America, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy days and Songdays – Holyday favourites

And because of the holyday season we’re in this week’s Rainy days and Songdays today celebrates Holyday favourites.

Happy clappy California

Whoopi

Oh Happy Day (Oakland/San Francisco)

Oh happy day, oh happy day, when Jesus washed, oh when He washed, When Jesus washed, He washed my sins away – The Edwin Hawkins Singers/Sister Act

They don’t need much invitation to unleash a Gospel Choir on you in California.

And Hallelujah there was one waiting for us on the first day in Anaheim for our American Travel Fair, IPW.

Elvis sings Gospel

Full of Graceland

How Great Thou Art (Memphis)

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation. And take me home what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow in humble adoration. And then proclaim, my God how great thou art – Elvis Presley

And it is worth remembering that Elvis first learned to sing in church.

And during his residencies in Las Vegas he would invite his friends up to his room for impromptu Gospel singalongs

It’s better to imagine Elvis’s heart being joyful at the moment God came to take him home that day in Graceland.

All God’s Children

Whenever God Shines His Light (Belfast)

Whenever God shines his light on me. Opens up my eyes so I can see. When I look up in the darkest night. And I know that everything is going to be all right – Van Morrison/Cliff Richard

And aren’t we all God’s children anyway even Van the Man, the grumpiest man in rock?

Religion is all around you in Belfast where Van is known to put on occasional jazz cabaret shows at the Europa Hotel.

It’s always best though with a Celtic soul twist.

Welsh worship

Bread of Heaven (Cardiff)

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer, Pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak but thou art mighty. Hold me with thy powerful hand. Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven. Feed me till I want no more. – Bryn Terfel, Cardiff

And Cwm Rhondda (The Rhondda) is the unofficial anthem of Wales.

And is a favourite of Welsh rugby fans.

It scores too as it celebrates God rather than the popular policy of God celebrating said country.

Mississippi music

Grammy loves you

This Little Light of Mine (Mississippi)

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, all the time, let it shine – Sister Rosetta Tharpe

And you’ll find a lot more about Sister Rosetta and all the wonderful Gospel and early Rock singers at the Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.

And the significance of This Little Light in a room of reflection on your Civil Rights visit to the Two Museums in Jackson.

America, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – The Royal Canal and other Irish landmarks

Now the screw was peeping, as the lag lay sleeping. Dreaming about his girl Sal. And that auld triangle went jingle-jangle. All along the banks of the Royal Canal The Auld Triangle, The Dubliners

Luke Kelly drolled that ‘in the female prison there are 75 women and among them I wish I did dwell, and that auld triangle could go jingle-jangle all along the banks of the Royal Canal.’

And if you know this song, penned by Brendan Behan (and if you don’t then you’ve been missing out) you’ll walk along the Royal Canal in the north of Dublin singing it aloud.

Or if you’re cycling too as I have done, all the time hoping that the broken bottles wouldn’t puncture my tyres.

The Beardie Boys: The Dubliners

That was then, and this is now, and the announcement of the €12m scenic 130km Royal Canal Greenway is to be welcomed.

If you do the lot you’ll have chalked off 90 bridges, 30 locks, 17 harbours and four aqueducts.

And take in Co. Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Longford.

So as a preamble let’s get on with our Rainy Days and Songdays six of the best songs with Irish landmarks.

What a Corker!

Jim and Alan at the Phil Lynott statue in Dublin

As I was goin’ over the Cork and Kerry Mountains, I met with Captain Farrell and his money he was countin’. I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier. I said ‘stand and deliver, or the devil he may take ye Whiskey in the Jar, Thin Lizzy 

Musha rain, dum a doo, dum a da.

The Cork and Kerry Mountains have always held a special affection for me as the first travel assignment when a cub reporter in Reading.

Going over said mountains in our Citroen cars was not helped by a bout of seasickness going over on the Swansea-Cork ferry.

But nothing that the local tipple, Murphy’s Stout and the craic didn’t put right.

Low lie those fields

Those low-lying fields: Athenry

Low lie the Fields of Athenry, where once we watched the small birds fly. Our love was on the wing. We had dreams and songs to sing. It’s so lonely round the Fields of Athenry  – Fields of Athenry, The High Kings

Lowing, or maybe braying, around those Fields of Athenry were our four donkeys which came with the rented cottage.

