film hits picture houses in Ireland, the UK and the US on October 21.

Farrell and Gleeson have, of course, done much to promote the whole of Ireland.

Where East and West shall meet

An Irishman abroad: Brendan Gleeson

With many remembering a cherubic-faced Farrell negotiating the mean streets of Dublin in Intermissions.

And country village life in my old bailiwick of Co. Wicklow, the Garden of Ireland in Ballykissangel, near Avoca.

While Gleeson has been out West before.

Most notably in The Guard opposite Don Cheadle, and Calvary.

All in all we can see just why the Venetians and the international film audience would want.

To spend 14 minutes clapping Colin and Brian.

Because anything they do from a black comedy from Bruges to Mayo is right up our street.





Food & Wine, Ireland

Ballymaloe BallyMasterChef BallyMurty

If your interest was piqued by the wonderful cookery school where the season finale of MasterChef is taking place.

Over three episodes this week it’s, er, Ballymaloe BallyMasterChef BallyMurty.

No the heat from the kitchen isn’t getting to me.

It’s just I fancy I should be mentioned in the same Ballymaloe breath as the master chefs who have been teasing us with their creations.

Their efforts have been beamed into the homes of around 7.5 million people across Britain airing on BBC One yesterday.

Although my artistry at making pasta in Ballyknocken, Co. Wicklow, seen only by readers of this blog (just slightly less).

Yes, that was when I joined a cookery class in association with Top Flight a couple of years ago.

Catherine the Great

Do you want a hand: With Catherine Fulvio

And I was supervised by the force of nature that is Ballymaloe Catherine Fulvio.

Nor was it my first stab at cooking in Ireland with a more than passable attempt at Spanish pulpo (octupus) in Dublin some time earlier.

Ole: With the Spaniards

Back to the special Ireland MasterChef cooking challenge.

And it took place last year and was supported by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.

What a Corker

Girning Gregg: He must have seen mine

Viewers saw the final four contestants travel to Cork, together with judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

There they met with Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

For a whirlwind education in local Irish produce and the ethos of ‘farm-to-table’.

The finalists were challenged to prepare a celebratory dinner.

For some of Ireland’s finest food producers, food historians and relatives of the late, great patron of Irish cuisine, Myrtle Allen.

The second episode of this season’s MasterChef ‘Finals Week’ airs this evening and the third episode will air tomorrow.

Publicity and broadcasts like this are a key element of Tourism Ireland’s programme of activity.

To encourage travellers in Britain, and elsewhere around the world, to put Ireland on their holiday wish-list for this year and beyond.

Julie noted

Pasta master: Your bolognese will be with you soon

And so over to Julie Wakley, Tourism Ireland’s Head of Great Britain.

She said: “Tourism Ireland was delighted that MasterChef chose to film in Cork and Ballymaloe Cookery School, as part of its ‘Finals Week’.

“With viewers across Britain waiting with huge anticipation to find out who will be crowned the champion of MasterChef 2022, this is a superb opportunity for us.

“To showcase our delicious local produce, wonderful culinary offering and beautiful landscapes to an audience of around 7.5 million.

“It will remind viewers across Britain that Ireland is a great choice for a ‘foodie’ holiday.”

Food for thought

And, I can vouch for that and though the best meals can longer be eaten in Applewood Heights, Greystones, now Mrs M has taken her recipes back over to Scotland.

But should you be in Dublin then Chapter One, The Ivy and One Pico were some of the faves I pushed my return to the office desk for.

While I must also mention my cousin’s The Workshop by the Liffey.

Although I haven’t quite forgiven my old restaurant critic writer Tom Doorley for giving them a less than favourable review.

What he’d have thought of Ballymaloe BallyMasterChef BallyMurty is anyone’s guess.

And an equally great Catherine

Here’s to you: With Catherine Murphy in Val D’Isere

A word here too to a great pal, the one I have come to know as Murphski, Catherine Murphy.

Catherine, who was good enough to be my ski writer and won that award year after year, has just been named Ireland’s Travel Writer of the Year.

I have been lucky enough to have joined her on some of those trips, from Las Vegas to Tenerife to just last month Val D’Isere.

My only regret is that I wasn’t in Dublin to clink Champagne glasses and say Slainte with Ireland’s best Travel Writer.




Flying, Ireland, UK

Aerland’s Call

Jock Tamson’s Bairns (that’s Scots) come in all shapes and sizes and some with tartain troos (not guilty) and Irish rugby fans too who come from far and wide to answer Aerland’s Call.

Firstly, the Jock Tamson bit… well, the Rev. John Thomson was the minister of Duddingston Kirk in Edinburgh at the turn of the 19th century and referred to his congregation as ‘ma bairns’.

And even my former editor and rugby nut and those fellow Scotland rugby fans who take it that bit further by dressing up like extras from The White Heather Club (ask your grandpa).

It was, in truth, hard to watch the rugby at the Aviva through the glare of his garish garb.

But, of course, he was hard to miss and we did bond over our disappointment at Scotland captain Stuart Hogg dropping the ball in sight of the line and gifting the hosts victory.

Something which he reprised against France in this Six Nations campaign too.

Aer Club competition

Fly high with Aer Lingus

Hey ho, the Ireland v Scotland rugby contest has a special place in my heart as it was my last outing in Dublin, courtesy of my friends at Tourism Ireland at the end of my thirteen years working there.

Before the Scary One dragged me back to Jock Tamson’s land.

Now the Irish and Scots rugby fraternity pride themselves in their Gaelic commonality.

And that, of course, extends to their support of a second team… anyone who plays England.

Aer to help: Aer Lingus

All of which throwing the ball around at the back leads me somewhat and characteristically and circuitously to an Aer Lingus Aer Club competition.

The national airline has a pair of tickets to give away for Saturday’s final round of Six Nations matches.

With the Boys in Green still in with a shout of winning the championship.

And whisper it here but they need England to win on this occasion, against leaders France.

You know the answer

Bandanaman on the run: At the Aviva

As is the way of such competitions the question is as easy as what is your own name.

Where is Ireland’s last match of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations with the options being the Aviva, Twickenham and Murrayfield.

Aer Club members have until midnight tonight, March 15, to enter.

And the good news is that the second prize is 20,000 Avios points which is enough for two return flights to Scotland, equally as good a prize.

Now Aer Lingus remain a favourite airline and friends from those 13 years in Ireland and pals still.


Get the point: Avios

And I can’t leave today without mentioning their generosity in giving me comp tickets for their biennial Aer Lingus College Football match at the Aviva.

All of it was going swimmingly, apt really as the rain was falling, until The Scary One pipes up in the third quarter:

‘Are you allowed to throw the ball forward?’

Maybe stick to the rugby.

The next time we’re back to answer Aerland’s Call.

Breaking news

And right off the oul’ teleprinter.

Aer Lingus is offering €20 off return flights to Europe and the UK.

Book now and have the craic in London, paint the town green in Bordeaux or shamrock and roll in Barcelona!