I can’t remember what la famiglia called the three others but mine was Oaty as in Donkey Oaty!

I was maybe just tilting at windmills.

And as for stealing Trevelyan’s corn… we just bought some from the Centra for the donkeys.

The Band is back together

Neat little town they call Belfast

 In a neat little town they call Belfast, apprentice to tradeI was bound…, a sad misfortune came over me which caused me to stray from the land, far away from my friends and relations, betrayed by the Black Velvet Band Black Velvet Band, Peaky Blinders

It was more good fortune that came over me… to take me away from my friends and relations to the States after university.

And work, no not on the Black Velvet Band’s pitch, Broadway, but Boston where I inevitably served tables at an Irish pub.

Where every night among the most requested songs was Black Velvet Band.

And yes, of course, like our gullible hero of the song ‘many an hour’s sweet happiness I spent I spent in this neat little town Belfast.

As for a black velvet band, or any colour for that matter, try as I may I never persuaded one… i wonder if she’ll be there when I return.

Where the Dark Mourne sweeps…

London’s got nothing on this

Oh Mary this London’s a wonderful sight with people here working by day and by night, they don’t sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat. But there’s gangs of them dogging for gold in the street. At least when I asked them that’s what I was told so I just took a hand at this diggin’ for gold. But for all that I found there I might as well be in the place where the Dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea Mountains o’ Mourne, Don McLean

Mourne Mountains, Co. Down: It’s always a thrill to see the Mountains of Mourne, my Dear Old Mum’s home province, when driving either north or south.

Mountains of Mourne this sweeping range, has a special place in our hearts as the lullaby I would sing to Daddy’s Little Girl.

It was round by Brockagh’s corner

Harkin’s Bar, Donegal

 It was down by Brockagh Corner one morning I did stray, I met a fellow rebel and this to me did say, he had orders from our captain to assemble at Dunbar. But how were we to get there without a car The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

Beockagh, Co. Donegal: And still on lullabies this gentle little ditty about the Irish War of Independence is an alternative to nursery rhymes.

If your mother is from Nationalistic north-west Donegal that is.

Well it got me through childhood… give three cheers to the Teasy and Johnson’s Motor Car.

Meeting of minds in Wicklow

Moore Wicklow please

Sweet vale of Avoca! How calm could I rest. In thy bosom of shade with the friends I love best. Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease. And thy hearts, like thy waters, be mingled on peace. The Meetings of the Waters, John McCormack

And my beloved old homestead of Co. Wicklow and its poet laureate, Thomas Moore.

The Meetings is a family favourite, going back to the days when my Donegal Granny and Grandpa honeymooned here.

We would often return there in our Thirteen Years in Ireland on family day trips.

And skim stones which can be more of a danger sport than you might imagine.

Particularly if you’re that young boy on the other side of the bank who ducks just as a stone is jumping up out of the water.

Still, I did get a 12!

 

 

America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Watching the Detectives

Just like watching the detectives don’t get cute, just like watching the detectives, I get so angry when the teardrops start, But he can’t be wounded ’cause he got no heart. Elvis Costello, Watching the Detectives

And with apologies to the Poet Laureate of New Wave.

But it’s not the bespectacled one but the new run of Line of Duty, shot in Belfast, which has got me thinking.

About my favourite detectives in the cities they are associated with.

So here are seven deadly detective shows, their music and their cities.

Van’s the man

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

Van der Valk, Amsterdam: So good they kept a sample of the Simon Park Orchestra’s original score ‘Eye Level’ for the reworking of the original series.

And even then purists lambasted the modern version and Marc Warren’s ‘Piet’ as opposed to Barry Foster’s.

And don’t you just love the cluttered narrow bars they all drink in.

Hutch more New York

My New York

Starsky & Hutch, New York: Starsky & Hutch was the breakthrough police show for young people more used to oldie cops.

Good, yes, like the lollipop-sucking Theo Kojak. And, yes, we loved you, baby, too!

But Starsk and Hutch and Huggy Bear brought a street vibe, slapstick and more New York life.

As did the Stiller and Wilson remake with Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear captured the excitement and warmth and music of the original.

Glasgow is No Mean City

Glasgow wit

Taggart, Glasgow: And who would have thought they could have made grey post-industrial Glasgow cool in the Eighties?

But they did and you knew you were in for something different when the credits rolled.

And Maggie Bell gave us a smoky, bluesy No Mean City, a homage to a gangster novel about Twenties Gorbals Glasgow.

London, you’re nicked

Two English and a Scotsman

The Sweeney: Regan and Carter were the Line of Duty of their day, the water-cooler show before water coolers.

Again another they made a remake of, with only Ray Winstone able to reprise John Thaw, while Plan B took on Dennis Waterman.

The Winstone opening scene had a car chase around Trafalgar Square while Thaw’s played out more on wasteland.

But London sizzled from the moment the Thames TV with its iconic St Paul’s graphic came up… and who can forget the theme tune?

Monsieur Bean?

Maigret, Paris: And it was always going to require us to make a shift to see Mr Bean as Monsieur Maigret.

Mais oui, Rowan Atkinson pulled it off, with that brooding sense of contemptuous arrogance we so love about Parisians.

And who doesn’t love an accordion?

Naturellement, you would want to show off the City of Lights if you set your show here.

Which is why it was shot in Budapest with Szentendre doubling for the Montmartre.

Across the Channel

Sunny Jersey

Bergerac, Jersey: And a little bit of sun came into our lives in the Eighties.

In the only part of the UK where they get sun… in Jersey, on the doorstep of France.

As none of us can identify a Jersey site from a Jersey cow then their first image was a map of the island.

Before we get action clips of dunes and John Nettles running after high-end crooks.

Old at the time, Johnnie then retired to Midsomer.

Deadly Caribbean

Nylon Pool, Tobago

Death in Paradise, Guadeloupe: No mon, it’s not Saint Marie, but Guadeloupe.

It lies halfway down the eastern Caribbean chain between Dominica and Antigua.

And it has some of the features you’d expect in a West Indian island, a volcano, sandy beaches obvs and a rainforest.

And you’ll get some of this and more of the other in Tobago and Barbados

All good and varied locales for misdemeanour and murder.

And all set against an uplifting score and, if you know your stuff, homages to the film The Harder They Come.

So to cheer your day up here’s some Jimmy Cliff ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want‘.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

It’s a crime… police dramas around the world

Excitement is building to fever pitch ahead of the resumption of police drama Line of Duty on March 21 which allows us to explore police dramas around the world.

Hastings’ landscape

Europa living In Belfast

Belfast: I can’t find evidence but it must be true that Superintendent Ted Hastings is named after Belfast’s faves Hastings Hotels.

The seahorse on the wall of the Great Central Hotel is your compass wherever you go in the Northern Irish capital.

That is if you can drag yourself out of the Observatory bar atop the hotel where you get the best views.

And where James Nesbitt opens his Bloodlands detective drama.

Adrian Dunbar on the Graham Norton Show watches Vicky McLure at his Line of Duty mural

Hastings, aka Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty has been immortalised.

As are all they take to their heart and allow to film in their city.

By having their image set as a mural… and be sure to take a black taxi tour around Belfast.

Check in at the Europa Hotel, part of the story, and get ready for a potted history of The Troubles.

Mob rules

Vegas baby

Once upon a crime in America: And everywhere there is an American dream there is a big job to realise that dream.

You can see how Las Vegas was built by Bugsy Siege.

And The Mob in Chicago in the Mob Museum and channel your inner Al Capone.

Call him Fonz

Tom Hardy as Capone in the Netflix dramas

Fonz Capone is synonymous of course with Chicago.

Where he was invited from New York by Johnny Torrio, and ended up running the city.

The invitations have piled up over the years for me to visit Chicago but the big job has eluded me thus far.

Last year was to be me marking the centenary of the Volstead Act which beckoned in Prohibition.

And I was all set to join one of the retro tours

My cocktail will be all the sweeter when I do get there…

I’ll just have to watch at the speakeasy doors for the cops.’

Florida where he ditched the Al

Miami vices and Capone

We never did find out why Mae Capone insisted to the police watching the house: ‘We don’r call him that [Al] here.’

Here is Palm Beach, near Miami, where the syphilitic Capone spent his last days under house arrest deep in the doo-doo (literally).

You can see it all in graphic detail on Netflix’s Capone, starring Tom Hardy.

Italy, the Old Country

The Old Country, Sicily

Of course Fonz (or Al) and la famiglia are really all just displaced Sicilians.

Visitors to Sicily will always head for Mt Etna until it gets too hot to handle.

But for those who stay awhile and see Taormina then a Godfather tour is highly recommended.

This one I’ve stumbled across includes a Fiat 500 {Cinquecento)and me and the Cinquecento have history.

When I stalled in the car park in the French Riviera and the good monsieur took over.

I’m not sure whether Capone would be so understanding.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

How Carson said NO… to Northern Ireland

He is the Father of Northern Ireland.

But whisper it in Ulster, Sir Edward Carson never wanted the mantle, nor even the country.

A hundred years ago Carson turned down the invitation to become Northern Ireland’s first Prime Minister.

Not that his fellow unionists held it against him.

Instead they erected a statue to him in front of their imposing seat of Government, Stormont in Belfast.

Like much else in Northern Ireland everything and everybody isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

And it  makes them all the more interesting for it.

Carson the Dub

Just like King William of Orange, who isn’t the figure you see on flags and murals on a white charger….

The giveaway is that as a monarch he would have been far back from the River Boyne and would have worn a garter.

And you don’t need to do much digging to see that Carson never wanted the creation of Northern Ireland and supported a united Ireland.

Toby Carson, a teacher in the south of England, recalled that his great-grandfather had just sired a son a year before to his young wife.

And he wanted to devote his attentions to them while also holding out for a major legal position.

Carson was a leading legal light of his day.

That’s Wilde

And he even cross-examined his fellow Irishman Oscar Wilde in the case which led to the poet being sent to Reading Gaol.

The Great Carson was no Ulsterman it must be said.

A Dubliner, who spoke Irish and played Gaelic Sports as a child he lived in the south of England.

But he always remained in high demand in the new partitioned country he neither lived in nor wanted to lead.

So that when the Northerners asked him to grace Stormont with his presence when they put up the famous clenched fist statue he obliged.

On a podium

A man after my own heart… and I have just the spot atop Bray Head in Co. Wicklow instead of that cross.

Belfast, the city which eulogises Carson, is well worth a reccie around, either on an educational black taxi tour, the Museum of Orange Heritage and Stormont itself.

While if you’re of the Republican persuasion then check out the Irish Republican History Museum, though Carson would spin in his grave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Countries, Cruising, Europe, Ireland

What a picture – my award-winning photographer wife

Every picture tells a story and this is ours.

World Photograph Day yesterday saw me trawling through my Travel memories with my award-winning photographer wife.

Sarah Frost as she was when she won two UK Royal Photography Awards.

And still is under her working name, before taking on my mantle.

Now The Scary One, as I affectionately and rather fearfully refer to her, has not been able to attend all my trips around the world.

A deserved reputation

Mostly because of the stipulations but sometimes I imagine because of reputation.

But when she has she has brought a colour to the trips.

Around Ireland…

Temple Bar

In our own garden county of Co. Wicklow, in Dublin, the iconic Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel at a famous Dublin 4 institution, and a haven too in Temple Bar, and in the heart of the Midlands in the border county of Monaghan.

And up north from where us Murtys hail and London and England where the Frosts hail.

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That way, Sweden

While she also caught the fun of skiing in Austria, wining and dining in Portugal Centro, cruising in the Norwegian fjords with stop-offs in Copenhagen and then a city trip in Hamburg.

And also at George’s and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel, her photographs have always enhanced the experience.

Though there was a time on board the MSC Preziosa when it was particularly slippy because of the Norwegian rain.

Photo album

And she looked as if she might fall overboard. I very nearly caught her too!

So opening up the album here are my Frostie’s Favourites and some of her creativity has even rubbed off on me. See if you can spot which are hers and which are mine?

The fjords

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Which one’s the troll?

And She was up every morning bright and early to capture Norway’s waterfalls, inlets and try to spot trolls.

There was one still sleeping off the previous night’s wine, in our MSC Preziosa cabin room.

Bitesize Hamburg

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Walking on air in Copenhagen

And when She wasn’t putting her feet up in the beach bar in tbe Rieperbahn she was snapping life around the port.

Amsterdam by George

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žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

And sometimes we make a rod for our own back because after staying at the Dylan Amsterdam where George and Amal stay then everywhere else is a disappointment.

Heart and Soll

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White delight: In Soll

I fell for you Heart and Soll as Cole Porter sang. And while I was falling down the slopes She was getting the ski boots off and capturing the SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser.

The power of Powerscourt

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Towering talent… one of mine

And the two things that She loves more than anything in life and neither of them are me are in Wicklow that’s gardening and shopping.

Powerscourt has them both... and don’t my credit cards know it?

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One of Hers

 

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And one of Jose’s

And lastly here we are the picture of happiness as taken by our Portuguese guide, photography fan and pal Jose.

 

 

 

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

The 12th of July – some myths debunked

Every day is the 12th of July I was reminded every Saturday growing up in religiously divided Glasgow.

This was how fans of the city’s Protestant club Rangers mark King William’s victory over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne.

It turns out though that they got their dates wrong and that it should be July 1 they should be marking.

On the white charger; The Orange Heritage Museum

The calendars were reset in the 18th Century and The Boyne got July 12 when that date had belonged to the Battle of Aughrim.

Beyond these castle walls

I gleaned much of the true story from Malahide Castle https://www.malahidecastleandgardens.ie/ in north Co. Dublin.

I learned that the sitting family back in 1690 settled down for lunch before heading for battle only never to return.

Charge: But is it William? www.laganhistory.com

An impressive painting hangs in the Castle dining room of the battle.

And the guide informed us that the figure on canvas that we know and love/hate could not have been King Billy.

What’s missing?

No garter you see.

Wall, what is it good for? www.extramuralactivity.com

And he was on a white horse too which would have made him easier to spot and kill.

And one of those ubiquitous Belfast black taxi tour drivers verified this very fact.

On the excellent Lucy Worsley’s BBC series British History’s Biggest Fibs https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08cgp55 verified.

Northern Exposure

The Irish Problem as it was called morphed into The Troubles in the North, or Northern Ireland as it’s officially known.

Keep the orange flag flying high

And one constant throughout has been the symbolism of King Billy whose murals and drapes proliferate throughout the province.

But in truth King Billy’s story stretches throughout the island of Ireland.

And the three countries of the island of Britain.

And his home country of Holland.

Flying Dutchman

For those keenest of Orangemen retracing King Billy’s footsteps here’s an itinerary.

Begin your journey in the Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoom north of Amsterdam https://www.paleishetloo.nl/ and Pictures of Amsterdam.

I’ve landed: William of Orange of Devon

Land in Brixham, Torbay in Devon like William did www.devonguide.com. It’s a pretty seaside town in England.

And then make your way over by ferry with Stena Line https://www.stenaline.co.uk to Ireland.

There you’ll want to visit the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre http://battleoftheboyne.ie/ in Co. Louth equidistant between Belfast and Dublin in modern Republic of Ireland.

Before heading for Belfast and the Museum of Orange Heritage https://visitbelfast.com/partners/museum-of-orange-heritage/#&gid=1&pid=5.

A dash of Orange

Just a thought if you’d never heard of King William of Orange might you inadvertently venture in thinking it was a celebration of fruit.

History all around us

And you might be surprised to hear that King William’s place in the Irish cultural landscape isn’t recognised by everyone on the island.

An old colleague I’ll call Simone because that was her name even wrote that King James won the Battle of the Boyne.

Just as well that she had a good editor to stop Irish (and British) history being rewritten for ever.

And for a glimmer of Northern Irish life see Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Flying, Ireland, UK

Flyday Friday – Bridge to Greece

There’s a reason why idyll, a Greek word, is our go-to expression for something to which we aspire.

Because Greece has long been our idyll… from Homer to Lord Byron to Shirley Valentine to Mamma Mia!

And so we should be beyond excited at the proposal of an air bridge between the UK and Hellas.

And trust me, direct flights to Greece is how you want to go… My Greek odyssey and https://athensattica.com.

Nice and Easy does it

Bonjour Nice

It’s the airports we whizz through and never get to see the destination that most intrigue.

Nice is a hub en route to the French Riviera The Boat D’Azur and an onward cruise https://www.google.ie/amp/s/jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/2020/01/21/smooth-sailing-around-the-western-med/amp/.

But Nice should also be explored in its own right.

And I was all set to do just that before a press mission to see how Nice had recovered from the Bastille Day bombing was cancelled.

Nice is the only route out of the UK, from Gatwick.

Now I know they have a Promenade des Anglais but I’m sure they won’t mind an Ecossais.

See https://en.nicetourisme.com and https://about-france.com/cities/nice-city-guide.htm.

For a full list of the routes and Belfast is on it (yeah!) see https://www.easyjet.com/en and a reminder of all that Belfast has to offer Belfast Chilled and Belfast’s rich tapestry.

How to fly again

Safe distancing

So what will our flying experience look like?

Our friends at Ryanair have laid out a plan.

And actually some of it will make the experience more pleasurable.

Because wearing masks will mean you won’t have to make small talk with strangers.

And that’ll be doubled down with social distancing.

You’ll be asked to take your temperature before you leave the house and may be required to have it taken again at the airport.

Smile behind the mask

Which is fine by me as my temperature just about returns to normal when I’m at the gate after all my zooming about.

For more information visit www.ryanair.com and remember from July 1 they will be flying 1,000 flights a day.

MEET YOU IN THE SKIES

Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Thirteen years an Irishman – My five Irish homes

Growing up in Scotland to an Irish mother, and father with Irish roots, I was tagged Irish, or at least Irish-Scots.

Even after 13 years in Ireland I’m still seen as Scottish. I don’t know why, was it the accent, the kilt…?

But, in truth, I will always have two homes.

So, on the day we move out of the home we have filled for 13 and a half hours here are my five Irish homes:

Herself at her favourite Glendalough

Co. Wicklow: The Son and Heir and Daddy’s Little Girl both agree that growing up by the sea in Greystones was a privilege.

And you can ALWAYS get a coffee or hot chocolate. Some happily queue for veggies’ heaven Happy Pear https://thehappypear.ie.

Me? I prefer the eccentric Tomasso and Caffe Delle Stelle https://greystones.ie/caffe-delle-stelle/.

Greystones is framed by Bray Head and the town harbour. Great cliff walk and train ride through the Brunel tunnel.

Also Glendalough, the Meeting of the Waters, Avoca. the inspiration for Ballykissangel, and the spectacular Powerscourt with its waterfalls.

Visit http://visitwicklow.ie, https://www.irelandsancienteast.com and when we stayed… Flowerscourt.

Brill in Belfast City

Belfast boys

Belfast: The aforementioned Son and Heir has relocated to Belfast, another excuse to go up north, as if I needed any.

Myself and the Scary One have obviously been up to see him.

And also the Game of Thrones door, the tapestry in the Ulster Museum https://www.nmni.com/Home.aspx and the Titanic Museum https://www.titanicbelfast.com.

We stayed and can recommend the https://www.fitzwilliamhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxO6shb615wIVArDtCh0Zyw_DEAAYASAAEgJ_LvD_BwE.

While when I get the chance to zip up there for, say The Open at Royal Portrush, with Discover Northern Ireland https://discovernorthernireland.com/about-northern-ireland/19-reasons-to-visit-northern-ireland/, or Van Morrison at the Europa http://europa-belfast.hotel-rv.com/index.htm?lbl=ggl-en&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI7taG1L615wIVFODtCh0c2Q-dEAAYAyAAEgKsnPD_BwE and staying at the Grand Central Hotel https://www.grandcentralhotelbelfast.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIjvK297615wIVR7DtCh3wmA7kEAAYASAAEgIb-fD_BwE.

Also check out https://visitbelfast.com and Belfast Chilled.

Monaghan country life

Rolling hills

Teamwork? I find the destination and I leave Herself to organise us getting there, so is it my fault if I give her the wrong dates?

So when we turned up in Monaghan one week early we had to rely on the kindness of the townfolk… Justin Asian Street Food, Monaghan County Museum and Brehon Brewery.

We did make our high tea meeting a couple of weeks later at Castle Leslie where Paul and Heather Mills got married. Let It Be!

Visit https://monaghantourism.com and read Monaghan’s country roads.

Donegal land of my mother

Double trouble

I’ve been going to Donegal all my life… to visit my grandparents, my auntie, and doing an annual pilgrimage with my Mum since.

We always stay in the hotel in the nearest town to her Brockagh homestead, Jackson’s http://www.jacksonshotel.ie in Ballybofey where the Irish Coffee was born.

My mum was the first intake of the Brockagh school which is now home to the patriot Isaac Butt Heritage Centre https://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/isaac-butt-heritage-centre/10716.

Where photos of her and her family is up on the boards.

While we also love to visit Portnoo with its deserted island and The Flight of the Earls Memorial and Doon Well holy site in Rathmullan.

Visit https://www.govisitdonegal.com.

My rare oul’ times in Dublin

Flagging it up: Temple Bar

Twelve and a half years of it I spent in a soulless, friendless office… but thankfully my pal Nicky runs the iconic InterContinental next door… The InterCon… what a Ledge!

Temple Bar is where the tourists come but you can pick and choose and get away from it all at the Gibson Hotel https://www.thegibsonhotel.ie/?nst=0&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwoCdtd615wIViLTtCh0WCwqCEAAYAiAAEgLDsfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds.

I’ve spent many of the best days of my life in Dublin…

Mary’s Bar and Hardware Shop off Grafton Street https://marysbar.ie/?utm_source=maps&utm_campaign=gmb is the pick of my pubs although I’d be shot if I didn’t mention The Workshop Gastro Pub http://www.theworkshopgastropub.com.

Chapter One https://www.chapteronerestaurant.com does the best steaks while Chai Yo Teppanyaki https://www.chaiyo.ie the best Chinese while Wendy Wu Tours http://www.wendywutours.ie the best Chinese New Year spread.

Raising the bar: with Herself

You want museums? Yes, there are the obvious attractions, the Book of Kells in Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Castle.

But I give you The Little Museum of Dublin https://www.littlemuseum.ie/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5-2-u_y15wIViKztCh2XGQ6dEAAYASAAEgJYS_D_BwE, the Hugh Lane Gallery http://www.hughlane.ie with Francis Bacon’s recreated studio.

And Kilmainham Jail http://kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie where the 1916 leaders were executed including the gangrenous Scot James Connollly, strapped to his chair.

And for more on Dublin, visit https://www.visitdublin.com and https://www.tourismireland.com.

MEET YOU BACK IN IRELAND

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Moanday Morning… football, ship jobs

The football season is back… abroad! Here in Ireland it’s been going all summer.

But football fans will ditch Cork City for Manchester City, Galway United for Manchester United, Longford Town for Liverpool.

And there is, of course, a rich business in ferrying and flying fans out to see their favourite foreign clubs.

Manchester United v Chelsea is one of the blue-riband games of the season (or red if that’s your colour).

And Celtic Horizon Tours offers the fixture on August 11 for €259pp for adults and €239pp for children.

Including transport by coach and ferry, hotel stay at the Holiday Inn Express, Manchester Airport, and tickets. Visit www.celtichorizons.com

And before you jump all over me, they do offer deals for your team too.

The good news is that you won’t have to show your passport to get the tickets.

It helps if you have them: Photo by Omar Markhieh on Pexels.com

And that’s my Monday Mourning Moan…. having to show your passport abroad at the ticket office.

I still owe the Son and Heir a match in Rome after turning up at the ticket office without a passport.

And then having to take the bus back into the city against the traffic of football fans coming the other way.

Passports to get tickets for football matches… did I not need one of them to get into the country in the first place?

Harland & Wolff – shipping jobs

Belfast people have a natural wit, not dissimilar to Glaswegians, of whom I am one, just across the water.

And they too built their wealth on shipbuilding.

And so they will cheerily try to convince you that H&W lettering on the Harland And Wolff cranes that tower over Belfast stand for Hello and Welcome.

Harland and Wolff’s impact on the city is as large as those cranes, ‘Samson and Goliath’, but today it stands to lose its famous shipyard.

The administrators have been called in.

And where once it shipped goods and people, now it is shipping jobs.

Legacy: Titanic Photo by Steven Hylands on Pexels.com

Harland and Wolff’s skilled workmen erected the Titanic.

And which has been around since 1861.

It was a bastion of Protestant rule in its day but then that was in those days and Belfast has changed and evolved.

I know the world has moved on too, they build ships cheaper abroad, and Brexit must be a part of it as well.

But why have we just thrown our hands up and meekly relinquished our once unequalled position as the shipbuilders of the world?

I can only take solace in the fact that the Titanic Exhibition Centre has become such a huge success.

And has among its many awards been named the World’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards.

Belfast has rebuilt itself before – it will again.

Visit www.visitbelfast.com. And www.titanicbelfast.com.

And read my review of the city where the Son and Heir has made his home.

And Van Morrison has chosen among all the places in the world to return to. https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/belfastvanmorrison/